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Middle East travel retail sales soar

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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011

Gulf News

Dubai This year’s Middle East Duty Free Association (MEDFA) Conference, which ended yesterday, strongly focused on the vibrancy of the Middle East’s travel retail market which continued its strong performance despite political instability in the region.

Having attracted a record audience of 486 delegates, the event saw industry experts discussing the future challenges and strategy of the duty free industry in the region.

In his keynote address, Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group, highlighted the aggressive growth being experienced by the fast-paced airports and airlines in the Middle East.

“If you are focused on this region it’s good news,” he said, adding that with Emirates set to receive an aircraft a month on average for the next few years, the region was set to grow tremendously. And this ambition is being mirrored by other Gulf carriers such as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, he added.

“They all have one thing in common and that is growth. We will continue to see growth well in excess of international norms, and that will create phenomenal opportunities,” said Chapman. He added that going by the long-term view, the Middle East would continue to grow strongly.

On target

This has been proven by Dubai Duty Free’s performance in the recent years. The airport retailer’s sales grew 16 per cent as of the end of October, with sales reaching Dh4.2 billion. Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of Dubai Duty Free, said DDF was on track to achieve a year-end target of Dh5.3 billion.

Duty free sales at Dubai International Airport represent nearly half of the total duty free sales in the Middle East and North Africa, which last year reached $2.4 billion.

Meanwhile, global duty free and travel retail sales grew 13 per cent to $39 billion last year, according to Generation Research, with airports accounting for $23.30 billion.

By Shweta Jain?Senior Reporter

© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

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Maradona leaves UAE for Argentina to attend mother’s funeral

Nov 20, 2011, 13:15 GMT

Maradona had a terrible night after his wife informed him on Saturday that his 80-year-old mother had slipped into a coma, sources close to him in Dubai told dpa.

‘He asked the administration of Al-Wasl (a Dubai-based team he coaches) to allow him to travel to be beside his mother,’ added the sources.

They said that he had learnt about his mother’s death after he boarded the plane early Sunday.

‘The club was shocked by the sad news,’ said Ahmed Khalifa, the media spokesman for Al-Wasl.

He added that Al-Wasl was not in a hurry for Maradona’s return for a local game next week.

‘Al-Wasl deeply understands the difficult circumstances he is experiencing,’ said Khalifa.

Maradona liked to talk about his mother at his press conferences in Dubai.

Maradona has been coaching the club since May and has signed a two-year contract.


Dubai- Argentine football legend Diego Maradona on Sunday left the United Arab Emirates to travel to his homeland for his mother’s funeral.

Maradona had a terrible night after his wife informed him on Saturday that his 80-year-old mother had slipped into a coma, sources close to him in Dubai told dpa.

‘He asked the administration of Al-Wasl (a Dubai-based team he coaches) to allow him to travel to be beside his mother,’ added the sources.

They said that he had learnt about his mother’s death after he boarded the plane early Sunday.

‘The club was shocked by the sad news,’ said Ahmed Khalifa, the media spokesman for Al-Wasl.

He added that Al-Wasl was not in a hurry for Maradona’s return for a local game next week.

‘Al-Wasl deeply understands the difficult circumstances he is experiencing,’ said Khalifa.

Maradona liked to talk about his mother at his press conferences in Dubai.

Maradona has been coaching the club since May and has signed a two-year contract.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm

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Abu Dhabi delays opening dates for Louvre, Guggenheim museums

Abu Dhabi government-owned Tourism Development and Investment Co (TDIC) said on Saturday it was postponing the opening of three museums, in a fresh delay for one of the largest cultural projects in the Middle East.

The company gave no new date for opening the Abu Dhabi branches of the Guggenheim and the Louvre museums and the Zayed National Museum, originally scheduled between 2013 and 2014.

The announcement came less than a week after the company said it had canceled a tender related to the construction of the 450,000 sq foot Guggenheim museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry and expected to be the largest in the world.

“Due to the immense magnitude of the work associated with the development of such consequential projects, the company has decided to extend the delivery dates,” the company said in a statement.

“This will ensure that quality is not compromised, and allow each establishment the time needed to create its own identity on the local and international cultural stage,” it added.

TDIC said the move would only have “a moderate impact on the delivery timeline of the museums,” adding that significant progress has been made, including the finalization of architectural designs.

“The company is currently working closely with its valued partners on the creation of the new delivery timeline and looks forward to announcing this in due course,” it said.

