Abu Dhabi set to become the world's most expensive destination

City named the world's 2nd most expensive city for business travelers, a sign that the UAE capital has bucked the global economic downtown [The Media Line].

abu dhabi airport 248.88 (photo credit: )
abu dhabi airport 248.88
(photo credit: )
In a report by the Hogg Robinson Group, an international corporate travel firm, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came in second only to Moscow as the most expensive business destinations in the world. Analyzing hotel rates during the first six months of 2009, the group found significant instability in the hotel market, with most of the world's principal business hubs experiencing significant declines in hotel room prices. The decline included Paris, London, Hong Kong and Zurich. Even Moscow's prices, at the top of the list, fell by 14 percent in the first six months of 2009. Abu Dhabi was the only city to witness a positive trend with local hotel room prices rising 5%. The Hogg Robinson Group and other analysts predict that the city will shortly become the world's most expensive business destination. Business travellers in Moscow pay an average of $447.36 for a night in the Russian capital, while visitors to Abu Dhabi fork over $422.75. Abu Dhabi has seen an epic ascent in its ranking among global business hubs, rising in just 12 months from eighth position on the Hogg Robinson Group's list last year to second place in this year's rankings. The city's average room rate last year was 1,330 Dirham. Over the first six months of 2009 the average room rate was 1,390 Dirham ($422.75). "The demand is still outweighing the supply in Abu Dhabi," Margaret Bowler, Director of Global Hotel Relations at the Hogg Robinson Group told The Media Line. "However that is set to change by the end of the year with 1,600 new rooms, so they are likely to follow Dubai." In sharp contrast to the country's capital, Dubai, the UAE's traditional economic hub, witnessed a 24% fall in its hotel rates, one of the largest declines among the cities surveyed in the report and yet another sign that the global economic downturn has taken a significant toll on the city. Event managers in Abu Dhabi say the spike in hotel prices in the city has significantly hurt the city's ability to compete. "The prices are very high but we have lots of events coming in and need to sell packages to our clients," Akram Sabri, the general manager of Sky Conferences and Exhibitions, told The Media Line. "We organize everything - the airlines, the visas, the venue, and the hotels - but with the hotel prices so high it makes it very hard for us to push the overall prices down for our clients. When they hear the rates they they say 'Wow!' and run." "The airlines are fair and give us special rates," Sabri said. "But the hotels say 'this is the rate, take it or leave it', even though we bring them hundreds of people." Bowler, of the Hogg Robinson Group, said the 'take it or leave it' approach is common during an initial spike in prices. "They are able to do that because the demand has been so strong," she explained. "Dubai used to be very similar and now with the slowdown in business travel and so many new hotel openings Dubai is much cheaper. Abu Dhabi has been fluctuating and the prices are up but when they have new openings they will have to start cutting prices." Abu Dhabi currently has around 13,000 hotel rooms. An additional 3,000 rooms are set to become available by the end of the year, with another 4,000 coming online in 2010. Hogg Robinson Group, a corporate travel group, produces the survey based on its own business data. "We use our booking stats," Aden Townsend, Section Manager of Hotel Relations at Hogg Robinson Group, told The Media Line. "We work out the average room rate based on the clients that we book on behalf of."