Dubai: Despite the searing heat and intense humidity that hangs over Dubai throughout the summer, tourists still flock to the city to enjoy its hotels, malls, and leisure activities.
Dubai has not always been a popular destination during the summer, due to its high temperatures, but according to Saeed Al Falasi, Director of Strategic Alliances at Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, the government and private sector have found a formula to keep visitors and residents entertained from June to September. By focusing on what the city has to offer, such as its beaches, spas, water parks and malls, Dubai has created festivals and events to attract families from the region, and even tourists from further afield.
"The summer in Dubai has not always been on the map, so we, as an organisation, worked very hard with the private sector to make Dubai the definition of summer. The tourism numbers in summer have been increasing year after year, so this is very encouraging for us. We know we're on the right track with the events we're creating," Al Falasi told Times of Oman.
The summer events are part of a full calendar year of festivals and activities, so no matter what month it is, there is something to look forward to and enjoy in Dubai, he said, from the Dubai Food Festival in February to the Dubai Motor Festival in November.
This year, summer events included special Ramadan-themed activities, with a Holy Quran contest and a night souk, concerts and fireworks to mark Eid. Also, Dubai has offered visitors more than a month of value deals, unique fun and educational zones during Dubai Summer Surprises from August 2 to September 5.
New events this month include a tailor-made Angry Birds Universe, that allows children to explore the art and science behind the popular game, as well as a Hello Kitty zone and a Transformers show.
Al Falasi said it is important to change the events from year to year in the summer to keep people anticipating new surprises, most of which are free of charge. Even though the activities do not make money on their own, and even cost the government and private sector a significant amount of money, they are still worthwhile, in terms of the number of people who spend time in the city's hotels and malls.
"Both of us, the government and the private sector, believe very strongly in having those events to increase the number of people visiting the city. It's definitely worth it. The private sector sees the return on their investment and every year they increase their contribution," explained Al Falasi.
Offering special hotel and flight packages keeps visitors, especially those from the GCC, in Dubai longer, too, he added. Some of the summer deals include letting children fly or stay for free with their parents.
"We work on a lot of different packages. This lowers the costs for families," he noted.
Al Falasi noted that other cities in the GCC could also attract tourists in the heat of summer if they focus on what their cities have to offer and take advantage of that. While Dubai is known for its beaches and shopping, Oman has its own unique qualities that could be highlighted, no matter what the season.
"Really explore the city and see what it has to offer and build on it. Dubai has beaches and shopping. Oman is very rich in terms of history and nature, at the same time. This is the attraction for Oman that Dubai doesn't have, and perhaps Oman can build on," he said.
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