Dubai to Merge Tourism, Economy Departments

The joint organization will focus on growing inbound international travel 40 percent by 2025. 


The government of Dubai has announced plans to merge Dubai Tourism and Dubai Economy into a single entity that will be tasked with accelerating economic development and promoting Dubai as a top destination for business and leisure travel. The reorganization is part of an ambitious strategy to grow the number of international visitors to Dubai by 40 percent, to 25 million visitors, by 2025. 

"Dubai's economy has witnessed different phases of development throughout its history, which has helped shape the city's current status as a model for economic development and a preferred destination for tourism," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. "Today, our ambitions have grown bigger and our priorities have changed. Raising our global competitiveness requires new ways of thinking."

Details of the merger are still emerging, but the government has laid out several key objectives for the new organization, to be titled Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism. Top goals include attracting 100,000 companies to relocate to Dubai within the next three years, hosting 400 global events annually by 2025, and making Dubai one of the top five cities in the world per major economic indicators.

"We've had conversations in the industry for years about where do convention and visitor bureaus really sit? Do we sit with tourism boards? Do we sit with economic development boards? Now in Dubai, we sit in one and the same," said Steen Jakobsen, vice president of Dubai Tourism. "For me, it is incredibly exciting that we have business events and a focus on driving them specifically laid out as one of the new objectives for this new government department."

Dubai was one of the first destinations to reopen to international visitors and has remained open since July 2020. The city hosted its first pandemic-era business event in October 2020. According to Jakobsen, Dubai's open borders and early development of Covid-19 safety guidelines allowed the destination to attract several international events that had been forced to relocate during the pandemic. Among them is Africa Oil Week, which was held last month in Dubai rather than in its typical Cape Town location. The new department plans to build on this success and make Dubai a top destination for planners from around the world to consider as they plan for future events.