In March, competing firms submitted bids for the 400 million dirhams ($109 million) Guggenheim contract, the London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) said, including UAE’s Al Habtoor-Leighton Group, Dubai builder Arabtec , Saudi Oger, Egypt’s Orascom Construction and South Korea’s Samsung CT.

The Guggenheim and Louvre museums are planned for the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which is a $27 billion art and culture project.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi, editing by Rosalind Russell)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

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Dubai diversifies with push into diamonds

The United Arab Emirates, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter and home to gold trading hub Dubai, is rapidly becoming a force in trade of another highly valuable commodity: diamonds.

Dubai, the UAE’s center for gem trade, handled $35 billion worth of rough and polished diamonds in 2010, a leap from an annual figure of just $3 million a decade ago, according to Malcolm Wall Morris, chief executive of the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC).

In the first half of this year Dubai traded $25.3 billion, a 55 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. Much or most of the rise was due to surging diamond prices rather than growing volumes — but the increase nevertheless underlined Dubai’s success in competing with other trading centers.

“Part of the UAE’s policy is to diversify its income and gradually move away from one or a few sources of income,” UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri told Reuters on the sidelines of a diamond exhibition in Dubai. “So there must be manufacturing and other sources of income we can depend on and that are also sustainable.”

The DMCC, which provides the infrastructure for commodities trade in Dubai, now ranks the emirate as the world’s fourth largest diamond trading hub, behind Antwerp, New York and Mumbai. Antwerp, through which more than half of the world’s diamond production passes, saw $48 billion of trade in the first ten months of 2010, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Center.

The UAE has competed with traditional diamond centers by keeping customs duties for diamond jewelry as low as 1 percent, a tiny fee compared to major diamond producer Russia’s 23 percent duty and 18 percent value added tax, according to Maximilian Artsinovich, founder of London-based retailer Maximilian Jewelry.

“Because of these duties, jewelry and imported watches in the Ukraine, Russia and Khazakhistan cost double their price in Dubai, or are at least 50 percent more expensive,” Artsinovich said after opening a boutique in Dubai.

The UAE also tightly regulates the quality of diamonds coming in and out of the country to increase investor confidence, says the DMCC.

But some traders still question Dubai’s ability to rival more established centers. A major obstacle keeping Dubai from becoming one of the world’s top three hubs, according to Mitesh Surti of Antwerp-based diamond seller Beyroha, is local banks’ lack of expertise in the diamond industry. Diamond traders have had difficulty setting up accounts with services catering to the industry, such as overdraft facilities, he said.

Another problem is the UAE’s inability to attract Israeli jewelers, who play a prominent role in the industry; for political reasons, Israeli nationals are generally not allowed into the country.

“A lot of Israelis cannot come here, and that’s a major problem because they are (one of) the industry’s main pillars. In Antwerp that is not a problem,” said Surti.

And while much of Dubai’s diamond trade comes from shipping the precious gem abroad, traders say the emirate’s reliance on tourists rather than the local market for most of its retail sales is a weakness.

Saurabh Shah, a seller at Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer Rosy Blue’s Dubai arm, said that if tourism in the UAE falls, diamond sales also drop because Arab locals and the large Arab and Indian expatriate communities traditionally prefer to buy gold.

“For Dubai, sales are mostly from the tourists. Indians (living here) buy only gold jewelry, and locals don’t buy diamonds very often,” said Shah.

Demand for diamonds in the Gulf is rising, however, and today stands at $15 billion annually compared to around $2 billion a decade ago, Shah said. By 2015, China, India and the Gulf could overtake the United States as top diamond consumers, analysts believe, creating more opportunities for Dubai, which is located between diamond producers in Africa and processors and buyers in Asia.

“Dubai is not rivaling Antwerp — Dubai is taking a new spot,” said Victor van der Kwast, chief executive of ABN AMRO Bank’s international diamond and jewelry group. Commodities flowing from Africa to China naturally tend to move through Dubai for geographical reasons rather than Antwerp, he said.


While Mumbai has a long tradition of diamond cutting and polishing, Dubai hopes to control more of the industry’s supply chain by processing rough diamonds domestically rather than sending them to Mumbai and then re-importing the finished product into the UAE for retail sale.

“Eventually, that’s one of the aims. Dubai will try to do as much of the diamond processing as possible,” said DMCC business director James Bernard.

The DMCC has a diamond boiling center, which removes dirt and trace materials from the gemstones, and a light jewelry manufacturing center. But some traders think bypassing Mumbai, which processes seven in every 10 of the world’s diamonds, will not be possible on a mass scale because of labor costs.

