Page 1

Online Version:

May 2009, Volume 5, Issue 5

Going Global

Special ue ATM iss

editor’s note Investments made by the emirates on tourism in recent years are paying off. Top industry officials we have talked to were saying that promoting the country abroad is almost a breeze because of the government’s efforts made as the rest of the world was looking the other way while America’s insidious financial crisis was creeping in. Call it foresight—or just plain adherence to fiduciary duty. No less than Robert O’Hanlon, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Partner at Deloitte Middle East, has said that significant capital poured into the Middle East’s tourism industry during the last decade will help it recover from the current economic downturn quicker than other areas. Validating this is a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, which painted a not-so-gloomy state of the Middle East’s hospitality industry. The report stated that though the Middle East was not spared by the ongoing global financial crunch, the region could yet be far better off than the rest of the world in terms of recovery in the next 10 years. According to WTTC, travel and tourism will increase employment from 5.13 million this year to 6.88 million by 2019. The sector’s contribution to export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods, also according to WTTC, is expected to generate 13.4% of total exports (US$100.1 billion) in 2009, growing (nominal terms) to US$226.8 billion (12.4% of total) in 2019. All this comes at a time when top industry players from around the world gravitate to Dubai for this year’s Arabian Travel Market to compare notes, network, and see if there’s a need to reinvent the wheel. One area worth looking into would be the new segment—in the Gulf region at least—comprised of corporate officials relocating to oversee ongoing projects, and whose stay does not necessitate a billet at five-star hotels. An international hotel chain had actually embarked on this venture seven years ago, opening an executive apartment at the Creek for relocating executives. Today, Marriott International has two executive apartments and will open three more in the UAE, and five others across the Gulf by next year. Aside from the executive apartments, Marriott International has also opened Courtyard by Marriott, which is specifically designed for traveling corporate executives whose limited stay also does not necessitate a five-star hotel but at a place that has all the facilities of a five-star hotel and the privacy of home. Other hotel chains have followed suit, according to Jeff Strachan, Marriott International’s area director of sales and marketing for Middle East and Africa. “The market,” he told Travel Arabia “is big.” We see a feeding frenzy up ahead, and one that could yet unfold at ATM.

Jojo Dass Editor

6 I Travel Arabia May 2009

CONTENTS may 2009 14


10 Your Letters 12 Events Calendar 14 Cover Story

a All roads lead to ATM 2009 a Riding out the storm a 132 tourism projects under review

20 Living Arabia


a The splendid handicrafts of Morocco

24 Outside Arabia

a Exploring Thailand

26 Face to Face




44 Activities

a Hot air balloon ride in Dubai

46 Features 62 Palate's Pleasure 69 Industry News

62 44 Online Version:

May 2009, Volume 5, Issue 5

Going Global

About the Cover: The craftsmen, like their forefathers in the days when Moorish Spain and Morocco were one, still turn out superb handmade articles that dazzle the onlooker.

8 I Travel Arabia May 2009

Special e ATM issu 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 Enlightened

Thanks for your coverage about the Pearl Carpet of Baroda in your April 2009 edition. It certainly enlightened me further on the historic ties between India and the Arab world. I wish other tourism publications could be like Travel Arabia, which, while providing information about the good life, as well makes it a point to come up with educational reference materials that can always be useful when one is in the company of the read and learned.

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

Sandra L. Sharjah

Headturner The “Around Town” section of your April 2009 edition was a treat! I just hope organizers of the Burj Dubai Classic Car Show, which was featured, would live up to their words to have the event done regularly. It’s just awesome to see all those classic cars in a row.

Bomber Shah, Dubai

Assistant Designer Noufal

Good Luck Goodluck to Mr. Geoff Haviland, Southern Sun’s new executive chef. May you always “think out of the box” as Travel Arabia put it in their April 2009 edition. More power.

Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif Sales & Marketing Executive Crisna De Guzman

Mhm Sharik

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.


Chopstick We can’t wait for that “Killer Promo” that Marco Polo Hotel’s Chopstix Restaurant said it was preparing. It’s nice to know that Chopstix, one of our favorite restaurants in that part of Dubai, has been keeping up with what is expected—good food, good place for good company. Kudos!

Zeba T Deira

All rights reserved. © 2007 Kalimat Group International

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


Airport Expo Dubai

May 19 - 21 The Airport Show is one of the largest airport construction, operations, technology and services events in the world. The 2008 event showcased 515 suppliers from 41 countries. Strictly business-to-business, it brought together more than 5,000 industry professionals from 81 countries, occupying over 17,000 m2 of exhibition space. One of the highlights of the event is the “Future Airports Conference” which will offer a forum for all sectors of the airport industry and their civil aviation partners to debate, network and do business in the Middle East, North Africa and India. The event will be held at the Dubai Airport Expo Centre.

Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club


May 27-28

Watch out for Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club’s 9mm shooting competition. Entry fee is AED 400 for non-members; members get a 25% discount. First prize is AED10,000; second, AED 5,000; and third, AED 3,000. This live shooting competition is sponsored by bullet manufacturer, Adcom. According to Baiju Noorudeen, SGSC shooting manager, only a Beretta 92 FS will be used during the event, which will be provided for by the Club. Distance is 15 meters and 25 meters. The best 30 competitors will be eligible for the finals in December (actual date to be announced). When shooters get the same score, winner will be decided through a shoot-off or number of bull’s eye scored. Competition starts after evening prayer. for information, contact Mr. Baiju Noorudeen at 0504758871 or Mr. Rajesh Pazhayoor at 050-6750190.

Be Stubbornly Happy

May 16

Spearheading the drive to spread the massage of yoga, healthy lifestyle, fun and laughter moment to moment, Suman Suneja managing director of Murano Lighting, who has just notched up 15 years of giving free yoga classes in Sharjah as part of the Friends of Yoga Club, will conduct a workshop entitled, “Be Stubbornly Happy.” Suneja has tied up with Holiday Inn Dubai -Al Barsha Hotel and Clipsal to provide cheerful moments through the complimentary workshop. An exclusive Murano glass chandelier will be the prize for “Laughter King & Laughter Queen.” The workshop will be held at Holiday Inn Dubai –Al Barsha from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm followed by healthy dinner on May 16th 2009.

JW Marriott Dubai May 1 – 30

JW Marriott Dubai has an exciting treat for everyone this month in celebration of the traditional Maifest German festival with plenty of food and beverages to enjoy. Through sponsorship byLufthansa Airlines, you can enjoy the music and songs from the two-member German band while you eat, drink and dance. For reservations, please call 971 4 6077977/7009/7588 or log on to Hofbräuhaus is closed on Sundays.

12 I Travel Arabia May 2009

16 th A rabian Travel M arket Exhibition

The A rabian Travel M ar ket is the industry´s lea ding travel and tourism exhi bition dedicated to un loc king the business potential within the M iddle Ea st region. Uniting key market play ers from six continents, A rabian Travel M arket is four days of intensiv e meetings, seminars, pr ess conferences and socia l networking opportunities . The event is sc heduled for M at Dubai International ay 5 to M ay 8 Convention and Exhibit ion Centre’s Halls 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Zabee l Hall, Al Multaqua Ballroom . It was organized by Re ed Travel Exhibitions. Yo u can visit the event’s w ebsite at http://www.


All roads lead to

ATM 2009

The Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism trade show will mark its 16th annual edition in Dubai Leading industry decision makers will discuss hot topics including the global cruise industry, market potential and development of the Gulf region’s cruise sector; recruitment and retention best practice in the hospitality sector; the outlook for the Gulf meetings industry and the future of Middle East air travel in this year’s Arabian Travel Market happening May 5-7. 14 I Travel Arabia May 2009

Organizers said there will be 25 panellists covering 18 sessions – the largest number to date for the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre-based show. “The diverse seminar programme at Arabian Travel Market 2009 reinforces our long-term goal of providing a knowledge rich show. The discussion and debate that will take place during the four days of the event will feature industry topics fronted by leading professionals in their field,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibitions Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions – the company behind Arabian Travel Market 2009. “In the current economic climate, deliberation combined with a high-level platform to conduct business face-toface are critical and will ensure that Arabian Travel Market 2009 is the most productive and knowledge savvy show to date.” Arabian Travel Market is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and under the auspices of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai. The Arabian Travel Market was launched in 1994, and the 2008 event – which marked the show’s 15th anniversary – opened with its largest ever exhibitor base of 2,229 participants from 70 countries. In addition, floorspace bookings

from international representatives in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa had grown by 10 percent, with Middle East companies increasing their allocation by five percent. The 2008 show also boasted close to 90 new-to-market exhibitors, as well as increased space uptake from over 62 national tourist bodies with products and services representing 70 countries, including show debutants Bangladesh, The Philippines, Djibouti, Georgia, Senegal and Nepal. The event’s signature awards scheme, the New Frontiers Awards, will be staged for the fourth time this year. Presented to a destination that has made a remarkable recovery and positive contribution to tourism development in the face of the overwhelming adversity, the award, which is chosen by a panel of judges consisting of regional and international industry professionals, is one of the show’s highlights. Reed Travel Exhibitions also appointed Emaar Hospitality Group’s 5-star premium brand, The Address Hotels & Resorts, as the host hotel group for the 2009 show. The Address Hotel & