The UAE is the most tourism-friendly destination in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to the latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The UAE bested its Arab peers, including strong contenders like Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, thanks largely to its good business environment, air transport infrastructure and safety and security.
To come up with the ranking, the WEF assigned scores to each 141 economies around the world based on their international openness, business environment, health and hygiene, ground and port infrastructure, among many other indicators.
The UAE, which welcomed more than 10 million tourists in 2013, leads the region and takes 24th place globally, followed by Qatar (43rd), Bahrain (60th), Morocco (62nd) and Saudi Arabia (64th). The country has been credited for creating a “unique environment” to draw in thousands of visitors every year.
“While the UAE does not have rich natural resources, it has built a unique environment to attract both business and leisure travelers. From Expo 2020 Dubai to the construction of the Louvre and Guggenheim, the UAE is investing in and giving significant importance to the development of the travel and tourism industry,” the report said.
Several countries in the Arab world are price-competitive destinations and many have built significant travel and tourism industries in recent years. Concerns about security, however, have discouraged some travelers, consequently limiting international arrivals in certain countries.
Overall, Spain emerged as the most tourism-friendly destination, followed by France (2nd), Germany (3rd), the United States (4th), the United Kingdom (5th), Switzerland (6th), Australia (7th), Italy (8th), Japan (9th) and Canada (10th).
The index measures the different economies based on a set of factors that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector.
In terms of safety and security, the UAE takes the third place globally, ahead of developed economies like Iceland, Singapore and Austria, among many others.
The UAE is also doing well in attracting entrepreneurs, as it takes the fourth spot globally in business environment, ahead of Switzerland, United Kingdom and Finland.
The UAE gained very high scores for its air transport infrastructure, which is ranked the third best in the world.
There are a number of areas the UAE is either lacking in or needs to work on, however. The country scored very poorly in international openness (ranked 85th), as well as in health and hygiene (69th), cultural resources and business travel (53rd), environmental sustainability (41st) and natural resources (95th).
The country’s information and communications technology (ICT) readiness, ground and port infrastructure, and tourist service infrastructure, however, are not too far behind, ranking 16th , 20th, 26th in the world, respectively.