Page 1

Online Version:

March 2009, Volume 5, Issue 3

Around Town:

The Dubai World Cup Outside Arabia:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


The Dolder Grand, Zurich

e: Featur ear s, The y

Cypru land round is

editor’s note “Short haul trips will be the trend this year,” says Director Vassilis Theocharides of the Cyprus Tourism Organization. I guess he’s right. Individual and business traveller will be wise and cautious on their spending this year especially when any positive change has yet to be seen in the world’s economy. While the world powers are on a 24/7 guard to find ways to revive the economy, it will be months before the world feels its real effect. This means people who are likely to travel will nonetheless head to the nearest countryside or to the nearest border just to escape the pressure and forget about the day-to-day worries. Cyprus which is close (less than 4 hours flight) to the UAE is the perfect escape. The island for all seasons has something for everyone – beach, mountain, countryside, spa, cultural heritage, festival, history plus warm and friendly people. If you don’t want to fly to Cyprus (which we are featuring on our Outside Arabia), experience taking a cruise around the Gulf. Cruise tourism is becoming a popular trend because one trip will take you to several destinations. The facilities onboard the luxury ships are not to be taken for granted. These ships offer an array of leisure activities, superb service and amenities; it feels like checking into a floating five-star hotel property. Every vessel is brim-full with cutting-edge activities that appeal to all age groups. So if you are cruising with your family or going on a honeymoon, a cruise is the answer to all your needs. If this is your first time on a cruise, I hope our tips will be helpful to avoid unnecessary issues that might spoil your vacation. The March issue is filled with interesting features like events that you may want to partake in before summer hits Dubai. A must-see (though by-invitation only) and much-awaited annual event is the Dubai World Cup. This year’s race holds special significance because it will be the final staging at Nad Al Sheba racecourse where the race was held for the last 14 years before it moves to Meydan next year. There will be lots of art and cultural events to be staged this month. Check the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival, the Art Dubai and the return of Cirque de Soleil performance. It will definitely a busy March for everyone! Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers for your support. This is my last issue as editor of this travel magazine. I have decided to move on and venture into new challenges. It has been a complete pleasure writing for you. Over the course of the past two years, I’ve written a variety of feature, restaurant recommendation, spa review, travel tips and places to discover. I am so pleased to hear and received comments from you about the magazine becoming more specific in its content, noteworthy and the scope of the magazine has extended. The work has been very challenging and inspiring. The task gave me the opportunity to transform the magazine into a quality reading material and I am proud to be successful at that. I am also grateful that I have been given the opportunity to travel and explore different places and meet people from different culture from whom I learnt a lot. I would like to thank you for your support. I hope that Travel Arabia has entertained and inspired you. We hope you’ll still be there too, reading the work we’re most excited about and keeping the written word alive!

Flor B. Pamintuan

8 I Travel Arabia I March 2009

CONTENTS march 2009 16


16 The Gulf as a Cruise Hub The cruise tourism in the Gulf is gaining strength each passing year. Every cruise season, new cruise companies display their interest and enter the Gulf market offering signature style of cruising for the active holidaymakers.

24 Ships Ahoy!


Cruise liners are visiting Dubai carrying more than 200,000 passengers and crew. The number continues to rise every year indicating that cruising is becoming a popular tourism alternative.

30 The Dubai World Cup




The 2009 Dubai World Cup holds special significance as it will be the 14th and final race staged at Nad Al Sheba racecourse before racing is moved to Meydan in 2010.

36 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a great deal to offer to discerning visitors from archeological wonders and historical sites to a great diversity of modern attractions, scenic beauty and remarkable wildlife.



46 Unspoiled Tawi-Tawi Unspoiled nature, luscious greenery and placid seas, just about the perfect landscape to greet you when you reach Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost frontier of the Philippines.

50 The Dolder Grand, Zurich Originally a “Curhaus” health spa – the Dolder Grand has been transformed into a luxury-class city resort with 173 luxurious rooms and suites, and a 4000 square-metre spa area.

54 A precious gem at Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha Roxana Jaffer didn’t take any formal courses in hospitality but when you step into the doors of Holiday Inn Dubai everything you see here are the works of a seasoned hotelier.

About the Cover: Cruise tourism is becoming a popular trend in the region and several cruise companies have entered the Arab market to attract the Middle East and Gulf clients.

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64 Latino House A perfect place to enjoy a great dinner during this cool and cosy weather is the Latino House which is famous for its authentic South American cuisine. 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

your letters The Dubai Mall

It’s more than three months now since Dubai Mall opened to the public. I have visited the mall thrice since it opened and up to now I still can’t find my way to the parking area and the shops. It’s always a struggle. I’m not sure if it’s just me or the mall is just too big. The guard on duties themselves doesn’t know where to lead motorists. I have no suggestion to alleviate this. I guess I just need to go there as often as possible to familiarize myself with the direction.

General Manager Hekmat el Zein Editor Flor B. Pamintuan Staff Writers Jay Cunanan Canlas Jojo Dass Contributors Habeeb Salloum Chuck Wightman Photographers Maher El Zein Designer Altaf Hussein df

A Ramos Dubai

Goodbye winter Less people are heading to the parks nowadays. I think we’re beginning to get an early summer. But I’m sure a lot of people will agree that this is the first time that we really enjoyed winter in Dubai and the rest of the emirates. Having snow in Ras Al Khaimah’s mountain is really a first. I just hope it will stay a couple more months.

Teresa Santos Dubai

Less traffic I am not sure if I should be happy with the less traffic on the road or be concerned about people who are abandoning their cars because they can no longer pay for it. Whatever it is, I observe that there is less traffic now on Sheikh Zayed Road especially during the evening. There is slight traffic but it is not as crowded as before. After dinner, the once jam-packed road is now clear. Whatever the cause, it’s very convenient for me because I can do more meetings or go home early and attend to my family.

Assistant Designer Noufal Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif Sales & Marketing Executive Crisna De Guzman 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.

R. Nicholson Jumeirah

The Souk in Al Bastakiya I would like to thank you for your feature on the new souk in Al Bastakiya. The place is indeed a great place to be to learn more about Dubai. When you walk around the houses you will see the ingenuity of the local people. The wind tower always fascinates me. I’m glad this area has been preserved by the government because this will serve as a living proof for the present and next generation so they can see how families lived back then and how they survived. Visiting the souk in Bastakiya is always a relaxing experience because you can just sit in the open stage, listen to the music while enjoying local food and drink.

Ahmed AH. Bur Dubai

© 2007 Kalimat Group International

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Travel Arabia would like to receive your comments and suggestions. Write to

March Events Gulf Bike Expo 2009 March 19 to 21 Set to take place at the Dubai Festival City, Gulf Bike Expo 2009 will thrill bikers and enthusiasts in the Middle East with a

complete action-packed biking experience. Gulf Bike Expo, the largest of its kind is set to showcase the latest in bikes, ATVs, apparel, accessories, customdesigned bikes and motorcycle-related products from all major international brands from Europe, the USA, Canada, Italy and Japan. Gulf Bike Expo 2009 promises a celebration of motoring for the entire family. Bike fanatics will have an opportunity to admire the works of master bike customizers on modified and transformed bikes. Visitors can avail special show discounts on a range of products and merchandises including cruisers, street bikes, off road bikes, as well as custom bikes, ATV’s, tuning & customizing, parts & accessories, helmets, clothing.

Dubai International Poetry Festival 2009 March 4 - 10 Wole Soyinka, the first African writer and poet from Nigeria to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, has confirmed his participation at the opening ceremony of the Dubai International Poetry Festival (DIPF). More than 100 regional and international poets will converge in Dubai for the Festival. The first session of the Dubai International Poetry Festival will include poetry readings, workshops, critical discussions, and special evenings in addition to ‘Souq Ukaz’, a recreation of the atmosphere of those halcyon days of Arab creative expression by featuring brief theatrical performances.

ART DUBAI March 19 to 21 Over 60 carefully selected galleries will gather in the beach resort of Madinat Jumeirah for the third edition of Art Dubai. Emphasis will be placed on galleries representing artists from the Middle East, South and Central Asia and the Far East, showing along side established artists from the West. Art Dubai is helping foster the UAE’s reputation as a meeting place for the international art world. In the last two years, the art fair has witnessed robust growth in the number of art collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts from around the world visiting the event. With the added benefit of the newly opened Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and coinciding for the first time with the Sharjah Biennial, Art Dubai is seeking to attract more than 5000 visitors from overseas, doubling the number of international visitors from Art Dubai 2008. For further information about the Art Dubai, participating galleries, art projects, events and the education programme please visit

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Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival March 21 to April 2 The 6th Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival will feature a varied programme of ballet, opera, classical and Arabic music, a visual arts component and a strong educational programme which forms the festival’s backbone. The two week festival is primarily hosted at the Emirates Palace. This year’s Festival is also the first to involve collaboration with Flash Entertainment who, together with ADMAF, are bringing Andrea Bocelli to Abu Dhabi for the first time on 27 March 2009. Starting from AED 75, tickets are available from the Time Out Tickets website, or by calling : 800-4669 or +971 4 210 8567 (for international customers).  All box office proceeds received by ADMAF will be donated to the Red Crescent to support humanitarian work in Gaza.


The Gulfas a

Cruise Hub

Cruise tourism is becoming a popular trend that several cruise companies have entered the Arab market to attract Middle East and Gulf clients.

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he cruise tourism in the Gulf is gaining strength each passing year. Every cruise season, new cruise companies display their interest and enter the Gulf market offering signature style of cruising for the active holidaymakers. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines announced that it will base the 1050-cabin ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ in Dubai in winter 2010, operating a series of week-long cruises between January and April that will enhance the Gulf ’s visibility as a hub. The ‘Legend of the Seas’ and ‘Azamara Quest’ are scheduled to visit Dubai in May and April of this year. Legend of the Seas have packages from Rome to Dubai and Dubai to Singapore. “Dubai is a dynamic and thriving city that shows great growth potential. Building on our reputation for introducing revolutionary cruise experiences, we are excited to provide a different cruise holiday than traditionally offered in this region,” said Michael Bayley, senior vice president, international for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. “Royal Caribbean continues to attract holidaymakers internationally and we are thrilled to offer new and exciting choices for our guests.” Cruise tourism is becoming popular trend that several cruise companies have entered the Arab market to attract Middle East and Gulf clients. Last year, Hurtigruten, a Norwegian coastal cruise

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company, introduced its line to the Arabian market offering adventurous and exciting cruises to Norway. “We are looking for experience travellers, seeking a journey with nature and blissful relaxation at the Norwegian coast as well as voyagers who like to discover arctic and Antarctic regions. This is a voyage of a lifetime,” says Sonia Rashid, Executive Director of Scandinavian Connections, representative of Hurtigruten in UAE. Residential Cruise Line, the operator of Magellan, a $1.2billion residential cruise ship, also announced the sale of 210 residential units for full ownership. The ship will be the most luxurious and largest residential cruise ship ever built and will be ready by 2011. The ship will dock in more than 300 ports in 150 countries. Randall B. Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Residential Cruise Line said; “We have chosen Dubai to make the announcement as this city has all the potential to be the regional hub for Magellan and its associates.” The aggressive initiatives of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to promote and market the emirate as ultimate cruise destination in the region has yielded impressive results with Dubai’s state-of-the-art cruise terminal playing a host to over 120,205 tourists in 2007, far more than the projected 105,000. This season, data gathered from

DTCM showed that more than 82 ships are scheduled to visit Dubai carrying more than 240,000 passengers and crew from Dec. 31, 2008 to May 20, 2009. This figure is expected to significantly increase by the 2010 cruise season because of the new entrants to the market. The cruise tourism trend was started by Costa Cruises and its sister line AIDA in 2006 when the two lines chose Dubai as a hub for winter cruising, but the significance of the move by Royal Caribbean is enhanced by the fact that a significant proportion of its passenger mix is generated from North America. According to regional sales director, EMA, Helen Beck, while the UK, Germany and Russia were primed to be the main source markets for the ship, she expected interest from the US as well as the regional market. “The recent increases in flights to North America – with Emirates, Qatar, Delta and United all boosting frequencies – opens up potential here,” she said. At the same time, the arrival of the world’s newest luxury sailing ship in January 2010 will place additional emphasis on Gulf waters, when the ‘Sea Cloud Hussar’ arrives for a winter cruise season, also based in Dubai. And, while Dubai has provided the right infrastructure to act as a magnet for cruise lines seeking new destinations – with its hotels, air access and land itineraries – the rest of the region will also

benefit, potentially ports such as Muscat, Musandam, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar. Silversea has 10 voyages covering the Gulf and also plans to introduce extra cruises when it takes delivery of a new vessel at the end of 2009: “We are planning to add more to future schedules from 2010 and beyond,” said SVP sales & marketing, Trudy Redfern, adding that reservations were being received up to 18 months in advance, with cruises waitlisted. “As port infrastructure around the Gulf improves, there is an opportunity for guests to enjoy more land excursions and with increased hospitality developments it will only get better,” she said. Specialist cruise agent Cruise Master Middle East reported increased interest in selling cruise by travel agents, many of whom can now review the cruise product when ships dock in Dubai and other destinations: “The Middle East as a source market for outbound cruises has seen significant growth in the past decade, and more ships coming in to Dubai offers an opportunity for the trade to touch and feel the product with ship inspection trips,” said sales and marketing manager Ashok Kumar. Interest by several other cruise lines too has prompted Dubai to announce a new cruise terminal development based in Port Rashid, as part of the major Nakheel waterfront project there that will be fasttracked to accommodate the new business at the port. Currently, passengers arriving in Dubai pass through the ship-shaped Dubai Cruise Terminal. The 3300 square metre dedicated Dubai Cruise Terminal can accommodate two ships simultaneously. Its facilities include a VIP lounge, café, palm gardens, duty free shops, Internet corner, giant video screen and meeting room. Apart from that there is usually a welcome ceremony for disembarking passengers which includes an array of traditional activities in addition to the entertainment from local bands and troupes. The Dubai Cruise Terminal is the world’s first to receive ISO-9002 certification and also the world’s only cruise facility run by the government tourism body, DTCM.

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Ships Ahoy!

This season, several cruise lines are visiting Dubai carrying more than 200,000 passengers and crew. The number continues to rise every year indicating that cruising is becoming a popular tourism alternative and the most dynamic sector of the leisure industry. These ships offer an array of onboard activities, superb service and amenities; it feels like checking into a floating five-star hotel property. Let’s take a tour of what the ships offer onboard!

