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PRICES - KSA SR 15 UAE DHS 15 OMAN RO 1 BAHRAIN BD 1.5 LEBANON LL 10 000 QATAR QR 15 SYRIA SL 150 KUWAIT KD 1.5

February 2007, Volume 3, Issue 2

Palmyra

Syria’s Legendary Desert City

Exploring the Museums At Sharjah Celebrate Chinese New Year In Hong Kong Top Class Service At Banff’s Ski Resort

Photography: Petra, Jordan And Musandum, Oman

February 2007

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Editor’s Note Editor’s Note

f all the events in the month of February, Valentine’s Day is the most celebrated around the world. Every February, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in celebration of Valentine’s Day. The history of Valentine’s Day -- and its patron saint -- comes in different versions. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he banned marriages for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and secretly conducted marriage ceremonies among young soldiers. When his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that Valentine be put to death. According to one legend, on the evening before Valentine’s death, he passed a love note to his jailer’s daughter which he signed “From your Valentine”, an expression that is commonly used today. This “love note” became the traditional Valentine’s greetings and nowadays is expressed in cards which are mostly red in color and with modern Valentine symbols like heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. These cards are sent by lovers to express their love for each other. Other countries observed similar traditions but falls on different dates. In South Korea, there is Pepero Day, celebrated on November 11, during which young couples give each other romantic gifts. In Finland Valentines Day is called “Ystävänpäivä”, which means “Friend’s Day”. As the name suggests, it is also the day when close friends send cards and gifts to each other, although it is a popular day to get married and engaged on. Nowadays in Mexico, people celebrate on “El Día del Amor y la Amistad” the day of love and friendship also on February 14. All over town there are balloon vendors offering their colorful heart shaped declarations of love, for most of them have written on them “Te Amo” -I love you- “Para mi amor”for my love, or “Felicidades” -congratulations. Delicious chocolates, as well as flowers, especially red roses, and greeting cards are also sold in every store. Here in Dubai, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the shopping malls, hotels and restaurants decorated with red balloons, flowers and heart-shaped papers. Different promotions are being offered by the hotels so check our Promotions Section to select and make your reservations. If you have an unforgettable experience in one of these properties that is worth mentioning, let us know and we will post it in our Letters Section.

Meridien in Dubai. It’s a very intimate and romantic dining place and the food is great. One of our featured “love” foods, the avocado, is a prominent ingredient of the dishes in Maya so try it out and I bet the experience will leave both of you in astonishment. A Hot Stone Massage at Armonia in Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel is another exciting gift for your special someone. The treatment will help your partner feel relaxed and energized. February is also the month a lot of Chinese celebrate their New Year. The Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival falls on February 18 this year. This is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and a time for family reunions. Most of overseas Chinese around the world return home on the eve of Chinese New Year to have reunion dinners with their families. We are featuring Hong Kong this issue if you want to experience the celebration in this small but very lively city. There’s so much to enjoy while visiting Hongkong. Sharjah is another emirate that we want you to explore. The third largest emirate, it boasts of its museums and galleries, making it the “Culture Capital of the Arab World”. Learn which of the five museums that we are featuring this issue will be a best place to learn about the history of the emirates. Perhaps one of the most-awaited events this month is the Desert Dubai Classic. The world’s number one golf player, Tiger Woods, is coming back to Dubai to defend his title. This event is always a crowd drawer and a lot of golf aficionados are looking forward to it. This is also an opportunity to ask Tiger Woods about his plans to build his own golf course here. Tiger always conveyed his admiration for this amazing city so whatever his reasons are, I’m sure Dubai will benefit from it.

If you are looking for a special place to take your loved one to dinner, I recommend the Maya Restaurant at Le Royal Flor B Pamintuan Editor

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Letters Letters

www.travel-arabia.com Publisher KALIMAT GROUP INTERNATIONAL FZ-LLC Travel Arabia Head Office Office G4, Building No.1 Phase One, P.O.Box 502408 Dubai Media City, UAE Tel +971 4 391 0410/1/2/3 Fax +971 4 391 6619 E-mail editor@travel-arabia.com General Manager Hekmat el Zein Editor Flor B. Pamintuan editor@travel-arabia.com Staff Writers Anjana Das Habeeb Salloum Contributors Gordon Torbet Eugene Correia Angela T Chuck Wightman Ty Treadwell Photographers Mahesh Kumar Duvvuru Maher El Zein Samir Ahmed Designer Mohammed Usman Siraj Assistant Designer Mohd Noufal Althaf Hussain Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif arif@kalimatgroup.com Distributor Jashanmal National Co. LLC Travel Arabia Lebanon Office Riad el solh 11072070 P.O.Box 11-1197 Beirut, Lebanon Tel +961 3 435 780 Fax +961 7 762 104

Travel Arabia disclaimer All text and layout remains the copyright of Kalimat Group International FZ LLC, unless stated otherwise. Travel Arabia is fully independent, and its views are not those of any company mentioned herein. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. © 2006 Kalimat Group International

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Email your comments or suggestions to editor@travel-arabia.com

A safety concern My father recently visited Dubai and while having breakfast the day he was scheduled to return home, he felt ill. We were at one of the restaurants in Bin Hendi building at the City Centre. My father has a heart problem so we called for an ambulance. As always, the Dubai Police was very quick in responding to the call and paramedics came and attended to my father. They advised that we take him to the hospital so the doctors can check upon him before he leaves that night. What is disturbing though is the lack of a wheelchair in the building. There is a wheelchair but is located at the customer service at the center of the establishment. Bin Hendi Building is about hundred meters away. The paramedics ended up folding the stretcher so my father can sit and be taken to the ambulance which, ironically, is parked on the side of road because of the height limit of the building. It’s very frustrating that the building has no wheelchair and the emergency vehicle could not easily attend to the patient because of this height limitation. I hope the administration of Bin Hendi building will work on fixing this problem. Sheikha Abe Bangit Al Quoz Village

Stories about the Emirates Your last two issues have featured two of the emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and I think this is very informative. Each article featured the different places to see, things to expect in the future and other information that are helpful to a lot of visitors to UAE. I hope you will continue the series and feature the rest of the emirates like Sharjah, Ajman, Fujeirah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain because I’m sure each has a different and unique site to promote. Thank you for coming up with this idea because UAE is not about Dubai and Abu Dhabi alone. The rest of the emirates are also gearing

to make their state a must-see destination and I hope your publication will open up more opportunities for the rest of the emirates. J. Nicolas O’Connor Emirates Hills

Destinations to see in 2007 I was searching the internet and read an article about the most wonderful destinations of the year. It tells about 12 destinations that one can travel to every month. The choice of the destination has something to do with the climate, the best thing to do while there and which sites to explore. It was a wonderful article and very helpful especially if one has travel plans this year. Although it did not list any destinations in the Middle East, India was listed as one destination and the best time to travel here is during the Festival of Lights celebration in November. I hope you can feature in detail any of the destinations cited at MSN Travel Page. Ahmed G. Deira

Tranquil Moments I love going to the spa for relaxation. This is my only way of pampering my body after a week of work and stress. I find your “Tranquil Moments” section helpful because it serves as a guide for people who are looking for different treatments to rejuvenate their body. I’m sure most of the spas in Dubai or in Abu Dhabi have their own way of doing the treatment although it may all sound the same. Your article is helpful because giving a personal experience of the treatment helps your readers like me in choosing the treatment that I want in relieving any pain in my body caused by the tension and stress at work and at home. I hope you will add more spa review to this section. Ihman Jumeirah


Inside Feb 2007

12 Features 12 SHARJAH – CULTURAL HEART OF THE UAE

18 EXPLORING SHARJAH’S MUSEUMS

A treasure house of culture, Sharjah is the only emirate that has extraordinary museums which houses the most extraordinary collections and exhibits from time immemorial. Sharjah is a true haven for art lovers. Both young and old art connoisseur will enjoy touring the museums as well as the art centers and galleries.

The Emirate of Sharjah has long been known, in the Arabian Gulf 22 CELEBRATE 2007 CHINESE NEW YEAR IN HONG KONG Forget Times Square or the neighbor’s party and celebrate a somewhat delayed, but spectacular area, for its hospitality and as a New Year in Hong Kong. The Year of the Pig, Chinese New Year falls on February 18. scholarly centre, with an affinity for its past. Called the “Cultural VALENTINE FOOD Capital of the Arabs”, it takes pride 44 If one is thinking about his/her beloved and would like to celebrate this time of love with friends in love, and, at the same time enjoy fine food, this Valentine feast, made from ingredients in holding historically related events also with a sexual reputation, will appeal to many lovers. - many of interest to tourists.

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Inside Feb 2007

Departments 4 LETTERS

30 LIVING ARABIA – Palmyra Palmyra is in the heart of Syrian Desert, and is often described as the bride of the desert. Its magnificent remains tell of a heroic history during the reign of Queen Zenobia, an exceptionally intelligent and attractive woman.

38 OUTSIDE ARABIA- Banff’s Ski Resorts Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine is legendary for their snows and offer awe-inspiring scenery and top-class skiing services. The resorts have a certain magical beauty that draws people from the four corners of the world.

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48 PROMOTIONS The hotels in the UAE have prepared something for you on Valentine’s Day. Check which hotel caters to your need and make your reservations.

66 ENTERTAINMENT ‘Jumana - Secret of the Desert’, a permanent open air extravaganza with daily shows in a purpose built, state-of-the-art amphitheatre at the Al Sahra Desert Resort is a must-see for visitors and residents.

GREAT TASTES 58 SPICE ISLAND: A great place to dine with your family If you are looking for a place to enjoy and dine with your family on Fridays, the best place to go is Spice Island, located on the lobby level of Renaissance Hotel in Deira. 62 MAYA RESTAURANT – A modern Mexican cuisine Maya Restaurant is a Mexican restaurant that’s a little more of a high end, a modern Mexican dining place with a twist of European décor.

68 TRANQUIL MOMENTS Pampering our body is always a dream. With all the stress we encounter everyday, whether at home and especially at work, our body needs to relax and rejuvenate and Armonia at Sheraton Jumeirah Beach is a good place to start.

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72 INDUSTRY NEWS News from the hotel and airline industries.

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IN UAE SHARJAH

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Sharjah Cultural Heart of

the UAE T

he Emirate of Sharjah, the third largest of the seven states in the United Arab Emirates, and its capital with the same name, derive their appellation from the Arabic, al-shariqah (rising from the East). More than its sister states, it has long been known, in the Arabian Gulf area, for its hospitality and as a scholarly centre, with an affinity for its past. Often called the “Cultural Capital of the Arabs”, it takes pride in holding historically related events - many of interest to tourists. Ruled by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, a scholar-philosopher-writer, famed for his books as well as his patronage of the arts and the establishment of a modern university city, the Emirate of Sharjah has become a mecca for intellectuals. This, along with the restoration of historic sites is making the Emirate one of the most important centres of learning in the region. The restored heritage areas and the twenty museums in the Emirate of Sharjah focusing on archaeology, art, the state’s legacy, natural February 2007

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history and science best reflect the state’s heritage. They enhance the people’s awareness of their past, keeping alive the local heritage and culture. Along with the state’s restored monuments, including 26 forts and watchtowers, crowned by the Old Fortress in the city of Sharjah, they lure the tourist and testify to Sharjah’s commitment to its past. As in the bygone centuries, when their forefathers welcomed travellers who arrived after long journeys by dhow (Arab sailing ships) or by camel caravan, the people of Sharjah continue in that tradition of being courteous to strangers - giving travellers a feeling of belonging. With this congenial lifestyle, safe and clean state, cultural heritage and the aura of desert romance, the city becomes an appealing destination - some 700,000 tourists in 2005. Sharjah and its enclaves of Khor Fakkan, Kalba and part of the town of Dibba, combine the old and the new. Their centuries’ old quaint Arab homes stand side by side, with sophisticated streets and multilane highways, modern towering banks, skyscrapers, first-class hotels and superb villas. Everywhere, lush green parks and tree-lined wide avenues intersected by attractive grass, flower and shrub-topped roundabouts, epitomized by the Cultural Square, cover a land where only a few decades ago the sands blew freely. In the city of Sharjah, Khalid Lagoon, encircled by palm trees, is one of the most charming spots in the city. The 5 km (3 mi) long Buhaira Corniche curving around the Lagoon is bordered by well-lit lush grass and benches set in the shade of palms. In the evenings, it is a relaxing outdoor area where families and visitors can promenade and enjoy the refreshing air, then stop for a while at the traditional coffee house - a replica of those that once existed in profusion. In the last decade, Sharjah’s old city, known as the Heritage Area, spread over two districts, Al Sheyoukh and Al Merraija, has been restored. One of the most important re-built sections is the magnificent 200-year-old souk, known as ‘Souk al Arsah’. Its 60 beautifully renovated shops are rented to members of the same families whose ancestors owned shops on the same street some two centuries ago. Other sedate spots which lure visitors are the flower-saturated seaside Corniche and the Rolla Square Park, taking its name from a 200-year-old tree now dead - under which, in the past, many of the town’s meetings took place. The tree has been immortalized in a unique memorial set in the centre of a grassy park and to keep alive the historical importance of this tree, other rollas were planted

and now thrive along the edges of the park. Today, under their shades, people picnic and, perhaps, remember the famous lone tree from long ago. The greenery throughout the city is complemented by the recently built structures that incorporate modern architectural designs and elements from the Arab past, creating an unusual blend of the old and new. This is best reflected in the Central Souk (Blue Souk) next to the Lagoon - a magnificent work of art. Completed in 1988, it is a living reminder of the grandeur of classical Islamic architecture. It captures the essence of Arab medieval edifices and is said to surpass the renowned Damascus Umayyad Mosque in artistic appeal. What makes it even more attractive are its wind towers that catch the breezes and funnel them below - a traditional method of air conditioning, once employed in the Gulf region. A shopper’s paradise, the Souk combines beauty and utility. Its 600 shops housed in double wings connected by bridges, stock goods from the four corners of the world. Splendid varieties of gold jewellery, richly displayed in an impressive fashion, are by themselves reason enough to visit the Souk. The Souk has been so successful that another similar market, Al Mujarrah, has been built a short distance away. The revived architectural splendour and treasures of the present and the past are to be found throughout the city. The eye-catching Sharjah International Airport, the palace of the ruling Sheikh, the seashore food markets and, above all, Sharjah’s 300 mosques incorporate many characteristics of the Islamic decorative arts. At night, when lit up, they appear like gems filling the skyline. These attributes and the city’s fine tourist facilities added to the warm sunny climate in winter; unspoilt clean golden beaches; excellent eating places, serving foods from all over the world; and top class hotels and reasonable prices, make Sharjah an attractive holiday mecca. After exploring the city, a fine way to end the day is to stroll along Sharjah’s dhow-clustered waterfront and watch men loading these ancient crafts, as had their ancestors in the days of yore. In this aura of a romantic past, a visitor can reminisce about this city of knowledge and learning welcoming strangers with a smile, or about Sharjah’s hasty evolvement from a land of barren sand to an ultra modern state - yet preserving its heritage. - Habeeb Salloum

If You Go • Sharjah has good connections with the remainder of the world through Sharjah and

Dubai International Airports. Sharjah’s airport is a major cargo-handling centre and 30 international airlines use the airport.

Most western European, American and Canadian citizens can enter the UAE without a prior visitor’s visa, they can obtain their visas at the entry points.

Autos rent at a reasonable price. A small auto, fully insured, costs some $35. per day– less if you bargain. Roads are excellent, but beware of two legged tigers driving autos.

Water is safe to drink, not only in Sharjah but in all of the U.A.E. However, most visitors drink bottled water.

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The only drawback some visitors may find is that Sharjah is dry. However, a 10

minute-taxi ride away - costing from 25 to 60 dirhams - is Dubai whose hotels offer all types of alcoholic drinks.

A must to see is the Sharjah Natural History Museum and Arabia’s Wild Life Center an ultramodern excellent museum, located past the Sharjah International Airport, in the desert about a 20-minute drive from Sharjah. It contains environment, geology, flora and marine exhibits all dramatically displayed, seemingly out of real life. The Center focuses on wildlife in the Arabian Peninsula.