“Manufacturing diamonds needs different skills and a labor force, and the labor which is in India is more economical,” said Amit Dhamani, chief executive of Dubai-based jeweller Dhamani.

But he acknowledged Dubai’s potential in processing high-end products at lower volumes. “More processing in terms of high-end cutting of diamonds can be an interesting point — that is more quality-oriented, in that labor is not a major factor.”

Economy Minister Mansouri was adamant that Dubai could incorporate manufacturing into its diamond industry.

“We are confident that Dubai can be number one in a variety of sectors, including attracting investors and in areas like polishing diamonds and manufacturing diamonds,” Mansouri said. “Dubai does not know the impossible.”

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

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Abu Dhabi Economic Vision Dims in Dubai-Like Property Slump

November 15, 2011, 10:46 AM EST

By Vivian Salama

(Add’s Sorouh cost cuts in second-to-last paragraph.)

Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) — Abu Dhabi, the emirate that bailed out Dubai in 2009, set out to avoid the pitfalls suffered by its Persian Gulf neighbor with a decades-long plan to replace oil revenue with industry and tourism as drivers of growth.

Now those plans need to be scaled back as companies behind some of the sheikhdom’s biggest developments cut jobs and postpone projects, said Ghassan Chehayeb, associate director of research at Dubai-based Exotix Ltd. Delays include beach-front apartments, the first office building that makes more energy than it uses and branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

“Abu Dhabi has to face the economic realities,” Chehayeb said. The emirate’s plan “was a little too ambitious and they’re realizing now that many of those projects might not make as much economic sense as they initially thought.”

Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates capital and the holder of 7 percent of the world’s oil reserves, plans to invest $500 billion in industry, tourism and culture to increase non-oil revenue to 64 percent of the economy from 41 percent from 2005 to 2007. In Dubai, debt-fueled property speculation drove up prices and spurred development until the global credit crunch in 2008 caused the market to crash.

The Abu Dhabi government hasn’t announced any changes to the development blueprint, called Vision 2030, since it was first published in 2008. The emirate’s Urban Planning Council wouldn’t say whether the plan is on track when contacted by Bloomberg.

Job Cuts, Delays

Aldar Properties PJSC, Abu Dhabi’s biggest developer, plans to cut its workforce by 24 percent as it focuses on existing projects and properties that generate steady income, the company said this week. Government-owned Tourism Development Investment Co. said on Oct. 29 that it would delay the Zayed National Museum’s completion as well as the Louvre and Guggenheim branches due to the “magnitude of work.”

TDIC, which also develops hotels, cut its 2011 budget by 28 percent to 13.4 billion dirhams ($3.6 billion), according the prospectus for a $3 billion bond sale in July. The sale was postponed.

Masdar, a $22 billion state-owned renewable energy company, shelved plans for a 100,000 square-meter (1.1 million square- foot) headquarters building that would produce more energy than it uses, it said in September. A year earlier, the company scaled back the zero-carbon ambition for its purpose-built city and delayed the city’s first phase by two years to 2015.

‘Liquidity Problem’

“They are downscaling to reality,” said Saud Masud, an analyst at Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd. “You don’t have ample liquidity today to finish projects. Abu Dhabi as a sovereign state is solvent, but there is a liquidity problem in sectors like real estate.”

While Dubai took a more high-profile approach to its growth, constructing the world’s tallest building and palm tree- shaped islands, its more conservative neighbor developed beaches and seaside promenades and used natural and man-made islands to serve as centers for culture and entertainment.

Both markets have been hurt by a drop in private investment in the region that has persisted since the global economic slump. For Abu Dhabi, that meant the state taking on a bigger share of development financing.

“When these projects were announced and the government- related entities established, the government was told that most of the funding could be raised privately,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief investment officer at Abu Dhabi-based CapM Investment PJSC. After succeeding up to 2009, the companies failed to raise additional money and the state had to step in, he said.

Slower Fall

Abu Dhabi opened its property market to foreign buyers in 2005, three years after Dubai, and the full effect of the property slump there didn’t appear until about two years after its neighbor.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Market Real Estate index has dropped 47 percent this year, while the Dubai Financial Market Real Estate and Construction Index has slumped 22 percent.

Planning Council member Michael White said last year that Vision 2030 was on target overall, though there would be “more tempered economic growth” and slower population growth. The plan estimates a population of 3 million in 2030. It was 1.6 million in mid-2010, according to government statistics.