Royal Caribbean International A cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean International ship is more than a leisurely

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voyage from one port to another – much more. Every vessel is brim-full with cutting-edge activities that appeal to all age groups. RCI’s ‘Legend of the Seas’ will visit Dubai in May. The ship is one of the firsts to operate the European cruising programme for Royal Caribbean International and have remained perenniallypopular with passengers who appreciate the finer things in life. Filled with an endless supply of entertainment and relaxation options, Legend of the Seas boasts 70,000 tons of fun and adventure for up to 2,704 guests. With a 17-hole miniature golf,

rock-climbing wall, four whirlpools and a Solarium with a sliding roof, there’s something for everyone onboard this cruise ship. Facilities onboard includes a Juliet and Romeo dining room that has a capacity of 1,050 guests, themed bars and lounges, a casino, a library and an open atrium featuring shopping and a spa and fitness centre. If you are onboard Legend of the Seas for a business cruise there are conference facilities including one conference centre and six alternate rooms for use as meeting/breakout rooms. Legend of the Seas is currently of-

The number continues to rise every year indicating that cruising is becoming a popular tourism alternative and the most dynamic sector of the leisure industry. fering a 12-night cruise from Rome to Dubai and a 13-night cruise from Dubai to Singapore under its Winter Sun Cruise package. The Rome to Dubai Cruise is a perfect opportunity to experience the best of the old and new world. You will travel from Ancient Rome, through the legendary Suez Canal to the ultra-modern Dubai. The Dubai to Singapore cruise will let you experience the East like never before. With five glorious cruising days and two full days in Bombay, you will have a relaxing holiday package packed with sights, culture and beautiful winter sunshine. For more information, visit

Star Cruises Star Cruise continues to offer a cruise experience with more enjoyment and leisure amidst warm Asian hospitality from a truly international crew whose aim is to ensure memorable cruise experiences for each and every guest, be it families, honeymooners, singles and even meeting and incentive groups. There are a range of exciting cruises in the coming summer season. SuperStar Virgo, the largest cruise ship in Asia, homeported in Singapore offers enchanting Straits of Malacca and Andaman Sea cruises from 5th Apr 2009 onwards comprising of 5, 4, 3 and 2 night

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cruises to various ports in Thailand and Malaysia. Also, the long-awaited 2-night Redang cruise will be re-launched for sailings from April to September. SuperStar Aquarius and SuperStar Pisces are currently sailing the winter cruise season from Hong Kong comprising of 1-night getaway cruise in South China Sea. The summer season sailings will be announced shortly. To bring greater variety and broaden the appeal and experience of cruising to our guests in the region onboard Star Cruises we offer luxurious accommodation, world class entertainment, a range of ports and destinations, multi cuisine dining options with Asian buffet meals on selected ships, variety of recreational activities and much more. A whole new fascinating world awaits passengers onboard Star Cruises where you will experience a truly magnificent time that will have you coming back for more! For more information, log on to

Azamara Cruises Azamara is the new, deluxe cruise experience for discerning travelers who long to reach out-of-the-ordinary destinations and indulge in amenities and service unparalleled on the high seas. The unique offerings of Azamara are beyond compare: butler service is

provided in every stateroom; the shore excursions (which they prefer to call shore immersions), are designed to let guests become part of the fabric of life in each destination, instead of merely being an observer; their enrichment programs offer everything from culinary to photographic explorations; the two specialty restaurants provide the finest cuisine at sea; live entertainment can be enjoyed nightly; and the level of service offered is unmatched. Azamara Cruises consists of two intimate ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest (which will visit Dubai this April). Each can carry 694 fortunate guests to discover the hidden corners of the world that larger cruise ships simply cannot reach. In addition to offering a more personalized experience, their ships have recently undergone $17.5 million revitalization with new European bedding and soft goods, flat screen televisions, new veranda decking and furniture, and wireless internet service in all staterooms and public areas. Plus, 93% of the staterooms offer ocean views and 68% have a private veranda. Travel enthusiasts are encouraged to visit for more information.

Costa Cruises Cruise with Costa and be assured of a fabulous holiday that you’ll never forget. From the moment you step on board to when you have to say farewell, your wish and request will be met with a smile – ensuring that each and every one of you can enjoy your time as their guest. At Costa, service is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A cabin steward is on call for every cabin, while suites have a butler who takes care of everything you may need. Cabins are serviced twice daily. In the restaurants you will have your own waiter who will serve your table every evening for the entire cruise. On the pool decks you can relax and take your pick from the sun loungers, sun beds and beach towels readily available. In the morning a free newspaper with news from around the world will be delivered to your cabin, and in the evening “Today”, the activities programme for the following day which gives times of all the onboard services. For anything else you require the Information Desk is open 24 hours a day. A Costa cruise is an unforgettable

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holiday. It is backed by a company which has been in business for 60 years and boasts an enviable history and experience as well as the most modern fleet of ships in Europe. The beautiful vessels are spectacular, elegant and comfortable. They are filled with works of art and they have been built to provide the perfect on board experience. Costa’s ships have been built to leave you lost for words, foreseeing your expectations and exceeding them. They are spectacular, rich and luxurious…and

they are your holiday’s first destination. A special promotion called “Jewels of the Emirates” on board Costa Victoria is being offered this month for as low as US$459 per person. Costa Victoria will be sailing from Dubai on the ever popular itinerary around the gulf region calling at Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. For enquiries and reservations, contact Costa’s preferred partner Alpha Holidays at +97142940022 or email

What to Know Before You GO We want all vacations to be as enjoyable and memorable as possible. One secret to achieving that is proper planning and this includes things that you need to bring. Here are some helpful tips to help you make the most of your cruise adventure. For the first day of your cruise, pack a small carry-on bag with your travel documents, a change of clothes, bathing suit, workout clothes and any medications you may need. That way you don’t have to wait for your checked bags to arrive in your stateroom. Don’t forget to carry your camera for you to capture all the fun and memories onboard. Whether on the ship or in a

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port of call, resort wear is fine for both men and women. For warmer climates, this includes walking shorts and polo shirts, swim suits and cover-ups, lightweight slacks or skirts, and a light sweater. When visiting cooler climates, casual clothing that can be easily layered for warmth or comfort and is recommended, along with a raincoat or umbrella, waterproof hat and gloves. If you’re planning to visit the onboard fitness center, be sure to bring extra shorts, t-shirts and socks that you won’t mind working out in - plus a pair of tennis or running shoes/sneakers. For formal nights you’ll need cocktail dresses for women, suits

and ties - or tuxedos - for men. And for the smart casual nights bring dresses or pantsuit for women, jackets for men. When you first come aboard, be sure to check out your stateroom. In most staterooms, you will find the schedule for all the onboard activities so you can plan and book ahead. If you are travelling with your family, check the activities available for families including registration for kids’ programme. If you plan to rejuvenate your mind and soul, the perfect venue is the spa or fitness classes but make sure you book your appointments on the first day, as the most popular treatments and times fill up fast..


The global appeal of the


World Cup


he 2009 Dubai World Cup holds special significance as it will be the 14th and final renewal staged at Nad Al Sheba racecourse before racing is moved to Meydan in 2010. The Dubai World Cup has again proven to lead the way in horse racing’s international era, its global appeal emphasised by the Dubai Racing Club receiving in excess of 1,600 entries from 27 countries for the world’s richest race-meeting. The 2009 US$6,000,000 Group 1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, to be run on March 28, 2009, holds special significance as it will be the 14th and final renewal staged at Nad Al Sheba racecourse before racing is moved to Meydan in 2010. Asiatic Boy and Well Armed, second and third behind champion Curlin in 2008, head an impressive list of 263 entries

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for the Dubai World Cup. Other nominations include Japan’s star mare Daiwa Scarlett, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Albertus Maximus and Colonel John. Asiatic Boy’s stablemate Honour Devil is also entered, the four-year-old out to create history by capturing the Dubai World Cup a year after winning the UAE Derby. A total of 16 countries are represented in the entries for the Dubai World Cup itself, up from 11 in 2008, and, not surprisingly, the three countries to be represented by winners of the Dubai World Cup, the UAE, USA and England, are again prominent in the entries. The UAE leads the way with a total 143 entries, followed by the USA (39), South Africa (18), Great Britain (13), Japan (10), Saudi Arabia (9), Brazil and France (7), Peru (6), Qatar (5), Argentina, Bahrain, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Mauritius and Uruguay (1).

“The Dubai Racing Club and the Dubai World Cup is committed to the era of international racing, and as we can see from the increased number of entries we have received, it proves that, so too are the world’s owners and trainers,” said Dubai Racing Club CEO, Frank Gabriel Jr. “Nad Al Sheba has been the home of the most international race meeting in the world and the Dubai World Cup meeting this year will be the perfect finale to this racecourse before we move to Meydan in 2010.” The brainchild of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai World Cup is a fitting tribute to his love of horses and of horseracing. With the establishment of the annual invitation-only Dubai World Cup, the United Arab Emirates became the home

“Nad Al Sheba has been the home of the most international race meeting in the world and the Dubai World Cup meeting this year will be the perfect finale to this racecourse before we move to Meydan in 2010.” of one of the world’s top racing challenges, and drew the attention of millions of enthusiasts around the globe. Among the horses entered in the inaugural race in 1996 was a 13-time winner from Australia, a seven-race winner from Great Britain, the ‘dirt horse’ champion from Japan, and Cigar, North America’s ‘Horse of the Year’ for 1995. The standard was set and victory by the wonder horse Cigar was the perfect end to the first Dubai World Cup, and set the benchmark for all future renewals. In little over a decade, the event has established itself as the pièce de resistance on the international horseracing calendar. Reflective of the overwhelming generosity of the UAE and embodying the warmth of traditional Arabian hospitality, contenders for the purses are flown in from all corners of the world, such as North and South America, South Africa,

South East Asia, Australasia and Europe, and horsemen enjoy generous travel subsidies for their support of racing in the UAE. With a purse of US$6 million to the winner, this year sees the 14th running of the richest horse race in the world. Classified as a ‘Group 1 Flat Race’ on dirt for four-year-old thoroughbreds and above, the Dubai World Cup spans a distance of two kilometres (one mile, two furlongs). Staged on Saturday March 28, 2009, the Dubai World Cup meeting comprises of seven races of varying purses, totalling a staggering $21.25 million. The meeting is not just about the world’s richest race, as the rest of the seven-race card is also stacked with quality. Chief supporting races are the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free and the US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic - the two richest races run on turf, anywhere in the

world. Also on the card are the Dubai Golden Shaheen and UAE Derby, both worth US$2 million, and the US$1 million Godolphin Mile, while the evening kicks off with the Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians. Perhaps part of the Dubai World Cup’s success is not only due to the state-of-the-art race track, but the burgeoning status of Dubai as an international crossroads and global transport hub, and of course a first-class tourist destination, evidenced by more than 50,000 racegoers attending the Dubai World Cup meeting each year. Today, the Dubai World Cup meeting enjoys a formidable reputation. Thanks to the foresight and benevolence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this enthralling event is not only a gift to the people of Dubai but to the rest of the world too.

March 2009 I Travel Arabia I 31

The “Souk” at Qaryat Al Beri

High-end shopping, entertainment and lifestyle destination

The “Souk” at Qaryat Al Beri is a unique and the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi built to showcase Arabian architecture and reflect traditional Arab hospitality and generosity. “The Souk is now officially open and we would like to invite everyone to come and visit. Aimed to be the meeting place of choice for both leisure and business, the Souk will feature popular, retail and F&B (Food and Beverage) brands from the region and those from around the world,” said Fatima Al Jaber, General Manager of Qaryat Al Beri Resort Development Company LLC. Located between Maqtaa and Musaffah bridges in Abu Dhabi, the Souk is the latest among a string of projects being developed in the Qaryat Al Beri area, adjacent to the Shangri-La Abu Dhabi. Qaryat Al Beri is one of the most distinguished waterfront projects in Abu Dhabi. Built on two levels, the Souk is an interesting fusion of Arabian architecture with a Venetian theme. Water canals meander through the Souk and nearby properties with abras ferrying hotel guests from the Shangri-La to various locations. Several restaurants and coffee shops have alfresco dining terraces that

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overlook the waters and accord a view of the picturesque landscape. Well-known restaurants will also serve international cuisine including Italian, Japanese, Arabic and Indian varieties. The Souk is a project by Qaryat Al Beri Resort Development Company LLC, a joint venture between Al Jaber Group and the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). Spread over a total floor area of 6,222 square metres comprising retail and F&B outlets, the Souk promises to be the ultimate destination not only for tourists but also for Abu Dhabi residents. 32 outlets are currently in operation and include popular brands such as Meat Co, Eight, Noodle House, Starbucks, Baskin Robins, Shangri-La Patisserie, Le Paradis de Fruit, Abdelwahab, Bateel, Damas, Pure Gold, La Marquise, Diamond Direct, Veneto, Adam and Eve, My Fair Lady, Al Makaweer, First Choice, La Perla, Obagi, Yateem, La Moda, Toshkana, Heritage Touch, Gallery One, Rawaj Al Oud, Nails and Souk b Souk. “Since the opening of the Souk in October we’ve seen a good number of shoppers coming here. The Souk is proving to be a very popular destination for everyone in Abu Dhabi,” noted Al Jaber.

