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14 JULY 2012

ISSUE 140

Shurooq Unveils Splash Park Sharjah Investment and Development Authority has opened the highly anticipated Splash Park within Al Majaz Waterfront.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company has signed a contract for the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

04 Cosmopolitan Hotel Debuts in Dubai Cosmopolitan Hotel has opened its doors, marking the launch of Nael & Bin Harmal Group’s first boutique property in Dubai.

06 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE

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WEEKLY NEWS

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ACCOMMODATION

06

AIR NEWS

08

WHO’S MOVED

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TRAVEL TALK

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AGENT’S CORNER

13

TRAVEL CHANNELS

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RENDEZVOUS

15

NEWS & EVENTS

16

ADAC Signs Deal for New Terminal

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel

Pegasus Capital Acquires Six Senses Resorts & Spas Pegasus Capital Advisors, through one or more of its affiliates, has completed the acquisition of the Bangkok-based resort and spa management business of Six Senses Resorts & Spas for an undisclosed financial sum.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING

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Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Katerina Dalal DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel

nder the terms of the agreement, the US-based private equity fund manager company now holds all of the resort and spa management contracts and related intellectual property rights of the Six Senses- and Evasonbranded properties. The company strongly believes that the brands are well-positioned to grow and continue evolving on its heritage as an internationally recognised brand built on unparalleled guest service and experiences, while being a

leader in sustainable hospitality with a strong sense of environmental responsibility, stressed Craig Cogut, founder, Pegasus Capital Advisors. “Six Senses is now a debt-free company, with committed capital to pursue opportunities in new and existing international markets. We are confident that our president Bernhard Bohnenberger and our management team will continue the Six Senses legacy,” he further expressed. The Soneva brand and resorts, as well as the company’s real estate assets and holdings, were not included in the transaction.

EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

04/07/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.05

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

64.08

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.60

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.77

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,275.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.55

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

79.20

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.26

Air Malta: State Aid Gets Green Light The European Commission has approved a EUR130 million (USD162.3 million) state aid for the restructuring of Air Malta. Following an in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the plan adequately addresses the financial problems of the state-owned airline and the government’s financial intervention is in line with EU state aid rules. Overall, it is based on realistic assumptions and Air Malta should enable Air Malta to become viable within a reasonable timescale, according to the Commission. Furthermore, the Commission indicated that the restructuring measures foreseen, including a significant capacity reduction and the sale of assets, should ensure the carrier’s long-term viability without continued state support, whilst avoiding undue distortions of competition. The five-year plan began in November 2010 with a loan facility of EUR52 million (USD65.5 million) as a rescue aid authorised by the Commission for Air Malta, which, in May 2011, requested this sum to be increased by EUR130 million (USD163.8 million) to help restructure the company, which has been facing difficulties for several years. The restructuring project is set to be completed in 2015.

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WEEKLY NEWS Emirates Air Line Launched Emirates Air Line, the UK’s first urban cable car, has been unveiled, bringing a new and innovative way to cross London’s River Thames. Passengers, including wheelchair users, can now take a ‘flight’ up to 90m above the river, onboard one of the 34 cabins from two new terminals; Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks, each with 1.1km journeys taking up to 10 minutes. According to Tim Clark, president, Emirates, Emirates Air Line reflects the company’s philosophy of connecting people through innovative and shared experiences, and will provide all passengers with a unique perspective of the capital city. Along similar lines, Boris Johnson, mayor, London, indicated that this new addition supports his ambitious plans to revive the neighbouring areas, creating jobs for Londoners and stimulating growth.

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Alshamel International Becomes Alshamel Travel Alshamel International and Alshamel Travel & Tourism have adopted a brand new identity, namely Alshamel Travel, at all the fully-owned offices located in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE. “This is not just a logo change; we believe that the new Alshamel Travel brand will not only demonstrate where we stand today, but also where we are heading,” highlighted Khaled Al-Ghanim, CEO, Alshamel Travel. “Our new branding will tell our existing customers, and future customers, that we offer the region's best-in-class travel management services that are backed by a professional committed team and ground-breaking technologies.”


