Archive for January, 2012

Dubai Cruise Terminal welcomes four mega ships simultaneously

DUBAI – For the first time in its history, DP World’s Dubai Cruise Terminal has welcomed four mega cruise ships at the same time, underlining its ability to cater to the rapid growth of cruise tourism in the city.

The four vessels, which can carry more than 9,000 passengers, called at Port Rashid over a 24-hour period and were berthed simultaneously.

Cruise tourism has been growing swiftly in Dubai. The award-winning Dubai Cruise Terminal experienced a 30 per cent 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 continued in 2011, with 135 cruise vessel calls and 375,000 passengers visiting, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, or DTCM. In light of the growing demand, DP World is expanding the existing terminal facilities to serve as many as five cruise ships at one time and plans to eventually expand the terminal to be able to serve as many as seven cruise vessels simultaneously.

Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice-president and managing director of DP World, UAE Region, said: “Dubai Cruise Terminal’s success in handling four mega passenger vessels at one time confirms Port Rashid’s ability to embrace the growth in cruise tourism in Dubai. This event demonstrates the cruise terminal’s capacity and the readiness of its infrastructure to cater to multiple large cruise vessels at once. DP World is committed to investing long term in the transformation of Port Rashid into the region’s cruise destination of choice with the support and close cooperation of DTCM, our strategic partner in promoting cruise tourism in Dubai.”

Mohammed Al Mannaei, director of Port Rashid at DP World, UAE Region, said: “Accommodating four cruise vessels and handling many thousands of passengers simultaneously was a challenge we were ready for at the port and we succeeded in ensuring smooth anchorage for the large vessels. I would like to thank all those involved for their commitment and cooperation in carrying out this operation.”

Just two weeks ago Dubai Cruise Terminal was voted, for the fifth time, the World’s Leading Cruise Port at the prestigious World Travel Awards 2011, competing against 17 regional winners for the honour.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 31, 2012 at 2:30 am

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UAE hotels cashing in on demand from Saudi families


DUBAI: The UAE attracted a huge number of Saudi nationals this week as several people left the Kingdom to spend a short school midterm holiday in the UAE.

Hotel and tourism specialists said the number of visitors might cross 200,000.

Government officials, however, could not confirm this figure immediately.

In fact, holidays in Saudi Arabia and Oman, combined with the Dubai Shopping Festival, have created a huge shortage for hotel rooms in the UAE.

The hotel occupancy has been high for the last one week and rooms were not available even in small hotels in Sharjah and Ajman.

Hussam Al-Jaffar, a Saudi National from Dammam, said he was enjoying his stay in Dubai and most of his hotel mates are Saudi nationals.

“Every year, I visit Dubai with my family. I prefer to spend my vacation in the UAE because it is close to Saudi Arabia and it has modern shopping facilities like European countries,” he added.

“Of course, I visit tourist attractions in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi too,” he said.

Thomas Kurian, director of sales and marketing at Flora Group of Hotels in Dubai, said Saudi nationals occupied 50 percent of their rooms during the past week.

“We have about 700 rooms and 50 percent of our guests for this period have been from Saudi Arabia. Since our property is non-alcoholic, the demand from Saudi Arabia is always high,” he added.

Salem Abdullah, a visitor from Saudi Arabia who was staying at a hotel in Ajman, said he could not find a room in Dubai because of high demand.

“The demand is high and hotels have increased the tariff also. Even in Ajman, I am paying more than AED600 per night per room. It was AED250 before,” said Salem, who is a regular visitor to the UAE.

“Since it is vacation time for schools in Saudi Arabia, we have seen an amazing turnout of families in Dubai. All our hotels are fully booked and have up to 60 percent of their guests from the Kingdom. Dubai Shopping Festival has once again proved to be a major attraction for families from the neighboring GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia,” Sadiq Iqbal, director of sales and revenue management, Coral Hotels Resorts, said.

“We are doing well at the Grand Millennium Dubai with the hotel enjoying 100 percent occupancy. Since we had secured our business in advance, we could only accommodate 10 percent guests from KSA. We have seen a high demand from Saudi Arabia recently,” Peter Mansourian, general manager of Grand Millennium Dubai told Arab News.

“The Holiday Inn Dubai in Al-Barsha is fully booked with 20 percent of guests from Saudi Arabia. There has been a high turnout of travelers from the Kingdom owing to the school holidays in the country,” said Gilles Nicolas, director of operations, Holiday Inn Dubai.

“We have had a terrific response from Saudi Arabia. We are running at 100 percent occupancy with nearly 30 percent of our guests from Saudi Arabia. We have both leisure and corporate clients owing to two major events happening in Dubai — DSF and Arab Health,” Hassan Al-Jawhari, director of sales and marketing, Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel in Dubai, told Arab News.