The Sport of Kings Takes on a New Look

First there was Polo, the sport of Kings. Then there was Elephant Polo, the sport of Maharajahs. Now in Dubai there is Camel Polo - the sport of Sheikhs? Leading Middle East travel management company, Dnata, launched a distinctive Dubai version of the traditional polo game played not with horses, but the U.A.E.’s iconic camels. Adrian Sime, Manager, Business Development at Dnata Travel Services, said: “As the leading travel services company in the Middle East, Dnata is always looking for ways to enhance our range of products and services. It is important that visitors to Dubai can enjoy a variety of different experiences and that is why we have decided to add Camel Polo to our portfolio. “Camel Polo is a great fun, exciting and safe activity that everyone, regardless of size, age, gender, strength or skill can participate in. When you put that together with the fantastic environment

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that is offered by Dubai and the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club at Arabian Ranches, it makes an experience people will never forget. “Camel Polo is the ideal team building activity. We structure our Camel Polo experience to include a training session, in which clients are shown some basic skills, and then it’s time to put those skills into action with a match. There are always two people on the camel – one to manoeuvre the camel and the other to play the polo – so we can have two participants per camel or one participant plus a ‘driver’. All twelve polo-playing camels, selected for their size and ability, have received four hours of training every day by two specialised coaches over recent months to reach the peak of fitness and skill they

demonstrate on the polo field. Once trained, the camels can canter and make sharp turns similar to polo horses, making this an exciting and unique spectator sport. Where polo camels differ from polo ponies is in their tendancy to sit down in the middle of the match, thereby adding to the fun of the experience As you would expect, off the field, these camels are exceptionally well cared for, receiving an excellent diet, housing and veterinary care. A dedicated handler is provided for every camel during each match, ensuring the safety of both camel and players. The great news about this new activity is that anyone can play – no previous experience is needed as full instructions are given on the day by the professional polo coach. There’s also a strong team-work aspect as two players work together on each participating camel. The player to be the driver sits in front of the hump, in charge of direction and the second player, sitting behind the hump is responsible for hitting the large, inflatable ball. The rules follow the traditional game with some minor variations, so camel polo retains a strong competitive element, increasing the excitement for both players and spectators. Camel Polo is fun to play and hilarious to watch, making it a great corporate team-building event and a tourist attraction in its own right. It can accommodate groups ranging in size from eight to up to a hundred, playing “knock-out” competitions. Anyone wishing to try it out for themselves can call 04 404 5861 or e-mail


The Kingdom of

Saudi Arabia

When people think of Saudi Arabia, they think of oil. This is not surprising since the country is the world’s largest producer of this valuable commodity and also has the largest known reserves. But Saudi Arabia is not all about oil. The Kingdom has a great deal to offer to discerning visitors from archeological wonders and historical sites to a great diversity of modern attractions, scenic beauty and remarkable wildlife. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam and a land of ancient civilization. The kingdom covers the largest part of the Arabian Peninsula, which has for centuries formed a natural bridge and axis for trade between different cultures. Many great civilizations have left their mark here, on what the Romans called Arabia Felix or Fortunate Arabia. Riyadh is the capital of the country and is a dynamic modern city with a rapidly growing population of more than 4 million. The Al Saud family ruled much of the peninsula throughout the 19th century. In 1902 Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud succeeded in recapturing Riyadh and in the following 30 years proceeded to unite the peninsula’s numerous and disparate tribes into one nation. The foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took place on 23 September 1932, a day that marks the international recognition of the new nation’s sovereignty and is commemorated every year as the National Day.

Shopping Saudi Arabia offers a wonderful shopping experience from traditional souks and corner shops to supermarkets and vast shopping malls. For thousands of years the Arabian Peninsula has been at the crossroads of trading routes from the Far East to the Mediterranean from Persia

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A new destination

to Africa. Almost all items and well-known brands available in Europe and North America can be found in Saudi Arabia with the exception of alcohol and pork products. In the main cities and towns you’ll find top name fashion items, kitchenware, glass and crystal, carpets, electronic goods, books and maps, children’s toys, in fact almost anything you could care to name. Souks seem to have everything. This is the place to wander, to soak up the atmosphere, to enjoy the sights and smells of Arabia, to discover goods you’ve never seen before and pick up a bargain or souvenir that will be the envy of your friends back home.

Festivals With its rich heritage and colourful

past, Saudi Arabia is well-endowed with Arab tradition and culture. The Kingdom has over 500 story-telling and literary events, 61 folklore and Saudi dance festivals and 44 dramatic arts festivals. Of these, the colourful Janadriya Festival is the largest single event, being national in scope and celebrating all aspects of Saudi culture including fine arts, folk dancing, painting, weaving, literature, traditional and modern poetry, The permanent exhibition site is 30 kms north of Riyadh and covers more than 50 sq kms. From its origin as a camel race in 1984, the Janadriya Festival, which lasts around two weeks attracts up to 3 million visitors every year. Many other towns and cities throughout the country have regular festivals, an opportunity for Saudis and visitors alike

to celebrate the best that their region has to offer. The principal festivities are in Abha, Madinah, Taif, al-Bahah, Hail and the Eastern Province.

Eco-Tourism Saudi Arabia is well endowed with natural resources and the protection of the environment and sustainable ecotourism figure strongly in the Kingdom’s national tourism development plans. Offshore, the Red Sea has been designated a World Heritage Site in all regions except adjacent to Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt. At the present time there are more than a dozen national and regional parks in the country, and more have been proposed. These are in a variety of settings ranging from arid and semi-arid desert to

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semi-arid mountain forest. In addition, over 100 sites have been identified for protected-area about half of them in the coastal/marine category. These sites, many of which are designated Special Nature Reserves, offer excellent opportunities for eco-tourism and nature-based tourism. This can include adventure tourism, guided walks, wildlife viewing, swimming and diving near coral reefs, hiking, camping, and four wheel drive safaris into desert areas. Dramatic desert landscapes and sand dunes offer the visitor a unique experience with a guide and a suitable vehicle. In the Empty Quarter are some of the largest sand dunes in the word, up to several hundred meters high. You may spot native fauna such as oryx, ibex and gazelles or even the rare Arabian mountain leopard.

Umrah Plus The Umrah is the non-mandatory religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah and has been a part of history since the time of the Prophet’s first pilgrimage. During the nine months allocated for Umrah, around 2.5 million Muslims from approximately 170 countries made the Umrah pilgrimage to the Holy City of Makkah. Year upon year, Umrah has been a voluntary religious practice. It may be supplemented with a visit to the Prophet Mohammed’s Mosque in Madinah. Umrah Plus is a recently introduced concept, which is gaining ground and popularity among Umrah pilgrims travelling to the Kingdom. Umrah Plus in its simplest form refers to a geographical extension to the Umrah pilgrimage from the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah to other parts of the Kingdom. It can also

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refer to an extension of leisure activities following the performance of Umrah and Ziyarah in other towns and cities of Saudi Arabia.

Beaches and Water Sports With 1,800 kms of Red Sea coastline and around 700 kms of littoral bordering the Arabian Gulf, Saudi Arabia’s unspoiled beaches are among the best in the world. And as the Kingdom straddles the Tropic of Cancer, the climate is ideal for swimming and all manner of water sports year round. The warm waters and long hours of sunshine are especially appreciated by visitors from northern climes. Bear in mind however that some beaches are private, owned by hotels or companies. Sailing, snorkeling, wind-surfing, water skiing, catamarans, wet bikes and jet skis are all available and a number of experience operators can provide all the tuition and equipment that you might need. Saudi Arabia is especially renowned for scuba diving; the warm waters and fabulous coral reefs of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf are ideal for beginners and experts alike. In fact, the reef closed to Jeddah is acknowledged to be one of the world’s finest, second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Another coastal activity is fishing. The warm waters are rich in underwater life, and rewarding for anglers whether dangling a line from the shore or embarking on a deep-sea excursion. Barracuda and mackerel are especially plentiful in the Arabian Gulf, while the Red Sea offers yellow-fin tuna, red snapper, sea bass, sailfish and many other varieties. Look out for pilot whales, nurse sharks and dolphins.

General Facts 1. The official language of the Kingdom is Arabic although English is widely understood in hotels, department stores and business circles and in many places connected with tourism. 2. All visitors to Saudi Arabia (except nationals of the GCC countries) require a visa. 3. Saudi Arabia’s official religion is Islam which forms the basis of the nation’s legal system. The branch of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia is Sunni. 4. No religious practices other than those of the Muslim faith are permitted in Saudi Arabia, and the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are off-limits to non-Muslim visitors. 5. The Kingdom’s currency is the Saudi Arabian Riyal which is approximately 3.755 to the US dollar. 6. The dress code in Saudi Arabia, especially in Riyadh is traditional and conservative. Saudi men and nationals of the Gulf States wear a uniform robe with a headdress and black cord to keep it in place while women wear abaya and a head scarf covering the hair and sometimes the face. 7. Entertainment can be limited as there are no theaters, cinemas or nightspots. There are however a number of coffee shops where people gather to chat and socialize.



the year round island

Long coveted by foreign powers due to its strategic position at the crossroad between three continents, Cyprus is like a large open air museum with an evidence of its chequered past, making it a mosaic of different civilisations and periods.

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Spring brings many visitors to Cyprus. They come to enjoy the abundance of colours. So does summer when you can sink your toes into the warm and sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Autumn is pleasant with its lack of crowds and warm sunshine while winter gives you the chance to walk in pine scented forests or ski on the snowy peaks in the morning. Whatever season of the year you want to visit Cyprus, there is guaranteed activity for everyone. In Cyprus, there is so much to enjoy, see and do all year round making it a year round destination. “Cyprus will be a favourite destination of travellers this year because of its close proximity to the UAE and is a great place to escape for short haul trips especially at this time,” says Vassilis Theocharides, Director, Cyprus Tourism Organization, Middle East and Arabian Gulf Office. “Cyprus has a unique selling point because you are going into an island nation which offers different activities to different people. Apart from being a beach destination during summer, we are also a cultural destination with history dating back to 10,000 years. We’re also a destination with mountains, the Mediterranean village, the wineries, the Byzantine churches, the Greek temples which are all in a small island,” adds Theocharides. Nothing beats Cyprus for a beach holiday. With a wealth of beaches to choose from you are bound to find one that suits your taste. There are fine white sandy beaches with shallow turquoise waters or deep water bays with rocky outcrops which are perfect for snorkelling or diving. The long stretches of coastline lend themselves to jogging, while secluded coves beckon when you want to be alone. From the quiet backwaters of the western peninsula to the lively resorts in the east, the island has something for everyone. If you’re a nature lover, Cyprus will inspire you. From rugged coasts to mountain peaks, sunny vineyards to cool pine forests, flat expanses of wheat fields to lush citrus orchards, the changing landscape within short distances

offers endless opportunities for the artist or photographer in you. The island is a must visit for birdwatchers as there are several endemic bird species and hundreds of migrating birds passing through. Rare plants, such as the Cyprus tulip and cyclamen, will fascinate botanists, while geologists can marvel at majestic rock formation derived from millions of years old oceanic crust. In Cyprus, you will experience one of the world’s oldest civilisation, going back 10,000 years. The cult of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek mythological goddess of love and beauty flourished here. People come miles around to take part in the celebrations in her name. Nowadays a modern version of the rituals connected with the cult is the ‘Anthestiria’, or spring flower festivals. The island was the first country the apostles Paul and Barnabas visited in their mission to spread Christianity and the first to come under Christian administration. Many fine examples of Byzantine art survived here. Hidden away in the pine forests are Cyprus’ painted churches with their colourful frescoes on walls and apses, ten of which have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As you travel around the island, you will be given the warmest of welcomes in Cyprus. The spirit of hospitality is very strong here and Cypriots have a reputation for being friendly so don’t be surprised if they invite you into their homes and go out of their way to treat you as one of the family. Most Cypriots speak

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English and you will be instantly accepted and given a taste of the local culture and way of life. The people’s helpful nature means that if your car ever breaks down you will never be stuck at the roadside for more than a few minutes before someone stops to help. Cyprus outstanding characteristics make it a famous destination for four markets in the UAE namely the Western expatriate, the Asian expatriate, the Arabic expatriate and the Arab nationals. “We can say that we are a real destination because we have attractions for these markets. For example, the Western expats might be attracted toward the beach, the Asian market will be discovering new destination, the Arabs will be looking for destination similar to what they have back home or the Mediterranean backdrop and the national has also different needs which could be the mountain trail or the spa,” said Theocharides. Last year, the island nation received 50,000 visitors from the Middle East region, led by the Lebanese and followed by the UAE. The figure is expected to increase this year because of travellers preferring short haul trips. “I think it will be a pattern that people will be taking short breaks especially with the prices of airline falling. Instead of taking a long trip for example to the UK or go to a Disneyland trip to Paris or any other destination that is more than

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five to seven hours flight, a lot of people will be jumping around the region.” Theocharides also recommends Cyprus for families planning their vacation this year because of the many activities and events that are present all year round including cultural performances with big star names in the most romantic settings from medieval castles to Greco-Roman theaters under starry Mediterranean skies. Don’t forget that Cyprus is also a destination for honeymooners. Cyprus is the second in the world next to Caribbean where people get married and enjoy their honeymoon. Whether you’re tying the knot for the first time, enjoying a second honeymoon or celebrating your jubilee, the island provides the perfect backdrop for some of the most romantic location. Convenient marriage formalities and excellent facilities make getting married here a piece of cake. And whether you prefer an intimate family gathering or a lavish banquet at a luxury hotel, you will find that the island offers good value for money.

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When you’ve had your fill of sun and sea, Cyprus is perfect for indulging in your favourite outdoor activities or interests. Whether you just want to play for fun while on holiday or a professional athlete looking for winter training, there are facilities here for all kinds of sports. Cycling and hiking are an enjoyable way to keep fit and to explore the island. Being an island, water sports feature strongly among the many activities available. Discover the magic of the underwater world by snorkeling or diving in warm crystal clear seas. Windsurfing and sailing can be enjoyed all year round while coastal cruising and deep-water fishing are also popular. Cyprus is also a perfect place for conferences, exhibitions, corporate events and incentive travel programmes. Many top class hotels provide a range of purpose-built facilities catering for all types of meetings, from small seminars or just a few people to full scale conventions of over a thousand.

General Information: No visas are required for entry into Cyprus by nationals of most European countries. Nationals of other countries should contact the nearest Consulate of the Republic of Cyprus. Emirates Airlines flies daily to Cyprus. Cyprus Airways, the local carrier, flies twice a week. Visitors should respect ecclesiastic traditions and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless garments in churches and monasteries Tipping in restaurant, taxis, etc. is optional but always welcome. Driving is on the left side of the road The best way to explore Cyprus is by car. An excellent road network link the cities making distances short and easy Tap water is drinkable For more of Cyprus, log on to www., the official website of the Cyprus Tourism Organization

Glimpses of Unspoiled

Tawi-Tawi Unspoiled nature, luscious greenery and placid seas, just about the perfect landscape to greet you when you reach Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost frontier of the Philippines. THELMA A. GECOLEA tells us more. Photos by ELLA BORROMEO.

