Skift Take

Dubai's leadership thinks the city's focus on people's happiness makes the destination the ideal place to live, work, and vacation.

Series: Skift Global Forum East

Creating connections at the center of global travel. Join us in Dubai December 12-14, 2023.

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As we prepare to return to Dubai for Skift Global Forum East on December 12-14, we’re revisiting a few of the most popular sessions from last year’s event.

This episode of the Skift Travel Podcast is a rebroadcast of a session with His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, and Rafat Ali, Founder and CEO of Skift.

Visit Skift Live for info on how to attend this year’s Skift Global Forum East.


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His Excellency Almarri emphasizes Dubai’s success in tourism and economy, attributing it to foundational aspects like security, healthcare, and infrastructure. He highlights the city’s obsession with people’s happiness, striving to make Dubai an ideal place to live, work, and vacation. The conversation then shifts to the cultural aspect of Dubai, where hospitality and efficiency are deeply ingrained, stemming from leadership examples and percolating through society.

The topic of Dubai’s infrastructure and planning for the future is addressed. Almarri discusses a master plan that aims to make each part of the city self-sufficient with necessary amenities within a 20-minute walking or bike ride. This plan is part of a broader effort to enhance city life, increase walkability, and improve wellness.

Sustainability is another key focus. Dubai aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, with significant efforts in transportation, infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks to reduce carbon footprints. This includes promoting electric vehicles and sustainable practices in the tourism sector.

Almarri then delves into Dubai’s leadership in emerging technologies like AI and crypto, stressing the importance of regulation to foster innovation and protect consumers. Dubai’s approach is proactive, ensuring the city stays at the forefront of these industries.

The conversation also touches on Dubai’s growing role as a hub for startups, particularly in travel tech. The city’s collaborative environment between the private and public sectors is highlighted, fostering innovation and attracting global talent.

Throughout the discussion Almarri reflects on the Middle East’s potential, noting the region’s growth and the young, striving population. He envisions a bright future for Dubai and the broader region, driven by cooperation, innovation, and forward-thinking policies.


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Tags: sgfe2023, skift podcast

Photo credit: His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarr Dubai Department of Economy Tourism speaking with Skift CEO Rafat Ali at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai, UAE in December 2022. Skift

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