DUBAI, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Temperatures are on the rise in Dubai, so does the influx of tourists in the sheikhdom.
|Temperatures are on the rise in Dubai, so does|
the influx of tourists in the sheikhdom.
Amel, a 32-year-old woman from Algeria, decided to spend a four-week holiday in Dubai.
"This is my first trip to Dubai," she told Xinhua, "besides the shopping malls and the luxurious hotels, the city offers more galleries and museums of art than I thought."
Dubai, once called an artificial "Disneyland in the desert," has indeed made tremendous efforts to offer its guests a taste of culture and modern art.
A place transformed into a hub of artworks, Dubai stands more for data, figures and tough businesses at a first glance: the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), a 110-acre (about 445, 156 square meters) free zone in the heart of the city.
Home of 245 banks, insurers and asset managers, the DIFC also hosts a number of fine art galleries such as the Artspace Gallery and the Opera Gallery, along with high-end fashion brand boutiques.
The DIFC also supports the annual Art Dubai event in spring, which attracts painters, sculptors and art aficionados from all over the world.
As in most parts of the world, Asian guests are flocking into the relatively liberal sheikhdom in the Gulf region, replacing tourists from traditional travel hungry spots in Europe.
Last year, Dubai saw the number of guests from China staying in its hotels increase to 107,488 from 96,328 in 2008. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) eased visa restrictions in late autumn for Chinese, granting easily group visas. During the same period, tourists from Britain declined 16 percent to 714,877.
Some 40 million passengers used Dubai International Airport in 2009, either as a destination or as a hub. And the number is rising constantly.
Moreover, the local tourism industry even manages to lure a growing number of Arab travelers, who usually spend their summer vacations in Europe. Higher shopping options are one reason why Dubai aficionados even overlook the sauna-like heat of 45 degrees Celsius during July.
The start of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) on June 17, which lasts till August 7, was a watershed for the travel industry, which suffered from the global financial crisis. The DSS offers thousands of price discounts in Dubai's popular shopping malls, as well as shows and music festivities for local residents and tourists.
According to the Dubai Department of Commerce and Tourism, hotel occupancy rose to 75 percent during the annual event.
Habib Khan, general director at the hotel Arabian Courtyard, tries to lure guests by offering special reductions for those who book online. Despite the rising number of guests from Asian and Arab countries, Khan said the majority of his guests are from Europe, with Britain and Germany leading the list.
Hotel owners, however, started already to promote discount offers for the Holy Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, which will start on August 11.
"Then I will already be back home safely, God willing," said Amel.
Since eating and drinking in public were not allowed during Ramadan, and clubs have to turn off their music, the hotel industry expects a drop of tourist from Western countries.
On August 10, Amel will travel back to Algeria, full of impressions to tell about to her family.
"I fly with Qatar Airways. I heard of the good services Dubai's Emirates Airline has, but Emirates is not flying between my country and Dubai," she said.
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