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WEEKLY NEWS MARVEL Adventure to Open in Dubai MARVEL Entertainment, the creator of a number of popular comic book heroes, and Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group (IMG Group) have signed a licensed agreement to build and operate a new indoor family entertainment centre in Dubai. Scheduled to welcome its first visitors by the end of 2013, MARVEL Adventure will be housed within a large, fully-enclosed, family-entertainment destination, covering some 11ha overall; said to be the region’s largest temperature-controlled indoor themed venue and designed to attract over 10,000 visitors per day. Situated along Emirates Road, Dubai, the centre, which itself measures approximately 3.3ha, will include retail outlets and dining facilities along with a range of interactive entertainment experiences featuring popular MARVEL characters. The facility of this magnitude is also expected to generate a significant demand for hotels and hotel apartments along with other retail and leisure components in the vicinity.

Shurooq Unveils Splash Park Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has opened the highly anticipated Splash Park within Al Majaz Waterfront; a fully automated, zero-depth aquatic play area suitable for the entire family, from toddlers to adults, as well as for children with special needs. “Splash Park is a unique concept; a safe and refreshing entertaining water play system for children up to 12 years,” said Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, chief operation officer, Shurooq. State-of-the-art technology reducing water consumption through sequenced activation and lowflow hypodermic technology has been implemented, in a bid to minimise danger and facilitate access for disabled people. “What makes this system different is that there is no standing water, so there are fewer safety risks involved. This also makes it possible for children with special needs to make use of the facility with their wheelchairs and enjoy playing with others,” explained Al Qaseer.

DTCM Organises Ramadan Forum The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is to hold a Ramadan Forum between July 24 and August 4. Organised under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, the 12-day event will take place at a special marquee in Al Twar 3 area under the theme ‘Breezes of Mercy’ and will include new events, lectures from prominent religious scholars, as well as Arab and non-Arab preachers from various parts of the region.

Seawings Adds New Packages Seawings Tours has launched new aerial sightseeing experiences in Abu Dhabi, offering passengers a whole new perspective of the capital city. The Abu Dhabi-based seaplane tour operator recently commenced the Abu Dhabi Scenic, Yas Classique, and Dubai Classique, providing spectacular views of the capital from a Cessna 208 amphibious aircraft. Following an exhilarating takeoff, passengers get to enjoy panoramic scenes of Ferrari World, the Formula One Grand Prix Circuit, Emirates Palace, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, as well as the Grand Mosque.

Seawings

UAE Attracts Saudi Spenders Saudi Arabia has proven to be the fastest-growing GCC country of the UAE, based on Visa account holders spend. According to the latest research from Visa, the Kingdom’s spending shot up 73.8 percent, with a total of 1.1 million transactions made on Visa debit and credit cards in the UAE during 2011, which resulted in a total spend of USD326.3 million, making travellers from the Kingdom the fourth biggest spenders in the UAE behind the UK, Russia, and the US.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Cosmopolitan Hotel Debuts in Dubai Cosmopolitan Hotel has opened its doors, marking the launch of Nael & Bin Harmal Group’s first boutique property in Dubai. Built at a cost exceeding AED100 million (USD27.2 million), the seven-floor hotel is envisaged to become one of the finest fourstar properties in Dubai’s Al Barsha area. Besides 114 rooms and suites, it comprises three food and beverage venues, and a fitness centre among other facilities, offering holidaymakers as well as busy executives an ideal base.

Accommodation

Elaf Group: Four New Hotels in Saudi Arabia Elaf Group of Companies has commenced the construction of four new properties located across Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina, and valued at a total construction cost of SAR400 million (USD106.7 million). Slated for completion between this year and 2014, the projects include Elaf Bakkah, Elaf Al Kawthat, Mecca, Elaf Galleria, Jeddah, and another hotel in Medina, revealed Ziyad bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group of Companies. The company closed the first quarter with a revenue increase of 30 percent, and is determined to bring its portfolio of guest rooms to 5,000 before the end of the year.

