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UK PR guru Max Clifford says Dubai needs 'softer image' to attract tourists

Dubai needs to develop "a softer image" and become more cost effective to ensure its tourism industry continues to grow, according to global PR guru Max Clifford.

"It is very much money, concrete, vast hotels - everything is money, money, money. I think there needs to be a softer image than it has got," Clifford told Arabian Business in an interview.

In order to stem the series of negative worldwide press the emirate has suffered, Clifford said he believes Dubai needs to offer more than its elaborate buildings and needs to counter the perception that it is "obsessed with money and wealth".

He also said Dubai had become overpriced, adding it needed to become better value for money.

"The big criticism I have always had is that it was very expensive. It is also very much about value. There are a lot of places much nearer to [the UK] where people can get much cheaper holidays to suit their various needs.

"If you are going to be successful you have to [attract] a much wider audience and social demographic," he added.

Earlier this month, Dubai hoteliers were told to "start being realistic" and stop harking back to the days of Utopia when they could charge extortionate rates.

Arabian Adventures and Congress Solutions International senior vice president Frederic Bardin said Dubai was "still expensive compared to the rest of the world", making it uncompetitive.

"Even though RevPARs and occupancies dropped this year, we still have some of the highest rates in the world - these hotels are still living in Utopia," Bardin said.

Read the full interview with Max Clifford in Sunday's Arabian Business magazine.

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