Travel Industry News

COVID-19: Live entertainment permitted within Dubai hotels

Dubai Tourism has issued a circular to hospitality venues, seen by What’s On, outlining that entertainment is once again permitted in Dubai hotels. Entertainment can be held in any indoor or outdoor restaurant, as well as at pools and common areas within hotels.

At the moment, nightclubs, bars and dance floors are excluded from this new rule. Group bands are also not allowed, all entertainers must be solo performers including musicians, DJs, and stage show artists.

The entertainers must wear a mask at all times, and must stay on the stage throughout their performance, without coming close to interact with the audience. The guidelines state that customers are not permitted to sit at the bar on stools.

Crowds are not allowed in any area, for spectating or dancing etc. and physical distancing must be followed at all times. As per the overall guidelines, staff and customers should be screened on entry and all surfaces should be regularly disinfected.

The circular made it clear that a clubbing ambiance is not allowed, this means crowding, dancing, flashes etc are not permitted. Guests should not queue outside a venue, nor should there be a waiting area inside.

If you need to pop outside the venue, you will be re-screened on your way back in. All customer-facing staff, kitchen staff and cleaners are required to wear a mask and gloves at all times.

While this sounds like a lot of strict rules, it’s another step in the direction of opening back up the city, and providing work opportunities for Dubai’s entertainers.

Please note that venues are required to apply for a permit for every performer that they hire, so it could be a few days before you start to see your favourite acts back on stage.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - July 3, 2020 at 9:48 pm

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Al Mahatta Sharjah, highlights history of aviation in Gulf Region

SHARJAH, 25th October, 2019 — Sharjah Air Station ‘Al Mahatta Museum’ highlights the history of aviation in the UAE and the Gulf Region. The museum first opened its doors in 2000, and since then, it has been the repository of stories of the first plane to land on Sharjah, the development of Sharjah’s first airport since the 40s, and its influence on the economic, cultural and social life in the region.

The importance of ‘Al Mahatta’ as the representative of aviation history in Sharjah and UAE is undeniable. The museum features a collection of exhibits in the first airport headquarters and provides an opportunity for new generations to learn about the history of aviation in Sharjah.

The story of aviation in these parts began on 5th October, 1932, when the first plane landed at Sharjah airport at 4:00 pm. It came from Gwadar airport (now in Pakistan), on the way to Britain. The Imperial Airways aircraft, named ‘Hanno’, fueled up and left carrying passengers and mail from Sharjah, marking the first flight in the history of the country.

Since its inception, Sharjah’s first airport played a pivotal role in promoting the stature of Sharjah and the country even before the formation of the United Arab Emirates. The airport served as a strategic link between the East and the West, and as a bridge to other cultures and civilisations, offering a fast, easy and effective way to connect with other countries in the region and the world.

Sharjah’s strategic location contributed to mark a significant change in the international air routes. The Imperial Airways decided to shift their air routes from Persia and launch a new flight route through the Arabian Gulf region to their destinations in the Far East. The new route included Cairo, Basra, and Sharjah Air Station as main stopover airports.

Al Mahatta was strategically used as a link between Europe, Asia and Australia, offering effective communication channels with the Western countries in all cultural and commercial fields. The airport was also the base for military aircraft during the Second World War until the year 1971, when the last Hunters, British jet-powered fighters, left Sharjah.

The ‘Al Mahatta’ was distinguished from the region’s other airports by a fortified guesthouse for overnight stops and sleepover making it also the first hotel in the country. The airport’s amenities also include a meteorological centre, telegraph and postal services, control tower, fuel tanks, airport defence force and an aircraft landing field that developed into a runway. In the 1960s, the runway was converted into an asphalt street, now known as King Abdul Aziz Street.

The use of ‘Hanno’ aircraft was a quantum leap in the history of the civil aviation. The aircraft was characterised by its size and capability to fly long distances, a requirement for international flights between the UK, India and Australia through the Arabian Gulf region. That international air route comprised many refuelling stops at key airports such as Croydon in South London, Athens, Cairo, Baghdad, Basra, Sharjah and Karachi, apart from other airports in India and Australia.

