The Growing Appeal of Scotland’s Outdoors for Gulf High Rollers

3 mins read

Exploring the great outdoors of Scotland has become a highly coveted holiday experience for the elite from the Gulf region. Among those guiding enthusiasts through Scotland’s glens, mountains, and breathtaking landscapes is Yuri Janssen, the Head of Adventure at Gleneagles, a vast country estate. Janssen, a former South African game ranger, considers his role at Gleneagles to be the best job in Scotland and possibly the world.

His workplace spans 850 acres of pristine land, featuring activities such as clay pigeon shooting, falconry, off-road driving, and three championship golf courses. Gleneagles, often referred to as the Riviera of the Scottish Highlands, has been a haven for celebrities like John Travolta and Prince William in its luxurious suites overlooking the hills.

Recently, a significant increase in visits from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait has been observed, driven by Middle Eastern travellers seeking Scotland’s famous outdoors and cooler weather. The number of Gulf guests at Gleneagles has doubled annually for the past five years, with traditional Scottish country pursuits topping their itineraries.

While hunting with white saker falcons at the world’s first falconry school in Gleneagles remains popular, Janssen emphasises that activities like salmon fishing, deer stalking, and picnicking with ponies resonate deeply with Middle Eastern visitors.

Janssen describes how guests, during outdoor pursuits, immerse themselves in the life of a Highland hunter, embracing centuries-old traditions. Despite Scotland’s characteristic drizzle, Middle Eastern visitors welcome the weather, even asking to open windows to let the drizzle in during trips.

Janssen recounts memorable moments, such as a group of Gulf ladies embracing the rain on a trip to the glens and an Arab family celebrating their climb through lashing rain with a Highland Fling dance at the summit.

Yuri Janssen’s diverse career, from daring expeditions in Africa to navigating the Arctic Circle, aligns perfectly with Gleneagles’ blend of aristocratic charm and wilderness. Under his guidance, tailored excursions range from seaplane journeys to remote islands to private falconry hunts and custom fishing trips, creating unforgettable experiences.

Janssen expresses admiration for Middle Eastern guests who actively engage in outdoor activities regardless of the weather, emphasising that Gleneagles caters to all ages and levels of experience. The surge in Middle Eastern visitors to Scotland is partly attributed to Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, whose Highland adventures showcased on Instagram have contributed to the growing allure of Scotland’s outdoors.