The best time to travel to Sharjah and, in fact, all the UAE is from December to April when the weather is pleasant and relaxing For More Information About Sharjah, See: Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, PO Box 2661, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 971-06-556-6777. Fax: 971-06-556-3000. E-mail: sctda@sharjah.org. Website: http://www.sharjahTourism.ae


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more information about the items on display and to provide children with interesting games related to the Museum archaeological exhibits. The museum is open from 9 am to 1pm and 5 pm to 8 pm daily except Sunday and Friday morning. Wednesday is for ladies only. Admission fee is 5Dhs (adult) and 10Dhs (family). You may contact the museum office at tel. +971 (6) 5665466.

Exploring the museums at

Sharjah S

harjah, called a treasure house of culture, is the only emirate that has extraordinary museums which houses the most extraordinary collections and exhibits from time immemorial. Sharjah is a true haven for art lovers. Both young and old art connoisseur will enjoy touring the museums as well as the art centers and galleries, because you will find not only local landscapes and portraits but also 18th century Oriental works. In Sharjah, museums are a must visit places. A trip to this emirate is not complete without heading to one, if not all of the museums. “A museum is a reservoir of man’s past inherited experience to nurture the ambitions of the present and next generation,” read one website. In this issue, we will feature five of the museums in Sharjah – the Archaelogical Museum, the National History Museum & Desert Park, the Islamic Museum, the Science Museum and the Heritage Museum. Sharjah Archaeological Museum The Sharjah Archeological Museum was set up because of Sheikh Sultan’s overwhelming concern to science and culture. The museum was built in order to preserve the rich heritage of the forefathers, provide an educational venue for the children to serve as an additional cultural tributary to Sharjah’s being the Arabs Capital of Culture. His Highness also gave directions that archaeological exhibits be displayed in a creative style, avoiding monotony and inactivity, and at the same time, combining the traditional way of displaying exhibits with modern science and technology. The Sharjah Archaeological Museum is unique and different from all other archaeological museums in the world. Archaeological items are classified and displayed in the Museum halls in chronological order, starting with the earliest findings in the Emirate of Sharjah, up to the period preceding the advent of Islam. Display halls are equipped with computer systems, which can be used by the visitors to enable them to get 18

Sharjah National History Museum & Desert Park The Natural History Museum and Desert Park is a venue that provides people with a chance to learn about the flora and fauna of the Arabian Desert, while at the same time having a relaxing and fun time. A children’s farm was opened in May 1997 to provide city children a chance to have close contact with farm animals. A Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Animal started functioning in February 1998, but this is not open to the general public, because animals need peace and quiet to breed. Towards the middle of 1999, the Arabian Wildlife Center was opened where people can observe and enjoy all the various species of animals that occur on the Arabian Peninsula. In accordance with the concept launched by His Highness, the Desert Park with its various departments will be a center for learning and enjoyment for people of all ages, as well as a place where original research can be carried out by the next generation of students. Located after the Sharjah International Airport at Interchange No. 9, the museum is open daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm; Friday from 2 pm to 5:30 pm and Thursday from 11 am to 5:30 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission fee is 15Dhs for adult and 30Dhs for Family. You may contact the museum office at tel. +971 (6) 5311411. Sharjah Science Museum In 1996, the Sharjah Science Museum opened to become the only

interactive hands-on museum in the United Arab Emirates. As well as providing exhibits and programs for the general public, the museum is committed to improving the science and technology learning opportunities for children in Sharjah, and the other Emirates. Through exhibits and programs, the visitors are encouraged to see the beauty and wonder of the natural world; to appreciate the accomplishments of human beings; to make connections; to understand how science and technology relate to their daily lives; and, to think critically about the choices science and technology introduce into their lives.


A visit to the Sharjah Science Museum would not be complete without taking part in one of the demonstrations provided by the Museum staff. The demonstrations are given in Arabic and English. The Sharjah Museum is located in an area called Halwan, next to the Sharjah TV Station. Museum timings are Saturday to Wednesday: 9 am to 2 pm; Thursday to Friday: 3:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Fee is 5Dhs for Adult and 10 Dhs for family. You may contact the museum at tel. : +(971) 6 5668777 Sharjah Heritage Museum The Sharjah Heritage Museum is a combination of several museums and include Souq Al Arsah, Bait Al Naboodah, Al Midfaa House and Al Hisn Museum. Souk Al Arsah (Courtyard Souk) is one of the oldest popular souks in the UAE in general and the Sharjah Emirate in particular and, probably, their oldest. The “arsah” is a large open space (courtyard) extending in-between a residential area. This is the reason behind calling the Souk by this name, as it lies beside the open space (courtyard) between Bait Al Naboodah (Sharjah Heritage Museum) and Majlis Al Naboodah. This Arsah used to be a “station” and a Souk for wholesale, retail and goods exchange. The Bait Al-Naboodah (Al-Naboodah House) is one of the traditional historical buildings in Sharjah, which, all in all, form together a humanitarian cultural wealth, and give a picture of the civilized heritage of this Emirate. Now known as Sharjah Heritage Museum, Bait Al-Naboodah is built in the traditional Gulf shape and in an Arabic Islamic Architecture and a sheer Sharjan spirit. It consists of two storeys: a ground floor and an upstairs. However, it comprises 16 rooms, three of which are upstairs. There are also the parlours, the extensions and the stairs, as well as the top ventilation-

“Museums are established to be a school for our children and the next generations” - HH Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi

structures known as “berajils”. This house was owned by the late Obaid bin Eesa Al Shamsi, nicknamed Al Naboodah since he was a child, about the year 1845. Al Naboodah lived in this house with his family, after which the ownership was transferred to his children and grandchildren. It is built in Al-Gharb, a prominent district of Sharjah city, in “Fireij Al Souk” avenue. The Naboodah family ownership of this house continued till the late seventies, after which the house was later transformed into a heritage museum. Facing the renovated buildings between the waterfront and Al Boorj Avenue by Souq Al Arsah, the museum is open daily from 9am to 1pm and 5pm to 8pm; Fridays from 5 pm to 8 pm only. The museum is closed on Mondays. Entry is 5 Dhs for Adult and 10Dhs for family. You may contact the museum at tel. +971 (6) 5512999. The Al Midfaa House is a charming restored building in a quiet area behind the souq. His Highness Sharjah’s Ruler is also known for His generosity to honor persons of education and culture, whether on a local, Pan Arab or international levels. In this respect, and under His Highness’s guidance, the late Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al Midfaa, a Sharjah citizen, was honored by transforming his “majlis” (guest parlor) to an intellectual and cultural forum to be attended by all those concerned with literature and history. Ibrahim Al Midfaa was one of the prominent personalities of the UAE in general. He established the first newspaper “Oman” in the UAE in 1927 and then “Soutul Asafeer” (birds sound) in 1933 when the first newspaper ceased to appear. He was a close associate to Their Highness the consecutive late Rulers of Sharjah of his time, playing the role of their consultant in political, local and Pan Arab important affairs. Museum timings are daily from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Friday: from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm only; Public Holidays: from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The Museum is closed on Mondays.

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the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, opened the Museum on Friday 25 Jumada the second 1417 (Hijri Calendar), 6th November, 1996. The Museum exhibits a range of important Islamic artifacts and manuscripts expressing the supremacy of the distinct Islamic heritage. This range contains a number of scientific and literary religious manuscripts and several various collections of the Islamic civilization arts and crafts and clay, pottery and glass manufactories as well as metallic handicrafts inlayed with silver, gold and brass. The museum also exhibits silver and textile handicrafts as well as ornamentation tools, jewelry and various Islamic mints, dating to both Abbaside and Omayyad eras. These mints include collections of silver dinars and dirhams. Moreover, there are a number of scientific systems, especially astronomical ones. Other exhibits include archaeological findings dating the Islamic era, found in varied excavation sites in the Emirate of Sharjah. They include as well arms and varied samples representing styles of the Moslem civilized life for more than 1400 years. Major attractions at the Museum include the Shamsi House, the Holy Kaaba Hall, the Islamic Mints Hall, the China and Pottery Hall, the Arabesque Hall, the Manuscripts hall, the Archaeology Hall, the Science Hall, and the Metallic Handicrafts hall. The Museum is located in Al Gharb, an old Sharjah city district, within the ancient walls of the city, occupying a historical 200 years old house, owned by the late Saeed bin Mohammed Al Shamsi. The Museum welcomes its visitors during the following timings Daily from 9 am to 1 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm; Friday: from 5.00 pm to 8.30 pm only; Public Holidays: from 9 am to 1 pm and 5.00 pm to 8.30 pm. The Museum is closed on Mondays. Entry: Adult 5 Dhs. Family 10 Dhs. You may contact the museum at tel. + 971 (6) 5683334.

Entry: Adult 2 Dhs. Family 4 Dhs. You may contact the museum office at +971 (6) 5693999. The Al-Hisn (Fort) Museum, used to be the residence of the ruling family in Sharjah for about 200 years. It is the home for the beloved memories the Sharjah people inherited generation after another. A social centre and a public forum where citizens used to meet for happy and sad occasions, it became the symbol of their pride as well as their safe resort Built by His Highness late Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qassimi in 1820, it preserved its official as well as public status until 1969, when a part of the house was removed due to the structural changes the city of Sharjah had then undergone. However, the house was rebuilt under the instructions and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Federal Council, Ruler of Sharjah. Among the exhibits of the Museum is a documentary film displaying the process of the Hisn (Fort) rebuilding. However, the Museum is divided into several sections comprised in two storeys. As it is tradition to the other heritage museums of Sharjah, Al Hisn Museum receives its visitors with coffee and dates, the symbol of Arab welcome and hospitality. Located at Al Boorj Avenue, Al Hisn square at bank street, museum timings are daily from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Friday : from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm only Public Holidays : from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The Museum is closed on Mondays Entry : Adult 5 Dhs and Family 10 Dhs. You may contact the museum office at tel. +971 (6) 5685500. Sharjah Islamic Museum The Islamic Museum is an edifice to civilization, a witness to the deep Sharjah roots in the Arab and Islamic culture and an emphasis to the legacy of the title Sharjah has recently earned as the “Capital of Arab Culture ‘98”. His highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of February 2007

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SPECIAL FEATURE CHINA

Celebrate 2007 Chinese New Year in

Hong Kong

Always dazzling and delightful during Chinese New Year, Hong Kong becomes a magical, mystical and memorable feast for the senses. Here are the Top Ten Ways to Celebrate 2007 Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

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February 2007

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Get off-the-beaten path with a day-trip to Lantau Island and pay homage to the Big Buddha and visit the Po Lin Monastery. Take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, then a high-speed ferry to Lantau, followed by a public bus to the Big Buddha site

F

orget Times Square or the neighbor’s party and celebrate a somewhat delayed, but spectacular New Year in Hong Kong. The Year of the Pig, Chinese New Year falls on February 18 in 2007. (The year is 4704 by the Chinese calendar.)

prices and the best workmanship.” Visit Raja Fashions at 34-C Cameron Road. Mr. Habib Sultan will pick you up at your hotel for your first fitting and deliver the finished product to your hotel after your final fitting. Expect to pay around $250$300 for a beautifully tailored suit with two shirts and a couple of ties.

Always dazzling and delightful during Chinese New Year, Hong Kong becomes a magical, mystical and memorable feast for the senses. Here are the Top Ten Ways to Celebrate 2007 Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

Shopping in Hong Kong is addictive. At the Jade Market over 400 stalls under an open air tent offer a huge selection of jade, jadeite and pearl jewelry, carvings, and ornaments. Have a lustrous tile pearl necklace hand strung as you watch or select a jade pendant to ensure long life. All sellers profess all their jade is “real,” but unless you know jade don’t expect to buy the best. Bargaining is lively. Cut the initial asking price in half, smile, and be firm with your counter-offers. At the Ladies Market don’t expect designer labels unless they are fake. There are trinkets and treasures galore and prices are inexpensive. Then, there are visits to the Bird Market, Goldfish Market, and Flower Market. All three markets swirl with activity, color and energy. Especially during the Chinese New Year Festival, the Flower Market overflows with exotic floral displays. Don’t forget your camera!

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If this trip sounds intriguing but expensive, it’s really a travel bargain. Take advantage of group buying power with a packaged tour. Six-toeight day package tours for the Chinese New Year Festival include roundtrip airfare, accommodations, buffet breakfasts, a city tour, sampan ride, VIP seats for the grand parade, an incredible fireworks display, and shopping discounts. Many local travel agents also offer Hong Kong travel packages at competitive prices.

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Get your bearings on the confusing geography of Hong Kong and Kowloon with a city tour. Most tours begin with a trip to the top of Victoria Peak for an incredible view of the harbor and Kowloon peninsula. Boarding the 100-year old peak tram for a slow, but steady ascent to the top. Trepiditious travelers may have reservations about the steep incline and ancient tram running on a single cable. Take heart, it has a flawless safety record and the views on the way up and at the peak are worth the wait for the ride. A sampan ride in Aberdeen offers a close and personal view of the lifestyle of people who spend their entire life living and working aboard the small boats on the water. A stop at Stanley Market provides an introduction to the Chinese shopping experience. You will love Stanley Market…or hate it. It is a maze of hundreds of stalls hawking everything imaginable. Shop with a buddy. It’s easy to become lost in the tangle of narrow passageways. Bargain aggressively and have fun. Once initiated here, you are ready to shop the rest of Hong Kong.

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Tailored suits are still one of the best buys in Hong Kong, but forget what you’ve heard about the $99.00, 24-hour suit. They are unlined suits with inferior fabrics and workmanship. There are hundreds of tailors lining Nathan Road and side streets around it. You will be accosted by hawkers outside tiny tailor shops each claiming to have the “best

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For an evening adventure, enjoy a dim sum dinner and tackle the Temple Street Night Market. Noisy and crowded, this is Hong Kong’s most popular local market. Clothing prices (and quality) are cheap. There are counterfeit “knock-offs” for everything from sunglasses to suitcases and watches to widgets. How about a “genuine” Mao Tse Tung alarm clock? Guaranteed to be a real conversation piece back home. If you are brave, continue past the stalls to the eerie candlelit rows of fortune-tellers and have your future read. Negotiate the price and don’t pay until you are sure the fortune teller speaks more than the few words of English he uses to hook you.

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Before you spend all your travel funds shopping, splurge on dinner at Felix. On the 28th floor of The Peninsula Hong Kong (Kowloon side), savor a champagne toast and watch the sunset paint the sky and harbor hues of red and gold. As night deepens, the sweeping views of the lights on Hong Kong Island are spectacular. The ambiance at Felix is cool and sophisticated. The service is excellent and the seared ahi tuna is perfection. Check it out at http://hongkong.peninsula.com. Click on restaurants under links.

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Take a break from shopping and treat yourself to some real China experiences. Try a foot reflexology treatment. There are reflexology studios on every corner. Cruise the harbor on a red-sailed Chinese junk at sunset. The Duk Ling is one of the few authentic junks left in the world. Take a Feng Shui lesson and learn how to make your home and life more peaceful and prosperous. Practice the art of Tai Chi at the clock tower near the Star Ferry. Just show up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 a.m. for a free one-hour lesson with a Tai Chi master. Over a dozen complimentary Cultural Kaleidoscope classes are offered by the Hong Kong Tourist Board at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Terminal. Learn more about them on-line at www.hktb.com under Heritage and Cultural Kaleidoscope. The events and classes alone are worth the trip!

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Get off-the-beaten path with a day-trip to Lantau Island and pay homage to the Big Buddha and visit the Po Lin Monastery. Getting there is half the fun. Take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, then a high-speed ferry to Lantau, followed by a public bus to the Big Buddha site. Sitting 72 feet high, the magnificent bronze statue is perched atop 260 steps straight up. Start climbing. The experience and view are worth the exercise. At the top, Buddha is surrounded by Bodhisattvas, statues of Buddhist saints. Legend has it if you toss a coin into a Bodhisattva’s upraised hand you will have good luck for all your days. Back on solid ground, join the monks for a vegetarian lunch at the monastery. Buy a bundle of joss sticks and burn them for good luck.

