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31 MAY 2014


Dubai to Become an Open Air Gallery H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has announced plans to transform the emirate into an open air gallery.


Investment fund, Wessal Capital has launched Wessal Bouregreg in Morocco, its second large-scale project after the EUR530 million (USD728 million) Wessal Casa-Port in Casablanca.


02 03 06 07 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

New Cultural Development Site in Morocco





Air Arabia’s Net Profit up 27 Percent Air Arabia has announced its financial results for the first three months of the year ending March 31.

COPY EDITOR Emily Millett SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian 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 103607 WEBSITE EMAILS


Hotels in Abu Dhabi capitalised on a surge in demand during March, as TRI Hospitality Consulting’s latest HotStats report shows. An increase in occupancy to 82.4 percent, coupled with a rise in average room rate (ARR) to USD157.76 lifted RevPAR to USD130.1, resulting in a 14.3 percent growth in gross operating profit per available room which stood at USD103.92. Occupancy levels in the UAE capital for the first quarter of the year averaged at 79.1 percent, up 4.4 percent, ARR however dropped to USD161.62, leading to a rise in RevPAR to USD127.83, and a 5.7 percent improvement in profits to USD93.98.

Accurate as of

30/05/2014 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)



he first quarter (Q1) results show a net profit of AED75 million (USD20.4 million), marking a year-on-year increase of 27 percent.

Occupancy Levels Soar in Abu Dhabi



Air Arabia

During the three-month period, the company’s turnover rose 14.5 percent to AED827 million (USD225.2 million), while passenger numbers jumped 12 percent to 1.63 million, leading to a 81.5 percent load factor. “Air Arabia has enjoyed a remarkable start to the year, which builds on our long and proud track record of success and achievement,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, adding that the airline’s route, fleet and hub expansion strategy continues to deliver profitability while bringing ever greater connectivity and flexibility to people across MENA. During Q1, Air Arabia also launched its second UAE hub in Ras Al Khaimah, and three new routes were inaugurated from its main base in Sharjah to Cairo, Antalya and Shymkent.

Dubai Hotels Record 53.3 Percent Profit Margin


ubai’s hotel market continues to grow at an impressive rate with profit margin for the first quarter (Q1) of the year standing at 53.3 percent. According to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s latest HotStats report, while hotels experienced a marginal reduction in average room rates (ARR) and occupancy during

March, these indicators still remain the strongest in the region at 88.4 percent and USD398.71. Average occupancy for Q1 was 87.5 percent, down one percentage point compared to the same period in 2013, ARR however rose to USD389.99, boosting RevPAR to USD341.08 and gross operating profit per available room to USD305.02. 31 MAY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Arabian Adventures Reinforces Australian Presence Arabian Adventures, part of Emirates Group, has appointed i4 Travel Marketing as its representation company in Australia and New Zealand, effective from July. Working closely with existing partners and building new relationships, the cooperation will allow the destination management company the opportunity to grow its profile in the region and give the trade a more visible point of contact in an area, which, according to Peter Payet, senior vice president, Arabian Adventures, has grown into one of the largest source markets. Arabian Adventures is also looking to Asia, Africa and Latin America for similar partnerships, tapping into the growing interest in Dubai as a hotspot in these markets.

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Dubai Hotels’ RevPAR Soars STR Global’s preliminary April data for Dubai’s hotel and accommodation industry shows positive growth in all key performance indicators. During the month under review, the emirate’s guest room supply increased 8.1 percent, demand, however, surged even faster at 10.5 percent, leading to a 2.2 percent rise in occupancy to 84.8 percent and a 11.4 percent improvement in average daily rate (ADR) to AED1,065.92 (USD290.20). Ultimately the encouraging figures boosted RevPAR by 13.9 percent to AED903.87 (USD246.08). As Elizabeth Winkle, managing director, STR Global, pinpointed, ADR remained the main driving force behind the double-digit RevPAR growth, posting the highest levels for the months since 2008. “Demand growth reported a double-digit increase for the first time since September 2013, resulting in the highest occupancy level in April for the last seven years,” added Winkle.