Super 8 Comes to Saudi Arabia Wyndham Hotel Group and Saudi Automotive Services Company (SASCO) have signed a master franchise agreement for 20 Super 8-branded hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next five years. With its contemporary design in highway locations, the Super 8 concept is said to be a unique concept in the market, and is set to meet the needs of the growing domestic segment. Special features developed particularly for guests in the Middle East and Africa will include larger family rooms with adjacent living space.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Emirates to Increase Services for Ramadan Emirates is planning to launch a total of 73 extra flights to and from Saudi Arabia during Ramadan; 59 more services to Jeddah and another 14 to Medina. Both cities will greatly benefit from the increased flights, scheduled to be in operation as of July 20 until September 1, catering to the expected influx of visitors to the Kingdom during the Holy Month, as Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran, Emirates, explained, “We expect travel to the Kingdom to increase significantly during the holy month of Ramadan in line with the annual movement of pilgrims. To effectively cater to this increased demand, we have added extra services giving our passengers more flight options and easing the flow of traffic.”

flydubai Expands on Iraqi Route flydubai is to add another Iraqi destination to its network, with four weekly flights to Basra scheduled to begin on August 8. Commenting on the rising prospects between the UAE and Iraq, which saw trade exchange between the two nations account for more than USD4.5 billion in 2011, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, said, “We identified Iraq as one of our principal markets in 2010 with the launch of services to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah. This is in line with our commitment to continually identify emerging and underserved destinations. We hope that our expanding network will further promote travel between the UAE and Iraq, not only for the business community but also for the thousands of Iraqi expatriates residing in the UAE.”

flydubai

Qatar Airways Partners with GOL Linhas Aèreas Inteligentes GOL Linhas Aèreas Inteligentes, the largest low-cost airline in Latin America, and Qatar Airways have announced the beginning of a frequent flyer agreement. This new deal is designed to enable participants of GOL SMILES and Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club loyalty programmes to accumulate miles on all flights operated by the two airlines. Passengers will also be able to redeem tickets in due course. “We are very pleased to expand our partnership with Qatar Airways, one of the most renowned international airlines. In addition to augmenting movement through our system, the agreement will allow us to offer our SMILES clients direct access to the Middle East and Asia, extending the reach of the programme, which already has partners in North America and Europe, even further,” commented Constantino de Oliveira Junior, CEO, GOL Linhas Aèreas Inteligentes. Qatar Airways

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Emirates A380 to Gatwick Airport On July 6, Emirates touched down at Gatwick Airport with the first Airbus A380 to serve London's second largest airport. The aircraft now operates one of the airline’s three daily flights to the city, enabling passengers to experience the globally renowned amenities onboard. These include the world’s first onboard shower spas in first class, and an onboard lounge for first and business class passengers. “Emirates has changed the face of UK air travel since we took off from Gatwick 25 years ago. Since that time, millions of travellers have flown with us from our six UK departure points to Dubai and beyond,” said Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates. Spread over two levels, the whole of the A380’s upper deck is dedicated to premium passengers. First class passengers can relax in one of 14 flatbed, massage-equipped private suites, while business class passengers can enjoy a new generation of intelligent seating designed to ensure all seats have aisle access.

Gulf Air Improves SkyHub Gulf Air has announced the introduction of nine new international television channels on ‘SkyHub’; the world’s first in-flight entertainment suite. Beginning July 1, a variety of channels now provide passengers with 220 hours of continuous viewing, bringing Gulf Air to become the first ever airline to offer programme selection through channels rather than genre.

