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The image of Abu Dhabi and Dubai – The perception of first-time visitor from Germany

The Middle East stands out as one of the world's fastest-growing regions for tourism, with Dubai leading since the 1980s and Abu Dhabi following suit from the 1990s. Both emirates have invested significantly in tourism development, aiming to bolster their global recognition and diversify their economies beyond oil production.


Despite their substantial efforts, academic literature on the international destination image of Dubai and Abu Dhabi remains surprisingly sparse. Addressing this gap, Hanno M. Martens and Dirk Reiser conducted a pioneering study published in February 2017. Their research sought to explore and compare the perceptions of Abu Dhabi and Dubai among potential first-time visitors from Germany, one of their key source markets.


The study, involving 300 respondents from North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, aimed to uncover the cognitive image attributes associated with Dubai and Abu Dhabi among non-visitors. Despite both emirates sharing a common foundation for tourism development, the study revealed distinct differences in their perceived destination images.


Interestingly, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not viewed as direct competitors in the tourism market; rather, highlighting their unique attributes could potentially enhance mutual benefits between them.


Furthermore, the research identified a discrepancy between the desired tourism destination image promoted by both emirates and the actual perceived image among potential tourists. Notably, sustainability emerged as a critical area where both destinations struggle to align with visitor expectations.


Potential tourists often perceive Abu Dhabi and Dubai as unsustainable and lacking environmental consciousness, posing significant challenges for their long-term tourism strategies.


In conclusion, while Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to expand their tourism sectors and enhance their global appeal, addressing sustainability concerns and aligning perceived images with desired ones remains crucial for attracting and retaining international visitors.


Culturally yours,

La Classe Team



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