Archive for October, 2011

UPDATE 3-Dubai eyes property revamp with $1 bln joint fund


Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:02pm BST

* Fund to target investments in Dubai real estate sector

* ICD, Brookfield to each invest $100 mln in fund

* Fund to seek local, regional and international investors

* Dubai’s property sector hurt by oversupply, low demand

(Adds new project announcement details)

By Praveen Menon

DUBAI, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Dubai, whose 2009 property
collapse led to a debt crisis, has launched a real estate
investment fund worth up to $1 billion with Canada’s Brookfield
Asset Management (BAMa.TO) in a bid to revive the battered
sector and restore investor confidence.

The emirate’s main investment vehicle, Investment
Corporation of Dubai (ICD), and Brookfield will each deploy $100
million in the joint fund, UAE state news agency WAM said on
Wednesday.

Dubai’s once-booming property market hit a wall in 2008 and
the decline worsened after the global financial crisis, ending
a massive building spree. Prices are down 60 percent from their
2008 peak.

State-owned developer Nakheel , builder of islands
in the shape of palms, was at the centre of the collapse.
Nakheel, and its parent Dubai World , have
restructured some $41 billion in debt in the past year.

The market can expect more pain with oversupply likely to
delay a price recovery in the Gulf emirate until 2016, ratings
agency Moody’s said.

“It’s clearly a step in the right direction to bring back
some confidence in the real estate market. $1 billion is not a
small size and they (Dubai) can build on the success of that,”
V.Shankar, Standard Chartered’s global chief executive for
non-U.S. operations said at a conference in Dubai.

In a separate announcement, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed
bin Rashid al-Maktoum approved new tourism, residential and
commercial projects worth about 2 billion dirhams to be carried
out by the emirate’s real estate development unit.

WIDE CLASS

The fund, with a maximum cap size of $1 billion, will focus
on a wide class of assets in both freehold and non-freehold
areas. It will also seek additional funds from a select group of
local, regional and international investors, the WAM statement
said.

The size of the fund will be capped at $1 billion and it
will have a life of eight to 10 years, the statement said.

“We see this agreement as another big step in our next phase
of growth. It once more affirms Dubai’s attractiveness as a
premier investment destination in this region,” said Sheikh
Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai’s Supreme
Fiscal Committee and the uncle of Dubai’s ruler.

Market impact of the latest move, however, remained muted
with the property-heavy Dubai stock index trading flat.
Top Dubai developer Emaar Properties rose 0.4 percent
amid low volumes.

“People will be slow to react and assess the impact. They
will also be suspicious of what it means until they read the
details,” said Mohammed Yasin, chief investment officer of CAPM
Investments in Abu Dhabi.

In June, UAE extended visas for real estate investors to
three years from six months in a move to boost foreign
investment.

Brookfield, a property, power and infrastructure investor,
has about $150 billion in assets under management.

ICD holds about $70 billion in assets and its portfolio
includes airline Emirates and stakes in Dubai’s
largest bank, Emirates NBD , developer Emaar Properties
and Borse Dubai.

(Additional reporting by David French and Nadia Saleem; Writing
by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Erica Billingham, Jon Loades-Carter
and Jane Merriman)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm

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Dubai Airports to Improve the Passenger Experience with NCR Netkey Wayfinding

DULUTH, Ga.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

NCR
Corporation
(NYSE: NCR) today announced that Dubai Airports, which
owns and operates Dubai International as well as Dubai World Central
(DWC), will deploy NCR Netkey Wayfinding to help passengers more easily
navigate their way around both properties.

The interactive NCR Netkey Wayfinding solution will help passengers
easily locate gates, flight information, retailers and concessions
throughout Dubai International’s three terminals. It will also allow
interactive access to other useful passenger information such as hotel
reservations and local attractions. The solution will be initially
deployed on 50 42-inch touchscreen monitors that employ HD graphics and
video. NCR will also provide support services.

“Our vision is to be the world’s leading airport company,” said Sujata
Suri, vice president service development from Dubai Airports. “Providing
a superior experience for our visitors by empowering them to quickly and
easily locate desired points of interest within the airport environment
helps to further differentiate our service offering.”

Airports Council International (ACI) ranks Dubai International as the
fourth busiest airport for international passenger traffic. DWC, the
first phase of which was opened in June 2010, will ultimately become the
world’s largest airport, with the capacity to cater to 160 million
passengers annually.

“Dubai is faced with steadily increasing passenger traffic as it emerges
as a premier connecting hub and a leading global destination for
business and leisure,” said Tyler Craig, vice president and general
manager, NCR Travel. “Employing passenger-focused technology, both at
check-in and beyond, will enable Dubai Airports to more efficiently
manage this impressive growth while creating a more personalized and
memorable experience for its passengers.”

Dubai Airports selected NCR, the leading global provider of self-service
airline check-in, over competitors due to cross-industry expertise in
deploying and supporting digital signage and wayfinding solutions
worldwide. NCR’s strong local presence and superior service capability
in the Middle East was also a factor. As the leading provider of ATMs to
financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates, as well as across
the Middle East and Africa, NCR provides financial self-service
solutions used and trusted by residents, business travelers and tourists
every day.

