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UAE residents actively seeking memorable experiences with 80% allocating a specific experience budget, reveals Shamal Holding UAE Experience Survey

November 28, 2023

  • Shamal UAE Experience Survey 2023 looks at the attitudes, preferences and trends contributing to the nation’s experience economy.
  • 75% of UAE residents are more willing to seek, spend and prioritise experiences more than ever before.
  • 56% of UAE residents define an experience as something memorable, followed by something new and something never done before (43%)
  • 80% of residents are allocating a specific experience budget.

According to a new study looking at the experience attitudes, preferences and habits in the UAE, residents are actively contributing to the nation’s experience economy. The UAE Experience Survey 2023 conducted by YouGov on behalf of Shamal Holding found that residents are positively seeking out new and memorable experiences. 75% of those surveyed said they are more willing than ever before to seek, spend and prioritise experiences.The research sheds new light on the habits, choices and priorities of UAE residents when it comes to experiences with some key themes and new insight emerging:

Residents prioritising experiences, across all age groups.

Aligning with global habits in a post-COVID era and millennials increasingly  prioritising experiencing over material things, the UAE Experience Survey found that across all age groups and backgrounds UAE residents are actively seeking out experiences. Two-thirds (75%) stated they are more willing to seek, spend and prioritise experiences than ever before, with the vast majority (87%) also stating that the UAE offers a wide range of experience options.

Residents looking for an experience to remember and close to home.

Another highlight of the research reveals that memorability is a key factor when defining what an experience is. Over half (56%) define an experience as something memorable, followed by something new and something never done before (43%) of the experiences which UAE residents value highly, many are easily accessible with a trip to the beach (53%) and spending time in nature (44%) the most popular experiences for a weekend. The survey also found that staycations were popular for a long weekend, with over half of residents preferring to stay in the UAE rather than travelling overseas.

UAE residents allocating an experience budget as part of their wider spending.

A dedicated experience budget habit also emerges with 80% of residents saying they are specifically allocating an experience budget once they have covered their basic monthly needs.

Whether this budget is spent on entertainment (62%), dining and hospitality (56%) or travel and vacationing (52%), residents’ experience budgets are actively contributing to the UAE’s overall experience economy. The UAE has become a destination where both locals and tourists are constantly seeking new and familiar experiences that inform, inspire and excite. While some look to friends and family (62%), some from word of mouth (39%), social media remains the top source (67%) to seek information and inspiration of what their next experience in the UAE may be.

An experience is what you make of it.

The Experience Survey reveals that when it comes to discovering, planning and spending on experiences, more thought and consideration is taken into account about what is available. With the wealth of experiences the UAE has to offer, from adrenaline fuelled adventures to intimate fine dining moments, budget (34%), location (19%) and positive recollections (14%) rank as the factors UAE residents take most into consideration.

A new UAE resident bucket list emerges.

A yacht trip (52%), skydiving (44%) and hot air ballooning or helicopter rides (44%) ranked as the top three bucket list experiences for UAE residents.

Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer, Shamal Holding said: “The UAE Experience Survey brings a new perspective on the experience attitudes and opinions of UAE residents. As social creatures humans are programmed to look for meaningful interactions and relationships with other humans. The survey shows that memorable interactions associated with positive emotional benefits that go beyond a functional benefit are increasingly important for residents in the UAE.

Creating something that is memorable is about making guests feel special and above all providing a human touch through extraordinary service and facilities as consumers look for a deeper and meaningful connections.”

“For Shamal Holding as a diversified investment firm that cultivates the extraordinary, we look forward to working alongside our partners and wider stakeholders to contribute to the UAE’s experience economy through our unique portfolio of investments, experiences and assets.”

As the owning company of some of Dubai’s most unique and iconic leisure and entertainment destinations, Shamal Holding continues to invest in the extraordinary across all its assets including Kite Beach, Dubai Harbour, Five Guys, Skydive Dubai, XPark, XDubai, and Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.