“Saudi Arabia is one of our key feeder markets and we have, at the moment, nearly 30 percent of our guests from the Kingdom,” said Aamir Pervez, general manager, Corp. Executive Hotel Apartments.

Hotel and apartment rooms are not available in Ajman, says Dinesh, manager of Hamilton Hotel in Ajman. Currently 50 percent of my guests are from Saudi Arabia and Oman.

“It was an unexpected turn-out from Saudi Arabia, we couldn’t accommodate many guests. I diverted a number of guests to hotels in Umm Al-Quwain and Ras Al-Khaimah,” Dinesh added.

He agreed that hotel rates have shot up.

“Rooms are not even available at furnished apartments, so, naturally the rates will go up,” he said.

“We used to go to Egypt and Lebanon. However, since last year we visit Dubai and it is a calm place with attractions” said Khaled Omar, a visitor from Jeddah.

Abdul Rahman A. M. Al-Khateeri, a school student who came with his parents by road from Riyadh, shared similar sentiments. “For me, the most interesting place is Sharjah’s Islamic Museum, because I learned many things from there,” Abdul Rahman said.

Dinesh Chaddah, general manager of Sharjah-based Citymax Hotels, said he is sad as he could not accommodate many guests from Saudi Arabia.

“We were overbooked due to DSF and Arab Health Exhibition in Dubai. In general, most of our guests, are from Saudi Arabia and Oman only,” he said.

Dubai tourism officials said the visitor figures will be ready by next month.

A top executive at Sharjah tourism office said that they are unable to provide the number of visitors at this time as the data were still being processed.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 27, 2012 at 1:38 am

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Shoppers may be more cautious at Dubai festival

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

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Dubai: The New Normal Comes with Fries

Brokers choose sandwiches over stocks as trade volume sinks

Zahra Hankir

Photograph by Newsha Tavakolian for Bloomberg Businessweek

Nabil Rantisi

Nabil Rantisi

Photograph by Newsha Tavakolian for Bloomberg Businessweek

A year ago, Nabil Rantisi spent his days trading stocks at a Dubai brokerage. Today he fills orders of a different kind. The gourmet deli he opened in September serves roast beef in a Yorkshire pudding wrap and other lunchtime fare to crowds that include his former clients. “Business was getting too slow, and at some point you have to decide where time would be spent in a more valuable way,” says Rantisi, who quit his job as brokerage director at Rasmala Investment Bank in June.

Three years after the collapse of a real estate bubble, Dubai’s financial industry is still in decline and shows little signs of recovery. Of the 98 brokerages active in 2008, 41 have suspended operations. The market value of shares in Dubai’s benchmark DFM General Index stood at $27.4 billion on Jan. 17, compared with $123.9 billion at the end of 2007.

Endowed with less than 10 percent of the United Arab Emirates’ oil reserves, Dubai has charted an economic course heavy on trade, tourism, and finance. The U.A.E.’s largest metropolis set its sights on becoming a regional finance hub. To attract global banks, asset managers and insurers seeking to capitalize on the region’s rising oil wealth, the city’s rulers set up a tax-free business park, the Dubai International Financial Centre, in 2004.

Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley were among those that opened offices there. By early 2008, Dubai’s main stock index had risen almost sixfold from its level five years earlier.

Then came the crash, caused largely by real estate speculation that left the government and state-owned companies saddled with about $110 billion in debt. Dubai, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper and palm-tree-shaped manmade islands, received a $20 billion bailout led by its wealthier neighbor, Abu Dhabi.

While the economy is on the mend—growth in the U.A.E. accelerated to 3.3 percent last year—foreign interest in Dubai has been dampened by Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. International investors bought shares worth $762 million in the third quarter, down 83 percent from the same period in 2009.

Banks including Credit Suisse Group and Nomura Holdings have trimmed their equities or equity research divisions in Dubai as trading volume has plunged. Al Futtain HC Securities, a leading Dubai-based broker, said on Jan. 4 it would end operations in the U.A.E.

Vyas Jayabhanu, the manager of Al Dhafra Financial Broker, has found a new line of business while he waits for the market to turn around. The 35-year-old broker is moonlighting as a hotel and nightclub developer. “In tourism, there’s something for everybody,” says Jayabhanu over coffee at Boutique 7 Hotel Suites, a four-star Dubai hotel he helped get off the ground. “Encouraging clients to trade in this market is not ethical.”

“The smart brokers who manage to stick around will capitalize big time when volumes come back,” says Rantisi. The owner of the 1762 deli—named for the year the Earl of Sandwich supposedly asked for his meat to be served between two pieces of bread—is not holding his breath. He and his partners are gearing up to open a second branch of their establishment in another Dubai business district next month. Says Rantisi: “Business has exceeded expectations.”

The bottom line: A prolonged slump has Dubai’s brokers looking for other lines of work. The market is down 84 percent from its high in 2005.

