The festive season in Dubai, from 8th December 2019 to the beginning of this year, saw a big increase in credit card spending in the United Arab Emirates, which was primarily the result of overseas visitors heading to key tourist attractions in the city.

Network International’s latest data on international credit card spending saw the leading digital commerce enabler in the Middle East and Africa region record a large surge towards the end of last year.

Entertainment attractions, hotels and retailers in Dubai were left smiling by the significant spending increase witnessed in the festive season, according to the managing director of Network International Middle East, Samer Soliman.

Data from Network International demonstrated that aggregated debit and credit card transactions within the UAE were a large part of the overall card spending.

In terms of nationality, tourists from Russia were Dubai’s main purchasers of luxury goods, with the biggest spending uplift occurring at Orthodox Christmas, which took place early last month.

The significant business from Russian tourists saw a 169% increase in spending when compared to a 21% increase in spending by other tourists.

Russian tourists also dominated high-end department store spending, being responsible for a 336% transaction increase when compared to growth of just 25% from other international tourists, according to Soliman.

Russian visitors also increased spending on clocks, jewellery and watches by as much as 315%, with a 27% surge in transactions from other tourists.

A 295% increase in spending at Dubai restaurants was also the result of Russian visitors, with an 81% spending growth being contributed by other international guests.

During Orthodox Christmas, the most popular attraction in Dubai for Russian tourists was The Walk, JBR (at 60%), while Dubai Parks and Resorts was in second place (at 21%).

There was a significant increase of 13% in the amount of spending on credit cards that were issued outside of the UAE, both at Christmas and heading up to it, with spending just from European tourists surging by as much as 19%.

The highest contribution made to overall spending from Europe came from the UK with 63%, with Germany in second place on 13%, followed by France on 10%, Switzerland on 8% and Italy on 7%.

Shoppers from the UK spent the most on fashion and cosmetics in Dubai, with UK shoppers splurging primarily on boutique purchases and clothing in Christmas week, resulting in a 65% uplift in spending.

This was followed by an increase of 64% for cosmetics.

UK tourists also stayed for the festive holidays, driving hotel spending up by as much as 34%.

High-end department stores also received 31% more business, with a rise of 26% in clocks, jewellery and watches during Christmas shopping.

The famous Dubai New Year’s Eve celebrations also experienced a 44% rise in restaurant dining, with the top attraction for growth in international spending being Global Village.

The outdoor attractions in Dubai also experienced a significant increase in international spending.

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