Ferrari Park

Aldar, which is building thousands of homes and offices across Abu Dhabi, will cut 105 jobs, the company said in a statement on Oct. 31. The government agreed in January to buy assets from the developer including a Ferrari theme park and convertible bonds for 19.2 billion dirhams to help it pay creditors.

Both residential and office prices and rents in the U.A.E. are expected to fall over the next two years as new properties are added to a glutted market.

Abu Dhabi, home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, spent $20 billion in 2009 to shore up Dubai’s state investment companies, which were struggling to repay debt. It also provides support for the poorer northern emirates.

“The scale of debt that Abu Dhabi government-related entities built up was the slightly untold story of the Dubai debt crisis,” Rachel Ziemba, a senior analyst with Roubini Global Economics LLC, said in a telephone interview. “At this point, they’re more worried about 2014 and 2015 than about 2030. The fact that they’re adapting and rationalizing and looking at some of the projects and entities is a good sign.”

Museum Delays

The delayed museum projects are part of the emirate’s planned cultural district on Saadiyat Island, which state tourism company TDIC calls the Island of Happiness. The museums were originally due for completion in 2013 and 2014. New dates will be announced after a review, TDIC said on Oct. 29.

TDIC also postponed Saadiyat Beach 20 and Saadiyat Beach 21 apartments and Saadiyat Marina Tower on the island, according to the bond prospectus.

“The government has a massive war chest, but they don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad,” Exotix’s Chehayeb said in a telephone interview. “Aldar is strategically important for the government, but its business model is focused on third-party developers who don’t have the appetite anymore.”

Sorouh Real Estate Co., the emirate’s second-biggest developer by market value, reduced its sales, general and administrative costs by half since 2008, mainly through a reduction in headcount, the company said today by e-mail.

“It would have been naive for people to expect plans not to change and be amended, given all the events that have occurred in the world since 2008,” CapM’s Yasin said.

–Editors: Ross Larsen, Andrew Blackman

To contact the reporter on this story: Vivian Salama in Abu Dhabi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at Andrew Blackman at

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm

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Middle East outbound travel market pegged at $20 bn by 2030

Dubai, Nov 12 (PTI) European and Asian tourist destinations are eyeing a larger share of outbound travel from the Gulf region, which could top USD 20 billion within the next 20 years, organisers of an industry event have said, quoting World Tourism Organisation (WTO) figures.
The WTO reckons that an additional two million Arabs will travel abroad within the next twenty years, taking the total number of outbound tourists to 37 million, who will spend an estimated USD 20 billion and account for 2.2 per cent of global outbound travel, a rise of 0.7 per cent from their current share.
“The region is not only one of the fastest growing inbound markets, but for some, more crucially, it is one of the fastest growing outbound markets. We have received bookings from all five continents of the world reconfirming the importance of this region”s outbound tourism potential,” said Mark Walsh, the Group Exhibition Director of Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Reed Travel Exhibitions is the organiser of the Arabian Travel Market 2011 fair in Dubai from April 30 to May 3, 2012.
The 2011 edition of the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East accommodated 2,236 exhibitors and spanned over 20,000 square metres, attracting more than 22,000 visitors.
“Those numbers may seem modest, but it is a case of quality, not quantity, with travelers from this region,” Walsh said.
According to the WTO, the average tourist from the UAE spends USD 22,000 a year on flights and accommodation alone, adding up to USD 6.6 billion annually on outbound travel.
“Saudi Arabia”s market is worth an estimated USD 4.8 billion,” Walsh said.
“We have found that many independent leisure travellers now prefer to carry out their own internet research at home.
Therefore the show is now dedicated to travel industry professionals,” said Walsh.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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A creative holiday in Dubai

Creative Holidays, a division of the Travel Corporation and Australia’s leading independent holiday company, has held their annual Brand Management Conference in Dubai.

The conference was attended by 37 members of the senior management team, including the Managing Director of Creative Holidays, Paul McGrath, and CEO of the Travel Corporation, John Weeks.

Hosted by Dubai Tourism and accompanied by Veronica Rainbird, Senior Manager of Trade, Marketing and Strategic Relations, the Creative Holidays team enjoyed a four day trip to Dubai. During their familiarisation of Dubai, the group visited old and new areas of the city. Highlights of their trip included sightseeing at Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Ski Dubai, the souks and hotel visits. An awards ceremony was held at the Atlantis hotel.