Almost close to three hours of two plane rides from Manila via Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi is bounded by Sulu Sea on the east and south with its southwestern part defining the international boundary of East Malaysia. Tawi-Tawi is a relatively peaceful province of 11 municipalities. Bongao, Simunul, Sitangkal, Sibutu, Mapun, Turtle Island, Panglima Sugala, Languyan, Sapa-Sapa, Tandubas and South Ubian comprise what is now known as TawiTawi, which originated from the word Jaui meaning far away. As of the last population census in 2000, population was placed at about 200,000 but estimates say that the figure is now 400,000. The Badjaos known also as sea gypsies are widely dispersed across the province although their population is said to be diminishing because of diseases or migration to other places in the Philippines. The Tausogs, on the other hand, are settlers from the Sulu Province who come to Tawi-Tawi usually for livelihood. About 90% of the population is Muslims while the remaining come from other religious faith. Splendid Nature and Quiet Bongao Tawi-Tawi has an enormous tract of fertile and productive land but is better known for its white and sandy beaches and exotic marine resources which dominate the coastline. Bongao, its capital, is such a good showcase of these white and sandy beaches which so to speak have

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remained to be unadulterated. The municipality of Bongao has modest and spartan accommodations. If you are used to staying in five-star hotels then please do not expect much when you go this municipality. Going around Bongao is very easy as you can get tricycles (local vehicles) for a small fee. A vist to the provincial capitol building located on top of a hill definitely offers a very good panoramic view of the islands surrounding the area. A trip to Bongao is like having a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city and a haven for those seeking solitude. Its resources are enormous and rich and traveling is not complete if you have not ventured to explore them. And what better way to enjoy all these nature’s bounties other than hopping from island to island? But be forewarned that this is the best option to take only when you have lots of guts and a high sense of adventure to tread the road less traveled. Considering that Tawi-Tawi including Bongao has about 307 islands and islets, one should be prepared to explore by boat and to walk for several hours on foot to go from one island to the next.

Climbing Bongao Peak Locals in Bongao will tell you that you not have reached Bongao if you have not climbed its peak. Bongao Peak is the highest in the province as it stands 1,050 feet above sea level. Its enchanting site welcomes visitors as you land in Bongao. The peak is a site known for prayer and deep reflection and is also well-revered as is the resting place of Dayang Amina and Tuan Sharif Mohamad Sha (an Arabian missionary) who died during the 1500s. The Bongao Peak or Bud Bongao

requires a trek (back and forth) of three hours or less to those who regularly go to the gym to about a climb of five to six hours or so for those walk slowly. And the climb is not easy as you have to go through slippery walk amidst hundreds of trees of various varieties (mostly bananas) and less a hundred spoiled monkeys who are used to being fed bananas by those who visit the place. So if you are ready for the climb, be sure to bring at least two kilos of bananas for the hungry monkeys and a bottle of water to help you catch your breathe. An early morning climb is recommended, usually between 6 to 7 a.m. and it is best to request a guide to help you go up the peak. For the traveler who likes to mix his or her journeys with mysticism, Bongao Peak is a place to go to as you are asked to make a wish as you make knots out of leaves on trees on specific prayer sites. It is therefore not uncommon and amusing to see trees which are literally covered with leaves tied up on their own or tied together using plastic bags. From afar, you will wonder how many hundreds of wishes may have been answered! Before going to the top of the Bud (meaning mountain in Bongao), be sure to stop where others do and wash your face in a mini- stream of water which has gone murky as others have already bathed their faces. Never mind this and take the practice as an important part of your Tawi-Tawi adventure. And after all the ‘hardship’ comes victory because once you reach the top, you will feel your adrenalins rush and you will feel an unexplainable ‘high’as you conquered the Bud in Bongao!

“Venice of Tawi-Tawi” Sitangkai is a municipality in Tawi-

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Tawi which has developed a charm unique on its own. Instead of roads, waterways and bridges make up Sitangkai. Its main thoroughfare is a narrow waterway that is only about 20 feet wide. It is home to hundreds of boats plying different wares from fish to crabs to plastic containers to drums to school supplies. Colorful boats including boat taxis are everywhere, no wonder it is called the “Venice of TawiTawi”. Business thrives the most when the big ferry from Bongao arrives. The waters are clear and pristine and the marine resources are teeming and bountiful. You cannot just ignore the little paradise when you are in Sitangkai. Walking on narrow foot walks and bridges is an experience in itself and definitely not for the fainthearted. But this island is not just about marine life. More than its rich marine bounty, the people of Sitangkai are most friendly, resilient and hardworking. They have managed to make use of the marine life and have chosen to make a living out of what they have the most – the waters of Sitangkai. Today, Sitangkai is the largest producer of seaweeds in Tawi-Tawi. Sitangkai is known in the Philippines as a seaweed hub. Eucheuma cottonii, locally known as “guso”, is the most common variety of seaweeds which can be found in the Philippines. It is a fact, that the Philippines dominates the world market for supplying majority of the world demand for Eucheuma cottonii. The dried raw Eucheuma cottonii are processed to extract white powder called “carrageenan”. This powder has properties known for improving the texture of various food products. Carrageenan functions as gelling agent, moisture holder and binder among others. Medicinal researches also indicate that carrageenan may also have potential use either as anti-viral and anti-fungal agents. The wonders of Sitangkai should however be safeguarded by its people and its environs should be kept clean as there are already unsightly sites of garbage in the place, sad to say. Tawi-Tawi is just about one of the quietest places that you can ever go to when you simply want to reflect or if you want to communicate with your Spiritual Being, to commune with nature at its fullest or simply just to bask under the sun.

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Dolder Grand returns as a

luxury-class city resort Originally a “Curhaus” health spa – the Dolder Grand has been transformed into a luxury-class city resort with 173 luxurious rooms and suites, and a 4000 square-metre spa area. Following almost four years of conversion and restoration works, and spending a staggering USD 365 Million, the Dolder Grand, in Zurich, Switzerland will celebrate its first anniversary. April 2008 was the beginning of the five-star hotel’s soft-opening phase after its closure for conversion in 2004. “The planning was very long,” explains Thomas Schmid, Managing Director, “because of so much attention to details. The architects go into every detail, every angle, every shape, everything. The whole project is very complex because we’ve added a new wing to the original (heritage) building.” The Dolder Grand occupies a unique elevated position, set between the city

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and the surrounding woodland, and guests enjoy superb facilities, including tennis courts and a golf course. Leading London architects Foster and Partners have combined the historic main building, dating from 1899, with the innovations of modern architecture. Two new wings, the Spa Wing and the Golf Wing, curve around the fully restored main building in a fusion of past and future. The Dolder Grand offers guests all the amenities of a luxury-class city resort. The 173 rooms and suites range from single rooms to deluxe rooms. Four top suites aim to cater for individual extravagance. The harmonious interior designs, one different from another, create an exclusive ambience in all four

suites. Of all the many illustrious guests who have graced the Dolder Grand with their presence, four have served as inspiration for the interior design, interpreted by London-based United Designers. The largest of the top suites is the Maestro, housed in the tower of the historic Main Building. Inspired by the maestro himself, Herbert von Karajan, conductor, the suite has classical music influences and classical architecture. A stay here, on two floors covering 400 square metres, is bound to be a memorable experience. The rooms and suites reflect the Dolder symbiosis of tradition and modernity. Schmid who oversees the operations of the hotel from the construction to

hiring the executives of the property is very proud of the opening of The Dolder Grand. “Overseeing the rebirth of The Dolder Grand is an extraordinary honor,” said Schmid. “For more than a century, the hotel has been Zurich’s most desirable address for world leaders, celebrities and discerning travelers alike. With its exquisite refurbishment, I am privileged to have been a part of almost every detail in this landmark renovation and redesign.” Interior architects United Designers, also from London, shaped the new living spaces. In the Main Building, their refined, eclectic configurations instil a sense of history, while the two wings epitomize the spirit of the modern age. Features classified as historic monuments, such as the Stone Hall in the Main Building and six of the bedrooms, have been faithfully restored to their original splendour. The inspiring wellness facilities of the Dolder Grand Spa cover an area of 4,000 square metres. European and Japanese influences have shaped this unique complex, created by the famed American spa consultant Sylvia Sepielli. It comprises of a pool with panoramic views, separate ladies’ and gentlemen’s spas, a state of the art gym, movement and mind-body studios, as well as 19 treatment rooms and two spa suites for exclusive, private relaxation.

The Dolder Grand Spa is an invitation to health and happiness, an oasis where visitors are helped to restore body and soul to physical wellbeing and inner harmony. The Spa exemplifies the symbiosis of the wellbeing concept with the modern lifestyle. It sets the highest standards of architecture, facilities and service. Dynamic forms, selected materials and exciting light effects draw the visitor into an inspiring, totally sensual world. The Dolder Grand offers a top-quality wining and dining experience combined with first-class service. Two restaurants and the Bar make eating and drinking at the Dolder Grand a memorable experience. For starters, there are 500 different wines on offer. The Restaurant offers fine dining. The Restaurant offers an innovative gourmet menu. Its chef is Heiko Nieder, who was awarded 17 GaultMillau points and a Michelin star in his previous position. The sophisticated Garden Restaurant has an unrestricted view of Zurich, the lake and the Alps; the menus consists of a wide variety of European-influenced dishes. The restaurants are open to nonresidents as well as hotel guests. The Dolder Grand positions itself as a top-ranking international luxury hotel and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the Swiss Deluxe Hotels. For more information about The Dolder Grand, log on to

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Sharjah Art Museum to host

‘Lure of the East:

British Orientalist Painting’


Under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) announced the hosting of “Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting 1830-1925” exhibition in Sharjah Art Museum from February 18 to April 30, 2009. The exhibition comes in line with SMD’s commitment to support initiatives that bridge cultures and enhance art and cultural relations between the Arab and international world. The biggest exhibition of its kind in the Middle East region, Lure of the East is organized by Tate Britain in partnership with the British Council – United Arab Emirates; the Pera Museum Istanbul and the Sharjah Art Museum – United Arab Emirates. The touring exhibition was earlier held in the US, UK and Turkey. Manal Ataya, Director General, Sharjah Museums Department, said: “Lure of the East comes as part of Sharjah Museums Department’s vision to achieve locally and internationally a stronger understanding, appreciation and respect for Sharjah’s identity and its cultural heritage. The exhibition is part of SMD’s efforts to establish the organisation as a premier socio-cultural entity and to maintain strategic partnerships with international institutions for promoting dialogue through art and culture”. “We are pleased to partner with TATE Britain and the British Council, UAE, the official organisation that strengthens the UK’s cultural relations with other countries. We believe that art plays a vital role in bridging the cultural gaps between different nations,” added Ataya. “Several countries in the Middle East expressed interest in hosting the exhibition, but Sharjah seemed to us to provide an especially suitable context. Its cultural

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programs, museums and exhibitions are consistently impressive, and His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, is personally an expert in the fields of 18th and 19th century history that lie at the heart of the exhibition’s subject matter,” said Stephen Deuchar, Director, Tate Britain. “The British Council is delighted to partner the Sharjah Museums Department and Tate Britain in this stunning exhibition of British Orientalist paintings. The artwork constitutes an important artistic and historical record of cultural engagement between East and West in earlier centuries,” said Michel Bechara, Director of Projects, British Council, UAE. “We hope that it will encourage dialogue around cultural themes that are of as much relevance today as in those times, and the exhibition forms an exciting element of the British Council’s Cultural Relations activities in the UAE and in the wider Middle Eastern region,” added Bechara. Lure of the East is a showcase of works of art by Orientalist artists of international acclaim. The exhibition features paintings of the Orient by British artists ranging from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. Orientalist painting derived its subject matter from the diverse peoples and places of what the British called the Orient, an area that roughly corresponds to present-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. Bringing together over 85 masterpieces from collections around the world, Lure of the East will include major works by celebrated British painters such as William Holman Hunt, Richard Dadd, Lord Leighton, John Frederick Lewis and David Roberts. It will also

bring together several rarely seen works from private collections. Paintings from international renowned museums and institutions will also be exhibited in the Middle East for the first time. Some of these contributing institutions and museums are: TATE, Yale Centre for British Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, Qatar Museums Authority, National Gallery of Scotland, Harris Museum and Art Gallery and the British Museum. The Sharjah Museums Department, established in 2006 by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, aims to promote the emirate’s rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture. For more information on Sharjah Museums Department, please visit the website, and for more information on TATE Britain, please visit the website

Photo Credit Info:

David Roberts (1796-1864) Ruins of the Temple of the Sun, Baalbec 1861 Oil on canvas Sharjah Art Museum X23751

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A precious gem at

Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha


he didn’t take any formal courses in hospitality nor obtained a degree in architecture and interior design but when you step into the doors of this premier hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, everything you see are the works of a seasoned hotelier. Roxana Jaffer, Director of Sovereign Hotels Ltd., owner’s representative of the recently-opened Holiday Inn Dubai in Al Barsha is a “silent” expert, the gem as I call her. She is the person behind Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha, the fourstar property with a five-star look. From day one, she was involved in the development of the hotel project, in the design and furnishing of the property and hired qualified staff to work with her to promote and market the brand. “I could not profess that I am an expert in hospitality and don’t think I’m a hotelier by any means but now I am able to understand the inner workings of a premier hotel. I learned what was needed and necessary to build the hotel and was

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able to motivate and empower my team whom I am proud to lead and who are behind the running of this establishment,” Jaffer humbly relates. An accountant by profession, Jaffer described her entry to the hospitality industry as a mere “accident”. She came to Dubai three years ago to join her husband who was instrumental in the acquisition of the property and was in contact with the London-based owners of the hotel. “The partners needed somebody that they could trust and be able to be the face of the property and I was the right candidate at that time.” This “accident” coupled with her management, leadership and organizational skills were utilized by Jaffer to develop, open and now manage two establishments – the Splendid Hotel Apartments in Oud Metha and Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha. She passed the test with flying colours and is very proud of her accomplishment especially with the Holiday Inn. Since the property got its relevant

licensing in October 2008, it recorded a 70 percent occupancy during the first month of its operation. Strategically located in Al Barsha, on the Sheikh Zayed Road next to the Mall of the Emirates, Holiday Inn Dubai has 310 rooms and suites that are meticulously designed to cater to its targeted market. The rooms are spacious and has all the amenities of a five-star property including plasma TV, high speed internet access, tea and coffee making facilities, premium quality toiletries, safety deposit box, mini bars and pillow menu and offers all the newly designed global Holiday Inn hallmarks. The hotel boasts nine outlets (six in operation) including three bars. Each outlet offers superb and authentic cuisine, be it Japanese, Thai, Arabic, Indian or Continental. The Royal Buddha, an ultimate experience in Fine dining Thai is delivered by its six experienced Thai chefs in regal surroundings dressed in ultimate luxury. Walk into Xennya and experience a tra-

ditional Arabic restaurant. The interiors lend themselves with the sound of the fountain, the subdued lighting and the luxurious but simple drapery of being in the hearth of an Arab mother’s home. The reminiscence is carried through to the taste and the art of the chef’s presentation of the cuisine. Whilst enjoying the Arabic delicacies the guest is entertained to the sounds of live Oud and tabla players, and prompts an onlooker to get up and dance. The Gem Garden with its imagery of a garden and real gems as décor is an alldining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, both buffet and ala carte. The Sushi Folie is the sushi bar of the highest standard while The Q is a high-end sports bar providing a winning blend of entertainment and atmosphere. When you are a guest at Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha, it is interesting to know that everything you see in and around the property is created in rhythm and in harmony. The design of the carpet, the furniture, the shape of the lights and the colour of the walls are all masterfully and beautifully created and coordinated.

