It’s common enough to come across those who go on holiday and fall in love with the place. But the most they can do about it is say, “I’ll be back again — hopefully”… ‘hopefully’ because there are many, many places in the world on travellers’ bucket lists, and there are many more places one can potentially fall in love with.
With Dubai, however, it’s different. Somehow, the city ensures you do come back again, sooner rather than later, because what it offers visitors is not just vistas but the vision of a lifestyle that one could get used to.
If one were to compile a research-driven listicle on the number of people who have visited the city on a whim — maybe there was a good package deal being offered — and then decided to move here, at least for the short term, Dubai would perhaps emerge as the No 1 city in the list.
It’s been like this for years now, but now, in the aftermath of the Expo, in the ecosystem of a pandemic managed in an exemplary manner, and the beginning of an evolving visa structure, the trend is being rebooted and repurposed. And there has been an explosion of ‘bleisure’.
Business meets leisure. People move here to work remotely while availing of a chance to enjoy the lifestyle. Or people considering such a move because the city’s business opportunities were made very clear to them while they vacationed and enjoyed the inauguration of new attractions such as Museum of the Future.
All along the course of Covid, neither workflow systems nor leisure/recreation were severely upended since the leadership put in place an extremely well-thought-out plan of action to combat the virus. In one year, it became clear: this is a place where opportunities and upskilling are in the DNA, whereas most other places had to buckle down. Add to the mix the visa regime changes that recognised that good talent could be obtained — and retained — in the most creative ways.
Word of mouth spread far and wide, and ‘bleisure’ has today become a new reality in the city’s ever-growing list of verticals. Dubai hosted 2.2 million visitors in the first two months of 2022 alone.
But it is now clear that the city is not just drawing in travellers from around the world who want to soak in the sun and sand, and stand atop the Burj Khalifa. It’s becoming a destination for many who want to test the waters before thinking long-term. And it’s become a destination for many who have already chosen to move here for good.
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