The maritime and tourism authorities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman have formalised the Cruise Arabia alliance – a strategic regional partnership that will promote the Arabian Gulf as a cruise ship destination globally.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the stakeholders at the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB Berlin) travel trade convention recently.

Key objectives of the Cruise Arabia alliance include collaboration to enhance the cruise experience for passengers, attract more cruise liners to the region, improve infrastructure at ports and drive economic growth in the regional cruise tourism sector.

The partners will also work together on enhancing the regional cruise ecosystem, improving key stakeholder relations, and conducting joint marketing efforts both regionally and internationally, said a statement from Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.

Dubai has been a significant player in the Cruise Arabia alliance, working closely with its partners to create interconnected and integrated regional cruise services. Previously, Dubai and the neighbouring countries have participated in international trade exhibitions as a single grouping under the banner of the Cruise Arabia alliance, said the statement.

Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: “The Cruise Arabia alliance will further reinforce Dubai’s position as the cruise hub of the region, aligned with the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, launched by our visionary leadership, to further consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure.

“The growth of our cruise tourism has been largely shaped by the continuous support of our stakeholders and partners, and this alliance will result in more cruise operators seeking to anchor in Dubai, capitalising on its strategic location and promoting the city’s diverse offerings, world-class infrastructure and superior air and sea connectivity. Dubai and its regional partners have already made significant strides in developing their cruise tourism segments, and collaboration will further elevate the regional offering and make it more appealing to cruise lines and passengers.”

Dubai’s world-class cruise facilities

Dubai is home to two world-class cruise ports, Mina Rashid (Port Rashid) and Dubai Harbour, which can accommodate a combined nine mega-cruise vessels at any one time. Boasting modern terminal facilities that can handle the biggest ships, Dubai is an ideal base for cruise tourists seeking to explore the city, the UAE and the wider region. Dubai’s 2023-2024 winter cruise season was launched on October 28 with the arrival of the luxury liner Mein Schiff 2, which docked at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal at Mina Rashid.

A globally acclaimed cruise destination offering easy access to the historic Dubai Creek, Mina Rashid can handle seven mega-cruise vessels or 25,000 passengers simultaneously, while the port’s Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal is capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day. Mina Rashid is also home to Port Rashid Marina, which offers a range of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Inaugurated in 2021, Dubai Harbour is a world-class maritime destination strategically located at the intersection of the iconic Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island. It boasts the region’s largest marina and most advanced cruise facility, with two terminals on a 910m-long quay. It has been purpose-built to provide comprehensive amenities and easy access to and from the sea, allowing thousands of international passengers to explore some of the world’s most outstanding tourist attractions. Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal welcomed 300,000 passengers in the 2022-2023 cruise season, roughly four times the numbers from its debut season, with a 40% increase in ship calls. 

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