“Our partnership with Dubai Airports perfectly illustrates how the
breadth of NCR’s solution portfolio and self-service leadership across
industries can impact the needs and challenges of airport operators
beyond check-in,” said Craig.

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a global technology company leading how
the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR’s
assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services
address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality,
entertainment, gaming, public sector, telecom carrier and equipment
organizations in more than 100 countries. NCR (www.ncr.com)
is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia.

Follow us on Twitter: @NCRCorporation, @careersatncr, and
@ncrhealthcare

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ncrcorp

Connect with us on LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/ncrgroup

Watch us on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/ncrcorporation

NCR is a trademark of NCR Corporation in the United States and other
countries.

NCR Corporation
Caroline Rose, 770-623-7608
caroline.rose@ncr.com
//

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

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Travel cheap and without stress

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm

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DP World plans Dubai cruise tourism expansion

Global marine terminal operator DP World has announced plans to expand facilities at Port Rashid in Dubai to grow its cruise tourism capacity.

Its Dubai Cruise Terminal currently has capacity to serve two ocean-going cruise ships at the same time carrying a combined 7,000 passengers.

DP World said it will expand facilities by the end of 2012 to cater for as many as five cruise ships at one time.

DP World’s vision is for Port Rashid to eventually be able to serve as many as seven cruise vessels at one time, it said in a statement.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman, DP World said: “Development of the cruise terminal facilities at Port Rashid supports Dubai’s long-term strategy to stimulate growth and development in the traditionally strong tourism sector.

“The new facility will help Dubai tap into the rapidly growing cruise sector and will continue to be a major destination for the finest cruise ships in the world.”

Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director, DP World, UAE Region added: “The Port Rashid expansion is planned to be the best of its kind in the region. It will further strengthen the local economy and increase the use of Dubai’s historic port, at the centre of the city.”

Khalid Bin Sulayem, director general, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said he expected there to be more than 58 percent growth in cruise tourism in Dubai by 2015.

The Dubai Cruise Terminal saw a 30 percent growth in tourist traffic between 2009 and 2010, from 100 ships and 260,000 passengers to 120 ships and more than 390,000 passengers.

The pattern is set to continue in 2011, with 135 cruise vessel calls and 475,000 passengers.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi said last week it has built a new tented cruise terminal at Mina Zayed capable of accommodating 1,300 passengers which will start operating later this month.

The facility, on the site of the former ADTA visitor information centre, will cater for the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 cruise seasons while a permanent terminal will be built for the longer-term.

The temporary terminal, put up by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), working in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) and Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT), spans 2,000 sq m and comprises two dedicated halls – one a luggage-handling facility, the other a passenger centre.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm

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New projects aim to meet Dubai’s growing tourism

Dubai The Dubai Government has started implementing some development projects after restructuring its investment arms and recapitalising financial institutions.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday approved a number of mixed-use and tourism projects with an investment exceeding Dh2 billion to be developed by Wasl Asset Management Group (Wasl), a subsidiary of Dubai Real Estate Corporation (DREC).

DREC is a Dubai Government-owned property company having 25,000 housing units, mostly in the leasing and rental market.

The announcement comes following Shaikh Mohammad’s visit to the headquarters of Wasl. He was accompanied by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of DREC.

Tourist hub

“Stop is not part of the vocabulary in Dubai, and success is a continuous process that never stops,” Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad said, following the tour.

He said these new projects will enhance Dubai’s position as a leading regional and international tourist destination and are part of the development projects that are “continuously reviewed to achieve best returns”. The new projects are expected to help meet the rapidly growing demand from the increasing number of visitors to Dubai, as they will provide an additional 1,500 rooms in different parts of the emirate.

Dubai has more than 80,000 guest rooms in more than 500 hotels and apartments.

One of the new projects is Al Maktoum Development, a cultural project that aims to convey pride in the UAE’s tradition and culture by re-designing the area that hosted the first modern hospital in the emirate, Al Maktoum Hospital.

Hesham Al Qasim, Chief Executive Officer of Wasl, said, “Since its inception, Wasl’s strategy has been focused on becoming a significant contributor to the success story and economy of Dubai.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to actively support the city’s position as the leading business and tourism hub in the region by providing a growing number of quality commercial and residential properties.”

The focal point of the themed mixed-use master development will be a museum and comprise a traditional Arabic souq with specially selected shops and restaurants and beautifully designed urban spaces which will help create a thriving multi-cultural environment.

Significant contribution

The development will be supported by a hotel, a serviced-apartments tower, as well as commercial and residential buildings.

A spokesperson for the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said that the new projects will boost the tourism sector.

“These will significantly contribute to Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sector and in turn, help its economy.”

Shaikh Mohammad has also viewed the plans for Jumeirah Beach Club development. The project combines exclusivity and proximity to the heart of the city.

