December 29th, 2011
01:55 PM GMT
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Dubai, UAE (CNN) - China's fast-emerging middle class is providing a lifeline to the UAE's tourism ambitions, with the trickle of Chinese visitors to Dubai rapidly becoming a flood.

The drama and the glamor of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, have made it one of the Middle East's glitziest draws for Chinese travelers. The UAE has spent millions of dollars on its luxury hotels and designer brands, which are proving increasingly appealing to the Chinese customer.

Last year the number of hotel guests in the UAE arriving from China jumped nearly 40%, but they're still only a small portion of the total tourists.

“The number of arrivals from China in 2010 was about 150,000 out of 8 million,” Liz Martins, a senior economist at HSBC MENA, told CNN’s Leone Lakhani.

She added: “It's a very early stage, but I think there are marketing efforts and where you're getting trade links, investment links and contracting links throughout the rest of the economy, actually that feeds through to a greater awareness - a mutual awareness between the markets - and that creates potential.”

China's enormous population and disposable wealth means hotel operators are taking note. The Jumeirah group owns the world's first self-titled 7-star hotel, the Burj al Arab. The hotel's exclusivity has made it a draw for Chinese tourists.

“It's expected that there will be 100 million outbound Chinese travellers by 2020 and already it's quite close to 50 million outbound tourists, so why would we ignore it? It's a great opportunity,” said Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group.

“Year to date, the total number of Chinese visitors to the Burj, the total percentage of our business, is about 25%,” he added. “One of the great things for us is that the Chinese love to travel in the summer time. They don’t mind that it’s quite warm in Dubai in the summer, so it's not even pushing into our high season.”

Jumeirah is also making inroads into China. It opened its first hotel in Shanghai this year and has plans for five more across the country.

The UAE gained approved destination status in China two years ago.  That makes it easier for Chinese tourists to get visas for travel to the UAE, and it's allowing more travel agents to tap into that market.

“There’s a growth in the number of Chinese tourists coming into the UAE, and that’s due to a multitude of factors,” said Basel Abu Alrub, managing partner of travel group Utravel.

He added: “Their purchasing power is increasing because the Yuan against the dollar is rising.

"The second thing is, with the economic growth with the Chinese economy … there's more disposable income for the average Chinese national. And there's also connectivity: Now they’re building more and more airports so that the average Chinese national is more connected.”

The UAE has ambitions to double the number of tourists by 2020: China's fast-emerging middle class could be key.



soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. theboldcorsicanflame

    The planet will never put up with so many people travelling, too much co2. Better take advantage while it lasts

    December 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  2. US Watcher

    But watch out! Once they like the place, they end up overstaying there, becoming illegal aliens.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  3. Tareq

    Dubai is a great place to visit these days as the weather is fabulous (22-25C).
    The infrastructure is modern and state of the art, they have nice malls, nice outdoor cafes and restaurants.
    However, the haters will still make politically correct statements to show their intellectual superiority on this forum. I call them trolls.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  4. BBC

    The Caucasions like the land of Mohegan and end up overstaying there.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  5. Paul

    Another chinese fearmongering piece of propaganda from the CNN.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  6. Andy

    Its a desert for crying out loud, not even the trees are real.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  7. Vivienne Murray

    The Chinese propaganda collective have apparently assumed Western names. This does not mask the pure hatred in their comments.

    What about the issue of Human Rights abuse in China? China is building towards its own Arab Spring, yes?

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    December 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  8. To US Watcher

    I guess you are an American. Do you feel guilty for your ancestry who overstayed in North America and plundered of Indian land?

    December 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  9. 2Bob

    Lucky UAE – Chinese spitting all over the streets.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  10. HiroGuest

    The jealousy here is fun to watch.

    Are you really that mad the Chinese are doing better economically and even developing a middle class when countries like the US have already lost theirs? Well, cry some more because it is the direct result of your own stupidity.

    December 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  11. 2Bob

    Hirohito, not jealous and not even an American! Just someone who lives in a place that has witnessed the sptting and gobbing in our streets and inside buildings by Chinese visitors. Unfortunately many Chinese have become wealthy before they have become civilised. It proves that money cannot by manners.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  12. zp_Switzerland

    a completely made-up article, probably ordered and paid by the UAE tourism authority.... absolutely no information contained, just marketing. "The drama and the glamor of the United Arab Emirates"??? find out for yourself!
    I guess CNN’s Leone Lakhani would do anything for money

    December 30, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  13. alumette

    I don't see too many bikinis on these beaches....the old Chinese are walking in the sand with their pants rolled up. That's about their style. No character, no style but certainly man made environment and luxury. Don't go there looking for real excitement but an artificial avenue to get your money. No thanks to Dubai/ UAE. Not for me.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  14. zp_Switzerland