Ryanair Cancels Morocco Services Ryanair has announced the cancellation of 34 weekly flights to and from Morocco due to the Office National Des Aèroports (ONDA) reneging on its agreement with the airline by imposing a new monopoly handling company on Ryanair which would have resulted in a massive increase in charges for the carrier. ONDA has refused to guarantee Ryanair the continuation of the cost levels of its original agreement. Consequently, according to Michael Cawley, deputy CEO, Ryanair, the airline has no alternative but to announce substantial cut to its flight programme to Moroccan airports which will include reductions of eight weekly frequencies at Nador, six at Fez, eight at Marrakech, four at Tangier, and the complete closure of its operation at Oujda Airport.

IndiGo Launches Arabic Website IndiGo, India’s fastest growing airline, has enhanced its customer experience by introducing its new Arabic website for the Dubai market specifically designed for both business and leisure travellers based in the Middle Eastern region. Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo, commented, “The launch of this new Arabic website in Dubai is to bring the local feel alive for the people of UAE. With an introduction of this customer friendly initiative, IndiGo is the only Indian carrier operating out of UAE to have launched this Arabic website. The timing of the launch of the Arabic website coincides well with the launch of an additional four new flights between Dubai and India.” Furthermore, the low-cost carrier recently announced the expansion of its international operations with an introduction of new flights connecting Dubai with various southern destinations in India.

Gulf Air

Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, commented, “In the past 10 years, in-flight entertainment has dramatically improved and is now a decisive factor for choosing an airline; borne out by 20 percent of passengers in a recent Gulf Air survey. “In today’s competitive environment, staying ahead of the technology curve is crucial. Last year we launched SkyHub, which is an entertainment suite offering passengers, for the first time in the world, full broadband connectivity to access the Internet, mobile phone services, and a global, live television service.”

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WHO'S MOVED

Wassim Tarabay Wassim Tarabay recently joined the executive team of Hotel Missoni Kuwait as director of sales and marketing. In his capacity, he will be responsible for the entire department including public relations activities at the hotel. Tarabay brings more than 20 years of industry experience to the role, having started

his career at Le Méridien Abu Dhabi. He later moved to Hyatt Regency Riyadh before joining the regional team of Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts as director of sales. He later held positions at Radisson Blu Hotel in Dubai Media City, and Hyatt Regency Dubai, as well as Park Inn by Radisson Al Khobar.

Pieter Idenburg Pieter Idenburg has been named group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC). Idenburg, who will commence his new position on August 1, brings more than 25 years of customer service experience and business acumen to ADNEC, having previously held senior management positions with various international organisations including American Airlines, The Walt Disney Company, and British Airways.

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He moves to Abu Dhabi after serving as CEO of Suntec Singapore Exhibition & Convention Centre, where, since 2005, he helmed a number of prestigious international events such as The International Monetary Fund / Worldbank Conference, and the first ever Youth Olympic Games. In addition, Idenburg also served as CEO of Suntec International. Idenburg’s appointment completes the restructure of ADNEC’s senior leadership team.

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Valeria Mertsalova Valeria Mertsalova has taken on the position of public relations manager of The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. She started her career in the hospitality industry as food and beverage administrative assistant at Sheraton Palace Hotel in Moscow, before moving into new roles. Mertsalova, who holds a mas-

ter’s degree in public relations from Moscow State Linguistic University, gained valuable experience as part of the opening teams of The Ritz-Carlton Moscow and The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Finance Centre, the company’s second property in Dubai, where she served as public relations coordinator.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Alex de Vos

Thierry Bertin

CEO, Eastern Express.

Vice president, worldwide sales, South West Asia, Hyatt International.

“After careful evaluation of the available software technology on the market, Eastern Express has come to the conclusion that [the airline reservation system provider] Videcom not only provides a superior product, but also focuses on customer ease and connectivity into existing global distribution systems; all very vital aspects for the enhanced quality of our offered products.”

“Travellers from the Middle East tend to want to stay close to home when holidaying, especially for short breaks. With the upcoming Eid-al-Fitr holiday next month, we foresee a large number of travellers looking for a holiday experience which provides luxury and style, but within a short distance from home to maximise their time away.”

