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ATM Preview 2019 Find Inside...

ATM 2019 Floorplan Highlights from the event programme The latest exhibitor news Upcoming travel trends

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CAMEL WHISPERER Discover timeless wonders among the dunes through the eyes of a daughter of the desert. WATCH HER STORY AT VISITABUDHABI.AE


WELCOME TO YAS ISLAND ABU DHABI A world of opportunity awaits you at Yas Island! Located just 25 minutes to Abu Dhabi and only 45 minutes to Dubai, guests will discover worlds within worlds as they explore the various charms Yas Island has to offer.


On the western shores of the island, overlooking the sparkling Arabian Gulf, Yas Links is a picture perfect golf course.

TM & © DC., TM & © HB., TM & © WBEI. (s19)



Thrill. Adventure. Imagination. Curiosity. Joy. That’s what moments are made of at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. With 37 record-breaking rides & attractions for everyone in the family, your spark could be closer than you think.

Splash into over 40 rides, slides and attractions at the Middle East’s leading waterpark and enjoy everything from the region’s first water cinema to the world’s longest suspended rollercoaster.



Enjoy a variety of premium motorsport events, or take part in a driving experience in Yas Marina Circuit’s own fleet.

White sands, crystal clear waters and natural mangrove surroundings make Yas Beach a serene escape from the bustle of the island.



Abu Dhabi’s largest mall offers an exciting range of enhanced shopping concepts, more than 400 retailers, 20-screen VOX cinema and Fun Works.


Enjoy six uniquely themed lands, 29 stateof-the-art rides, interactive family-friendly attractions and unique live entertainment at the world’s first ever Warner Bros. branded indoor theme park.


YAS ISLAND From 3-5 stars, Yas Island’s range of internaHOTELS tionally branded hotels provides 2200 rooms

and more than 15 world clas restaurants for you to choose from.


Feel the buzz of the crowd at the city’s largest open-air, live venue from musical legends to cutting edge new talent.


‘The place to be’ with it its long corridors, sea views, 7 al-fresco restaurants and children’s play areas. Here, jet cruises and yachts take you to the tranquil sunset glow along the Abu Dhabi coast.

Meet us at Hall 2, Stand ME 2350

Discover Expo 2020 in Hall 3, Stand ME2520






t is no secret that the Middle East’s travel and tourism industry has undergone a tech revolution over the last 25 years. With technologies such as AI and automation becoming mainstream and a focus on personalising the customer journey, the region has turned to cutting-edge solutions - such as virtual reality, voice and facial recognition, chatbots and robot concierge - that will engage with digitallysavvy travellers while promoting industry growth. It is estimated that personalisation Artificial Intelligence could increase hotel revenues by more than 10 percent and reduce costs by around 15 percent – with hotel operators expecting these forms of technology to be mainstream by 2025. However, the question remains, in a world of accelerating technological disruption, how can the hospitality industry continue to keep up with the rapidly evolving innovations surrounding it? In our effort to address this question, ATM 2019 will shine a spotlight on cutting-edge technology and innovation with this theme being integrated across all show verticals and planned activities. Discussing the defining evolutions of hospitality technology, the Travel Tech Show will return to ATM 2019 with 45 dedicated international exhibitors and an influential agenda of discussion and debate in the Travel Tech Theatre – sponsored by Sabre Corporation. A host of seminar sessions will explore the ongoing unprecedented digital disruption, and the emergence of innovative technologies that will fundamentally alter the way in which the hospitality industry operates in the region. Launching at this year’s show will be the inaugural Arabian Travel Week - an umbrella brand that will comprise ATM 2019 and ILTM

Danielle Curtis

Arabia as well as CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – a new route development forum taking place on the final two days of the show and ATM Holiday Shopper – a new consumerled event taking place on Saturday 27th April. Another debutant will be the ATM Hotel Industry Summit which will take place on the Global Stage on Tuesday 30th April. The summit will host various expert panels to debate and provide an insight on the latest hotel developments and innovative digital infrastructure shaping the future of the hospitality sector. Also taking place on the Global Stage will be a focused seminar on Saudi Arabia’s tourism potential and the Arabia China Tourism Forum at ATM. With China set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030, an expert panel will discuss how destinations around the world can capitalise on this growth. The forum will also include a 30-minute networking session with more than 80 Chinese buyers. Other popular features returning to the show repertoire this year will be the Digital Influencers and Buyers’ Speed Networking Events, the Global Halal Tourism Summit, the ‘Career in Travel’ programme, the Best Stand Awards and the Travel Agents’ Academy. As always, it only remains for me to extend my sincere thanks to you, our exhibitors, sponsors, delegates, speakers and visitors, for your ongoing support of the show and your unwavering commitment to tourism throughout the MENA region. Danielle Curtis Exhibition Director ME Arabian Travel Market







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The key companies partnering with ATM 2019 Navigate the show with our essential, easy-to-read ATM map


ATM highlights

All the must-visit events at this year’s show

Exhibitor news

All the latest happenings from this year’s exhibitors

Seminar schedule

Stay up to date with what’s happening, when

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Tomorrow’s world

Technology and tourism explored

A unique celebration

What visitors can expect from attending Expo 2020 Dubai

Culture vulture

A look at the region’s booming cultural scene

Air time

The region’s aviation sector prepares for take off

Spotlight on Saudi

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in focus Punta Cana

ATM 2019 – Stand AM1755

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58 60 62 66 68 70 74 8


Growing at pace

How best to capitalise on Muslimfriendly travel

Taking responsibility

The UAE bids to become a leading example of sustainable tourism

Scaling new heights


Sun 28 Apr - Wed 1 May 2019

The Arabian Travel Market Show Preview is published on behalf of:

Gateway House 28 The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1DN, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 8271 2158, Email: arabian. Web: Arabian Travel Market is owned and protected by Elsevier Properties SA and used under licence. Reed Travel Exhibitions/Reed Exhibitions is a registered trade mark of Reed Elsevier Group PLC.

Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA talks all things adventure

Published by: npimedia PO Box 500573, Office 704, Executive Heights, Dubai Tel: +971 4 4243640 Fax: +971 4 4327505 Email: Web:

Time to reboot

Healthy holidays have become the new norm

Height of luxury

Changing trends mean hotel operators can’t rest on their laurels

Hidden treasures

Best-kept travel secrets uncovered

Vox pops

Exhibitors share their thoughts on ATM

© Copyright This show daily is published under licence by Reed Exhibitions Limited. The copyright in the design and content of the show daily is owned by Reed Exhibitions Limited or its licensors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, by any means – electronic, photocopying or otherwise – without the prior permission of Reed Exhibitions Limited. Intellectual Property: Arabian Travel Market, the Arabian Travel Market logo and ATM are trade marks of Reed Exhibitions Limited. RELX Group, the RE symbol, Reed Exhibitions and Reed Travel Exhibitions are trade marks of RELX Group plc.


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Arabian Travel Market 2018

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Arabian Travel Market 2018 Arabian Travel Market 2018 Arabian Travel Market 2018 Arabian Arabian Arabian Travel Travel Travel Market Market Market 2018 2018 2018 ATM PREVIEW 2019

Arabian Travel Market 2018 Arabian Travel Market 2018

22 - 25 April 2018, Dubai International Convention Centre

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From the heart of Sharjah, to the deserts, mountains, beaches and mangroves; Sharjah Collection is an exceptional place to find yourself

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Shining the spotlight on technology and innovation at ATM 2019


echnology and innovation have long been changing industry best practices and the hospitality sector is no different. In fact, according to latest figures by Colliers International, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not only change the travel and tourism market, but it could also help to increase hotel revenues by in excess of 10 percent and cut costs by more than 15 percent. In today’s challenging hospitality market, these are encouraging statistics. And in keeping with AI’s increasing significance to the sector, it is not only fitting, but essential that technology and innovation is the official theme of this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM).


Taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28 to May 1 and now it is 26th year, ATM is set to once again attract key industry players from around the globe to discuss the very latest news and views from the world of hospitality. This year, it will shine the spotlight on future technology and showcase its impact on the travel and tourism sector. “It is important to highlight that the GCC is one of the fastest growing regional 14


hospitality markets on a global scale and an innovative technology-reliant industry,” says Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market. “Its impact on hotels and travel and tourism is multi-dimensional, ranging from voice and facial recognition, chatbots and beacon technology to virtual reality, blockchain and robot concierges. “Throughout ATM 2019, the theme will be a platform to create awareness and inspire the travel and hospitality

Relevant ATM Session: THE BIG PICTURE - WHO WILL SELL TRAVEL BEST IN THE FUTURE? ATM Global Stage Moderator: Richard Dean, Presenter of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye 103.8FM Speaker: Fouad Talaat, Regional Manager of Partner Services – MEA,; Ben Vinod, Senior VP & Chief Scientist Sabre Corporation; Charbel Sarkis, Regional Head of Travel and Hospitality, Retail and eCommerce, MENA, Google; Matt Raos, SVP B2B - Corporate & Leisure, Emirates Monday, 29 April, 2019, 11:00 - 11:50


Encounter a blend of island luxury with vibrant city life for your seamless vacation. Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort offers all the elements for a great escape – whether for days of seaside romantic bliss or fun-filled family adventure. Stay in spacious rooms or villas that reflect the Thai origins of Anantara, whilst embracing the lavish opulence of this ground-breaking destination. Laze by your private infinity pool or step into the shimmering lagoons straight from your room. Exquisite gastronomy awaits at our fine dining venues. Experience a traditional Turkish Hammam or one of our signature therapies in the soothing surrounds of Anantara Spa. Delight in a coastal paradise overlooking the glittering city lights of Dubai.




Packed programme

IT IS IMPORTANT TO HIGHLIGHT THAT THE GCC IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING REGIONAL HOSPITALITY MARKETS ON A GLOBAL SCALE AND AN INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY-RELIANT INDUSTRY industry about the next generation of technology, while bringing together senior travel executives to meet and conduct business with innovative tech providers.” Colliers International research stresses that 73 percent of manual activities in the hospitality industry have the technical potential for automation, meaning that adapting to this change is key for future success. “With technologies like AI and automation quickly maturing, the hospitality and travel and tourism industry must prepare for a wave of disruption in order to reap the overall benefits of these technologies,” adds Curtis. “Equipping workers with the necessary skills and training, and creating new tech-augmented jobs that can assist with this innovative technology will be key to making this transition a success.”


Despite some initial trepidation, the advantage of introducing robots into the workplace is increasingly being recognised; the global sale of guestrelation robots is expected to reach 66,000 units by 2020, Colliers predicts. “Hoteliers have been cautious of technology taking away the human touch from the guest service and 16


experience. However, by giving guests the power to choose every part of their hotel experience, hoteliers can learn the right balance between staff interaction and AI-powered, automated customer service,” says Curtis. “While a robot may not smile, it can recognise faces, remember names and, most importantly, remember guest preferences, characteristics and behaviours.”

NEW FOR 2019

For the first time, ATM 2019 now comes under the umbrella of Arabian Travel Week, which kicks off on Saturday, April 27. Running until May 1, Arabian Travel Week comprises four co-located shows: ATM 2019, ILTM Arabia, CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa 2019, a new route development forum, and ATM Holiday Shopper, a new consumer-led event. “The success of both ATM and ILTM Arabia has provided us with the platform to not only introduce two new events for 2019, but to create a travel week which encompasses the Middle East’s inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism and luxury travel, as well as providing a dedicated networking forum for the region’s top airline specialists, aviation authorities, tourism boards, airports and tour operators,” concludes Curtis.

As well as a myriad of networking and business opportunities, ATM will once again help attendees learn more about the tourism industry through a series of seminars. Key sessions this year include: How to Positively Change the Perception of Destinations Using the Power of Social Media; Why Tourism is Saudi’s New ‘White Oil’; and, The Future of Halal Tourism, among many others. Slated to be the biggest ATM yet, visitors can also look forward to the Travel Tech Show, which will showcase the latest tech products and services, while the Travel Tech Theatre presents a series of seminars with industry experts. Returning this year, ILTM Arabia will connect international luxury suppliers with key buyers, while the Global Halal Tourism Summit focuses on halal destinations and how to sell halal travel. Also making a welcome return is the Buyers’ Speed Networking Session, which introduces exhibitors and buyers over five-minute meetings, as well as Career in Travel, which takes place on Wendesday, May 1. As well as these returning sessions there are a host of new events at this year’s show, including the ATM Holiday Shopper and the Digital Influencer Speed Networking session. Taking place on Saturday, April 27, the ATM Holiday Shopper will showcase more than 30 travel and hospitality exhibitors who will be offering a range of attractive travel discounts and deals to those attending the show. Meanwhile, the Speed Networking session will take place on the last day of ATM and will provide an opportunity for exhibitors to take part in mini meetings with more than 50 travel bloggers to explore ways in which to work together.

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Plans revealed for Arabian Travel Week R

eed Travel Exhibitions have confirmed that this year will see the launch of the inaugural Arabian Travel Week, which will take place from April 27 to May 1 at Dubai World Trade Centre. This umbrella brand will comprise of ATM 2019 and the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Arabia, as well as new editions CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa 2019 and ATM Holiday Shopper.

“The success of both ATM and ILTM Arabia has provided us with the platform to not only introduce two new events for 2019, but to create a travel week which encompasses the Middle East’s inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism and luxury travel,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, ATM. “We will also be providing a dedicated networking forum for the region’s top airline specialists,

aviation authorities, tourism boards, airports and tour operators.” ATM will showcase more than 2,800 products and destinations from around the world to some 28,000 buyers and travel trade visitors. And this year will place a spotlight on cutting-edge technology and innovation, integrating the theme across the entire show. Taking place on April 30 and May 1, CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa will bring together airports, airlines and aviation suppliers in a format that offers formal one-to-one pre-arranged meetings, engaging industry seminars and opportunities to cement relationships with existing clients and engage with new ones. Also new for 2019, ATM Holiday Shopper will take place for one day only on April 27. The event will showcase travel and hospitality exhibitors from regional and international destinations who will be offering the very best travel and tourism discounts exclusively for consumers attending the show. In its third year, ILTM Arabia is an exclusive event for those looking to attract high-net-worth travellers from the Middle East to their destination. Returning on the first two days of ATM, it will allow international luxury suppliers and key luxury buyers to connect via one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments and networking opportunities.

Ascott Limited set for strong regional growth


he Ascott Limited outlined its plans to substantially grow throughout the Middle East, Africa and Turkey and is targeting 5,000 unites regionally by the end of 2020. Since launching operations in the region, the Ascott portfolio has grown significantly with 12 existing properties in operation across 11 cities in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Oman and Ghana. Ascott currently has 11 properties under development throughout the region, six of which are scheduled to open in Saudi Arabia, a market it only entered in 2015, while the remainder are earmarked for the UAE, Turkey, Ghana and Oman. New openings this year include Ascott Corniche Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, Ascott 1 Oxford Street Accra, Ghana and Citadines Maslak Istanbul, Turkey. Last year it opened 27 properties spanning 4,200 units, including its first property in Africa, Kwarleyz Residence Accra. “These are hugely exciting times for the group,” said Vincent Miccolis,



Ascott’s Regional GM for Middle East, Africa and Turkey. “Not only are we establishing a presence in exciting new territories such as Africa, with some of the fastest growing economies globally, we are also continuing to build upon the firm foundations we have laid in the Gulf region. “Taking into account the reforms underway in Saudi Arabia, alongside the growth of the kingdom’s private sector and massive infrastructure investment – as well as stabilising oil prices, the introduction of foreign company ownership in the UAE and the buzz generated by Dubai Expo 2020 – it’s clear to see why this region has long been one of our key expansion destinations.” Singapore-based Ascott operates 58,000 units globally and has properties in 172 cities across 33 countries. The company has secured contracts for another 26 properties as it looks to boost its portfolio to more than 100,000 units in the coming years. Visit stand: HC1120

Come for the sunshine, stay for the unforgettable experiences. Whether you want to hike to the lush fern canyon in Redwoods national park, splurge at a high-end exclusive resort on the coast, ride your bike along the Golden Gate Bridge, or shop till you drop on Rodeo Drive, California has you covered. The endless array of experiences in the Golden State will leave you California dreaming long after you’ve returned home. Tia Hoang

Travel Trade Manager


EMAAR NAMED ATM’S OFFICIAL HOTEL PARTNER UNTIL 2020 R eed Travel Exhibitions, the organisers of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), has renewed its hotel partnership with Emaar Hospitality Group until 2020. Nick Pilbeam, Divisional Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “ATM is committed to the Middle East as a leading international travel and tourism destination and our partnership with Emaar Hospitality Group and its hotel brands represent an ideal opportunity to align one of the region’s leading hospitality brands with our unique event platform.”

