The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was suspended on 16 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until the start of 2021. The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results. See the 2020 inbound page for more information. Data for 2021 and 2022 was also impacted by COVID-19, more information can be found on the About IPS page.

Due to the above, the latest full year IPS data below is from 2019. You can access data detailed data from 2020 onwards on the latest annual page.

Visitor characteristics

  • Most visitors from the UAE are between 25 and 54 (80% in 2019), and there are very few 65+ Emiratis visiting Britain
  • 76% of all holiday visitors from the UAE (excluding British expats) are making a repeat visit to Britain (within 10 years)
  • In 2019, 31% of visitors from the UAE were British nationals while 37% were Emiratis
  • 81% of departing UAE visitors (excluding British expats) say they are ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a visit, on par with the all market average of 82%

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)26.7
Global rank for international tourism expenditure14
Number of outbound visits (m)3.8
Most visited destinationSaudi Arabia
Most visited destination in Western EuropeUnited Kingdom

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)9.3
GDP per capita PPP (US$)68,166
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)2.4
Annual GDP growth (%)1.6

Inbound visits to Britain from UAE

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Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)


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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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What Emiratis think about Britain

  • Key holiday ‘wants’ include ‘enjoying the beauty of the landscape’, ‘having fun and laughter’ and ‘good value for money’ with Italy seen as the ‘best place’ for delivering the former two and the US for the latter
  • Factors that are low on the holiday wish-list include ‘getting some sun’ and ‘watching a sporting event’
  • Britain rates well for ‘visiting a place with lots of history’ for example, but not as favourably as Italy

Caring for visitors

  • English is widely spoken and understood
  • Arab families like to have hotel suites or inter-connecting rooms, or to rent an apartment
  • Hospitality is a key element of the Arab culture and so being available to answer questions, and small gestures will be very much appreciated


The leisure & travel trade

  • Many travel agents are in effect ticketing agents with limited product knowledge
  • Key times of year for promotional visits to the region are February to late May and September to November
  • The working week traditionally started on Sunday and ended on Thursday, but in early 2022, the country introduced a Western-style working week from Monday to Friday

Access to Britain from the UAE

Weekly aircraft departures202
Weekly seat capacity87,282
Airports with direct routes in the United Arab Emirates3
Airports with direct routes in Britain8
  • The Dubai to London Heathrow route had the highest share of departing seats in 2019
  • In 2019, the highest rate of flight departures took place in July, August and December
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 59% reduction in direct seat capacity from the United Arab Emirates to the UK in 2020, and 2021 was 71% behind pre-COVID levels 
  • Departing visitors heading home to the UAE currently pay £84 in Air Passenger Duty if travelling in economy class
  • Visitors from the UAE can get an electronic visa waiver instead of a standard short term visa, for £30