    .. or rather paid by the Jumeirah Group. corruption in journalism is widespread

    December 30, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  15. OverseasView

    Wow, it's amazing the amount of hate and jealousy Americans have for Arabs and Chinese, respectively. It's unfortunate Americans have turned to blaming outsiders for their own problems, instead of solving their own problems at the root cause from within. 'Sore losers' is probably the best description of the U.S.A.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  16. KandisBot

    Well, since I was born with jet black hair and it changed to blonde by one and my aunt like loves China and had many friends there & some live-in students... I'm here to express hope in the American upcoming Presidential elections and in Republican nominee Michele Bachman...we'll see if that changes any minds and the economy in general for the good.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  17. john

    its true money cannot buy manners, as the chinese gain more money their manners unfortunately have remained at an all time low .

    December 30, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  18. soliterry

    I don't think flock is a good word to describe this article.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  19. Choco monster

    The Arabs needs to give them instructions on how to not use the bathroom in public places like they do in the mainland.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  20. Choco monster

    I heard they need to give them a special "pollution suite" where they can have the mainland experience while overseas.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  21. Ya buddy

    I think the Chinese woman is doing her laundry in the water.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  22. Arthur

    The thing is that the relatively small amount of Chinese tourist probably spend as much as the other 7.8M tourists.....

    December 30, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  23. jejemon

    aren't there enough chinese in uae doing the round in flesh trade industry? the commercial sex workers are enough but i guess they don't spend money like the middle class tourists.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  24. Ya buddy

    Mao money isn't worth as much as real money.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  25. Cortanis

    People don't seem to actually know just how much the Chinese population gets out. I'm currently sitting at work doing audit in a hotel in New Mexico an in the last four days we've had two large tour groups of nothing but Chinese nationals. These groups are common and we tend to see them about every 2-3 months. Heck, we get three more of these groups in January.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  26. welcom to china

    China will become even more rich and powerful

    December 30, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  27. Ya buddy

    Cortanis, they are here to copy technology.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  28. CNN Factoid

    China is a source of cheap labor for the West. It can be easily replaced by other third world countries.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  29. Emma

    i think it's not quite easily replaced at the moment. i am not sure in the future. Vietnam workers are quite hard-working since i have chance to work with them. it's just a step. now China is a source of cheap labor. may be future it's the major market to western countries. who knows what will happen tomorrow? work hard & work smart

    December 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  30. Will

    CNN loves to make fearmongering piece of propaganda subject to China.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  31. MCdreamy

    Chinese money, feed UAE and all of the world

    December 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  32. LCL

    Face it. Dragon has awaken

    December 30, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  33. Ya buddy

    I keep expecting that lady to take a deuce in front of everyone like they do on the mainland.

    December 31, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  34. Marco Hsiao

    The whole of China is moving to prosperity continually.

    Certainly more tourists from Mainland China will come to the tourism spotlights of the world. It is a big business.

    December 31, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  35. Marco Hsiao

    If some comments on the article are from the US citizen(s) -

    It shows that the US quality is declining.

    Besides, they are hurting the US tourism industry.

    December 31, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  36. walley

    China is the big market for nearly every aspects,invest there you will get much more.

    December 31, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  37. Beerbarrel

    Are UAE restaurants going to start serving pork to cater to the Chinese palate? Muslims want halal food when they travel to other countries, so it is only right that they serve pork to the Chinese tourists, and lots of beer and rice wine.

    December 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  38. kirgen

    To Chinese nationalists, everything is "propaganda" against China, and everyone on the internet is a white American .

    What sad little minds.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  39. To Kirgen

    I am a Chinese and I am anti Chinese government。While I am very uncomfortable to see that some people criticize the whole Chinese because of behaviors of some particularly individuals .

    China has many problems, However, as for the people of prejudice and arrogance, your sense of superiority comes from nothing except you are luckily born in a developed country. If you are born in China, with your current manners your behaviors will be no better than the those you look down.

    December 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  40. scott

    To 2Bob,

    Spitting happens in many places especially in dense urban area. I came to downtown seattle the other day and saw several spitting or throwing trash on street- non of them chinese origin. Your comment show you are an uneducated person that like to vent your anger on people of other race. Get a life.

    January 1, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  41. Asia From

    Well, the Chinese should not be too worked-up by all those Chinese-bashing comments, but look at them positively from another angle...Why people is bashing (spiked with jealousy undertone, of course ).... maybe there are something or somewhere that you really need to improve, so be it, accept that fact and change for better. All these bashing pointed to another important fact i.e... you are somebody !...you dare to say "No" to them ( unlike the lapdogs..you know who i mean ) !...you made them feel threaten !.....Nobody going to waste their time bashing some nobody or their own lapdogs !....So, cool !

