Guest Opinion: The United Arab Emirates has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Its luxurious resorts and rich culture attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each month, creating the perfect setting for a thriving short-term vacation rental industry. Many investors have already reaped the fruits, while others are actively working on launching Airbnb in the UAE. The good news is that there are still many potentially profitable locations to choose from in the region.
The best cities in the United Arab Emirates to launch an Airbnb
The United Arab Emirates doesn’t have that many cities to consider when looking for a place to start a short term vacation rental business. But even with such limited options, there are still quite a few markets: some of them are great safe investments, some with great future potential, and others are high-risk, high-reward destinations.
Of course, Dubai opens up the list of potential destinations for an Airbnb launch. It is by far the most popular city in the United Arab Emirates and already has one of the largest short-term vacation rental markets in the world. It offers the most stable conditions for starting a business that is successful from day one, while the city’s obvious downside is fierce competition.
At the time of writing, there are over 22,000 active vacation rentals in Dubai. The size of the market is almost unprecedented, yet most properties remain viable and profitable due to the steady increase in tourist traffic coming to explore Dubai. Of all these properties, 85% are entire homes, with an average of 1.5 bedrooms and accommodating an average of 3.8 guests at a time.
With such fierce competition, it is critical for new investors to handle this safely.The business must be flawless from the day it is launched, and this guide will help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve this goal.
As for performance figures, they are surprisingly good in Dubai. The city’s average daily room rate is $165, while occupancy averages 58% year-round. Business here is seasonal, with demand at its lowest point each summer as it gets unbelievably hot outside. Airbnbs in Dubai generated an average of $1,834, the best result on this list.
Sharjah was the next obvious choice for launching Airbnb in the United Arab Emirates. It’s located next to Dubai and is being actively developed, like the first city on this list. The city itself attracts a fair amount of tourists, but it also benefits from Dubai’s growing popularity due to its proximity to major metropolises.
In total, there are around 650 active rental properties in Sharjah, most of which are concentrated near the coast. Unlike Dubai, only 50% of properties in Sharjah are entire residences, while most other listings are private rooms. This has resulted in a reduction in the average number of bedrooms (here just 1.5), as well as a reduction in capacity: the average local rental can accommodate up to 4.1 guests at a time.
Sharjah’s average daily room rate is significantly lower than Dubai’s at $94. This is related to the low number of tourists in the city and the large proportion of private rooms in the rental market. Occupancy rates here average just 27%, but the properties still generate an average of $632 worth of income per month. While the metrics aren’t very impressive, it’s still a place with huge growth potential. As the Dubai market continues to expand, some tourists choose to stay in Sharjah as the experience is very similar.
Next on the list is Abu Dhabi, also a city with a growing tourism industry. Its market is obviously not as big as Dubai, but conditions are fairly stable and property prices are significantly lower than in the UAE’s hottest metropolises.
There are currently over 1,000 active vacation rentals in Abu Dhabi, 60% of which are entire homes. Properties in the city have an average of 1.4 bedrooms and can accommodate up to 3.4 guests at a time, meaning rents here are actually less than in Sharjah. There are several major Airbnb clusters located in different parts of the city, in close proximity to its most popular tourist spots.
Abu Dhabi’s average daily room rate was $131, while occupancy remained at 35%. This is partly related to the rapid growth of the market, reaching 22% every quarter. The average property in Abu Dhabi generates an income of $1,072 per month.
ras al khaimah
The next city Ras Al Khaimah could be of interest to aspiring investors. This is the high-risk, high-reward option mentioned at the beginning of the article. Located in the north of the country, the city has a fairly small rental market, but the properties operating here manage to generate decent income.
At the time of writing, there are nearly 100 active Airbnbs in Ras Al Khaimah, 69% of which are entire houses. There’s less competition here, and the average daily rate for local hosts is $278. Of course, it also affects the Occupancy Rate, which is only 26% here, but Revenues reach $1,724 per month.
Fujairah is the last best Airbnb investment destination in United Arab Emirates. The only city in the east of the country to make the list, Fujairah has a market very similar to the previous city, but smaller: there are only 64 listings here.
The average daily room rate in Fujairah was US$255 and the occupancy rate remained at 29% throughout the year. The average property in the city generates $1,422 worth of income per month. Although Fujairah’s data sample is small, the city’s potential is still evident.