Abu Dhabi saw a surge in flight bookings for Saudi National Day weekend, with visits from the kingdom increasing 43% year-on-year.

Bookings also grew for Dubai, up 16% for September 20-24 compared to the same period in 2022, and were up by 21% overall, according to data from travel analysts ForwardKeys.

Olivier Ponti, VP, Insights at Forward Keys, said the UAE is a popular destination for younger Saudis during the kingdom’s National Day weekend, with flight capacity to the UAE increasing by 21% on 2022.

“ForwardKeys´ analysis of flight searches reveals that while Saudis typically represent 4% of all searches of international flights to the UAE, this share doubles in the two weeks prior to the Saudi National Day,” he said. 

While the increase in flight bookings to Abu Dhabi was greater this year, Dubai keeps the lion´s share of the Saudi market and will still account for three quarters of the total air capacity between the two countries, Ponti said.

The UAE saw the return of Saudi Arabia and UAE “Together Forever” banners on major roads over the weekend, and a Saudi National Day concert, featuring Emirati star Hussain Al Jassimi and Saudi singer Dalia Mubarak was scheduled to take place at the Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, as well as fireworks displays in Dubai. 

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)