JA Resorts to debut new hotel this September


A The Resort in Jebel Ali is set to become Dubai’s largest experience resort when the brand new 348-room JA Lake View Hotel opens in September. The property will contain modern F&B concepts, including a restaurant from acclaimed Indian chef Vikas Khanna, as well as five meeting rooms for ‘bleisure’ minded clients.



Emaar Hospitality Group, the hospitality and leisure subsidiary of global developer Emaar Properties, manages Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts, and Rove Hotels. In addition to accommodating key media and industry buyers attending the annual event in Dubai, Emaar Hospitality Group will also host the Official ATM Welcome Party and introduce the ‘Hosted Buyers’ programme. Commenting on the partnership, Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “ATM Other F&B venues include: 81, a buffet restaurant serving breakfast and dinner with live cooking stations; Republik, a modern gastropub with Friday brunches and a live DJ; and Bibé, a rooftop lounge. The new hotel will complement the existing properties, JA Palm Tree Court and JA Beach Resort, swelling the resort to more than one million square metres. Key attractions are the ninehole golf course and Leadbetter Golf Academy as well as the broad range of amenities that include tennis, squash, beach volleyball, horse riding, shooting ranges and watersports facilities. The expanded flagship property of JA Resorts & Hotels will also

is a significant platform that underlines the vibrant tourism and hospitality landscape of the UAE and the region. As Official Hotel Partner, we are committed to showcasing the exceptional breadth of hotels and resorts we have in Dubai as well as in other key markets across the world. We are expanding our footprint, with more than 50 hotel projects. Through our partnership with ATM, we will offer guests a true experience of our hospitality standards.” Visit stand: HC0220

offer excellent access for families looking to visit Dubai Parks & Resorts, thanks to its close proximity to the popular theme parks. Cluster General Manager William Harley-Fleming said: “With the additional of JA Lake View Hotel, we can now offer three different styles of accommodation to our guests, as well as even more restaurants, lounges and leisure facilities in one incredibly beautiful destination. The new property will spearhead the repositioning of the resort and help to solidify its standing as one of the most recognised family-friendly resorts in the UAE.” Visit stand: HC0420


Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara


Whatever your dream getaway, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas in Abu Dhabi has it all. EXPLORE THEsanctuary WONDERS Stay at an urban in the OF heartARABIA. of the capital at Anantara Eastern Mangroves, escape to a haven of nature and serenity at one of the three Anantara Resorts on Whatever your dream Hotels, Resorts Qasr & Spas in Abu Dhabi has it all. Sir Bani Yas Island, or getaway, explore a Anantara luxury oasis at Anantara Al Sarab. Stay at an urban sanctuary in the heart of the capital at Anantara Eastern Mangroves, escape to a haven of nature and serenity at one of the three Anantara Resorts on Email Sir Bani Yas Island, or explore a luxury oasis at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab. or call +971 2 895 8700





Dusit International plans to triple its presence in the GCC by end of 2019


usit International, one of Thailand’s leading hotel and property development companies, has outlined its plans to expand significantly in the GCC market. The brand aims to open six new hotels across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other GCC countries in a bid to strengthen its portfolio in this region. “The GCC is one of the most increasingly important markets for our portfolio, and we are delighted to introduce our unique brand of Thai-inspired, gracious hospitality in new destinations in this market,” said Prateek Kumar, Regional Vice President – EMEA region. “Our planned expansion is in line with Dusit’s three-pronged strategy for sustainable and profitable growth, which includes balance, expansion and diversification. We aim to have more than 14,000 keys in operation across more than 20 countries by 2021, and our planned expansion in the GCC is a step forward to achieving this goal.” The Bangkok-based Dusit International opened its first hotel in the Middle East more than 15 years ago in Dubai and today operates five hotels across the region. These include three in the UAE, namely the Dusit Thani Dubai, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi and dusitD2 Kenz Dubai. Among the Dusit hotels slated to open in the GCC this year are Dusit Resort and Spa Lagoona Beach, Budaiya, Bahrain



Anantara plots major expansion

Prateek Kumar

and dusitD2 City Centre Bahrain. In addition to its expansion in the GCC market, Dusit International also plans to open five new hotels in the Philippines, one in Singapore, and two in China before the end of 2019. Several other projects are being developed across the globe. Dusit International’s core brands include Dusit Thani Hotels & Resorts, Dusit Princess Hotels and Resorts, dusitD2 Hotels and Resorts, Dusit Residence Serviced Apartments, and Devarana Hotels and Resorts. ASAI Hotels, an affordable lifestyle brand aimed at millennial-minded travellers, is set to open its first property early next year. Visit stand: HC930

Minor Hotels’ premium Anantara brand is set to open several new hotels in the coming years, with properties opening in Tunisia, Mauritius and throughout the UAE. This year alone will see the completion of the 93-key Tozeur Resort in Tunisia and the opening of a 164-room resort in Mauritius. North Africa is also shaping up to be a key region with the 150-key Anantara Al Houara Tangier Resort, Morocco, due to open in 2021. Meanwhile, upcoming UAE properties include the 130-room Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort – complete with Maldivian-style overwater villas – and the 233-room Anantara Sharjah Resort, both scheduled to open in 2021. Minor Hotels has transformed into a “truly global hospitality company” after buying NH Hotel Group, which raised its portfolio to 517 hotels and resorts in 53 countries. Visit stand: HC0565


Marriott International set to expand portfolio to 80-plus hotels by 2023


arriott International is continuing its regional expansion plans with a series of properties set to open their doors in the next four years; a move that will see Marriott’s total number of hotels rise to more than 80 by 2023. Last year alone, the company opened 11 new properties, including regional brand debuts from the Element Hotels and EDITION brands, meaning its portfolio in the UAE at the end of 2018 comprised 59 properties and more than 17,000 rooms. Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, said: “Our success in the Middle East stems from our long-established presence in the market and the value we deliver to our owner-partners. It is the trust owners have in Marriott International, combined with our differentiated brands and collective strength of our global platform, that has put us in a position to further expand our portfolio in the country and strengthen guest loyalty.”

He added, “We are privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing growth and diversification of the UAE’s economy and remain committed to supporting the direction of its visionary leaders to further enhance the tourism sector.” Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, said its commitment dates back over three decades. “We have witnessed and been a part of the transformation of the UAE as one of the world’s most dynamic travel destinations. “Our established and growing portfolio of hotels underscore the substantial demand for our brands in this market. We remain very optimistic about the UAE and continue to explore opportunities to further amplify our growth in the country through new deal signings and conversion opportunities.” Visit stand: ME1410

Al Bait Sharjah lays down a cultural marker


harjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is hoping to redefine authentic tourism in the UAE with the opening of the country’s first five-star luxury hotel brand inspired by Emirati heritage. The AED200 million Al Bait Sharjah features 53 rooms and suites and is situated in the midst of the UAE’s most ambitious historical restoration project known as the Heart of Sharjah - a unique development which follows traditional Sharjah architecture built upon the original foundations of old houses that once belonged to the most esteemed families in the country. “With Al Bait Hotel, we have brought Shurooq’s boutique hotel concept to life, where guests who seek the perfect balance of luxury and authenticity will be able to immerse themselves in true Emirati surroundings, and experience second-to-none Arabic hospitality,” said HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Shurooq. Visit stand: ME4150




Swiss-Belhotel set for strong showing at this yearˇs ATM

Hilton to open 35 new hotels in Saudi Arabia in the next five years


ilton Hotels & Resorts plans to significantly expand its footprint throughout the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia set to gain an additional 10,000 hotel rooms. The Kingdom will have the largest number of hotels in development within the region, with 35 new properties set to open in the next five years. “We’ve been operating in the Kingdom since 1992 and have grown very strong relationships with owners over that time. This has allowed us to grow to 11 hotels and notably to build a pipeline of 35 new hotels under development, which will add more than 10,000 new rooms in the coming 3-5 years,” said Carlos Khneisser, VP of Development, MENA for Hilton. “This represents our largest pipeline in the Middle East and the confidence we have in the strength of the market with increasing demand for business, leisure and religious tourism.” Religious tourism makes up the bulk of Saudi tourism, with more than two million visitors annually. However, business tourism has been growing at an increasing rate over the last three years, while the tourism sector as a whole has grown at a much faster rate than the wider economy. According to the Saudi Tourism Information and Research Centre, tourism revenues have risen from US$15.3 billion (SR57.3 billion) in 2004 to an estimated US$56.2 billion (SR211 billion) in 2018. Hilton has already confirmed three new additions to its Saudi pipeline in the shape of newly agreed projects with two different investment partners. A DoubleTree by Hilton Abha Al Murooj will be in partnership with Mazaya International Company for Real Estate Development and Investment, while Hilton Garden Inn Madinah and DoubleTree by Hilton Madinah are in partnership with Pan Kingdom Holdings. DoubleTree By Hilton Abha Al Murooj will be the first hotel by an international chain to open in the city of Abha and will have 156 rooms, while DoubleTree by Hilton Madinah will consist of 242 guestrooms and is expected to open in 2022. Visit stand: HC0830



With a number of new initiatives set to be unveiled at ATM, Swiss-Belhotel International is set to showcase the strength of its development pipeline. The company is set to open seven hotels this year alone, as well as introduce a number of new brands to the GCC, as it aims to strengthen its portfolio throughout the region. Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said: “We are expanding quite aggressively in the GCC and 2019 holds immense strategic significance for us as we enter new destinations with new brands. “For the first time in the region, we have introduced brands such as Grand Swiss-Belresort, Swiss-Belsuites, SwissBelboutique and Swiss-Belinn. These developments are aimed at diversifying our offering in the region while meeting the growing demand for quality accommodation at affordable rates. “We look forward to keeping our momentum going with a strong participation in ATM 2019, where we will be showcasing our portfolio of existing and upcoming hotels. We will also be participating in the new initiatives at ATM this year and joining us on the occasion will be our key associates, owners as well as our partners.” Visit stand: HC0825

Laurent A. Voivenel


Indonesia outlines appeal beyond Bali


ndonesia is an extremely broad tourism destination – and perhaps it’s all the more extraordinary how one island tends to eclipse 17,507 others. Beautiful Bali, with its inimitable mix of nature and culture, has timeless appeal and recorded 452,000 visitors in January alone – more than twice the number that visited capital Jakarta – and around six million tourists in 2018. Bali may well be the most popular

destination, but it is far from all the country has to offer. Which is why Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism will be showcasing the diversity of the destination at Arabian Travel Market. In a bid to increase tourist arrivals, which last year saw an all-time high of 1.53 million visitors travel to the country in the month of July, the tourism board are highlighting five key areas. These are nature and wildlife,

culinary and wellness, arts, culture and heritage, recreation and leisure, and adventure. They are also keen to showcase that Indonesia is well positioned to capitalise on the significant growth in halal tourism. These initiatives have been introduced in order to help Indonesia reach its target of 20 million visitors this year, while plans to introduce a $10 visitor levy in Bali are designed to help fund the island’s cultural development and environmental protection. Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism will also be using the show to highlight the cultural attractions in the country. These include the imposing Borobudur Temple in Magelang and Prambanan Temple Compounds. Meanwhile, the country’s diverse habitat will be showcased as ideal for animal lovers who can check out the legendary Komodo Dragons, gentle giant Orangutans and the Cendrawasih Bird of Paradise, while underwater there are some of the most diverse coral reefs globally. Visit stand: AS2550

At TIME Hotels, our simple approach to hospitality means that you can always expect to receive the warmest welcome straight from the heart and an uncomplicated yet professional service delivery. Whether for business or leisure, short-stay or long-stay, we currently have four different property brands represented across a growing portfolio of properties. To find out more about our present and future locations, visit our website




ATM Global Stage


15:30 - 17:30 ARABIA CHINA TOURISM FORUM According to UNWTO, Chinese visitors are the highest spenders in overseas travelling, having spent US$258 billion in 2017. This is twice as much as the Americans, three times of Germans, four times of the British and six times more than the French. As a result, many destinations and businesses are keen on attracting Chinese visitors. The main objective of Arabia China Tourism Forum at ATM is to provide foreign destinations, promotion

authorities of national, regional and local level, as well as local suppliers and incoming operators with the opportunity to learn the latest development of outbound travel from China. As well as how to attract and cater for the ever changing trends of outbound travel from China such as increasing number of FIT visitors Vs Group travel; fast growing younger generation Vs significant decrease of official delegations etc. The Forum consists of a panel discussion from 15.30-16.30, followed by B2B meetings and networking

with more than 80 Chinese tour operators attending Arabian Travel Market as buyers. Moderator: Dr. Adam Wu, CEO, CBN Travel and MICE and World Travel Online Speakers: Xiuhuan Gao, Head of Asian Market - Overseas Promotions Department, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Mrs. Helen Helena Shapovalova, Ex Minister of Tourism of Ukraine & CEO of Tour Operator “Pan Ukraine”; Mr. Gary Cao, President of Beijing Diamond International Travel Service

MONDAY 29TH APRIL 11:00 - 11:50 THE BIG PICTURE: WHO WILL SELL TRAVEL BEST IN THE FUTURE The global travel landscape is rapidly evolving with the lines between traditional and non-traditional travel retailers blurring. Tech giants such as Amazon and Google, who already have successful retail models, are increasingly influencing traveller purchasing decisions and muscling in on the travel space, while airlines, hotel groups and travel-related platforms such as AccorHotels, TripAdvisor and Airbnb are looking to become online travel and lifestyle retailers in their own right. Even social media and online messenger platforms are getting in on the action, while traditional OTAs, fearful of being cut out of the picture as the ‘middle man’, are investing in emerging technologies such as AI and voice search to stay relevant and customer focused. Our high-profile panelists will discuss what the future holds for an industry where every major tech firm, social media channel 28


and online retailer is fighting to sell travel and what it means for traditional providers. Moderator: Richard Dean, presenter of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye 103.8FM and Director of Roar Interior Design Speakers: Charbel Sarkis, Regional Head of Travel and Hospitality - Retail and eCommerce - MENA, Google; Matt Raos, Senior Vice President B2B Corporate and Leisure, Emirates; Fouad Talaat, Regional Manager of Partner Services - MEA,; Ben Vinod, Senior VP & Chief Scientist, Sabre Corporation 12:10 - 13:10 EMIRATES: STILL LEADING THE WAY Emirates is the leading airline in the Gulf and remains amongst the top global players too. It’s President, Sir Tim Clark, is recognised globally as one of the most experienced and influential airline leaders and there will be many topics to discuss with him. Despite numerous challenges, including higher fuel

prices and geopolitical issues, Emirates continues to be profitable and innovative in its approach to network and product development. It is rolling out an increasingly important partnership with FlyDubai, offering many joint route opportunities to customers. Emirates will also introduce new generation aircraft in the coming years including Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the 777X, both of which will facilitate new network growth. On the product front the airline has recently refreshed its First Class offering and is also working on the introduction of a premium economy cabin. There is also considerable investment in digital technology, both for customers and in terms of business processes and efficiency. Don’t miss this exclusive keynote session which will be sure to provide some fascinating insights. Moderator: John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting Speaker: Sir Tim Clark, KBE, President, Emirates Airline


