Dubai as a First-Choice Destination for Saudi Tourists: Analysis of Socio-economic Characteristics, Travel Behaviour, and Perceptions of Saudi Visitors to Dubai

This article examines the demand for Dubai tourism via a binary logit model, using its top source market, Saudi Arabia, as a case study. Saudi Arabia is a relatively mature tourism source market for Dubai, and the results produced should therefore be more representative than those of a sample drawn from any of Dubai’s other tourism markets. The explanatory variables in this model are socio-economic variables such as gender, age, marital status, number of children, income, employment, and education. A total of 1 111 tourists were selected via convenience sampling to participate in a survey. The results show that Saudis’ primary reasons for visiting Dubai are shopping, family entertainment, and youth entertainment. The survey results also indicate that most Saudis visiting Dubai are relatively young single men seeking an open-minded cosmopolitan context where they can enjoy the quality of place and the diversity, openness, and tolerance that Dubai offers. Gender and age are more significant factors for those travelling to Dubai for youth entertainment than for those seeking shopping or family entertainment; marital status, number of children, and income are more significant factors for those travelling to Dubai for shopping or for family entertainment than for those seeking youth entertainment. The study also found that Saudis who travel to Dubai for shopping and for family entertainment tend to visit more frequently and spend more money than those who travel for youth entertainment. The findings suggest that if Dubai is to achieve its tourism vision 2020, maintaining market share across Dubai’s existing source markets, including Saudi Arabia, is essential, as economic and demographic growth will lead to a natural rise in visitors from these markets.

Esmat Zaidan
Department of International Affairs,
College of Arts and Science, Qatar University

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