Budget Dubai? It can be done, and it’s getting easier

May 08, 2012

DUBAI, May 8 — Conventional wisdom suggests that Dubai or neighbouring Abu Dhabi aren’t the place for a cheap getaway in the sun — but that could be changing quickly, it emerged last week.

The luxury Burj Al Arab in Dubai isn’t the only option for travellers nowadays. — AFP picThe luxury Burj Al Arab in Dubai isn’t the only option for travellers nowadays. — AFP picFamed for its seven-star hotel, gold bar vending machines and the luxury fashion brands tucked away from the desert heat in air-conditioned malls, the United Arab Emirates has long been positioned as a place for luxury lovers.

Since the opening of easyHotel, the accommodation arm of budget airline easyJet, things have been changing in the region though — and it’s recently become clear by how much. 

In fact, the United Arab Emirates is building more budget hotel rooms than any other destination in the region, a recent report by hospitality specialists Christie & Co has revealed, meaning that a vacation to Dubai won’t break the bank forever.

A total of 2,808 budget rooms are being built in the UAE, the report says, compared to 1,690 in Saudi Arabia, 420 in Qatar and 248 in Oman.

What “budget” means in the UAE varies, but a night in the easyHotel can be had for as little as AED99 (around RM80).

Slightly more expensive chains such as Ibis and Holiday Inn Express have also moved into the area, offering three-star stays at a fraction of the price of their expensive siblings such as Sofitel and InterContinental.

A stay at the Ibis is available from AED225, while the Holiday Inn Express starts from AED275 a night — a far cry from the €1,000 (RM4,000) a night splendour of the seven-star Burj al Arab.

At the Arabian Travel Market this week, Millennium and Copthorne revealed plans to roll out its Studio M brand across the Middle East and Africa, beginning in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to the National.

If the plan comes to fruition, it will likely add many more rooms at budget prices to the region’s supply, at a time when demand is still far from certain given the instability in other parts of the Middle East.

If visitor numbers don’t continue to grow, the recent hike in hotel prices may yet be proved temporary — and cut-price holidays to the region will be with us for a while yet. — AFP-Relaxnews