Digital nomads are helping fuel recovery in the Middle East

The Middle East is starting to see green shoots of recovery as the region attempts to bounce back from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dubai, in particular, has become a destination for digital nomads looking to live and work in one place for an extended period of time, according to data from travel analysis firm ForwardKeys.

Since Dubai announced its reopening in July 2020, French travelers were first to flock to the region, with arrivals climbing up by 83% by mid-October. Bookings from France dropped, however, after the country went into its second national lockdown but picked up again in December.

While there was also an uptick in travelers coming from the United Kingdom after lockdown lifted in December, Russian travelers have been visiting Dubai in record numbers. In fact, the average length of stay for Russian travelers in Dubai is almost twice the average of 2019.

According to ForwardKeys, the trend of staying longer in Dubai is no accident, but rather a smart move played by the Dubai government, which introduced a Digital Nomad Visa on October 14 to attract travelers from affluent markets looking for longer stays.

Air ticketing data also shows that tickets issued from Europe and the Americas has been trending upward since October 20.

“We have noticed constant week-on-week growth in long-term international tickets from late October when the [Digital Nomad Visa] program was first announced,” says ForwardKeys’ Ema Mandal.

“Remote workers can come to Dubai to live with their families with the visa valid for up to a year. Many origin markets, including Canada and the U.K., have been demonstrating year-on-year growths in November and December.”

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