The wellness sector in the Middle East: the case of Dubai

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Dubai in particular, represent a relatively new growth market for professionals in the luxury wellness sector. What are the main trends? What are the key figures? What can we expect for the next few years with regard to spas and hammams in Dubai? Here is an overview.

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The wellness sector in Dubai: a private affair…

The wellness market in Dubai keeps pace with the growth in construction projects in the city: just like in all the other Gulf states, inhabitants who can afford it often decide to live in villas, most of which are equipped with private pools. The locals are not the only ones to engage in construction projects, given that expatriates in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman represent 60% of the UAE population according to the latest statistics drawn up for the year 2014 by Euromonitor International. Most of these expats choose to keep their western way of life, moving into residential areas made up of villas and private housing estates (compounds) that are equipped with pools and spas.

…but also geared towards tourists!

The spa sector is not only driven by requests from property owners (whether they live in the properties or not). Tourism in Dubai has developed significantly over the past few years: in 2014, the Emirate attracted 11.6 million visitors, up 5.6% compared to 2013. Hotel groups have opened or started building about forty additional hotels over the same period (i.e. approximately 10% more rooms) to meet this increased demand. And it’s not finished yet: the city-state is hoping to move from 10 million tourists (at the end of 2010) to 20 million by the year 2020!
In order to reach this milestone, Dubai is relying on the hotel sector, which acts as a real catalyst for the growth of the entertainment and leisure industries, in particular through the aquatic amusement parks, the pools and spas in hotels. The hotel industry’s turnover is expected to reach $10.9 billion in the UAE in 2019, compared to $7.3 billion in 2015, of which $638 million is generated solely by leisure activities!
To conclude, according to Euromonitor International, the market size of the spa industry in the United Arab Emirates is valued at $723 million, of which $353 million are generated solely by the hotel & resort spa sector.

Three larger-than-life projects that embody Dubai

Dubai is often referred to as the city where extravagance has no limits. Here are three projects that aim to dazzle tourists and will help you appreciate the scope of local projects:

  • villas with gardens and pools, floating on the sea: artificial “floating islands” that will be incorporated into the “The World” project, an archipelago off the coast of Dubai, originally conceived by Sheikh and prince Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktum, constructed in the shape of a world map;
  • floating villas with underwater bedrooms: with a selling price of just 1.6 million euros (or 6.5 million dirham), these villas are built on three levels, one of which is submerged. Named “The floating seahorse”, this ambitious programme consists of 42 properties and should be completed by the end of 2016. The villas will also be attached to the “The World” project, which slowed down slightly during the financial crisis, but has now resumed with even greater intensity!
  • 100 luxury villas a stone’s throw from Burj Khalifa. While the Nakheel Villas scheme may be adding a 1000 new houses in Dubai, our interest is focused on 100 villas in particular because they will be equipped with private pools and, according to the developers, will be fitted with best luxury features and equipment. They are currently being built (end of works planned this year) in the Nad Al Sheba shopping district, just ten minutes from Burjw Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world!

The wellness sector in Dubai is looking very promising, driven by the tourist sector and the increasing number of buildings that combine luxury and refinement. Keep yourself posted!

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