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06 JULY 2013

Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa Officially Inaugurated H.M. King Abdullah II, along with H.R.H. Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, officially opened Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa.


BEST WESTERN Mahboula has opened its doors, marking Best Western International (BWI)’s foray into Kuwait.

07 The Oberoi, Dubai Opens The Oberoi, Dubai has welcomed its first guests, marking The Oberoi Group’s debut in the UAE.


02 03 04 06 09 11 12 13 14 15 16

BWI Debuts in Kuwait




Q & A with Ali Lakhraim Since the company’s establishment, Millennium & Copthorne Middle East and Africa has evolved into one of the region’s fastest growing groups, and as Ali Lakhraim, president, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne, reveals, within a few years, the Middle East is set to become the largest operating region in the company’s portfolio.

Travel Trade Weekly: What aspects make Millennium & Copthorne’s brands the perfect fit for the Middle Eastern market?

Ali Lakhraim President, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne.

Ali Lakhraim: From relatively humble beginnings in 2002, Millennium & Copthorne has evolved to become a major force in the hospitality industry in the Middle East. From a single property in Abu Dhabi, we have expanded into various neighbouring destinations and are now recognised as one of the fastest growing regional hotel management company. Travel Trade Weekly: Millennium & Copthorne Hotels currently owns, asset manages and operates over 120 hotels worldwide. What percentage does the Middle East region represent in the company’s portfolio? Ali Lakhraim: When we compare our growth and geographic distribution, we look at the number of rooms rather the number of hotels. As of today, the Middle East represents above 4,500 branded rooms which are operational and currently managed. This figure would represent around 13 percent of the total room inventory worldwide operating under any Millennium & Copthorne brands. If we add the pipeline, we are looking to double our importance within the company’s portfolio, and by 2015 the Middle East region should represent the largest operating region in both numbers of rooms and hotels with above 25 percent of the company’s inventory to be distributed in the region. Looking at our 2020 target, we believe the region can sustain a larger growth and hopefully reach over 25,000 rooms. That would represent probably by that time over a third of total

existing markets such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha. We have recently opened our first property in Amman, Jordan and also in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. Iraq shows good potential and we have closed already other developments for the coming period. We have other projects in Eastern Europe such as Georgia or even in Africa, with our first hotel in the continent expected in Durban, South Africa. As you can see, we have enlarged our map of operations and expected developments but we keep on looking at other key markets such as Turkey and other promising countries in Africa. Travel Trade Weekly: Which are the next hotels to join the company’s portfolio?

operating rooms to be in the Middle East. Travel Trade Weekly: Which destinations will lead this fast-paced expansion? Ali Lakhraim: The region offers tremendous opportunities and we are looking to further strengthen our presence in key markets. We are looking to become strong players within the UAE and Saudi Arabia as those two markets would take almost 75 percent of our expected operations within the region by 2015. We are growing very fast in Saudi Arabia, with cities such as Medina, Mecca, Riyadh or Jeddah; but we have also seen potential in subcities such as Hail, Jizane, Tabouk, Baha, and Al Khobar. All those cities are expecting to see at least one of our brands. We have other cities within the Kingdom in development and we look to improve our market and fair share in

Ali Lakhraim: The next 12 to 18 months represent a very busy period for the company. We have over 3,000 rooms adding up in our operating portfolio which represents an additional 14 hotels to join the region with market entry in Muscat, Al Ain, Fujairah, Sharjah, Medina and further market growth in Sulaymaniyah, Abu Dhabi and Doha. The first half of the year would see Millennium Executive Apartments Abu Dhabi, two Copthorne properties in Medina, and another Copthorne in Sharjah opening. Down the road, further growth and openings are expected in all key cities in Saudi Arabia such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, and Mecca. We are also complementing our presence in secondary cities within the Kingdom while we maintain our commitment to further gain market share in existing markets in the region such as UAE, Oman, and Qatar. We also have expansion plans for Bahrain, Kuwait, and Turkey and some key African countries.

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WEEKLY NEWS Capital Club Lowers Carbon Footprint for WED On the occasion of World Environment Day (WED) on June 5, Capital Club, one of Dubai’s private business clubs and a member of the Enshaa group of companies, offered its members a week-long minimised carbon footprint lunch menu. Emma Cullen, general manager, Capital Club, noted that the society was very eager to show its support for the vital message of this year’s WED, with plans to continue with the concept of reducing food waste, while extra efforts will be made throughout Ramadan to minimise general wastage, as well as the wastage which, she stated, so often accompanies the daily Iftar buffets.


Hurghada Hosts Tourism Festival Under the auspices of Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority, the International Festival for Tourism and Cultural Exchange was held for the first time in Hurghada, between June 26 and July 1, with many countries asserting their presence at the event, among which were Turkey, China, India, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar. The festival aimed to showcase the country’s tourism product, especially diving tourism, MICE tourism, and e-tourism; to promote the local and international cultural exchange; as well as to position the Red Sea on the world tourism map.

Dubai to Build New Design District H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has announced a new district in Dubai, which is set to enforce the destination’s position as a global centre for fashion, design, and luxury. Adjacent to the Business Bay area, Dubai Design District is expected to become a full service commercial hub for design industry-related organisations, brands, and supporting enterprises within the value chain, which will feature a custom-built creative community with commercial and retail facilities, a waterfront promenade, convention centre, and event venues, just to name a few. TECOM Investments is investing AED4 billion (USD1.09 billion) in the first phase of the district, which is set for completion by January 2015, with construction of 10 buildings already underway. Amina Al Rustamani, group CEO, TECOM Investments, noted, “Extensive market research [...] coupled with our track record in creating, operating and growing successful, industry-focused business parks in Dubai has led us to create this new district.”

Dubai Design District

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DMCA to Cooperate with Singapore Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on maritime cooperation with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). Under the agreement, the two bodies will explore areas of collaboration in planning and regulation of marinas and waterways, promoting maritime environment protection in line with international standards, conducting maritime training and research, and exploring other mutual maritime areas of interest. The MoU was signed during a business trip to Singapore where a delegation from Dubai met with MPA senior executives and DMCA conducted meetings with Singapore Chambers, as well as with Singapore Maritime Foundation, the private sector-led body that represents the maritime industry and works with the Singaporean government to develop the country as an international maritime centre.




Al Bateen Executive Airport: Double-digit Growth in Traffic Al Bateen Executive Airport recorded a 21 percent year-on-year increase in visiting aircraft traffic between January and April, while commercial movements rose three percent during the same period, reaching a total of 3,506.

Stefanie Saghbini SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli


PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian Derek Lainsbury 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

ccording to Yousif Al Hammadi, general manager, Al Bateen Executive Airport, the double-digit growth in business jet movements demonstrates the airport’s continued success in attracting new business, and with new development projects underway, the airport looks to further expand its services and attract more international customers as it maintains its position as a leading business aviation hub in the MENA region. New developments planned include an

airside aircraft parking, additional hangars for aircraft parking and maintenance, a passenger and visitor car park, passenger processing and VIP lounges, and an airport hotel, among others. Additionally, Al Bateen Executive Airport is continuously developing support services for the business aviation industry through partnerships with leading service providers in line with the upsurge in demand, as more aircraft and private jet companies make the air hub their base for operations.



25/06/2013 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar







Egypt (EGP)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



Jazeera Airways Group Secures USD90 million in Aircraft Funding Jazeera Airways Group (JAG), National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), and DVB Bank announced a USD90 million commercial facility for funding JAG’s aircraft purchases through a structured facility led by the two banks. The loan, which has a 12-year term, is employed to fund the purchase of three new Airbus A320 aircraft, one of which has already been delivered in June. “With this deal, we have secured our funding requirements for the coming two years,” said Marwan Boodai, chairman, JAG, adding that NBK and DVB Bank are long-term partners of the airline. Since 2005, the group has taken delivery of 13 Airbus A320s as part of an order for 15 aircraft of the same type. The remaining two aircraft of the order are scheduled to be delivered this October and in May 2014.

Jazeera Airways

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RAK International Airport Targets European Airlines

Andrew Gower

RAK International Airport participated at the eighth edition of Routes Europe in Budapest, Hungary, showcasing Ras Al Khaimah as an attractive winter sun holiday destination to European carriers. The emirate has already been attracting several European and Russian airlines and the airport aims to significantly increase its passenger and airline numbers this year. Andrew Gower, CEO, RAK International Airport, described the event as an ideal platform to talk to airline representatives from around the world who seek new destinations. “RAK has a lot to offer both business and tourists. With 25 percent year-on-year growth for the airport and as the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah finds itself on the map of several airlines around the world, we are gearing ourselves for further growth in coming years,” he added.