Designed to be one of the top beach clubs in the world, the project includes an exclusive beach club where members can enjoy a range of premium services and world-class facilities, including a private beach, renowned spa, themed swimming pools as well as sports and recreation facilities.

Shaikh Mohammad also endorsed the new expansion plans for the Le Meridien Airport hotel and the new Muraqqabat development which comprises residential and hospitality buildings.

By Saifur Rahman?Business Editor

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm

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UAE’s Jumeirah Group eyes Europe expansion, no bond sales


DUBAI |
Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:51am BST

DUBAI (Reuters) – Luxury hotelier Jumeirah Group, owned by the ruler of Dubai, is looking at doubling its properties under management globally by early 2012 and tapping into growing tourism demand, its executive chairman said on Monday.

“We will open in Kuwait, Majorca, and Azerbaijan. We will almost double the number of hotels under management for Jumeirah in a 14 month period,” Gerald Lawless told the Middle East Investment Summit held at Reuters’ offices in Dubai.

“We have a few other potential projects “bubbling”… Some of them are in Europe,” he said, adding the Jumeirah Group would count 20 hotels by the end of the first quarter 2012.

Jumeirah, which competes with brands such as Mandarin Oriental or Four Seasons, recently opened brand-managed hotels in Frankfurt, the Maldives and Shanghai, and already has an extensive portfolio in Dubai, such as the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

“It is looking very good for the future bookings for the winter period. Tourism is holding up very well,” Lawless said.

He said it was difficult to say whether Dubai is seeing an additional influx of tourists to Dubai due to regional unrest.

Average room rates currently stand at 1,700 dirhams, up 5 percent compared with the same period last year.

Occupancy levels at Jumeirah’s hotels in Dubai reached 80.5 percent, Lawless said, up 6 percent from a year earlier.

Lawless said 20 percent of visitors came from the United Kingdom, 14 percent from Russia, and there were increasing numbers from China.

Since most of the future properties will be managed by Jumeirah, rather than being directly owned, Lawless said the group saw no need for substantial financing.

Jumeirah Group, a unit of Dubai Holding, the personal investment vehicle of the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was not currently planning an initial public offering (IPO.L) or a bond issue, Lawless said.

“We are very happy with our levels of financing and debt at the moment,” he said. “The funding positions are not difficult for us, we are in a strong position where we have investors who own the hotels, they build the hotels and we brand them.”

“We are asset-light … We have been very encouraged by the success of the acquisition of management contracts and it continues to grow,” Lawless said.

(Reporting by Martina Fuchs; Additional reporting by Jason Benham; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

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Dubai seeks to expand its cruise port facilities

Dubai: Dubai is looking to expand its cruise terminal facilities in a bid to accommodate the increase in the number of cruise ships.

“We have to expand our capacity. Our dock takes up to five ships. The numbers are going to increase and our cruise terminal is not enough. There are expansion plans for the future and we will announce them at that time,” Hamad Mohammad Bin Mejren, executive director of Business Tourism at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

“Port Rashid has become a favourite port of call for an increasing number of global cruise operators. We are confident that as a leading tourist destination, Dubai will continue to act as a catalyst for the development of the industry in the region as a whole,” he added.

According to DTCM, this year’s cruise season, ending in late summer, is expected to bring 425,000 passengers on 120 cruise ships.

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DTCM expects cruise passengers to increase to 135 ships with 475,000 passengers next year, 150 ships with 525 passengers in 2013, 165 ships with 575,000 passengers in 2014 and 180 ships with 625,000 passengers in 2015.

According to Mejren, Dubai’s cruise tourism industry has quadrupled in the last five years.

The cruise terminal, which was opened last year, is currently used by Royal Caribbean, Aida and Costa Cruises.

“The range of brands from all segments of the cruise market now regard Dubai and this region as very important destinations,” Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, said.

“We’re starting to see particularly strong growth emerging from Europe and many of the brands committed to this market are European brands. It’s now progressing at a pace which suggests that it will become a more important source market for cruise passengers globally and for this region,” he added.

Mejren said DTCM also has plans to extend the tourism season.

“Dubai used to have seasonal tourism and through DTCM we want to turn that into year-round tourism through Dubai’s summer festivals,” he said.

Dubai is hosting the Sea-trade Middle East Cruise Convention, which starts at the Meydan Hotel today and runs till Thursday.

The convention has attracted 30 cruise lines which include Costa, Aida, Royal Caribbean International, MSC, TUI, Hapag Lloyd, Seabourn, Silversea, Holland America Line, Variety Cruises, Louis Cruises, Fred Olsen and Saga.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

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Middle East’s first dedicated business-to-business cruise industry event

Spotlight on the region’s cruise credentials at inaugural Seatrade Middle East Cruise Convention as forecast growth continues to exceed global average.

The region’s buoyant cruise tourism sector and the opportunities and challenges facing major Middle Eastern cruise hubs will headline a two-day agenda as industry leaders come together today (19th October) at The Meydan Hotel, Dubai.