Dubai to Become an Open Air Gallery

Project Announcement

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has announced plans to transform the emirate into an open air gallery as part of the newly launched ‘Dubai Speaks to You’ campaign. The operation comes under the Brand Dubai initiative, which brings together major real estate developers to select a number of prime locations across the city for UAE artists to use to create street art, installations, photog-

raphy and sculpture. According to Mona Ghanem Al Marri, director general, Government of Dubai Media Office, the project will help travellers experience Dubai’sdynamism. “From the moment a visitor lands in our city until the moment he or she leaves, we want Dubai to surprise and delight them,” added Al Marri.

GTA: Massive Growth Potential for the Middle East Global travel distributor GTA predicts continued development for the Middle East. Data for 2013 shows that overall the number of room nights booked by Middle Eastern travel agents with GTA soared 30 percent year-on-year, with Iraq registering a more than 100-fold rise in sales. In addition, the Turkish travel trade booked more than double the number of room nights, while Yemen, the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain all enjoyed double-digit growth. Room nights booked by fully independent travellers from around the world to the Middle East also grew five percent in 2013 with the UAE remaining the most popular destination, followed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar.

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WEEKLY NEWS Dubai Aims to Become World’s Most Visited City Dubai looks set to achieve its tourism target of 20 million visitors by 2020, providing that a growth rate similar to that achieved in 2013 is maintained, meaning a 10.6 percent year-onyear increase reaching 11 million hotel guests. “Since H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 at [2013’s Arabian Travel Market], the UAE has won the right to host Expo 2020 in Dubai; the first phase of our second international airport has opened at Dubai World Central and a substantial number of new hotels, attractions and events have opened, taken place or been announced,” said H.H. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

31 MAY 2014


New Cultural Development Site in Morocco Investment fund, Wessal Capital has launched Wessal Bouregreg in Morocco, its second large-scale project after the EUR530 million (USD728 million) Wessal Casa-Port in Casablanca. Located between Rabat and Salé, the EUR775 million (USD1.07 billion) development comes in line with the destination’s national plan to position itself as a gateway to Africa, and consequently attract as many as four million visitors by 2020. The 110ha project, which aims to create a new cultural and leisure centre designed for local residents and tourists alike, will offer high quality living areas, a business centre, marina and a tourism complex, which will incorporate several leisure facilities. Other highlights of the venture include the Grand Theatre of Rabat, the Museum, the Museum of Archaeology and the History of Man and various other cultural centres. Wessal Bouregreg



Amadeus Celebrates Excellence in Egypt In recognition of their outstanding performance, Amadeus honoured its Egyptian industry partners at its annual award ceremony held at InterContinental Citystars Cairo Hotel. The gala, which was attended by more than 150 travel agents and representatives of 20 airlines, aimed to identify distinction during challenging times. “Our strategy is to shape the future of travel by working closely with our partners in Egypt,” stressed Khaled Gad, general manager, Egypt, Amadeus. As Ahmed Samir, director of sales, Egypt, Amadeus, pinpointed, with 36 million Internet users, 88 percent of whom regularly utilise some sort of social media, the destination is home to a massive, largely youthful, and digitally fluent customer base that has increasingly demanding travel expectations.


Sabre Personalises Travel Sabre has launched three data-driven travel solutions, namely Customer Experience Manager, Guest Connect Upsell and TripCase Corporate, to help travel companies design and offer a more personalised shopping and travel experience to tourists. Customer Experience Manager is a data-rich software solution with which airlines can automate many manual customer service functions and stimulate revenue. Guest Connect Upsell is a hotel booking capability that allows guests to upgrade to a higher room class instantly after their booking is confirmed, via targeted offers based on the travellers’ unique preferences. Lastly TripCase Corporate is a business travel version of Sabre’s TripCase consumer mobile application which is used to manage over 11 million trips annually. With TripCase Corporate, travellers can make bookings and reservations from their smartphone. “Personalisation makes travel better, and the only way to scale personalisation is through technology,” said Tom Klein, president, Sabre.