The logo of the Royal Buddha restaurant, for example, is accentuated on the chairs and the ceiling of the outlet. “Everything here has been personally selected and nothing has been left to chance. From the cutlery to the crockery to the design of the uniforms and the menu, everything has a resonance about it,” explains Jaffer. If you observe the hallways leading to the rooms and suites, the circular carpet design mirrors the circular cut outs for the ceiling lighting. “Each room is designed to a highest specification. The beauty about our rooms and suites is that we have tried to maintain the ethnicity of our local culture in the designs of

the woodwork notably the mashrabiya (Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood) in the headboards which is mirrored in the design of the carpets and the lights and further the design is taken to the common areas in cloakroom mirrors and screens,” adds Jaffer. “I like to do everything in rhythm,” explains Jaffer who has been an actor, director and writer of numerous stage shows like “Imamat ki Jalkiyan” and plays like “Manzil of Life.” She has also

performed and choreographed for numerous charitable events in the presence of numerous famous celebrities and royalties. Roxana Jaffer is a remarkable lady and when you read her credentials, you are in awed by what she has achieved in her young lifetime. Despite that, she keeps a low profile and has a very humble attitude. Right now, her focus is to see Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha which she calls her “baby” to be able to run and fly on its own. “The baby is now growing and when we achieved the high occupancy in November I felt like the baby had begun walking and could not wait for it to run.” “We want the local population to come and visit the hotel and see what it has to offer with its deep atrium and contemporary design. Holiday Inn as a global name already attracts the overseas visitors who are pleasantly surprised when they experience the five-star surprises of looks and service, an experience out of the ordinary.” I asked her where to after this? What else did she want to accomplish? “I want to achieve something totally different which does not relate to any personal agenda or remuneration. I would like

to give something back to society from whom I have received a lot and from whom I have learnt a lot. My plans are of establishing a global foundation that would help the less fortunate a start in life. I would like to start in the area of accessing education and set up some kind of a basic foundation so that those who are less fortunate will be able to access English easily to further themselves, benefit from it and ensure their optimum potential is reached.” It won’t be long to accomplish this because Jaffer is one lady who puts her heart into everything she does. Roxana Jaffer is truly a gem to discover and I’m glad to have discovered her.

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Safi Airways

FLIES YOU HOME The comfort of safety. The joy of good service. The pleasure of competence and on time reliability. Three things that Safi Airways assure its passengers would definitely experience once they board any Safi Airways flight.

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Safi Airways is a new airline flying into Dubai from Afghanistan and yet has been getting positive feedbacks from its passengers because of the friendly staff, good service and well maintained aircraft. There is so much in store for the airlines this year and though the plan seems “enormous” the focus is to be part of the reorganization and rebuilding of the infrastructure of Afghanistan. “We would like to connect Afghanistan to the world because Afghanistan is a very beautiful country, with ancient traditions and very friendly people. We are here to support the government in the normalization and stabilization of Afghanistan,” says Capt. Tilmann Gabriel, President/CEO, Safi Airways. Safi Airways is a full service airline that operates daily passenger flight from Kabul to Dubai and Sharjah since October 2007. There are currently 10 flights from Dubai to Kabul and Capt. Gabriel hopes to increase it to 14 flights this year. “Our focus is safety and customer service. We have recruited a Leadership team of industry experts whose aim is to build quickly on internationally regarded Afghani airline with all rules and regulations to be guaranteed landing rights everywhere,” prides Capt. Gabriel. Safi Airways fleet is consists of four Boeing 737-300 and two 767-200ER aircrafts. The 737 is configured for 120 economy and 8 Business class guests while the 767 is 18 business and 196 premium economy class seats. Both classes have spacious seats with ample legroom making your flight whether domestic or international, a very pleasurable one. Currently, Safi Airways serve returning residents of Afghanistan, foreign contractors, workers and staff of embassies and government-related offices. “This is the core market that we are serving right now but the good thing about it is that they are selecting our service because of reliability. We are seen as a very well run airline. If you ask passengers on board, you get very feasible comment that Safi Airways is here and that is very heartwarming experience,” adds Capt. Gabriel. “Our greatest strength is that we have a good mix of Afghani employees, very seasoned executives and senior staff that helps Safi airways become a very recognized airline. We are well funded by the Safi Group which also owns

other businesses including the five-star Landmark Hotel in Kabul. Safi Airways will continue to grow and we would like to be the undisputed leader in Afghanistan airlines with 20 aircrafts five years from now,” says Capt. Gabriel. Right now the focus is to connect Afghanistan to the world. Starting February, Safi Airways will fly to New Delhi, Kuwait and to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The management is also looking at connecting the major cities of Afghanistan – Herat, Qandahar and Mazar-eSharif via Kabul and fly on frequent basis into Dubai. “We also have plans of connecting Kabul to the world directly to the cities of the world like Frankfurt, London and Paris, the first three European destinations that we have planned,” adds Capt. Gabriel.

On Board Services When it comes to service, Safi Airways always aim at delivering the very best. This includes the in-flight meals, which will make you feel at home. Safi Airways has hand-selected an international panel of chefs to offer outstanding dishes from around the world. Safi Airway offers a variety of tasty culinary solutions to suit its passengers’ needs. Special dietary requirements, due to medical or religious reasons and children’s meal can be ordered when making

your reservation. Passengers need to confirm their request at least 24 hours before boarding the flight. The Boeing 767 is equipped with wide selection of video and audio channels is available onboard to keep you entertained during long haul flights.

Customers First Our Customers are always the priority of Safi Airways. The airline will make the best effort to provide the best possible service to its customers. Safi Airways believes that taking care of the customers is not just a good business but an enduring commitment. “Right now we can see and enjoy the reactions we received from our passengers when they board the plane. After going through a lot of security checks, they are happy to come and sit in our aircraft with new interior, feeling safe and meet people from all around the world  enjoying a comfortable, reliable and safe flight,” says Capt. Gabriel. “We also hope that by the end of the year everything is back to normal in Afghanistan and we can invite travelers to come here again and enjoy a great country to do your back-packing, offroad experience or mountain climbing. Everybody is waiting for this and we are proud to be part of the reconstruction and rebuilding effort for Afghanistan,” he ends.

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spreads portfolio to THE PLACE Hotel Apartments, which established their first offering in the Park Place Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road during May last year, will be expanding their understated accommodation to THE PLACE Palm Shoreline. The development, which is currently nearing completion, will be located on a private beach on the sandy shores of the Arabian Gulf, on the trunk of Palm Jumeirah. THE PLACE Palm Shoreline will encompass 116 apartments set across a ten-storey building with Dubai Knowledge Village, Media City, restaurants, theme parks and shopping malls nearby. A metro station is located just across the way; for convenient transportation

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around the island and the rest of Dubai. The newest property of THE PLACE Hotel Apartments will offer guests a choice of apartments; with relaxing, unobstructed views over the expanse of the sea, or apartments that hold dazzling views of the city’s lights and surrounding architectural splendour. Commenting from the site of the newest property, Saeed Bin Drai, business partner behind THE PLACE said; “Since opening THE PLACE Dubai earlier this year, we have been hugely pleased at the success of our hotel apartments, which has demonstrated that many business travellers and tourists are seeking much more than just

somewhere to spend the night – they require a real space they can make their own , and a place to unwind when they come to Dubai.” Essa Bin Hadher, THE PLACE business partner added; “We have always had our sights set on a second property in Dubai, and Palm Jumeirah presented us with the best option. Its setting on the beach is the ultimate complement to our inner city property and we are looking forward, to welcoming discerning visitors to experiencing our hotel apartments: with a unique blend of understated yet chic interior designs, set within a tranquil environment in a prime location.”

Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club

announces new facility The Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club announces the opening of a new facility which houses the new golf reservation department, a golf shop, locker rooms for men and women and the soon to open spa, restaurant and conference facilities. “We are happy about the opening of this new facility because we now have a proper golf reservation department where player can register and collect their golf carts along the way. The golf pro shop is now open where you can buy not only golf equipment but also equipment for tennis, swimming and all kind of sports. We are really proud of it,” says Noubar Melkonian, Sales and Marketing Manager. The new extension has separate locker rooms for men and women. It has its own shower and steam room and a soon to open spa where players can enjoy and relax after a tiring game of golf, paintball or shooting. Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club which opened in November 2005, boasts a 9 hole, fully floodlit golf course which will enable players to play well into the

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evening. Designed by acclaimed architect Peter Harradine, if played twice, this wall to wall grass oasis will provide a par 72 layout that stretches in excess of the 7,300 yard mark. Described as a pleasure to play but a challenge to par, the course features between 5 and 7 different tees on every hole, vast water features, large and challenging bunkers and unique undulations, all of which ensure this golfing paradise will offer a fair but tough test to every level of golfer and one you will relish time and time again. The club has a Golf Academy where one can have the opportunity to learn and improve their golfing skills. The facility includes a 300m fully grassed driving range, 6425 meter squared world class short game area and a 1095 meter squared undulating putting green. Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club also host an active golfing events calendar which will not only satisfy an appetite for competition but also ensure a healthy and

sociable interactive membership for those who wish to participate. On March 13 and 14, the club will hold the 1st Sharjah Golf Club Open Ladies Tournament. Supported by Evian, the tournament is open to all amateur and professional golf players in the UAE and around the world. “The men’s tournament held last December brought players from England, the UK and other parts of the world including the UAE so we are expecting the same participants from ladies for this tournament,” said Iris Ebel, Golf Sales & Marketing Manager. “Every golf club around the world has its own open golf tournament, one for ladies and one for men. This tournament is a great opportunity for Sharjah Golf Club to attract all the lady golf players out there,” she adds. For more information about the ladies open tournament, please call Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club at +971 6 548777 or log on to

Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club Wins

Middle East Golf Award Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club won the award for Best New Golf Development in the Middle East, voted for by golfers from across the Gulf Region. Other golf courses selected for this prize were The Palm Resort in Al Ain, The New Montgomerie Course in Bahrain and The Els Club in Dubai. Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club opened their 9 hole golf course on the 1st March 2008.  It boasts a 9 hole championship layout designed by world renowned golf course designer Peter Harradine. The golf course is fully floodlit and is the only fully grassed golf course in the Emirate of Sharjah.  These attributes contributed significantly to their award, as did its outstanding value, excellent condition all year round and outstanding practice facilities (which includes a 300 yard fully grassed driving range, large short game area with a practice bunker and a 9 hole hole putting green). Director of Golf Martin Duff collected the award and thanked Middle East Golfer and the voters for such a prestigious acknowledgement.  For more information on SGSC’s facilities and rates or call 06 5487777.

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Realism Redefined


Cuadro Fine Art Gallery Showcases Works of Contemporary Realist Artists


nder the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Managing Director of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery unveiled Realism Redefined, an exhibition of the works of contemporary realist artists at its gallery in DIFC’s Gate Village. The exhibition will run from 7 January to 31 March, 2009. Bashar Al Shroogi, the Founder of Cuadro Fine Art Gallery said: “Realism Redefined seeks to draw attention to a style once considered confined to the realm of the classical masters by resurrecting it in a new light. With the same passion that Cuadro presented striking contemporary abstract art in our first show, we are now turning the curatory tables and reinterpreting the old masters

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for Dubai. We have gone to great lengths to bring contemporary art in multiple media, which has never before been seen or exhibited in Dubai.” The exhibition highlights the style created by classical masters, resurrected in a contemporary light. While classical realists relied on attention to detail and technique in striving to recreate details of a harsh, gritty reality, the artists featured in Realism Redefined, such as Spaniards Juan Bautista Nieto and Sergio Martinez and Americans David Hewitt and Lionel Kalish, challenge the oeuvre by juxtaposing romantically classical forms with starkly minimalist spaces. While reviving classical skill and craftsmanship, they bring theatre to realism – as fantasy, rather than reality. The works also introduce the audiences to the intricate methods created and perfected by the old masters.

In line with Cuadro’s educational objectives, Realism Redefined will be supported by a lecture series. Artist and Professor David Hewitt will conduct a talk on realism techniques using the works currently on exhibit as teaching references. The lectures are open to the public and will be announced in the next few days. Abdulla Bin Sougat, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Lifestyle Group, said: “The works showcased in Realism Redefined use techniques of the old masters, but reinterpret classical-realist conventions to produce paintings that present stunning visual perspectives. Exhibitions like this will serve to engage audiences and provide a rich cultural experience within the financial district. As part of creating a vibrant lifestyle experience within the Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC Lifestyle Group hosts

and supports exhibitions that feature the works of leading international and regional artists.” Saeed Al Nabouda, Chief Projects Officer of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said: “Exhibitions like Realism Redefined will provide an impetus for spreading greater awareness and appreciation of contemporary movements in international art in Dubai. Such events will also play a key role in enriching the art dialogue in the city, which is witnessing a new wave of interest in contemporary art. The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority is keen to support and encourage events that foster the appreciation of new art from across the globe. Exhibitions such as Realism Redefined will also support Dubai’s larger effort to develop into the regional hub for global art and culture.” Located in the heart of the Gate Village in DIFC, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery opened its doors to the public in November, 2008. The establishment of the gallery promises to further increase the already high appetite for contemporary art in Dubai.

