Dubai visitors up amid ongoing development disputes

Business and tourism travellers to
Dubai from the UK and Ireland have helped boost visitor
numbers prompting claims the emirate is bouncing back from recession.

Dubai
hosted almost 1,858,000 visitors from April to June this year, a four per cent
increase on the same period in 2008. The UK and Ireland is the largest regional
provider with 197,000 visitors, or 10.6 per cent of the emirate’s total, for
Q2

The increase is attributed largely
to government investment and promotion of Dubai’s local tourism industry. However,
tourism aside, Dubai’s alleged green shoots of recovery are
still overshadowed by the estimated AED18 billion ($4.9 billion) in pending
construction claims.

A spokesman for the Dubai
International Arbitration Centre, the body that organises adjudication in legal
disputes, said the number of claims it expects to deal with this year will
triple as the construction sector reels from unpaid contractor
bills.

More than 180 new cases had been
registered so far this year, compared with just 100 for the whole of 2008.
Eighty per cent of these are believed to be construction disputes, with the rest
involving real estate.

However, despite these development
problems, Ian Scott, director, UK and Ireland, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing,
claims Dubai is
bouncing back. “Investment in the product continues, contrary to some reports,
at a time when slashing budgets would be the easier option. Throughout this
challenging period, we have remained realistic but confident, even in the face
of criticism.

“Although there is a long way to go,
we are managing the situation – the figures speak for themselves, showing that
Dubai is on the
road to recovery.”

One venue that does appear to be
unaffected by the current spate of development disputes is the Dubai
International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Its new extension, titled the
Sheikh Saeed Halls, will be open and available for events by the end of the
year. The new facility comprises four inter-connected halls including one
multi-purpose hall known as The Arena. The expansion will create a total of one
million square feet of covered venue space.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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