Wayne Pearce CEO, Oman Air.

“We are delighted to be playing a leading role in supporting the Salalah Tourism Festival [as the official carrier and main sponsor of the event running between June 21 and July 18] which draws people from all over the world to join in celebrating the rich history, culture, and traditions of this beautiful area of Oman.”

TRAVEL TALK is your space – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Nader Durak POSITION: Director of business development COMPANY: Travel One LOCATION: Jordan WEB: www.travel1.com.jo Who are you? I have been with Travel One for the past 10 years, with over 15 years of experience in all major aspects of travel and tourism. Having started in 1998, Travel One operates in more than one department, primarily focusing on commitment, credibility, long-term vision, quality, attention to detail, and staff dedication, to provide the ultimate standard of service in an effort to fulfill our valuable clients’ needs and to maintain a good relationship with its associates and international partners. The company’s continuous success during the last few years, which did not succumb to the instability in the area, led to thoughts about regional expansion to reach a bigger clientele with unique and unsurpassed services. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The diversity of choices that enable us to fulfill the needs and requirements of our clients when realising the effect of our services on them. When is the best time to visit Jordan? All year round. Whenever you plan to visit Jordan, it will be the best time. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? South Africa and Mauritius. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are a comprehensive, multi-lingual team of highly educated and well-experienced travel experts dedicated to customer service and hard work. We have high skills and clear communication ability with clients, offering personalised services catering to the exact needs and requirements of the client and beyond. In addition, we boast expert guidance, vast knowledge, awareness of travel services, and creativity and ideas in providing a variety of options, as well as the ability to provide the best deals and prices related to quality and efficiency.

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Travelport Works Closely with China Travel Specialists in the UAE Travelport recently hosted a dedicated product forum in Dubai to share best travel technology practices with agents specialising in travel to China and East Asia. The event offered the global distribution systems (GDS) provider a platform to reach out to a growing customer segment, as travel between the UAE and China rises rapidly amongst increasing business, trade, and cultural links. Both China and UAE-based carriers continue to expand their route capacity to accommodate growing demand from travellers in the UAE. “As a GDS partner of the local travel trade, we see a lot of growth potential in travel bookings to China and are keen to support these travel

specialists with tools that can help them keep up with increasing volumes and deliver fast and efficient customer service. As such, we are committed to working closely together and equipping them with the technology they require to succeed,” commented Ghulam Al Balooshi, country director, lower GCC, Travelport. Showcasing a portfolio of solutions for Galileo- and Worldspanconnected agents, Travelport highlighted desktop applications such as Smartpoint App that improve productivity and significantly enhance the overall selling experience. Tools such as Travelport’s eLearning portal were also emphasised as an important resource.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

The Flightpath to a Sustainable Future The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with support from the Air Transport Group (ATAG), have launched ‘Flightpath to a Sustainable Future’.

T

his initiative, unveiled at Rio+20, is the first ever series of connecting flights powered by sustainable alternative fuels, one of which Raymond Benjamin, secretary general, ICAO, used to travel from Montreal to Toronto, Mexico City, and São Paulo, for the event. Airline partners include Porter Airlines, Air Canada, Aeroméxico, and GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, while aircraft associates include Bombardier, Airbus, and Boeing. Having received approval for aircrafts to fly on biofuels in 2011, the civil aviation industry remains optimistic regarding the future of such initiatives alongside correct government assistance.

Sharjah: 18 More Tourist Guides The Sharjah Tourist Guides Programme 2012, a joint initiative of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) and University of Sharjah, concluded with 18 tourism professionals joining the emirate’s fast developing industry. The course, which will continue with two more sessions in September and October, was created to meet the growing demand for professional and certified tourist guides, explained Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, SCTDA, “This is a reflection of the spectacular growth of the tourism sector in Sharjah and the UAE,” he said, emphasising that tourist guides play a crucial role in promoting tourism, which in turn, drives the destinations economic development. “Sharjah’s tourism sector has not just established itself on the world tourism map; it has emerged as a major contributor to the national economy and growth of the country.”

