Q: According to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), the city welcomed 3.97 million international overnight visitors between January and March 2022, up from 1.27 million visitors for the same period last year, representing 214 percent year after year. Year Visits Increase Will you be responsible for this increase?
A: I think the numbers speak for themselves in terms of the confidence of the world community and travelers in what Dubai can offer in terms of their safety, accommodation and experience. It didn’t happen overnight. It is the will of government, leadership and government agencies that have worked together to ensure the continuity of business and the safety of the population and travelers in general. Dubai has the highest level of vaccination and the lowest number of infections and deaths. At the same time the business did not stop. And over the past two years, it has resonated with the global business community and leisure travelers.
This has improved their confidence. We have seen a huge increase for that reason. When it comes to the number of residency visas, the UAE government has come up with innovations around it. We introduced the Remote Work Visa, a five-year tourist visa issued in the Golden Visa suite offered to investors in general and those with special skills. I think the impact of the epidemic has increased in terms of the difference between what other destinations have dealt with and how they have dealt with it versus how we have dealt with it.
So some destinations are completely closed to international travelers and begin to create challenges for the expatriate business community. From our point of view, it was about having all these solutions and integrating a completely different level of immunization services, healthcare services and it in general with Dubai’s security and the city’s technological capabilities. There are some people who came and stayed from the point of view of travel and then there were people who moved to Dubai to make their second home.
Q: Share more details about the Golden Visa Program and the Retirement Program in Dubai?
The retirement program is part of a larger suite of innovations created by the UAE government. The UAE, due to the tolerant nature of the habitat and society of almost all nationalities worldwide, acceptance, has begun to be their first home. In line with their ambitious vision to build the UAE into a leading trading country, the government has made a lot of innovations and improvements across the board, from regulation to banking to housing offers to trade, one of which is normalization and immigration. Side
Since then, His Excellency has awarded Golden Visas to the doctors and scientists working on the epidemic. Ownership improvements or regulation combinations, where ownership of large sectors can be 100% expatriate, which brings that extra confidence. The Golden Visa is an extension and capacity offer for people to make Dubai and the UAE their permanent home or their second base for at least a large part of the year. The Golden Visa is divided into the Investor’s Golden Visa which is a ten year visa where the individual self-sponsors and they can sponsor their spouse, children and dependents. Even women who are not married are eligible and daughters can bring their parents.
Retirement visa is a 5 year program. It is self-sponsored and people can continue living in Dubai. Once you retire, you want to experience the world. So there is no better hub for world travel than Dubai Airport and Emirates Airlines. It has a very good visa. Visa holders can sponsor spouses and children. Golden Visa includes Entrepreneur Golden Visa for people who are focused on growing their startups and businesses from Dubai. Golden Visa is also available for high achieving students. The goal of all these residency solutions is for non-natural expatriates to stay longer.
Recently, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, also announced incentives for the inclusion of local people in the private sector and incentives for the local business community. We also inaugurated the event for 10 million programmers, led by the Government of Dubai and the UAE, which encourages talent. Another area we are working on is to make Dubai a global hub for the technology and traditional business community.
We have seen huge flow of incoming business in Dubai and created many opportunities. The main thing they looked for was their ability to retain talent and this was one of the best places to increase their retention. With the bilateral agreement between the governments, the appetite for expansion through Dubai has increased for a lot of Indian businesses.
Q: You said earlier that you want to be able to grow a lot of startups in Dubai. What is the response from the Indian start-up ecosystem? Considering the number of our unicorns in India, do you see any special incentives for Indian startups?
One of the things Dubai has been successful in doing in the last 12 months is attracting the attention of India’s technology community. We’ve seen a huge appetite for that community across different stages থেকে from Series A and up to a unicorn status. The founder and talent are considering Dubai as a technology hub. Talented people are sensitive and unpredictable. Keeping them happy is part of the solution and not just money. When Indian companies bring in workers from Eastern Europe, America or East Asia, Dubai, because of its experience as a melting pot in the world, makes it easier for them to be imprisoned and integrated into the community. Our personal safety infrastructure Our educational infrastructure is one of the best in the world. We have seen that many companies are looking at Dubai in a very practical way when they consider us as an viable option considering leaving. Not only from India, but also from Europe, Asia and Africa we have been very successful in attracting countless companies throughout the growth cycle.
