Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) releases a report ranking countries based on the features that make them attractive to travelers. This year, Spain has been declared as the best country in the world to visit.
The 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitive Report saw France take the No.2 spot in the ranking followed by Germany (No. 3), Japan (No. 4), and the United States (No. 5).
The report assessed the competitiveness of 140 economies using a "set of factors and policies" that contribute to the development and competitive nature of a country. These include the business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, prioritization of travel and tourism, and the like.
So, can you guess which Arab country outranked all others in the region?
Well, the answer is ... the UAE
The UAE ranked first in the Arab world and 33rd globally on WEF's list. This doesn't come as a surprise considering the UAE has been shining on several fronts. It's been named the "least corrupt" and the "happiest" in the Arab world in 2019. The Emirati city of Dubai even got some credit for beating its counterparts in the region as the most livable city in the Arab world — though it ranked 70th globally.
The UAE's position on WEF's report comes a couple of months after Jumeirah Group, an international luxury hotel chain part of Dubai Holding, reportedly cut hundreds of jobs as Dubai's tourism sector seemed to be spiraling down. According to Arabian Business, the government-owned luxury hotel chain dropped about 500 jobs, most of which were support roles. It was revealed that occupancy levels in hotels during the second quarter of 2019 were at their lowest levels since 2009 in the Emirati city.
However, figures released in August showed that the dip in one of the emirate's most lively industries was only short-lived. The statistics, which were published by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, revealed that the number of international overnight visitors to Dubai increased by 3 percent in the first half of 2019. Compared to last year (8.10 million), 2019 witnessed the arrival of around 8.36 million tourists.
It is expected that hotel bookings will continue to pick up in the months leading to Expo 2020, which is set to be held in Dubai next year.
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.
Last 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.
Now, wondering how other Arab countries ranked?
- UAE (33rd globally)
- Qatar (51st globally)
- Oman (58th globally)
- Bahrain (64th globally)
- Egypt (65th globally)
- Morocco (66th globally)
- Saudi Arabia (69th globally)
- Jordan (84th globally)
- Tunisia (85th globally)
- Kuwait (96th globally)
- Lebanon (100th globally)
- Algeria (116th globally)
- Yemen (140th globally)
Read the full report here.