Abu Dhabi offers 'Emirati Experience' tours via Airbnb

A selection of 20 tours can be chosen via the online booking platform

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., July 18, 2018.  First day of the 2018 Liwa Date Festival. --  Visitors take souvenir photos beside the largest clumps of dates at the festival.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Haneen Dajani

Airbnb guests can opt for tours of Abu Dhabi customized and led by Emirati guides for insights into local culture.

The Department of Culture and Tourism has signed an agreement with Airbnb to offer the "Emirati Experiences" initiative, a selection of 20 tours that can be chosen via the online booking platform, the DCT said on Tuesday. The tours are available starting July 31.

"We have a mandate to create opportunities for Emiratis," Sultan Al Dhaheri, executive director of tourism sector at DCT, said in a press conference. "We will work with hotel concierges to ensure they know about the initiative."

The Emirati Experiences include a four-hour photography tour with a desert safari, shopping for traditional handicrafts, savouring local food and a guide to modern Islamic architecture. Abu Dhabi is the latest of 800 cities in which Airbnb offers local tours.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 31 JULY 2018. A media roundtable on the tourism sector performance year-to-date at the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi. HE Sultan Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Tourism Sector, DCT Abu DHabi. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Deena Kamel. Section: Business.

The Emirati guides are volunteers and are not hired by DCT but are paid directly by the clients.

Airbnb has 6,700 listings in the UAE and about 90,000 guests by the end of 2017, according to Hadi Moussa, Airbnb general manager for the Middle East and Africa.


Read more: Abu Dhabi seeks new markets in East Asia as it eyes more tourists 


“The Experiences offer our global community insight into the history and culture of Abu Dhabi,” Mr Moussa said via a Skype call at the press conference. “They will attract new and diverse guests to experience Abu Dhabi.”

Abu Dhabi listings will continue to see “strong growth” this year, Mr Moussa said, without providing figures on the expected number of guests to the emirate in 2018.

Emirati Experiences in Abu Dhabi follows the introduction of the service in Dubai on Airbnb’s platform. The capital’s tours also include a hunt for “amazing and affordable abayas,” a guided exploration of the Al Dana shoe-making factory and a visit to an Emirati home.

Tours cost from Dh50 to Dh800 and can be booked online at visitabudhabi.ae.