Creative Holidays started featuring Dubai in 2004, initially marketing Dubai with stopover packages in the back of their Europe/UK brochure. Since, growth in Dubai and the surrounding area has led to a dedicated Arabian Peninsula brochure that features Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

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Dubai tourism benefits from Arab Spring

Dubai: Hotels continued to enjoy high average occupancy rates of 79 per cent in the first three quarters of this year despite new supply coming onto the market, according to figures released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

The total number of rooms in Dubai rose by nine per cent during the first nine months of 2011. During the same period, hotel apartment occupancy rose by six percentage points from 73 per cent to 79 per cent while hotel occupancy rates rose by four percentage points to 76 per cent.

“We’ve had good occupancy across our hotels mainly because we’ve had a lot of success in new territorial markets we’ve opened in the last few years which have become big source markets. These include China, Japan and India. To take advantage of the demand, we’ve opened our own sales offices in these destinations,” Naeem Darkazally, associate vice-president for sales and revenue, UAE for Rotana, told Gulf News.

Safe haven

Dubai’s hotel industry has also recently benefited from the political turmoil affecting countries elsewhere in the region with holidaymakers viewing the UAE as a safe haven amid the unrest.

“We’re seeing an influx of GCC tourists. Some of these increases are due to unrest in many Arab countries. Destinations in the region are limited and security plays a big role,” said Darkazally.

During the first three quarters of this year, hotel establishments hosted 6.64 million guests, an increase of 11 per cent. These higher figures boosted hotel revenues by 20 per cent and hotel apartment revenues by 13 per cent according to DTCM.

“One reason why there is an increase in hotel guests is down to the fact that Emirates airline has become much larger and people are spending more time in transit. The airline is taking a proactive approach and encouraging tourists to spend some nights in the country,” said Nabeel Abu Alrub, director-general of Utravel, a boutique Dubai-based travel agency.

Guests coming to Dubai are also staying longer and spending more. Guest nights that measure the average length of stay rose 35 per cent to 8.46 million in the first quarter of this year. The average length of stay of guests at hotels was 3.2 days during this period, an increase of 18 per cent, while the average stay in hotel apartments stood at 4.9 days, an increase of 21 per cent compared with 4.1 days during the same period last year.


© Gulf News 2011. All rights reserved.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm

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Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing pushes sustainable tourism agenda

The first year of the awards programme attracted 79 submissions, and included seminars and workshops attended by 450 delegates from the hospitality industry. Hotels that participated in the awards saved 10% in electricity consumption and 17% in water consumption, leading to significant savings in power and water bills.

This year, 104 submissions have been submitted, with 570 delegates expected to attend the award ceremony and industry seminars. DTCM aims to reduce electricity consumption in hotels by 12% and water consumption by 20%.

Taking place from 5 to 7 December at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) World Green Tourism is the region’s first commercial event dedicated to examining how the travel and tourism industry can become more sustainable.

Ms. Shaikha Al Mutawa, Director of Business Development at DTCM and Chairperson of the Dubai Green Tourism Award Committee said: “As the strategic partner of World Green Tourism, we look forward to sharing the success of our green tourism initiatives, and networking with the global tourism industry to exchange knowledge and best sustainable tourism practices.

“Participating at the event is a significant step in bringing a positive change through sustainability programmes in hotel establishments and within the tourism industry in Dubai.”

Mr. Majid Al Marri, Director of Hotel Classification and Deputy Chairman of the award said: “Tourism is one of the most important industries in the UAE. The country has taken significant steps towards the improvement and protection of the environment with particular focus on biodiversity, renewable energy, water conservation, recycling and waste management.”

DTCM will also bring a high profile delegation to World Green Tourism, headed by Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, Executive Director of Media Relations and Business Development at DTCM, who will participate in the Tourism Leaders Roundtable on DTCM’s role in positioning Dubai as a sustainable tourism destination.

Ibrahim Yaqoot, Executive Director of Corporate Support for DTCM, will also deliver a presentation on young people and tourism, aimed at educating and providing encouragement for UAE nationals to pursue a career in tourism.

World Green Tourism is organised by Streamline Marketing Group, and hosted by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. The event is held under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, ADTA’s Chairman.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm

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Dubai in marketing drive to boost tourist arrivals

Dubai: Dubai is bolstering efforts to attract foreign visitors amid competition from countries affected by the Arab Spring.

Senior officials from the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (Depe), an agency of the Department of Economic Development, are in London for the World Travel Market to promote the emirate as a tourist destination as other Arab nations also strive to boost visitor numbers.