13:30 - 14:30 ATTRACTING THE SUSTAINABLE VISITOR This panel discusses the impact of attracting the sustainability-focused visitor, both locally and globally, through various sustainability, eco-tourism and biodiversity initiatives in the UAE. It will also highlight the importance of studying the visitor/tourist demographics that the country aims to attract and how the tourism industry is seeing this movement as an opportunity for growth. In addition, the panel provides an insight into Expo 2020’s aim to be a catalyst for sustainable practices and the partnerships taking place to influence and attract mindful visitors. Moderator: Jasmina Popov-Locke, Director of Programme and Research Development, Modul University Speakers: Shannon Scott, Senior Manager Environment Affairs, Emirates; Alma Au Yeung, Corporate DirectorStrategic Projects & Partnerships, Emaar Hospitality Group; Dina Mustafa, Head of Sustainability Operations, Expo 2020 Dubai 14:50 - 16:00 WHY TOURISM IS SAUDI’S NEW ‘WHITE OIL’ As Saudi Arabia undergoes a period of rapid economic diversification and forges

ahead with its forward-thinking Vision 2030 blueprint for the nation’s socio-economic development, this session discusses the positive repercussions for the kingdom’s travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. Industry experts will discuss what steps need to be taken to maximise Saudi’s tourism potential and boost its economic contribution, from attracting investment in hotel developments, infrastructure and tourism attractions to supporting and spearheading policy reforms and promoting tourism and hospitality as a number one career choice for Saudi nationals. The opportunities to further leverage Saudi’s religious tourism industry, but also put the kingdom on the map as a global leisure and MICE destination, will also be up for discussion. Moderator: Richard Dean, presenter of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye 103.8FM and Director of Roar Interior Design Speakers: Majed M. AlGhanim, Segment Director of Tourism, Saudi General Investment Authority; Reema Al Mokhtar, Head of Destination Marketing, Jabal Omar; Dr. Fahad Aljarboa, CEO, Saudia Private Aviation; Dr. Badr Al Badr, CEO, Dur Hospitality; John Davis, CEO, Colliers International; Alex Kyriakidis, President MEA, Marriott International

16:15 - 17:15 WHAT ARE THE HOT TOPICS IN THE AIRLINE WORLD? AN AIRLINE AND AIRPORT PANEL DISCUSSION In the fast moving airline world we’ll examine some of the key issues currently on the agenda. How is traffic performing against a backdrop of geo political challenges and volatile fuel prices? What are the latest developments in airline products such as Long haul Low Cost and Long haul Premium service? Are there any specific opportunities and differences for next generation passengers? How is stopover traffic developing? We’ll also consider the importance of new airport infrastructure developments and assess how the digital world is affecting services and options for customers in their airline and airport experiences. Moderator: John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting Speakers: Gavin Harris, Commercial Director, Skyscanner; Joey Seow, Regional Vice President West Asia & Africa, Singapore Airlines; Deema Anani, Commercial & Customer Service Director, Airport International Group

TUESDAY 30TH APRIL 11:00 - 13:00 ATM GLOBAL HALAL TOURISM SUMMIT 2019: THE FUTURE OF HALAL TOURISM The third ATM Global Halal Tourism Summit will look to the prosperous future of this fastgrowing sector. Some of the world’s leading halal travel authorities will talk top trends and the growing role of technology in the Muslim space, including the digitisation of Umrah, while non-Muslim destinations will reveal their successful halal tourism strategies. Moderator: Gemma Greenwood, Director, Content Inc. 11:00 - 11:40 SESSION 1: HALAL TOURISM TREND WATCH Find out the latest trends dominating the halal travel and tourism space, from noodle trips and the rise of affordable leisure and Umrah packages to ‘niches’ now considered mainstream including eco, ethical, CSR, all-female, experiential, personal development, gastro and adventure tourism. Halal travel experts reveal what’s hot, what’s not and what halal travellers of the future will demand from destinations and travel providers. Speakers: Reem El Shafaki, Senior Associate, DinarStandard; Chris Nader, Vice PresidentDevelopment for Shaza Hotels; Mamoun Hmedan, Managing Director-Middle East, North Africa and India, Wego Middle East 30


11:40 - 12:20 SESSION 2: THE DIGITISATION OF MUSLIM TRAVEL We look at trends and players in the online travel space with new OTAs emerging offering a range of packages, travel options and experiences that meet the leisure and Umrah needs of Muslim travellers. Speakers: Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO, Tripfez; Nabeel Shariff, Founder, Serendipity Tailormade; Nazaruddin Othman, Founder and CEO, Mosafer C by Ummah Collaboration; Mohammed M.S Binmahfouz, Founder and CEO, Umrah Business at HolidayMe

12:20 - 13:00 SESSION 3: HALAL TOURISM SUCCESS STORIES Non-Muslim travel destinations around the world are successfully targeting – and catering to - the halal tourism sector. We find out their strategies for attracting this lucrative market, from their provision of accommodation, facilities and services, to their marketing tactics, and more. What are their next steps as they look to attract Muslim travellers of the future? Speakers: Ed Fuller, CEO, Orange County Visitors Association, California; Enver Duminy, CEO, Cape Town Tourism; Mr. Kenji Ichimura, Deputy Manager, Global Projects Group, Global Projects Department, Japan National Tourist Organisation



13:20 - 14:20 ONE TO ONE WITH ADEL ALI, CEO AIR ARABIA Air Arabia trailblazed the LCC (Low Cost Carrier) business concept to the Gulf region and recently celebrated its 15th birthday. From small beginnings the airline has grown to its current size as an operator of more than 50 A320 aircraft, flying in excess of 8 million passengers a year and delivering strong profitability. From the outset, Air Arabia has been led by Adel Ali, a widely respected leader with vast experience in the industry. In this ATM exclusive interview with him, we’ll explore the reasons behind the airline’s success and discuss its plans for future network and fleet growth as well as learning about its customer profile. Moderator: John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting Speakers: Adel Ali, CEO, Air Arabia 14:40 - 17.00 ATM HOTEL INDUSTRY SUMMIT: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS The first ATM Hotel Industry Summit will turn the spotlight on upcoming developments, technologies and concepts that will shape the region’s hospitality sector going forward. From new infrastructure and regional development hotspots to technologies and hotel models that put the guest experience first, a panel of industry experts will discuss how the industry will evolve. Moderator: Gemma Greenwood, Director, Content Inc.



14:45 - 15:30 SESSION 1: REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT HOTSPOTS Discover which areas of the Middle East are hotel development hotspots and why. Speakers: Christopher Lund, Head of Hotels, Colliers International MENA; Louis Abboud, VP Development, Accor; Tariq Bsharat, Director of Strategy & Business Development, Marjan Properties; Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President Middle East and Africa, Radisson Hotel Group 15:30 - 16:05 SESSION 2: THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ - DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SECRETS REVEALED To stay relevant, hospitality brands must place guests at the centre of all innovation and transformation strategies, leveraging technology to create meaningful experiences at scale. How can hotel firms create seamless, cross-channel journeys for their customers that prioritise personalisation? Our speakers reveal how hotel groups can excel in digital transformation, successfully satisfying the self-interest of each and every guest. Speakers: Olaf Slater, Senior Director International Strategy & Innovation, Sabre Hospitality Solutions; James Britchford, VP Commercial for IMEA, IHG; Gaurav Vijh, Regional Director Digital, Accor MEA

16:05 - 16:20 SESSION 3: GUEST SPEAKER DIRECT BOOKINGS IN THE BAG It’s time for hotels to stand up to commissionhungry OTAs and claim back ownership of their guests, says guest speaker Charlotte Gossage, the founder of new direct hotel bookings platform BookedHappy. Gossage will explain how her Dubai-based start-up empowers hotels to be much more than a room booking portal and drives direct business to their websites. The result? Happy hotels, happy customers, happy partners, so it’s a win-win-win situation. Don’t miss this lively session designed to make hoteliers think outside of the box. Speaker: Charlotte Gossage, Founder, BookedHappy 16:20 - 17:00 SESSION 4: NEW HOSPITALITY CONCEPTS MAKING WAVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST Fresh hotel concepts are making their Middle East debut as the region attracts a more diverse range of visitors, as well as the next generation of modern travellers who demand a new type of hotel and dining experience. This session takes a look at upcoming market entrants that are reinventing the Middle East’s hospitality offering to find out what’s different – and why. Speakers: Duncan Fraser-Smith, Vice President TFG Food & Beverage, The First Group; Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes; David Lessard, Design Director, H+A


Travel Tech Theatre


13:00 - 14:00 GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE: HOW EMERGING TECHNOLOGY IS SIMPLIFYING THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE Ben Vinod, Sabre Chief Scientist, will speak about how emerging technologies – such as AI, machine learning and customer segmentation – can be used to simplify and personalise the customer experience and how new industry and behavioral trends are transforming the travel sector. He will share exciting real-world examples from both inand outside the travel industry, and how the travel experience is likely to change as these technologies become more widely adopted. Speakers: Ben Vinod, Chief Scientist, Sabre 14:15-15:15 HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO REACH RUSSIAN AND CHINESE TOURISTS Russia and China are two of the most important markets for inbound tourism in the MENA region. One of the most effective tools to reach these markets is Social Media, but what Social Media platforms are best to use, and what content gains the most attention in Russia and China? Learn from people with expertise in the

Russian and Chinese markets on how to use Social Media in these two countries. Moderator: Shane Dallas, Social Media Specialist, The Travel Camel Speakers: Jeremy Tran, MENA Regional Director, Reuter Communications; David AbiDaoud, Director - Digital & Social, Expo 2020 Dubai; Arina Nekrasova, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Q Communications 15:30 - 16:15 GET READY FOR DESTINATION X WHILE WINNING TRAVELLER TRUST AND LOYALTY WITH ANCILLARIES Demand for travel activities is expected to reach US$183 billion by 2020. Plus increasing emphasis on dining, ground transportation, parking and insurance by travellers make delivering on-the-go access to destination services a must. At the same time, nearly half of direct online bookings for destination services are now on mobile and travel providers are missing out on this dynamic economy and are at risk for losing their travel clients’ loyalty. The vast array of destination content and point of sales channels presents a unique experiential

challenge for travellers, who demand transparency, trust and flawless execution with a swipe and a tap of their mobile screens. Are you ready? Findings will be shared from a recent global study and deep dive into: - The strategic value of cross-selling. - The role mobile and other emerging digital channels will play in the ancillary game. - Look at effective merchandising practices to capture more of the traveller’s wallet in Destination X. Speaker: Ghassan Teffaha, Global Head of Sales & Partnerships for Mobile, Amadeus 16:30 - 17:15 ZERO FRICTION FUTURE IN TRAVEL Join Terry Kane, Industry Manager Travel Facebook MENA, to hear about how consumer expectations are changing and evolving all the time. Today’s travel consumers expect levels of convenience, speed and simplicity that weren’t possible a few years ago - they want things now. Any additional effort, step or inconvenience is friction. The travel businesses who will continue to succeed are those who remove friction for their customers. Keynote Speaker: Terry Kane, Industry Manager Travel, Facebook MENA

MONDAY 29TH APRIL 10:30 - 11:15 HOW IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGY WILL TRANSFORM THE VISITOR EXPERIENCE AT MEGA-EVENTS Visitors are increasingly seeking immersive experiences, with technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) becoming commonplace and often expected. This trend is transforming how we design experiences to engage visitors with their surroundings and create a holistic experience. Speakers: Iman Alomrani, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020; Alaa AlShroogi,



Director – Immersive Technology – Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020 11:45 - 12:15 VIRTUAL PAYMENTS FOR A SEAMLESS TRAVELLER EXPERIENCE Technology is playing significant role boosting companies’ efficiencies and payment methods are no exception. Traditional payment methods such as credit cards, BTAs, cash and accounts payable, carry fraud risk and reconciliation process costs. Evolving consumer payment trends are influencing changes in business

payments. The increased availability and acceptance of consumer technology has created the need for corporates to adapt and respond to customers’ expectations. Join this session to learn how virtual payments solutions help provide a seamless traveller experience and solve many other obstacles in business travel. Speakers: Robin Boudsocq, Strategic Products Sales, Sabre EMEA; Andrew Sims, CEO, NEC Payments 12:30 - 13:30 HOW TO POSITIVELY CHANGE THE PERCEPTION OF DESTINATIONS USING THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA People use Social Media for inspiration when planning their travel, and how a place is perceived strongly impacts their travel choices. Learn how DMOs have used Social Media to positively change perceptions about their destination. Moderator: Shane Dallas, Social Media Specialist, The Travel Camel Speakers: Paul Johnson, Editor, A Luxury Travel Blog; Natasha Amar, Digital Content Creator, The Boho; Siba Zada, Community Manager, The Jordan Tourism Board


13:45 - 14:30 TECHNOLOGY TAKING THE TRAVELLER EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL People travel to explore new countries, meet old friends. And travel is about emotion. Technology and innovation are enablers which help us personalise, offer end-to-end and remove friction. Come discover how it’s done at Amadeus. Speaker: Julia Barry, Innovation Manager, Amadeus 14:45 - 15:45 THE DIGITAL VISITOR CYCLE RE-IMAGINED: A FRESH PERSPECTIVE FOR 2020 In this session, the Digital Tourism Think Tank will take a fresh look at the visitor path to

purchase and look at the disruptive factors form the past five years which have changed the way we think, plan, book and experience travel. We’ll be bringing together experts from across the industry to share insights and discuss their take based on the latest data, first-hand knowledge and strategies. Moderator: Nick Hall, CEO, Digital Tourism Think Tank Speakers: Iva Kutle Skrlec, Industry Manager, Travel MENA at Google; Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, Head of Commercial Strategy and Business Management, Amadeus MEA

16:00 - 17:00 THE STRATEGIES INFLUENCER MARKETING EXPERTS USE TO MAXIMIZE CAMPAIGN VALUE AND AMPLIFY REACH This seminar will teach you how to leverage the two main strategies experts use to squeeze maximum value out of influencer campaigns: 1) Generating owned content for multiple brand platforms and 2) Planning plug-and-play evergreen content campaigns that will continue to generate leads and customers year after year. Moderator: Matt Gibson, CEO, UpThink Speakers: Amanda Mouttaki, Owner, MarocMama; Ken De Pauw, DirectorDigital, Edelman Middle East

TUESDAY 30TH APRIL 10:30 - 11:15 CIRIUM WILL EXPLORE HOW INDUSTRY LEADERS ARE SHAPING AN INTELLIGENT FUTURE FOR TRAVEL Hear from a mix of airline, airport and technology experts as they discuss partnership opportunities that improve the traveller experience, now and in the future. • How are your partnerships designed around positively impacting the traveller journey? • What are examples of how that is impacting travellers now? • What do you see coming in the future through these new open partnerships? Moderator: Kevin O’Toole, VP Strategy, Cirium 11:30 - 12:30 USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND ENCOURAGE YOUR STAFF TO BECOME YOUR ONLINE AMBASSADORS Social Media can be used in many ways. It is an important tool in dealing with customer issues – but how can you make better use of this medium? Plus, your staff can promote your brand on their own Social Media channels – but how do you best achieve this? Learn from tourism professionals on how to increase the effectiveness of your Social Media. Moderator: Shane Dallas, Social Media Specialist, The Travel Camel

Speaker: Fatin Said, Regional Communications Manager, Sabre Corporation; Shefali Vyas, Head of Social Media, Etihad Airways 12:45 - 13:45 HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT INFLUENCERS FOR YOUR BRAND IN AN EVOLVING DIGITAL LANDSCAPE This talk will first teach you current influencer vetting best practices you can start using right now before moving on to discuss the future of influencer marketing, how the digital landscape is evolving, and the challenges and opportunities these changes will create. Moderator: Matt Gibson, CEO, UpThink Speakers: Joonas Halla, PR & Media Manager, Visit Finland; Natasha Amar, Travel Writer & Blogger,; Amanda Mouttaki, Owner, MarocMama 14:00 - 14:30 SMART BUSINESS TRAVEL TO ELEVATE TRAVELLER’S EXPERIENCE: AN INTERVIEW WITH KANOO Business Travel in the Middle East is going through many transformations driven by high investments in the travel and technology infrastructure as well as well informed and tech-savvy travellers with high adoption of latest technology. Those travellers, who are accustomed to high levels of customer service are setting the expectations

high in the Business Travel industry. Abdul-Razzaq Iyer, vice president, Sabre Travel Network Middle East will speak to Zaeem Gama, CEO, Kanoo Travel, the leading travel company in the Middle East, about the landscape and dynamics of the business travel sector, challenges and opportunities in the Middle East and how Business Travel can be smarter to elevate the business traveller’s experience. Moderator: Abdul-Razzaq Iyer, Vice President, Sabre Travel Network Middle East Speaker: Zaeem Gama, CEO, Kanoo 14:45 - 16:15 CONTENT & STORY TRENDS GIVING CENTRE STAGE TO EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL The Experience Economy is ripe for the picking and we’ve seen a rapid growth over the past two years in the activities sector as everybody tries to get on board with this growing trend. We’ll be looking at what makes a robust product and experience strategy for a destination, how to dovetail this with authentic messaging and storytelling and how to deliver this with effective targeting. Moderator: Nick Hall, CEO, Digital Tourism Think Tank Speakers: Dominique Audibert, Associate Director, Whalar; Sofia Panagiotaki, CEO & Founder, NEEDaFIXER; Mary Ames, Director of Strategy, Xische & Co.