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Hop on the famous Star Ferry for a ride across the harbor to Hong Kong Island and back. The green and white ferries have been operating for over 100 years between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. It’s not a fancy boat and the ride is short, only about seven minutes. At night, it is a magical experience. Go first-class for the best views; the cost is a whopping thirty-five cents U.S. During the day to enjoy harbor views and scenery on the water as you chug along among sampans and other ferries.

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Escape the street crowd to Harbor City. Over 700 stores and restaurants are connected by a series of interconnected malls. There are free Internet kiosks if you want to send a “wish you were here” greeting home. No bargaining here, but prices are exceptionally good. When you tire of shopping there are many cafes, restaurants and park benches to enjoy people-watching. Parade day arrives. Everyone loves a celebration. Jovial crowds line the streets shouting “Kung Hei Fat Choy,” (Kung rhymes with hung, then hi then fat and finally Choy rhymes with joy). It means “Wishing You a Happy New Year.” Practice saying it and spread the good cheer! VIP seats are a must for the best view and comfort at the parade. Floats are gaudy and amateur, but this parade is not about floats. It is a performance more than a parade. Dragon and lion dancers, acrobats, marching bands, and performers of all ages from around the world stop in front of the VIP seats and entertain with enthusiastic dances and acrobatics. On the next night, the sky above the harbour is a kaleidoscope of breathless colors. Each round of fireworks leads seamlessly into the next. Color explodes from all over the harbor area…a continuous grand finale. A fitting farewell for a remarkable celebration. Kung Hei Fat Choy!

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arabian gallery arabian gallery 28

Outerwordly Scene of Petra, Jordan


The Siq , Petra, Jordan

February 2007

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LIVING ARABIA PALMYRA

Syria’s Legendary Desert City

By Habeeb Salloum

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Dubai

February 2007

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Palmyra (Tadmor in Arabic) is in the heart of Syrian Desert, and is often described as the bride of the desert. Its magnificent remains tell of a heroic history during the reign of Queen Zenobia, an exceptionally intelligent and attractive woman.

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rom atop Fakhir al-Din’s castle (also called Qalat Ibn Maani), located on a hilltop and overlooking the ruins of Palmyra and accessed by a paved road, I gazed in wonder at Zenobia’s city looming majestically in the distance. It gave me a deep thrill, seemingly conveying a message in stone - the tale of the once renowned ‘Queen of the Syrian Desert’. It told of riches, romance and courage produced by a brilliant civilization, which flowered for a few years before being snuffed out by the Roman Emperor Aurelian. The fantastic remains of a once thriving desert metropolis, 243 km (151 mi) northeast of Damascus, have for centuries inspired romantic recollections by wayfarers and literary men. The actual sheer size of the ruins takes one’s breath away. These massive remnants of a mysterious desert city appear as if someone had magically planted a colossal wreck in the barren heart of Syria. Unmatched in spectacular grandeur, they are one of the most majestic and wonderful historical ruins in the world. After the Romans occupied Palmyra, known in Arabic as Tadmor, in the 1st century A.D., it flashed into brilliance for the next 300 years. This was due to the prosperity derived from taxes exacted on all caravans using the oasis as a stopover between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. The trade gave it great wealth and power. For a number of years the city became the centre of a proud Arab Empire, which extended from the Caucus Mountains to the Nile Valley. This large kingdom was built, then lost under the reign of Zenobia - an eminent woman of the classical world who was fluent in Aramaic, Arabic, Greek and Latin. Under her rule, Palmyra expanded until it became an imperial city of some 200,000. She became queen in 267 A.D. and ruled for only five years. Yet, in this short period, Zenobia made her oasis one of the most important centres of power in that age. A proud and dignified woman, she drove Rome out of its eastern

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Men in Palmyra


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Ruins in Palmyra

province. However, she was eventually defeated and captured by the Aurelian who carried her back to Rome in gold chains. It is said that she was too haughty to live in captivity and soon thereafter died. The majestic ruins one sees today, drawing annually thousands of visitors are a memorial to this courageous queen. A few years after Zenobia’s capture, the Palmyrans rebelled and were again defeated. Aurelian razed the city, but took back to Rome the Palmyran sun god Shamash and built for him a lavish temple. He established on December 25th, the winter solstice, an annual festival of the sun. When the Roman Empire became Christian, this date was adopted as Christ’s birthday. The changeover was principally done to make the new religion more acceptable to the masses that had enjoyed the celebrations devoted to Shamash. Strange as it may seem, it was due to Zenobia’s defeat that, today that we celebrate Christmas in December. After Zenobia’s demise, Palmyra’s star began to wane, then faded into oblivion until rediscovered in the 18th century by European travellers. Today, around the world, there are very few ruins that are more magnificent or romantic. The Temple of Bel, Palmyra’s most magnificent monument, opened in 32 A.D. according to a text on its entrance, dominates the ruins. It was dedicated in the first century of the Christian era to Bel, the chief of some 60 Palmyran gods. The temple, surrounded by walls 205 by 210 m (672 by 689 ft), in the middle of which is the cella (sanctuary), is the most sacred part of the temple and the home of the gods and their priests. In Byzantine times the cella on whose ceiling are fine reliefs of the seven planets surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac, was transformed into a church. During the 12th century, it was converted into a mosque and continued as a Muslim house of worship until 1929 when it became a part of the museum city. Less impressive than the Temple of Bel is the Temple of Bel Shamin.

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It was built in 130 A. D., and dedicated to the god Bel Shamin who was considered the lord of the heavens. Situated in front of the newly renovated Zenobia Hotel, it retains only the charming cella with its delicate golden brown and pink columns. The Great Colonnade, lined on both sides with columns and crossing the heart of Zenobia’s city, is the most impressive feature in Palmyra. It begins at the Temple of Bel and continues for 1,300 m (4,264 ft). After a monumental three portal Arch of Triumph about 300 m (984 ft) from the temple, there are over 300 restored weathered columns, some with consoles which at one time held statues of Palmyra’s most famous citizens. This grandiose 11 m (36 ft) wide street was once lined with shops, interspersed with civil and religious public places - parts of which remain. Among these are: warehouses, the Temple of Nebo, an exquisite 3,000 seat renovated theatre, Zenobia’s Baths, the Senate House, the neighbouring Agora with 11 porticos and 200 statues, the Hall of Banquets, and the Tetrapylon - a monumental gate with four bays each supported by four Corinthian columns located at the centre of the city. Today, even though here and there parts of these structures have been renovated, the whole scene is one of fallen and broken columns intermixed with building stones. On an on- going basis are Syrian, Canadian, French, German and Japanese archaeologists who are gradually filling in the blanks of history and putting the heaps of rocks back into place. To the west of the city, between the inner and outer walls in what is called ‘the Valley of Tombs’, the Palmyrans built various types of colourful family mausoleums. A • All foreigners entering Syria require a visa, number of these tombs are still being which is best obtained from an embassy or consulate outside of Syria. Visas are valid for restored but others are open to visitors. 15 days, but can be extended once inside the Many of these ancient graves are rich country. in statues and beautiful bas-reliefs, some of which are to be found in the • While in Palmyra the Palmyra Museum is a must. One of the best museums in Syria, it Palmyra Museum. A large group features fantastic statues, a reconstruction of antique textiles (1 to 3rd century of the Temple of Bel, wonderfully decorated A.D.), on display in the Syrian funerary busts and sarcophagi that contain National Museum in Damascus, have some excellently carved figures, bas-reliefs, jewellery and much more. been found in these mausoleums. To me, the dominating 17th • The best time to travel to Palmyra is in century Qalat Ibn Manni, first erected spring and autumn when the weather is by Saladin then re-built in the 17th excellent. century by the rebellious Ottoman • In Palmyra, Palmyra governor, Emir Fakhir al-Din alCham Palace, located Maani, and forming a splendid in the edge of the ruins backdrop to the ruins, appeared to be is the place to stay. For prices and for reserving a guardian watching over Zenobia’s rooms in all the Cham city - majestic and proud in its eternal Palace Hotels in Damascus isolation. As I watched the sun and the remainder of setting, throwing the castle’s shadows Syria, check http://www. chamhotels.com/syria.html. As toward the ruins and the oasis of well, Chamtours and Chamcar Rentals cover some 60,000 inhabitants beyond, the whole of Syria. In addition, there are I experienced a haunting dream of many budget hotels in the city such as the how Palmyra must have appeared in excellent and historic Zenobia Hotel, built atop the ruins – cost double $65. per night. its days of glory when it was truly the ‘Queen of the Syrian Desert’.

If You Go


AMBIENCE

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Life at Sea

February 2007

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OUTSIDE ARABIA CANADA

Awe-inspiring scenery at

Ski Resorts

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Photos by Travel Alberta

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he ultimate in Canadian ski facilities, the three world-class ski areas: Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine are legendary for their snows and offer awe-inspiring scenery and top-class skiing services. Tucked in the bosom of Canada’s magnificent Rocky Mountains, they are located in Canada’s historic Banff National Park. Called, ‘Canada’s mountain paradise’, the 6,641 sq km (2,564 sq mi) Banff National Park with its overwhelming mountains is the oldest and most famous sanctuary in Canada. A marvellous playground, it encompasses three vegetation zones - montane, sub-alpine and alpine. Due to the variation of temperature at these different levels of elevation, the weather in the park is very unpredictable. Slow moving glaciers, rounded mountains, castellated peaks, dense forests, turquoise lakes, sparkling rivers, roaring waterfalls, dazzling white snowfields and lush green meadows are to be found in one or the other of these zones. The scenic panorama of the landscape led the geologist A.P. Coleman in 1884 to remark, “There is a feeling of having caught nature unaware at her work of creation.” Most of the recreational activities in the park are made accessible by 350 km (217 mi) of roads and 1,000 km (620 mi) of trails. About 4 million visitors come annually to ski or camp in one of the park’s 2,800 camp sites or stay in one of the numerous and comfortable lodging places. The essence of the park, their towering peaks seem, at the same time, to elevate and humble the spirit. In winter, the park boasts one of the longest snow seasons in North


The resorts have a certain magical beauty that draws people from the four corners of the world, making them an internationally acclaimed destination.

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America and one of the most consistent snowfalls in the world. It is a skiing landscape inviting in its enchantment, drawing skiers from the four corners of the world to three resorts with their 3,137 ha (7,748 ac) of challenging alpine terrain and 200 km (125 mi) of runs accessed 28 lifts. The three world-class full-service ski areas: Ski Banff @ Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise have half-pipes and snowboard parks with easily accessed benches at the top of the chairlifts. The area receives up to 900 cm (30 ft) of light, dry powdery snow during the lengthy season - November to May - and offers plenty of challenges to the seasoned skiers, as well as facilities for beginners learning to ski or snowboard. Experts have ranked Lake Louise, Canada’s largest single ski area, as the most romantic, scenic and attractive ski resort in North America with abundant natural snow, backed up by Canada’s largest snow making system. Its skiing terrain spreads over four mountain faces and some 139 named runs, totalling 100 km (62 mi), and 4,200 ski-able acres, with incredible panoramic bowls, and 9 lifts. Considered as the ultimate ski getaway with the driest and lightest snow in North America, this winter retreat has attracted international royalty, Hollywood stars and heads of state. It is the home to the Canadian Powder 8 Championships and enjoys the honour of prestigious Gold Medals from Ski Magazine in Scenery, Terrain, Challenge and Value. Sunshine Village, located at the top of the Continental Divide with 107 runs, offers a varied upper alpine terrain, thousands of vertical feet of wide-open bowls, treed runs carved through the forest, and the Rockies’ lightest and softest snows. Its average 30 feet of annual

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Guests can also partake in an impressive array of winter fun such as canyon walks, dog sledding, ice climbing and ice-fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobile and sightseeing tours, skating, snowshoe treks, tobogganing and world-class snowboarding.

snowfall of fine flakes is renowned among skiers throughout the world, earning a Snow Country magazine rating for ‘Canada’s Best Snow’. The resort’s peak elevation, 2,730 m (8,954 ft) atop Lookout Mountain, is the highest in the Canadian Rockies. With access to more than 1,360 ha (3,358 ac) of skiing terrain, it boasts some of the most memorable skiing for winter adventurers. It features 12 lifts, the most important being the world’s fastest and longest single strand high-speed 8-passenger gondola that transports in under 13 minutes, above stunning alpine terrain, 1,800 skiers per hour to the summit of Mount Standish. Noted for its steep terrain and impeccably nightly groomed beginner and intermediate slopes, Ski Banff @ Norquay with only about 77 ha (190 ac) of terrain, is the smallest of the three. It is called by some ‘the best-kept secret in the Rockies’ and is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Banff. It is the pioneer ski resort in Banff National Park, cutting its first ski runs in 1926. Renovated and brought up-to-date, Ski Banff @ Norquay, with 28 tree-sheltered runs, features five lifts, skiing by the hour and the only illuminated terrain park in the Canadian Rockies, which gives riders a chance to hit some jumps and bumps by the light of the moon. The resort, which offers free night skiing with the tri-area lift ticket, received the Ski Canada Magazine ‘Best of Skiing 2000’ award for ‘Best Fallline Cruising Terrain’. The three resorts, which have succeeded in marrying the relationship between tourism and the preservation of Banff National Park, offer visitors a whole series of vacation packages. Guests can also partake in an impressive array of winter fun such as canyon walks, dog sledding, ice climbing and ice-fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobile and sightseeing tours, skating, snowmobile tours, snowshoe treks, tobogganing and world-class snowboarding. However, the fantastic skiing slopes, set in the midst of an endless wilderness, are the true sirens that lure the skiers from the four corners of the world into their fine snowy embrace. - Habeeb Salloum

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If You Go • Calgary International Airport is just 1.5 hours drive to Banff and handles airlines from all over the world. The Trans-Canada Highway, the Banff-Radium Highway, the scenic Bow Valley Parkway and the awe-inspiring Icefields Parkway are all major travel routes that bisect Banff National Park. • The Park’s entry fees for a day’s pass is $9.90; for a family group $17.90. • ‘Lake Louise’ opened on November 10, 2006 and the tentative closing date is May 1, 2007; the Sunshine Village, opened November 10, 2006 and the tentative closing date is May 21, 2007; and the Ski Banff @ Norquay, opened December 9, 2006 and the tentative closing date is April 16, 2007. • The resorts focus on young guests and activities for children are plentiful. Also, ski, restaurant and hotel prices cater to children. Excellent daycare facilities exist at all three ski areas. • More than 35 lodging places (plus over 15 Bed & Breakfasts), over 120 varied dining choices and some 200 shops offer a range of services that is unique among the world's ski resorts. • One can find lodgings in three charming mountain towns: Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore. The towns offer over 200 shops, restaurants but nightlife can only be found in the town of Banff. • Visiting Banff Park and its sister Jasper Park in summer is a different never to be forgotten event. The cool weather and invigorating mountain air and the most splendid landscape in the world are nature made for the enjoyment of visitors.

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SPECIAL FEATURE VALENTINE’S DAY

Foods

that will make your

love dreams come true

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For lovers, the traditional gift of chocolates has some merit. Foods and drink prepared from chocolate have always been associated with romance and fantasy. In some cultures chocolate has been called the ‘elixir of life’; and in others an aphrodisiac.