Egypt and Tunisia have launched tourist drives at this year’s travel trade exhibition, according to a global trends report conducted by market analysis company Euromonitor International. Dubai’s tourism industry has benefited from the political turmoil elsewhere in the region with holidaymakers viewing the UAE as a safe haven amid the unrest.

“The speed at which the marketing campaigns have been launched demonstrates the importance the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia have put on inbound tourism for their long-term economic future,” WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery told the UK’s Press Association.

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“Tourism can help build up these countries’ new democracies and has the potential to do so across all the Arab Spring countries,” she added.

DEPE will be promoting Dubai’s various festivals — including the Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises — to a global audience at the WTM with the agency particularly interested into the UK tourism sector as 719,889 British tourists stayed in Dubai’s hotels last year.

“We are aiming to promote DEPE’s festivals such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, ‘Eid in Dubai’, Ramadan in Dubai, and the brand Modhesh,” said Ebrahim Saleh, Festivals Coordinator General and Deputy CEO of DEPE.

“Dubai Calendar, which is the official listing of events in Dubai, will also be actively promoted by DEPE at WTM,” he added.

However, concerns over the state of the global economy are taking their toll on savings sentiment, especially in developed countries.

The Euromonitor report said two in five people in the UK did not take a holiday this year. In addition, the report showed almost half of holidaymakers continue to use mobile phones abroad, despite racking up huge bills.

A third of those surveyed said they planned to travel less often, due to increased taxes.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) said rises in air passenger duty were a major issue but that they would continue to travel on a lower budget.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm

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Dubai’s hotels report strong RevPAR and profit growth during September, shows HotStats survey

Since the beginning of 2011, Dubai’s tourism and hotel sector has witnessed strong signs of recovery as the ‘Arab Spring’ diverted both international and regional tourists to safer locations such as Dubai. Both occupancy and average rates improved in September as Ramadan moved into August while September opened with the commencement of Eid Al Fitr holidays. This annual festival witnesses a marked increase in the flow of domestic and regional leisure travellers to Dubai, causing a surge in hotel bookings.

The strong recovery in demand this year (78.6% occupancy compared to 71.8% in September 2010) prompted hoteliers to increase rates by 10.9% in September, resulting in a 21.5% growth in RevPAR and a 24.6% growth in GOP PAR for the month. Dubai hotels’ year-to-date GOP PAR of $110.10 is 30.9% higher than its neighbouring city of Abu Dhabi and second only to Riyadh amongst the six cities covered in this survey.

“Dubai hotels have clearly benefited from the Arabic Spring and such trend is unlikely to change until there is greater stability in the hot spot areas of Egypt and Syria. However, with the uncertainty related to the ongoing economic problems in the Euro region, there is a downside risk that the European tourist inflow into Dubai may decline, which might slightly dampen the year-end figures,” said Peter Goddard, Managing Director of TRI Hospitality Consulting in Dubai.

In Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s richer neighbour and UAE‘s capital, however, things appear to be moving in a different direction. Hotels in this emirate continued to see room rates (ARR) drop, with a 7.0% decline in September, although occupancy levels improved by a similar margin assisted by the growth in demand during the Eid holidays. During the 12 months to September 2011, Abu Dhabi posted the largest decline in ARR amongst the six cities surveyed, plunging 20.9% compared to the same period in the previous year.

Conversely, demand levels in Abu Dhabi have seen consistent growth as reflected by the occupancy change for September (up 7.5%), year-to-date (up 8.4%) and 12 months to September (up 7.1%) 2011. According to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, the number of hotel guests rose 14% in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year. “Regardless of the growth in demand, the continued growth in supply, albeit at reduced levels compared to the last couple of years, is likely to maintain the pressure on rates and increase the risk of oversupply in Abu Dhabi in the short to medium term,” commented Mr. Goddard.

Most MENA Cities Surveyed Post Revenue and Profit Growth

Four out of the six cities in the HotStats survey registered TrevPAR and GOPPAR growth for the month of September. Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh were the two destinations to experience a decline in GOPPAR as tourist arrivals and hotel demand plummeted in Egypt since the popular uprising began in January.

Cairo, which has been the centre stage of the revolution, saw its hotel occupancy drop by 22.8 percentage points while Sharm El Sheikh registered a decline of 15.9 percentage points in September compared to last year. Interestingly, hotels in Cairo have managed to hold the rates above 2010 levels predominantly due to a shift in segmentation where the proportion of corporate guests have gone up as leisure tourists disappeared. The sluggish demand in Cairo and very low ARR in Sharm El Sheikh, coupled with a rise in the proportion of payroll costs in both cities, have contributed to a GOPPAR decline of 38.5% and 53.9% respectively in September.

