Regional transport is going places

Dubai’s Roads and Transports Authority has signed a deal with Joby Aviation to bring air taxis to the emirate, starting 2026

From Joby Aviation signing a contract with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, bringing air taxis to the emirate; and Orient Express operator Arsenale bringing ultra-luxury train journeys to Saudi Arabia, to an all-business class airline, Beond, launching its maiden route from Dubai, the Middle East is a hotbed for transport innovation. 

The creation of megacities in the region and rapid urbanization have led to the construction of state-of-the-art transportation infrastructures such as airports, metro systems and roads. Service providers have since been seizing the opportunity to meet traveller needs and scale up niche markets.

Premium road transfer service Blacklane for instance, is offering massage-enabled seats onboard the latest electric fleet from Mercedes. 

Meanwhile, luxury air travel is showing no signs of slowing down.

Major full-service commercial airlines in the Middle East are focusing on innovating and expanding their premium offerings, giving one company the idea that it can float simply on business-class seats, minus the economy please.

Business for private jets soared during the pandemic – both worldwide and in the region – with operator K9 JETS launching its first-ever Dubai-London flight, exclusively for dogs and their

According to Euromonitor International, the fastest-growing travel category worldwide, however, will be rail transport, at 35.6 per cent increase during 2023-2024. This speaks to the growing climate consciousness of travellers and travel operators, offering more environment-friendly transportation options.

After transportation and accommodation, retail is where major tourism dollars are spent, according to a report by WTTC, in partnership with The Bicester Collection.

Shopping tourism – when you head to The Dubai Mall for a pick-me-up retail fix, travel to France to buy whimsical art or head to Spain for your annual luxury goods haul – is not showing signs of slowing down either. While one market abates, another surges to take its place. 

Almost half of all luxury goods are purchased while on a trip, says the WTTC report titled Global Retail Tourism Trends and Insights. On average, travellers from the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions are spending more on shopping than on culture, entertainment, sports and recreation. 



‘The Shift in Transport Preferences & What It Means For Travel in the Middle East’ session takes place on the Global Stage on May 7 at 4.30pm, with panellists Tero Taskila, CEO and Chairman – BEOND; Björn Bender, Chief Executive Officer – Rail Europe; and Nicolas Soucaille, General Manager – Blacklane Middle East

•  ‘Shop, Explore, Repeat: The Growth of Retail Tourism’ takes place on the Global Stage on May 8 at 2.30pm, with panellists Emily Jenkins, Head of Product Development - DW Travel; Sienna Parulis-Cook, Director of Marketing and Communications – Dragon Trail International; Sammy Musa; International Markets Director Middle East, India & Turkey – The Bicester Collection.