Dubai steps up travel tech game to improve tourism

Travel tech

Dubai is ahead of the times in terms of tech, but there are still cultural relics to be seen. Source: Shutterstock

DUBAI is certainly not shy about adapting to change and embracing new technologies.

The desert city is considerably audacious with its rows of concrete, glass and steel structures which have created some of the world’s tallest buildings. Dubai is also home the world’s largest indoor ski center – yep, in the middle of the desert.

While tradition and culture can be seen in cuisines, attires, and customs around the city-state, technology is fast becoming a way of life.

In the megamalls, you can ask robots for directions and be guarded by security robots. Hailing a taxi here has also just become more fun as you can now get a drone-driven volocopter to your destination.

On a less techy, but way more helpful front, Dubai is also listening to the needs and demands of travelers and delivering results.

Pay by the hour

For example, a new app allowing hotel guests to pay by the hour has just been launched in Dubai.

Founder of the app, Christian Rodriguez told Time Out Dubai the app idea was conceived form his own personal experience and frustrations.

The new app will slash the price of your bill in over 65 Dubai hotels, meaning a layover or short stay won’t be the costly nuisance it once was.

“Most hotel chains are willing to adapt to the necessities of their guests in terms of needs, tastes, and lifestyle, but they were inflexible with regards to the hours where you can check in and check out; especially when your flight is first thing in the morning,” added Rodriguez.

Passport control

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai has announced it will soon be launching the “Smart Gate” across Emirates’ airports as it recognizes archaic systems of manually checking passports and difficult to navigate e-gates are outdated.

Major General Mohammed Ahmad Al Marri said at the Dubai International Government Achievements Exhibition this week the Smart Gate “enables each passenger to pass through immigration without assistance or travel document or ID and within only 10 seconds”.

The Smart Gate is seven seconds faster than the older e-gate and will accelerate passengers through border control and customs.

Onboard WIFI

Perhaps not an entirely new fleet of technology, but Emirates airlines have just set a record with over one million onboard WiFi connections made in March.

Airplanes used to offer a few hours of digital detox but this changed when onboard WiFi provider GoGo introduced a 3Mbps connection to passengers on a Virgin America plane back in 2008. Since then, it has massively improved

Emirates is notorious for continually investing in the improvement of its onboard bandwidth, meaning all passengers can stay connected to the world 40,000 feet below them.

According to Emirates, 94 percent of WiFi users connected via a smartphone, and the most connected route is EK215 from Dubai to Los Angeles.

Emirates was also the first airline to relax rules around using mobile phones onboard aircraft in 2008 and pioneered the installation of headrest entertainment options on all its aircraft.