Wego to acquire Cleartrip’s Middle East business
Wego, the online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, plans to acquire Cleartrip’s Middle East business in a deal expected to close in the second half of 2022. The deal between the two Dubai Internet City-based companies follows a legacy of major partnerships in the business district aimed at geographic and product expansion, as well as the birthplace of regional unicorns. This deal is the latest in a series of entrepreneurial successes that reinforce Dubai’s reputation as a global hub for business, tech talent and companies of all sizes.
With approximately 9 million app downloads recorded in 2021, Wego has grown into the largest online travel marketplace in MENA. Cleartrip also expanded into the region in 2010 and acquired Riyadh based Flyin.com in 2018, expanding the online travel market in Saudi Arabia.
Wego and Cleartrip’s progress in the region speak to the tremendous growth the travel and tourism sector of the Middle East has seen in the recent decade, stimulated by its position between key global regions such as Europe, North Africa and Asia. The rapid urbanisation of cities like Dubai, Riyadh and Amman have also made it a popular leisure and business destination for regional and global travellers.
Despite setbacks to the global industry due to COVID-19, the travel and tourism sector appears optimistic with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicting that its contribution to the global economy could reach US$8.6 trillion this year. WTTC also forecasts that the Middle Eastern sector’s contribution to the region’s total economic output may witness a year-on-year increase of 28 percent.
Much like the rest of the world, the online travel market has seen a significant rise in MENA, driven by a young, technologically savvy population. Research conducted by MENA Research Partners in 2019 predicted the online travel market in the GCC alone to reach US$15 billion by 2023. Dubai’s advanced infrastructure and global reputation as a popular tourism destination render the city a particularly strategic location for players in the market. Dubai Airport remained the world’s busiest international aviation hub in 2021, serving 20.7 million passengers while Dubai-Riyadh emerged as the most active route.
Ammar Al Malik, Managing Director of Dubai Internet City, said, “Dubai continues to consolidate its leading position as a global hub for companies and talent in technology, and an incubator for the most prominent success stories of the region. The acquisitions and mergers within Dubai Internet City over the past two decades are a testament to the emirate’s strong position and its enabling platform for promising investment opportunities.We wish our partners at Wego and Cleartrip more success in expanding the customer base and providing new services in new markets from Dubai.”
The acquisition will enable Wego to not only enhance its operations to accommodate growing demand in the region by tapping into Cleartrip’s advanced digital infrastructure and resources, but also allow the leading travel marketplace to deliver a wider range of services and products to consumers. It simultaneously marks a notable chapter in the city’s business ecosystem as two major firms merge to bolster the tech-tourism sector.