WEDNESDAY 1ST MAY 11:00 - 11:45 THE FUTURE OF PRICING INTELLIGENCE IN THE AGE OF NDC, PERSONALISATION AND MACHINE LEARNING In the age of NDC, airlines are regaining control over their distribution model, allowing for more sophisticated retailing techniques with differentiated and personalised offers. Complexity is increasing, along with the pressure on revenue. Pricing intelligence based on up-to-date airfare information is 36


changing the rules of the game not only for airlines but for the travel industry at large. Join us to hear how the travel landscape is changing and how machine learning and business intelligence are playing a role in this transformational journey. Speaker: Harald Eisenaecher, Chief Commercial Officer, Infare 12:00 - 13:00 CREATING DESTINATIONS OF CHOICE

Moderator: Maya Hojeij, Chief Editor & Senior Presenter, Dubai Media Incorporated Speakers: Tricia Warwick, Director - Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, VisitBritain; Sigrid De Mazieres, Director - Gulf Countries, German National Tourist Office; Gamal Sadek, Regional Director, Oman Ministry of Tourism; Hazem Tarek Al Sawaf, Director of Marketing and Communications, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority; Mamoun Hmedan, MD, MENA and India, Wego


Inspiration Theatre 1


10:30 - 11:15 TRUE OR FALSE: THE INTERACTIVE TRAVEL QUIZ Think you know all there is about the link between data creative? Stake your claim and beat the audience as some creative and travel myths are busted. See some real applications of the data and creative working together in harmony, for the most effective results. An interactive session that analyses what works best in creative advertising world of travel with some chances to win some vouchers. Speakers: Jenny Stanley, Founder & CEO, Appetite Creative; Nick Mott, Managing Director Data Architecture & Strategy, ADARA 11:30 - 12:15 HOW CAN TRAVEL AND TOURISM BEST REDUCE THE CARBON EMISSIONS OF OUR INDUSTRY? With high rates of growth, the sector will become more and more significant as polluters come under increasing pressure from regulators applying the polluter pays principle. The business case for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all parts of the sector has never been stronger and public awareness of the issue and its consequences is rising. Climate change is happening now with wildfires, heat waves, flooding sea level rise and extreme weather events. The most recent IPCC report reminds us that human activities have caused a one degree celcius increase on pre-industrial levels. Recently emissions have begun to rise again and the IPCC is now forecasting, with a high degree of cofidence, that global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degree celcius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. Life will become increasingly unpleasant and dangerous for millions of us unless we taken action. Moderator: Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor Speakers: Simon Stamper, GM, Voco Dubai; Amer Arafat, Technical manager, Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence; Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations and Development-MEA and India, Swiss-Belhotel International 12:45 - 13:30 UTILISING DESTINATION BRANDS TO ATTRACT HIGHER VALUE TRAVEL CONSUMERS With the on-going disruption in digital technologies, travel consumers around the world are increasingly empowered in the travel path to purchase – able to view, research and engage directly with accommodation and transportation providers, attractions

and in-market tour operators. This industry shift has resulted in a highly competitive environment for destinations, especially those in the Middle East. Brands and specifically how destinations position their unique selling points (USPs) are becoming increasingly important, as well as key for tour operators to align to. This session, jointly sponsored by travel and tourism management consultancies Twenty31 and Skylight Intelligence will explore the business case for strong destination brands, how tour operators can align their product and experience offerings and methods for measuring impact. The session will start with a presentation from Skylight’s latest destination brand assessment index, TravelView and then involve an engaging facilitated discussion with marketing strategists from select DMOs. Moderator: Greg Klassen, Partner, Twenty31 Consulting Inc. Speakers: Joe Naaman, EVP, Skylight Intelligence Corp.; Olof Yrr Atladottir, Director, Destination Marketing, The Red Sea Development Company; Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing 13:45 - 14:45 THE EVOLUTION OF BESPOKE LUXURY TRAVEL Once upon a time we used to sit across a desk from a high street “travel agent” whenever we wanted to book a holiday. It may sound strange, but it’s true. Factoring in our holiday goals, timeline and available budget, these face-to-face interactions would determine our best possible travel options - until these package holiday vendors gave way to the convenience of online booking. History may not quite be repeating itself but (for some) the experience has almost come full circle. Luxury travellers now have the opportunity to experience a hybridised experience that combines the convenience of the internet with the hyper-personalised experience of liaising with travel experts to curate bespoke itineraries. One of the key growth areas is destination weddings, where a third party is more likely to be involved in order to design the “perfect day”. This seminar explores the trajectory of bespoke luxury travel, with brand leaders and travel operators weighing in on how established brands can adapt their products and facilitate customers who are seeking something far from a generic hotel or resort experience. Moderator: Steven Bond, Editor, Destinations of the World News

Speakers: Michael Marshall, Chief Commercial Officer, Minor Hotel Group; Candice D’Cruz, VP - Luxury Brand Marketing & Management, Marriott Luxury Brands MEA; Saurabh Rai, Executive VP-South Asia, MEA and Australasia, Preferred Hotels 15:00 - 15:45 RAISING AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY For centuries the people of the MENA region have developed in countries subject to water stress and more aware than most of the importance of conserving natural resources. Three speakers from the region will discuss what role the travel and tourism industry can play in raising awareness of the importance of addressing sustainability and showcasing the practical solutions to the challenge of sustainability which have been developed in the region. Moderator: Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor Speakers: Dina Mustafa, Head of Sustainability Operations, Expo 2020; Peter Stubbs, Director of HSE & Compliance, Jumeirah Group; Xavier Halbi, Regional Responsible Business Coordinator, Radisson UAE 16:15 - 17:00 TRAVEL ACROSS THE GCC: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE WORLD’S MOST LUXURIOUS REGION? Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Editor-inChief, Rhea Saran and CEO of Chalhoub Group, Patrick Chalhoub discuss trends in regional travel, luxury retail and the relationship between the two. Moderator: Rhea Saran, Editor in Chief, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Speaker: Patrick Chalhoub, CEO, Chalhoub Group ATM PREVIEW 2019



WEDNESDAY 1ST MAY 10:15 - 11:15 BURGEONING BLEISURE TRAVELLERS: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE BOOMING TREND Bleisure travel, the practice of combining business and leisure travel, has seen significant growth year after year, and will likely continue to boom as younger generations enter the workforce. A recent study commissioned by Expedia Group Media Solutions and conducted by Luth Research reveals what influences bleisure traveller decisions, including their preferences, priorities, resources and financial factors, as well as what makes a destination appealing for bleisure. Through in-depth research findings and industry

case studies, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of how to reach, engage and convert bleisure travellers from around the world, and leave with actionable insights to apply in their own marketing strategies. Speaker: Andrew van der Feltz, Senior Director, EMEA, Expedia Group Media Solutions 11:30 - 12:15 TOURISM BROADENS THE MIND: CAN WE DO MORE? Tourists are increasingly demanding memorable experiences, opportunities for meaningful connections with local people, one of the great benefits of travel and tourism is the opportunities it creates for people from very

different religions, cultures and backgrounds to meet and for the traveller or tourist to learn more of the history and way of life of the communities they visit. As Krippendorf, the founder of Responsible Tourism pointed out, “every individual tourist builds up or destroys human values while travelling”. What can those of us in the industry do to foster understanding and celebrate diversity? Moderator: Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor Speakers: Husam Jubran, Director of Tour Guide Development, MEJDI Tours; Nada Badran, Founder, Wander With Nada; Dr Hayat Shamsuddin, VP, Arts and Culture, Visitor Experience Division, Expo 2020 Dubai

Inspiration Theatre 2


10:30 - 13:00 MEDICAL TOURISM AND WELLNESS TOURISM: UNDERSTANDING THE OPPORTUNITIES Attendees will hear the latest research and insights on the Middle East-North Africa wellness tourism and spa markets – the fastest-growing regional market in the world for both sectors, with MENA wellness tourism growing 13.4% annually (more than twice as fast as the global growth average) and MENA spa revenues growing 30.4% yearly (or more than three times the growth rates of the global average). This new data will span everything from which nations are rising fastest in wellness travel across MENA to the eye-opening spending premiums for wellness travellers for specific MENA nations. Major trends that are heating up in wellness travel will be explored with our panel of experts, with special attention paid to new discussions and models where “medical” and “wellness” tourism are intersecting. We will explore the challenges and opportunities for both medical and wellness tourism in the MENA region (and globally) and the rise of a new kind of holistic – or integrative – wellness travel. Where are these intersections happening? What works? The session will also explore global mega trends in wellness travel, from wellness destinations as an antidote to the crisis of over tourism to a massive focus on – and new directions in mental wellness at wellness destinations. Moderator: Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute



10:30 - 10:45 LATEST RESEARCH, LATEST TRENDS: MEDICAL TOURISM AND WELLNESS TOURISM Speaker: Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute, United States 10:45 - 11:00 PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF HEALTH TOURISM FOR DUUBAI Speaker: Linda Abdullah, Consultant, Dubai Health Authority, United Arab Emirates 11:00 - 11:15 THE INTERNATIONAL PICTURE AND THE LATEST MEDICAL WELLNESS CONCEPTS Speaker: Yasser Moshref, PhD, CEO, Premedion, Germany 11:15 - 11:35 CEO PERSPECTIVE: THE STATE OF MEDICAL TOURISM Speaker: Andre Daoud, CEO, Medcare, United Arab Emirates 11:35 - 11:50 THE FIRST MIDDLE EAT HOLISTIC WELLBEING RESORT: WHAT IS THE DISTINCTION? Speaker: Samir Arora, General Manager, The Retreat Palm Dubai, United Arab Emirates 11:50 - 12:05 AYURVEDA IS BECOMING WILDLY POPULAR: WHAT TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS SHOULD KNOW Speaker: Dr. Hafeel Ambalath, Founder & CEO, The Healers’ Clinic, United Arab Emirates

12:05 - 12:20 UNDERSTANDING INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE AND WHAT CONSUMERS WANT Speaker: Dr. Abhishek Jain, VP International Operations, WTS International, Inc., United States 12:20 - 12:55 PANEL Q&A: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE Moderator: Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute Speakers: Linda Abdullah, Consultant, Dubai Health Authority, United Arab Emirates; Andre Daoud, CEO, Medcare, United Arab Emirates; Dr. Abhishek Jain, Vice President, International Operations, WTS International, United States; Yasser Moshref, PhD, CEO, Premedion, Germany 12:55 - 13:00 MINDFULNESS/MEDITATION SESSION 13:15 - 14:15 TTN AND AUDIENCE ALIVE TRAVEL AGENTS COMPETITION 20 slides, 20 seconds, 20 questions. Aimed at travel agents, destinations will be showcased through Pecha Kucha style presentations followed by a 20 question quiz with prizes up for grabs Speaker: JA Hotels More to be Announced


14:30 - 15:15 UNLOCK THE SECRET OF EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING AND MEMORABLE TRAVEL CONTENT Branded content in the travel sector means telling stories, but how can you be sure you are delivering your brand story with impact and efficiency? What is the relationship between emotions, memories and brand outcomes and how can this be used to create more impactful content for travel brands? The Science of Memory – the latest research project from BBC Global News – set out to answer this. By combining our award winning Science of Engagement methodology with cutting-edge neuroscience, we tracked the emotion and memory impact of six brand films, including Dubai Tourism, with audiences around the world. Keynote Speaker: Hamish McPharlin, Head of Insight, BBC Global News 15:30 - 16:30 ATM & WOMEN IN TRAVEL PRESENTS TAKING THE PLUNGE – EMBRACING OPPORTUNITY In 2019 Women are looking to forge opportunities of their own in the industry, either as entrepreneurs or professionals and see the sector as an increasingly important channel, given its growing role in the UAE. Dubai Expo 2020 and new island destinations are just some of the opportunities for women who wish to launch or grow businesses. Women who are seeking employment or are already employed in the sector are also looking at the current opportunity for a chance to self-develop, progress their professional career and gain invaluable skills. Yet all of this requires leadership, self-confidence and great resilience, qualities that women

Moderator: Alessandra Alonso, Founder, Women in Travel CIC Speakers: Sara Gasim, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Consultant, NEOM; Andrea Bailey, Travel Counsellor, Travel Counsellors LLC; Emma Banks, VP F&B strategy & development EMEA, Hilton

often have inherently yet question through self-doubt and imposter syndrome. How do you take the plunge and get the confidence to lose sight of familiar ground in order to achieve success? How do you access your inner most strengths and call upon them at the most challenging yet possibly rewarding times? The Women in Travel meetup at ATM 2019 will discuss these topics with an exceptional team of speakers and mentors. Attendees will find themselves inspired, challenged and yet encouraged to take the plunge in order to pursue and succeed in their own ambitions in Travel and Tourism.

