Abu Dhabi’s standing as a world leader in tourism has received another welcome boost after two of its attractions appeared in a list of the greatest places of 2018.
Both the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi were the only attractions in the UAE highlighted by Time magazine.
Other destinations in the Gulf region to make the list included the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in Saudi Arabia, the Al Qarawiyyan Library in Fez, Morocco and Cairo’s Marriott Mena House hotel.
Tourism experts heralded Abu Dhabi’s inclusion as further evidence of the city’s success in diversifying its oil-rich economy.
“We have The Louvre, Warner Bros, Yas Island and a tremendous amount of investment, effort and the right brands entering the market," said Gaurav Sinha, a tourism expert based in Dubai.
“It’s one thing to invest money in creating landmarks, per se, and another thing to bring trusted operators like Warner Bros into markets like Abu Dhabi. The long-term strategy is yielding dividends.”
In recent months the UAE has launched campaigns to increase the number of visitors to the country.
Initiatives have included a decision by the Cabinet to give more international travellers a tourist visa on arrival rather than having to apply before flying.
Last year, Dubai proved the No 1 destination for inbound travel into the UAE, accounting for 87 per cent of all arrivals.
But experts say Abu Dhabi is making important strides in attracting its own visitors.
"Dubai remains the number one destination for global travelers coming to the UAE, taking the majority of all inbound travel," said Sam Ayles, senior growth manager at flight Skyscanner.ae.
"However, Abu Dhabi is showing strong growth, seeing a 15 per cent increase in bookings year on year, compared to Dubai’s 6 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017.
"With its year-long sunshine and growing number of cultural attractions and hotels, the UAE and the capital Abu Dhabi are fast-becoming a key global tourist hotspots”.
In its entry for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Time references the emirate's cultural ambitions, saying "great fortunes like to associate themselves with great art".
The magazine’s listing for Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, says the theme park is “designed to entertain all kinds of Warner Bros fans and also offer them a reprieve from the region’s often sweltering heat”.
In assembling the annual list, Time said it welcomed nominations across a variety of categories, "such as museums, parks, bars, restaurants, theme parks, cruises and hotels – from our editors and correspondents around the world as well as dozens of industry experts".
Entries were evaluated based on a set of factors including quality, originality, innovation, sustainability and influence.
"The result is a list as diverse as the world it reflects, with 100 entries spanning six continents and 48 countries," Time said.