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True Latin American hospitality at

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A perfect place to enjoy a great dinner during this cool and cosy weather is the Latino House, Al Murooj Rotana Dubai’s award-winning restaurant which is famous for its authentic South American cuisine. If you want a relaxed setting, the floating terrace is the place where you can dine while enjoying the view of the hotel’s sophisticated architecture. Though situated in a busy district, dining at Latino House ensures comfort and privacy. If you prefer a more romantic setting, the dining room is where you need to be. The broad pillars and the oversized spiral staircase showcased an elegant dining room. The cushioned chairs and classic interior will make you feel dining like a royalty. Dining at Latino House is a pleasure because of the excellent service, the quality of food, the friendliness of the staff and the affordable prices. The menu features carefully selected Latin American treats. The Ensalada de Corazon de Palma (grilled marinated hearts of palm with avocado and poached prawns served with papaya relish, toasted coconut flakes and a lime dressing) is a good choice for a starter. The perfect mixture of the greens combined with the lime dressing will definitely please your appetite. Another starter worth trying is the Scallops Pina Colada, perfectly-grilled scallops served with star-shaped pina colada jelly. There are a variety of choices for the hot appetizer if you would prefer this over the cold one. A must try is the Burritos de Pollo, marinated chicken

sautĂŠed and wrapped in a flour tortilla served with traditional condiments or the Chorizo y Frioles Refritos (roasted veal sausages served with sauteed beans). The appetizers come in generous portion that could satisfy you easily so be sure to leave room for the mains and the desserts. For mains, try the Parilla Mixta, which is a combination of grilled steak, jumbo shrimp and lamb chops served with crusted hazelnut and foie gras. This selection gives you four dishes in one serving and will leave you completely satisfied for the evening. The steak is perfectly done and the foie gras is indeed a mouth watering treat. If you prefer seafood dishes, I would recommend the pan fried salmon (Salmon con crema de mejillones) or the roasted jumbo shrimps (langostinos con mango y cilantro) which comes with a rice cake. For the dessert, Chef Cesar Ramirez prepared small portions of the chocolate crepes, dulce de leche and flambed with rum and chocolate fondue with ice cream. Enjoy any of these desserts with your favorite coffee or tea before winding up the evening. Latino House is a first-class, first rate restaurant. A perfect place to relax, enjoy a quiet evening, have a nice conversation with your friends or special someone, while savouring the scrumptious and exceptional taste of Latin American food which are carefully selected for your meticulous taste. Latino House is open daily from 7:00 pm to 11:30 pm. For reservations, call +97143211111.

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A New Dining Experience Adding another dimension to the local dining scene, The Observatory is set to become one of Dubai’s most soughtafter venues offering high quality food at affordable prices in a relaxed and stylish environment. Commanding stunning views of The Palm and Dubai Marina, The Observatory sits on the 52nd floor of The Harbour Hotel & Residence in Dubai Marina. Guests can enjoy the best panorama in town whether they hang out at the bar sipping superb cocktails and sharing a tempting selection of bites from the bar menu, or they sit down for lunch or dinner in the restaurant area. Tony Williams, Senior Vice President, Resorts & Projects at Emirates Hotels & Resorts, commented: “The Observatory offers a very new and exciting experience. Living up to its name, it provides a fantastic vantage point with 360 degree views of Dubai which will be a key attraction for our guests. However, it is not only the view, we know our guests will be also amazed by the great food, the unobtrusive service, the ambience of a sophisticated lounge and the all important value for money, all of which collectively ensure a memorable experience leaving our guests wanting more.” The Observatory menus have been created and designed by Executive Sous Chef Jordi Servalls Bonilla. He has combined the culinary influences of sophisticated Europe with generous portions and hearty, much loved wholesome gastro-pub flavours. Made with the finest and freshest ingredients, these dishes

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are set to make an impression. Over lunch, local business executives and Dubai visitors can enjoy menus which contain fresh pastas, or choose from homemade favourites such as crusty pies or seared fish dishes. Dinner guests are treated to gastronomic highlights that include Seared Scottish Scallops, a Trio of Duck, or classics such as Oxtail with an unusual twist. A delicious array of superior bar bites and sharing platters are also options, including enticing taste sensations such as Mini Foie Gras Burgers, Baked Camembert, and Seafood Tempura. On Fridays The Observatory offers a sumptuous, buffet style, international brunch. Commenting on the menu Servalls said: “I wanted to create a menu which was informal and wholesome, but where creativity was also important. The menu presents dishes which are infused with a multitude of diverse flavours and we offer a wide spectrum of choice - essentially we are able to provide a menu to suit the palates of every guest.” A similar degree of thought and attention to detail has also been spent in the design of the dining and lounge areas. Contemporary Manhattan-chic, with leather seating and startling backdrop lighting is set against a palette of black and amber marble. An expanse of nonreflective glass surrounds the restaurant ensuring that the spectacular views, particularly at night, are never distorted by what is happening inside. The Observatory is open for lunch and dinner every day. For reservations call, 971 (0) 4 319 4000.


Singapore food festival

Traders Hotel, Dubai in conjunction with the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Airlines presents a Singapore Food Festival from 6 to 31 March 2009 and welcomes diners to sample Singaporean culture and cuisine. The Singapore Food Festival is an effort to promote the culinary heritage of Singapore. Chef Lee Suan Seng from Traders Hotel, Singapore will be specially flown in on Singapore Airlines for the food festival to present authentic cuisine. Singaporean cuisine is a blend of the country’s diverse cultural influences, which includes Nyonya, Chinese, Indian and Malay. The three-week festival offers diners a buffet spread of over 35 authentic Singaporean delicacies. During the Singapore Food Festival, diners can sample a selection of popular Singaporean dishes ranging from Chilli Crab, Singapore Fried Noodles and Hainanese Chicken Rice to Popiah (Spring Rolls), Kueh Pie Tee (Nyonya Top Hats), Chai

Thow Kueh (Fried Carrot Cake) and other local delectable. Diners can also enjoy local desserts from Singapore such as Kueh Lapis (Steamed Layer Cake), Onde Onde (Sweet Coconut Rice Ball), Bingka Ubi (Baked Tapioca Cake) and selected tropical fruits. To enhance the diners’ experience of Singaporean culinary heritage and culture, the hotel is offering all diners a chance to win a trip to Singapore. The lucky winner will receive two return tickets to Singapore, sponsored by Singapore Airlines, and a three-day, two‑night stay at Traders Hotel, Singapore. The Singapore Food Festival is featured daily from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. for just AED99 nett per adult and AED49 nett per child. The buffet is also available on Fridays for brunch from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., at AED125 nett per adult inclusive of two house beverages. For enquiries and reservations, please call The Junction restaurant at (04) 214 7272.


Mother’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, there are many reasons to celebrate and dine out this month of March. Check out your favorite dining places. AL BUSTAN ROTANA DUBAI

Surprise Mom with an interesting and unique gift with Al Bustan Rotana’s cooking class gift vouchers. The cooking class gift voucher will definitely make Mom happy as she gets the opportunity to learn how to create Thai or Japanese culinary masterpieces. Master chefs from Blue Elephant featuring Royal Thai cuisine and Benihana showcasing authentic Japanese dishes are on hand to demonstrate their culinary talents from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon for only AED 140* per person, per class. Call 04-7054818.


Al Diwan Restaurant

Al Diar Siji Hotel goes green this 17th March in honor of St. Patrick’s of Ireland with Irish traditional dishes all set to perfectly fuel up your celebratory mood. Al Diwan Restaurant dishes up a selection of hearty dishes to have you toast with the luck of the Irish. Call 09-223200.


Every Monday, the creativity of master chefs went overboard by transporting the concept of famous luxurious travel route into dining scene with extensive yet exquisite menu. The list of dishes features many mouthwatering favorites from the coun-

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tries captured by the Orient Express route. The Orient Express theme night is served from 7:00 pm till 11:30 pm. There are two packages available: AED 165* net per person including unlimited non-alcoholic beverages or AED 205* net per person including unlimited soft drinks, juices and selected house pouring wines and beers. Call +971 4 3211111.


Enjoy a five-course gala diner prepared by our chefs on Mother’s Day. Accompanied by live entertainment from our in-house musicians.

Sevilla Celebrate mother’s day in style at Sevilla restaurant with international specialities prepared by the culinary team. While dining enjoy entertainment provided by the live duo as well as children’s entertainment. Prices start at Dhs 165. Call 02 508 0555.


For the month of March, the Bateaux Dubai, is offering special rates and tailor-made packages for all groups and charters. Whether it is a power lunch with a set menu, a gourmet tasting menu or sociable trays of canapés, the options are endless. Call 04 399 4994 or e-mail mail@


Doesn’t your mother deserve something different this year? Bring her to

Rosebuds for a special treat and surprise her on the 22nd of March with a special lavish buffet at DHS 135* including one glass of sparkling wine for all mothers. Call 02 6979121.

Prego’s Chef Antonio Roig has dedicated his career to traveling the world, bringing Spanish culinary heritage from Taiwan to Bangkok, Muscat to Karachi. With the Gypsy duo of Juanito and Mario, Musicians for the famous Gypsy Kings live Tours. Come and taste the difference at the Spanish Festival from March 22 to March 26. Call 02 6979125.


The month of March highlights traditional homemade pasta from every region in Italy. Tantalize your taste buds with “ravioli fritti”, deep fried ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese sauce or “fettuccine alla fragola, salsa al limone”, strawberry flower fettuccine pasta sautéed in a sweet lemon sauce.

Ramsay team and your favourite tunes from the 80’s! Choose from a variety of classic brunch favourites such as Eggs Benedict or Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding, washed down with free flowing Pimms, Sangria, Bloody Mary, Long Island Iced Tea or Sparkling Wine. Dhs 250 per person inclusive of selected drinks and cocktails. Call (04) 212 7551 or email


Pachanga announces the “Churassco, Shiraz & Chocolate” experience this March.This most delectable culinary coupling makes for a dining experience that engages all the senses; enjoy the thrill of showmanship with the “interactive” Brazilian Churassco, indulge in the full-bodied boldness of Shiraz and finally soothe your senses with the smooth and creamy texture of Pachanga’s famous chocolate soufflé. Priced at Dhs 275 per person (includes a glass of Shiraz). Call (04) 318 2530


Pamper your mother with a delicious Continental Lunch Buffet at the luxurious Gem Garden restaurant. To make the occasion extra special, we are offering a red rose for all mothers along with chocolate dipped strawberries specially made by our pastry chefs. The buffet is priced at AED 160 per person and includes of soft beverages and one glass of sparkling wine from 12:30 to 3:00pm


The Royal Buddha

Indulge yourself with the subtle and sweet delicate taste of soft shell crabs, a true Thai delicacy, this March. The soft shell crab is a favourite in Thailand and some of the specialities to be enjoyed this month are “Som Tum Poonim”, spicy green papaya salad with crispy soft shell crab or “Poonim Phad Nampring Pao”, fried soft shell crab with roasted chili paste and basil leaves. Call +971 4 317 4515 or email

The Royal Buddha invites you and your number one lady to a special dinner set menu with an incredible price of 160Dhs inclusive of soft beverages and one glass of sparkling wine (for you and your lovely mother) from 7:00pm to 11:30pm. Call: +971 4 343 4333.


Glasshouse Mediterranean Brasserie offers a free-flowing brunch every Friday with fabulous food by the Gordon


“Season……Great Beef Any Way” promotion is available for dinner. Enjoyed throughout the world, beef has universal appeal. Salt and pepper, garlic, sesame or soy, beef is versatile and carries seasonings extremely well. Regardless of the country or time of year, beef is always delicious

and always in season. Price per dish starts from Dhs 100 per person. Call +971 (4) 6077977/7009/7588.


March will see Le Méridien Al Aqah continuing its popular international dinner menus as well as offering an exceptional Friday brunch, priced at only AED 199 with the added bonus of pool and beach access. The Friday brunch, served from 12:30pm to 3:30pm, features an East-Meets-West fusion buffet priced at AED 199 per person, including unlimited soft drinks and bubbly. From Sunday to Thursday, Views serves its tempting lunch buffet from 12:30pm to 3:00pm, for AED 133. Call +971 9 244 9000.


Embark on an amazing culinary journey at the recently opened Nelson’s Bar in Media Rotana Dubai. The Friday Brunch includes sumptuous dishes and a live carving station with giant Yorkshire puddings. Kick back and soak up the rhythm of our DJ as he spins some fabulous groovy tunes. Enjoy these weekly “all you can eat and drink” treasures for only AED 159* net per person inclusive of selected beverages.

Connexions Lounge Try out our fresh and delicious cakes for any occasion, birthday cakes, anniversary cakes, home made cakes, pastries and Arabic Sweets available during dining and take aways at Connexions, located in the Grand Lobby café in Media Rotana

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Arabic café cuisine and shisha. “Shisha at the Park” will provide a large variety of shisha flavours for guests to choose from, among them Double Apple, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Escandarani and Watermelon, to name but a few, priced from AED65. Call 04 317 2222.

RADISSON SAS MEDIA CITY Tamanya Terrace Rooftop Bar

Every Saturday, FunKitchen will turn up the heat at Tamanya Terrace. With a live performance from “The Funk Radius” with Jawad El Hachem, a sizzling BBQ at AED 75 per head and five Corona beers for only AED 100, end your weekend with style in the company of friends. Door opens at 18:00 with live barbecue station Dubai. Connexions serve as a perfect venue for business meetings or to connect with friends and family or simply for having some refreshments or afternoon tea. Call 04-435 0000


This year the Moevenpick will be making all other venues turn green with its St Patrick’s Day celebrations. The venue formerly known as Jimmy Dix will play host to an evening filled with laughter, all things Irish, great drinks promotions, a grand pub quiz and traditional dishes. Coinciding with the Irish week being held in Somerset’s pub from Thursday 12th till Saturday 21st March all Irish drinks including Guinness, Magners and Baileys will be on promotion with offers like buy 3 and get the fourth free. Chef is putting together a special menu with old favourites including Irish Lamb stew, Braised beef in Guinness and Bailey’s cheese cake. Call 043104301.


From 4th March, catch Dubai’s legendary star DJ, Sticky Fingers, at The Terrace every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Different themed nights will be created specially to work in harmony with The Terrace’s chic and lively environment.