The Al Mahatta airport also had the distinction of housing the first cinema in Sharjah which was inaugurated in the 1930s. Documentaries have been collected and maintained by Sharjah Museums Authority, detailing how the cinema industry was established and developed by the British Air Forces between 1949 and 1959. At that time, the cinema hall had been a square-shaped space with a medium-sized screen and seating area, where visitors used to watch silent films, mostly documentaries and comedies.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 11, 2019 at 9:45 am

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Half million travelers to arrive in Dubai from 20th August to early September

DUBAI, 20th August, 2019 — Travel is expected to reach an all-time high in the upcoming weeks for Emirates Airlines, as the carrier expects yet another busy period with travelers arriving into Dubai after the summer holidays and Eid breaks.

Excluding transit passengers, over 500,000 people are expected to arrive into Dubai from 20th August until the beginning of September.

Mohammed Mattar, Divisional Senior Vice President of Emirates Airport Services, said, “With another record-breaking period coming up when it comes to passenger arrivals, we want to ensure that Emirates customers coming back to Dubai have the best experience possible starting from disembarkation through to every touchpoint and have positioned extra resources to ensure a speedy arrival journey.”

Emirates has a number of services and initiatives in place to ensure stress-free movement from gate to arrivals, eliminating potential bottlenecks and cutting wait-times for passengers to complete their formalities. After disembarkation, passengers with restricted mobility can book wheelchair assistance from the aircraft to the terminal entrance. For families, baby strollers are available on arrivals for their convenience at every Emirates gate, placed in special cupboards so that customers can quickly identify them. Buggies are also available to customers upon request.

Emirates customers can expect reduced processing times at immigration counters when using smart gates, by simply using their Emirates ID or passport. They can ‘clear’ immigration in seconds without human intervention or the need for a physical passport return stamp.

Close to 500,000 bags will be processed during this period and extra resources are being deployed to ensure smooth baggage flows. Emirates passengers are informed about their designated baggage carousel prior to landing on their personal ice screens, so they can proceed and collect their bags with ease. Emirates also offers a Home Delivery service where luggage is retrieved, cleared at customs and delivered to customers for a hassle-free arrival experience.

Passengers can also access the Dubai metro directly from the arrivals area of Terminal 3. Services conveniently run every 10 minutes from 5 am to midnight on (Saturday to Thursday) and 10 am to 1 am on Friday.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - August 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm

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دبي القابضة تدمج العمليات المساندة لشركاتها العقارية

دبي فى 15 فبراير/وام/أعلنت دبي القابضة عن دمج كافة العمليات المساندة لشركات التطوير العقاري الثلاث المنضوية تحت مظلتها

وقالت الشركة في بيان لها اليوم إنه سيتم دمج العمليات المساندة لمجموعة دبي للعقارات وسما دبي وشركة مزن العضو في تطوير وإسناد هذه العمليات إلى جهة تنفيذية واحدة مؤكدة في نفس الوقت أنه لن يطرأ أية تغييرات على ملكية هذه الشركات الثلاث أو أنشطتها الرئيسية.

وأكد البيان أن هذه الخطوة لن يكون لها أي تأثير على العلاقات القانونية التي تربط هذه الشركات مع كافة أطراف السوق وشركائها سواء من المستثمرين أو المقاولين أو الاستشاريين حيث إن الغرض منها تعزيز مستوى الكفاءة والفاعلية للعمليات المساندة.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - January 11, 2017 at 7:12 pm

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Premier Inn Middle East Slashes 30% rates for its budget hotels

Premier Inn Middle East, a joint venture of Emirates and UK-based holding company Whitbread, has reduced the daily room rates to AED350 (US $95.3) from AED495 ($134.8) until the end of September, in response to a slow tourism in the emirate specially after DSF.

The company has sites under construction at Dubai International Airport and Dubai Silicon Oasis, where the second Dubai property will open in early May this year and where the rate will also be AED350. Construction will start on two sites in Abu Dhabi shortly, the company said.

Premier Inn is one of the UK’s biggest hotel brand with over 580 hotels and almost 40,000 rooms across the UK and in Ireland. It is owned by hotel and restaurant company Whitbread, which also owns Starbucks coffee rival Costa Coffee.

Dubai Hotel Reservations Dubai Desert Safari

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:12 pm

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WTTC Shortlists of finalists for 2009 Tourism For Tomorrow Awards

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced the 12 finalists for the 2009 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Under WTTC’s stewardship since 2003, the prestigious Awards recognise best practices in sustainable tourism in four different categories – Destination Stewardship, Conservation, Community Benefit and Global Tourism Business. A record number of entries were received this year from over 40 countries and six continents.