DWC Unveils Storage Facility Project

Dubai Hosts 100 German Travel Agents

Dubai World Central (DWC), the world’s first purposebuilt aerotropolis, announced that a new state-of-theart storage facility owned by RSA-TALKE, a joint venture between RSA Logistics, a provider of transport and logistics services headquartered in Dubai, and TALKE, a German chemical logistician, is being constructed in DWC’s logistics district. The new establishment is expected to offer definite logistical advantages to the Gulf region with more than 19,000 pallet spaces. Built to international safety and quality standards and equipped with separate sections for chemical storage, the facility is set to become operational by the first quarter of 2014, with the project reaffirming DWC’s reputation as a lucrative destination for logistics companies looking to establish a strong presence in the UAE and regional markets.

The Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), in cooperation with a number of partners, recently hosted 100 German travel agents during a four-day mega familiarisation (fam) trip. Organised to promote Dubai’s destination credentials to key travel agents and tour operators from one of the emirate’s biggest source markets, the itinerary highlighted Dubai’s new attractions, which make it an ideal destination for a multitude of travellers, including families, thrill-seekers, couples, shopaholics, food lovers, as well as culture enthusiasts. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, director, overseas promotions and inward missions, DTCM, described these fam trips as an effective way of building relationships with key influencers in the industry and increasing their knowledge of and affection for the emirate. In 2012, Dubai welcomed some 315,000 German tourists, which marked a 14 percent increase over 2011 figures.

IATA Urges Cooperation between Airlines and Airports The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a unified agenda between airlines and airports to address their mutual challenges of growth and sustainability. “Airports are airlines’ closest partners. Neither of us could exist without the other,” commented Tony Tyler, director general, IATA. Speaking at the Airports Council International Europe / World Annual Congress and Exhibition in Istanbul, Tyler highlighted that in order to meet the global demand for air connectivity, which is growing at an annual rate of five percent, major

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investments in infrastructure are needed, thus airlines and airports will have to cooperate closely. In addition, Tyler proposed a unified agenda and partnership based on the mutual understanding of long-term sustainability, common challenges, and mutually beneficial efficiencies, further to the importance of removing capacity constraints, enabling process improvement and new valueadded commercial opportunities, and scoping out potential for joint business development.




Warwick Continues Middle East Expansion Warwick International Hotels (WIH) has celebrated the grand opening of Winter Valley Warwick Resort & Spa Dead Sea in Jordan, marking a key stage in the company’s development in the Middle East. WIH currently operates four properties in the region, two in Jordan and two in Lebanon, and before the end of the year, the company is set to add another two hotels to its Middle East portfolio, including Warwick Hotel Dubai and Warwick Stone 55 Beirut. “Warwick International Hotels will continue to expand worldwide and will pay particular attention to the Middle East and North Africa,” declared Richard Chiu, president, WIH, noting that the grand opening of Winter Valley Warwick Resort & Spa Dead Sea marks an important landmark for the group. Winter Valley Warwick

Accor Repositions Pullman Accor plans to overhaul the Pullman brand’s identity and service offer in a bid to better cater to today’s business travellers. Over the past five years, the Pullman network has grown rapidly to 79 properties in 23 countries, and the company aims to operate 150 hotels by 2015-2020 and 500 in the long term. As part of the repositioning, Accor has reinvented the brand’s services and brand identity in line with its ‘Work hard, Play hard’ motto which symbolises the fine line between business and leisure. Style, contemporary art, and design will be at the core of Pullman’s new identity, along with a reinvented food and beverage offer, and easier access to technology, which will all be supported by a dynamic advertising campaign.

Resort & Spa Dead Sea

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Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa Officially Inaugurated H.M. King Abdullah II, along with H.R.H. Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, officially opened Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa. Touring the 420-key property, the King was informed about the work opportunities provided by the JOD100 million (USD141.1 million) investment, which is owned by the Social Security Corporation (SSC). As Henry Azzam, president, SSC Investment Fund, highlighted, the fund’s total investments in the Kingdom’s tourism sector amount to some JOD350 million (USD493.9 million), while 800 workers at these facilities hail from the local community, and the rest from different parts of the Kingdom. Located at the lowest point on Earth, at 408m below sea level, only a half hour away from the capital city of Amman, Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa is the latest addition to InterContinental Hotels Group’s Jordanian portfolio.