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hen Valentines nears, how many times have those in love thought of ways to lure their loved ones into the web of tender affection? It is a day filled with love when people begin to fantasize and look for the best gifts for their lady or gentlemen friends. Both men and women are looking for a romantic day - a time of lover’s magic. What better way to enhance this magic, than for a woman or a man to serve an enticing meal, in the midst of a room filled with mostly red flower traditionally associated, in folklore, with love. The conventional gifts of Valentine: candy, flowers and, above all, heart shaped chocolates in fancy red boxes would be but an enticing prelude to such a lover’s feast. For lovers, the traditional gift of chocolates has some merit. Foods and drink prepared from chocolate have always been associated with romance and fantasy. In some cultures chocolate has been called the ‘elixir of life’; and in others an aphrodisiac. The Incas believed that cocoa was a sexual stimulant and the Aztecs maintained that cocoa made men more virile and attractive to females. Hence, their nobility drank chocolate from golden goblets before visiting their women. Madame du Barry, well known in erotic history, gave chocolate to her lovers and Casanova is said to have preferred chocolate to champagne. Some writers in the 17th century inveighed against the use of chocolate by monks, claiming that it violently aroused their passions and made them lustful. In the same era, the English physician, Henry Stubbs, wrote that chocolate arouses passion. Of all the foods eaten by man none have been associated with love more than truffles - a relatively unknown delectable underground vegetable. For centuries many have considered truffles as the ultimate aphrodisiac that made women tender and men more apt to love.

February 2007

The Romans even dedicated truffles to Venus in the belief that they stimulated love. In France, where the aphrodisiac qualities of truffles have been appreciated for centuries, there is a saying that ‘if a man is rich enough to eat truffles, his loves will be plenty’. The reputation of truffles as a potent aphrodisiac and a love-food without equal could have some elements of truth. They contain a good amount of phosphorus and iron, both of which have an arousing effect on sexual activity. Fish has long been associated with aphrodisiac powers. A fair number of ancient religions forbade the eating of fish among their priests. It was believed that consuming sea animals made one ardent in love. The Greek poet Asclepiades advocated a meal of fish for anyone planning to spend an evening with a willing woman. In Roman times, a fish sauce was made to arouse sexual feelings. Madame Pompadour, the greatest of French mistresses, often dined on seafood as a prelude to l’amour. Casanova, who usually ate 50 oysters for breakfast, firmly believed that fish would increase his sexual powers. This association of fish with sex has some scientific basis. R. Henderickson in Lewd Food points out that fish contains an amount of phosphorous that has a limited but direct reaction to the genitourinary tract. Others have asserted that the phosphorous and iodine content of sea creatures affects a direct reaction upon males and females alike. In the North African countries where they are employed extensively in cooking, many believe that chickpeas increase the energy and sexual desires of both men and women. Shaykh `Umar Abu Muhammad, a 16th century North African Arab writer, in his book The Perfumed Garden, suggests chickpeas as a cure for impotence and a first-rate sexual stimulant. Known for decades as ‘scarlet love apples’ or ‘golden love apples’,

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tomatoes became the favourite of sweethearts and a symbol of passion. Their reputation as a wicked, sensuous and powerful sexual stimulant made them feared by virtuous maidens. Honey has a renowned aphrodisiac reputation - highly valued for millennia as a love food. The Greek physician Galen and the Roman poet Ovid recommended it to lovers. In Roman mythology, Amor, the god of love, before smiting lovers, dipped his arrows in honey, while the Chinese utilized it as a binder in aphrodisiac drinks. The banana, due to its appearance, through the ages, has been considered a true love food. It is included in Indian offerings to their fertility gods. According to R. Hendrickson in Lewd Food, the expression ‘I had a banana with Lady Diana’ was, from the beginning of the century up until about 1930, English slang for intercourse. Among the ancient civilizations of the Middle East, the pomegranate was a symbol of fertility. The Romans believed its ovules to be an aphrodisiac - a belief that in later centuries spread to all parts of Europe. Hence, many labelled it the ‘love fruit’. From among the many other foods with a sexual reputation are avocados which the Aztecs believed had aphrodisiac qualities. They named it ahacatl, meaning green testicle, because, to them, it not only resembled a testicle but aroused sexual passion as well. To the Chinese the apricot blossoms were a symbol of love and seduction and in some cultures, sesame seeds were eaten to restore vitality and sex appeal. Last but not least, molokhia (Jews Mellow), a popular green in the Middle East, was thought to be a sexual stimulant that made women stray into the arms of strange men. Al-Hakim bi-’Amr Allah, a Fatimid Caliph of Egypt in the 10-11th centuries, banned molokhia because he believed it led men and women into a life of debauchery. If one is thinking about his/her beloved and would like to celebrate this time of love with friends also in love, and, at the same time enjoy fine food, this Valentine feast, serving 8 to 12, made from ingredients with a sexual reputation, will appeal to many lovers.

Baked Herb Stuffed Fish

4 tablespoons butter 2 medium onions, chopped 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped 1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped 1 lemon with skin, very finely chopped 6 cloves garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon finely chopped hot pepper 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon cumin 2 teaspoons salt 1 4 to 5 pound salmon or similar type fish, scaled and washed oil Melt butter in a frying pan then sauté onions over medium heat for 8 minutes. Stir in parsley, coriander leaves, lemon, garlic and hot pepper, then stir-fry for 4 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in paprika, pepper, cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt to make a filling. Stuff fish then close with toothpicks. Rub fish with oil, then with the remaining teaspoon salt. Wrap in aluminium foil then bake in a 400° F preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil then place under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown. Serve immediately. Guacamole - Avocado Appetizer

Pomegranate and Almond Delight

seeds from 4 medium sized pomegranates 1 cup slivered almonds 4 tablespoons soft honey 2 teaspoons rose water Thoroughly combine all ingredients until the honey coats all pomegranate seeds and almonds, then place in a serving bowl. Chill, then serve.

2 medium sized avocados 3 tablespoons lemon juice 2 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon. pepper l/8 teaspoon cayenne Pit and peel avocados, then mash in a mixing bowl with the lemon juice. (Reserve one pit). Stir in the remaining ingredients and, then spread on a serving platter. In order to preserve the colour, bury the pit in the middle, then refrigerate until time to serve.

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PROMOTIONS

Come and celebrate Valentines Day in a true and romantic style at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel. Lovely venues and a splendid time welcome both the young and the young at heart to come over and surprise your partner with a romantic dinner at five of our outstanding dining outlets: Fontana 5 course set menu inclusive of a Lavish buffet, featuring an welcome drink for AED. 500 per international buffet couple. Inclusive of selected beverages and live entertainment for Come Prima AED.190 net per person. 5 course set menu inclusive of a Benihana 5 course set menu dinner inclusive of selected beverages for AED. 380 net per couple. Blue Elephant

welcome drink for AED.550 net per couple. Rodeo Grill 5 course set menu inclusive of a welcome drink for AED.600 net per couple.

Al Bustan Rotana Hotel Experience the Antipasto @ Come Prima Discover how satiating appetisers can be with self-service Antipasto lunch in Come Prima. It will feature a display of mixed salads and Italian appetizers “Antipasto” such as Octopus Carpaccio, grilled and marinated vegetables sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, home marinated salmon with lemon and coriander and cured beef bresaola with rocket and mushrooms. For the main courses to compliment the Antipasto Chef Luca will prepare on a weekly basis some healthy choices of mains like grilled fish, home-made pastas, chicken and vegetarian dishes with the freshest ingredients available in the market. As a sweet option guest can choose from 3 low calorie desserts like macerated strawberries in balsamic vinegar, lemon parfait and fresh fruits. The lunch is for only Dhs.110 net per person, including antipasto, a choice of main course, dessert or you can choose antipasto and dessert for only Dhs.60 net per person.

JW Marriott The JW Marriott Dubai makes romance easy this Valentine’s Day with a delightful assembly of amorous essentials to woo your sweetheart. The Valentine Extravaganza package is the ultimate in romantic decadence and might be easier to book than you think – it’s up for sale to the highest bidder on www.souq.com The luxury package is available on February 14th, 2007, and includes a myriad of romantic ingredients: a one night stay in the JW Marriott Dubai’s Royal Suite with your own private swimming pool on Valentine’s Day; limousine transfers from home to the hotel, and also to either the helipad or hot air balloon hangar; either a helicopter ride or hot air balloon ride; candlelit multi-course dinner in the Royal Suite with a personal chef; rose petals scattered in the suite’s private pool and across the bed upon arrival; ‘His & Hers’ Damas jewellery and Champagne breakfast for two in the Royal Suite the next morning. 48

The luxury package will be posted on www.souq.com from 1st to 12th February. JW Marriott Dubai will set the base limit on the website and bids will rise from there. Reservations can be made at the JW Marriott Dubai on telephone: +971 (4) 2624444 or reserve online at www.jwmarriottdubai.com


Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites Waterside Seafood Restaurant & Terrace Cherish the blissful phenomen called love as you dine on a gala 5 course set menu dinner for only AED 600* net per couple, inclusive of a welcome drink and an exclusive gift for ladies. Zaika Restaurant Celebrate a warm Valentine’s day with Zaika’s pungent Indian flavours served in a comprehensive 5 course set menu dinner for only AED 500* net per couple inclusive of a welcome drink and an exclusive gift for ladies. Double Decker If you are looking for a zestful evening this Valentine, then Double Decker is the place to be. A special Valentine party, rocking live band and a vibrant environment awaits all who are passionate at heart.

The day specially devoted to love and peace making is being celebrated whole-heartedly at Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites. Various appetizing & entertaining options invite you to step in and rejoice the beautiful bond of love. Pergolas Exchange those special vibes with your loved one over a wide ranging buffet dinner for only AED 450* net per couple, including unlimited selected beverages and an exclusive gift for ladies. Latino House Restaurant & Bar Give expression to your emotions with a long lasting 5 course set menu dinner and an exceptionally romantic evening for only AED 600* net per couple, inclusive of a welcome drink and an exclusive gift for ladies.

Waterside goes “Simply Sushi” Waterside Seafood Restaurant & Terrace in Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites brought the finest flavors of Japanese cuisine with introduction of its new “Simply Sushi” theme night. Following authentic tradition, the feast starts with Bento box offering the diners a selection of traditional Japanese nibbles. Afterwards, the guests can indulge into rich selection of fresh mouthwatering sushis, sashimis and assorted rolls. The theme night is highlighted by unique Takoyaki live cooking, which is second to none in Dubai. These tender Octopus filled balls are impossible to resist and “a must” to try. The Simply Sushi theme night is available every Monday from 7:00 pm till 11:30 pm. The price is AED 139* net per person including unlimited selected beverages. *The price is inclusive of 10% Municipality fees and 10% service charge. For reservations and more information, please call (04) 3211111, ext 2202/2203.

Moevenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

Enjoy a romantic dinner for Valentines Day. – Italian Style, at the Moevenpick Hotel Bur Dubai. On February 14th you can enjoy a romantic dinner for two at La Veranda. Chef Rheda is preparing a delicious 4-course meal in Mediterranean flair. Starting off with endives and smoked salmon served with orange wedges, the culinary delight leads via a green apple and spumante sherbet to a tasty creation of raviolis and a scrumptious veal fillet with smoked scarmorza cheese, served on saffron risotto. Italian style settings, personal and attentive service and delightful entertainment by a violinist ensure a romantic evening for you at only AED 300.00 per couple. For information and reservations please call La Veranda Restaurant at 04 336 6000 ext. 340. February 2007

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Escape with the one you love and stay at the Renaissance Dubai Hotel. Take it slow and enjoy the delightful moments in one of our comfortable 281 spacious rooms & suites. The unique essence of romance reflects in the four restaurants, pool bar and coffee lounge which cater to all tastes while the outdoor swimming pool, sauna and high-tech fitness centre provide total relaxation for both of you. Savour the contentment of having your needs taken care of and experience an unforgettable romantic time. Spending time with us, gives you time for each other!! This offer is valid from the January 1, 2007 until the November 2, 2007

The Adoring Romance Package includes: - Luxurious guest room - Daily delicious international breakfast for two at Sails Restaurant - A lovely dinner for two at the Mediterranean Sails Restaurant on one of the evening - Two delicious cocktails and fresh strawberries on arrival

Renaissance Hotel, Dubai Spice Island It’s the day to express your love - celebrate it at Spice Island with our Valentine’s Day Couples Special for Dhs. 199 per person* with a glass of bubbly, a rose for your lady and heart shaped chocolates for both. Discover the live cooking stations featuring Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Indian, Indonesian and Mongolian dishes with a great selection of delicious meats and seafood * The Original Grand Buffet Sails Restaurant A special occasion calls for a special meal and at Sails we promise just that. A box of home made chocolates and a rose for your lovely lady will set the mood as you indulge in any of our special packages on offer: Tee Total: Dhs. 350 per couple Cupid’s Delight: Dhs. 450 per couple* * Includes a bottle of sparkling wine Tiki Bar It is the finest opportunity to impress, enchant and spoil your lover. Special cocktails for the evening include Love Breeze, Endless Love and Strawberry Love Cooler or share our exciting array of Pacific Rim snacks and equally tantalizing tropical cocktails while listening to the sounds of our resident band “Exotiki” – a wonderful blend of Cuban music from Daisy and her group members. Performing nightly, except Mondays, from 8:30pm to 1:00am. Aquarium Lounge Love is in the air at the Aquarium Lounge with a fine selection of chocolates and heart shaped cakes ready to be personalized with a message for your loved one. All items are at a la carte prices. Adoring Romance Package

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Terms & Conditions: - Subject to availability - Stay must include Thursday or Friday night - Prices are based on a stay for two adults per room per night - Extension: Best available rate will be applicable - The above prices are all subject to 10% municipality fees and 10% service charges. - Rates start from AED 965 (US $ 265) per night for double occupancy.


Huvafen Fushi Maldives Recently chosen for ‘Best Service’ in the heralded Conde Nast Traveller magazine 2007 Gold list, Huvafen Fushi, Maldives, is taking Valentines Day to a whole new height of romanticism. The island paradise which is located in the North Malé Atoll has put together an exclusive seven night stay for couples over Valentines Day 2007. The idyllic getaway will feature accommodation in one of the island’s chic Lagoon Bungalows, a dual Touch Therapy treatment at the spa, a private dinner on the waters edge, a day trip to the secluded island of Dhoni Mighili by seaplane and a gourmet picnic. During their stay, guests will rejuvenate and unwind at the world’s first underwater spa with a pre-selected massage treatment. For a truly memorable experience a bath will be drawn for couples to soak in whilst enjoying cocktails surrounded by candles and flower petals. The White Affair, a private dinner on the waters edge, is one night out on the beach, with a menu infused with all the essence of romance complete with a glass of Champagne. Holiday makers will be able to dig their feet into the sand and enjoy beautiful views of the moonlit ocean. To top this already amazing stay, Huvafen Fushi will host a breathtaking

seaplane ride to Dhoni Mighili for a day trip inclusive of a HuvafenFoodie pack. Dhoni Mighili is a unique experience pairing luxury boat accommodation with a secluded island hideaway. The Huvafen-Foodie pack will be filled with the ultimate in gourmet food and beverages, including, fine caviar, smoked salmon, gourmet sandwiches, a bottle of Gosset, fine cheese and ‘sweet nothings’, exclusively presented by our award winning Executive Chef, Emil Minev. Huvafen Fushi, nestled within its very own private lagoon, is the Maldives’ most stylish resort. Literally translated as ‘Dream Island’, Huvafen Fushi is a waking dream, showcasing the world’s first underwater spa treatment rooms and 43 ‘island chic’ bungalows each boasting a vast private plunge pool and every conceivable luxury. Imagine no more… Priced from USD$14,750 per couple for a 7 nights stay at a Lagoon Bungalow. Terms and conditions do apply. To CELEBRATE LOVE at Huvafen Fushi, please call +960 6644 222 or e mail reservations@huvafenfushi.com. Alternatively, log on to www. huvafenfushi.com for more information.

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai It is that time of the year again to spark some love and romance with your Valentine and what better way to express that than treating your loved one to an enticing Valentine’s evening of stylish Italian dining at Ossigeno, or award winning steaks at Prime Rib. Join us for a sumptuous four course dinner of only DHS 495 per person, and you’ll be welcomed with a complimentary glass of Rossini. You can also experience the spice of Modern Mexican cuisine at Maya, or the exotic far eastern delicacies served in the sleek ambience of Fusion; each for 395 DHS for a four course meal. Complimentary Margaritas or a special Valentine’s cocktail will be served upon your arrival. And finally for a stress-free Valentine’s experience, choose the delights of the royal buffet at Brasserie for only 195 DHS.