Hosted by the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Cruise Terminal and DP World, the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Convention is attracting senior industry leaders and international operators eager to address the broader economic impact of cruise tourism as the region’s hubs report record passenger arrivals and positive growth indicators for the 2012 season.

“Over the past ten years, the Middle East has seen significant growth in cruise tourism to the region with more cruise lines than ever looking to deploy in the region or expand their itineraries to this exciting part of the world; and this has positioned the industry as a integral part of the future development strategy of the region’s key tourism hubs,” said Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, organiser of the Middle East Cruise Convention.

“In addition to Dubai, which is a hub for cruise tourism, Abu Dhabi, Oman and other cruise ports in the region have reported a surge in cruise visitor numbers in recent months. Meanwhile, the Red Sea ports are also attracting significant cruise capacity and the prospects for North African ports are likely to be boosted by the expansion of winter cruising in the Mediterranean,” added Hayman.

In Dubai alone, the number of visiting cruise ships has more than quadrupled over the last five years with recent DTCM figures forecasting a growth in cruise passenger numbers into Port Rashid of 50,000 year-on-year reaching 625,000 visitors by 2015 against an expected total of 425,000 in 2011.

With ongoing regional commitment from international cruise brands such as Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and AIDA Cruises, Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed port will add capacity to the 2012 season following MSC Cruises’ decision to base its 59,000 ton MSC Lirica vessel in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port from this October, adding up to 39,000 annual cruise arrivals to the market.

Looking ahead to winter 2012/13, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 2 will make its Middle East debut with weekly round-trip cruises from Dubai to Oman, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. According to recent figures from Oman’s tourism ministry and Mina Qaboos Port, passenger arrivals into Muscat are forecast to exceed 300,000 by 2015, supported by infrastructure investment that will see the transformation of the capital’s existing facility into a dedicated cruise port; and both Both Abu Dhabi and Doha also have new cruise facilities under development

“Seatrade’s decision to launch a platform to bring industry decision-makers, destinations and cruise line deployment experts together presents a rare opportunity for the industry to collectively look at ways to optimise commercial potential, discuss deployment issues and analyse current global trend as it goes all out to boost its cruise credentials to a growing international audience,”
added Hayman. The two-day event is not only attracting cruise line companies, port operators and destination specialists, but also terminal suppliers, ship agents, tour operators, tourism authorities and government officials in immigration and security-related areas.

As well as the conference, which will look at the Gulf’s success as an expanding cruise destination, itinerary and destination development, opportunities for shore excursions and promoting pre and post cruise programmes, workshop sessions will take place on the afternoon of day two, with the goal of fostering interaction between the region’s ports and cruise line itinerary planners. Travel agents will also benefit from a free training day which offers a combination of bespoke training and specialist presentations from cruise line representatives.

The current speaker line-up includes representatives from AIDA, Celebrity, Costa Cruises, Fred. Olsen, Hapag Lloyd, Holland America, Louis Cruises, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Saga Shipping, Seabourn, Silversea, The World, TUI and Variety Cruises. In addition, top executives from Gulf tourism bodies will add regional input, with speakers from Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, DP World, the Oman Ministry of Tourism, Bahrain’s Mathias Tourism, El Zayat Tourism from Saudi Arabia, DNATA and Rais Hassan Saadi, plus research and statistical input from DVB Bank se and is sponsored by Rais Hassan Saadi – Cruise Division, Royal Caribbean Arabia and Saifee Ship Spare Parts Ship Chandlers LLC.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm

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Cruise liners to expand Arabian Gulf operations

Senior executives from 14 global cruise lines, plus representatives from regional tourism and port authorities, tour operators, travel agents and other cruise partners addressed both the opportunities and challenges faced in expanding the sector – reinforcing the message that the Arabian Gulf has potential for further growth as new lines commit to winter cruise schedules in the region.

The 3 day event was moderated by Seatrade Chairman Chris Hayman, who said the company had organised the first cruise conference in Dubai back in 1999, and he applauded how far the sector had developed since then.

“Dubai has to be admired for its ambitions and achievements in reaching out to the cruise industry,” he said. “From just 17 cruise line calls in 2001, this year the city will host 120 calls and 425,000 passengers. In order to further grow that business, our agenda at the Convention has been to address how the whole region can grow as a cruise destination – by adding new ports of call, new shore excursions, expanding port infrastructure, sourcing new markets both locally and regionally, and smoothing visa issues.”

In his welcome address, Dubai Department of Tourism Commerce Marketing Executive Director for Business Tourism, Hamad bin Mejran, emphasised the economic impact of the cruise sector: “Cruise tourism in Dubai is expected to yield an Dhs3.5bn return between 2010 and 2015,” he said.

“We need to amplify awareness about cruise tourism regionally as well as help cruise lines source passengers through our 18 overseas offices – in addition, as the cruise capital of the region, we are committed to building new facilities that will further contribute to the appeal of the Arabian Gulf and work closely with our neighbours to share our experience.”

