The United Arab Emirates has been much quicker to switch on to home-sharing as a form of accommodation than its Middle Eastern neighbours.
In a session delivered at ATM by travel industry research specialist Phocuswright, it was revealed that of 10,000 Airbnb listings in the Middle East, 44% are in the UAE and 20% in Egypt while Saudi Arabia and Lebanon each make up only 2% of listings.
Rival home-sharing platform FlipKey was reported to have 1,500 listings in the Middle East, 51% of which were in the UAE, while HomeAway had 1,000 listings, with 63% being UAE-based.
“Home-sharing in the Middle East is developing mainly in the UAE, with Dubai signing an MOU in May 2016 and Ras Al Khaimah in January 2018, in order to support the growth of this type of accommodation,” said Cristina Polo, Phocuswright’s Middle East market specialist. “In Dubai, in views of Expo 2020, it is a great opportunity to diversify the lodging offering.”
However, home-sharing still remains relatively marginal in the Middle East, she pointed out.
“GCC residents and nationals do make the choice to rent villas and apartments when travelling to Europe or Asia, but few are ready to be a host.”
Phocuswright reported that offline channels continue to represent more than two-thirds of the market in the Middle East, as personal relationships and mistrust of online payment methods still influence booking decisions.
However, digital is playing an increasing role as the younger, tech-savvy population embraces online and mobile transactions.