Due to sanctions and an unfavourable economic climate in Russia, a crowd of wealthy Russians are set to emigrate to the UAE. The destination’s luxury tourism product would have informed the decisions of many that have taken leisure trips to the likes of Dubai in years gone by.

According to GlobalData, the number of Russian travellers visiting the UAE increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47% between 2016 and 2019, which shows that in the most recent years prior to Covid-19 and the conflict in Ukraine, the UAE was quickly becoming a major destination for Russian travellers. Fast forward to 2021 and the UAE had moved from the seventh most popular outbound destination for Russians in 2019, to the second.

This rapid change from the UAE being a liked destination to becoming a loved one by Russians was spurred by wealthy travellers appreciating a tourism product that was pre-designed to fit in with their preferences and behaviours. Those with the means to do so are now relocating to destinations in the UAE such as Dubai, where they already know that their lavish needs and wants will be catered for.

Dubai’s tourism offering: The perfect marketing tool

An influx of wealthy Russians moving to the UAE will certainly do no harm for the nation’s economic prospects. The Emirate of Dubai has hosted many Russian tourists in the past and has likely acted as the perfect marketing tool for encouraging this market to buy property within the UAE. According to GlobalData’s City Profiles Database, Dubai received 444,000 overnight visitors from Russia in 2021, which was 67.9% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels. This strong recovery in visitation demonstrates the popularity of Dubai within the Russian market, with wealthy travellers driving the demand.

A holiday in Dubai brings with it several different features that could inspire Russian travellers to live in the UAE permanently, with the first being the weather. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer Survey, 61% of Russian respondents stated they typically take sun and beach trips, with this type of trip being the most popular for this market. With most of Russia having a notoriously cold climate, many wealthy Russians would be attracted to living in a sunny climate on a year-round basis.

Looking at the more extravagant side of things, destinations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai have ports that create favourable conditions for superyachts to be docked there. For example, in 2019, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi became an official UAE Port of Entry for international superyachts, where foreign flag vessels can avoid clearing through commercial entry ports.

With destinations such as Dubai boasting a tourism product tailored directly towards affluent tourists, the trend of wealthy Russians moving to the UAE comes as little surprise. With the nation remaining neutral in response to the Ukraine conflict, the number of Russians living in the UAE may continue to grow beyond 2022, attracting more tourism and delivering a greater economic impact as a result.