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First Adagio Aparthotel to Open This Autumn Accor plans to launch 10 Adagio Aparthotels across the Middle East within the next three years, of which five properties of which will be under construction or fully operational by the end of this year. Due to welcome its first guests in October, the 279room Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan will mark the brand’s debut in the Middle East, which, as Martine BaloukaVallette, CEO, Aparthotels Adagio, explained, presents a prominent strategic region in the brand’s growth. “The Aparthotels Adagio brand is already wellknown among Middle Eastern travellers, particularly from the GCC region, who visit Paris and other cities across Europe. As a European leader in the urban residence market, we are now enthusiastic to expand outside of Europe to the Middle East,” commented BaloukaVallette.





Best Western Debuts in Kuwait BEST WESTERN Mahboula has opened its doors, marking Best Western International (BWI)’s first foray into Kuwait. Located in the Mahboula area of Kuwait City, home to a plethora of corporate and residential complexes, the 18-storey property features 98 units, two dedicated floors of conference and banqueting space, a swimming pool, gym, and broad selection of food and beverage outlets, to name a few. Commenting on the hotel’s launch, Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, highlighted, “[In 2012] we debuted in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Oman, as well as returning to Bahrain. Our launch in Kuwait continues this impressive pattern of growth. We are confident that travellers across the region will welcome our trusted values of comfort, convenience, and excellent service.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa Opens Thai

Thai at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa

The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa has launched Thai, a new sanctuary for mingling and chill-out evenings. Situated opposite the poolside restaurant between the outdoor pool and the beach, Thai offers a plunge pool with sun decks, a large bar, and live DJ entertainment throughout most of the evenings, while gusts can enjoy a wide selection of light snacks, Thai culinary delights and mixed beverages. “We are always looking into creating exceptional guest experiences and bringing something unique to our hotel,” said Mark Neukomm, general manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa. “With the newest edition of our very much anticipated Thai, we not only offer a stylish lounge atmosphere but also a vibrant venue with exotic flairs, creative food and beverage offerings paired with exceptional views across the lagoon, the garden and Manama skyline.”

The Oberoi, Dubai Opens The Oberoi, Dubai has welcomed its first guests, marking The Oberoi Group’s debut in the UAE. Located at The Oberoi Centre, just minutes away from downtown Dubai and The Dubai Mall, each of the hotel’s 252 rooms and suites feature floor to ceiling windows boasting views of the city’s skyline and the iconic Burj Khalifa. “With the opening of The Oberoi, Dubai, we offer discerning business and leisure travellers an oasis of tranquillity with service which is warm, caring, and personalised,” explained Karim Bizid, general manager, The Oberoi, Dubai, noting that the hotel is set to add tangible value to the UAE’s hospitality sector.

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Etihad Airways Connects Abu Dhabi and Belgrade Etihad Airways’ maiden flight to the capital of Serbia landed on schedule at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, which was greeted by Joost den Hartog, vice president, Europe, Etihad Airways, and Violeta Jovanović, chief financial airport, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, with a traditional water cannon salute from the airport’s fire engines. The national airline of the UAE now operates daily services between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade, carrying the JU code of JatAirways, and can fly 106 passengers onboard a two cabin Airbus A319 aircraft, with 16 seats in Pearl Business class, and 90 seats in Coral Economy. Cooperation between Etihad Airways and the Serbian national carrier continues to grow and the two airlines plan to add their code to more than 40 destinations across each other’s network.



Emirates Upgrades Los Angeles Service Starting December 2, Emirates will deploy its flagship A380 on its longest route by distance between Dubai and Los Angeles. Operating daily, the aircraft will offer 489 seats, including private first class suites, flat beds in business class, and spacious seats in economy class, replacing the currently operating Boeing 777-300ER. As Orhan Abbas, senior vice president, commercial, Americas, Emirates, explained, demand for the airline’s onboard service has steadily grown and customers have been requesting the A380 to Los Angeles for some time now. “As Los Angeles is known for its luxury and the Hollywood lifestyle, bringing our A380 into the market was a natural fit as it allow every Emirates passenger the chance to experience the glamorous life at 35,000 feet (10,668m) before they arrive in Los Angeles,” added Abbas.

