UAE among most popular destinations for solo female travelers

Solo travel

Female solo travel has increase by nearly 50 percent from 2015. Source: Shutterstock

WOMEN are leading the way in the “going it alone” travel trend, as research from Hostelworld revealed. 

A study conducted by international hostel and hotel booking platform Hostelworld has discovered solo female travel bookings have risen by 45 percent since 2015, meaning more women than ever are exploring the world alone.

The study also unveiled the top destinations female travelers are heading to. The Caribbean nation of Cuba took the spot with a 406 percent booking increase from 2016 to 2017.

“We’ve gone from zero bookings in Cuba in 2014 to having more than 273 accommodation options in 22 cities, throughout the country,” Hostelworld Director of Product Breffni Horgan said in a statement.

Following on from Cuba, the nine other most popular destinations for American solo female travelers are Macedonia, Guatemala, United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Egypt, Nepal, Mexico, Albania, and Finland.

Horgan believes the increased number of solo travelers is “due to a combination of better technology, with apps allowing us to easily discover our next location.”

He added that changing attitudes towards relationships and our lack of need to settle down or find a suitable traveling companion has given way to the rise of solo travelers.

“It’s great to see people and women in particular embracing solo travel,” Horgan said.

“Solo travel doesn’t mean traveling alone, and it shouldn’t be a barrier to those wanting to explore the world. It’s a great way to branch out and meet like-minded people from all cultures and walks of life.”

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) securing the fourth position on the list may surprise those who haven’t visited the country.

Foreigner’s perception of the UAE’s culture and customs mainly revolve around its zero-tolerance policy of public affection, its strict alcohol rules, and repressive attitudes towards women.

But the UAE is one of the safest, most beautiful and culturally intriguing nations on earth.

According to Alena Mikhalkovich, a Belarusian expat living in Abu Dhabi, all you need when visiting the UAE is “sincere curiosity, respect, and willingness to go against the stereotype-enforced fears.”

So let’s start by debunking the common myths that put women off from visiting the UAE.

You don’t need to wear a veil

A helpful reply left but a serial Dubai visitor states, “pretty much anything goes in the beach hotels.”

Just like any other sunny vacation destination, at your hotel or on the beach, bikinis are fine to wear.

When out and about, women needn’t worry about covering up too much either. If you intend visiting any holy sites you will need to cover your legs and shoulders.

But skirts, shorts, trousers, vest tops, and sandals are all found when strolling through town.

Women can drive a car

UAE, specifically Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are cosmopolitan cities which hold their female citizens in high regard.

The confusion of whether women are allowed to drive in the UAE could stem from the long-term ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia. However, this was recently overturned.

Women can get their licenses in the UAE at 17 years old, the same as men.

Foreigners from over 25 countries can drive in the UAE if they have an international driver’s license. All other nationalities must get an international driving permit from their home country or via Emirates Post.

Taxi and hotels are safe

Like any major city, there are hundreds of accommodation options, from the luxury Atlantis The Palm in central Dubai to budget hostels on the outskirts of town.

But just like in other cities, there are some places you’d want to avoid. Be sure to do your research before you go.

Taxis are also perfectly safe for women in UAE, just remember to sit in the back seat.

However, if you’re living on the side of caution take a Pink Taxi, which has female drivers.

You won’t be constantly harassed

UAE doesn’t have more leering men than any other country. But don’t be surprised if you get a few looks or whistles, especially if you have fair skin and light hair.

Try to avoid direct eye contact with men, usually dark shades help this.

Also, walking with confidence and without fear help ward off unwanted attention.

Where to stay

If you’re traveling solo but want to meet other travelers, hostels are a great shout.

Hostelworld has 19 listings in Dubai, some are more like midrange hotels than typical traveler’s hostels but all are affordable, clean and comfortable.

It even lists one called The Solo Traveler located in the heart of Downtown Dubai.

Take a look at Hostelworld’s other options here.