Skip to content

Increased Chinese Tourism to UAE Leads to New Services

In recent years, the economic and trade cooperation between China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has led to smooth development.  In fact, the number of Chinese visitors to the UAE increased by 58 percent in 2010. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in the UAE expects further increases this year.

“Since the UAE signed an agreement with China that promoted it as an ‘approved destination’ a year ago, we have seen more Chinese tourists,” states Gassan Aridi, CEO of Alpha Tours. Recent research also indicates that Chinese tourists are the world’s fourth largest in terms of spending money; they are expected to spend $55 billion overseas in 2011. Incidentally, Chinese tourism has increased to many other destinations as well.

The Chinese Language in the UAE Market

Tour operators, retailers and hoteliers in the UAE are focusing their efforts on attracting more Chinese tourists. Their efforts have turned to appropriate use of the Chinese language.  Some retail stores, restaurants and hotels in the UAE have trained their staff to speak simple Chinese greetings. Many UAE hotels now have Chinese teams that regularly work with Chinese guests and offer menus, documents and brochures in the Chinese language.

Here are the two important tips for localization of UAE marketing materials into the Chinese langauge:

  1. Use well written English materials as source for translation. Most documents in UAE are initially prepared in Arabic and English.  There are two obvious advantages for using source documents written in English:
    1. There many more high-caliber English-to-Chinese linguists than Arabic-to-Chinese translators, leading to quicker project turn-around time.
    2. Localization costs will be much lower compared to content translated from Arabic into Chinese.
  2. From a western perspective, Arabic people are more direct or straight-forward in their communications compared to Chinese communication styles. Even when source content is authored in English by native, Arabic-speakers, the style or tone may be perceived as “too direct” when translated into Chinese. When translating and localizing marketing materials from this region into Chinese, your translation company will need to perform some special manipulation and polishing to achieve a more moderate style and tone.
    1. For example, the phrase “guests are not allowed to …” is frequently used in hotel materials by several major luxury hotel groups in the UAE.   When GPI localizes UAE-based hotel website content into Chinese, we change this phrase to “please do not,” which is much more acceptable for the relatively sensitive Chinese customers.
Chinese Cultural Awareness and the UAE

Reaching the Chinese tourism market requires a specific level of cultural understanding for hoteliers in the UAE. A qualified translation agency with extensive experience localizing UAE based source content into Chinese is a key ingredient to success in this market.

Many Chinese “learn” about Arabic history and culture by reading One Thousand and One Nights. Chinese tourists travel a great distance to the UAE, with the hope of seeing an exotic and mystical world. At the same time, they want their own Chinese culture and habits to be respected and considered.

A very small improvement aimed at Chinese cultural sensibilities can totally change the travel experience and help a hotel to attract many more Chinese tourists. As an example, most Chinese people only drink warm boiled water, even in hot weather.  The convenience of a small water boiling device in the hotel room will make Chinese guests feel much more welcomed and comfortable during their stay.

Most Chinese people prefer warm, pre-boiled water due to Chinese medicine theory which maintains that cold food or drink will hurt the stomach and the body. In addition, many regions of China still have tap water that is not considered safe to drink directly. As a result, most Chinese tourists still prefer to drink hot water.

Jumeirah Group achieved great success in 2010 Chinese New Year – at one stage 80 percent of its occupancy at the Burj Al Arab was Chinese. The Chinese decorations in the lobby made Chinese tourists feel at home during their most important holiday, while having the opportunity to enjoy Arabic attractions and authentic Arabic cuisine. Special holiday packages from these UAE-based hotels provided really good value for the money spent by Chinese guests. Chinese people are always looking for sales of high end products and services.


In summary, Chinese is a rich language, layered with many meanings. The use of idioms or Chinese proverbs can enhance your message for the Chinese marketplace. Sentence and paragraph structure in well-formed Chinese may be starkly different than your source language materials. All of these issues must be carefully considered by your translation agency or localization partner. Highly qualified Chinese linguists with an up-to-date grasp of current connotations associated with popular Chinese words are essential to successful Chinese copywriting and Chinese translation and localization.