February 2007

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Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Media City Chef’s House Inclusive of welcome wine aperitif, three- course sharing menu starter (seafood oysters, prawns, etc.) main course (mixed kebab platter) and dessert (marinated strawberries), long stemmed rose for the lady and cigar for gent and mini-Valentine chocolates as takeaway gift. Absolut will provide couples with after-dinner specially concocted wine cocktails. A guest Crooner from UK will be serenading on the evening. Dhs 500 per couple Certo Inclusive of a special San Valentine aperitif “Valentini’s for him and her by Negroni, delectable Italian 4 course dinner menu specially created by Chef Marco & Chef Vincenzo, long stemmed rose for the lady and gents receive

a Habanos ‘Romeo & Juliet’ cigar and heart shaped Valentine chocolates as takeaway gift. A guest Crooner from UK will be serenading lovers in the evening. Dhs 545 per couple Tamanya For those who’d like to spoil their partners with post-dinner relaxation just before heading home, the Tamanya Terrace rooftop venue can be very romantic. With astounding views of the Marina’s glittering skylines, treat your partner to some helpings of fruit flavoured and rosy cocktails. Take advantage of the wintry weather and get cozy while listening to DJ Martin’s house music selection for the evening. Call Tamanya to book a table early at 04.366 9111 before it gets crowded.

The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai The ‘Love Butler’ comes calling… One lucky couple will get the chance to hire our ‘Love Butler’ and his chef on February 14. It’s the ultimate experience for the special person in your life. The Ritz-Carlton Love Butler will sweep into your home, setting up candles, flowers and champagne, while our chef gets to work in your kitchen to produce six delectable courses to out you in the mood for love. When the scene is set, the Love Butler will serve you both at your own dining table. How do we know who the lucky couple will be? As we only have one Love Butler and one chef to spare on Valentine’s Day, it will be whoever picks up the phone and makes the booking first! Sorry to anyone who misses out – there’s always next year though… The evening is prices at Dhs 8000.00 net, and includes dinner, flowers, candles, champagne and not to mention the most stylish service in town.

The art of amore in Splendido The piazza of Splendido, with its stunning views across the lawns and the seashore, is the romantic venue for an evening of food and love. The piazza is strewn with rose-petals and lit by scented candles, and with a background of gently romantic music to set the mood. Chef de cuisine, Maurizio Menconi has created a four course menu of Italian dishes to set your passions aflame this Valentines Days. Dhs 888 net per couple includes a bottle of Italian bubbly, Prosecco. Pick out a pearl for the one you love The team at La Baie has got together with the producers of the world’s most beautiful pearls, Pinctada, to offer couples a Valentines Day with a pearly twist. Dinner for two on February 14 is priced at Dhs 1,200 net per couple and includes a sumptuous five course seafood menu with a glass of rose champagne each.

The surprise is in the dessert. If you find a pearl hidden in it, you will receive a certificate entitling you to present your pearl to Pinctada, who will set it in 18 carat white or yellow gold for you. There will be three lucky winners on the evening. Advance reservations are essential due to limited space. Spa Promotions Coffee and orange with a punch No, it’s not our barman’s latest invention, though we think it would make a fabulous cocktail too. This month at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, enjoy the new and exclusive Columbian Citrus Punch body treatment. Your senses will be stimulated with a Columbian Coffee Scrub that will aid in detoxification, remove dry kin cells and stimulate the circulation, while surrounding you with the exotic aromas of rich coffee beans. The refreshing juice from fresh oranges will be squeezed onto the skin and massaged along with the coffee. This orange and coffee body mask will then be left on the skin to penetrate and give a firming and toning effect while you relax with our signature face and scalp massage. Once the mask has been absorbed into the skin, it is showered off and a revitalizing citrus lemon body oil is applied and massaged into the skin, leaving the body refreshed and the mind uplifted. The treatment is priced at Dhs 295.00, and the duration of the treatment is 60 minutes. For reservations and bookings please contact The Ritz-Carlton at 04 3994000.

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Sheraton Abu Dhabi

Romantic Valentine’s Are you looking for the perfect spot to romance your loved one? Here at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi the Roses have been ordered and the Champagne safely stored. Join us at either La Mamma, El Sombrero and Il Paradiso where Chef Bernhard and his team has prepared aphrodisiac set menus on offer for that special Valentines Tête à Tête. A complimentary glass of bubbly will be offered to all diners at a price of AED 145 net per person. And in Flavours you will find the famous Seafood night buffet laden with aphrodisiac dishes ranging from oysters, lobsters, prawns to chocolate covered strawberries at AED 169 net per person. Come to Sheraton and romance the night away… Chinese New Year - 17 February 2007 To celebrate the Chinese New Year and to welcome in the year of the pig we have prepared a succulent and traditional Chinese buffet prepared by our Chinese Chef James Wang for the occasion in our Flavours Restaurant for only AED 95 net per person. The Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac. Like the Western calendar, The Chinese Lunar Calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the lunar year being based on the cycles of the moon, each of the twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality, saying: “This is the animal that hides in your heart.”

Kempinski Mall Of The Emirates Sezzam Enjoy a special 4 course set menu dinner for two in Flame, and an afterdinner-cocktail in Evory Lounge with live entertainment. • AED 777 per couple including 375ml bottle of Moet et Chandon • AED 555 per couple including 375ml of Bateel Sparkling Date Juice 24Seven Chocola A special chocolate themed dinner buffet with live music on the baby grand piano. * Dhs. 999 per couple including one glass of champagne per person. * Dhs. 688 per couple including one glass of non alcoholic champagne per person. non alcoholic 1897 bar Rose Champagne and Chocolate Eve Dhs. 850 per bottle with complementary teaser food platters for two.

Dusail

Dusail Yacht Charters LLC will offer special Valentines Day Charters on the 14th February 2007. Sail to some of Dubai’s newest sites, drop anchor and then go for a refreshing swim or snorkel. Whilst showering, we will be preparing a sumptuous 3 course menu. After savouring the food and also the surroundings we set sail again to enjoy the enchanting sunset disappear below the horizon, whilst listening to your favourite love songs. A perfect way to romance your Valentine !!! Sailing Yachts – From Dhs 5,900 Motor Yachts – From Dhs 6,900 (*subject to availability, valid for 2 persons) Includes: Three hour Private Charter, Captain, Crew, 3-Course Dinner and Beverages Gift of Chocolates & Roses Yachts adorned accordingly on this special day ! For further bookings and enquiries, please contact Debbie Kirkwood, Managing Director, Dusail LLC, Tel: 3989146, Fax: 3989168, Mobile: 050 5517280. Email: info@dusail.com.

Intercontinental Al Ain Arabesque Restaurant - Lavish buffet and glass of bubbly AED 180 per couple The Wok - 5 course set menu and glass of bubbly AED 220 per couple Tanjore - 3 course set menu and glass bubbly AED 190 per couple Luce Diamond Fashion Show including presentation from the sponsor and chance to win a diamond. 5 course set menu AED 350 per couple

February 2007

28th February - Luce Ristorante Spanish Night - 4 course set menu with live music and salsa dancing from in-house band AED 125 per person Every Thursday and Friday - Horse and Jockey BBQ with live band AED 60 per person.

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Valentine’s revival at The Terrace in Sheraton Deira Hotel. Enjoy the sweet sensation of Valentines’ at ‘The Terrace’ milieu with soft music serenading you into a perfect Valentines’ bliss while you ravish from the exceptionally exotic set menu prepared by Robin Gomes, Executive Chef for AED 260- net per couple, served from 7.30 pm till 11.30pm, including a bottle of Sparkling wine. The Set-menu favoring all tastes, kicks-off with an appetizer of ‘Exotic salad leaves & smoked duck breast touched with rose Vinaigrette’, to build up the momentum with a tempting soup of ‘Essence of seafood garnish with pink fish’, going to the main course creating a fervent desire with ‘Medallions of veal and supreme of chicken with heart polenta beetroot pepper served with Sherry sauce’ and to savour the culmination of the evening with a tingling sweet sensation of ‘Light cheese, yogurt and raspberry parfait with red currant coulis ’. Every couple gets to take-away a heart shaped strawberry cake. This is a Valentine deal you can’t resist.

Sheraton Deira Hotel

Seafood Sizzler @ The Terrace Now enjoy at The Terrace, the Mediterranean styled restaurant in Sheraton Deira Hotel, the Seafood Sizzler promotion, a fabulous lunchtime treat, from 12.30pm – 15.30pm for only Dhs. 55 net along with a fresh juice thirst quencher. Sizzler’s is a long-established and well-loved hospitality brand. Indulge in mouthwatering and fresh seafood from a limited sizzling choice of hammour, khoffer, sherry, baby shark, hamra, cooked to perfection and all individually served with rice and vegetables. Call 04-6068615 for reservations and more details.

Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers Be My Valentine! Valentine’s Day is named after two men, both Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. It’s also on that traditional day when lovers express their love for each other, sending Valentine’s cards and special gift. At the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, we offer you two special ways to show your affection to your loved ones. * A romantic dinner menu for two, sparkling beverage, gift for the couple, bouquet of flowers for the lady, limousine transfer from and to your residence (restrictions apply) as well as live entertainment - all inclusive for only AED525 net per couple. * A romantic dinner menu for two, sparkling beverage, gift for the couple, a rose for the lady, live entertainment - all inclusive for only AED440 net per couple. Whether you choose to dine at the romantic Vivaldi Italian restaurant which provides a panoramic view of the Dubai Creek, or in the magnificent setting of the Ashiana Indian restaurant or at the exquisite Creekside Japanese restaurant, we have the perfect ambience to ensure your evening is a memorable one. Alternatively, if you are looking to celebrate in private, don’t forget to surprise your loved one with some delicious Valentine sweets, available at The Lobby Café and the Chelsea Arms Pub. Price: AED120 net per cake and AED17 net per slice of Valentine tart. Advance reservations are highly recommended to avoid any disappointment. Call Vivaldi Italian Restaurant 54

at 04 207 1717, Ashiana Indian Restaurant 04 207 1733, Creekside Japanese Restaurant at 04 207 1750, Chelsea Arms Pub at 04 207 1738 and The Lobby Café at 04 207 1719.

Whisk Her Off For A Romantic Rendez Vous Plan a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day and our team at the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers will be there to ensure your celebration of love is an unforgettable one. Step into our marbled lobby and enjoy a bubbly while you check in at the exclusive Towers Lounge. Be escorted to your magnificent Towers room by one of our roundthe-clock butlers. Draw open the curtains to an amazing view of the Dubai Creek and you will be immediately embraced by a calm and relaxed ambience. Sink into the softness of our Sweet Sleeper beds or simply indulge in a complimentary massage treatment or just chill out by the temperature-controlled swimming pool. Price: AED935 per Tower’s room per night. To sign up for this romantic package, call us at 04 207 1202 / 03. Terms & Conditions: - Offer is valid from 01/02/07 to 15/02/07 - Offer is subject to space availability - Rate is subject to 10% service charge and 10% municipality fees - Rate is valid only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays


Sheraton Jumeirah Beach It’s that time of the year again; love is in the air and celebrating it under the stars with that special someone is exactly what you should be doing. This Valentine, the Sheraton Jumeirah pulls out all the stops with a romantic dinner for two at the beach. A seafood platter to seduce your palate, lobster and steak grilled to perfection and some sinful dessert, made especially for the occasion, topped off with a bottle of fine champagne will ensure you have an unforgettable evening. This special offer is available at AED 1,200 per couple. Palm Garden As the saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Treat your loved one to a sumptuous Valentine’s Day buffet for just AED 175 per person, inclusive of a glass of sparkling wine.

leave you craving for more. Make the most of the “Hadiqa Happy Hour” daily from 18:00hrs to 19:00hrs. Come enjoy any normal house-pouring beverage at a 50% discount. Paella Night at the Sea Breeze Bar Enjoy authentic Paella cooked on open fire every Friday night accompanied with some real Spanish flair. The resident Flamenco Guitarists Paco and Rei will make sure that you leave with an OLE! Open from 1800hrs till 2230hrs. Peacock Lobster Nights Calling all sea food fanatics! An exclusive Lobster promotion will take place from the 21st of January until the end of February at the Peacock. Dim Sum Lunch Back by popular demand, the old time favorite “Dim Sum trolley”, offering a selection of Dim Sums served every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1200 – 1500 hrs, including an array of fresh juices. The Peacock is open for lunch from from 12pm to 3pm and for dinner from 6pm to 12 midnight.

Grill Room If you are looking to celebrate your love with an intimate fine dining experience, indulge in our specially designed 6 course Valentine’s Day menu for only AED 225 per person. Peacock Shower her with (n)oodles of love this Valentines at the finest Chinese restaurant in town. Enjoy a set menu for just AED 185 per person. For table reservations in all outlets, please call 04-315 3218 Al Hadiqa Restaurant Come and enjoy a relaxing evening at our newly renovated restaurant that offers you true Arabic hospitality and flair. Now open from 18:00 to 03:00 hrs. After a stressful day in hectic Dubai, take a much needed break in our newly refurbished Al Hadiqa Restaurant where the Shisha will make you puff your worries away and the juicy Arabic mixed grills and Shawarma will

Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi Enjoy Valentine’s Day at Millennium Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Dine with your loved one at Sevilo’s Italian Restaurant or the Marakesh Moroccan Restaurant. The following menu will be served on February 14. Sevilo’s Italian Restaurant Start off your meal with Stuffed puff pastries and minipizzas with mixed salad. Primi Piatti is a choice between Spaghetti noodles with diced lobster in pink sauce or Large flat noodles with Neapolitan style meat sauce followed with a Rose Sorbet. Second Piatti is a choice between Fresh tuna steak with tomatoes, back olives, capers and onion sauce or Beef fillet covered with duck liver in Barolo wine sauce with vegetables and crusted mush potatoes. A Valentine’s Day dessert surprise awaits you. All these for Dhs. 380.00 plus 16% sc per couple including 2 glasses of champagne February 2007

Marakesh Moroccan Restaurant Your salad is a mixed variety of Moroccan traditional vegetables, Salad with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh coriander. The soup is Shorba with vegetables and chicken Hot Appetizers are Mixed Moroccan Briouats Meat, chicken, seafood, cheese Rolls, Special pigeon pastille with almond & cinnamon Hot Dishes are Couscous seafood with seven vegetables, Tagine veal knuckles and raisins and Duck with lemon confits. Select your dessert from Passion fruit and raspberries mouse surrendered, Honey & lime sauce and orange blossom sorbet, Jawhara with almond and dates to Honey and lime sauce & orange blossom sorbet. Complete your meal with a cup of mint tea or coffee. All these for Dhs 420.00 plus 16% sc per couple including 1 bottle of selected wine. 55


Grand Hyatt Dubai Valentine’s Day at Andiamo! and Manhattan Grill This Valentine’s day, allow Grand Hyatt Dubai to make the most romantic night of the year something really special. Choose one of our special couples’ packages to ensure that Cupid’s arrow doesn’t miss. Manhattan Grill: Dine in style at Grand Hyatt Dubai’s signature restaurant with a sumptuous five-course dinner for two. Enjoy your meal with exclusive Billecart-Salmon Champagne and an elegant atmosphere to match – not to mention the gift of a fine fragrance for each lady. AED 825 per couple. Andiamo!: If Italy is the most romantic nation in the world, then what better place to spend Valentine’s day than Andiamo!, our authentic Italian

Radisson SAS Hotel Dubai Deira Creek 56

restaurant. Enjoy Champagne, along with a fabulous four-course dinner, and each lady will be presented with a special perfume. AED 525 per couple. Diamond Cocktail In Cooz Take your pick from a selection of the most exclusive cocktails in Dubai – each served with a three-carat diamond garnish. Visit Cooz, a stylish jazz bar, for a real taste of the high life. Whether for yourself or for someone special on the run-up to Valentine’s day, this is one drink that you certainly won’t forget! AED 1,200 per Diamond Cocktail

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day at Palm Grill and spend an unforgettable evening with an exquisite set menu, special themed performances by Palm Grill’s own pianist and vocalist, Johnny Little and stunning surroundings. Enjoy a unique Valentine’s dinner at our contemporary steakhouse, Palm Grill, located on the second floor of the hotel with a romantic atmosphere and a special set menu to die for! Start off by Warm Naan Bread served with Goose Liver Pate then on to Gratin of Sea Scallop on Slow Sun-Ripe Tomato Maze and Tossed Warm Bean Salad with Creamy Cherry Vinaigrette. Enjoy a Soup of Light Cauliflower Veloute, Cepe and Spinach Dumpling with Truffle Oil. Enlighten your taste buds with a Lime and Champagne Sorbet just before the exquisite main course of a taste of Morel Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Spring Lamb Chops served with Sweet Potato Cake with Bundled Crunchy Vegetable Madeira Juice. End your meal with a mouth-watering dessert of Passion Fruit Chocolate with red heart Coulis and Mixed Berries Compote. Enjoy this evertempting menu for only Dhs. 260 per person. Enjoy this menu together with half a bottle of fine Pink Champagne for only Dhs. 510 per person. For an exceptional romantic evening, Palm Grill has the perfect private dining option prepared. Book early and get a chance to have a candle-light romantic setting for 2 in the private Shiraz Room, including rose petals and themed decoration, Palm Grill’s exquisite Valentine’s set menu, a bottle of Dom Perignon and a big bouquet of roses to take home for only Dhs. 1500 per couple. Don’t miss your chance to book you and your loved one the special private Shiraz Room for an unforgettable evening. Early bookings advisable. For more information or reservations, please call 04/2057333 or 7444.