31 MAY 2014


Emaar and DM Team up for Mixed-Use Development Dubai Municipality (DM) and Emaar Properties have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a mixed-use beachfront lifestyle project in Dubai’s Al Mamzar district. The development, which is being planned around Al Mamzar Lake, will feature waterfront living options, serviced residences, retail amenities, water features and water-themed leisure attractions. According to Hussain Nassir Lootah, director general, DM, the initiative underlines the vision of DM to drive the allround growth of the city. “Envisaged as a modern lifestyle hub, the project will further drive the economy through its value-added residential, retail and leisure components,” added Lootah. Signing Ceremony

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Hyatt Place Debuts in the Middle East Hyatt Hotels Corporation and wasl Hospitality have opened Hyatt Place Dubai/Al Rigga, the first Hyatt Place branded property in the Middle East. The 210-key hotel forms part of a mixed-use development and offers more than 230m2 of meeting and function space. “Our business and leisure guests demand high-tech, stylish hotels that cater seamlessly to their 24/7 lifestyles, and that is what Hyatt Place delivers,” asserted Vishal Mehra, general manager, Hyatt Place Dubai/Al Rigga. Hesham Al Qassim, CEO, wasl Asset Management Group, added, “Hyatt Place offers an innovative service concept […] that we believe will be very successful in Dubai and throughout the Middle East. wasl remains committed to providing affordable and modern accommodation and facilities to cater to Dubai’s increasing demand for mid-range tourism.”




The Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina Honoured The Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina has been awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Dubai Municipality (DM) for the team’s continued community social responsibility efforts. The 152-key property was singled out for the management’s ongoing support of the emirate’s labour camps. Commenting on the accolade, Rob Collier, general manager,

The Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina, said, “Our team works tirelessly to support the local community, and awards like this help recognise and reward these efforts.” The Rezidor Hotel Group places great emphasis on social responsibility endeavours. Its Responsible Business Programme has been built on three pillars, namely Think Plant, Think People and Think Together.

Alila Hotels and Resorts Gears up for Middle East Debut Alila Hotels and Resorts is set to launch Alila Jabal Akhdar, the company’s first project in the region. Located in Oman’s Jabal Akhdar mountain area, the resort will feature 78 suites and two villas, along with a variety of leisure facilities. Wael Al Lawati, CEO, Omran, the development company behind the project, said, “The minimum impact Alila Jabal Akhdar has on the environment is a reflection of our commitment to our eco-conscious efforts for resorts in Oman to become integrated and in harmony with the natural ambience. Omran is dedicated to providing unique experiences for travellers to the Sultanate, the partnership with Alila will [...] encourage Oman’s appeal and establish Jabal Al Akhdar as a year-round tourist destination.”

Alila Jabal Akhdar

31 MAY 2014


Hyatt to Expand UAE and Saudi Portfolio Hyatt Hotels Corporation has outlined plans to further strengthen its footprint in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Located in the Ras Al Akhdar district, Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl will feature 368 rooms and 60 serviced apartments, while the 464-room and 405-apartment Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek will offer extensive food and beverage and leisure offerings upon completion in 2015. In Saudi Arabia, a Hyatt affiliate has entered into an agreement with Jabal Omar Development Company to manage three properties in Mecca. The 657-unit Hyatt Regency Makkah is slated to launch in 2015 along with the 260-room Hyatt Regency Riyadh.

31 MAY 2014



New Hotel Developments on Dubai Creek H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has approved a new project for Dubai Creek front in Bur Dubai’s Al Seef area. Developed at an estimated cost of AED2 billion (USD544.5 million), the venture will cover a plot of 1.8km, and will consist of a floating market, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and shops for Emirati handicrafts. Scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, the initiative is set to become a new tourist attraction reflecting traditional Emirati identity. Establishing the project’s significance, Al Maktoum said, “Let us work as one team to transform our city into a cultural hub that attracts creative artists. I want Dubai to remain a melting pot for peace, harmony and love, a vibrant place for all.”

