Complex Made Simple

UAE’s banner year could spill over to the GCC

The UAE ended 2021 with a bang, and the leadership announced more of the same for 2022 and beyond. The GCC outlook looks promising with the 2022 World Cup kicking it into gear

UAE's Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid reflected on 2021 as a year of achievements for the country Expo 2020 Dubai amazed the crowd with a Times Square-inspired midnight ball drop The UAE and Saudi both made serious efforts to reconcile with Qatar

The Expo 2020, Dubai’s Shopping Festival, New Year, the #DubaiDestinations campaign, coupled with the World’s Coolest Winter program, meant that travel to the UAE peaked as the year reached an end.

Executives in the travel and hospitality sectors told Khaleej Times that a good number of UAE inbound travelers got on flights from Russia, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, European countries, and the US.

The is also viewed as a safe and fun destination yearlong but as well for Christmas and New Year events, coinciding with Dubai’s shopping festival which runs from December 15, 2021 to January 29, 2022.

Visitors are also staying beyond their average 4-6 days and sometimes stretching it to 21 days or more.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, reflected on 2021 as a year of achievements for the UAE and looked forward to the new year with optimism and confidence.

In a tweet posted on New Year’s Eve, he wished everyone a happy new year and looked forward to 2022 being “a good year for humanity”.

“With the passing of a year full of virtue and achievements for the UAE, we welcome the new year of 2022 with optimism, confidence, preparation and readiness for the best,” he said.

Earlier in December, after leading the final Cabinet meeting of 2021, Sheikh Mohammed hailed the Emirates’ success in the past 12 months and looked forward to it reaching greater heights in 2022.

The UAE celebrated its Golden Jubilee, brought in major reforms to its legal system, completed a historic journey to Mars in 2021 using a scientific probe.

And, just as the year ended, the UAE pulled out all the stops to dazzle the world.

Ras Al Khaimah broke two Guinness World Records with its fireworks show. Expo 2020 Dubai amazed the crowd with a Times Square-inspired midnight ball drop that counted down the seconds to 2022. UAE projected hope by hosting an array of celebrations across the country to welcome 2022 with positivity while implementing strict Covid safety measures.

The UAE looks to be on a prosperous path, but is the GCC as a whole heading in that direction?

GCC moving forward

2021 was a year of reconciliation and diplomacy in the Gulf, and 2022 may see more of the same.

Throughout 2021, a general trend in the Gulf was toward de-escalation. The historic Al Ula accord ended the 2017-2021 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis with a lifting of the blockade on Qatar. 

At the same time, the UAE and Saudi both made serious efforts to reconcile with Qatar. 

Gulf states spent 2021 prioritizing trade, investment, and economic cooperation. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi improved ties with Ankara which also highlighted this trend. So has the warming of Saudi-Omani relations.  

 The FIFA World Cup 2022 is just around the corner. There are shared economic interests from this global event with positive repercussions that will restore economic and diplomatic relations with Doha.

The recent gulf tour of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showed the Kingdom aims to assert itself as a leading but also a unifying power for the GCC.

Space could also be another common interest shared by the GCC with the UAE, as all eyes are on Mars, the moon, and other celestial bodies, as scientific discovery mixes in with sub-orbital tourism.