“Hotel performance levels in Cairo are not likely to improve until the protests subside, the security situation improves and international travellers put Egypt back on their travel itinerary. In the short term, performance is likely to remain subdued under the threat of possible violence associated with the proposed general election planned in November and presidential election planned in early 2012. On the other hand, Sharm El Sheikh is likely to bounce back faster than Cairo because of the vested interests of tour operators who own and operate hotels, charter flights and holiday packages to Sharm El Sheikh and other resort destinations along the Red Sea coast,” said Mr. Goddard.

The Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah have emerged both rate (ARR) and profit (GOPPAR) leaders amongst the six cities currently surveyed by HotStats in the Middle East. The two cities achieved ARR of $245.7 and ARR $212.7 respectively in September, and managed to post GOPPAR well above the other four cities covered in the survey.

Riyadh has clearly taken the lead and saw its hotel occupancy grow by 18.7 percentage points, RevPAR go up by 52.6% and GOPPAR surge by 91% in September compared to the same month in 2010. On the other hand, Jeddah’s growth has been strong but modest when compared to Riyadh, posting a 10.4% growth in TrevPAR and 11.8% growth in GOPPAR for the month.

“Hotels in Riyadh and Jeddah have seen a surge in demand in September due to a combination of reasons. The exit of Ramadan out of September and into August this year and the spill over of Eid holidays into September have favoured the month’s figures. More importantly on a macro level, the ongoing security issues in the Levant and the government’s efforts to promote domestic tourism have resulted in an increasing number of Saudi travellers now spending more time holidaying in the Kingdom, which also benefited hotels in Riyadh and Jeddah,” said Mr. Goddard.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

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Dubai is named events capital of the Middle East

Dubai: Dubai has been presented with a regional award by an international association that supports events professionals worldwide.

The emirate was named the Middle East’s ‘2011 World Festival and Event City’ by the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA), Dubai Events and Promotions (DEPE) announced yesterday.

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group, and Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, dedicated the award to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Dubai government realised the economic importance of festivals in the 1990s and developed the infrastructure to establish the emirate as a hub for international events, Shaikh Ahmad said.

“The fruits of this long-term strategy have materialised with the events and festivals industry being vital in energising various economic sectors in the city, whether it was the hospitality sector, the tourism sector or the retail sector, which are all main arteries that pump income into the local economy as non-oil industries,” he added.

Laila Suhail, CEO of DEPE, an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) and organiser of the Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises, received the award.

‘Raising the bar’

The announcement was made earlier this month during the IFEA Convention and Expo in Fort Worth, Texas.

“For more than a decade and a half now, since the launch of the first edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival in 1996, Dubai has been raising the bar of excellence in organising and hosting world class events and festivals. It paid off today with this award,” Suhail said.

The festivals and events industry in Dubai has boosted tourism and trade — the main pillars of the emirate’s economy, industry representatives said.

“Mice [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] is the cream of tourism because people come in bulk,” said Gassan Aridi, chief executive of Alpha Tours.

“Look at the recent diabetes and dentistry conferences: people come in thousands. They get the best hotels, book lots of services such as conference rooms and take a lot of tours and activities in Dubai.”

Major sporting events coming to Dubai draw thousands of fans following their favourite clubs, media coverage and major spending, he said.

DSF and DSS also contribute to the inflow of tourists. Mice and other events make up 20 per cent of Alpha’s business, Aridi added.

‘Economic circle’

“There is a whole econ-omic circle benefitting out of it: restaurants, souvenir shops, shopping malls, car rentals,” he said.

DMG Events, an exhibition and conferences organiser, puts together major events in Dubai such as the recent Index interiors exhibition.

Asked why Dubai is an important destination for exhibitions and events, Paula Al Chamsi, events director at Index, said: “It is a hub for exports and re-exports in the region. It is particularly friendly for foreign businesses to set up here with its freezones and visas — there is easier entry here compared to Saudi [Arabia] or Iran.”

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

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Dubai’s Emirates sticks to growth plan despite profit slump

Thu Nov 3, 2011 1:44pm GMT

DUBAI (Reuters) – Emirates airline, the state-owned carrier which is on a hurried expansion path said it was sticking to its growth plans in the face of a 76 percent slump in half-year profit, hit by fuel costs and currency fluctuations.

