DUBAI // Most Arab tourists will make their way to the UAE this Ramadan, according to the Islamic tourism site irhal.com. On the flip side, many Emiratis have chosen to head for the cooler climes of Switzerland, according to hoteliers, who say they are pulling out all the stops to ensure visitors feel at home during Eid. Irhal.com says Dubai remains the number one destination for holidaying Arabs during the holy month, with Mecca a close second. Abu Dhabi rose from 11th place in July to fifth, the site said. It also named Almaty in Kazakhstan as a destination with rising popularity among Arabs and expatriates looking for a cool break.
Swiss hotels have gone out of their way to ensure their regular Emirati and GCC tourists - who some hotels claim make up 70 per cent of their summer trade - can observe Ramadan as they would at home. "It is amazing what hotels in Switzerland are doing for Ramadan," said Irfan Ahmad, of irhal.com. "They are providing iftar, suhoor ... Some even have iftar tents set up, which is common in Dubai, but not in Europe."
Halal food is available at most top Geneva and Zurich hotels, which also provide special breakfasts and 24-hour room service to ensure those fasting can eat before dawn. Representatives of European hotels visited the UAE this summer, Mr Ahmad said, to learn more about Middle Eastern tastes. "What people want is to get away from the heat," he said. "They want halal food, particularly during Ramadan, and most hotels don't serve breakfast so early. If people are willing to provide these services then they become a preferred hotel."