In attendance at the event were representatives from TUI, a German cruise line that will start winter hub operations from Dubai in 2012, as well as from MSC, whose ship MSC Lirica arrives in Dubai on October 28 en route to Abu Dhabi, where it will homeport for the winter for the first time.

MSC Corporate operating officer, Neil Palomba, revealed at the Convention that a decision had already been made to upgrade ship operations in the region next winter: “While we have 95 port calls schedule for winter 2011/2012, next year we will bring in the MSC Opera, which has capacity for 2,000 passengers and will sail 25 cruises with 125 port calls – bringing in 54,000 passengers,” he said.

Whilst the cruise line executives were enthusiastic about the potential of the Arabian Gulf as a winter cruise centre, three issues were highlighted as areas where more work could be done to further ambitious growth plans.

According to Sebastian Aherns, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd, the region was a ‘dream destination’ but he said the UAE transit visa situation had to be resolved as it involved additional costs that made the region difficult to sell for volume operators. “Dubai embraces a phenomenal level of hospitality and its neighbouring countries can also follow suit in a concerted effort to market the region,” he added.

In addition, cruise executives agreed that new port calls were required to enable them to vary their cruise itineraries, all of which focused on the three major hubs of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat.

“We would like a beach destination,” said Costa president, Gianni Onorato. “In addition, we are extending the season and looking at operations potentially from October through to May.”

According to Herbert Soanes, deputy managing director, research and strategic planning, DVB Bank, interest in cruise as a vacation was booming in key markets such as Germany and the UK.

“European cruise numbers are growing at twice the rate of the US, and winter deployment of ships in the Arabian Gulf will benefit the lines and the passengers – air travel costs to the region are lower than to the other principal winter cruise region, the Caribbean,” he said.

“If you just take one market – the UK, passenger numbers to the Arabian Gulf last winter were up 78%, while those to the Caribbean decreased by 3%.”

In conclusion, convention participants voiced optimism that cruise was a thriving sector that would continue to grow as cruise lines looked for winter sunshine and new destinations.

“We are optimistic that this convention has proved to be a catalyst for the industry, bringing together the cruise lines and the destinations and providing a regional platform for dialogue and co-operation,” said Chris Hayman.

Speakers at the event included representatives from AIDA, Celebrity, Costa Cruises, Fred. Olsen, Hapag Lloyd, Holland America Line, Louis Cruises, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Saga Shipping, Seabourn, Silversea, The World, TUI and Variety Cruises.

The Seatrade Middle East Cruise Convention is sponsored by Rais Hassan Saadi – Cruise Division, Royal Caribbean Arabia and Saifee Ship Spare Parts Ship Chandlers LLC.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

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Own internal assessors for Dubai govt depts

Own internal assessors for Dubai govt depts

A total of 237 employees representing over 29 government bodies on Thursday graduated in a programme offered by the Dubai Government Excellence Programme (DGEP) which is taking a quantum leap in assessing outstanding government performance.

Clearing 13 intensive courses over the period from May 2010 to June 2011, the graduates have had their skills and experience honed to autonomously boost excellence in the government of Dubai. The honourees have now become internal assessors for excellent performance in their respective departments.

Abdulla Al Shaibani, Secretary-General of the Dubai Executive Council and Chairman of the DGEP, said the 13 intensive courses, five days each, on ‘Internal Assessor of Government Excellence’ are meant to attain and enhance excellence among all Dubai government employees.

“The 237 successful internal assessors have become able to independently spotlight the strengths and weaknesses in their departments in view of international excellence benchmarks.”

Al Shaibani said the DGEP adopts the latest global initiatives and modules in government management in a bid to develop the performance of the government sector in the emirate.

Ahmed Al Nuseirat, Coordinator-General of the DGEP, told Khaleej Times that the training workshops organised as part of the 13 courses helped these graduates to be internal assessors in government departments and would qualify them to become external assessors in the future.

“The new system further assists government bodies to map their internal development activities for corporate excellence that span the 70,000 to 80,000 employees of the Dubai government. It also improves integration and communication among all government sections, units and departments.”

The internal assessment for government excellence is based on four main sections: forming and empowering a team, planning and implementing the process of assessment, laying down a development and enhancement plan, carrying out and following up the development plan. “The self-assessment system involves a series of regular and planned review of all practices, processes and results accomplished by the government departments concerned in line with the Dubai Government Excellence Programme.”

Dr Zeyad Elkahlout, Quality and Excellence Advisor, DGEP, said the training workshops held in Arabic have helped the graduates to practically and instantly recognise and use a variety of self-assessment techniques on existing samples derived from Dubai government facts and terms. “They also had a chance to exchange information, experience and skills on excellent performance modules.”

The training scheme shed light on the concepts of excellence, internal assessors’ skills, benchmarks and modules of excellent government performance, assessment methodology and procedures, field visits, assessment reports, as well as development techniques.

Samah Alnuaimi, projects manager and certified assessor of the DGEP, said the employees are now being smoothly assessed by evaluators from their own departments due to the courses. “Over 29 departments of the Dubai government have been internally assessed, and the next step is the federal government.”