Hankir is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Dubai.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 21, 2012 at 1:13 am

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Dubai Brokers Choose Sandwiches Over Stocks as Volume Sinks

January 15, 2012, 1:16 AM EST

By Zahra Hankir

(Updates with market drop in seventh paragraph.)

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — Nabil Rantisi, who sold stocks during the United Arab Emirates’ boom, now oversees orders of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding wraps from crowds including former clients.

“Business was getting too slow, and at some point you have to decide where time would be spent in a more valuable way,” said Rantisi, who quit his job as the director of brokerage at Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd. in Dubai in June to help start a deli named 1762. The 34-year-old now works a few hundred meters from where he used to fulfill share orders.

Three years after the Dubai bubble burst, its financial industry is still in decline and shows little sign of recovery. While the emirate successfully restructured debt and invested in transport and tourism, 41 of the 98 local brokerages active in 2008 suspended operations.

Banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Holdings Inc. have trimmed their equities or equity research devisions as trading volume on the Dubai Financial Market plunged 77 percent after 2009. Al Futtaim HC Securities LLC, a Dubai-based broker ranked first by value traded in July according to the Dubai Financial Market website, said Jan. 4 it would end operations in the U.A.E. The number of employees in the Dubai International Financial Centre slipped to 11,331 in July of last year from 11,436 in 2009.

Market Crash

The crash followed real-estate speculation as government and state-owned companies amassed about $110 billion in debt. Dubai is home to the world’s tallest skyscraper and palm-tree shaped islands off its coast. By early 2008, the benchmark DFM General Index had risen almost six-fold in five years.

The market value of shares in the U.A.E. is now $97 billion, less than half the $206 billion at the end of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Foreign investors have reduced holdings of Dubai stocks amid Europe’s debt crisis and political uprisings that ousted leaders in Egypt and Libya. They bought shares worth 2.8 billion dirhams ($762 million) in the third quarter, down 83 percent from the same period in 2009, according to the Dubai Financial Market website.

Dubai’s benchmark index slumped 17 percent in 2011 compared with a 20 percent drop in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Abu Dhabi’s measure retreated 12 percent. The value of shares traded in Dubai tumbled to about $5 million on Nov. 16, the lowest since 2004. The DFM General Index slipped 0.5 percent to 1,327.54 at the 2 p.m. close today, down 84 percent from a high in 2005.

Drop in Volume

Trading volume in Dubai plummeted to a six-year low even after state-owned holding company Dubai World reached a restructuring agreement with creditors in March. The company roiled global financial markets in 2009 when it sought to halt repayments on about $25 billion of debt.

The U.A.E. will have to wait until at least June to be upgraded to emerging market from frontier status in MSCI Inc. indexes, which determine the stocks that tracking funds buy.

With little to trade, ex-stockbrokers are running restaurants, nightclubs and luxury hotels, waiting for a catalyst to reignite markets. Vyas Jayabhanu, the manager of Al Dhafra Financial Broker LLC, has spent the past year developing Boutique 7 Hotel and Suites, a four-star Dubai hotel complete with a bar, a café and soon a nightclub.

Moving Investment

Business has been good, Jayabhanu, 35, said in an interview over coffee at the hotel’s Garden of Eden café. “If you’re bankrupt, you drink more,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.” The café sports tables made of wood imported from Scotland, surrounded by trees and bushes, and offers shisha, the water-pipe smoked in the Middle East.

“During the boom you saw everyone investing more to capture market share,” said Rantisi of 1762, a reference to the year the Earl of Sandwich supposedly asked for his meat between two pieces of bread so he could stay at the gambling table. “It was overdone, and that was the first signal that the cycle was coming to an end,” he said. “Today is the opposite. People are getting out of the business or moving to other investments as the market dries up.”

Dubai, which has less than 10 percent of the U.A.E.’s oil reserves, set up the DIFC, a tax-free business park, in 2004 to attract global banks, asset managers and insurers to help diversify its economy. Banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc. added staff in the region as rising oil wealth increased demand for financial advice.

Expanded Too Quickly

Dubai expanded too quickly, said Akram Annous, former Middle East and North Africa strategist at Al Mal Capital PSC who left the company in November. “For now, I’m working on enhancing my personal brand,” the 33-year-old former banker said. “Maybe I’ll bring a franchise to Dubai, such as a shisha- based bowling alley, a fusion enterprise of some sort. Or maybe I’ll start a twitter feed.”

Rantisi’s former company, Rasmala, which has a research venture with Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, has moved away from retail brokerage services, as have HSBC and Shuaa Capital PSC. Shuaa, the U.A.E.’s largest investment bank, scaled back its research department to two employees as it cut costs, two bankers familiar with the matter said Jan. 10.