ADVERTORIAL

Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites-

Dubai’s leading address for business traveller

Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites has it all to meet the expectations and satisfy every demand of discerning business travelers coming to Dubai. Their opinion and votes is the best barometer to measure the success of any business hotel, and according to them, the property has already been named number two Business hotel in Dubai during prestigious Business Traveler Middle East Awards 2006. The strong and successful position of Al Murooj Rotana amongst traveling top executives has recently received high recognition on international level when it was nominated as “Dubai’s Leading Business Hotel” by infamous World Travel Awards, which will announce the winner for Middle East & Africa for this category in March 2007. The property is ideally located in the very center of the city being adjacent to Dubai International Financial City and very close to Dubai Convention Center. Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites offers a different experience to the growing business community in Sheikh Zayed Road area providing a complete range of the latest “state of the art” business facilities in the heart of tranquil settings of waterfalls, lakes and gardens. Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites offers unsurpassed facilities that aim at fulfilling the needs of busy business travelers: 10 Food & Beverage venues, 2 swimming pools, Bodylines Leisure and Fitness Club, fully equipped Business Centre, express laundry & dry-

February 2007

cleaning facilities, easy access for guests with special needs, car rental, bookshop & jewellery shop, shuttle bus services to major shopping center, airport transfer. The Hotel features 253 guest rooms. Each one of them is designed with beautiful and modern accessories, and is equipped with a fully interactive TV with direct Internet access, daily local newspaper, IP telephony, mini bar, an electronic monitoring system to enhance all comfort levels including temperature and state of the art security system. Club Rotana concept with dedicated personalized service and 3 exclusive Club Rotana floors is specially designed to meet the requirements of business travelers. It redefines the business hotel services - seamlessly combining luxurious accommodation, sophisticated meeting facilities with personalized service. Located on the top floors of the hotel, the Club Rotana provides 24 hour personalized service to ensure that each and every request can be immediately and efficiently addressed. Club Rotana guests enjoy private reception with express check-in / check-out, secretarial services, complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening snacks & cocktails in Club Rotana lounge, pillow menu, E-butlers. Club Rotana rooms provide a wide range of deluxe in-room amenities and additional services, such as complimentary airport transfer and access to the Club Rotana lounge. Exclusive features in the Club Rotana rooms

include telephones with IDD, voice mail and to mobile forwarding facility; in-room 24-hour dedicated, high-speed Internet access; TV with multi-satellite channels, trouser-press. Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites also offers a full range of services to conduct business. Situated in hotel lobby, the Business Center provides a wide range of services to assist the business traveler: facsimile, photocopying, computer reprints, typing, binding, CD burning, scanning, meeting room hire, equipment rental. A sumptuous ballroom offering daylight overlooking a waterfall, can accommodate up to 1500 people is available for product launch and private or company receptions. For business clientele, the hotel features a VIP Majlis and five meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 120 delegates. Last but not least, the outdoor premises surrounded by an artificial lake represent an ideal setting for receptions. “Al Murooj Rotana Hotel & Suites possesses unique combination of facilities, which allows us to stand out in a very competitive environment and provide an ultimate service to Dubai’s business community” says Mr. Hussein Hachem, the General Manager of the property. “We also spare no effort to understand better the needs of traveling businessmen and fulfill them in the most efficient way so they can run their business smoothly even being away from office” concluded he.

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GREAT TASTES DUBAI

Spice Island

A great place to dine with your family

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f you are looking for a place to enjoy and dine with your family on Fridays, the best place to go is Spice Island, located on the lobby level of Renaissance Hotel in Deira. Conveniently located at the heart of the city, the restaurant offers a culinary tour of the globe in one venue. This restaurant serves a variety of buffets in addition to six live cooking counters - Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Italian and Mongolian. As you enter the restaurant the friendly staff will welcome you and politely lead you to your table. Bruce Andrade, the restaurant manager, welcomed us and was very gracious in showing us around the restaurant full of families enjoying their time. The mood was festive as you crossed the wooden bridge that leads to the restaurant. Colourful balloons and drapes complement the islandstyle décor with tropical and contemporary artwork. A clown was busy attending to the kids in one corner, giving them balloons of different shapes and colours, and painting their faces and hands. A group of toddlers are seated in front of a TV watching a cartoon movie while others busied themselves with decorating cakes which they can take home. The kids have their own selection of food – fries, spaghetti, mini burger, sausage, fish finger and of course, ice cream with different flavors and toppings. The kids’ area inside the restaurant is a very convenient place for parents. Here, you can leave your children while you enjoy your meal. The restaurant has a baby sitting facility so parents don’t need to take turns watching the kids. Spice Island offers a grand brunch on Fridays. The menu features an international selection in its buffets with a wide selection of salads, cold cuts, seafood and soups. A large selection of cheese and an extensive dessert buffet provides a perfect end to the meal. The selection is so grand that you will have a hard time choosing but the trick is to leave a space for each of the cuisine. If you want to have breakfast first, you can have waffle, sausage or bacon. If you prefer omelet, you can select the ingredients and the chef will cook it for you. I sampled the fattoush which is fresh and crunchy. For the soup, I tried the spicy prawn soup, a famous Thai soup. The soup is not that spicy so it won’t leave a sharp taste on your palate. For my main course, I preferred the Mongolian dish – a selection of fresh vegetables (bean sprout, green cabbage, snow peas, onion spring, and red cabbage) mixed with beef, chicken and hammour slices and stir fried right before my eyes. The dish tasted sweet because of the freshness of the vegetables mixed with a Mongolian seasoning. I enjoyed the food eaten along with a lobster – cooked into perfection. The Japanese station featured assorted sashimi (tuna, salmon, red snapper and cattle fish). Salmon is my favorite so seeing it prepared fresh along with other different sushi is a sight to behold and a delight to my

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A large selection of cheese and an extensive dessert buffet provides a perfect end to the meala The selection is so grand that you will have a hard time choosing but the trick is to leave a space for each of the cuisine.

appetite. Also available in the Japanese station are California rolls, Futomaki and Spicy Tuna. Not to be missed is the Italian counter where you can select your own ingredients for your pizza. Don’t forget the pasta which is a favourite Italian dish. The Indian station featured dishes like the naan and paratha and pappad with roast turkey. There is shrimp tempura and other dimsum at the Chinese station along with other Chinese dishes while the Mexican station offers chili con carne, refried bean, chicken tinga, nachos with warm cheese and tacos that you can also prepare yourself. The extensive desserts at Spice Island will definitely complete your meal. Try the gulab jamun, omali, baked cheese cake, assorted Arabic sweets, white forest cake, mousse cakes, fresh fruits and tarts. I tasted the white forest cake and the walnut tarts plus the fresh fruits. Small bites will make you satiated. But don’t forget to order a cup of coffee. The coffee is a great complement to the sweets. Spice Restaurant is open for brunch on Fridays only from 12 noon to 3 pm but is open everyday from 7 pm to 11:30 pm. The restaurant can seat up to 200 guests and reservation is recommended especially for the brunch, according to

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Mr. Andrade. “This is the restaurant where you can invite your friends and not worry about the food they want because of the huge selection of dishes,” he said. The restaurant is often a venue for birthday or christening parties. The prices are also affordable. The Friday grand brunch offers three packages which are Tee total for DHS 121 (inclusive of soft drinks), the Grand Buffet for DHS 156 (inclusive of all regular house beverages) and the Premium Experience for DHS 212 (inclusive of a selection of premium beverages). Kids between the age of 6 and 12 pay DHS 59 while toddlers are totally free. Prices for the evening buffet come in three packages – DHS135 for the Tee Total, DHS 169 for The Original Grand Buffet, and DHS225 for the Premium Experience. These packages offer limitless wines and branded liquors. Dining at Spice Island with your family, friends or your loved one is a delightful experience. It is the restaurant where you can find pleasure and enjoyment and at the same time get your money’s worth. The menu selection is superb that even the most discerning palate would be pleased. Top quality service, excellent prices, homey atmosphere, what else can you asks? Being stranded in an island that offers these dishes will make you think not wanting to go home. At least for a day. – Flor B. Pamintuan


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Maya Maya A modern Mexican cuisine

By putting my own modern twist on this historic cuisine, I have redeďŹ ned Mexican food, a concept that I like to call modern Mexican. I have ensured that Mexican cuisine is now recognized as one of the great culinary experiences, a deďŹ nition once reserved only for French or Italian food. - Richard Sandoval

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aya Restaurant is not your usual Mexican restaurant. Here you won’t find things that you normally see in other Mexican restaurants. There are no walls depicting the Mexican culture or columns similar to the Mayan temples. The staff doesn’t wear the traditional embroidered cotton skirts and blouses or the wide brimmed hats called sombreros. Maya Restaurant is a Mexican restaurant that’s a little more of a high end, a modern Mexican dining place with a twist of European décor. The only trace of Mexican décor in Maya are the wall carvings that depict a Mayan mask, the paintings which are inspired by Mexican artist Luis Torres and the pottery with different intricate designs. Located at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Maya Restaurant is a great place to enjoy and explore real Mexican food. A romantic setting will greet you as you enter the dining area, with candles’ scent filling the room, the music from a guitarist playing at the terrace and the soft light coming from the chandeliers. The bar near the entrance displayed a wide selection of tequilas. Maya Restaurant has 26 selections of tequilas, 20 of which are special imports from Mexico. Most of the ingredients used by the restaurant are imported from Mexico. “People in this part of the world are exposed to the Tex-Mex concept of Mexican food. To them it’s the real Mexican food so Maya Restaurant is here to give them the opportunity to try and experience a new concept and taste real Mexican food,” said Amauri E. Moctezuma, Restaurant Manager. Maya Dubai is the first five-star Mexican restaurant in the region and an extension of the successful Maya Restaurant in New York and San Francisco by legendary chef Richard Sandoval. Opened in August last year, Maya Restaurant offers fine Mexican cuisine in a contemporary, authentic and elegant atmosphere. The restaurant has three dining areas – the main dining area, the lower terrace and the rooftop terrace – and can accommodate up to 355 guests. The restaurant is set along the gardens of the hotel, close to the beach so diners can enjoy a nice view of the Gulf or watch the sunset while enjoying

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dinner. At the rooftop terrace, one can enjoy the music being played by the DJ from 11 pm to 1:30 am. Once comfortably seated in our table, Mr. Moctezuma offered us a drink. I preferred a non-alcoholic drink so he recommended cabana (made from fresh strawberry). For the other guest, he suggested apple freshner which is a mixture of green apple and mint leaves. I would recommend the apple freshner because it’s a refreshing drink and cools down the sharp taste of the food. Bread and chips are served with sourcream and to commence the dinner, Guacamole (Dhs 45) was served. Fresh avocado from Australia mixed with tomato, onion, cilantro and green chili is an excellent dip for the tortillas. The taste of the onion is very distinct though so don’t forget to tell the staff if you want to put onion or if you want to make it a bit spicy. Before having the starters, we were given a spoonful of Gazpacho de Aguacate (Dhs51), a cold soup courtesy of Chef Ruben Herrera. Chef Herrera prepared little portions of starters – Tamal al Chipotle, Chile Relleno (two of Maya’s signature dishes) and Quesadilla Surtidas. Chile Relleno (Dhs 70) is baked green pepper with seafood. It’s a very rich and creamy dish prepared using a different process to lessen the heat produced by the pepper. The Tamal al Chipotle (Dhs 58) is made of steamed corn masa, shredded chicken, sweet chile chipotle sauce and cream. The dish is topped with avocado to cool down your palate because of the sharpness of the dish. The Quesadilla Surtidas (Dhs 53), a vegetarian dish is made of corn maize, fresh cheese, zucchini-mushrooms-huitlacoche stuffing, tomato and tomato sauce and cream. Maya’s Quesadilla is not your ordinary flat quesadilla because it looks like a pie with stuffing similar to a truffle and the corn maize is very delicious and crunchy. Next comes the soup, the Sopa de Tortilla (Dhs 49), with roasted tomato-chile guajillo broth, crispy tortillas, avocado, cream and fresh cheese. This is a spicy soup so the hot flavour will stay in your mouth for a while. But don’t worry, the avocado pieces will cool it down. The main course is little portions of Tampiquena (Dhs 175), Pescado a la Talla (Dhs 155) and Pechuga Pibil (Dhs 130). Tampiquena is sliced fillet mignon combined with chile poblano-potato gratin, mole cheese enchilada, tomato cheese salad and guacamole. The fillet mignon cooked medium well is very tender and there is no hint of salt or any spices. Pescado a la Talla is adobo marinated halibut fish with red cabbage, tomato salad and chile chipotle rouille. A low-calorie dish, it is perfect for health-conscious diners. Pechuga Pibil is grilled corn fed chicken breast, corn pico de gallo with achiote habanero truffle sauce and pickled onion.All the dishes for the main course come with Mexican rice and black beans. The main dishes are a bit pricey but come in large portions. The food looks and tastes healthy – no traces of oil. The real flavor of the food stands out. To end the meal, we were given Crepas con Cajeta for dessert. Crepes with walnut, sauté bananas and caramelized milk and vanilla ice cream, it is the best dessert of all time. Other choices are Chocoflan, Churros con Chocolate, Tres Leches and Nieves. A sip of black coffee or green tea will best conclude the evening. Maya Restaurant is indeed a different dining option. It gives a very pleasant dining and learning experience. A new setting combined with exciting and flavourful food will keep you coming back. Richard Sandoval said “by putting my own modern twist on this historic cuisine, I have redefined Mexican food, a concept that I like to call modern Mexican. I have ensured that Mexican cuisine is now recognized as one of the great culinary experiences, a definition once reserved only for French or Italian food.” The new Maya Restaurant has set the benchmark for fine Mexican cuisine and this proved that Sandoval had truly achieved his goal in this side of the world.