(KHALEEJ TIMES)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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Dubai is a place of horror, where Islamism meets hyper-capitalism

One thing confused me about the headlines last week, which were essentially a morality tale about the loneliness of the professional politician. Why did the former British secretary for defence Liam Fox choose Dubai for his mysterious stopovers between London and Afghanistan? Why could not it be somewhere else, perhaps the Wembley Plaza Hotel in Middlesex? Four times in 18 months, the former defense secretary laid his head there, when Bahrain, or maybe Oman, were the usual options. However, it was Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Of all the slave states in all the towns in all the world, he walks into this one.

Fox is not alone. Last year, more than 700,000 British tourists stayed in Dubai’s hotels, according to the Dubai tourism Web site. The British are Dubai’s best customers, which exposes how much people will collude with, or ignore evil, if their hotel rooms are cheap, sumptuous and have cable TV.

Virgin Holidays say on its Web site: “Dubai is like no other place on Earth. It is a truly fabulous destination where visitors can indulge in top-quality hotels, great shopping, fine dining, state-of-the-art spas and, of course, fantastic beaches. There is, however, more to Dubai than meets the eye…”

Yes indeed, it is unique, and there is more than meets the eye. That copy could be rewritten to say: “It is a truly fabulous destination where visitors can indulge in top-quality state censorship, great homophobia, fine misogyny, state-of-the-art police brutality and, of course, fantastic indentured servitude,” and it would not be libelous — not in Britain, anyway.

Dubai does not impose income tax, so the tourists are joined by an international convention of laughing parasites — all refugees from tax. I used to hate them, until I realized that any British people who want to live in Dubai, we can probably afford to lose.

I went to Dubai two years ago because a friend was going for work and I am not a woman to let a friend go shopping in a tyranny alone. I knew there would be trouble, reading the guidebook on the plane. Dubai practices religious tolerance toward all religions, it said — except Judaism. So I knew I should not do anything explicitly Jewish in the UAE, such as complain about the racist cartoons of hook-nosed Jews sitting on the world as if it were a big space-hopper made of gentiles. UAE newspapers think all Jews look like Harvey Weinstein crossed with Shrek. However, Dubai, owner of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building — or spike — on Earth has worse to show us than some casual anti-semitism.

Dubai, like the rest of the UAE, is a repressive state, hiding behind religious piety and that dreadful word glitz. If Mickey Mouse is in residence here, he has some of the smartest kids locked up in Space Mountain. Do not dare to be gay, or adulterous or a democrat in Dubai. Homosexuality will get you up to 10 years in prison — party on, gays. A group of transvestites got five years in Abu Dhabi for dressing up; two lesbians got a month in Dubai for kissing on the beach, before being spat out with deportation. I met a British woman in prison in Dubai. She was there for adultery, on the word of her husband — pale, thin, denied access to her children, almost too atrophied to speak. In the end, I did not interview her. Appearing in the British media might prejudice her case, and anyway, she had no words.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm

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Middle East’s first dedicated business-to-business cruise industry event to open October 19th

Hosted by the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Cruise Terminal and DP World, the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Convention is attracting senior industry leaders and international operators eager to address the broader economic impact of cruise tourism as the region’s hubs report record passenger arrivals and positive growth indicators for the 2012 season.

“Over the past ten years, the Middle East has seen significant growth in cruise tourism to the region with more cruise lines than ever looking to deploy in the region or expand their itineraries to this exciting part of the world; and this has positioned the industry as a integral part of the future development strategy of the region’s key tourism hubs,” said Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, organiser of the Middle East Cruise Convention.

“In addition to Dubai, which is a hub for cruise tourism, Abu Dhabi, Oman and other cruise ports in the region have reported a surge in cruise visitor numbers in recent months. Meanwhile, the Red Sea ports are also attracting significant cruise capacity and the prospects for North African ports are likely to be boosted by the expansion of winter cruising in the Mediterranean,” added Hayman.

In Dubai alone, the number of visiting cruise ships has more than quadrupled over the last five years with recent DTCM figures forecasting a growth in cruise passenger numbers into Port Rashid of 50,000 year-on-year reaching 625,000 visitors by 2015 against an expected total of 425,000 in 2011.

With ongoing regional commitment from international cruise brands such as Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and AIDA Cruises, Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed port will add capacity to the 2012 season following MSC Cruises’ decision to base its 59,000 ton MSC Lirica vessel in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port from this October, adding up to 39,000 annual cruise arrivals to the market.

