Just a four-hour flight away, it was hard for UAE residents to ignore Sri Lanka as an ideal destination to relax and unwind.
Secluded beaches, value for money and sunshine (with a rainy season if that's what you crave), made the island nation a No 1 choice for thousands from the Emirates.
Whether in the latter stages of life and seeking some historical discovery, or a youngster chasing surf and nights out, the country was appealing for all.
Then came the tragedy of the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed nearly 300 people at three churches and four hotels, most of which were in the capital Colombo.
As a result, Sri Lanka is forecasting a 25 per cent drop in visitor numbers compared to last year, but is hopeful of a rebound by the end of 2019 as security is stepped up.
For those living in the UAE who have already visited the country, their experiences shine brightly in the memory bank.
You can read the accounts of some of those who have visited in recent years in the slideshow at the top of the page.