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UAE ready to be a leading global hub for travellers during Expo 2020

The UAE is preparing to be the world’s leading destination for travellers over the next six months during the Expo 2020 Dubai, while the local hotel sector has regained its pre-pandemic reservation rates.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) revealed the total number of passengers travelling to the UAE grew in August 2021 to over 2.5 million, compared to 814,000 in the same period of 2020, surging by 207 per cent.

The GCAA highlighted increased figures in national air traffic statistics for August, which recorded 45,953 flights.

The preventive measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic are one of the significant factors that helped boost the country’s stature as a safe travel destination, despite the pandemic continuing globally.

The UAE leads the list of countries in terms of vaccine distribution rate, with 79.3 per cent of population being fully vaccinated until Sept.13, with the number of coronavirus tests conducted being 78,651,247. The percentage of those received the first dose is 90.5.

Tourism experts and specialists predict the coming period to be a real breakthrough for the tourism sector after it recently regained its balance following a series of critical decisions made by the UAE Government, most notably allowing fully vaccinated individuals to apply for an entry visa.

In 15 days, the UAE will witness the grand start of the Expo 2020 Dubai, one of the world’s most anticipated events and will make the country the top tourist destination over the next six months. The expo is expected to receive over 25 million local and foreign visitors.

It will also play a key role in advancing the tourism sector and positively affect many other sectors, including aviation and transport.
In general, hotel reservations in the UAE already witnessed significant growth prior to the Expo 2020 Dubai. The hotel booking website, “Wego” registered over 500,000 searches for flights and hotel reservations for Dubai during the event period.

Meanwhile, as a Premier Partner and the Official Banking Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates NBD Group, a leading banking group in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) region, has joined hands with Mastercard, the Official Payment Technology Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, to create two exclusive new card programmes: Emirates NBD Expo Mastercard Prepaid Card and the Emirates Islamic Expo Mastercard Credit Card.

The limited-edition cards are designed to enhance the Expo 2020 Dubai experience for both residents and visitors from across the globe, while also elevating their time spent in the UAE with memorable and Priceless possibilities to discover year-round. Both cards are underpinned by Mastercard’s secure technology and will be equipped with contactless capabilities for touch-free and seamless transactions.

The Emirates NBD Expo Mastercard Prepaid Card is a digital-first offering, issued via a dedicated mobile App, Joyn from Emirates NBD. The product is available to both UAE residents and international visitors for use while in the UAE and provides a fully digital payments experience. The benefits will merge a specially curated selection of offers from Emirates NBD’s Bon Appétit, LiveWell and Good Times programmes, as well as offers from Mastercard’s Priceless Platform, creating a rewarding experience that opens opportunities across the UAE like no other.

With 25 million visits expected at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Emirates NBD Expo Mastercard Prepaid Card will power Expo and the wider UAE experience for tourists and residents, providing access to privileges, deals and discounts of up to 50% at more than 2,000 shopping, dining, wellness, and entertainment touchpoints, as well as access to extclusive Expo-related offers. The reloadable card will provide an enhanced customer experience with personalised offers, while also enabling international visitors to spend in the local UAE currency.

Cardholders will be able to use the cards to make online purchases as well as contactless in-store payments by adding their card to their preferred digital wallet (Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay). Customers will also have the option to receive a linked physical card if needed.

Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD, said: “As a Premier Partner and the Official Banking Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates NBD is delighted to partner with Mastercard to amplify the Expo experience for millions of visitors. With our position as the country’s preferred bank and frontrunner in the region’s banking sector, the breadth and scale of our partnerships with merchants in the UAE is unparalleled and provides tremendous value to cardholders, especially for international visitors to the UAE during Expo 2020 Dubai. In addition to delivering a fast, intuitive, reliable and seamless payment process, the Emirates NBD Expo Mastercard Prepaid Card empowers cardholders to try new and exciting offerings, making it a quintessential card to enjoy all this first-of-its-kind event in our region has to offer.”

As the Official Islamic Banking Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates Islamic, part of the Emirates NBD Group, along with Mastercard and Expo 2020 Dubai, have unveiled an exclusive, limited-edition free-for-life co-branded Mastercard World Credit Card, that rewards UAE residents with exclusive privileges during the iconic event.

The Emirates Islamic Expo Mastercard Credit Card offers exceptional value with a wide range of benefits across key Expo partners.

Cardholders can earn up to three Emirates Islamic SmartMiles for every Dh1 spent* as well as gain U By Emaar Gold Tier Status, 50% cashback on their first Expo 2020 Dubai ticket transaction, and access to exclusive travel, hotels and lifestyle privileges offered by Mastercard.