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UAE tourism revenues top $5bn: Officials

An economic boost is also expected from hosting fans attending the World Cup in neighbouring Qatar this winter
A man walks past Dubai's Museum of the Future on 7 February 2022 (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates' tourism sector's revenues surpassed $5bn in the first half of this year, officials said on Sunday, with a strong performance expected this winter when neighbouring Qatar hosts football's World Cup.

Hotel occupancy was up more than 40 percent in comparison with the first half of 2021, when the country's tourism suffered a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, UAE Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said after a cabinet meeting in the capital, Abu Dhabi.

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"The total number of hotel guests reached 12 million, achieving 42 percent growth, and we expect a strong tourism performance in this winter season," Sheikh Mohammed said, according to the official WAM news agency.

Dubai plans to host large numbers of football fans during the World Cup in November and December due to a shortage in accommodation in the small emirate of Qatar, which is expecting 1.2 million visitors to the event.

The UAE last month followed Saudi Arabia in announcing that it will offer multiple-entry visas to football fans at the World Cup.

Dubai is one of the Gulf cities operating daily shuttle flights to and from Qatar during the World Cup, allowing fans to stay outside the wealthy state and still attend games.

Sheikh Mohammed said this year's economic growth has exceeded 22 percent and foreign trade is more than one trillion dirhams ($272bn). That compares with $229bn pre-pandemic.

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