    January 1, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  42. kimchi

    Good. Keep directing the Chinese tourists to the Middle East. That is two groups who deserve each other. Intolerant hateful religion meets the arrogant nationalistic drones. What a perfect couple!

    January 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  43. robatayaki

    to kimchi, arrogant nationalistic drones seems a better description for you sad and credit-laden Americans, blaming China for EVERYTHING

    January 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  44. robatayaki

    to kirgen:
    To American nationalists, everything is "propaganda" against the US or A, and everyone on the internet is a yellow Chinese

    What sad little minds.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  45. thehungryegghead

    Generally I find that if you treat others with respect, they will most likely return it. I have dealt firsthand with Mainland Chinese tourists, and if you tell them nicely what they are doing wrong...many will try to follow the proper code of conduct.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  46. bandry

    If you want to go to Tibet ,just visit , http://www.tourdetibet.com

    January 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  47. kirgen

    robatayaki et al,

    I'm not American nor was I "born in a developed country". Assume much?
    Your knee jerk response just proves my first statement right.

    January 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  48. Cyrus Parsa

    A desert with full of skyscrappers. Honeslty there are much beeter places to see in the world than Dubay.

    January 2, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  49. Md Amir Md Yusof

    invite to log-on http://www.1tradezone.my

    January 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  50. marco

    Chinese only ever talk white people and white things because they're classist and racist
    Guess what? Most of the world is brown. You and every country in the world will be dark skinned when we all mix together.

    January 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  51. li

    obviously, they are Korean people in the video not Chinese.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  52. Ya buddy

    Lol @ kimchi, you got my +1 buddy.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:35 am |
  53. Tam

    Spitting and throwing trash is a big problem with Chinese people. Also, cue jumping and LOUD talking are common, too. Oh, and watch out for Chinese girls in the airport bathrooms trying to rob people – saw that in Hong Kong airport. Oh and let's not forget the idiotic behavior towards foreigners. Honestly until they become civilized they should go to very few places.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  54. TT

    To Klmchi –

    It is hurtful to hear you refer to Islam as "intolerant and hateful". I am not sure if you have been to the Middle East, be it Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, or the UAE. If you visit one day let me know, I will gladly show you the beautiful and tolerant Islam and how it is embedded in modern day society. I live in the UAE and I can easily tell you that all religions are tolerated. Walk down the street and you will see bars and restaurants serving pork and alcohol next to mosques where people pray. There you will see covered women walking next half naked ones; residents are free to practice their religion the way they want (or not practice it at all). Please do your background check before you spit out spiteful ignorant comments. Yes there are parts of the world where is Islam is extreme, but this is NOT the way it was meant to be practiced and is, unfortunately, being enforced by extremist illiterate herds and encouraged by those who benefit from such regimes.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  55. Liu

    I want to ask those who have prejudice to Chinese people: have you been to china before? What you learned is from media, no investigation, no right to speak, do not consider yourself superior than others.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  56. Joe

    @Andy .. Get out of that shit whole called America .... it's a big friendly world out their beyond what Fox news and CNN depicts to retards like yourself.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  57. Pity

    It's a pity that every body is against these Chinese visitors. We have to show them a good sample rather than just criticizing. History will tell you that in the old days, when the Chinese is having a thrilling economy, the rest of us are still living in slumps. Remember the silk road, remember who invented printing? Think .......

    January 6, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  58. Everything is made in china

    these are not tourist, they are spying dubai to build drug labs specially those chinese nationals, fast growing economy of china by copying things. whats next? land or country for sale tagged MADE IN CHINA?

    January 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  59. maybe?

    chinese international students are so nice, they study really really hard and really really smart, they polite to everyone and they cook food for us , really sweet. They have a good and strict education in China, they behave much better than american stu. u can see they a more polite to teachers and to parents.....some rich ppl from china are poor educated cuz couldnt afford even high schools they rely on themselves ,work hard and suffered a lot , finally they succeed with less academic background ,less good conditions, why they a not welcomed to UAE, everybody can has bad behavior, how many students hav drug here and how many stu(now even teachers) say dirty words...all we need is be nice to each other and help improve each other.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  60. dddate

    back to that time when we were developing ourself, strong nationalism, imperialism, what was our behavior to nationswho were made unequal advantages by us whatever we call that a trade or invasion or rob, think abt them, they now are just develping, u can not expect them to be perfect because at that time we were just as same

    January 13, 2012 at 5:18 am |
  61. james

    Chinese will eventually take over the world...and that is their desire.Hell,they have already taken over half of san Francisco and are infesting many other places in the world....its a plague Im sorry to say.They just have too many people and not enough room to move in their own country.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:04 am |
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