Dubai Creek Project




Emirates Goes Double Daily to Seychelles Emirates is to step up its operations to the Seychelles by increasing services to double daily, effective from October 28. As Orhan Abbas, senior vice president, commercial operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates, explained, the decision to commit two extra flights a week is a clear indication of growing passenger demand. “Emirates’ expanded schedule provides better connectivity and a wider choice for our customers connecting through Dubai. These additional seats every week are central to helping us meet the growing demand and support the Seychelles tourism industry,” added Abbas. The UAE airline operates an Airbus A340-500 on the route. Seychelles

EGYPTAIR Expands Saudi Network EGYPTAIR has launched two weekly nonstop services between Hurghada and Jeddah, further strengthening the existing links between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The inauguration of the new route comes in line with the airline’s endeavours to boost inbound tourism to the country’s popular tourist destinations. To further accelerate the industry’s growth, starting June 3, the carrier will introduce four weekly flights between Alexandria and Dubai. The new services will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft with 145 seats, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Etihad Regional Links Zurich and Turin

Etihad Regional Arrives in Turin

Etihad Regional has commenced a new service between the Swiss capital, Zurich and the Italian city of Turin, operated three times a week by a 50-seat Saab 200 aircraft. Expressing delight at being the first airline to offer a direct link between the two destinations, Maurizio Merlo, CEO, Etihad Regional, said, “The new route will extend our presence in the Italian market, where we already operate to Rome, Florence and Bolzano, and where soon we will also fly to and from Verona.” According to Merlo, this latest network addition will benefit both business and leisure travellers, further facilitating the already strong trade and tourism ties between Switzerland and Italy.

31 MAY 2014


Etihad Airways Moves to HIA

Etihad Airways Airbus A380

Etihad Airways’ four daily passenger flights between Abu Dhabi and Doha now operate from the Qatari capital’s newly launched Hamad International Airport (HIA). According to Richard Hill, chief operations officer, Etihad Airways, moving the airline’s services to the stateof-the-art HIA is a positive step which will offer customers newer and more spacious facilities, significantly enhancing their travel experience when flying in and out of Doha. Opened at the end of April, Qatar’s new hub has three times the capacity of Doha International Airport. Etihad Airways launched operations from the UAE capital to Doha in 2006 and currently offers four daily flights between the cities.

Iraqi Aviation to Take Off Aviation is set to become one of the fastest growing sectors in Iraq as Iraqi Airways places orders for new aircraft, and airports announce multi-billion dollar expansion plans. Following the launch of new routes and the resumption of services to Kuwait, the national carrier is gearing up for further expansion with the addition of flights to Azerbaijan among others. To support its growth, Iraqi Airways signed a USD387 million agreement with Bombardier for new aircraft. This comes as the country’s airports are preparing to handle more passengers with some USD50 billion being invested in the construction of new terminals, air traffic control and air traffic management, safety and security.

31 MAY 2014



Emirates Boosts Singapore Operations Starting August 1, Emirates will introduce a fifth daily service on the Dubai - Singapore route. The additional frequency will bring the Dubai-based airline’s total number of flights between the two cities to 35 a week, with 28 nonstop services and seven more via Colombo, Sri Lanka. According to Barry Brown, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations, east, Emirates, the launch of the fifth daily frequency is a reflection of the growing passenger demand for services between these two global business, trade and tourism hubs. As Brown noted, the carrier began operating to Singapore in 1990 and the country remains an important gateway in the Far East and Australasia region for the company. Emirates will operate a 364-seat Boeing 777-300, with 12 first class seats, 42 business class seats and 310 economy class seats for this additional Dubai - Singapore nonstop service.




