Hadi Moussa, General Manager MEA, Airbnb
Airbnb is experiencing growth of about 80 percent year-on-year in the Middle East and Africa and is planning to increase its marketing efforts in the region, Hadi Moussa, General Manager MEA, Airbnb, told Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East in a recent interview.
Airbnb currently looks after the Middle East region from its offices in Europe, but is now looking more closely at the Middle East region, which it believes has huge potential, particularly in the run-up to Expo 2020 in Dubai.
Moussa said that within emerging markets, the Middle East is one of the fastest growing regions and is also the biggest in the category in terms of outbound travel for Airbnb. The company plans to ramp up marketing in the region, particularly the UAE, and is likely to open an office in Dubai in the next year or two, although no precise decision on the timing has been made yet, Moussa said.
“The timing in terms of what is happening in the region with events such as Expo2020 in Dubai also makes the region interesting. It [Expo2020] is an event that works very well for the likes of Airbnb,” he said.
Plenty of work remains to be done however. While Airbnb has grown solidly in the region, awareness levels about the service remain relatively low, according to Moussa. “Within certain segments awareness is high but there are large segments of the population that don’t actually know Airbnb and haven’t tried it, and it takes that first time to build the confidence in it. That’s where we want to come in and try to build the awareness,” he said.
The company also sees much potential in Saudi Arabia as the country implements its Vision 2030 plan, of which travel and hospitality are an important part, Moussa added.
Emerging markets, a category that includes the Middle East, are an increasingly important part of Airbnb’s strategy due to their high growth rates. “If you look at growth rates in terms of tourist arrivals, emerging markets are growing twice as fast as mature markets. By 2030 more than 50% of tourist arrivals will be in emerging markets,” Moussa said.
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