Qatar Airways: Newest Boeing 787 to Paris Air Show Qatar Airways took part in the 50th International Paris Air Show with its newest Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking centre stage. Organised by the Salon International de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace, the event brought together industry leaders from across the aviation, aerospace, travel, and corporate sectors, while more than 2,000 exhibitors from over 40 countries displayed their products and services. The Doha-based airline took delivery of its sixth Dreamliner on June 16 following its direct flight from Seattle to the show venue, Le Bourget, where it remained on display and offered limited number of tours for select VIPs, industry guests, and the media during trade days. According to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, the 787 has created new benchmarks in comfort and space, with revolutionary seat design as well as key state-of-the-art features.

Qatar Airways' Chalet at Le Bourget

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DIA Prepared for Summer Peak Season With the summer holiday season well underway, passenger traffic at Doha International Airport (DIA) is rapidly increasing. In order to avoid unnecessary delays, airport announcements urge passengers to arrive at the airport at least four hours prior to departure and to use the web check-in facility provided by Qatar Airways and most other airlines. The airport has additional staff in the departures and arrival terminal and has opened more check-in counters to reduce queues and ensure that passengers continue to enjoy a pleasant experience in Doha. In 2012, DIA catered to more than 21 million passengers and this year the figure is forecasted to increase significantly.




Iran Air: Launching New Flights and Self Check-in In a bid to meet the demands of the Iranian residents of Italy, Iran Air restarted its weekly operations between Tehran and Rome on June 5. The flights are being offered from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, while direct services will also be available to Milan, once weekly. In another development, following the successful launch of self-service check-in kiosks at Mehrabad International Airport’s Terminal 2, the Iranian carrier recently put this system into operation at Isfahan International Airport and Ahwaz International Airport as well. Domestic passengers holding e-tickets can get their boarding cards automatically three hours before their flights, or choose their seats using the kiosks.

Air Arabia to Fly to Yerevan Air Arabia is set to commence twice-weekly services to Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, starting August 16. Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, described the airline’s fifth new route this year as a rapidly emerging must-visit destination for tourists seeking great culture and history alongside stunning scenery and outdoor activities. “Yerevan adds further strength to our already comprehensive network of destinations in Eastern Europe, and continues the rapid route expansion we have enjoyed since the beginning of the year,” he added. The Armenian city is Air Arabia’s fifth new route this year and 86th worldwide from the carriers operating hubs in the UAE, Morocco, and Egypt.

Air Arabia

Qatar Airways Suspends Seychelles Flights Qatar Airways will discontinue its scheduled services to and from Seychelles, effective September 1, due to commercial reasons. As Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, explained, the decision to suspend the route, which was launched back in 2004, was taken after careful consideration. “We have built up a strong relationship with our partners over the years and will continue to work with them and the relevant authorities to ensure a smooth discontinuation of the route. At Qatar Airways, we always remain optimistic and look forward to the day when we can resume operations to these idyllic islands,” Al Baker concluded.

Turkish Airlines: Six New Routes

Turkish Airlines

Ranking among the world's major airlines and boasting the fourth largest flight network, operating to 229 destinations in 100 countries, Turkish Airlines continues to grow its global network with the addition of six destinations in one month. With existing services to Paris, Lyon, Nice and Toulouse, and following the launch of the new services to Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia, at the begining of June, the carrier also commenced four weekly operations to Marseille, its fifth destination in France, and Constanta, marking its second route to Romania. The Estonian capital city of Tallinn and Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, are now also part of Turkish Airlines’ network, while Luxembourg has become the carrier’s 234th destination and 103rd country.

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Slim Zaiane Slim Zaiane has been named executive assistant manager at Al Bustan Rotana Dubai. Zaiane, who holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Glion Institute of Higher Education and a master’s degree from Oxford Brookes University, brings over 15 years of experience to the role having previously worked

at a number of prestigious hotels across Europe, including Hilton London Metropole, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel, Sofitel Geneva, and Red Carnations Hotels. In his new role, Zaiane will be in charge of overseeing the hotel’s operations whilst utilising the vast experience he gained throughout his career.

Darren Cavill Darren Cavill has assumed the position of general manager at Wadi Adventure, Al Ain. Cavill boasts over thirty years of experience in the retail, leisure, hospitality, and holiday sectors at all levels, having previously worked with a number of companies in the business. Following two years of running restaurants and pubs, and seven years in retail operations, Cavill took charge of the 12 largest food and

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beverage operations of Haven Holidays before becoming the head of retail support function for all Haven Holidays operations in 2005. By 2010, he was leading a department that had food income in excess of GBP25 million (USD38.9 million) and was also in charge of an entertainment budget in excess of GBP8.5 million (USD13.2 million), which brought in profits of more than GBP30 million (USD47 million).


