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Thursday, November 30, 2023

UAE Long Weekend: 3-Day Getaway Starts at Dh725

The UAE’s last long weekend is approaching, with residents eagerly planning a brief getaway. Both private and public sector employees will enjoy a day off on Friday, September 29, to observe Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) birthday. This, combined with the regular Saturday-Sunday weekend, results in a three-day break.

In Sharjah, government employees will have an extended four-day holiday as their official day off for the occasion falls on Thursday, September 28.

UAE airlines and travel agencies are offering packages for residents’ long weekend plans, but they advise booking early as packages are selling out quickly, and prices may rise closer to the date.

Dubai-based airline flydubai is promoting return flight deals starting at Dh725 for this holiday. They recommend booking before September 27 for travel between September 28 and October 2. Return fares to destinations like Salalah start at Dh725, while Alexandria is Dh1,095, Istanbul Dh1,230, Tblisi Dh1,545, Baku Dh1,575, Pattaya Dh1,665, and Sarajevo Dh2,265, among others. Flydubai is also offering holiday packages with rates starting from Dh1,549.

Skyscanner, a flight, car rental, and hotel booking platform, offers various deals through its ‘everywhere’ search option, including Dh201 to Oman, Dh563 to Turkey, Dh730 to Austria, and Dh983 to Sweden, among other options.

New Visa-Free Travel Spot

Uzbekistan, with its visa-free policy for UAE residents, has become a highly sought-after destination experiencing a significant increase in demand. Mika Uhrincova, PR manager at Holiday Factory, noted the remarkable surge in interest in traveling to Uzbekistan. She attributed this demand to the country’s stunning landscapes and the appeal of its “new visa-free policy, which has struck a chord with UAE residents.” Uhrincova also highlighted that Uzbekistan’s unique charm makes it ideal for both short escapes and revitalizing long weekend getaways.

Packages are almost sold out

Travel experts have noted a surge in inquiries and bookings for the upcoming long weekend.

Raheesh Babu, COO of Musafir.com, explained that with the weekend spanning only three days, UAE residents are favoring destinations within a short flight’s reach. They are gravitating towards packages priced around Dh2,200, which offer affordability and a refreshing getaway. Popular destinations include Krabi, Phuket, Almaty, Baku, and Yerevan, some of which do not require a visa for most nationalities residing in the UAE. Additionally, the packages are approximately 20 percent more budget friendly. Babu also mentioned that nearly 80 percent of their long weekend packages have already been sold.

Rashid Abbas, Managing Director at Arooha Tours and Travels, noted that this mini-vacation period has inspired many to explore short-haul destinations.

Impromptu vs. Prearranged Travel

Abbas noted that people have grown accustomed to traveling during extended weekends, often planning their trips as soon as a holiday is announced.

He added, “Two key factors driving the demand for travel are visa-on-arrival options and the availability of affordable holiday packages.”

Spontaneous travel plans are also becoming increasingly popular. According to a Skyscanner survey, nearly half (42 percent) of UAE travelers have arrived at the airport without a predetermined destination in mind and made their bookings on the spot. Additionally, around 60 percent mentioned that they have booked a holiday less than four days before their departure.

The travel agency highlighted that the “expanding list of visa-on-arrival and visa-free travel options from the UAE” is opening up more destinations for residents to explore.

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