The 12 finalists were selected by an international team of independent judges in each of the four award categories for having successfully demonstrated sustainable tourism practices, including the protection of natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people, and environmentally-friendly operations.

The 2009 Finalists are:

Destination Stewardship Award

Grupo PUNTACANA, Dominican Republic –
Heritage Watch, Cambodia –
South West Tourism, UK –
Conservation Award

Ionian Eco Villagers, Greece –
Lane Cove River Tourist Park, Australia –
NatureAir, Costa Rica –

Community Benefit Award

Community Action Treks, Nepal –
Ol Donyo Wuas, Kenya –
Zakoura Foundation for Micro Credits, Morocco –
Global Tourism Business Award

GAP Adventures, Canada & Global –
Marriott International Inc, USA & Global –
Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador –

Costas Christ, Chairman of Judges said: “We have reached a global tipping point in the travel industry, as more businesses and countries realise that sustainable tourism is not only about protecting the environment and safeguarding cultural diversity, but that it is also an important economic opportunity. The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards judging process goes beyond just what a company says it is doing in sustainable tourism. Our next phase of judging involves an on-site expert evaluation of each finalist to assess what they are doing in practice, leading up to the selection of one winner in each category. ”

“The outstanding quality of this year’s entries reflects the growing interest in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, ” said WTTC President and CEO Jean-Claude Baumgarten. “They demonstrate the Travel & Tourism industry’s long-term commitment to responsible tourism management, protecting the natural, social and cultural environment.”

The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are endorsed by WTTC Members and other organisations. They are organised in association with two Strategic Partners – Travelport and The Leading Travel Companies Conservation Foundation – with additional sponsors Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Rothschild Inc. Media partners include BBC World, Breaking Travel News, e-Turbo News, FVW,, Grupo RBS, Mercados & Eventos, National Geographic Adventure, Newsweek, Simon & Baker Travel Review, Telegraph Media Group, Travel Daily News, TravelMole, Travel Weekly, Travel Weekly UK, TTN Middle East, USA Today and 4hoteliers. Contributors are Adventure in Travel Expo, BEST Education Network, the Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Travel International, the World Heritage Alliance, Reed Travel Exhibitions and World Travel Market.

For more information about the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and the finalists, please call Susann Kruegel, WTTC’s Manager, e-Strategy and Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, on +44 (0) 20 7481 8007, or contact her by email at You can also check out the website:

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:12 pm

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Jet Airways to operate wide-body aircraft on Mumbai-Dubai route

Mumbai: Private carrier Jet Airways on Friday said it will operate one of its daily flights to Dubai from here with a wide body Boeing aircraft to meet growing demand on the route, starting next month.

The change in aircraft type will help Jet Airways fly an additional 178 seats on the route.

The full service carrier currently operates 10 daily flights between India and Dubai or 70 flights per week on this high traffic density route.

Starting August 6, Jet Airways flight 9W 544 from Mumbai to Dubai and the return leg flight 9W 543 from Dubai to Mumbai will be operated on the wide-body jetliner, Boeing 777-300ER, replacing the narrow-body B737-800, Jet Airways said in a statement.

“Dubai is among our most popular destinations for business and leisure travellers and it was only logical to increase capacity on flights to this key market. Deploying the 777-300ER aircraft will give our guests flying on the Mumbai-Dubai route the opportunity to sample our signature First Class hospitality for the first time, while also delivering a more superior flying experience for guests in all classes,” Jet Airways whole Time Director Gaurang Shetty said.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - July 16, 2016 at 12:19 am

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Dubai hotel room rates 30%

Hotel room rates in Dubai have dropped as much as 30% as the global economic downturn sees holidaymakers cut back on spending, tour operators in Dubai have noted.

Aloke Dey, the manager of Dubai-based Sharaf Travel Holidays, said fourstars and five star hotels have cut their room rates by between 10 percent and 30 percent, also the Frre night offers are being offerred from begining of the 2009. This includes the worlds best hotel in DUbai the burj Al Arab which is offerring 1 free night if you book 2 consequetive nights.

Avtar Singh, director of operations at Dubai-based Lama Tours, said room rates had dropped at least 10 percent over all.