Shurooq: Promotion in Beijing and Hong Kong In line with its strategy to promote the emirate and highlight its tourist attractions and business potential, a delegation of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) recently held a series of meetings with officials from economic and commercial sectors, as well as with representatives from tourism, business, and investment sectors, and government authorities in Hong Kong, following a successful participation in the Beijing International Tourism Expo. During its three-day visit, the delegation discussed ways of cooperation with the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and also met the Indian Chamber of Commerce, which expressed great interest in further strengthening ties between the parties and Indian companies headquartered in Hong Kong. Drawing conclusions from the meetings, Elie Armaly, director, business development, Shurooq, said, “We highlighted economic growth witnessed in the emirate, focusing on the retail, renewable energy, tourism, healthcare, and logistics sectors and the promising future and great potential for these sectors in light of the rapid growth in the region, in general, and Sharjah, in particular, as well as the emirate’s solid infrastructure and strategic location.”

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Munaf Ali With an estimated value of USD18 billion and over 300 million travellers annually, religious tourism is considered one the industry’s most fertile sectors, and here, Munaf Ali, CEO, Range Hospitality, part of the Range Holdings Group, shares his perspective on the flourishing segment while unveiling the company’s future plans.

Travel Trade Weekly: Range Hospitality focuses on developing hospitality complexes in countries which benefit from religious tourism. What factors make this sector a solid and healthy ground for investment? Munaf Ali: Religious tourism is a growing industry. Currently it is estimated to be worth over USD18 billion a year, with Saudi Arabia accounting for almost 40 percent of this market share. According to the World Travel Market, religious tourism is the fastest growing sector within the travel and tourism industry. Range Hospitality is always on the look out for potential markets and Iraq offers a very favourable foreign investment environment making it a lucrative market for investment. The holy city of Karbala in Iraq, which is home to two of Islam’s holy shrines, is an emerging centre of religious tourism. It attracts up to 18 million pilgrims every year yet accommodation standards remain very primitive which make it a huge market, so we proceeded with a large development. The economic and political environment of Iraq has been improving on a daily basis attracting more and more visitors, both pilgrims and business travellers. Over the last two and a half years, we have seen the country open up to the outside world and now airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai, and Air Arabia, all having daily routes to various destinations in Iraq. Travel Trade Weekly: The company is currently developing a new property in Karbala, hailed as the largest hotel in Iraq. Could you tell us about this development?

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Munaf Ali CEO, Range Hospitality

Munaf Ali: Range Hospitality’s USD175 million Al Rawdatain Residences is the first fivestar hotel and residences in Karbala. Designed by Dewan Architects and Engineers, the UAE-based firm behind projects such as Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi and the Baghdad Rotana Hotel, the new hotel with 624 fully furnished and serviced apartments, will be managed by the five-star hotel operator, Shaza Hotels, and is a 65,000m2, G+12 hospitality development located just 1km from the holy shrines. The construction of Al Rawdatain Residences is in full swing and capping out of the buildings structure is expected to happen during the third quarter of this year. Range Hospitality has already sold a substantial part of the Al-Rawdatain Residences. This property offers Mulkiya Intifa’a, a Shariah compliant fractional ownership and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Travel Trade Weekly: Range Hospitality has also outlined plans to add a mixed-use development in Najaf to its portfolio. What kind of facilities will this project offer? Munaf Ali: Range Hospitality’s current development is in Karbala, however pilgrims during their visit to Iraq also visit the holy city of Najaf. The success of any real estate development starts from the location. We have identified a number of locations in Najaf and we hope to be able to secure the site and make an announcement during the course of the year. The development will be a four- or five-star hotel in close proximity to the holy shrines with the possibility of a small mall. The hotel, like our project in Karbala, will be fully equipped to offer all guests a comfortable stay during their visit to the city. A variety of restaurants, crèche services, and a business centre will be just a few of the services offered. Range Hospitality has also a firm plan to enter Saudi Arabia and will unveil its development strategy in the near future. Travel Trade Weekly: Over the past few years, religious tourism has shown great resilience against the regional and global challenges. How do you think this sector will continue to develop over the next few years? Munaf Ali: Despite the global and regional challenges, the growth rate of the religious tourism industry has been consistent, and we continue to expect to see solid growth numbers each year. With the country’s security and infrastructure improving on a daily basis, passenger traffic numbers are likely to continue to increase.


