Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, located in the Middle East region, is one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism destinations. No country just expands that quickly. Rather, they must brand themselves to the community internally and externally.
“Destination branding creates awareness of the destination through the brand’s imagery, such as a brand slogan, and these images reflect the ‘essence of the destination” (Williams, 13). Destination branding intends to market the country to the world.
If successful, like Dubai, the country can become one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations.
“In the early 1990s, Dubai was largely a desert city and survived on limited oil and trading” (Williams, 15). The country knew it would not survive very long without any development or expansion; “It was at this time that ‘Brand Dubai’ was born” (Williams, 15). The creation of Brand Dubai allowed the country to grow rapidly. The initial tools were making the airport an international hub and reconstructing one of the beachfront hotels.
This was only the beginning. “Further branding developments that followed focused largely on increasing the awareness of Dubai as a destination and widening distribution channels” (Williams, 15).
It was not until the late 1990’s that the government started getting involved. The government was surprisingly positively impacting the growth of local tourism “through major hotel companies by actively cooperating with DTCM to promote Dubai both regionally and globally” (Williams, 17). The government came to realize that their own country needed a boost and could end up somewhere big, and they wanted to be a part of the expansion.
They marketed the country with various forms of media and targeted the tourists with airlines and hotels. More recently, in 2009, “the Dubai government created the Dubai Media Affairs Office (DMAO) to coordinate Dubai’s media affairs regionally and globally” (Williams, 18). Dubai’s government wanted the country to have maximum exposure. It almost seemed as though the government got so caught up in being at the top that they took over the entire destination branding project of the country. On the other hand, the government intervention allowed for faster expansion and more diverse brand marketing. Following the creation of the DMAO, Destination Dubai was released, which rebranded Brand Dubai. The new brand “pays homage to the existing Government of Dubai logo” (Williams, 18), and digs deep into the roots of Arab culture and Dubai’s history.
Since the government got involved in the 1990s, Dubai has successfully increased its destination branding and awareness. Even though Dubai is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world, it still faces challenges when it comes to branding itself. Brand Dubai is composed of multiple stakeholders, products, and services. With that being said, there is no possible way to have control over every sector of the brand. “Finding a common opinion can therefore be very challenging, especially given that destinations comprise many companies from different industries and a diverse set of interest groups from both the private and public sectors” (Williams, 21). It can be hard to have everyone agree on the way a country should be promoted.
Therefore, this presents a challenge with the constant expansion of the country. Another challenge Dubai faces is keeping consistent with the nature and marketing of the brand of the country. “The global financial crisis has thrown up severe challenges to hotel managers and owners who have had to make staff redundant and yet also cope with a continuing wave of new hotel openings” (Williams, 22). This seems confusing at first as managers are firing staff to deal with new hotel openings, but in reality, the government is struggling with the quick expansion. The destination brand of Dubai has been so successful that there are so many tourists traveling to the country. With that being said, the government is frazzled attempting to satisfy the tourists and stay consistent with the modern-day norms. “The ongoing development of Brand Dubai must also be consistent with the essence of the destination” (Williams, 23). Dubai must create an emotional and consistent appeal to tourists as they view images depicting the country before traveling there.
With the involvement of the government, the destination brand development of Dubai has been quite successful. I would say that government intervention had an overall positive, lasting impact on the country. Without the government, Brand Dubai would not be where it is today nor would the country be such a popular tourist destination. The government assisted in getting the country off its feet and jumpstarting the development of not only the country itself but also the country as a tourist destination. Dubai is now one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, and travelers are loving the cultural experience, sporting events, shopping, attractions, and more.
“The ‘glue’ will remain the cultural strengths that have turned the emirate into a tourist paradise” (Williams, 28).