The Internet and other digital technologies have changed the way we travel. Gone are the days when backpackers would wander cities with a paper map in hand, instead there are websites and apps to take care of all our travelling needs. Whether you need to book accommodation, arrange your transport, or exchange currency - you can do it all from the phone in your pocket.
The travel and tourism industry in the Middle East is experiencing rapid digitalization. The rise of decentralized economies, the metaverse just on the horizon, and the reopening of the sector in light of the pandemic are accelerating this shift, and as consumers and travellers prioritize convenience when travelling - there are countless mobile and web travel apps springing up to cater to this demand.
So whether you’re planning a visit or you’re just curious, here are 10 of the best travel apps in the Middle East.
1. Visit Dubai
Dubai is one of the region's most popular tourist destinations, so it’s no wonder there’s a huge range of travel apps available to download. Visit Dubai is the official app from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and should be any visitor's first port of call when visiting the city.
This Dubai travel app provides plenty of information about attractions, activities, and sights on offer. It also allows you to create a customized itinerary that you can share with friends and family. The app also features a currency converter powered by XE, which will come in handy when you’re haggling your way to a bargain.
2. IATA Travel Pass App
The IATA travel pass app allows travellers to digitally store and manage information relating to their Covid-19 tests and vaccinations. In the Middle East, there are still restrictions in place due to the Pandemic, so it’s important to check the specific rules for the destination you’re planning to visit.
Travellers can also find information about where to get tested in the Middle East to make plans to meet travel requirements easier.
Careem is the Middle East’s answer to Uber. This ride-sharing app is super handy for tourists or if you’re visiting Dubai on a business trip.
Although Dubai has a great public transport system, where everything typically runs regularly and on time, there are some occasions when taking a cab will be more convenient. If you need to get somewhere quickly, download this app and find a driver in minutes.
Prices are extremely reasonable, and you can pay by cash or card. If you need an early morning transfer to the airport, you can also book in advance.
4. Clear Trip
Clear Trip is a comprehensive travel booking app that’s a one-stop-shop if you’re planning a trip to Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East.
Geared more towards budget-conscious travellers, Clear Trip collates the best-priced options on flights and accommodation from the Internet and provides travellers with a simple, no-fuss way of booking.
Withlocals is a travel app that connects you to locals in the area you’re visiting. It has the most options for travellers to Europe and Asia, but there are some search results for the Middle East, predominantly in Dubai.
One of the best ways to experience a new destination is through the locals who live there and know best.
Find various tours and experiences listed on the mobile app, whether you want to be guided through a souk or visit a skyscraper - Withlocals is filled with friendly locals ready to show you the best of what their hometown has to offer.
6. Google Translate
If you’ve ever travelled somewhere where the local language is different from your own, you’ve probably already used this app. Google Translate is a simple travel translator app that lets you input sentences or phrases and provides a direct translation to any language.
Although many people in the Middle East speak English, with the greatest number of English speakers located in the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait, it’s always useful to have a translator app on hand in case you meet someone who doesn’t.
The official language of the Middle Eastern region is Arabic, which is a notoriously difficult language to learn and speak for English and other European natives.
Google Translate also offers a handy text-to-speech feature, so if you need to ask someone a question about transport or order in a local restaurant, you can just type in what you need and let them listen. This is particularly useful if you’re going to be exploring the Middle East beyond the big cities, in smaller towns where English might not be as widely spoken.
If you don’t fancy eating out or just want to eat from the comfort of your hotel room, Talabat is a food delivery service that caters to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and many other cities in the region. Think of it as the Middle Eastern version of Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
Choose from a wide range of local and international cuisines, including restaurant chains you might be dreaming about from home. Simple, quick, and with so many delicious options at your fingertips - this is a must-have travel app if you’re visiting the Middle East.
8. Epic Reality
The Epic Reality app allows users to explore the city of Dubai in augmented reality (AR) and view the risk score for different activities and events on offer. The app’s mission is to help travellers find safe, family-friendly activities.
You can view a Covid-19 score for activities and venues which is based on the listing’s safety and health regulations. It’s also a great tool for discovering things to do around the city, from events that are taking place to recommendations for local restaurants or hotels - simply hover over a location with your smartphone camera.
9. Dubai Calendar
Dubai is a city brimming with events and activities fit for the whole family. Whether you fancy attending a concert, experiencing a local tradition first-hand, or you’re on the lookout for a memorable foodie experience - the official Dubai Calendar app has it all.
Use the app to see what’s happening during your visit. You’ll find plenty of events to choose from, including music concerts, art exhibitions, sporting events, and cultural happenings. You can also buy tickets directly through the app.
An official app from Dubai’s Roads & Transports Authority, Wojhati is a travel schedule app that allows you to navigate the various forms of transport available throughout the city.
If you’re ever been to London, you might have come across the app CityMapper, well, Wojhati is basically like this but for Dubai! It provides accurate scheduling and timetable information and also suggests the best routes for getting to your chosen destination.
The future of travel and tourism in the Middle East is digital
Travel apps have been around for a while now. If you’re a business operating in this sector, it only makes sense to offer an application version of your product that can be downloaded and accessed on mobile devices when people are on the go.
Moving forward, we’re likely to see more apps relying on transformative technologies like artificial intelligence, VR, and AR to further enhance travel experiences in today’s digital age.
If you want to know more about the various technological and digital marketing trends impacting the travel and tourism sector, and others sectors, in the Middle East, we’ve got something that might pique your interest.
Download the YourTarget eBook on Digital Marketing Trends and Forecast 2022 + Special Focus on the Middle East today.