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Dubai Expo 2020 to boost tourism and NoLo beer and cider opportunities – Drinks Insight Network

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Strong projected recovery from the pandemic is spurred by the likes of Expo Dubai, with this event creating a positive impact for companies selling no-ABV beer and cider. Credit: pu_kibun / Shutterstock.
No or low-alcohol (NoLo) beer and cider have strong potential in the Middle Eastern region, driven by a push to bolster tourism by leading markets such as the UAE. According to GlobalData, these beverages have already seen double-digit growth in volumes by 20.8% between 2017 and 2020 and this is anticipated to continue.
Releases by Amstel and Heineken emphasise the demand for both flavoured and non-alcoholic beer products in the region. Operating beer and cider producers in the Middle East announced strengthening results in Q3-21, with Heineken recording a 5.5% growth to its Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe region, a positive performance despite operating in a Covid-19 environment. In GlobalData’s Q3-2021 consumer survey, 41% of respondents in the Middle East stated that they purchase their alcoholic drinks from foreign or global multi-national brands. There is a real opportunity for well-known producers to innovate 0.0% launches, tapping into a wider consumer base in the region.
Efforts from leading countries in the Middle East to diversify their economies further reaffirms this opportunity, with one such way being tourism. The UAE already has a considerable international and expats culture in megacities such as Dubai, and Saudi Arabia’s NEOM is planned to become an ultra-modern technology and tourism hub. These developments will boost the growth of NoLo alcohol beer and cider products, particularly via restaurants and bars.

Regulatory changes, combined with a push for international tourism, make the UAE a strong contender for a new entry into the region. In the UAE, domestic trips are forecast to increase by 63.4% year-on-year (YoY) in 2021 and international arrivals are forecast to grow by 104.8% in the same period.  This strong projected recovery from the pandemic is spurred by the likes of Expo Dubai, with this event creating a positive impact for companies selling no-ABV beer and cider. Many travellers will be attending this event for business purposes and may want to steer clear of alcoholic beverages for professional or religious reasons.
Dubai is set to remain a popular destination for international tourism after the Expo, having fared relatively well in comparison to many other global destinations during the pandemic. The emirate will continue to attract international visitation by ensuring strict compliance with internationally benchmarked health and safety protocols while continuing to invest in global marketing campaigns to maximize its visitor base.
Flavoured beer is popular in the UAE, with some key flavours being black grape and strawberry, often in a non-alcoholic variant. More innovation is expected following a change to the country’s alcohol laws: a mandate requiring individuals to have a licence to buy, sell or consume alcohol has now been removed. However, consumption must still only take place at private or licensed locations and participants must be over 21 years old. This, combined with a budding tourism market, will provide an opportunity for alcoholic beverages moving forward and likely encourage the same in other leading markets in the region.

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