The Dubai government-owned airline’s results reflect the gloomy outlook for the travel industry, which is struggling with slowing global demand and high oil prices.

Emirates would “stay on course and continue to grow despite the unsteady marketplace,” its chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, said in a statement.

The airline is the largest customer of the Airbus (EAD.PA) A380 superjumbo, with a fleet of 161 wide-bodied aircraft and orders for a further 190. It is expected to place new aircraft orders at the Dubai Airshow later this month.

“Emirates has weathered the storm of recession better than most airlines in recent years but even Emirates is not immune to an industry wide softening of demand,” said Sudeep Ghai, partner at London-based Athena Aviation.

Industry body IATA has warned that it expects airlines to suffer a weak end to the year due to in part to waning consumer confidence and sluggish international trade.

The airline said profit was 827 million dirhams for the six months ended September 30. That compared with profit of 3.4 billion dirhams in the prior-year period. Its financial year runs from April 1 to March 31.

Sheikh Ahmed said the airline paid an additional $1 billion in fuel costs compared to a year ago. Fuel typically accounts for a third of an airline’s operating costs. Emirates said fuel costs took up 41 percent of total operating costs in its half-year results, up from 33 percent in the prior-year period.

Brent crude, which peaked this year at around $127 in February, was some 30 percent higher during Emirates reporting period this year over 2010.

“Fuel effects may explain the sea change in profits but the decline in load factor is perhaps the greater concern as the airline continues to add huge amounts of capacity in the next few years,” said Ghai.

The carrier said its passenger seat factor, a key measure of profitability, was above 79 percent. That was below the 81.2 percent seen in the same period in 2010.

The airline also said currency translation differences resulted in a 24 million dirhams loss in the period compared to a 24-million dirham gain last year.

Revenue, including other operating income, was 30.3 billion dirhams, an increase of 15 percent on last year. Its cash position stood at 13.8 billion dirhams on September 30.


Emirates has continued to grow exponentially despite a debt crisis that hit the Gulf Arab emirate and several of its government-related entities, leading to the restructuring of billions of dollars in debt.

It already operates in 67 countries and has 114 destinations. It launched five new destinations this year.

The rapid expansion of Emirates — as well as Gulf majors Etihad of Abu Dhabi and Qatar Airways — has unnerved older airlines and fuelled mutual accusations of protectionism. Many carriers fear Gulf-based superjumbos will drain their own hubs.

Ghai thinks Emirates should consider easing its expansion given the current climate.

“There are three things the airline could address to improve its position: take another look at fuel hedging, review the existing allocation of capacity across its network, and ease the pace of fleet expansion, if only for a while,” said the analyst.

Emirates already has an order backlog worth over $66 billion, including 73 more A380 aircraft. The company said that it secured financing for 10 new aircraft deliveries in the first half of the year.

The group launched a $1 billion bond in June, which was over five times oversubscribed.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Amran Abocar and Elaine Hardcastle)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

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Mission Possible? Tom Cruise to help boost Dubai tourism

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise hanging from the world’s tallest building in Dubai in the new film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Picture:
Source: Supplied


DUBAI is preparing for a tourism boom when the latest film in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible franchise hits the screen later this year.

The film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a spectacular showcase of the city, with the Hollywood star dangling from the 124th floor observation deck of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa.

Footage shot from the 828m building shows a 360 degree view of Dubai, including the sea, the city, the desert in the distance and Downtown Dubai – a newly developed area where the Burj Khalifa is located.

“This movie will expose Dubai to a young audience and highlights a fun and adventurous aspect to the Emirate that we expect will appeal to tourists,” a Dubai Tourism’s Australia director Julie King said.

“It showcases the scale of the world’s tallest building and showcases the amazing architecture of the building and its surrounds.”

Abu Dhabi received a similar profile boost after Sex and the City 2 was set there, despite the fact it was actually filmed in Morocco.

Cruise spent several months in Dubai with his family last year while filming was taking place and thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammad for his hospitality on his blog.

“Dubai is an exceptionally beautiful and very family friendly location,” he said.

“My family and I spent our evenings at the water park, go-karting, indoor skiing, shopping, scuba diving, camel riding, desert dune bashing, and we still didn’t fit in all that there is to enjoy!”

The film, which also includes scenes shot in Moscow and Vancouver, will be released in December.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - November 1, 2011 at 6:57 pm

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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

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.


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

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

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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