MENA tourism trendThe tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been getting more attention. According to the UNWTO, it grew to about six percent of the total worldwide tourist arrivals in 2018. In that year, the number of tourist arrivals in the UAE reached 15.8 million, while the total number of arrivals in the entire region amounted to 60 million. The efforts to increase the diversification of the MENA economies led to the growth of the tourism industry. The highest value of international tourist receipts among the MENA region was in the emirate of Dubai at more than 21 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 .
The COVID-19 pandemic altered the expectations of the tourism industry worldwide in 2020. Before the pandemic, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries had a projected tourist arrival of 64.3 million for the year 2020. However, the lockdown measures and safety restrictions that were placed during the pandemic negatively affected the industry. Among the GCC countries, 60 percent of business owners complained about the travel difficulties and restrictions that impacted their businesses.