Shisha At The Park Park Hyatt Dubai presents “Shisha at the Park”, a lounge-style set-up, including richly coloured sofas, cushions, candles,

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Chef ’s House Discover the culinary secrets from Far East Asia every Monday and choose from a seductive ensemble of full-flavoured ingredients and premium spices, tailored to your hearts’ content. TemptAsia will introduce your taste buds to flavours, yet to be discovered. Starters, main courses sweets, teas with soft drinks at AED 135. Starters, main courses sweets, teas, house wines and beer at AED 165. Call 04 366 9111.

a la carte menu. Chef Peter Lau and his culinary brigade have come up with a feast of tantalizing dishes, set to indulge all your senses, with a contemporary fine dining Chinese cuisine. Call +971 4 314 9888 or email:


Your Mum deserves only the best give her the VIP treatment she deserves by treating her to a wonderful meal at Spice Island. Take your pick from any of our special packages on offer. As our special treat, all mothers get the grand buffet for the price of the tee total package.

Harry’s Place St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated at Harry’s with Guinness, Baileys, Kilkennys and the traditional Irish stew our special for the night and music from U2, The Corrs, The Cranberries, Great Big Sea and much more! If you have a private selection of music for the evening you would like to share with us just bring it along and our DJ will sp http://swc.shuenwoyi. com/bigpic/20081229162120.gif in it for you and friends. Wear green and win a prize! Call 04 80 8006.


Feel at home with Chef ’s homemade cuisine at Shang Palace this March. From 2nd- 22nd March, Chef So will prepare delectable home-style Chinese dishes served a la carte. Experience truly authentic cuisine in the comfortable surroundings of Shang Palace, Shangri-La’s signature restaurant. Shang Palace is open daily for lunch at 12pm to 2:30pm, and dinner at 7:30pm to 11pm.


The culinary team of Fire & Ice, led by award-winning Chef Cedric Darthial, has come up with a series of innovative menus, promising to tantalize all your senses and create an experience above the ordinary. Fire & Ice offers a modern European cuisine with colorful presentations, delicate textures and exquisite flavors.

The Noble House The award-winning The Noble House restaurant continues to thrill with a new

Hoi An Feel like royalty at Hoi An from 18th-27th March. Experience Vietnamese

Enjoy the New and Unique Arabian Night Experience The Big Bus Company is delighted to announce the launch of a brand new sightseeing experience, planned to be operational during the month of March. This new experience will offer the opportunity to our passengers to Hop onboard of our famous double decker buses and enjoy the spectacular sights of Dubai by night, a sightseeing experience designed to captivate and fascinate with a unique perspective of a city that never sleeps. From the moment that the bus departs you will be mesmerized by the beauty of this iconic city by night and enjoy the awe inspiring views as the sun sets and Dubai comes to life. Our two hour city tour features live commentary from a fully qualified, and tourist board registered guide who will point out the magnificence of this sparkling city by night. The tour departs from Deira City Centre at 7.30pm, returning at 9.30pm, or from Souk Madinat Jumeirah at 8.30pm, returning at 10.30pm. Night tours operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Tour Highlights: Deira City Centre, Wafi and Raffles Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Burj Dubai, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Atlantis on The Palm, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah Mosque, Al Dhiyafah Street, Downtown Bur Dubai, Dubai Creek side, Al Maktoum Bridge.

Price: Regular Night Tour Ticket Prices Package Deal Adult AED 100 Child AED 75 Family AED 275

** Combo Package Deal Adult AED 75 Child AED 50 Family AED 200

** Purchase your night tour ticket at the same time as you buy your Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off daytime ticket to benefit from our combo package deal.

imperial cuisine through the hands of our resident chefs where new world ingredients that result in a unique and varied array of dishes are incorporated into traditional cooking methods. The five-course set menu is priced at Dhs280++ per person. Hoi An is open daily for dinner from 7pm to 11.30pm.


In March, chef Ken prepares a feast of freshly-caught lobsters done more ways than one! Savour traditional as well as contemporary Chinese-style lobster

Burritos were popular in southern states of North America, while this dish is originally from the Mexican state of Sonora, traditionally made by wrapping the large flour tortilla distinctive of that area with a variety of ingredients. In El Sombrero Chef Salvador will prepare some of the most wanted Fillings, while you are sipping one of our famous Margaritas. Call 02 697 0238.

Il Paradiso Join us in Il Paradiso for a fantastic dinner to remember. Live Canadian Lobster and the best seafood available in the market are prepared to your liking by Chef Iroshan! With an incredible explosion of spices and herbs to tickle your senses. Come and surrender to Il Paradiso at the far end of the resort, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy capital and next to the beach. Call 02 697 0279


dishes such as Steamed Lobster with black bean sauce, Stir-fried Lobster with black pepper sauce, Wok-fried Lobster with X.O. sauce as well as Baked Lobster with cheese and butter, among others.

Amwaj The freshest catch of the day takes the limelight as our chef prepares creative renditions of the traditional Japanese favourite. Our chefs whip up a one-ofa-kind array of sushi and sashimi that boast of the finest elements of Japanese gastronomy infused with Western style cooking. Available 8-20 March 2009. Call (04) 343 8888.


Burritos are often categorized as a texmex dish (Americanized Mexican food),

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‘Steak Night’, every Tuesday evening from 19.30 hrs till 23.30 hrs in two packages, with only soft drinks for Dhs. 95 net per person and with alcohol for Dhs. 140 net per person. Choose your favorite cut from the meat trolley which includes rib eye steak, sirloin steak, and tenderloin steak, rack of lamb, chicken breast, kofta kebab, duck breast, salmon steak, and hammour filet. Let the Chefs know your required cooking point and then choose from a selection of sauces. Accompaniments include grilled tomato, fried onion rings and a choice of vegetables, rice, potato and corn on the cob. Contact 042688888 Ext. 8615.

to choose from. Yakisoba, meaning fried noodles in Japanese is often sold at outdoor festivals in Japan. Price is AED69 net per dish. Call (04) 207 1750


The Azure Bar & Restaurant The all time favorite just got better, with the new burger menu. Made exactly like it was in the good old days; mouthwatering goodness The Azure now opens its doors at 8.30 p.m. till 2.30 a.m. with direct separate access from the JBR walk. Enjoy a brand new food and snacks menu along with an extensive beverage list in a live chill out music surrounding.

Moods Bar An Irish wish will come true on


Whether you like it succulently rare, medium tender or flawlessly well-done, Chef Andrea will satisfy all your meat cravings for the entire month of March. And it’s all about grills this month where your meat will be cooked to perfection under the flaming grills of Vivaldi’s open kitchen. From AED139 per dish. Call 04 207 1717.

Creekside The team of chefs at the Creekside Restaurant is stir-frying all the way to whet your Asian appetite for the month of March. There is Yakisoba, Chinese white rice noodle, glass noodles or Udon

per person.



Sunset Lounge

Sample a selection of classic tea-time treats such as cucumber sandwiches and mini pastries with a variety of carefully selected teas while enjoying live musical entertainment at the sunset lounge. Tea will be served every afternoon from 3.30pm-5.30pm for AED 85* per person for the month of March.

Signatures This contemporary dining venue offers an inspiring menu with free range poultry, fresh sustainable harvested sea-

Savour Early bird Special (up to a group of 8 persons only). The finest cuisine at the trendiest venue offers the best value in town. Dine in Teatro between 6:00pm and 8:30pm and enjoy 50% off your food bill. (Last Order at 7:15pm). Call 04-3122202 for reservation.


Treat your mum to an extra special meal at the popular Ranches Restaurant on Saturday, March 14. Enjoy sitting indoors where the atmosphere is warm and inviting or outdoors on the ter-

March 17, with the best the old world has to offer being available within the bar – Traditional Ales and Spirits with a food menu to match; truly a St. Patrick’s Day not to be missed!


Enjoy a BBQ lunch by the Rock Pool surrounded by the majestic Hajar Mountains and then spend the rest of the day unwinding by the pool to relax. The delectable BBQ lunch and use of Hatta Fort Hotel’s two pristine pools is available for the exclusive day entry fee of AED 165* per adult and AED 80* per child under 12 valid on Fridays only. Call the Hatta Fort Hotel on 04 852 3211 or e-mail food and vegetarian selections enhanced with quality herbs and vegetables grown in the resort’s own bio garden. The cuisine is further complemented with carefully selected organic wines and champagne, while the 4-course tasting menus provide opportunities to share and enjoy multiple gastronomic experiences. Call the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa on 04 883 6000 or e-mail


Experience the divine taste of India every Monday. The night features all-time –favourite kababs, curries and biryanis from the sub-continent and an array of delectable desserts. So drop in and enjoy the true Indian fiesta for only Dhs169*

race overlooking the scenic vistas of the course. The offer is priced at AED 130 per person and includes an international buffet, soft drinks and juices, a free gift for mom and children’s entertainment. Call +971 4 360 7935.


Looking for a different venue to sit back and enjoy some time with your family? Try the Friday Brunch at Palermo. With views overlooking the polo fields, there’s plenty of room for the kids to run around. AED 225.00 per person inclusive of red and white. AED 160.00 per person

March 2009 I Travel Arabia I 73

and dessert to woo even the most discerning palate will provide a sweet conclusion to your meal. Brunch is on offer every Friday from 12:30 to 3:30 pm and priced at AED 180 per person (including soft beverages) AED 250 per person (including house beverages). Call 04 362 7900.


Experience a selection of the finest Royal Thai cuisine while sharing with friends and family a selective menu in a contemporary setting surrounded by the lake, the restaurant adopts an elegant dress code and offers stunning night-time views of the Burj Dubai. Chef Tahsanee has put together this special set menu for dinner with a mix of old and new favourites priced at AED 390 inclusive of half a bottle of house beverage or at AED 290 exclusive of beverage per person.


inclusive of soft drinks. Call +9714 361 8111 for more information.


Lá Fhéile Pádraig’ is the Gaelic way for wishing you all the blessings of St Patrick’s Day and the ‘luck of the Irish’ to go with it! An unlimited amount of ‘craic’ (fun), large quantities of Guinness and a special menu filled with hearty Irish dishes makes the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the Academy Restaurant a must-attend event. So dust down your green hat and polish your dancing shoes... everyone’s Irish on March 17!! However, even a lucky leprechaun won’t help if you don’t book your table in advance. Call +971 4 390 5600.


Enjoy only the freshest catch of the sea cooked in a contemporary Asian twist at our newly launched Friday Brunch. Offering a relaxed ambience and spectacular views of the Dubai Marina waterways, brunch at the signature restaurant features a live Sushi and Sashimi station, live roast carving station and an interactive seafood bar with an array of king crabs, oysters, clams and lobster which the master chefs will prepare before your very eyes. A stunning display of mini pastries

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Relax in the sunshine and enjoy a fabulous brunch buffet on Ewaan terrace, a beauty of Downtown Burj Dubai. Enjoy a delightful combination of traditional Arabic specialties and Continental cuisine, modern selection of pastries tempered with a few favourites and diverse other gourmet amazements and live stations, seasoned with free flowing Bubby and house beverages. Ewaan Friday Brunch is priced at AED 390 per person inclusive of free-flowing Bubbly and house beverages and at AED 245 per person inclusive of soft drinks. Call: 04 428 7951 or email:


Papagallo Pappagallo continuously takes you on a journey around Italy every month and this month the stop is at Florence, the city of art in all form in the Tuscany region. Delight yourself with Stracotto Di Manzo braised beef shank in red wine and porcini mushroom sauce, served with soft polenta accompanied with one of your favorite Italian wines from our cellar.

Al Finjan Your favorite tea lounge Al Finjan overlooking the breathtaking green scenery of Méridien Village is celebrating an Apple feast during the month of March. Compliment your business break or conversations of the day stimulating your taste buds over a mouthwatering Apple cinnamon pie with designer Dilmah gourmet teas or with your favorite cup from a delightful selection of Illy coffees.

Talay Discover more about curry during the month of March as our Thai Chef Jintana has prepared delightful curry specialties that await you. Stimulate your taste buds with Geang ka-ree goong Prawn yellow curry with potato in Talay Thai restaurant located by the beach overlooking the pristine gulf waters. Call 02 644 6666.

pamper your mom

on her special day

Eden Spa and Health Club at Le Méridien Abu Dhabi is a place of profound rest and deeply felt rejuvenation. A place where the physical, the mental and the spiritual are equally cared for. Plus a place surrounded by graceful sculptures, soothing music and running water – a beautiful decoration and a relaxing ambiance. This Mother’s Day, Eden Spa is celebrating with style, preparing two unique ideas for you to choose from or combine to treat you mother with on her special day. We all know how happy mothers are with the simplest gifts we offer them, but why not overwhelm her with an unusual treat at Eden Spa and

send her on a short journey she will truly enjoy. The Rhythm of Life is a special facial exfoliation package to dissolve the ageing signs off her face. Discover Ancient Treasure as the name reveals an ancient Indian massage which she will feel new and rejuvenated by.

Promotion 1: The Rhythm of Life Includes an Aromatic salt exfoliation, continued with an Aroma Massage and followed by a soothing Anti- ageing facial. This packaged treatments help in removing the dead cells on her skin and thereby allowing her skin to breath, and the Aroma massage helps transfer the active ingredients of the aromatic oils to

each cell of the body. Duration: 150 Min, AED 1050

Promotion 2: Discover ancient treasure On Mother’s Day make your beloved mom feel special by offering her the ancient healing treasure, which includes a classical Indian massage ritual followed by a natural fruit facial. This will help her in detoxifying her body and thereby toning the muscles, which cared for you. Duration: 100 Min, AED 650 For reservations or any additional information please contact Eden Spa & Health Club at Le Méridien Abu Dhabi 02 697 4254.

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Grand Parade in grand style in grand old cars

Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah had a unique, first-of-its-kind, fashion parade of vintage cars and classic costumes to the delight of couples on Valentine’s Day—the Vintage Valentine’s Show. “Fashion and automobiles make a perfect fit. There is huge sense of romance associated with vintage cars and classic costumes and we felt Valentine’s Day was the ideal time to showcase these ethereal dreams,” Jean Pierre Simon, CBR Sharjah general manager, said. Among the dignitaries were German Consul General Johann-Adolf Cohausz, and wife Beatrix. A lot of guests came dressed for the occasion in vintage-style outfits. Simon said, ‘There was a lot of excitement among the attendees. It was wonderful to see this beautiful mood and the elegance of bygone era.” The event was sponsored by Sharjah Old Cars Club and Museum—home to over 200 unique collector’s pieces. Ahmed Mohamed Al Jarwan, museum manager said there was an “awesome collection of yesteryears’ cars which are sheer marvels of technology.” He said the audience had the opportunity to see some of the cars that put the world on wheels. “These were cars that put the world on wheels and built the fortunes of automobile companies,” he said.