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ENTERTAINMENT DUBAI

Jumana

set to mesmerize audience

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Apart from the amphitheatre, the main entertainment complex incorporates a traditional Arabic craft souk, restaurants and a coffee shop, surrounded by indigenous regional flora and fauna in a typical desert oasis landscape – an ideal setting for the day visitor.

and Eastern European theatres; and composer Jean Musy, with more than sixty films and television series to his credit. Music arranger Mick Lanaro (producer and arranger for Charles Aznavour, Oscar Peterson and Patrick Bruel, amongst others), was responsible for the Jumana soundtrack. A Bedouin style village area, a date plantation with a falaj (an ancient Arabic irrigation system), a camel farm; a petting zoo and horse stables complete the scenery at this low-density development, maintaining the character, peace and tranquillity of the desert. Al Sahra is the latest addition to the DUTCO Group of companies’ leisure and hotel portfolio with Dubai Heritage Vision LLC the operator. DUTCO is the majority shareholder in Dubai Heritage Vision and the sole investor in the project, with partner company DAFCO LLC. Jumana - Secret of the Desert, a permanent open air extravaganza has kicked off with daily shows in a purpose built, state-of-the-art amphitheatre at the Al Sahra Desert Resort. The resort is situated in Dubailand, which is set to become one of the world’s top tourism and leisure destinations. “Not only is Al Sahra the first Dubailand leisure attraction to open doors to the public, our show, Jumana, is also the first ever permanent outdoor show in the Middle East - with an original script, choreography and soundtrack - portraying an Arabian fable. Our magnificent amphitheatre setting completes the magic. True to the Dutco Group philosophy in the hospitality and leisure sector, the company elected to operate by its own counsel and not to franchise the Dubailand opportunity to any foreign group,” said Tariq Baker, DUTCO Group MD and Chairman of Dubai Heritage Vision LLC. The show celebrates the Arab region’s rich history and culture, interpreting fable and folkloric themes from the Gulf region, the Maghreb, the Levant, Yemen, Oman and Persia into a spellbinding fantasy. Performed by 56 dancers and acrobats, mainly from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, the show incorporates various imagistic theatre techniques, including light and water effects, sound and laser, as well as video and image projections; and pyrotechnics. Arabian horses and camels complement the cast. A major coup for the production is Hollywood legend Omar Sharif’s voice as the storyteller. “Mr Sharif masterfully incarnates the voice of the Arabic storyteller in Jumana. We are privileged to be associated with his celebrity,” said Tariq Baker. “Some of the best partners in show business collaborated with us to create a spectacle of unmatched proportions in the region and in certain aspects, the world. Francois Montel, renowned for lighting the Eiffel Tower at the turn of the millennium and the opening of the Greek Olympics in Athens, designed the pyrotechnics,” elaborated Tariq Baker. Other famous names include Pedro Pauwels, a respected choreographer in many European February 2007

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TRANQUIL MOMENTS ARMONIA

Armonia Armonia back to your body brings harmony

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ampering our body is always a dream. With all the stress we encounter everyday, whether at home and especially at work, our body needs to relax and rejuvenate and Armonia at Sheraton Jumeirah Beach is a good place to start. As you walked into Armonia’s well being centre, you will be transformed into a world of bliss because of the quiet and serene atmosphere at the relaxation area. Here, you will be offered a cool glass of fresh juice while completing a questionnaire form relating to any allergies or health concerns that you may have. It is recommended to arrive early for your appointment to help you prepare for the treatment. Armonia offers guests four treatment rooms aptly named to help you unwind; Aquamarine and Waves, the two massage rooms for ladies and gents; Oceanic, the facial room; and Pacific, a jungle themed room especially for the hot stone massages. I was given the Hot Stone Massage combined with a Swedish massage. Shenette, my therapist explained that the treatment is recommended to people with active lifestyle. The smooth lava rocks are used as an extension to the therapist’s hands and help melt away the stress and tension in the body. The Swedish massage relieves the tired muscles, helps detoxify the body and improves circulation. The therapist led me to the candle-lit room where she assisted me as I lie on my back. The Hot Stone Massage starts with the whole body being covered with towel and a stone placed on your tummy and on you palm. Then stones of different shapes and sizes are placed on the stress areas like the

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neck, shoulder, lower back, and legs. Although covered with a towel, you can feel the heat penetrating on your body. After five minutes, the stones will be placed directly on your back muscle areas and this will stay for about 10 to 15 minutes with the therapist turning and pressing the stones for the heat to penetrate on the muscles. The stone may feel warm but the heat relaxes the muscle and relieves the pain. After removing the stones from your body, the Swedish massage treatment starts. Shenette applied Skeyndor sandalwood essential oils to my body which she said is good for active people. She concentrated on removing the tension on my back areas, from the spinal area, to my shoulder, lower back and my arms and legs. I can feel the gentle strokes relieving the tired muscles. The massage was so relaxing and along with the soft music, the scent of the candle in the room and the oil, I drifted to sleep. I was awakened by Shenette’s soft voice telling me to turn so she can massage the remaining areas on my body. My neck and scalp were massaged and my face was given a therapeutic massage to release the tension, improve blood circulation and still the mind. When the massage is over, I was advised to relax for five minutes before dressing and returning to the relaxation area where I was offered another glass of fresh juice. You may feel a little oily but Shenette said the oil is good to stay on your skin for several minutes. I felt very good after the session. I felt relaxed, no tired muscles and back and ready to face the world again. Armonia offers a large variety of facial and body treatments like reflexology, marine scrubs, wraps, exfoliations and massages like the Jet Leg and Swedish massage or the Ayurvedic and Self-tanning massages, which can be enjoyed outdoors in their Balinese huts. To ensure that guests feel pampered, Armonia offers steam and sauna facilities before the treatment. Tea, fresh juices and fruits are also provided before and after treatments. At Armonia, you can be sure of one thing - feel youthful and energized.


NEWS

Grand Corniche Hotel in Abu Dhabi The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi is set to get an iconic downtown landmark with plans for the fivestar Grand Corniche Hotel designed to cater to the emirate’s burgeoning business and leisure traveller sectors. The 35-storey property has been designed by Singapore’s Surbana Consultant Pte Ltd to reflect Abu Dhabi’s maritime heritage. It will be built by Bin Salem Group, a UAE company based in Abu Dhabi under a lease for the 4,800 square metre site in the fashionable Khalidiya agreed with the UAE capital’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC). To be built at an approximate g The landmark Grand Corniche cost of AED 370 million (US $100 Hotel – an architectural asset for the million), the Grand Corniche Hotel UAE capital. is scheduled to open in Dec 2009. “This will be a significant addition to Abu Dhabi’s hospitality stock and an aesthetic asset for the capital’s skyline,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC and of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). “This agreement is a sterling example of the private sector responding to the government’s desire to see increased investment in Abu Dhabi’s tourism infrastructure.” To be made entirely of glass, the sleek tower design is reminiscent of a stately racing dhow – the traditional Arab sailing vessel. “The intricate details of the sail will be clearly visible in daylight,” explained Ahmed Mohamed Al Dhaheri, CEO, Bin Salem Group. “When night falls, the sail will seemingly fade into the darkness but when illuminated from within, the tower will glow like an encased pearl.” To be managed by an international operator yet to be appointed, the Grand

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HH Sheikh Sultan and Al Dhaheri sign the TDIC lease agreement

Corniche Hotel will have 349 rooms and 90 suites, 144 serviced apartments with a mix of one and two bedroom units and 3,600 metres of shopping arcade set on a retail podium. Four basement floors will be given over to car parking. The hotel will have four restaurants – including a rooftop dining outlet – a café, lobby bar, two pool bars, swimming pools, spa, gymnasium and meeting and banqueting facilities to cater to up to 1,000 guests. “While addressing the needs of the increasing number of tourists arriving in Abu Dhabi, the hotel will also have every modern facility required by the business traveller,” said Al Dhaheri. The Bin Salem Group anticipates the hotel will achieve 80% occupancy in its first year of operation. “Tourism in Abu Dhabi is currently undergoing a major transformation and the city should soon emerge as a major business and leisure destination,” explained Al Dhaheri. “With the strong backing of the government, major tourism projects are underway to make the city a more alluring destination. The stage is now set for an increased private sector role in delivering Abu Dhabi on the international stage.”

Marco Polo Hotel food festival Dubai residents with exceptional culinary skills battled it out for The Bombay’s Indian recipe challenge. The winning entry made it to Marco Polo Hotel’s signature Indian restaurant’s list of dishes which joined the Guinness bid for longest buffet at Zabeel Park last January 19. Fifty participants were hand-picked from among the 400 plus entries sent to the Marco Polo Hotel for The Bombay’s recipe challenge. 50 people have been short listed and only 46 people made it to the main event. “I am really happy with the turn-out, from the moment that we had advertised this competition, phone calls had flooded our coordinator’s line and several questions have been received, e-mail inquiries and form submissions are coming every minute at the designated address for joining. We are so overwhelmed that these ladies have spared their time from their families and joined us for this event,” said Sunil Marya, VP g From right: Mr. Sunil Marya, Chef and General Manager of Marco Polo Laxmi Kanth, Chef Uwe Micheel and the winners of the vegetable and Hotel. Participants not only delivered chicken category. 72

dishes for the Indian chicken and Indian vegetable dish category - but also blew away the judges with innovative food art. There was a watermelon carved like a pot on top of a burning stove. A chariot made out of bread, a field covered by grains and scarecrows made out of eggplants. “Each and every tang of their recipe matters, that’s why it took us so long to come up with the results of the competition because they were all cooked great,” admitted Chef Uwe Micheel, President of the Emirates Culinary Guild. “It is not that easy to judge these foods. They all taste good and excellent, but we only have to choose a few,” added Chef Laxmi Kanth, executive chef of Marco Polo Hotel. Kiran Kataria bagged the top prize for the Indian chicken category with her chicken tikka with honey and dry fruit gravy. Dr. Esther Jacob was runner up with her yellow rice with spicy chicken. In the vegetable category, Gahana Khatwani took the top prize with her stuffed Jaffrani paneer, while Vandana Jain was runner up with her stuffed paneer slices in Moghlai gravy. “I can’t believe that my recipe will be a part a record breaking event, thank you so much!” Kataria expressed in delight. Aside from getting her recipe in the Guinness bid, she also received a voucher for free catering worth Dh3,000.


Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa to open its doors It’s new. It’s idyllic. The Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa will open its doors and welcome guests from the beginning of March 2007, setting new standards of service in the region known as ‘The Jewel of Arabia’. Beautifully sheltered between the Hajar Mountains and the majestic Indian Ocean, the lush tropical landscape of Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa is the perfect coastal getaway with genuine Arabic hospitality, award-winning cuisine and impeccable 5 star service. The Resort is also proud to offer for the first time in the United Arab Emirates complimentary water sports to its guests. This captivating five-star beachfront resort is a secluded retreat in a magnificent setting, ideally located on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, easily accessible from both Fujairah and Dubai International Airports. Rotana hotels have continued with their tradition of excellence accompanied by comfort. It is felt in the indulgence of every one of the 250 rooms, in the lush furniture and pampering bathrooms. All rooms offer a private terrace or balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean complimented with a view of our incredibly lush sculpted grounds. Conference and Banqueting facilities are of the highest quality at Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, boasting three luxurious meeting rooms and acres of ‘al

fresco’ beach and garden banquet venues meaning that any type of event can be catered for. The awe inspiring ballroom, Al Wurayah, is a perfect venue for larger functions our grounds offer a perfect backdrop for weddings, product launches, seminars or any event. Our Conference team are passionate about getting it right first time, every time. The Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa offers a multitude of outdoor event options, including Gala dinners, themed nights and planned parties all in the breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Our talented multilingual staff believe that when it comes to our guests needs, the sky is truly the limit. Whatever your preference, cherished traditionalism, sophisticated glamour or exclusive intimacy, weddings at the resort will be uniquely yours. Offering the most comprehensive wedding services twinned with professional catering staff that will help you design a truly special personal experience. From Bridal shower, Hen party and bachelor diving or snorkeling trip, the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception, to the farewell banquet, all your needs are met with care and loving attention to detail. Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa is certain to impress all who visit, the top quality personal service accompanied with a product designed to WOW, will keep guests coming back, time after time.

ICH Group caters for Qatar’s ongoing expansion InterContinental Hotels Group, the world’s most global hotel company, has announced it will be expanding its portfolio of properties in Qatar with the introduction of its Holiday Inn brand in Doha. Being developed by Ali Bin Ali Group, one of the most established and recognisable companies in Qatar, ‘Holiday Inn Doha’ will be located at the heart of Musheireb, the busy commercial district of the city. As the host of the 2006 Asian Games, Doha is fast becoming a major player in the region’s evolving tourism industry and The Qatar Tourism Authority is working hard to differentiate Doha - and the country as a whole – by positioning it as a short-stay, leisure and business travel spot, rather than a mass-market destination. Catering for the rapid expansion of Qatar’s business industries and development of the tourism sector, InterContinental Hotels Group has identified high demand for premium quality, good value accommodation to meet the needs of regular, intra-Gulf business travellers and vacationing family groups. Inline with the tastes of target guests, Holiday Inn Doha will be modern and fresh in ambience, perfectly complementing the group’s existing presence in the city with the luxurious InterContinental Doha. Commenting on the new property, Peter McElwaine, CEO, Ali Bin Ali Group said, “This development will serve to cater for an increasingly discerning market sector, searching for high quality, affordable accommodation in Qatar. Tying up with the prestigious InterContinental Hotels Group brand will ensure Ali Bin Ali February 2007

Group maintains its reputation for providing world-leading services across the Middle East.” Phil Kasselis, Vice President, Development, InterContinental Hotels Group, Middle East and Africa, said, “The Holiday Inn Doha agreement follows the opening of Holiday Inn Sharjah and the announcement of Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, both in the UAE. While the Doha property represents the InterContinental Hotels Group’s continued expansion across the region it also demonstrates the company’s ability to stay one step ahead of the diversifying Middle East tourism trade.” “Qatar is a key market for both business and leisure travellers and being at the forefront of its dynamic development as a hospitality and leisure hot-spot is of paramount importance to InterContinental Hotels Group, which has led the region’s hotel industry for over 40 years,” added Kasselis. Scheduled to open by the end of 2008, Holiday Inn Doha will comprise 204 rooms, a gym, an indoor swimming pool and several food and beverage outlets including a juice bar, a contemporary coffee lounge and an all-day restaurant. Underground car parking and cutting-edge meeting facilities add to the amenities designed specially for corporate clients. The Holiday Inn Doha will embody the established Holiday Inn brand hallmarks by offering guests a great night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast and friendly, helpful staff. The property will appeal to investors seeking an alternative to 5 star hotel developments, which in some markets are fast approaching oversupply. 73


Global retail developers sold on Retail City

Marriott International to manage new hotel at HKIA

IIR Middle East, the organisers of Retail City, has announced that the retail phenomenon that is sweeping the region still remains robust. This has been mirrored by the extraordinary growth of 350 per cent for the international retail real estate event, which is due to take place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) from 3 – 5 June 2007. Naomi Koningen, Project Manager, Retail City 2007, explained, “Considering the inaugural event was organised in less than six months, industry support was overwhelming. However, early marketing indicators for 2007 are even more encouraging. With five months still to go we have already sold half of the 7,000 square metres reserved, which represents an overall increase of 350 per cent. With Retail City only in its second year, this clearly justifies our decision to provide a dedicated platform for this dynamic sector.” Middle East retail developments rank as the second largest growth sector after the residential real estate sector. With 5.3 million square metres of retail floor space already completed and a further 4.6 million square metres of gross leasable area (GLA) still under construction, the retail sector is estimated to be worth US$ 100 billion per annum in the Middle East. Dubai is currently the regional hub for retail therapy. With some 1.3 million square metres of retail development, it currently represents one quarter of the GCC’s total retail space. According to Retail International, cash tills will ring to the tune of US$ 3,500 per square metre by 2009. The concept of Retail City was realised at Cityscape 2005. A comprehensive survey revealed that, 46 per cent of visitors were seeking retail investment opportunities and 37 per cent of exhibitors wanted to make contact with retailers and retail real estate developers. In response the inaugural Retail City was launched in June 2006. This year’s event comprises an exhibition with a parallel three-day networking conference. The exhibition aims to bring together international retail property professionals to develop new joint ventures, exchange views, identify new investment opportunities and encourage retailers and franchises to set up shop in the Middle East. The show will also feature the Retail City Awards and Gala Dinner which was hosted last year by television presenter Shahnaz Pakravan. “The 2007 awards will be even bigger and better. We want to continue to recognise excellence and innovation throughout the retail industry and acknowledge outstanding achievements. This is an ideal platform for innovative retailers to showcase their developments both locally and internationally,” added Koningen.

both Hong Kong residents and visitors, as the hotel will be located within a short drive of Hong Kong Disneyland and will be easily accessible to Hong Kong’s central business district via an approximately 25-minute ride on an express train. The hotel will be built in two stages, with 658 rooms opening in the first phase and the remaining 342 rooms opening in the second phase. Construction on the first phase of the hotel is expected to begin later this year. “Hong Kong is one of the world’s great cities. It is a vibrant financial and commercial center in Asia and is one of the world’s most attractive destinations for conferences and incentive travel. We share the vision of Shun Tak, Dragages and the Hong Kong Airport Authority regarding the future success of the SkyCity mixed-use complex, and we are very excited to be a part of this project and the rapid development,” said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging at Marriott. The hotel will also have a business center and retail shops. The Marriott International lodging portfolio in Hong Kong is currently represented by the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, the Renaissance Hotel Kowloon and The Atrium, Marriott Executive Apartments.