16:30 - 18:00 ATM & WOMEN IN TRAVEL PRESENTS ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN TRAVELMENTORING & NETWORKING For the second year we introduce mentoring to Arabian Travel Market. Once again we have gathered some amazing women who are industry professionals and entrepreneurs to act as your mentors. We are offering group mentoring sessions on pre-agreed topics of relevance to today’s women in travel that you will be able to book in advance. Topics for discussion may include: Entrepreneurship, Female leadership, Work and Career, Personal and Professional Development. From 17.3018.00 the event will conclude with some great networking. Refreshments will be available and we will continue developing the conversations, finding the inspiration and building this amazing international community of women over a drink. Mentors: Sarah Longbottom, Director of Strategy and Planning, Cicero & Bernay; Sara Gasim, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Consultant; Andrea Bailey, Travel Counsellor, Travel Counsellors LLC; Emma Banks, VP F&B Strategy & Development EMEA; Cristina Tschuppert, CEO, Pearls of Switzerland; Nadia Badran, Founder, Wander With Nada; Dr. Heather Jeffrey, Middlesex University Dubai Campus; Gemma Sisia, Founder, The School of St Jude

WEDNESDAY 1ST MAY 10:30 - 11:30 ATM CAREER IN TRAVEL - THE CHANGING FACE OF THE CV: DIGITAL RECRUITMENT Panelists will review the changing face of recruitment in a digital world. How do you stand out when an application involves only filling fields on a form. Where organisations are increasingly employing sophisticated filtering systems for CV’s and applicants are placing their CV onto multiple recruitment platforms such as Monster and Bayt, how can an applicant stand out? Moderator: Jeff Strachan, Business Development Director, Dubai College of Tourism Speakers: Ms. Tina Lobo, Director of Human Resources, Millennium Hotels; Mr. Khalid Ahli, Head of Human Resources, DXB Entertainments; Mr. Remco Werkhoven, General Manager, DoubleTree-Hilton

11:45 - 12:45 ATM CAREER IN TRAVEL CARVING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN TRAVEL: ‘MY STORY’ Come and hear how these influential travel professionals have risen through the ranks and achieved their goals, as they share insight and anecdotes about what it takes to succeed. Whether you dream of being a sought-after travel influencer, or want to operate at the top of a leading hospitality company, our inspirational, all-female panel will talk you through the challenges they faced and their greatest accomplishments, with lots of great advice about following your own path. Moderator: Faye Bartle, Managing Editor, Hot Media Publishing Speakers: Carly Neave, Content Creator and Influencer, Travel and Wellness Blog; Ailsa Pollard, SVP consumer ME&I, dnata Travel; Victoria Thatcher, Managing Director, Hot

Media Publishing; Gresha Schuilling, Manager, Field Marketing, Middle East & Africa, IHG 13:00 - 14:00 ATM CAREER IN TRAVEL - HOW TO GAIN A CAREER IN DIGITAL MARKETING: TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE PROS In this panel you will learn first-hand from expert influencers and digital marketers about their personal paths to success in the ever-changing digital landscape, the tips they wish somebody had givebn them when they were first starting out, and their best advice for young aspiring digital professionals in travel, followed by an open Q&A session with the audience. Moderator: Matt Gibson, CEO, UpThink Speaker: Natasha Amar, Travel Writer & Blogger, Paul Johnson, Editor, A Luxury Travel Blog





WORLD Various forms of technology are transforming the hospitality industry, but what are their implications for personalisation and the guest experience?


here can be no denying the hospitality industry, like the world at large, is in the midst of major digital change. Driven by the ubiquity of mobiles and ongoing growth in technology, all aspects of backoffice and front-facing hospitality are undergoing scrutiny – and it explains why ‘Technology and Innovation’ is the central theme of this year’s exhibition. Digital now encompasses reservations, pre-arrival messages, mobile check-in and key entry, in-room preferences and experiences, upgrades and check-outs,



and the efficiencies presented by Artificial Intelligence (AI) look set to be an industry game changer. According to research conducted by Colliers International, personalisation through AI could increase hotel revenues by more than 10 percent and reduce costs by in excess of 15 percent – with hotel operators expecting technology such as voice and facial recognition, virtual reality and biometrics to be mainstream by 2025 – though as Paul Richer, Senior Partner at Genesys observed, “it is a baby that has just learned to crawl”.





Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Technology, and the use of technology, is evolving every day. The tourism industry is at the very forefront of tech innovation with companies investing huge sums of money to improve the customer journey and experience.” Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group – appointed the EXPO 2020 Dubai Official Hotel and Hospitality Partner – said digitalisation means blending the warmth of the human touch with the power of technology. He explained: “Guest personalisation is about building brand interaction in the digital or physical realm – which shows that we, as hospitality providers, Hilton’s smart robot concierge

are willing to go over and beyond their expectations. We have embarked on the digital journey and we are looking forward to innovating in this field.” Anil Goel, Global Chief Technology Officer, OYO Hotels & Homes, said app-based solutions have turned the business around and led to faster industry growth. Its recent acquisition of AblePlus is in line with its mission of enhancing its technology portfolio. “We are already utilising new age technologies like AI and machine learning that allow us to deliver a highly personalised experience to customers while giving us insights into their preferences, travel patterns and expectations,” he said. “We are further experimenting with speech recognition, natural language processing, deep learning and other AI techniques to improve the guest experience.” AI-enabled systems, coupled with data on customer’s previous visits, enables OYO to predict the frequency of repeat business. With regards to the ongoing debate surrounding technology and





Anil Goel, Global Chief Technology Officer, OYO Hotels & Homes

Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group

personalisation, Goel said it is “about the target audience and geography you are operating in... I feel there should be a balance between both to stay ahead in the hospitality industry”. But he is in no doubt that the breadth of technological developments will continue to revolutionise the business landscape. “With advances in AI, CRM, POS, IoT, cloud computing, voice/facial recognition, biometrics, VR and AR, the sky’s the limit.” It is not just the hospitality industry fully embracing technology: airports and airlines accounted for US$30 billion of investment in IT in 2018, however this will be offset by the implementation of technology that will see fuel savings alone top US$30 billion in the next 15 years. SITA is using robots to check travellers onto flights and transport their luggage. Emirates is working on the world’s first ‘biometric path’ whereby passengers will check in for their flights, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates lounge and board

Emirates biometic boarding

their flights – without breaking their stride at Dubai International Airport. First and business class passengers can already access the ‘Smart Tunnel’ at Emirates Terminal 3, in which passengers can clear immigration without human intervention or a passport stamp. Major General Mohammed Ahmed Almarri, Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), said: “All these initiatives are in line with the government’s vision to be a world leader in innovation and public services.” Etihad Airways recently teamed up with Microsoft in order to launch its first in-house AI Academy regionally. All Etihad employees will have access to an online training programme and Microsoft

specialists are conducting AI business workshops to identify challenges that can be solved through the new technology. Tony Douglas, CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “By upskilling employees to use technology to use technology powered by AI, we are future-proofing our organisation. We believe that human interaction augmented by technology delivers an enhanced experience for our guests which will give us a competitive edge.” Microsoft cloud data centres, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are being set up this year, while Plug and Play and Abu Dhabi Global Market recently announced Etihad and the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi as their founding corporate partners for their new Travel and Hospitality Accelerator program. With new technology constantly being developed and sectors within the larger tourism industry always looking to ways to enhance the customer experience, there is no doubt that the airlines and hotels of the future will rely heavily on digital products.

ATM Hotel Industry Summit: Opportunity knocks ATM Global Stage Tuesday, April 30 Regional Development and Investment Hotspots: 14.45 - 15.30 The ‘New Normal’ - Digital Transformation Secrets Revealed: 15:30 - 16:05 Direct Bookings in the Bag: 16:05 - 16.20 New Hospitality Concepts Making Waves in the Middle East 16:20 - 17:00




A once-in-a-lifetime celebration at Expo 2020 Dubai We discover why the largest event ever held in the Arab world will be an unmissable experience for millions – and why one visit will not be enough


hat’s the most unusual national cuisine you’ve never tasted? Will you be hyperlooping to work anytime soon? How might we communicate with an alien species? Expo 2020 Dubai will explore questions like these, and many more, as the UAE welcomes 190 participating countries to showcase their culture, innovations and ideas for six months from 20 October, 2020. The next World Expo will take place for 173 days, each one brimming with new experiences. Visitors will have the chance to discover future-shaping technologies, sample global dishes from more than 200 restaurants, engage in thought-provoking discussions, criss-cross the planet via the Country Pavilions and enjoy a jam-packed programme of 60 live performances a day, including world-famous stars, comedy greats and local talent. Visitors to Expo’s 4.38 square kilometre site in Dubai South will also be inspired to become changemakers and help build a sustainable future for generations to come.



This will be explored through the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and the subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, each of which will have its own Thematic Pavilion. Sanjive Khosla, Deputy Chief Visitor Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai will give millions of people from all over the world a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see what tomorrow will bring and to be part of creating a better future. “We are inviting the world to ‘welcome the future’ while experiencing the extraordinary at the same time. We also hope to show the positive and progressive spirit that has made the UAE a special hub for innovation and collaboration.” Ever since The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, World Expos have been a platform for innovation and an

opportunity for cities to attract millions of visitors from across the globe. And expectations were immediately sparked when it was announced in 2013 that Dubai had won the right to host the first ever World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region – especially given the emirate’s reputation for the extraordinary. This only increased when HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, proudly declared that Expo 2020 Dubai would “astonish the world”. Excitement has been growing ever since – across the UAE, the region and the globe – for what will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world. Organisers expect to record 25 million visits, with 70 percent of visitors projected



to come from outside the UAE – the highest proportion of international visitors in the 168-year history of World Expos. Groundbreaking architecture will be visible at every turn, from a massive 360-degree projection surface on Al Wasl Plaza’s steel trellis dome to the all-natural materials that make the Opportunity Pavilion, including 2,500 tonnes of stone and 111 km of rope. Visitors will be able to participate in special celebrations from Diwali to Chinese New Year and try mindfulness sessions, extreme sports and everything in between. Pyrotechnic displays, concerts, digital theatre productions, poetry slams and fashion shows are just a handful of other ways that Expo 2020 will create a lifetime of memories. The 5G-enabled site will also highlight cutting-edge technologies, such as a hyperloop experience showcasing the future of transport at the USA Pavilion and a journey into space at the Mobility Pavilion, which will explore the UAE’s plans to colonise Mars. This is very much in the tradition of World Expos, which have launched innovations from the telephone to the ice cream cone and the X-ray machine to the Eiffel Tower. The Opportunity Pavilion

Inside Al Wasl Plaza

Mohammed Alhashmi, Chief Technology Officer – Innovation and Future Technology, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “By embracing innovation in all its forms, we believe we can push the boundaries of what a World Expo can deliver, creating a ‘wow’ factor for millions of visitors and exceeding their already high expectations. “Our goal is to offer everyone who comes to Expo a glimpse of the positive impact that technology can have on our quality of life in years to come.” Expo 2020 Dubai is also embracing the idea of sustainability and leaving a lasting legacy. To achieve this, the organisers hope to educate and empower people to make a positive change in their lives and communities, as well as showcase cutting-edge practices of sustainability within its own structures and operations. As part of this commitment, 85 percent of all waste will be segregated to allow for treatment and diversion from landfill, and 80 percent of all Expo-built structures will live on post-Expo as part of the future city of District 2020, one of the most connected places on Earth. Marjan Faraidooni, Deputy Chief Visitor Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “From the very beginning, we set the goal to deliver an exceptional Expo with a meaningful and sustainable legacy, extending its impact and benefits beyond the UAE to the wider region and the rest of the world. “We also recognise that the success of this World Expo goes beyond the number of people who visit. It is about the impact it will have on every visitor, from the UAE and around the world. We want visitors to experience a range of exhibitions and programmes that will not only be informative but engaging, inspiring and exciting, one that they fondly remember for years to come.”



CULTURE Dubai’s Museum of the Future


The Middle East continues to celebrate its rich heritage at these fascinating venues


espite cities across the Middle East transforming into urban metropolises complete with towering skyscrapers and modern attractions, these destinations have always strived to maintain a deep connection with their heritage and culture. Throughout the region there has been huge investment in cultural tourism programmes to provide travellers with fully immersive experiences. These encompass everything from art and archaeology to music and theatre. And with an increasing number of tourists seeking to become more immersed in local culture when visiting a destination, these cities are answering the demand thanks to a plethora of cultural offerings.


For a number of years Abu Dhabi has placed an emphasis on its cultural offering, investing heavily in numerous projects to help draw visitors to the capital. Late last year, following more than a decade of construction and renovation, Qasr Al Hosn opened its 46


doors to the public. A year-round tourist destination for cultural discovery and home to the city’s first permanent structure, it is already welcoming thousands of visitors every week. Similarly, Louvre Abu Dhabi has attracted huge numbers since opening in November 2017. The striking museum welcomed more than a million visitors in its first year, leading Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi to comment: “Before the opening, we were often asked if there was an appetite for museums in Abu Dhabi and the amazing response we’ve had in our first year is proving that there is.” The museum is now set to be joined by two more attractions in Saadiyat Cultural District, with Saif Ghobash, undersecretary at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi revealing that the construction of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum “have been put into full gear”. Dubai is also pushing ahead with plans to enhance its cultural offering. The multimillion-dollar Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, which is designed to resemble

Qasr al Hosn, Abu Dhabi

an open book, is nearing completion, while the mega Dubai Historical District (DHD) project is starting to take shape. The project aims to rejuvenate some of the oldest parts of the emirate to transform the area into a culture and heritage centre, focusing on trade, crafts and the pearling industry. The first phase is currently under construction and the Al Shindagha museum - which showcases the UAE’s past through exhibitions, organised events, and specialised publiclearning programmes - is now open. Construction is also already well under way on the Museum of the Future. Located on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, the museum will be home to tomorrow’s trends and will be “an incubator for ideas, a driver for innovation, and a destination for inventors and entrepreneurs from around the world,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.



Zayed National Museum

The Great Pyramids of Giza

In 2017, Saudi Arabia announced plans, as part of its 2030 Vision, to boost its cultural tourism offerings. This included increasing the number of public and private museums from 155 to 241 and upping the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites from four to 10. It also outlined plans to increase the number of archaeological sites from 75 to 155, add 18 new archaeological heritage sites and expand the number of annual activities and cultural events from 190 to 400. In September last year, the Kingdom also launched Qiddiya, a 334 square kilometre entertainment, sports and cultural site situated 40 kilometres from Riyadh. Aiming to attract 17 million visitors by 2030, the first phase is set to open in 2022. Combining cultural and outdoor experiences, Qiddiya will comprise rollercoasters, race tracks, cinemas, concert halls, indoor ski slopes, animal encounters, waterparks, sporting events and firstclass retail and dining options. Meanwhie, in Jeddah, the creation of the Hayy: Creative Hub will provide artists, playwrights, photographers, filmmakers and entrepreneurs with a platform where they can support, advise and collaborate with one another. “We will seek to offer a variety of cultural venues — such as libraries, arts and museums — as well as entertainment possibilities to suit tastes and preferences. These projects will also contribute to our economy and will result in the creation of many job opportunities,” said a passage from Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030. In fact, Saudi Arabia has budgeted US$64 billion for arts, tourism and entertainment investment over the next decade. This has led to a number of hospitality brands pursuing aggressive expansion plans in the country as they compete for the expected increase in visitors to the Kingdom.

Shindagha Museum


The likes of Marriott International, Hilton and Rotana all plan to open numerous new properties in the country in the coming years, with Rotana Acting CEO Guy Hutchinson saying “we are optimistic that the Kingdom’s hospitality market will expand enormously and we remain committed to contributing to the evolution of the country as an economic powerhouse”.


With sand covered tombs, awe-inspiring pyramids and towering temples, Egypt has always celebrated its rich culture and heritage. For decades the country has attracted visitors wanting to explore ancient attractions and there continues to be an emphasis on showcasing all it has to offer. One venue that is set to significantly boast Egypt’s appeal is the US$1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to become the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilisation. Due to open in 2020, it will showcase a huge number of artefacts, including 5,000 from Tutankhamen’s tomb. “It is on the plateau of Giza, so even though you can see Egyptian artefacts in different museums around the world, this is the only museum that has the pyramids as its backdrop,” said Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, Rania A. Al-Mashat. “It’s a fantastic attraction for those who want to come and get a glimpse of Egypt’s history.” Tarek Tawfik, GEM’s director, believes that the museum could attract as many as five million visitors a year once operational thanks to the opening of the nearby Sphinx International Airport. Located just half an hour away from the centre “By the time of the complete opening of the museum, the airport will be up and running and will enhance the numbers of visitors to our museum, even for weekend tourism,” said Tawfik. “It will be an important source of revenue to ensure the the sustainability and maintenance of this huge museum.” ATM PREVIEW 2019




TIME As the Middle East builds its tourism sector as an alternative revenue source, regional airlines are all set for a resurgence in 2019 after a challenging few years





he past few years have presented a great deal of challenges for Gulf airlines, with the oil price slump and political instability having a huge effect on all carriers. However, the region’s aviation sector has responded in a positive way with a series of fresh strategies and creative plans in motion to help them successfully navigate through this turbulent time. The approach now looks far more positive for 2019 and beyond, with Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of International Air Transport Association, noting that Middle East carriers can expect healthy passenger numbers, while global demand is set to increase by six percent overall this year.