Mr. Suhail Agha of Exotic DUbai Tours reported that there had been such feeling starting from August the bookings for 2009 are low and due to this the hotel rates are bound to be low. “The hotels will either need to lower the rates or put in more efforts with tour operators to promote Dubai even more in the foreign world” Mr. Suhail Added.

Mr. jamal panhwar of Travel & Culture said that the rates were already hyped and a correction was always needed.

Recently opened hotel The Atlantis Dubai which spend 22 million on a grad party with hollywood and bollywood actors and actresses is also having dificult time to fill up the rooms. rumors were that Atlantis had reduced rates to about 90% but it was just a rumer however the hotel has reduced rates about 10-15%

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

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Emirates Launches Triple Daily Flights to Perth

DUBAI, Mar 04th, 2013 – Emirates airlines has launched its third daily flight to Perth from Dubai, in meeting the demand for international flights to and from Western Australia, as well as the airline’s commitment to the state.

This ongoing commitment to tourism and trade in Western Australia by EMirates, sees Emirates’ flights to Perth rise from 19 to 21 per week, offering an extra 1,440 seat capacity between Dubai and Western Australia each week, this will also facilitate travel to Australia by emirates from other EK destinations like London, Karachi, Mumbai, Jeddah and so on.

“Emirates is dedicated to providing greater travel opportunities for our passengers to and from Western Australia through the introduction of this new, third daily flight and by providing state-of-the-art aircraft across the three daily Perth services,” said Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operation Far East & Australasia.

“In addition, Emirates has also announced it will increase the capacity on one of its other flights to Perth – EK424 and EK425 from 1 June by using a Boeing 777-300ER, providing passengers with the highest quality aircraft across all of our cabin classes and more opportunity to secure a seat on these popular flights, with the number of economy class seats increasing from 216 to 304,” Mr Obaidalla added.

Tourism Western Australia CEO Stephanie Buckland said the introduction of Emirates’ third daily Perth service was a tremendous boost for the state’s tourism industry.

“Since it started flying to Perth in August 2002, Emirates has become a major player in West Australia’s international market,” Ms Buckland said.

“In that time Emirates’ services between Dubai and Perth have increased from four a week to 21, which represents a strong vote of confidence in WA as a holiday and business destination,” she added.

“With the extra flights and Emirates’ vast network Perth has a new level of one-stop connectivity to the world, and in particular WA’s key European and North American markets,” she concluded.

Emirates flight EK422 departs Dubai at 2145hrs and arrives in Perth at 1225hrs the following day, the return flight, EK423, departs Perth at 1510hrs and arrives in Dubai at 2210hrs.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - March 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

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Dubai Shopping Festival 2012 attracting record numbers

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Dubai’s hotel sector has been boosted by the Arab Spring, renewed corporate activity and record numbers of visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival. The thriving Dubai hotel sector will receive a further boost from this year’s 17th Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which is expected to attract record numbers of visitors.

Dubai, Dubai, UAE, Country., January 31, 2012 – (PressReleasePoint) – Dubai’s hotel sector has been boosted by the Arab Spring, renewed corporate activity and record numbers of visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival. The thriving Dubai hotel sector will receive a further boost from this year’s 17th Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which is expected to attract record numbers of visitors. Last year, around 3.5 million tourists flocked to Dubai for the festival, which generated $4.08 billion in revenue for the city. But a study by You.Gov predicts this year could be considerably bigger. The DSF, which runs for 32 days from January 20, 2011 to February 20, 2011 has been organised to coincide with school holidays, which will increase the number of families at the event.

Special offers for the Festival
One of the biggest beneficiaries will be the Dubai hotel sector. Hotels, travel agents and tour operators sell the DSF worldwide and run at peak levels during the event. Most Dubai hotels and apartments, including the world-famous Burj Al Arab, provide special offers on rooms during the festival. Emirates, and most other airlines flying out of Dubai, offer discounted airfares and excess baggage allowances during the festival. Emirates, for example, is offering a US$75 DSF hotel package.

The DSF, known in Arabic as ‘Layali Dubai’, was started in February 1996 by the Dubai Government as a retail event aimed at promoting trade. Since then it has become an annual shopping, entertainment, and cultural extravaganza that draws an international audience. It is basically a shoppers’ paradise. Over 2,300 retails outlets offer everything from gold and perfume, to haute couture, cars, electronics, handicrafts and textiles.

