change take

Dubai’s grand plan to turn tourists into residents has worked, at least for the Russians. Travel from Russia to Dubai is slowing for the first time in months.

—Josh Corder

After six month streak As Dubai’s second-largest tourism market, inbound travel from Russia is slowing. Since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Russians have come en masse to paradises like Dubai and the Maldives. A year later, many of those tourists have become residents in the emirate.

Russia has fallen to fourth place in The classification of Dubai’s tourism outbound market, now surpassed by Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. Around 731,000 Russian travelers have visited Dubai as of August this year, that is, as far as government data goes at the time of writing. Almost 785,000 tourists came from Saudi Arabia and 734,000 from the United Kingdom.

For Dubai, this is still an 85% increase in Russian tourists compared to the same point last year. What is happening now is that these tourists are settling in Dubai.

The flood of Russian money into the city’s real estate market is such that developers are rushing to build additional housing to suit Russian tastes. Local publications such as Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI) have called them the city’s “little Moscow communities”.

Dubai real estate major Betterhomes reported in July that in the second quarter of this year, Russians were third on the list of the biggest buyers in Dubai by nationality, behind Indians and Britons.

Russians living in Dubai

Earlier this year, Dubai Tourism announced its new plan to convert tourists into residents.

Speaking at DET’s latest city briefing, held at the Dubai World Trade Center on June 15, Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim said: “Today we have two new KPIs. We want to ensure that Dubai remains one of the best cities to work in and, more importantly, one of the best cities in the world to live.”

About a quarter of all tourists to Dubai return each year. Kazim said convincing those people to make Dubai a permanent home is key.

He added: “Once you bring them in, you hope that next time they will spend more money and stay longer. In time, they would consider living in Dubai and we have all the visas to facilitate this. We would like them to work here, live here and retire here.

“It’s about coming full circle,” Kazim said.

Photo credit: Dubai skyline. The emirate is turning tourists into residents.