With forecasts looking far healthier, airlines throughout the Gulf are looking to get firmly back on track by embracing innovation, undergoing major revamps and refurbishments, investing in technology and entering into new and exciting partnerships.


One of the world’s most successful airlines, Emirates has made major moves to surge into 2019 on a strong footing. Its “extensive partnership” agreement with sister low-cost airline flydubai has already opened a combined network of 216 destinations and throughout 2018, the two carriers jointly transported nearly 3.5 million passengers on codeshare flights to more than 80 destinations. And this year the partnership is set to grow even further.




“The partnership between Emirates and flydubai has really taken off and we are very pleased with what has been achieved,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group and Chairman of flydubai. “It has not only delivered tangible benefits to our collective customers, but also to both airlines in terms of the synergies that come with working closely together.” Emirates also embarked on an extensive US$150 million (AED550 million) initiative to refurbish its Boeing 777-200LR fleet, resulting in a two-class configuration with 38 Business Class seats and 264 Economy seats. The refurbishment presents travellers with wider seats and more spacious cabins. Furthermore, from 2020, the airline plans to deploy its Premium Economy product on its newgen A380s, which promises bespoke designs and enhanced user experience. Last year, more than 12 million Emirates passengers connected to inflight Wi-Fi, while sports fans enjoyed football season on the 175 aircraft equipped with Live TV; this year, 50 more planes will provide this luxurious service. In 2018, Emirates also became the first airline to offer web VR technology on its platform when it introduced 3D seat models on, allowing customers to enjoy 360-degree views of their Emirates aircraft at Dubai International Airport



seats, cabin and all amenities onboard Emirates’ A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft. Towards the end of 2018, the carrier also announced plans for a ‘biometric path’, whereby Emirates customers can check in, complete immigration, enter the Emirates Lounge and board their aircraft by simply walking in, thanks to the latest technology using a combination of iris and facial recognition.


The UAE’s national carrier, Etihad Airways, also looks well on its way to recovery following a challenging few years. The carrier’s multi-pronged strategy ranges from reducing capacity, replacing older aircraft and focusing on more profitable routes to investing in luxury first-class suites and expanding its long-haul network. In 2018, the airline also celebrated its best OTP (operational on-time performance) since 2010. Meanwhile, in November 2018, Etihad CEO, Tony Douglas, revealed plans to offer better optionality to customers. “Etihad prides itself on being different by trying to provide optionality,” said Douglas. “Etihad will be the airline of choice, which will allow everybody who chooses to fly with us to have what they want, as opposed to the standard offerings, therefore allowing choice to be something that makes it special for you personally.”

flydubai Boeing 737-800


Etihad Airways A380


Relevant ATM Sessions: EMIRATES: STILL LEADING THE WAY ATM Global Stage Moderator: John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting Speaker: Sir Tim Clark, KBE, President, Emirates Airline Monday, 29 April 12:10 - 13:10 ADEL ALI, CEO AIR ARABIA ATM Global Stage Moderator: John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting Speaker: Adel Ali, CEO, Air Arabia Group Tuesday, 30 April 13:20 - 14:20 Douglas also confirmed that the airline was working to identify new routes and had reached an agreement with Airbus and Boeing for the delivery of new aircraft. This will see Etihad take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000s, six Boeing 777-9s and 26 A321neos in the coming years. This is in addition to plans to introduce a premium economy cabin to offer a wider variety of fares. Etihad also announced in January 2019 that it had completed the first commercial flight powered by locally produced sustainable fuel. This milestone was achieved by an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 from Abu Dhabi

to Amsterdam, which used a clean, alternative aviation fuel produced from plants grown in saltwater. In addition to this, the carrier announced that it was collaborating with Microsoft to launch the first inhouse AI Academy in the region. The aim of this facility is to help the airline revolutionise the way it serves its customers by upskilling its workforce, optimising operations and creating alternative revenue streams. This will help showcase how artificial intelligence can find solutions to business problems.


While the UAE remains in the lead, the rest of the GCC isn’t far behind, with a BNC Network report revealing that there are currently 95 aviation projects worth US$50 billion (AED183 billion) active in the region, comprising 68 developments, terminal upgrades, new airports and 27 ancillary projects. The UAE has invested close to US$23 billion (AED84 billion) in order to expand phase four of Dubai International Airport, develop and expand Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, as well as expand the terminal at Sharjah International Airport. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is also expanding Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, aiming to serve 65 million customers by 2020. The Kingdom aims to complete the airport’s privatisation by mid-2019. In March 2018, Oman’s Muscat International launched a new $1.8

billion (AED6.6 billion) terminal, featuring Omani-themed architecture and stateof-the-art technology. The new terminal is expected to boost capacity to 75 million annual passengers by 2020. Kuwait International Airport is currently undergoing a terminal expansion, while a new airport, the $12 billion (AED44 billion) greenfield New Kuwait Airport, is under construction. Both projects are scheduled for completion by 2022. Bahrain is also following the trend with a $1 billion (AED3.67 billion) airport expansion, part of its efforts to accommodate 14 million passengers per year.


All of these investments and advances are right on schedule because, according to the UNWTO, the Middle East was one of the top destinations in 2018, welcoming 64 million visitors, and is only set to grow further this year. Meanwhile, IATA’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast report predicts a 3.5 percent annual growth rate in traffic, meaning that if present air transport trends continue, passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion worldwide by 2037. Amidst this, the Middle East is expected to have a steady increase of 4.4 percent, taking on an extra 290 million passengers on routes to, from and within the region by 2037, increasing the total market size to 501 million passengers. With sufficient planning, a solid strategy and sound government backing, Middle East airlines are on course to ascend new heights in 2019 and beyond. ATM PREVIEW 2019


Spotlight on











arlier this year, Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al Sheikh, the Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority announced a plethora of events aimed at positioning Saudi Arabia as one of the top four tourism destinations in Asia and top ten worldwide. This ambitious goal will be supported by the Kingdom hosting international stage shows, top music concerts, food festivals, sporting events and comedy gigs. However, entertainment is just one strand of the country’s bold plans to attract 28.5 million visitors annually by 2025 and increase tourism revenue. As outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, tourism will play a key role in boosting the economy, with international visitor receipts forecast to grow by 5.8 percent per year between 2019 and 2022, according to a report from BMI Research. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism contributed US$18.2 billion (SAR68.4 billion) to the economy in 2014, a figure which rose to US$23.5 billion (SAR88.2 billion) by 2017. And there are now numerous plans in place to ensure this significant growth continues.





Religious tourism for the annual Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages, where Muslim pilgrims journey to the Holy sites of Makkah and Madinah, has always been one of the mainstays of Saudi’s travel sector. According to the Mecca Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 25 to 30 percent of the private sector’s income in the region around the two holy cities depends on pilgrimage. Under Vision 2030, there is hope that Umrah visitors will increase from eight million to 30 million annually. In 2017, the Kingdom unveiled plans to spend nearly $50 billion (SAR187.5 billion) over the following three years to boost Hajj and Umrah pilgrim numbers. This included the construction of the largest Islamic museum in the world, a huge upgrade of the Grand Mosque at Makkah and the establishment of the high-speed Al Haramein railway, linking the two Holy Cities. There will also be a major expansion of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, which is expected to be able to handle 30 million passengers annually once work is completed.

Relevant ATM Session: WHY TOURISM IS SAUDI’S NEW ‘WHITE OIL’ ATM Global Stage Moderator: Richard Dean, Presenter of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye 103.8FM Speaker: Dr Fahad Al Jarboa, CEO, Saudia Private Aviation; Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO, Dur Hospitality; John Davis, CEO, Colliers International MENA; Alex Kyriakidis, President MEA, Marriott International, Majed M. AlGhanim, Director of Tourism, Saudi General Investment Authority Monday, April 29, 14:50 - 16:00


Al-Hijr Archaeological Site


In addition to religious tourism, Saudi authorities are also implementing plans to make the Kingdom a destination of choice for leisure and adventure tourism. Part of this is highlighting the five stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country that includes the Al-Hijr Archaeological Site. Similar to Jordan’s famous Petra, the location is comprised of rock carvings, monumental ruins and tombs. Al-Ahsa Oasis is another destination that the country is looking to promote. The largest oasis on the planet, it lies between Riyadh and Dammam, and is home to nearly 2.5 million palm trees. It also has natural springs, a lake, historical monuments and even ancient sites dating back more than 10,000 years. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has also unveiled several investment programs in and around Al-Ahsa, including the restoration and rehabilitation of nearby heritage sites and buildings, and the construction of a regional museum. Saudi Arabia has also signed a 10year partnership with the government of France that will see archaeological digs, transport infrastructure and the construction of museums and hotels completed in what is estimated to be a US$20 billion (SAR75 billion)

investment designed to turn the Al-Ula region into a “cultural tourism hub”.


One of the biggest tourism projects currently under development is the US$500 billion (SAR1,185 billion) smart city, called NEOM. Dubbed the Silicon Valley of the region, it will be built along the country’s Red Sea coastline near Egypt and Jordan, making it the first private zone to cover three countries. “NEOM will focus on nine specialised investment sectors and living conditions that will drive the future of human civilisation, energy and water, mobility, biotech, food, technological and digital


Al-Ahsa Oasis




sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment with liveability as its foundation,” stated Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The mega-development will comprise 12 small cities, with the first set to be completed by 2020. It is also expected to pave the way for autonomous cars, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and a slew of other ultramodern technologies. NEOM will have a zero-carbon infrastructure and will operate solely on wind and solar power. Thousands of solar panels will supply all of the city, all year round, with low-cost regenerative energy. In January, the first urban area of the megacity began construction after the creation of the closed joint-stock NEOM Company, which will develop the project. The masterplan concept for NEOM Bay has been approved and will include


homes, lifestyle and tourist facilities, as well as luxurious hotels and villas. “This year will be a milestone in NEOM’s journey. We are now preparing for the development of NEOM Bay area, which will provide a new concept of urban living that will enable it to become a platform for attracting the world’s top minds for creating advanced economic sectors,” said NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr.


Saudi Arabia also has plans to transform the Kingdom into the ultimate entertainment destination, with US$64 billion (SAR240 billion) set to be invested to boost its entertainment sector over the coming decade. The most significant development in this area is the Qiddiya project, which will be located on a 334-square-kilometre site, 40 kilometres from Riyadh. “Qiddiya will be an integrated destination forming the capital of entertainment, sports, culture and the arts in the Kingdom. It will be a catalyst for national transformation creating a richer life for Saudi citizens while spurring innovation in the creative, hospitality and entertainment sectors,” explained Michael Reininger, CEO, Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC). Another tourism mega-project set to transform the Kingdom is the construction Riyadh skyline

David Beckham Ready to entertain While location and timing details of many of the events aren’t yet confirmed, here’s what @SaudiProject has revealed visitors to the Kingdom can look forward to this year Music concerts: • Amr Diab • DJ Khaled • Jay Z Comedy gigs: • Dave Chappelle • Gabriel Iglesias • Trevor Noah • Chris Rock • Seth Rogen • Chris Tucker Eight gaming tournaments Circus performances: • American circus 1903 • Cirque du Soleil • Russian circus Nikulin Musicals: • Aladdin • Cavalia • Jersey Boys • Peter Pan • Thriller Live • The Phantom of the Opera • The Lion King Magician shows: • Dynamo • David Copperfield • David Blaine • Penn and Teller • The Illusionists • The Strongest Man Contest • Bull Run (similar to Spain’s Running with the Bulls) • NBA Games • Friendly football matches with David Beckham and Zidane • Monster truck festival Monster Jam • Madame Tussauds • The Colour Run • Saudi International Golf Tournament • Quran Recitation Festival • Saudi-specific versions of The Voice and Arab’s Got Talent • Food Festival

Jay Z

Monster truck festival




of 22 islands in the Red Sea. Helmed by the developer Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the first phase of the master plan is set for completion in 2022 and will comprise 14 luxury and hyperluxury hotels, boasting 3,000 rooms. It will also include leisure and lifestyle amenities, an airport and marinas. TRSDC CEO John Pagano said: “The design concepts that we have presented to the board will provide visitors with a uniquely diverse, immersive experience, while setting new standards in sustainable development, and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.”


The Kingdom also hopes to cement its position as a leading destination for the MICE industry, as announced in its 2030 Vision. Saudi Arabia aims to become the country of choice for those planning to host conferences and exhibitions in the Middle East by 2020 and plans to invest US$1.6 billion (SAR6 billion) in its MICE tourism industry until the end of this year. Several centres and venues have already benefited from this financial

boost, and are reaping the rewards. This investment has already had an impact, with Saudi’s MICE industry growing by 16 percent in 2017, with around 4.5 million people attending more than 10,000 business events. However, the vast majority of conferences and exhibitions were held in Riyadh and there are plans to push other destinations within the country, such as Jeddah and Makkah. “We are creating an environment for successful business events that will attract tourism, business, investments and knowledge to Saudi Arabia. Our vision is to convert Saudi Arabia into a major destination for meetings in the world, which we can be,” said Tariq Al-Essa, CEO of the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau. “To deal with the matter of accessibility, we are collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to smooth the process to obtain visas for speakers and exhibitors. Now the international speakers and exhibitors who participate in Saudi business events can issue visa through an e-system and will receive their visa within five business

days. In addition, the government is going to release new systems to easy accessibility for business tourists.”


Thanks to a forward-thinking vision, ambitious strategy and sound planning, Saudi Arabia appears on track to become a leading travel destination in the region. This is supported by the number of hotels which are set to be built in the country in the coming years. Rotana recently revealed plans to open four new properties in the Kingdom, with Acting CEO, Guy Hutchinson saying: “With its thriving economy and flourishing religious and domestic tourism, Saudi Arabia has remained as one of the fast-growing hospitality markets in the world. It will continue to be a key focus market for Rotana and we are optimistic that the Kingdom’s hospitality market will expand enormously.” Hilton Hotels & Resorts also placed a firm emphasis on expanding operations in Saudi Arabia as it announced that it would open 35 new hotels in the country in the coming three to five years. ATM PREVIEW 2019



Growing at pace With companies around the world recognising the importance of the halal travel market, this lucrative tourism sector is set to flourish


t is only in recent years that halal tourism has become recognised as one of the travel industry’s most lucrative sectors. Once viewed as a niche industry largely catered for by small travel firms, now companies and countries around the world are seeking ways to capitalise on the burgeoning sector. Such is the growth of the industry, that a recent report by Salam Standard, the world’s first online hotel reference tool dedicated to Muslim travellers, predicted that the Muslim travel sector is set to be worth US$183 billion and will employ more than 5.5 million people by 2020. There was an equally positive outlook in the MasterCard-Crescent Rating Digital Muslim Travel Report 2018, which noted that Muslim travellers are set to spend US$180 billion by 2026, with Southeast Asia alone set to welcome more than 18 million Muslim visitors by the end of next year. “The Indonesian Tourism Ministry is backing up halal tourism by allocating a larger budget that is being invested in sales missions and trade shows, educating the local industry, promoting halal tourism and developing regulations to strengthen the local halal tourism sector,” explains Reem El Shafaki, DinarStandard’s Senior Associate – Halal Lifestyle Markets. “Indonesia plans to attract five million Muslim visitors this year alone.” Yet, in order for those in the industry to fully understand the potential of the halal tourism market, there first needs to be an understanding of the sector’s size. Described as a form of tourism that means Muslims don’t have to compromise on their religious beliefs, it covers everything from halal food and prayer facilities to dedicated amenities for women such as spas, swimming pools and beach areas that offer complete privacy. “Many people involved in the tourism industry do not fully understand the concept, even in Muslim majority countries,” explains Ufuk Seçgin, Chief Marketing Officer of, one of the leading online search and booking platforms for halal tourism. “However, this is changing. The websites of many official national tourism



Japan is looking to attract halal visitors

boards, including countries as diverse as Spain, Japan and Switzerland, now mention halal-friendly tourism or produce specific guides for this market. “But Turkey is leading the way and remains the most popular destination on our website. Specifically, the Mediterranean region of Antalya, where many of the world’s leading halalfriendly beach resorts are situated.”