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NEWS & EVENTS

ADAC Signs Deal for the New Terminal Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) and the joint venture of TAV Construction, Consolidated Contractors Company, and Arabtec Construction have signed a AED10.8 billion (USD2.9 billion) contract for the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) at Abu Dhabi International Airport, slated for launch in 2017. Construction of the 700,000m2 terminal building is due to commence in the third quarter of the year, and during the course of five years, the surrounding area will also be developed to ensure the required infrastructure and facilities are available to support the operation of MTB. According to H.E. Ali Majed Al Mansoori, chairman, ADAC, the focus remains on expanding the airport’s infrastructure to support the expected growth over the next five years.

Yas Marina Adopts Turtles

Oman Air Joins Korean Expo

Yas Marina, operated and managed by Camper & Nicholsons Marinas, has become a turtle adoption pack distributor after teaming up with Emirates Wildlife Society in association with World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF). As part of the three-year Marine Turtle Conservation Project which was launched in 2010 by EWS-WWF, Yas Marina will adopt a turtle on behalf of each annual berth holder and 2012 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix berth holder, and will offer adoption packs to anyone keen on supporting the initiative.

Oman Air is showcasing the Sultanate’s culture and investment opportunities at the three-month long Expo 2012 Yeosu, Korea, set to come to an end on August 12. The world fair, which focuses on bringing attention to the great importance of balancing the preservation of ocean and coastal areas with economic development, saw some 20 Omani students and a number of senior Oman Air representatives welcome guests at the Omani pavilion. “Oman Air’s participation at Expo 2012 Yeosu highlights our commitment to promoting Oman as a wonderful tourist destination at every level,” said Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air. “Its excellent hotels, rich culture, and superb hospitality, coupled with awe-inspiring landscapes, untouched coastline, and year-round sun make it the perfect choice for visitors.”

EVENTS China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) Beijing, China, September 12 – 14, 2012 (www.cibtm.com) A leading meetings, incentives, and business travel show providing the ultimate platform for suppliers to the MICE industry.

The 18th World Route Development Forum Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 29 – October 2, 2012 www.routesonline.com/events The largest global event of its kind, attracting over 2,750 delegates from more than 80 countries, and determining the future of air services.

International French Travel Market (IFTM Top Resa) Paris, France, September 18 – 21, 2012 (www.iftm.fr) An international fair for networking, doing business, innovating, and keeping abreast of market developments, offering a 360° panorama of the travel industry.

ITB ASIA Singapore, October 3 - 5, 2012 (www.itb-asia.com) Where exhibitors across all sectors of the travel-value chain, meet with top international buyers from the MICE, leisure, and corporate travel markets.

Africa Hotel Investment Forum Nairobi, Kenya, September 25 – 26, 2012 (www.africa-conference.com) An event showcasing the potential Kenya and other high-growth destinations across the continent have to offer.

Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference Singapore, October 15 – 17 , 2012 (www.tdiasia.questexevents.net) Consisting of an array of networking opportunities, business meetings, and a conference programme, the event will focus on hotel investments and tourism infrastructure developments.

PATA Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 (www.pata.org/events/pata-travel-mart-2012) Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers.

Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) Moscow, Russia, October 15 – 17, 2012 (www.russia-cisconference.com) Addressing the key opportunities and challenges across the region and offering a platform to exchange ideas with fellow industry experts.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 140