Q: How did you invest in tourism during the epidemic? Did they go up or down in line with other needs, such as healthcare, after the Kovid epidemic?
I will not be able to divide the numbers, but from a qualitative point of view, the mission is to develop all sectors. One of them is healthcare. We continue to improve and enhance our medical infrastructure and healthcare services. We have seen the importance of medical tourism. We work closely with the Ministry of Health and the Dubai Health Authority to ensure that we prioritize major medical tourism specialties. It’s busy. Pharma is involved in improving production so it is a tie-in. In terms of tourism, an example of the constant level of infrastructure in our room’s night capacity is that occupations are very high and this is a very good sign that we are on track to achieve the targets set for 2025. We look forward to adding more resorts and expanding offers based on the source market as well as looking for specific Bespoke lifestyle experiences. We are in a place where we are recovering from an epidemic recession and one of the things we have done during that time is to help the Dubai government and the Dubai economy and tourism operators to stay afloat. To support
Q. Sustainability is something that is close to you. Please share some of the details of the new venture that you were launching around sustainability.
An important aspect of Dubai’s economy and tourism is to align itself with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Dubai is committed to ensuring that many sustainable goals should be achieved at the city level and for us in terms of tourism, primarily ensuring that we continue to achieve carbon is a key issue that we have worked on. Decreased emissions from the tourism sector.
One of the key contributors to climate change is carbon emissions and so it was a top priority, and we work with other government agencies to cover key UN SDG targets related to waste management and tourism. We’ve gotten good grades in that time because we’ve worked with the industry to train, educate and build their sustainability as a key aspect of operations and at the top of the list planning topic in terms of annual planning. We spent some time educating about 600 institutions.
In general, the parameters of our strategy are based on the creation of educational programs, performance monitors, regulations and targets, and celebrations with industry and the creation of awards and innovations. One of the things that was done outside of improving carbon emissions in the 2014 baseline is to get a number of businesses to think about creating a regulation covering 19 aspects of hotel operations that, if done correctly, would not have a huge impact. Not only on carbon emissions but also on the general resources of the sector. We are the first destination in the world who has implemented sustainable standards in the hospitality sector. We have a high level of passing grade and high level of compliance, between 80-90%.
We collaborated with hotels and experts when we designed the rules. We have set easily acceptable targets. We are going to increase the targets as we move forward. The Dubai Can Initiative is an important aspect of trying to reduce single use plastic can bottles from our price chain. Many hotels have implemented refill plans where they refill glass bottles or aluminum cans. In terms of community and public awareness, we have launched 30 untouched fountains across the city. These are free to refill for life. We are adding 20 more at the end of June.
The purpose is to keep it in mind for people to remember and replenish. It has a huge impact when we do it together. We’ve seen lots of shopping from corporate NAD people sharing their experiences through social media. Another is the ban on single use plastic bags. It is live from 1 July. We are going to give priority to retail bags because we are moving towards a complete ban on single use plastic bags in different places in the hope of two years.
It is being launched in collaboration with the Dubai Municipality, the Executive Council and themselves. We are working towards a simple transformation for the whole community We are so excited that we are making so much impact on the ground. We have new regulations on sustainability goals so we make sure everyone thinks about it in business models.
Q: How important is the tourism infrastructure agenda under the 2040 Urban Master Plan?
A: Our goal for the 2040 City Master Plan is to make Dubai a city of the future. Considering the innovations and changes in life. To increase happiness, to increase travel skills. In terms of reducing our environmental impact and increasing experience across Dubai, the plan is to create a city of the future, a digital city, and much more to create investment opportunities aimed at the Dubai Municipality. From our side, as a tail end part of the ecosystem, our main focus is to ensure that the hospitality sector and tourism experiences stay ahead of the curve.