Looking ahead to winter 2012/13, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 2 will make its Middle East debut with weekly round-trip cruises from Dubai to Oman, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. According to recent figures from Oman’s tourism ministry and Mina Qaboos Port, passenger arrivals into Muscat are forecast to exceed 300,000 by 2015, supported by infrastructure investment that will see the transformation of the capital’s existing facility into a dedicated cruise port; and both Both Abu Dhabi and Doha also have new cruise facilities under development

“Seatrade’s decision to launch a platform to bring industry decision-makers, destinations and cruise line deployment experts together presents a rare opportunity for the industry to collectively look at ways to optimise commercial potential, discuss deployment issues and analyse current global trend as it goes all out to boost its cruise credentials to a growing international audience,” added Hayman. The two-day event is not only attracting cruise line companies, port operators and destination specialists, but also terminal suppliers, ship agents, tour operators, tourism authorities and government officials in immigration and security-related areas.

As well as the conference, which will look at the Gulf’s success as an expanding cruise destination, itinerary and destination development, opportunities for shore excursions and promoting pre and post cruise programmes, workshop sessions will take place on the afternoon of day two, with the goal of fostering interaction between the region’s ports and cruise line itinerary planners. Travel agents will also benefit from a free training day which offers a combination of bespoke training and specialist presentations from cruise line representatives.

The current speaker line-up includes representatives from AIDA, Celebrity, Costa Cruises, Fred. Olsen, Hapag Lloyd, Holland America, Louis Cruises, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Saga Shipping, Seabourn, Silversea, The World, TUI and Variety Cruises.

In addition, top executives from Gulf tourism bodies will add regional input, with speakers from Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, DP World, the Oman Ministry of Tourism, Bahrain’s Mathias Tourism, El Zayat Tourism from Saudi Arabia, DNATA and Rais Hassan Saadi, plus research and statistical input from DVB Bank se and is sponsored by Rais Hassan Saadi – Cruise Division, Royal Caribbean Arabia and Saifee Ship Spare Parts Ship Chandlers LLC.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm

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Dubai seeks to expand ?its cruise port facilities

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Tuesday, Oct 18, 2011

Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai is looking to expand its cruise terminal facilities in a bid to accommodate the increase in the number of cruise ships.

“We have to expand our capacity. Our dock takes up to five ships. The numbers are going to increase and our cruise terminal is not enough. There are expansion plans for the future and we will announce them at that time,” Hamad Mohammad Bin Mejren, executive director of Business Tourism at the Department of Tourism and Commerce MarketingDepartment of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCMDTCM), said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

“Port Rashid has become a favourite port of call for an increasing number of global cruise operators. We are confident that as a leading tourist destination, Dubai will continue to act as a catalyst for the development of the industry in the region as a whole,” he added.

According to DTCMDTCM, this year’s cruise season, ending in late summer, is expected to bring 425,000 passengers on 120 cruise ships.

DTCMDTCM expects cruise passengers to increase to 135 ships with 475,000 passengers next year, 150 ships with 525 passengers in 2013, 165 ships with 575,000 passengers in 2014 and 180 ships with 625,000 passengers in 2015.

According to Mejren, Dubai’s cruise tourism industry has quadrupled in the last five years.

The cruise terminal, which was opened last year, is currently used by Royal Caribbean, Aida and Costa Cruises.

“The range of brands from all segments of the cruise market now regard Dubai and this region as very important destinations,” Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, said.

“We’re starting to see particularly strong growth emerging from Europe and many of the brands committed to this market are European brands. It’s now progressing at a pace which suggests that it will become a more important source market for cruise passengers globally and for this region,” he added.

Mejren said DTCMDTCM also has plans to extend the tourism season.

“Dubai used to have seasonal tourism and through DTCMDTCM we want to turn that into year-round tourism through Dubai’s summer festivals,” he said.

Dubai is hosting the Sea-trade Middle East Cruise Convention, which starts at the Meydan Hotel today and runs till Thursday.

The convention has attracted 30 cruise lines which include Costa, Aida, Royal Caribbean International, MSC, TUI, Hapag Lloyd, Seabourn, Silversea, Holland America Line, Variety Cruises, Louis Cruises, Fred Olsen and Saga.

We are confident that as a leading tourist destination, Dubai will continue to act as catalysts for the development of the industry in the region as a whole.”

By Aya Lowe, Staff Reporter

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm

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Big firms may resume bond sales

Dubai: After two months of inactivity due to the Eurozone debt crisis and turmoil in global financial markets, high-grade borrowers from the Gulf Arab region may be close to resuming issuance.

There is a substantial number of bonds in the pipeline, and a partial improvement of sentiment in global markets in the past week — although the Eurozone crisis remains fundamentally unresolved — has helped Gulf spreads tighten dramatically.

The average yield on the HSBC Nasdaq Dubai GCC conventional dollar bond index fell to 5.039 per cent on Wednesday from 5.245 per cent at the end of last week. Average spreads, calculated over Libor, narrowed to 305.6 basis points from 345.6 bps. In the week to October 5, net outflows from emerging market bond funds slowed to $1.4 billion from the previous week’s $3.2 billion, according to IFR Markets.

Abu Dhabi’s Union National Bank held roadshows for a potential bond in September but has so far refrained from issuing. Dolphin Energy, mall developer Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Holding, and the Tourism Development and Investment Co (TDIC) met investors earlier this year but did not issue, citing “market conditions”.

