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Southeast Asia slows, Pakistan grows as top destination for MENA travellers

by Staff

Online travel marketplace, Wego, recently unveiled its analysis of global travel trends for the fourth quarter of 2023. Through data gathered from millions of flight searches and bookings, Wego has highlighted the preferred destinations for travellers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key findings:

Saudi Arabia continued its reign as the top international travel destination for MENA travellers in Q4’2023, maintaining its position for the sixth consecutive month. According to Wego, this popularity is attributed to the kingdom’s rich cultural experiences and diverse attractions, making it a compelling choice for travellers seeking unique experiences.

Following closely behind Saudi Arabia are Egypt and India, which have consistently held top spots for international travel. Egypt has maintained either the first or second position since 2014, while India has remained a steady third choice since 2016. These countries serve as major source markets for talent and labor in the Gulf region, further bolstering their appeal to travellers.

While the top positions remain relatively stable, the data also highlights that there have been notable movements within the rankings. Oman emerges as a significant climber, securing the 11th spot, while Russia and China make significant gains, reaching the 21st and 23rd positions respectively. Additionally, Pakistan has seen consistent growth, signaling its rise as a prominent destination for Middle Eastern travellers.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Egypt continue to dominate, with the UAE solidifying its position in third place. However, Turkey’s appeal has experienced a slight decline as stability in the currency exchange rate tempered travel interest in recent months. 

Pakistan’s upward trajectory suggests it may soon become a prominent contender in the region. The country has been gaining ground in recent months helped by additional flights and fewer travel restrictions and is poised to be the firm #4 Middle East destinations for 2024.

Based on Wego’s analysis, in Europe, the United Kingdom maintains its stronghold as the preferred destination for Middle Eastern travellers, while Russia’s growing popularity underscores changing preferences within the region. Azerbaijan’s ascent to the third position highlights its emergence as a sought-after European destination.

Wego adds that East and Southeast Asia witnessed a resurgence in Q4, with destinations like Thailand and Vietnam reclaiming ground as pandemic restrictions eased. Vietnam’s steady climb in the ranks and Thailand’s consistent appeal underscore the enduring popularity of these destinations among travellers from the MENA region.

With the notable exception of Thailand, all far away destinations like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and USA have dropped out of the top 10.

Furthermore, a decade of travel data from Wego reveals a shift towards regional destinations, with Kuwait, Pakistan, and Jordan solidifying their positions among the top choices for MENA travelers. While traditional long-haul destinations have seen a decline in popularity, regional favorites have continued to gain traction.


Top 50 Destinations Globally for Middle East Travellers

Rank Q4’23 Country Δ vs Q4’22 Region Rank Q4’23 Country Δ vs Q4’22 Region
1 Saudi Arabia 1 MENA 26 Italy -2 Europe & CIS
2 India 1 India Sub 27 Tunisia 2 MENA
3 Egypt -2 MENA 28 Iraq -1 MENA
4 UAE 0 MENA 29 France -7 Europe & CIS
5 Pakistan 2 India Sub 30 Nepal 4 India Sub
6 Kuwait 0 MENA 31 Spain 0 Europe & CIS
7 Turkey -2 MENA 32 Japan -4 Asia Pacific
8 Thailand 1 Asia Pacific 33 Georgia -3 Europe & CIS
9 Jordan 1 MENA 34 Iran 4 MENA
10 United Kingdom 2 Europe & CIS 35 Algeria 9 MENA
11 Philippines 3 Asia Pacific 36 Sri Lanka 1 India Sub
12 Oman 4 MENA 37 Sudan -12 Africa
13 Qatar -5 MENA 38 Singapore 1 Asia Pacific
14 Indonesia -3 Asia Pacific 39 Netherlands -3 Europe & CIS
15 Morocco -2 MENA 40 Vietnam 3 Asia Pacific
16 United States -1 Americas 41 Australia -6 Asia Pacific
17 Bangladesh 0 India Sub 42 Austria -1 Europe & CIS
18 Bahrain 0 MENA 43 Ethiopia 6 Africa
19 Malaysia 1 Asia Pacific 44 South Korea -2 Asia Pacific
20 Lebanon -1 MENA 45 Kenya 5 Africa
21 Russia 12 Europe & CIS 46 Maldives -6 India Sub
22 Azerbaijan 1 Europe & CIS 47 Greece -2 Europe & CIS
23 China 9 Asia Pacific 48 Syria -1 MENA
24 Germany -3 Europe & CIS 49 Nigeria 6 Africa
25 Canada 1 Americas 50 Switzerland -4 Europe & CIS


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