Ireland Hopes for More GCC Visitors The short-stay visa waiver programme announced by the Irish government with a view to promoting tourism from emerging markets, has been extended until the end of October 2016, according to Debbie Moran, trade and industry executive, Tourism Ireland. The scheme concerns 17 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, and allows holders of UK visas to travel to Ireland within the period of validity of that permit without having to obtain a separate Irish visa. Moran pointed out that, in combination with this development, Etihad Airways’ flights from Abu Dhabi, and Emirates’ soon-to-launch services from Dubai are expected to boost regional visits to Ireland.

Giant's Causeway, Ireland

600,000 UK Visas Issued for Asia Pacific in 2013 The Asia Pacific region sent 600,000 visitors to the UK in 2013 according to Simon Peachey, regional director, Asia Pacific, UK Visas & Immigration. This figure is expected to grow by 10-15 percent annually in the coming years, mainly due to tourists from China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Peachey added that the recent visa waiver introduced for citizens of Qatar, the UAE and Oman came after careful evaluation and Kuwait is to follow by the end of this year.

Scotland Reaches Out to the Middle East With Qatar Airways having launched its inaugural flight to Edinburgh on May 28, VisitScotland aims to open up the country even further to key long-haul and emerging markets, targeting not only new luxury travellers and family segments from the Middle East, but also the ancestral tourism market in Australasia. According to Sarah Drummond, international public relations executive, emerging markets and Australasia, VisitScotland, the two regions have high and disposable income which can highly benefit the Scottish tourism industry.

British Destinations Benefit from ME Air Links The introduction of new routes from Saudi Arabian Airlines and flynas to Manchester has positively impacted the flow of Middle Eastern (ME) travellers to the city. According to Anh Nguyen, marketing manager, Marketing Manchester, improved air connectivity and the city’s football culture accounts for the increase in spending from GCC tourists. Stefanie Bowes, travel trade executive, Birmingham Airport, confirmed that for the past two months Emirates’ flights departing from the hub to Dubai are on a 95 percent capacity and predictions are that this trend will continue for the summer season.

31 MAY 2014




Starwood to Enter Rwanda Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Century Park and Hotel Residences to launch a new hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. Scheduled to open in 2018, Sheraton Kigali will mark the company’s entry into the African country and will be its 50th hotel on the continent. “With the signing of this agreement, we are proud to debut Starwood and the Sheraton brand in Rwanda’s economic, cultural, and transport hub,” said Michael Wale, president, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Situated in the Gasabo district, the 136-room property will be located 7km from Kigali International Airport offering easy access to the city centre. Featuring signature Sheraton experiences, the project will also include 62 serviced apartments available to guests for extended stays in the Rwandan capital.

Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London Opens

Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has unveiled its first property in the UK, namely Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London. Located on floors 34-52 of the tallest building in Western Europe, it is the city’s first high-rise hotel, offering views of the capital in every direction and overlooking landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. “The sweeping views from Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London provide an entirely new perspective on London. It is a spectacular setting in which to introduce our signature Asian-inspired hospitality to the UK,” said Greg Dogan, president, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

HMH Firms up Presence in Sudan With three hotels in operation and two under development, Sudan remains a key market for Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH). As Laurent Voivenel, CEO, HMH, explained, the country is part of the company’s ‘Go Africa’ strategy. Since assuming the management of Coral Khartoum Hotel in 2009, the group has rapidly expanded its footprint in the African country with five properties, two of which will open later this year. Commenting on the brand revitalisation project currently being rolled out, Voivenel added, “Being our flagship property, Coral Khartoum Hotel will serve as a pilot hotel in Sudan to launch the new Coral look.”