Daniele Venuti Daniele Venuti has joined Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in Jordan as director of sales and marketing. Venuti brings extensive sales and marketing experience to the role, having worked with leading hotels in Switzerland, France, as well as Mauritius. Prior to moving to Jordan, he served Mövenpick Resort &

Spa Mauritius. In his new role, he will oversee the sales and marketing activities of all five Mövenpick properties in the Kingdom.

Prior to moving to Jordan, Venuti served Mövenpick Resort & Spa Mauritius.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Iftikhar Hamdani

Peter Hoesli

General manager, Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman.

General manager, regional manager, Jordan, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea

“The World Environment Day is an important occasion for us as our organisation is actively involved in various green initiatives. We will continue to carry out simple yet innovative ways to preserve our environment, and impart this message across all levels.”

”Within our company’s commitment to sustainability, it was our utmost pleasure to support, once more, the SOS Children’s Village Association of Jordan during the recent Opera Gala Dinner, combining great opera with fine food and beverages in an unforgettable setting. We look forward to many more such events, which benefit a good cause.”

Michel Lansen

David Ruetz

General manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba.

Head of International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin, Messe Berlin.

“We have achieved remarkable results in our first two years of operation and I am thrilled and proud to collect these honours [including the Best Hotel in Jordan by SADDA marketing and business solutions and Jordan’s Leading Hotel 2013 at the World Travel Awards] on behalf of my hard working staff, for the city of Aqaba, and in support of Jordan’s growing status as a noteworthy destination for both leisure and business travellers.”

“Back in 1966, the founders of ITB Berlin defined their three-pillar strategy with travel-hungry Berliners in mind; knowledge and content; business contacts; and information and inspiration. Our goal now is to preserve that idea wisely and expand on our original concept. Using new technical means like webinars to offer added services ensures we remain a leading expert in the worldwide travel sector all year round.”

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

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AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Wahib Wahba POSITION: President and CEO COMPANY: East West Travel LOCATION: Egypt WEB: Who are you? My name is Wahib Wahba and I am the president and CEO of East West Travel. I started my carrier at a very young age. I joined British Airways when I was 23, as reservation assistant. For eight years, I had very good training and gained knowledge almost in everything related to the airline business; ticketing, reservation, accounting, airport handling, marketing and sales. In June 1982, I started my own private business establishing East West Travel. In less than two years, it became and still is one of the top travel management companies (TMCs) in the Egyptian market, known for its reliability, honesty and height standard of a customer services provided to major multinational and large corporate clients. In 2006, East West Travel became the sole partner of International Travel Partnership, a consortium of a large network representing major TMCs in over 60 countries around the world, while in 2007 East West Event (EWE), a sister company was established due to the extensive demand in the area of MICE. In less than two years, EWE became one of the reliable names in the Egyptian market in this area of business. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Visiting the world. I have seen almost all major tourist cities in the world over the past 30 years. When is the best time to visit Egypt? The best time to visit Egypt is spring time from March to April, and the beginning of winter, from September to October. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would love to go back to Portofino, Italy, and Lugano, Switzerland. Why should people come to you for travel advice? People should come to us because we are honest and professionals.

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Oman Air and Travelport Offer New Booking Functionality Travel agents making bookings for Oman Air via Travelport’s Galileo and Worldspan distribution system will now be able to manage the seat selection process in a live and interactive environment. The Interactive Seat Assignment functionality provides greater ease in booking the airline’s content and help improve customer service by allowing agents to request seat maps and assign, change, or cancel specific seats in a real-time environment, whilst maintaining full control with the ability to accept or decline seat assignments. “Seat maps and advance seat assignments are becoming basic expectations amongst travel agents, providing a high level of service to travellers,” stressed Will Owen Hughes, senior direc-

tor, supplier services, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, who further noted that managing these services can consume valuable airline resources, if they are not automated. “Travelport systems reduce and often eliminate these costs, enabling travel agents to improve their service to their passengers, as well as to the airline,” he added.