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Marriott International, Inc. will manage what will ultimately be a 1,000room hotel at the Hong Kong International Airport under an agreement reached with Union Sky Holdings Limited, a partnership between Shun Tak Holdings Limited and Dragages Hong Kong Limited. When opened in the second half of 2008, the hotel will be Marriott International’s fifth hotel in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel will be part of SkyCity, which is a large mixed-use complex that has been planned by the Hong Kong Airport Authority adjacent to the terminal of the Hong Kong International Airport. In addition to the hotel, SkyCity will include AsiaWorld-Expo, an exhibition center and arena with more than 70,000 square meters of rentable space (expandable to 100,000 square meters) that opened late last year; SkyPlaza, a complex adjacent to the airport terminal offering approximately 68,000 square meters of office, retail and entertainment facilities; SkyPier, which will provide ferry service to Macau and other destinations in the Pearl River Delta; and a nine-hole golf course. The hotel will be situated on the waterfront and will offer excellent views of the South China Sea. Its location will also be very convenient for


‘New Arabian Cuisine’ puts Dubai on the culinary map

The pioneering cookbook New Arabian Cuisine won first place for the German language market’s ‘Best Foreign Cookery Book’ at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2006. The new cookbook represents a selection of over 120 culinary creations based on the innovative gastronomic genre of the same name – also known as ‘haute’ Arabian cuisine – which bridges the culinary arts from Arabia and Europe. Penned by a team of top chefs from the JW Marriott Dubai, New Arabian Cuisine recently debuted in both German and English versions at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2006. The cuisine itself is regarded as a link between Orient and Occident, and according to JW Marriott Dubai’s general manager, Ibrahim Barghout, New Arabian Cuisine reflects the global diversity and creativity trend-setting Dubai tends to offer. “Dubai possesses such a rich variety of cultures, each bringing in firstrate ideas and concepts to the culinary world,” said Barghout. “Yet, until now Arabian fare has been virtually untouched in terms of a remarkable symbiosis, novel creation or unique mode of presentation. Our chefs not only assembled a book of recipes, they created an entirely new genre, and that is certainly worthy of a first place award.”

The culinary quartet behind the concept of New Arabian Cuisine is chefs Ingo Maa (Germany), Christian Jean (France), Amgad Zaki (Egypt) and Khalil Zakhem (Syria) all from the JW Marriott Dubai hotel. The subtle fusion of alluring ingredients from the Middle East with elements of European cooking traditions produces a cuisine rich in flavour and heritage with a global appeal, and Maa sees this as a way to open conversations and eyes into the beauty of the Middle Eastern culture. “This inspired cuisine provides the perfect opportunity for those who have been previously hesitant to try Middle Eastern food,” said Maa. “Our presentation alone is unexpected and refreshing – our guests often don’t even realise they are eating a dish that is firmly rooted in Arabia but infused with European flair.” Recognising the innovation behind the cuisine, Lufthansa has already implemented several recipes into its ‘Star Chef Campaign’ for the airline’s First and Business Class flights on all European outbound flights to the Middle East as of November 1st 2006. First-class passengers enjoy such fare as Moroccanstyle Carrot Soup with Honey and Ras el Hanout Spices served with Confit of Squab or Saddle of Lamb in Coffee Bean Crust, while Business-class travellers could try the Tlitli Pasta with Porcini Mushroom Cream and Roasted Vegetables or Grilled Halloumi, Sumac Cream Cheese and Labneh Cheese Balls. Recipes found in The New Arabian Cuisine cookbook can be also be sampled throughout the JW Marriott Dubai’s catering events and services. The hotel offers a specialized menu based solely on New Arabian Cuisine for major functions such as cocktail receptions, conferences and exhibitions, buffets, outside catering in concerts, at home or the office in Dubai. Set menu prices range from approximately AED125 to over AED 300 per person for catering events. Call the JW Marriott Dubai directly on +971 (4) 262 4444 for further information on events. New Arabian Cuisine will compete against winners in the same category in other languages for ‘The Best in the World’ competition, and the results will be announced in Beijing, China, at the Gourmand Gala Dinner on April 7th 2007.

Skywards announces title sponsorship of DIJF Now in its fifth year, the Dubai International Jazz Festival has just announced that Skywards, the awardwinning frequent flyer programme of Emirates, will be the title sponsorship of the celebrated annual event. The region’s most popular jazz-fest will now officially be recognized as the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival. “We are thrilled that Skywards has become the new title sponsor for the Dubai International Jazz Festival,” said Anthony Younes Managing Director of Chillout Productions, the founders and organizers of the Dubai International Jazz Festival. “Our event showcases some of the best-known international artists and musical legends. We are very pleased to have one of the world’s best recognized loyalty programmes sponsor this prestigious annual event.” Skywards is taking over from electronics giant Philips, which had backed up and debuted the festival for the past four years. The initial contract for the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival sponsorship is for three years starting in 2007. February 2007

“We are delighted to support the success of the region’s preeminent jazz festival- the first of its kind for the Dubai and the region,” said Brian Labelle, Vice-President, Skywards. “The Dubai Jazz Festival has done much to contribute to the growing arts and cultural scene in Dubai, and has contributed substantially to our profile as a truly international city and top-notch tourist destination. Skywards has prided itself on providing exclusive membership privileges as the award-winning frequent flier programme of Emirates and SriLankan. As title sponsors of the Dubai Jazz Festival, we look forward to extending exclusive live-music opportunities to jazz aficionados from across the region.” Dubai Media City outdoor amphitheater will remain the home to the yearly jazz festival: a high-profile event that continues to attract major corporate sponsorships. The success of the event rests on a formula of both celebratory atmosphere and exceptional programming. One-of-its kind for the region, the three-day festival draws almost 25,000 visitors to two stages with over 12 performances featuring more than 120 international artists. This year the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival runs from March 8th-10th. The event will additionally offer hospitality chalets, VIP lounges, relaxed beanbag seating and the friendly atmosphere, as well as the amenities of a food and beverage village and an arts and crafts bazaar. 75


Kempinski Hotels tap growth in ME outbound travel Following the successful launch of its accelerated development plan in the Middle East and Africa with the announcement of seven distinctive new luxury hotels in the region, Kempinski Hotels is gearing up for greater growth by tapping into the projected increase in Middle East outbound travel, launching new properties in Russia, China and Central Europe. Europe’s leading luxury hotel group is well positioned to offer Middle East and European tourists an unrivalled selection of top end hotels in emerging markets, increasing its global portfolio to 92 unique and awardwinning hotels and making it the most represented hotel group within the Leading Hotels of the World. “The Kempinski brand has been associated with the finest tradition of luxurious and elegant European hospitality for over a century, and combined with the distinctive qualities of the locations where it operates, provide a luxurious and unique leisure experience,” said Reto Wittwer, President and CEO of Kempinski. “Our extensive experience and understanding of the global hospitality industry reflects in the distinctive qualities of our properties across the globe, and enables us to establish our presence in emerging markets as the need for luxury hotels and resorts arises.” Taking advantage of the surging Chinese economy, which is experiencing an unprecedented growth in tourist arrivals, Kempinski is asserting its presence as one of the major players in this important market, with an impressive portfolio in key destinations. Following the group’s successful entry in Shanghai in 2004, Kempinski has signed an agreement with Shanghai An Shun Real Estate Deasvelopment Co., Ltd. to manage Kempinski Residences Hongqiao, its third property in China’s largest city, set to open late 2007. In other burgeoning areas such as the southern island of Hainan, the group is gearing up to open the Kempinski Hotel Sanya on January 15th 2007. Only one hour from Hong Kong, and easily accessible by air from major Chinese cities the private beach resort will feature luxurious suites and villas, an impressive selection of international restaurants and the stunning Angsana Spa, operated by the Banyan Tree Group. In Russia, Kempinski signed an agreement with OOO Volga-Invest Ltd. to manage a 250 room hotel in the Nizhny Novgorod, now considered one of

the Russia’s most progressive economies. The Kempinski-managed property will be the city’s first five-star international luxury hotel when it opens at the end of 2009. Set in the historic centre of Nizhny Novgorod, the hotel will be built in a contemporary architectural style, and is the third Kempinski property in Russia after the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow and the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 in St. Petersburg. In addition to its appeal for international and national business travellers, Nizhny Novgorod’s wealth of historical and cultural sites are attracting increasing numbers of leisure travellers annually, and a Kempinski Hotel will provide tourists more reasons to enjoy their stay in this historic city, which includes such popular tourists attractions such as The Gorky Museumand the Volga cruise. Heading westward to Georgia, Kempinski Hotels announced it will manage a hotel in the capital city of Tbilisi. The group recently signed an agreement with Capital Vostok SA to manage a five star luxury hotel in Tbilisi’s city centre, on the main boulevard and close to the opera house. The hotel will open in 2009. The Kempinski Residences Prague will bring the first five star luxury fullservice executive residences to the beautiful and historic city. Scheduled to open in 2008, this unique property will have contemporary and sophisticated styling that wonderfully preserves the classic façade of the original building, a listed historical property. A popular year round destination, Prague is considered the capital of both the Czech Republic and Central Europe and boasts a rich blend of Gothic, baroque and Renaissance architectures and diverse cultural heritage. Wittwer noted that the projected increase in Middle East outbound travel bodes well for the new Kempinski properties. GCC tourists continue to explore new destinations in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as China for both leisure and business reasons. “While we will continue to strengthen our presence in existing locations, we have also strategically identified new markets where we can pioneer the luxury hotel category, and offer these destinations to our existing guests. This is a comprehensive and strategic approach to address the needs of the world traveller, many of whom are coming from this region. In doing so, we enhance our position as the preferred choice for the luxury hospitality experience,” he added.

Makkah to see the Al Diyafa Radisson Hotel in 2010 Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, the first class full service brand of The Rezidor Hotel Group, will open a landmark hotel in the holy city of Makkah. Al Diyafa Radisson Hotel will have 256 rooms, state-of-the-art facilities including a separate male and female spa, four restaurants, six meeting rooms and a 1250 square metre ballroom for weddings and banquets. Jean-Marc Busato, Area Vice President of The Rezidor Hotel Group, said: “This is an important milestone for us to be present in what is considered the holiest city in Islam. This is our sixth Kingdom project which we consider one of our major growth markets.” The luxury hotel is within walking distance of the Al Diyafa shopping mall and three kilometers from the Haram, or the mosque of the prophet. The

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hotel will cater for religious tourism and the growing corporate and MICE market. “We have acquired a good understanding of the Saudi Arabian market and besides developing our first class Radisson brand, we also see a demand for efficient, value for money accommodation for the frequent traveller in the mid market segment,” he adds. Last year Rezidor announced the Al Madinah Paradise Radisson SAS Resort scheduled to open in 2008. It currently manages four hotels in Riyadh, Jeddah and Yanbu. In addition, the company’s mid market Park Inn brand will enter the Kingdom in the cities of Riyadh and Al Khobar.


Saadiyat Island to get a luxury Rotana Resort

HH Sheikh Sultan and Nasser Al Nowais sign the Saadiyat Beach land sale paving the way for a luxury Rotana Resort on the island destination. g

Saadiyat Island – Island of Happiness – the signature residential and tourism destination taking shape just 500 metres offshore the United Arab Emirate’s capital city - is to get a luxury Rotana Resort. The five-star resort, which will be designed with a distinctly themed atmosphere, will be built on the secluded Saadiyat Beach – one of six districts of the island. An agreement for the sale of 809,000 square feet of beach front was signed between HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and its asset-management arm Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) and Nasser Al Nowais, Chairman of Rotana Hotels. “The Saadiyat Beach proposition of secluded, highly landscaped resorts has resonated well with investors with the Rotana Resort being the latest in a series of land purchases concluded over the past six months,” explained HH Sheikh Sultan. “Rotana Hotels, being very much a Middle East brand, is demonstrating its belief in the transformation of Saadiyat into a premier destination which will greatly enhance Abu Dhabi’s overall tourism development aims.” The luxury Rotana Resort Saadiyat Beach will have a 400-450 room upscale hotel, a private stretch of beach, a variety of Food & Beverage outlets with meeting & Conference facilities in addition to a Spa and a fully equipped Bodylines Health & Fitness Club. To be owned by Nasser Al Nowais and family, the resort will be managed by Rotana Hotels. “We anticipate appointing an architect by early this year and to begin construction around the middle of the year with the aim of opening towards the end of 2009,” explained Al Nowais. Saadiyat Beach, which lies to the north west of Saadiyat Island, is masterplanned to produce a range of five-star resorts flanking nine kilometres of pristine beach, a championship golf course with freehold villas, dedicated sailing club and private beach clubs, all creating a celebrity see-and-be-seen atmosphere. Three other major resort development plots in the district have already been sold to Abu Dhabi National Hotels, the UAE’s National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels (NCTH) and the UAE capital’s prestigious Al Jaber Group Saadiyat Island, which will also be home to the Middle East’s first Guggenheim contemporary art museum, is being developed in three phases. Enabling works to clear the ground for infrastructure development on Saadiyat – the Middle East’s largest single natural island development, are already underway.

February 2007

Cityscape ‘walks the walk’ for Exhibitors Exhibitors from among the 508 regional and international companies who took part in Cityscape Dubai 2006, the world’s largest and most important international business-to-business property investment and development event, said they’ve been amazed by the scale of the show and the business opportunities it had presented to prominent investors, lenders, owners, developers, architects and consultants from around the world. Inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of The Executive Council of Dubai, Cityscape Dubai 2006 broke records even before it began, with major exhibitors announcing an unprecedented US$160 billion worth of real estate projects in the run-up to the event – a seven-fold increase on the US$20 billion announced before previous Cityscape 2005. By the end of the three-day event on December 6th, a record-breaking 37,000 participants from 91 countries had passed through the doors at Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) into the exhibition area which at 55,000 square metres was 130 per cent larger than the previous year. One distinguishing feature of this year’s event was the participation of increasing numbers of international companies. “Cityscape Dubai 2006 has been successful in attracting participants from

a number of cities and development authorities from around the world. As well as sourcing investment and development opportunities in the Middle East, they were also seeking foreign direct investment into their own regions,” said Rohan Marwaha, Group Director, Cityscape. Among these was a trade mission from Victoria, Australia. Graham Jones, an award-winning Melbourne-based architect who travelled to Cityscape with the Australian contingent, said they were ‘amazed’ by the number and quality of contacts generated during the event. One of the most talked-about European exhibitors at Cityscape Dubai 2006 was HafenCity Hamburg, a 155-hectare inner city regeneration project that’s taking shape in the German port city. The CEO of the public company behind the project, Jurgen Bruns-Berentelg, was one of the 75 acclaimed international speakers at the Cityscape Conference. Asia was well represented at Cityscape Dubai 2006, with exhibitors from India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Rusiah Mohamed, Senior Manager with MATRADE, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, said, “We’re here with six companies this year – two property developers from Malacca and Sabah who are seeking investors, and four architectural firms.

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