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AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Aline Ghanem POSITION: Operations manager COMPANY: Anastasia Group LOCATION: Lebanon WEB:

Who are you? I am the operations manager at Anastasia Group. I studied tourism sciences and tourism guiding. I am a licensed tourist guide in Lebanon. I have taught tourism in three different Lebanese universities for nine years. For the time being I am giving all my tourism time to Anastasia Group. Anastasia was established in 1992, by Georges Anastasiades. The company is the fruit of over 20 years of experience in the field of travel management, and was founded under one guiding principle: to be the world’s gateway to Lebanon, and be Lebanon’s gateway to the world. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Although guest satisfaction causes a lot of stress, I cannot ignore the good part of always meeting new people, sharing experiences and discovering new horizons. When is the best time to visit Lebanon? Lebanon is a country that can be visited happily throughout the year. Offering the sea, the snow, the spring and the lovely autumn colours, all seasons are good times to visit Lebanon. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Hopefully Sri Lanka. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Anastasia is a full-service tour operator, dedicated to providing corporate, leisure and meeting management services. We have earned a reputation for innovative ideas, and excellent customer service. We are simply different in a much better way.

31 MAY 2014


Virgin Atlantic: New Travelport Deal Travelport has announced the renewal of its full content agreement with Virgin Atlantic. Building on the existing relationship between the British carrier and Travelport, the accord aims to ensure that content from Virgin Atlantic will continue to be made available to Travelport users globally, with full access to the airline’s best inventory and fares. “We are pleased to extend our agreement with Travelport as it has consistently provided us with innovative and efficient technology to deliver Virgin Atlantic’s offering to travel agents globally,” commented Joe Thompson, director of network and alliances, Virgin Atlantic. On his behalf, Robin Ranken,

head, european airline relationships, Travelport, acknowledged Virgin Atlantic’s status as one of the world’s best-known airlines and expressed his delight at the extension of the deal. “This new agreement supports our mission to continue to deliver unrivalled content to our travel agency customers,” Ranken added.

Virgin Atlantic


travel talk is your space


Omer Kaddouri

Michel Lansen

CEO, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.

General manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba.

“The opening of [our] new hotels in [the UAE, Iran, Sudan and Tanzania] falls in line with our strategic goal to operate 100 hotels by 2020. These are in addition to the properties announced earlier which will open in Turkey, Erbil, Jordan and Qatar. As the Middle East’s most successful homegrown hospitality brand, we believe we are well positioned to execute these expansion plans and to venture into new territories.”

“Jordan’s ability to attract international visitors is renowned. Leisure travellers are drawn to the country’s rich cultural and historic jewels, and its geographic location at the crossroads of East and West, and it is also ideal for the corporate sector to stage international seminars and conferences. Jordan’s primary source markets continue to be the GCC countries and northern Europe including UK and Germany. The number of Asian visitors is also on the rise.”

Roger Tannous General manager, Marjan Island Resort & Spa.

“With a location such as the Marjan Island within 45 minutes from Dubai, and a few minutes from the airport, our resort is located in the midst of the idyllic island. […] Four floors are currently operational, with a total of 140 rooms and suites. In total, the resort has 301 units all of which enjoy sea views and is set to fully open in September.”

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

31 MAY 2014


Hossam Nabil Hossam Nabil has joined Millennium Hotel Dubai as the new director of sales and marketing. Having held various senior sales and marketing positions with leading hotel companies such as InterContinental Hotels Group, TIME Hotels and Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, Nabil brings over 18 years

of experience to the role. Predominantly his responsibility will be to market the hotel, which is in the final stages of completing a major expansion project, to the local corporate and leisure market.

Nabil brings over 18 years of experience to the role

Ahmed Atef Ahmed Atef has been promoted to director of sales and marketing at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano. Atef, who holds a bachelor degree in hotel management, started his professional career with Marriott International in Cairo where he spent the first 10 years building up his knowledge and expertise starting from the front desk and reservations before moving to the group coordinator position. He then discovered that his true passion lies in sales and

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marketing, quickly climbing within the company’s sales organisation, reaching the role of senior sales manager. Atef joined Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza in 2007 as sales manager in charge of the leisure segment. He then continued as associate director of sales, travel, before becoming director of sales in 2012.