Will Owen Hughes

Amadeus Supports EGYPTAIR Gathering Amadeus and EGYPTAIR have further strengthened their existing partnership through Amadeus’ sponsorship of the airline’s partner event. Held in Cairo and Alexandria, the event brought together 150 top Egyptian travel partners to drive adoption of best practice initiatives as a means of strengthening the country’s tourism offering and improving customer experience. “Amadeus is continuously working to set a higher benchmark for the global travel industry by developing innovative systems and solutions that simplify processes, improve internal efficiencies and help travel industry organizations better serve their customers,” stressed Ahmed Youssef, regional director, marketing and operations, Amadeus, noting that in 2012 the company invested 14 percent of its revenue in research and development further to EUR2.4 billion (USD3.17 billion) which has already been allocated over the past eight years.



SCTDA Discusses Cooperation with US

Plant a Tree with Rotana

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), recently met with Rob Waller, US consul general to the UAE, to discuss bilateral relations.


uring the meeting, which saw the two officials get together to review trade and tourism cooperation between the destinations in the presence of H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, SCTDA, Al Noman drew attention to the new developments and investments, as well as tourism opportunities in Sharjah. Moreover, Al Noman laid emphasis on the emirate’s good air connectivity, its state-ofthe-art facilities and services in its free trade zones, its strategic location attracting tourists and investors from all over the world, and the fact that it received more than 1.7 million tourists in 2012, with the European and Gulf tourists dominating the tourism market share. At the end of the meeting, both sides hailed the bilateral relations and interaction vowing to build greater economic and tourism exchange and cooperation between Sharjah and US.

SMD Celebrates World Oceans Day Sharjah Museum Department (SMD) celebrated World Oceans Day on June 9 at Mangrove Natural Reserve in Khor Kalba, by releasing a number of hawksbill sea turtles into the Gulf as part of its corporate social responsibility initiative, ‘BeHawksbill Sea Turtle cause We Care’. Sharjah Aquarium, which has been running a programme for the past three years to protect these distinctive turtles, returned the rehabilitated animals to their natural habitat in collaboration with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority. As Manal Ataya, director general, SMD, highlighted, Sharjah has a rich maritime heritage and the organisation is reaching out to ensure a sustainable future for the precious marine resources and to preserve the ocean for future generations, through the aquarium’s diverse portfolio of events aimed at the community and schools.

As part of its sustainability programme, Rotana has embarked on the ‘PLANT A TREE with Rotana’ initiative. Rotana properties in Dubai as well as the Northern Emirates have joined the project which aims to plant as many trees as possible, in order to protect the environment and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Guests can be part of the initiative by purchasing PLANT A TREE mugs, proceeds of which will go to the purchase of Sidra trees that will be planted in November under the Rotana name as part of the company’s green initiatives in collaboration with Emirates Environmental Group.

VisitBritain to Reach New GCC Markets Building on Britain’s strong position and historic connections in the GCC, Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications, VisitBritain, alongside Sumathi Ramanathan, regional manager, Asia Pacific and Middle East, VisitBritain, met with officials of the travel and tourism industry in Riyadh and Doha, to consult on the country’s recentlylaunched tourism growth strategy. A key component of this strategy was VisitBritain’s regional hub relocation to Dubai, in order to reach across key cities in its main resource markets, which represent 22 percent of the total spend from countries in Asia Pacific and Middle East. “With the GCC countries signifying great potential for inbound visits to Britain, a larger network in this region will enable VisitBritain to engage more effectively with our key segFamily Enjoying the View on the ments […],” Yates commented. London Eye

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Q & A with Eric Seso As Jordan continues to invest in its tourism sector in order to further strengthen the Kingdom’s standing on the global stage, Eric Seso, general manager, ibis Amman, shares his views on the country’s progress.

Travel Trade Weekly: How have the past 12 months been for ibis Amman and the Jordanian tourism industry in general?

Eric Seso General manager, ibis Amman

Eric Seso: The past 12 months have been good despite the gloomy economic climate; however, it remains very unstable [and] any changes in the actual political situation could be significant for the years to come. Any threat on the surrounding environment has an impact in one way or another on the tourism industry in Jordan. It is very difficult to predict and forecast today as the environment is changing very rapidly. It is a fact that Amman and ibis hotel in particular have benefitted from the above and its position in the market has also improved. The hotel offers the best economic lodging opportunity for leisure as well as business and seminars. Travel Trade Weekly: How have your source markets changed over this period? Eric Seso: A lot of changes have occurred during the past two years, mainly in the leisure segment where the impact of the economic crisis in Europe and the instability in the region have been playing an important role. The top emerging markets are coming from the Middle East market. Our main origin market is mainly from Jordan [representing] 39.5 percent, and from other market like Iraq at 6.6 percent, Kuwait at 6.1 percent, Saudi Arabia at 4.6 percent, Lebanon at 3.2 percent, Yemen at 2.8 percent, and also Europe at 8.9 percent.