“We are simply not making any money through brokerage,” said Jayabhanu of Al Dhafra. “There’s a vicious fight to make use of small volume. In tourism, there’s something for everybody,” said the broker, who spends much of his time on the hotel project. “Encouraging clients to trade in this market condition is not ethical.”

Banks Also Suffer

Regional lenders have also suffered after the global credit crisis weakened lending, crimped investment banking and spurred loan defaults. Fees earned by banks in the region fell 42 percent to $320 million in the first nine months of 2011 from $551 million during the same period the year earlier, according to New York-based research firm Freeman Co.

Bond markets have recovered, with the average yield on debt in the U.A.E. slumping about 200 basis points since the end of 2009 to 5.36 percent on Jan. 10, according to the HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai UAE US Dollar Bond Index.

Al Dhafra still operates with four brokers in Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E. capital that led the $20 billion bailout of Dubai, Jayabhanu said. The brokerage was ranked 30th by value traded in December on the Dubai Financial Market.

“One thing that could boost volumes would be the inclusion of the U.A.E. in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index,” Georges Elhedery, head of global markets for the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC, said by e-mail Jan. 4. “Inclusion would have the effect of allowing international Emerging Markets funds to access this important market.”

Key Designation

MSCI indexes are tracked by funds that oversee about $3 trillion in assets, so getting promoted to emerging market from frontier can increase investment. MSCI cited investor’s questions about the effectiveness of a new settlement system as a reason why it kept the country under review.

The U.A.E. and Qatar, which is also up for review from frontier market status in June, “deserve an upgrade on the basis of their financial strength and economic and political stability,” Paul Cooper, the Dubai-based managing director at Sarasin-Alpen Partners Ltd., which oversees more than $500 million in the Middle East, said by e-mail Dec. 21. “The difficult global economic environment could work in the region’s favor as its financial strength could justify an overweight stance here.”

The Securities Commodities Authority, the U.A.E. market regulator, plans to issue rules on liquidity providers, short selling and security lending and borrowing in the first half, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Al Turaifi said in November.

“The smart brokers who manage to stick around will capitalize big time when volumes come back,” Rantisi said. Meanwhile, the former broker and his partners plan to open a branch of 1762 as soon as this month in Jebel Ali, another Dubai business district.

“We haven’t hit a wall in sales figures yet,” Rantisi said. “And business has exceeded expectations.”

–With assistance from Shaji Mathew and Dana El Baltaji in Dubai. Editors: Philip Revzin, Claudia Maedler, Riad Hamade

To contact the reporter on this story: Zahra Hankir in Dubai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 17, 2012 at 1:00 am

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Dubai flights are just the business Extra daily trip to and from Glasgow will help whisky, engineering, tourism

A NEW daily flight between Glasgow Airport and Dubai will benefit everyone from whisky makers to tourists, according to business experts.

Emirates Airline will give a boost of more than £200million to the city’s economy with a second daily flight starting from June 1, as reported in later editions of yesterday’s Evening Times.

About 400 extra passengers will fly in and out of the airport every day as a result and tourism bosses and politicians hailed it as fantastic news for Glasgow’s economy.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber Of Commerce, said: “We welcome this investment decision by Emirates as a clear vote of confidence in Glasgow’s continuing economic success.

“This expansion of Emirates’ service to the international hub at Dubai is vital to growing Glasgow-based engineering companies such as Aggreko, Weir Group and Clyde Blowers – all of whom are operating beyond Europe and into Far East markets.

“It is also important to the whisky and tourism industries.

“This great news is yet more vindication of BAA’s decision to retain Glasgow Airport.

“The management team there is doing an excellent job in exploiting the airport’s assets and in attracting new flights during what remain tough times.”

The link to Dubai allows Scottish travellers to catch connecting flights to destinations around the world, including Australasia and Africa.

It was first introduced in 2004, since when the single daily flight between Glasgow and Dubai has carried more than 1.7m passengers and over 46m kilos of cargo to and from the Middle East and beyond.

The new flight will create up to 12 direct jobs and generate millions of pounds in visitor revenue.

The additional flight, coupled with an aircraft upgrade on the existing service, will increase Emirates’ capacity to and from Glasgow by 47%, an extra 398 seats per day – 199 each way.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson said the new flight would be a significant boost to the city’s economy and competitiveness.

He said: “It is estimated the twice daily service will deliver local economic benefits of £33m, with almost 140,000 inbound passengers this year alone.

“Over the next five years, the route will be worth more than £200m.”

It will also see the introduction of a first class cabin in both daily services, the first time this has been offered by a commercial airline from Scotland.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “This announcement of the new expanded service underlines Emirates’ confidence in the Scottish market’s ability to sustain and grow.”



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 13, 2012 at 12:47 am

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Dnata buys UK’s Travel Republic

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 5, 2012 at 12:24 am

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