Dubai's lively vibes, spectacular skyline, and extensive events have been praised many times by visitors of the city — celebrities included. But, it seems as though the city is slowly losing its charm with travelers.
Jumeirah Group, an international luxury hotel chain part of Dubai Holding, has reportedly cut hundreds of jobs as the city's tourism sector spirals down. According to Arabian Business, the government-owned luxury hotel chain dropped about 500 jobs, most of which were support roles.
Jumeirah has more than 13,500 employees and manages 24 properties in eight countries, according to its website.
Hotels in the city are struggling to maintain operations in a space occupied by a stagnant tourism sector — a key player to the emirate's economy. In fact, occupancy levels in hotels during the second quarter of 2019 were at their lowest levels since 2009. The city has also witnessed an overflow of hotel openings, just ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai.
It's not just hotels though. Several projects in the country have been put to a halt due to financial burdens. One of those projects is Six Flags. The Dubai firm in charge of the whole project put a stop to its plans to bring the famed theme park to the Arab world. In doing so, the firm has agreed to pay a settlement of $7.5 million to Texas-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp. for the fallout. DXB Entertainments, which owns Dubai Parks and Resorts, announced its decision to put an end to the $454 million plan earlier this year, saying it will not go ahead with it any longer due to financial constraints.
The firm agreed to pay up to "retain exclusive right of first refusal for use of Six Flags' Intellectual property rights in the UAE for five years," according to Reuters.
DXB Entertainments, which operates Legoland, suffered a loss of $58.7 million in the first quarter of the year, as reported by Bloomberg.
The government has introduced different measures in a bid to challenge the slow economic growth rate. These include lower business fees in certain areas and issuing long-term visas for individuals.
Earlier this year, the Emirati nation recently announced changes in UAE visa policies that were deemed progressive by many. Under the new changes, guardians of 18-year-old males can now apply for a residency visa on their behalf — valid for up two years. This is open to all sons of UAE residents' as long as they have earned a secondary school education certificate.
Previously, such visas - under humanitarian appeal - came with a security deposit amounting to 5,000 dirhams ($1,361). Either that or men had to obtain either a work or study visa after turning 18 to remain in the country. The new residence permit will be valid for one year and can then be renewed for an additional year - giving males the chance to find a suitable work opportunity in the country.
The visa renewal attempts to encourage male dependents to seek employment opportunities in the country, which will allow the UAE to retain young talent in the job market.
That's not all.
The nation also announced that tourists traveling to the UAE during the summer season (July 15 and Sept. 15) won't need to pay visa fees for dependents aged 18 years or below. The move meant to drive tourism up during the summer season. However, that doesn't seem to be the case.
This month, the Gulf nation also rolled out new laws for tourists regarding the purchase of alcohol. Tourists in Dubai are now able to buy alcohol from shops after the new measures were implemented. To be able to do so, the tourist must be both a non-Muslim and over the age of 21, as well as obtain a free-of-charge license to be able to make a purchase at these shops.