It is not just countries around the world that are looking to capitalise on this growing sector; while once it was largely small-scale businesses that were focusing on Islamic travel, now the sector has become a hotbed for entrepreneurs, start-ups and digital firms. In the past few years, there have been a number of companies and even apps dedicated to the Muslim market. Irhal is an app curated solely for the Muslim market. It lists sightseeing and shopping venues, as well as maps for mosques and halal restaurants. It also comes with a compass to help users find the direction of prayer towards Mecca. Available in

Antalya is a halal-friendly destination


Ufuk Seçgin

English and Arabic, it covers 90 cities worldwide and is used by more than 1.5 million people each year. Halal Gems is another application that has proved immensely popular. Initially listing gourmet halal restaurants in London and Dubai, it has evolved into a digital magazine that features reviews, interviews and the latest trends in the halal food scene. “Smart technology will not only increase awareness about halal tourism, it also addresses Muslim needs through its services,” adds El Shafaki. “One great example is Islamic GPS, an augmented reality app that helps Muslim travellers discover mosques and places of historical significance.” The goal of all of these companies is not just to make it easier for Muslim travellers to find food, prayer spaces and alcohol-free activities, but also to help them feel empowered to explore the world.


With a growing need to cater to discerning Muslim clients, hotels, airlines and tour operators are increasingly

Reem El Shafaki


Relevant ATM Sessions: ATM GLOBAL HALAL TOURISM SUMMIT 2019: THE FUTURE OF HALAL TOURISM ATM Global Stage Tuesday, April 30 11.00-11.40: Halal Tourism Trend Watch 11.40-12.20: The digitization of Muslim travel 12.20-13.00: Halal tourism success stories trying to meet their dietary and religious needs. There are flights with no alcohol, resorts with separate swimming pools and spas for men and women, and activities with assigned break times that fit with the five daily calls to prayer. “Muslim countries in the Middle East have a tremendous advantage, as many halal facilities are already in place,” adds El Shafaki. “Halal food is widely available and most shopping centers and amusement parks have prayer spaces and ablution facilities. In addition, because of the family-oriented culture of the region, many attractions and facilities are already family-friendly.” However, Secgin believes that the larger travel industry still requires further education. He says: “The biggest challenge for halal-friendly tourism is the preconceptions that exist about the market. In many places, the concept of halal-friendly travel is often seen as being fuelled by ideology, whereas we prefer to see it as a practical issue, solving the practical difficulties that Muslims can face when they travel. “Many destinations and hotels that have a well-established international tourism market fear that, by catering to halal-conscious travellers, they will somehow alienate existing markets. “But this problem is by no means insurmountable. Hotels can make relatively small changes and use their existing facilities to cater for this market. In many European countries, there has been a move towards women-only facilities and this is not driven by religion, but is something that appeals to many women.” With a Muslim population that is young, educated, tech-savvy and prepared to travel to new destinations, it is no surprise that they are one of the fastest-growing demographics on the global tourism scene. The hope is now that the entire travel industry embraces the halal travel trend and meets the needs of a flourishing market that is set to contribute US$300 billion to the global economy over the next decade. ATM PREVIEW 2019




Thanks to a series of forward-thinking initiatives and investment in ground-breaking technology, the UAE is bidding to become a leading example of sustainable tourism


e now live in an era where industries and governments around the world are addressing the demand for a more sustainable approach to all aspects of travel and tourism. Encompassing everything from climate change, damage to ecosystems and conservation of heritage to the reduction of air and noise pollution, new initiatives are being presented on an almost weekly basis. Addressing these issues has become vitally important, and with tourism a major economic driver for the UAE, the government has introduced a number of forward-thinking policies to help bring about change. Last year, Dubai Tourism launched the 12 Steps Towards Sustainability User Guide which was created “to help hotels and hospitality establishments map out a sustainable journey and trigger a positive impact on the environmental performance of the tourism industry”.



This has led to a number of hotel chains embracing sustainability as a core part of their corporate social responsibility. And perhaps most encouragingly, words are now being backed by action.


One company that is helping hotels across the country make a significant change is Avani Middle East. The brainchild of Kevin Kumala, the company is tackling the problem of plastics through a range of products. The company’s party piece is inviting clients to throw their ‘I am not plastic’ inscribed bags into water and watch them dissolve. These, along with birchwood cutlery, cartons, bowls and cups are just some of the sustainable products Avani is busy rolling out to green-minded hotels across the region. It is a clear sign that the industry is ready to make a clear change. Elsewhere, Hilton removed plastic straws from all 650 managed hotels at

the end of last year, while Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, which opened last December, is billed as the group’s first ‘eco-conscious resort’ with environmental awareness and water consumption written into its DNA. Jumeirah also partnered with Trust Your Water to reduce singleuse plastics and provide guests with locally sourced filtered still and sparkling water, which can be refilled in reusable bottles at water stations. Straws are also made from recycled material. “Our commitment to protecting the natural sand dunes and sea around this hotel means that we are also continuously trying to minimise the impact that guests have on this environment,” said General Manager Linda Griffin. Marriott’s Serve360 lays out sustainability and social impact goals until 2025 with specific focuses on nurturing communities, sustaining its hotels and empowering ‘the unemployed and underemployed’,


Avani straws

Xavier Halbi Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

“It is a very big challenge for hotels to educate their clients to be more responsible in this respect, because this has been a ‘luxury’ that has been provided to them for the longest time. However, with millions of people travelling every year, there is a fantastic opportunity for hotels to reach people’s psyche and reason, and to eventually make a huge difference in the world.” The aviation sector is also rolling out a number of programmes, with Emirates introducing sustainable blankets which are made completely from recycled plastic bottles and use ecoTHREAD patented technology. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi International Airport opened an interactive walkway between Terminals 1 and 3 which converts the footsteps of 8,000 travellers daily into off-grid electricity and data.


Masdar City

while IHG’s Green Engage programme allows hotels to measure and manage their environmental impacts. Furthermore, Accor spelt out its sustainable development credentials back in 2012 with Planet 21, which have since been enhanced in a ‘vision for 2020’. The global operator, which serves 200 million meals a year, is committed to healthy and responsible dishes and stemming food waste in its restaurants as well as operating carbon neutral buildings. Accor’s sustainable development program involves engaging in community work and social projects, protecting children and planting 10 million trees by 2021. “It falls upon hotels, which deal with so many people on a daily basis, to incorporate sustainability in their culture and raise awareness with their clients,” added Xavier Halbi, Hotel Manager and Regional Responsible Business Coordinator at the Radisson Hotel Group.

It is not just the hospitality and aviation industry that is firmly focusing on sustainability, the UAE has also stepped up its efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and to overcome energy changes, spearheaded by Vision 2021 as well as strategies designed by the country’s individual emirates. The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 percent, providing savings of US$190.6 billion (AED700 billion). Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City project, funded entirely by Masdar, the clean technology investment fund of the Abu Dhabi government, represents the world’s first carbon-neutral, zerowaste city. Designed to be friendly to pedestrians and cyclists, the transport system will feature a mix of electric vehicles and other clean-energy vehicles. Sharjah also revealed plans to become the first city in the Middle East to achieve 100 percent diversion of landfill waste to energy by 2020. The emirate’s environment company,

Bee’ah, has selected French firm CNIM to design, construct and manage the country’s first waste-to-energy plant, which will process around 300,000 tonnes of the region’s waste annually and generate up to 30MW of electricity, enough to power 28,000 homes. Similarly, Dubai is looking to move forward in the fields of renewable energy, sustainability and the environment. The Supreme Council of Energy has set a strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16 per cent, equivalent to reducing 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2021. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is also striving to support the emirate’s efforts with a number of green projects and initiatives. These include the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is set to become the largest single-site solar project in the world. It will produce 5,000MW by 2030 and will achieve a reduction of approximately 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. These projects not only prove sustainability is being taken seriously but rising higher up the UAE’s agenda.

Relevant ATM Sessions: Inspiration Theatre 1 HOW CAN TRAVEL AND TOURISM BEST REDUCE THE CARBON EMISSIONS OF OUR INDUSTRY? Tuesday, 30 April, 11:30 - 12:15 RAISING AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY Tuesday, 30 April, 15:00 - 15:45 TOURISM BROADENS THE MIND - CAN WE DO MORE? Wednesday, 1 May, 11:30 - 12:15 ATM PREVIEW 2019




No longer the hidden gem of the thanks in no small part to its





e UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is experiencing a tourist boom, s burgeoning reputation as a hub for adventure sports


aking use of its diverse landscape, Ras Al Khaimah has emerged in recent years as a popular destination for tourists seeking a sense of adventure. Home to soaring sand dunes and the UAE’s highest mountain, the emirate has found a way to stand out in a crowded market by oering some truly unique experiences. We speak to Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) to discover what the city has in store as it bids to attract three million visitors by 2025.





RAK pearl farm

RAKTDA has invested heavily in a range of adventure products which leverage the emirate’s superb array of natural assets, with a key focus on Jebel Jais and the surrounding area. It is home to the world’s longest zip line, numerous hiking paths, as well as the Viewing Deck Park where visitors can enjoy magnificent sunrises and sunsets. The Jebel Jais shuttle service has also made it easier for visitors and residents to access the UAE’s highest mountain. With the adventure tourism approach, we wanted to build on Ras Al Khaimah’s established popularity with avid hikers and tour groups tempted by the rocky pathways which skirt ancient villages in the mountain ranges. We are now attracting road-trip enthusiasts since the opening of a newly extended road which snakes up towards Jebel Jais. We are also working closely with reputable tour operators such as Challenging Adventure, Adventurati Outdoor and Wonder Lead, so visitors can join guided tours.



It is definitely one of the key areas we are focusing on. In fact, we have just launched Ras Al Khaimah’s Destination Strategy 2019-2021, which sets out the vision and strategic framework for growing tourism in the years ahead, and adventure tourism will be a huge factor as we aim to attract close to 1.5 million visitors by 2021 and three million visitors by 2025.

Relevant ATM Session: UTILISING DESTINATION BRANDS TO ATTRACT HIGHER VALUE TRAVEL CONSUMERS Inspiration Theatre 1 Moderator: Greg Klassen, Partner, Twenty31 Consulting Inc. Speaker: Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA; Joe Naaman, EVP, Skylight Intelligence; Olof Atladottir, Director, Destination Marketing, The Red Sea Development Company Tuesday, 30 April - 12:45 - 13:30 Our vision is to continue to develop Ras Al Khaimah as a compelling destination for visitors seeking authentic culture and naturebased experiences. Through our promotional activities across our global representational offices, and through our collaboration with trade partners, the emirate is being presented for its rich heritage, stunning landscape and emerging adventure tourism products.

Jebel Jais

Mountain biking




The launch of Jebel Jais Flight put Ras Al Khaimah on the global map as it broke the world record and strengthened the emirate’s credentials as the fastest growing adventure tourism destination in the region. One of the key growth milestones in 2018, it is now set to celebrate the landmark of 25,000 passenger adventures. But this was just one of our adventurebased projects, as we also launched the region’s first via ferrata (iron path) which features hiking and zip line challenges and the Viewing Deck Park. Given this success, we now have many projects in the pipeline as we aim to further enhance Ras Al Khaimah’s offerings and positioning. Among the projects that we are focusing on is the development of a luxury camp project in Jebel Jais, which will complement the array of adventure tourism attractions that the emirate is becoming globally known for. In addition to the luxury camp, we will


Hiking in Jebel Jais

WITH OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE AND UNRIVALLED EXPERIENCES, WE FEEL RAS AL KHAIMAH IS A TRULY UNIQUE DESTINATION also unveil the completion of the Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails, which have a combined length of 64.72 kilometres and will consist of three phases and four difficulty levels. The project is expected to break ground in 2019. We are also planning to launch a Survival Academy in Jebel Jais, which will include a training area, medical room, restaurant, rest area and fire pit. Cliff jumping

Horse riding

HOW WILL YOUR ADVENTURE ATTRACTIONS FARE DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS WHEN, TRADITIONALLY, THE NUMBER OF TOURISTS COMING TO THE UAE SIGNIFICANTLY FALLS? We certainly offer a lot of outdoor activities, so with the climate being four degrees cooler in the summer and 10 degrees cooler in the mountains, it is definitely an advantage. And thrill seekers are not just limited to the zip line and the via ferrata, Ras Al Khaimah’s diverse topography is great for hiking, abseiling and canyoning. Bikers of all levels can also enjoy unique outdoor experiences between the Hajar Mountains and the wadis. The emirate’s desert is also one of the most fertile in the region, owing to a higher-than-average rainfall. Visitors can capture an insight into the life of Bedouins at various desert camps or take part in a variety of activities including four-wheel-drive safaris and horse or camel treks. For a more unique experience, visitors can enjoy unrivalled horse and camel riding excursions offered by the Al Wadi Equestrian Center in the heart of Wadi Khadeja.

OTHER DESTINATIONS IN THE REGION ARE BEGINNING TO EXPLORE ADVENTURE TOURISM, HOW WILL YOU ENSURE YOUR OFFERINGS REMAIN THE MOST APPEALING TO TOURISTS? Our competitive edge and charm comes from what we promise our travellers, which is an authentic and accessible Arabian experience. We take a great deal of pride in being the outdoor adventure capital of the UAE and we will always explore new ways to enhance the experience of visitors. We are in talks with hotel operators and investors for a unique, ecotourism project which will complement the array of adventure tourism attractions we are renowned for. With our pristine beaches, natural beauty, cultural heritage and unrivalled experiences, we feel that Ras Al Khaimah is a truly unique destination.





REBOOT Healthy holidays have become the new norm as travellers of all ages seek to relax and unwind


hen delving into the origins of the world of wellness, you soon discover that it can be traced back to the ancient civilisations of Rome, Greece and Asia. Traditional Chinese medicine applied a holistic approach to health and wellbeing some 4,000 years ago, while the Greek physician Hippocrates was one of the first to focus on preventing sickness instead of simply treating it, back in 500 BC. Yet it seems the global wellness movement is a far more modern phenomenon. The tipping point came in the 21st century when fitness, diet and healthy living began to transform every industry, from food and beverage to clothing and travel.



Now the industry is big business, as Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute, explains: “Wellness tourism growth continues to outpace growth for tourism overall by a significant margin. It grew from a US$563 billion market in 2015 to US$639 billion in 2017, or 6.5% annually, more than twice as fast as tourism growth in general. And it’s forecast to grow even faster through 2022 to reach US$919 billion. “It’s hard to grasp the speed of wellness travel’s adoption and evolution, and how it’s transforming every aspect of the travel industry, whether it’s airlines, cruises, airports and mainstream hotels – or, of course, in the profusion of ever-more-creative wellness destinations, retreats and tours.”

“But with so many people having fewer vacation days, and with people so stressed out, they desperately need to achieve something different. They seek some transformation, stressreduction and rejuvenation. They need to return home feeling better physically and emotionally, and that’s why wellness travel has taken off.” In 2017 alone, travellers made 830 million wellness trips, 139 million more than in 2015, and these trips now represent 17 percent of total tourism expenditures. Not only are the numbers rising at an unprecedented rate, but these travellers have been found to be high-spending, high-yield tourists. This means there is huge potential for

Yoga on

n the beach


businesses who want to appeal to this market by creating experiences that feed the mind and sooth the soul. However, with the concept of wellness still constantly evolving, what will the industry look like in the near future? Here we highlight the four important trends that are set to influence the wellness travel world in the coming years.