He discovered that his true passion lies in sales and marketing


Ahmed Ayoub Ahmed Ayoub has been promoted to director of rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. Over his 12-year career with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Ayoub has gained experience within the rooms division, including concierge, front office, spa, safety and reservations.

He started at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence in 2002 as a safety and loss prevention officer, working his way up to become front office manager at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza in 2013.

He has been promoted to director of rooms


TRAVEL CHANNELS QTA and UNWTO Organise Capacity-building Workshop Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) THEMIS Foundation have jointly conducted the first regional capacity-building workshop.


ntitled Strategy in Tourism Destination, the five-day programme aimed to train 39 participants from Qatar and the MENA region on the key skills needed for building successful destination tourism strategies. “Developing the tourism human capital in Qatar is one of the key pillars of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, with QTA having already taken concrete steps towards that direction by partnering with leading organisations such as the UNWTO,” explained Hassan Al Ibrahim, director of strategy development, QTA. Participants have applauded QTA’s collaborative approach in working with stakeholders from the local tourism and hospitality industry, providing them with visibility into future plans and giving them the opportunity to see the national strategy’s main points in practice.

Al Ain Zoo Welcomes Jersey Delegation Al Ain Zoo has invited a delegation from the government of the British Channel Island of Jersey to discuss the further development of the existing collaboration between the zoo and Jersey-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Among the key topics reviewed was the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, part of the planned Al Ain Zoo expansion project, that will feature educational exhibits celebrating the wildlife and traditions of the desert. As H.E. Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, director general, Al Ain Zoo, explained that the zoo has strong partnerships with a number of zoological institutions around the world and these connections are invaluable in the success of wildlife conservation at a global level.

SMD Holds New Workshops Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) has organised a series of workshops focusing on excavation, astronomy and ceramics. In line with SMD’s endeavours towards enhancing the community’s appreciation of SMD Programme museums, the initiatives were geared towards school-aged students and their families. The first event was designed for children to learn about archaeology and the excavation and restoration of lost treasures. This was followed by a programme on astronomy at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. Sharjah Archeology Museum then hosted multiple courses for 8-13 year-olds, including the My Story on My Jar workshop, which highlighted pottery and the development of ceramics through the ages. The month-long initiative will conclude on May 31 at the Sharjah Archeology Museum with a training for young people with special needs.

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Q & A with H.E. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal Since its establishment in 2009, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has played a vital role in the emirate’s social, cultural, environmental and economic development. Here H.E. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, talks about why tourism is crucial for destination growth.

Travel Trade Weekly: What makes tourism one of Sharjah’s most significant sectors? H.E. Al Sarkal: Tourism in Sharjah is growing at an increasingly rapid rate. In 2013 Sharjah welcomed more than 1.9 million tourists, a number which we expect to exceed significantly this year in light of the large scale celebrations [...] planned to mark Sharjah’s year as The Capital of Islamic Culture. This should come as no surprise when Sharjah’s diverse offering is considered. Sharjah is the cultural heart of the UAE and continues to play a key role in protecting and promoting the region’s history and heritage. The emirate’s multitude of museums and heritage sites therefore offer a unique opportunity for tourists who want an authentic experience of the region’s culture. Sharjah is also immensely biodiverse and concerted efforts are being made to both protect and capitalise on this biodiversity. In addition Sharjah is an ideal base for tourists who wish to explore the UAE at large as it is the only emirate that shares its borders with all six of the other emirates. These factors combine to create a very positive outlook for Sharjah’s tourism sector – current projections show that the emirate’s travel and leisure sector is likely to grow from AED1.24 billion (USD338 million) in 2013 to AED1.49 billion (USD406 million) by 2016. Travel Trade Weekly: Please give us an update on Shurooq’s current projects. H.E. Al Sarkal: Work on the first of the Heart of Sharjah’s five phases is progressing well. [...] Addressing the need for an increase in luxury hotel offerings in Sharjah, the Al Bait Hotel project, which will form part of the Heart of

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H.E. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal CEO, Shurooq

