Tehran, Isfahan Top Destinations for Arabs

Tehran, Isfahan Top  Destinations for ArabsTehran, Isfahan Top  Destinations for Arabs

Tehran and Isfahan have surged to join the list of top 10 holiday destinations that Arab travelers from the Middle East aspire to visit – an increase observed in the weeks following the Iran nuclear accord.

This list has been compiled by Irhal, an Islamic travel website and app, based on the browsing habits of over 1 million people who visited between January and August 2015. Irhal, a travel and tourism start-up, is currently one of the 2015 Finalists at MassChallenge, Boston, the world’s largest startup accelerator program, eTurbonews reported.

The thawing of relations between Iran and the West may be one reason why Iran is gaining popularity.

Even the hospitality sector is making a beeline for Iran. Accor, the French hotel group, has launched a Novotel and ibis hotel at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, making it the first international hospitality brand to enter Iran in over three decades, while the UAE-based Rotana, whose Rayhaan Hotel and Resorts is aimed at Muslim travelers, is set to open four hotels in Tehran and Mashhad by 2018.

According to Irfan Ahmad, the CEO of, “The Tehran city guide was already one of the top 10 destinations visited by Irhal’s 1 million visitors in 2014 but in 2015 Isfahan has also shot up in popularity, showing the high level of interest among Arabs to visit Iran.”

Contrary to popular belief, Muslim travelers do not seek out only Muslim countries for their holiday destinations. Irhal visitors have a choice of over 90 cities to select from and only 11 of the top 25 cities are in Muslim countries.

Muslim travelers are willing to explore new destinations that offer tourist attractions, shopping, a safe and family friendly environment, and Halal food. According to a 2014 Amadeus survey, the average Persian Gulf Arab spends $9,920 on a trip abroad.

While Iran is gaining popularity, Amman in Jordan, has retained its top position as the favorite destination for travelers from the Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Other popular destinations are based on proximity – the nearby cities of Bahrain, Beirut, Doha and Dubai are among the top five most popular cities. Los Angeles, Istanbul and Paris are the final three in the top 10 list, travel news website Donya-e-Safar reported.

“Not many people are aware that there are 108 million Muslim tourists who spend north of $140 billion every year and Muslim tourism is the fastest growing travel segment,” added Irfan Ahmad.