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Travel Trade Weekly: What are your expectations for the coming months? Eric Seso: It is difficult to say for the time being what will be the evolution of the year, as we really depend a lot on the surrounding stability. For the moment, the forecast is looking good and in line with the expectations. However, the summer period will be the key factor for us and we hope to see the impact of the GCC market as Amman remains a safe destination for travellers. Moreover, with the opening of the new airport, it will give extremely positive signs to international partners and shall encourage airlines to land in Amman. Travel Trade Weekly: Please tell us about

your plans for the remainder of the year. Eric Seso: In order to maintain the continual growth of the brand, ibis is constantly investing to guarantee its customers extra quality at no extra cost with innovative room designs, new restaurant concepts, and multi-skilled employees. ibis Amman offers 158 fully-equipped rooms, the Oopen Pasta & Grill restaurant with Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, and our bar is always available to our guests to enjoy a drink or a small snack 24 hours a day, while our lovely Oasis terrace is open every night for dinner during summer. We currently have three meeting rooms, however, in view of the growing demand, we will increase our meeting facilities to five meeting rooms. As in ibis [hotel] we always look forward to maintaining our product and invest every year on the development and maintenance of our product. For example, this year the brand has dynamised its signage and graphics chart, and [we have] developed our own bedding concept to enhance the comfort of our guests with larger pillows for all our hotels worldwide. Our persistent investment in quality has been recognised worldwide; in 1997, ibis was the first economy chain to receive the International Quality Standard Certification ISO 9001, and in 2004, ibis became the world’s first hotel chain to secure the ISO 14001 Environmental Certificate. In the Middle East, out of nine ibis hotels, six have been officially certified ISO 9001 and 14001 in this March. ibis Amman along with ibis Kuwait Salmiya and ibis Sharq in Kuwait will be certified by end of this year.



Kuwait Yacht Show 2014 Announced Preparations for the second edition of Kuwait Yacht Show 2014, which will be held under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad AlSabah, prime minister of Kuwait, are underway. The second edition of the event is slated to take place on February 2 - 7, 2014, and is expected to bring together a mix of yachts, boats, marine equipment from local and international dealers, and all elements essential to the nautical lifestyle, and will include water shows and activities. The Marina Crescent management represented by Ahmad Al-Kandari, CEO, Kuwait United Facilities Management, approved the allocation of the parking area of the marina for the show, which is set to facilitate an easy flow for exhibitors.

FITUR 2014 to Host UNWTO Awards The 34th edition of International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), Spain, which is due to be staged by IFEMA between January 22 – 26, 2014, at its facilities at Feria de Madrid, will be the setting for the presentation ceremony of the annual World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism for the first time, on the opening day of the show. The accolades, which contribute to promoting tourism as a means of ensuring sustainable development and international dissemination, through know-how initiatives, are a way through which UNWTO acknowledges contributions made to the field of tourism by experts and organisations, both public and private as well as non-governmental organisations, especially those relating to communications within the tourist industry, and the creation of revolutionary online management tools.

EVENTS Airline Operational Efficiency & Cost Management Workshop Beijing, China, July 18 – 19, 2013 ( The workshop presents methodologies for airline performance measurement and operational efficiency improvement.

Group Leisure & Travel Trade Show Birmingham, UK, September 18 – 19, 2013 ( One of Britain’s biggest annual group travel events with 200 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention San Diego, US, August 4 – 7, 2013 ( GBTA’s Convention will bring together thousands of business travel buyers and industry suppliers and a strong line-up of keynote speakers.

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2013 Maldives, September 27, 2013 ( This year, WTD is being held under the theme ‘Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future’.

Food and Hospitality Oman Muscat, Oman, September 2 – 4, 2013 ( The event showcases a comprehensive range of services in the international food, beverage, and hotel industries.

The Hotel Show Dubai, UAE, September 28 – 30, 2013 ( Now in its 14th year, this show is a key meeting place for leading suppliers and buyers.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 191  

Travel Trade Weekly Middle East & North Africa is the first and only weekly virtual publication of its kind in the MENA region. It is distri...