As people worldwide embrace their own mental health, finding ways to combat issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are becoming more important than ever. The idea behind escaping to nature is a result of numerous scientific studies into the effects of being outside. The results concluded that this type of break helped to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone that is responsible for stress. “With so many overly complex wellness trends, approaches and Hiking

programs, you can feel radical simplicity making a real comeback, and the ‘back to nature’ trend speaks to that,” says Ellis.


“Just a few years ago, the term ‘spa and wellness travel’ would conjure pampering, or more passive, experiences, like gently practicing yoga or a week of stressreducing treatments. But now more people seek wellness destinations that will push them harder, where they conquer challenges, where they engage in tougher experiences to achieve what they most seek: transformation,” explains Ellis. This trend is all about triggering your endorphins by partaking in activities such as kayaking, abseiling or mountain trekking. Using it as a tool for self-improvement, these exhilarating experiences will help clear you from a cloud of laziness and help you feel more motivated.


An issue that effects people around the world, the main disturbances tend to be stress and worry. This lack of sufficient sleep can lead to errors in judgement, poor reaction times and higher injury rates. To combat this problem, a number of wellness retreats around the world are offering programmes that are specialised in sleep enhancement. Combining expert tips and holistic treatments, you’ll no longer feel sluggish and will welcome the sound of the alarm. “The focus at wellness resorts is not just about providing the ultimate sleep environment, but launching whole sleep health programs so guests can have their sleep analysed and take home new sleep habits when they leave.”

A lack of sleep is a common problem worldwide



From working in front of a computer to unwinding at home with a smartphone in hand, research has shown that excessive screen use can affect sleep quality, stress levels and productivity. Now there are a growing number of retreats that disconnect you from the outside world that you can de-stress and enjoy complete relaxation. Offering everything from spa treatments and meditation sessions to mountain hikes and yoga on the beach, these allow you to experience the serenity that accompanies the absence of technology. “Disconnecting from devices needs to be even more of a bedrock principle in wellness travel, and people really need help disconnecting from their phones (it’s like any addiction). And anyone that has taken days off their devices knows the profound, positive impact it can have on your brain, stress and happiness.”

Relevant ATM Session:


MEDICAL TOURISM AND WELLNESS TOURISM: UNDERSTANDING THE OPPORTUNITIES Inspiration Theatre 2 Moderator: Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute Tuesday, 30 April, 10:30 - 13:00 ATM PREVIEW 2019


Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai




Stylish resorts keep opening in the Gulf but changing trends, broader choice and increased competition means operators can’t rest on their laurels


uxury five-star hotels account for a third of Dubai’s inventory. Amid the never-ending mid-market charge, it is a timely reminder of the top end sector’s pivotal importance to Dubai – and other key Middle Eastern cities – and, despite uncertain economic times, the resilience of luxury travel. Walk into the lobby of Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, which opened last November, with its 28,000 Swarvoski crystal chandelier and 24 carat goldplated designs, and you can’t help be impressed. It’s also a sign that Dubai’s love affair with luxury is only intensifying. The scale allows entertainment options that few five-star hotels could even consider. Classical music concerts are held in the Blüthner Hall lobby lounge, an 80-seat private cinema with reclining leather seats can be hired for events and the spa spans a colossal 3,000 square metres.



Instagram photos only go so far though, and that’s where modern F&B concepts, in contrast to the classical designs, come into play with the aim of positioning the resort as a ‘gastronomic destination’ – the highlight being Mix by Alain Ducasse. Increasingly luxury hospitality is about covering all the senses. Like all sectors, luxury operators are having to keep one eye on travellers’ changing tastes, but you can’t change seasons or geography. Dubai, along with the Seychelles and Maldives, continues to appeal to the jet set, and European - particularly Russian - travellers looking to escape cold winters. Caesars Bluewaters Dubai (Palace, Resort and Residences) – the first Caesars outside Las Vegas – recently announced its five-star arrival with a grand fireworks display and appearance from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay,

whose Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is among the international venues on site. James Riley, CEO of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group – which opened its first Middle East property in February, a city resort in central Dubai – believes luxury is becoming more leisure oriented, and it’s increasingly important to have resorts that make a leisure statement. Superior rooms start from AED2,200 a night and rise as high as AED12,000 for a Mandarin Sea Front Suite. “Luxury is becoming a touch more relaxed,” he said. “Part of that is about Mandarin becoming more relaxed, to chill a little bit, which I think is important with the way hospitality is moving.” Whereas corporates were historically, the foundation of luxury, it’s a declining sector as more companies scrutinise value and costs. “Luxury hotels built 20 to 30 years ago had 400 or 500 rooms, now you’re looking


at 150 to 200,” added Riley. “The key is to identify the markets that have the depth of business to sustain luxury. There is a lot of product out there which describes itself as luxury but it’s not – you have to provide a level of uniqueness. Our Dubai resort, on the beach and close to Downtown, is quite a rare combination and it will appeal to business and leisure travellers.” Such is the growth of the luxury travel market that according to Allied Market Research, it is projected to reach US$1,154 billion globally by 2022 and grow at a CAGR of 6.4 percent In the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt is the largest market by luxury volume while Dubai and UAE markets account for a combined 61 percent of the region’s current five-star pipeline. But with the growth of the digital market and companies such as Airbnb, consumers are now being provided with a much broader range of choice in terms of where they are going to stay and what they are going to do. Yet, Riley believes this increased competition can help the luxury market. He said: “That’s been a real positive for hospitality, because it’s bringing more people into the industry. But it does mean you need to recognise the range of competitors is broadening. It means you have to work out your point of difference, how you’re going to compete, rather than just feeling there is a market.” Currently, China and India are spearheading luxury growth, with China globally recognised as the largest market for luxury hotels. Demand is also increasing and in 2017 its luxury revenue grew by 7.9 percent. Riley concurs that the “big growth” is coming from outbound

Asian travel, with more people prepared to spend on experiences rather than goods. In terms of the millennials and luxury travel, he said a certain number are willing to spend but they’re a small part of the overall market. Explaining: “In essence, what one’s trying to do is to create something that appeals to millennials but actually is used by those of a greater age group.” Luxury travellers now have the opportunity to experience a hybrid experience that combines the convenience of the internet with the ‘hyper-personalised’ experience of liaising with travel experts to curate bespoke itineraries. One of the key growth areas is destination weddings, where a third party is more likely to be involved in order to design the ‘perfect day’.


James Riley

This is in line with WTM’s findings in its Trends in Luxury Travel report which highlighted that personal and exclusive experience that ‘let the client be in control’ are becoming increasingly popular. Hotels like Barriere Le Fouquet’s in Paris allow their guests to choose details such as pillow type, the music they want played when they walk in, and even the type of flowers they want in the room. This is especially helpful for hotels as it allows guests to feel that their stay is unique and especially tailored for them, and more importantly, different from all the other guests staying in the same hotel. Increasingly, travellers are happy to tailor their preferences before they travel and are prepared to pay a little extra in order to give their travel experience an element of exclusivity.

Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

The lobby at the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

Look out for The Evolution of Bespoke Luxury Travel seminar (April 30, 1.45pm-2.45pm), where brand leaders and travel operators will discuss how established brands can adapt their products and attract customers who are seeking something far more than a generic hotel or resort experience.








Uncovering some of the Middle East’s best-kept travel secrets


ne of the biggest travel trends for 2019 is that tourists are increasingly seeking off the beaten path destinations where they can indulge in a sense of adventure or witness nature at its finest. And despite the Middle East being known for its record-breaking attractions and futuristic cities, the region is also home to some little-known gems that are just waiting to be discovered.


Believed to be more than two million years old, Siwa, located on the farwestern side of Egypt is known as the ‘forgotten oasis.’ But once you find it, you’ll remember it forever. Boasting an expanse of lakes, natural springs, hills and palm trees, the breathtaking views have to be seen to be believed. There is something for


everyone here. For those looking for relaxation, Siwa provides the ultimate serenity, with rows of palm trees leading to natural springs that are just perfect for taking a cooling dip. Those seeking a little more adventure can drive out to the Great Sand Sea and race up and down the endless dunes, while nature lovers will appreciate the simply stunning sunsets that close each day. History lovers, meanwhile, will be spoilt for choice. Visitors can explore the 13th century, mud brick Fortress of Shali, where the people of Siwa once lived, and walk the labyrinth of ruins that lead to a mosque that is still operating today. The Mountain of the Dead holds tombs dating back to the 26th Dynasty during the Ptolemaic period, while the Temple of the Oracle, also known as Aghurmi or Amun Ra Temple is where Alexander the Great headed when he visited Egypt. And while there may not be any luxury hotels in Siwa, visitors will still be able to experience star treatment as they camp underneath the night sky.




The oracle of Ammon in the Siwa Oasis

Hatta Dam


Al-Ahsa was recently named Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, having also been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status last year. Categorised as one of the oldest human settlements in the Arabian Peninsula, it’s home to the largest oasis in Saudi Arabia, boasting more than three million palm trees and lots of hot and cold springs, all amid an expanse of sand. Here, visitors will find a huge lake, historical buildings and ancient archaeological sites where history buffs can trace details back to the Neolithic period, more than 10,000 years ago.



Al-Ahsa is also home to Qaisariya Souk, one of the oldest traditional markets in the Eastern Province. It is here visitors will discover a myraid of stalls selling everything from traditional clothing, perfumes and oils to spices, hand-woven carpets and antiquities. For those wishing to learn more about the history of the area, the ancient Ibrahim Palace is also a must visit. Built during the Ottoman rule, within the grounds there is an old steam room, a guards’ dormitory and an old stable. The famous Al-Qara Mountains are also located just a 25-minute drive away and are a must for those visiting the region. Al Ahsa


Hatta has long been a preferred staycation destination for many a Dubai dweller looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, with its cooler climes and peaceful, natural setting providing the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern-day living. But now, thanks to a series of eco-tourism development projects currently underway as part of a 10year development plan, Hatta is proving an attractive proposition for globetrotters around the world. Offering kayaking, axe throwing, freefall jumping, zip-lining, adventure trails, a water jump park, guided walks and some of the best terrain for mountain bike enthusiasts to enjoy, Hatta has action well and truly packed on the agenda. Of course, those that just want to relax and enjoy the untamed natural surroundings and rugged horizons are also well catered for. A range of glamping options is already available for visitors, such as the region’s first ‘trailer hotel,’ Sedr Trailers Resort. Offering more lavish facilities than one would find on a standard camping trip, trailers have


Fatnas Island, Siwa

been set up along the banks of Hatta Dam, enabling people to enjoy sleeping underneath the stars in five-star luxury. With construction work for a boutique hotel, majlis, retail outlets and specialised zorbing centre ongoing, Hatta will soon have even more to offer its visitors.


Those wanting to truly enjoy the Dead Sea need to get off the tourist trail and head to Wadi Mujib. Known as the Black Gorge, it’s the lowest nature reserve in the world and the number one spot for fun in the water: think hiking, canyoning, sliding and swimming. Sections of Wadi Mujib also cover the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, which is home to more than 300 species of plants and numerous rare mountain animals. Located in the mountainous landscape to the east of the Dead Sea and stretching 70 kilometres, this spectacular chasm has been given the nickname, the ‘Grand Canyon of Jordan’. Known in biblical times as Arnon Valley, the canyon also has a hiking trail that leads all the way to the fascinating city of Petra. The ideal destination for adventure seekers, visitors to Wadi Mujib can abseil down sheer cliffs, swim in clear waters and hike through the rugged terrain.


Hatta Wadi Mujib

Shali Fortress, Siwa






Director General, Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD)

Director Dominican Republic Tourism Board Office for Central Asia, Turkey and Middle East

COO, Emaar Hospitality Group

“ATDD promotes tourism in the emirate at the local, regional and international level, and we plan to showcase the many offerings for visitors and the investment opportunities in the emirate’s flourishing tourism sector at ATM. Ajman is attracting growing numbers of tourists and investors; in 2018, there was a remarkable year-on-year increase of 16 percent in the number of guests at Ajman’s hotels and resorts. In line with the strategic objectives of Ajman Vision 2021, our goal is to welcome 800,000 visitors per year by 2021.”

“ATM is undoubtedly the main platform for GCC companies and organisations in the tourism sector. With all the countries in the region present, exhibitors can build contacts with key players from the Middle East in one place. This year, we plan to showcase the variety of options for leisure and travel in the Dominican Republic. It is a diverse multifaceted destination where everyone can find things to do and places to go, for every budget and preferences. Those who believe it is just a romantic beach escape, will find much more to discover.”

“ATM is a key platform for Emaar Hospitality Group to showcase our diverse portfolio of hotel projects. The event provides the strongest exposure for brands to experts and decisionmakers and is a must-attend for all industry stakeholders. We will put the spotlight on our ongoing and underdevelopment projects at ATM and also have exciting news for the industry. Through our participation, we aim to further underline our credentials as the UAE’s homegrown hospitality business that is going global.”

Visit stand: ME3540

DAVID GARNER, Vice President Sales & Marketing Minor Hotels

“As the hospitality market in the GCC region becomes more competitive each year, it’s important for Minor Hotels to have a strong presence at ATM, both showcasing our brands and highlighting our properties on destination stands. At ATM we plan to showcase our brands and properties, and grow our brand awareness and market share within the region. We will also be launching new hotels opening in 2019, this includes our second Avani in the UAE, Anantara and Avani properties in Tunisia, Anantara in Mauritius and Oaks in Lebanon.” Visit stand: HC0565

Visit stand: HC0220



Corporate Vice President – Sales Rotana

Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority

“At Rotana we look forward to participating in ATM 2019 to reinforce our position as one of the leading hotel management companies in the region and highlight our impressive portfolio of branded accommodation, including new properties set to open this year. As we continue to push ahead with our long-term growth strategy by expanding our regional and global presence, we are optimistic that this mega-event will provide us an excellent opportunity to connect with our partners and strengthen our business relationships.”

“ATM is considered one of the most important international gatherings in the field of tourism, which SCTDA seeks to capitalise on as we work toward Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, which aims to attract 10 million tourists by the year 2021. Our goal for ATM 2019 is to promote Sharjah as the perfect family friendly destination in addition to the emirate’s diverse landscape and outdoor tourism attractions. We also hope to adopt more innovative technology to enhance delivery of our tourism packages.”

Visit stand: HC0720

Visit stand: ME4210




Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India

Director of Sales, The St Regis Abu Dhabi

CEO, TIME Hotels

“ATM brings the travel industry together and provides excellent opportunities to meet new customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones. As Abu Dhabi grows its reputation as a unique leisure and culture destination, we hope that this event will help us in further establishing The St. Regis Abu Dhabi as Abu Dhabi’s finest urban resort. We also aim at finding new partnerships with luxury operators, not only in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, but also in emerging source markets for the UAE.”

“ATM provides us with an excellent opportunity to network with our trade partners, our peers, the local, regional and international press and of course our valued stakeholders. This year we are highlighting our pipeline of property launches, with new openings planned across the UAE, as well as other properties throughout the wider MENA region – taking our total portfolio to 20 properties by the end of 2020. We will also highlight our growing roster of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.”

“With an outstanding portfolio of globally-recognised brands, at SwissBelhotel International we have an aggressive expansion strategy that is aimed at diversifying our offering in the region. Our development pipeline in the MEA region includes stunning new hotels, featuring more than 3,000 rooms in 12 cities. Being a leading travel and tourism exhibition, ATM is a fantastic platform to share the news of our upcoming projects, as well as explore and unlock new opportunities.” Visit stand: HC0825


Visit stand: AM1755


Visit stand: HC0260

Visit stand: HC1255

Ciwidey Tea Plantation, West Java • Indonesia

Come to the place where the magic stays Come and visit Indonesia Pavilion at Arabian Travel Market - Dubai on April 28 - May 1, 2019 Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

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ATM Preview 2019  

ATM Preview 2019