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“Clearly it is not the market where low-quality issuers can get anything done,” but the situation is different for some higher-quality issuers, said a London-based Middle East fixed income investor.

High spreads

High-quality names still face higher spreads compared to several months ago, but this is partly due to a collapse of US Treasury yields, he noted. “In spread terms, they get frustrated because it is not as tight as it was, but in absolute yield terms people are still looking at levels that are very attractive.”

Several Gulf names have rallied to trade at near-par levels this week.

“If Europe remains quiet on the bad news front, we should see this rally continue in the short term,” said a regional fixed income trader.

The Dubai government’s 7.75 per cent 2020 bond was bid at 99.831 early yesterday to yield about 7.776 per cent, down from 8.468 per cent on October 5.

Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala Development Co’s 5.75 per cent 2014 maturity was bid at around 107.549 yesterday afternoon to yield about 2.667 per cent, from 2.953 per cent on October 10.

“You can price credit risk but not event risk, and that is the main reason why the volume of new issues is low,” said an Abu Dhabi-based trader.

“If the stability that we saw this week continues, then the climate will be better for new issues, and then we can talk of spreads and how much premium issuers need to pay to raise money.”

If issuance does resume, however, it is likely to be gradual because high-grade credits do not appear desperate for money, analysts said.

“At the end of the day, the most highly rated credits are the ones that tend to have the least need for finance,” said Nicholas Stadtmiller, fixed income analyst at Emirates NBD.

“Entities that can raise funds easily either don’t need or don’t want them, and those would like to raise money have a harder time getting it.”

Sukuk market

Some traders speculate that Islamic bonds, or sukuk, could be among the first bonds issued after the drought. Sukuk held up relatively well in the secondary market during the recent volatility, partly because investors tend to buy them to hold for maturity rather than for trading. This could prompt both borrowers and investors to see the sukuk market as a relatively low-risk place for issuance.

“The sukuk markets are new and not nearly as liquid as developed debt markets. That creates opportunity,” said Akram Annous, Mena strategist at Al Mal Capital in Dubai.

Government-owned Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (Taqa) is seeking regulatory approval for a ringgit-denominated benchmark sukuk, while Kuwait Finance House’s Turkish unit Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank is on the road this week in Asia, the Middle East and Europe for a potential Islamic issue.

Average spreads for GCC sukuk on the Nasdaq Dubai dollar sukuk index have narrowed to about 295 bps from over 320 bps at the beginning of this month.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

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Dubai vision: Nearly 1m new jobs by 2020

Dubai vision: Nearly 1m new jobs by 2020

Dubai is introducing a master plan for urban development that is expected to open up about 950,000 jobs by 2020, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The Dubai Executive Council (DEC) has approved the Dubai Urban Development Master Plan-2020 and will establish a ‘Supreme Urban Planning Council’ to streamline the urban and environmental planning process in the emirate, officials of the Dubai Municipality said on Tuesday.

The plan focuses on sustainable and economically viable projects and initiatives, according to Director-General Hussain Nasser Lootah. Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Future Cities Conference that runs parallel to Cityscape, Lootah said the plan for the next 10 years’ growth of the emirate had taken into account all aspects of residential, commercial and industrial infrastructure, public requirements for housing and recreational amenities and environmental challenges.

“Dubai is not just a real estate town… real estate is just a part of the city’s development. We are not making the plan for buildings. The plan will tell where we need to concentrate on in different sectors,” he said.

Assistant Director-General for Planning and Engineering Essa Al Maidour said economic growth is the driving force behind the master plan which is expected to generate more jobs in various sectors. “Our expectation is that Dubai can generate 950,000 jobs by 2020,” said Al Maidour. “We want to give importance to tourism and related sectors to boost the economy. Our focus is also on facilitating trade, re-export, industries and real estate.”

He said Jebel Ali will be one area which will see major development growth, with Al Maktoum International Airport and the port boosting the economy by enhancing trade.

The new plan estimates a population growth of about one million people by 2020. The plan has anticipated three population scenarios with 2.3 million as the lowest expected one. The maximum

Dubai plans to create 950,000 jobs by 2020 population projected now stands at 3.4 million, while officials expect that the middle level projection of 2.9 million would be closer to reality.

These new estimates were calculated after taking into account a statistical survey of all projects and the 1.9 million population in 2010.

Prior to 2008, the land committed for mega projects had a capacity to accommodate nine million people by 2020. However, since the actual population in 2010 stood at 1.9 million, Dubai is now looking at the revised population estimates for its further development and land use for mega projects.

“We think we will have the middle-level scenario (of estimated population) though we are planning for the high-level scenario to make things easy,” said Al Maidour.

“There will be legislations to facilitate the implementation of the plan and one major recommendation is to make businesses easy, which you have already started seeing,” he said, referring to the recently announced business-friendly initiatives.

The new plan also attempts to balance between urban development and conservation of the natural and man-made heritage environments, and natural resources.

(KHALEEJ TIMES)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - October 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm

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