Sharjah development, is also underway and ground work has commenced on this fivestar luxury development. Set for completion between this December, and January 2015, the AED100 million (USD27.2 million) Al Bait hotel project – the region’s first traditional Emirati hotel – will spread over almost 10,000m². It will include 54 guest rooms, [...] a spa/health club, and dining areas. As for Al Jabal Resort, The Chedi Khorfakkan project, construction has started. The development is being built using materials that emphasise and complement the natural contours of the land and the indigenous features of the desert. [...] The Kalba Eco-tourism project, which represents the largest project of its kind in the development eco-tourism facilities in the UAE and the region, is currently in its first phase. [...] The second phase is focussed on the development of Kalba Lake and the final phase will be the construction of a number

of new hotels and chalets, including a luxury five-star resort overlooking the Gulf of Oman as well as a state-of-the-art activities centre all of which will be built in line with eco-friendly standards. The development of Al Hisn Island in Dibba Al Hisn, which promises to become yet another unique Sharjah destination, is currently in the planning, design and layout phase. We look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy its large water canal, restaurants, cafes and cinemas with stunning views on the canal, as well as parks, children’s play areas and various other amenities. Lastly the newly redeveloped Al Montazah Amusement and Water Park is now officially open to visitors. Covering an area of over 126,000m2 the project includes Sharjah’s firstof-its-kind water-themed park, an amusement park, as well as a park designated for walking, children areas and other activities. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the authority’s main goals for the current year? H.E. Al Sarkal: We will continue in our efforts to promote Sharjah as a major investment hub, specifically in the four key investment sectors of tourism, healthcare, logistics, and the environment and will be taking part in all of the major international and regional platforms such exhibitions, forums, and conferences. We also have a full schedule of roundtables and other business-to-business events planned. The large number of diverse projects currently under development in Sharjah offers great opportunities for foreign investors in the emirate and we will continue to work to attract these investors and forge partnerships to the benefit of Sharjah’s growth.



Dubai’s Maritime Experience to be Highlighted


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Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) is to showcase the emirate’s credentials as a world-class international maritime hub at the Posidonia 2014 exhibition between June 2 – 6, in Athens, Greece. This move comes in line with DMCA’s commitment to creating channels for transferring knowledge and exchanging expertise with leading regional and international industry players, in order to promote Dubai’s competitiveness among the world’s top maritime centres. As Amer Ali, executive director, DMCA, revealed, the authority will shed light on the Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy (DMSS), aimed at regulating, developing and promoting the maritime industry under the highest standards of excellence, creativity, innovation, human investment and environmental protection. “We look forward to discussing the key pillars of DMSS which will take advantage of the emirate’s various strengths such as its strategic location, prosperous economy, healthy investment environment, and integrated maritime legislations,“ added Ali.

EVENTS Arab Luxury World Dubai, UAE, June 2 – 3, 2014 ( The conference will focus on opportunities and challenges in travel and hospitality, and art and cultures, amongst others. International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia Shanghai, China, June 2 – 5, 2014 ( An invitation-only event where travel agents and advisors from across Asia meet global luxury travel experiences. Connect Marrakech, Morocco, June 3 – 6, 2014 ( The event will bring together airports, airlines, suppliers and tourist industry professionals from around the world. Turkey & Neighbours Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) Istanbul, Turkey, June 9 – 10, 2014 ( One of the region’s premier meeting places with more than 300 companies.

Kingdom Business & Luxury Travel Congress Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 9 – 10, 2014 ( A unique business platform that will bring Saudi corporate travel buyers and outbound travel agents under one roof. Americas Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (AIBTM) Orlando, US, June 10 – 12, 2014 ( A leading global exhibition for the US meetings and events industry. Routes Africa Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, June 22 – 24, 2014 ( An event for aviation based companies who wish to conduct business to, from and within the African region. Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) Beijing, China, June 27 – 29, 2014 ( Asia’s leading annual travel event with high-quality exhibitors and buyers.

31 MAY 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 238  

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...

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