But over the years, other events have sprung up to take advantage of the thousands of visitors. There are now international fashion shows, street-side performances, nightly fireworks, film festivals, and many other cultural events that reflect the emirate’s cosmopolitan character. The world’s richest horse race, the US$ 12 million Dubai World Cup, also coincides with the shopping festival.

First Central Hotel Apartment’s
If last year is anything to go by, hotel occupancy rates will soar during the DSF. In 2011, many hotels in the emirate reached 100% occupancy. Hotels which are well-situated for the festival will be especially in demand. One example is the Dubai-based British property developer The First Group’s First Central Hotel Apartments, which are right by the Dubai Metro’s Tecom station, and offer the height of luxury to tired shopaholics. The apartments are just a few minutes away from the Mall of the Emirates and a short ride from the Dubai Mall.

In fact, Dubai’s hoteliers have already reported occupancy levels up this January compared with January 2011. The rising trade has certainly been helped by the Arab Spring diverting tourists to the emirate, as their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries find Dubai to be a natural substitute for places like Egypt and Morocco. But there are other factors which have helped hotel business, including consistently good weather and the general improvement in corporate activity in recent months. The emirate’s relative affordability compared with its pre-crisis peaks has also played a role. As has its increasing appeal to markets such as China, India and eastern European tourists.

Rises in 2011
The positive news in the early stages of 2012 continues trends in the Dubai hotel industry in 2011. STR Global reported that visitor levels had risen beyond eight million by the end of last year. Also, the revenue per available room, or RevPAR, recorded an average rise of 8-9% in 2011. During the month of October, Dubai’s hotels posted a 13.5% increase in RevPAR to $194.05, second only to Jeddah in the Middle East and Africa region (MENA).The majority of hotels in Dubai also recorded occupancy levels as high as 85% for the month of October. Clearly, events such as the DSF will build on these impressive figures.

Dubai is now the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world, worth about $7.8 billion in 2011. And the UAE has the largest number of hotel rooms, with a total of 40,176 available, or being built. The nearest contender in the MENA region was Saudi Arabia with 5,531 rooms. The increasing activity in the hotel sector is making property developers confident about their new investments. After years of insecurity, the market looks back on track with 2012 set to be another year of growth. New developments, such as The First Group’s Tecom hotel apartments, Metro Central and Grand Central, will add to the city’s diverse hotel supply.

Other Dubai developers have made bullish assertions about the market. Seven Tides, for example, claims it will be looking for new opportunities as the market improves. Seven Tides believes that interest in Dubai properties is rising back to pre-crisis levels and that there is particular interest in the Palm. This means mixed-use developments are becoming sought after once again. Seven Tides expects to open its Royal Amwaj resort on the Palm Jumeirah, and its Oceana hotel, also on the island, in the first quarter of next year. Other developers have been inspired by the upturn to restart work on projects which had been put on hold. For example, Al Habtoor is restarting work on its US$272.2 million hotel on the Palm.

Strong economic performance
The renewed vigour in the UAE’s hotel and tourism industries is reflected by the stronger performance of the UAE economy on international indexes. For instance, in the 2011 Human Development Report, an annual survey put out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UAE was ranked number 30 worldwide among 187 nations. Countries ranking depends on their performance on three variable of the human development index (HDI) – life expectancy at birth, education and income.

The ranking of 30th was ahead of all Arab countries and many European countries. The second-placed Arab country was Qatar, which came 37th. The UAE economy also had a great year in 2011. According to a report by Standard Chartered Bank, the UAE enjoyed economic growth of 3.8%, allowing for inflation. The reasons cited for the growth were steady oil prices, strengthened oil production and the spillover effects of the Arab Spring. Inflation is also a non-existent threat, standing at around 1.6 per cent in 2011 and predicted to rise slightly to 2 per cent in 2012.

The First Group is an award winning international property developer, specialising in emerging markets and is currently pioneering iconic projects in the UAE and Africa. The group has a proud history of over 20 years’ experience and success, and continues to produce and develop bespoke property investments in some of the world’s most desirable locations.

For more information, please contact:
Cain Masters
Citrus Designs

Press Contact:
Cain Masters
Citrus Designs
1 Main Street, Malaga, Spain, 29649
******@ **************. ****

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - February 2, 2012 at 2:46 am

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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

Business Development Director

London | c£45,000


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.

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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

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