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The cars were paired up with equally romantic dresses by well-known fashion designer Francois Desroches. He said, “Linking fashion concepts with automotive designs had been on my mind for a long time. It was like stepping back in time and bringing alive the elegance and art de vivre our forefathers lived by, from the turn of the 20th century right down to the 1970s.” This event was organized by Marketing Pro-Junction under the patronage of Hospitality Management Holdings. Hina Bakht, MPJ vice president said they felt that featuring iconic cars and outfits was a “quirky way of celebrating Valentine’s Day.”

Accor expands Dubai footprint ibis Al Barsha launches in spring A new ibis is scheduled to fill demand for value pricing as visitors seek budget accommodation for both leisure and business stays. Countdown is underway for the launch of Dubai’s third ibis hotel. The 480-room ibis Al Barsha is located in the upcoming area, on the front line of Sheikh Zayed Road within easy reach of shopping, beach and business facilities at Jumeirah, Media City and Internet City and Mall of the Emirates. With a commitment to full service at value for money pricing, ibis Al Barsha will have 378 double rooms, 100 twin-bed rooms and two special needs rooms (accessible rooms for people with disabilities) across six floors, with 48 interconnecting rooms suitable for families, while all will feature international direct dial telephones, satellite TV, high speed Internet and WIFI connections, as well as a 24-hour hot and cold snack menu. Welldesigned and fully equipped bedrooms offer customers the conditions of quality sleep as well as the possibility to work in a welcoming room. Facilities include WIFI in lobby and public areas, indoor car parking, free safety deposit boxes at reception, an airport shuttle service, plus a variety of dining options including the Baharat restaurant, which features an international buffet with flavours of the Mediterranean and Orient accompanying the traditional Arabic recipes. ibis Al Barsha will also offer guests the convenience of 24-hour dining at the Café Bonjour, plus live music at the Casa Latina Cuban Restaurant/Bar and a handy meeting venue for both business and pleasure in the Madison Bar. “The ‘15-minute satisfaction contract’ is the illustration of ibis’ concrete commitment to quality. If a customer reports a problem which is the hotel’s responsibility, the teams are committed to finding a solution within 15 minutes maximum, 24 hours a day; every day of the week. If no solution is found, the client is invited,” said Philippe Montaubin, general manager. ibis was launched in the Middle East with ibis World Trade Centre Dubai in 2003. In 2008, ibis Salmiya in Kuwait opened in March and then ibis Deira City Centre in Dubai, in November.

“ibis Al Barsha is strategic to the development of Accor group brands throughout the Middle East, where a network of over 50 properties is planned by 2012,” said Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Hospitality Middle East. ibis, the worldwide economy hotels brand of the Accor group, offers consistent quality accommodation and services in all of its hotels, for the best local value: a well-designed and fully-equipped en-suite bedroom, major hotel services available 24/7 and a wide choice of on-site food and beverage options. The quality of the ibis standard has been recognised by the International Organization for Standardization certification ISO 9001 since 1997. ibis is also the world’s first hotel chain to demonstrate its environmental commitment through securing the ISO 14001 certification, which has already been awarded to nearly one third of its hotels. Established in 1974, ibis is the European leader and one of the first economy

hotel chains in the world, with more than 90,000 rooms and 800 hotels in 40 countries, including the in the United Arab Emirates. For additional information, please visit Accor, a major global group and the European leader in hotels, as well as the global leader in services to corporate clients and public institutions, operates in nearly 100 countries with 150,000 employees. It offers over 40 years of expertise in two core businesses: • Hotels, with the Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing 4,000 hotels and nearly 500,000 rooms in 90 countries, as well as strategically related activities, such as Lenôtre; • Services, with 30 million people in 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in employee and public benefits, rewards and loyalty, and expense management.

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Thailand tourism infrastructure back to normal

Rotana announces the soft opening

The Cove Rotana Resort

Rotana, the leading Hotel Management Company in the Middle East and North Africa announced the soft opening of its first property in Ras Al Khaimah; The Cove Rotana Resort. Commenting on this announcement, Omer Z. Kaddouri Senior Vice President Rotana UAE said, “There is no better way to start the New Year than with the opening of The Cove Rotana Resort, bringing the renowned Rotana hospitality to Ras Al Khaimah. This is a milestone project for Rotana and we are very proud to be managing this resort. The team of The Cove Rotana Resort, headed by the General Manager Maurice de Rooij, has been working hand in hand with the owners Orascom Hotels and Development’s and Rotana Corporate Office to ensure all areas of the opening are perfected, for the operation of this property”. The resort is at the entrance of the Ras Al Khaimah emirate on an idyllic water inlet at Arqoob beach overlooking the Indian Ocean. The resort offers the pleasures of graceful living and boasts more than 600 meters of beach, stunning waters and a multitude of activities. Indulgent amenities all come together to create a new and irresistible oasis of enchantment in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Rooms, Suites and Villas at the Cove Rotana Resort combines intimacy, comfort, exclusivity with the personalized service and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of Rotana. The resort has 202

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rooms and 76 one, two and three bedroom villas. With a Nubian touch in their design most of the guest rooms offer breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean; while the two and three bedroom villas are also equipped with a private plunge pool. Commenting on the opening “I am glad to be part of the opening team of this magnificent resort. The Cove Rotana Resort is an exclusive oceanfront resort catering to those who seek a grander level of relaxation and comfort. The management team here and I are all dedicated to making The Cove Rotana Resort the number one holiday resort for international/regional and local travellers in Ras Al Khaimah. The well-appointed and relaxed resort environment together with a wide range of culinary offerings makes this resort an ideal place to have a family outing or simply unwind and gives guests the chance to explore this untouched side of Ras Al Khaimah”, said Maurice De Rooij, General Manager of The Cove Rotana Resort. The Cove Rotana Resort –Ras Al Khaimah is all about fun, leisure and relaxation with its recreational facilities such Bodylines Leisure & Fitness Club, including a fully equipped gymnasium with advanced resistance training and cardio equipment, Jacuzzi, steam, sauna rooms and 7 massage rooms. Water sports activities of every kind, Flippers Kid’s Club, two swimming pools of 700sqm each and 600 meters of sandy beach.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai and Middle East Office held a press conference at the Dusit Thani Dubai Hotel on Jan. 5, 2009, to brief the local media that despite the unprecedented closure of Bangkok’s two airports during the political incidents that occurred late last year, all travel infrastructure are now fully back to normal, with the Thai tourism industry more than ever ready to receive tourists from the Middle East and around the world. In addition to providing an overview of how travellers were effected and what measures the Tourism Authority of Thailand conducted to ease the inconveniences experienced by travellers at that time, the Tourism Authority of Thailand provided an overview of the expanded promotional and marketing activities it has planned specifically for the Middle East market in 2009. During last year’s political incidents the Thai tourism industry rallied to assist the stranded tourists affected by the airport closures as best as possible including working round-the-clock to help the thousands of tourists seeking to be reunited with their families and friends. With a newly-appointed Prime Minister, TAT will be doing everything possible to mount recovery campaigns and regain the confidence of international visitors and investors to Thailand, among which the Middle Eastern market is to be heavily targeted. In an address to the audience at the press conference, the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Dubai and Middle East Office Mr. Pramoth Supyen highlighted the expanded marketing and promotional initiatives planned specifically for the Middle East region. Among them was an increased emphasis on inviting travel agents and media to visit Thailand A unique initiative planned for 2009 also highlighted was the “Jump to Amazing Thailand” initiative, whereby the Tourism Authority of Thailand will hold various seminars and promotions to encourage the introduction and expansion of educational camp programmes from UAE schools to Thailand. Says Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand; “The Middle East continues to become an increasingly important market for Thailand and through these extra marketing efforts it is our fervent wish that more and more individuals, groups and families come to experience our wonderfully diverse attractions including our great beaches, food, spas, resorts, nature, sports, shopping and of course smiles. We are ready and warmly welcome our friends to experience the 7 wonders of Thailand.

Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi goes green

Moine Kandil, general manager of Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi, strongly believes the hospitality industry in the UAE must adopt green policies; and the Millennium, considered as one of the leading hotels living up to this concern, is definitely

going in the right direction, he said. Kandil has implemented numerous green initiatives at the hotel. “I believe that there are plenty of things that individuals can do to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle even if it means by starting with tiny steps to change behavioural patterns of people, coupled with educational campaigns and awareness programmes. We can all show high levels of commitment toward the protection of the environment. Going green is no longer an option,” said Kandil. “We want to contribute to a better world by being truly conscious and totally committed to such issues at every stage of the Millennium’s growth. We have to keep on constantly looking for ways to integrate green programmes,” he added. He further said: “The Millennium Hotel is embarking on a variety of initiatives to support the green cause—these include energy and water reduction measures; participating in clean-up drives in Abu Dhabi; implementing green awareness programmes for staff; utilizing products from the UAE; recyling and others.”

Marhaba blast at Novotel & Ibis Novotel and Ibis Deira City Centre’s Marhaba Cocktail held on Feb. 11, 2009 was a blast, with close to 350 people in attendance for an evening of fun under the stars. Held on the first floor, by the poolside area, of the Novotel Deira City Centre Hotel, the event followed the successful opening of the two properties on Nov. 15th 2008. It also enabled Novotel and Ibis to introduce the companies’ team and management to key partners in Dubai. A raffle draw was held and two guitarists provided entertainment.

Cupid visits The Royal Buddha Love was in the air on Valentine’s Day at The Royal Buddha, the majestic Thai restaurant at the Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha. The rich and intense décor of the restaurant set the mood for a romantic dinner. Couples enjoyed an evening with a sumptuous set menu and a bottle of wine. Included in the extensive menu were the most popular Thai treats such as Pho Paih Goong Sod, Pla Jar a Med Somrod and Rum Mit Thai Thai, among other favourites. To add to the romance, a violinist performed beautiful soft tunes. Each couple won a dinner voucher “Dine One Get One Free” for the gorgeous Arabic restaurant Xennya. The evening ended with couples holding each other’s hands and reassuring each other that they would be back next Valentine’s at the same place, the Royal Buddha at Holiday Inn Dubai, Al Barsha.

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Samaya Hotel Deira celebrates 1st year with extended weekend package on suites

Dhs600 only for more than 30 hours of luxurious overnight comfort Samaya Hotel Deira is celebrating its first year with an extended weekend package for all overnight guests by offering early check-in and late check-out in its 35 suites for Dhs600 only. Samaya Hotels and Resorts CEO Ghassan Jaber said the extended weekend package is their way of celebrating the hotel’s first year anniversary this January. Guests can check-in at 9 am and check-out at 6 pm the next day, totaling 33 hours of luxurious comfort. “Our anniversary offer is timely as we will also celebrate the annual Dubai Shopping Festival happening from January 15 to February 15. Being part of the Dubai community, especially located within major government offices such as Dubai Municipality, Economic Department, and Tourism and Commerce Marketing, as well as Dubai Chambers, we want to be one with everyone,” Jaber explained. He explained that the package can be availed between Thursday to Sunday for single or double occupancy with free breakfast. At least two children of guests aged six years and below will not be charged. Jaber added: “We want UAE national and expatriate families to enjoy our hospitality and the relaxing atmosphere of our suites which have lovely views of the Dubai Creek and skyline, and with luxury furnishings and linens, stunning marble bathrooms, high-speed internet access, LCD televisions, and evening turndown service.” Guests can indulge on the delicious cuisines served at Staircase featuring an international buffet or at Darya Restaurant offering Persian dishes along with freshly baked Iranian bread. For those who would like to keep themselves fit they can exercise at the “Psyche Up” Fitness Centre or swim at the rooftop pool which offers refreshments. For reservations please call +9714-703-3333 or email reservations@

The Big Bus gets even bigger!! The Big Bus Company Dubai is announced the growth of its operation with the arrival of 21 brand new Double Decker buses. Unique to Dubai, the traditional London open-top, double-decker bus service has grown significantly since it first opened in 2002 with just six buses. The company has recently acquired 21 custom designed and built vehicles bringing the total fleet size to forty five buses. This will offer guests even greater flexibility and options with buses departing every 20 minutes throughout the day on both the Red Route City Tour and Blue Route Beach Tour. Big Bus buses are spacious, offering a capacity of 76 seats in total and are all equipped with a modern, high capacity

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air conditioning system so passengers can travel in comfort even during the summer months. All new buses have been specially designed with wheelchair access to make sure that everyone can enjoy its unique service, even passengers with reduced mobility. Chris Crompton, General Manager, said “We are all extremely excited about the arrival of these new vehicles, they represent the culmination of several years worth of design and testing carried out by The Big Bus Company and our manufacturers. These buses will ensure that we continue to operate Dubai’s premier sightseeing service for many years to come as we expand with the city that has become the region’s number one tourist destination.”


among top visitor markets for


Tourism statistics from the Singapore Tourism Board confirm that the UAE and Iran make up Singapore’s top visitor markets for the Middle East in 2008. To maintain year-on-year growth in visitor numbers from the Middle East and build stronger ties with the local travel industry, the Singapore Tourism Board, together with Singapore-based inbound tour operators and hoteliers, are taking part in a week-long series of trade visits to Iran and UAE. “With Iran and the UAE showing high growth in visitor numbers from the Middle East, it is important to have our Singapore travel trade strengthen relationships with key agents in these countries,” said Jason Ong, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board. “Despite the economic downturn, the Middle East is a growing market for Singapore and we look to meet with key travel companies to further strengthen business relationships and highlight Singapore’s unique offerings for the years ahead,” added Ong. Representatives from The Sentosa Resort and Spa, Millennium Tours and Travel, and National Healthcare Group are among the Singaporean contingent taking part in the visits to Abu Dhabi followed by Tehran. Singapore boasts a range of initiatives and offerings to suit all types of travellers from premium family and leisure holidays to business travel options and medical tourism. Additional air links have been added from Singapore to key cities such as Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City underscoring the importance of this market, which will help increase the strong business and tourist links between the Middle East and Singapore. Photo Caption: Singapore to work closely with local travel trade to maintain growth in visitor numbers from Middle East.

Profile for Kalimat Group International

Travel Arabia March 2009  

March 2009 issue of Travel Arabia, by Kalimat Group International.

Travel Arabia March 2009  

March 2009 issue of Travel Arabia, by Kalimat Group International.