UAE’s Emaar Entertainment to focus on domestic market; CEO

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Emaar Entertainment
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UAE-based Emaar Properties’ subsidiary Emaar Entertainment is focusing more on the domestic market following a drop in international visitor traffic, according to its CEO Ms. Zeina Dagher.

At the start of the pandemic last year, the entertainment industry, among others, suffered as businesses came to a halt and millions of consumers remained at home. Foot traffic at tourist landmarks, attractions, and cinemas had dropped dramatically in Dubai, where international tourism receipts totaled more than $21 billion in 2018.

Ms. Dagher stated that “the whole world came to a standstill. The whole world had closed and industries like entertainment, hospitality, and air travel, unfortunately, have been the most hit.”

Emaar Entertainment is behind the Reel Cinemas chain, which has locations all over the UAE. Kidzania, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the Dubai Opera, an ice rink, and a VR Park are among its indoor attractions. The company recently received approval to carry its Reel Cinemas brand to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.

Ms. Dagher pointed out that “the pandemic hit, we focused mostly on tourists and which countries they’re coming from. Now, our bigger focus is the residents on how we can reach them and attract more domestic traffic.”

Strategic planning of business

Emaar Entertainment’s strategy for capitalizing on the domestic market involves providing residents with value-for-money options. Consumers in the UAE, unlike visitors, are price-conscious, according to the CEO.

Ms. Dagher remarked that “so, we have to relook at our ticketing strategy and find out how we can provide more value to our customers with the same ticket price. We create bundled offers, staycations or bundle attractions with hotel stays, shopping vouchers with attractions.”

“Residents have become much more price-conscious, they’re always looking for promotions and bundles. In the past, tourists did not think about how much they pay for the ticket price. But now, we are in times where people are much more budget-conscious,” Ms. Dagher added.

Ms. Dagher believes that international tourist traffic will gradually return, giving the entertainment industry a much-needed boost. Even though certain COVID-19 restrictions remain in effect in the UAE, she noted that people are “hungry” to return to normal life.

“We are hoping that from now until the end of the year, things will ease further and more people are vaccinated. Hopefully, the economy will continue to open up more,” Ms. Dagher concluded.

Related: Saudi mega tourism project Amaala may raise up to $2.7bn in 2022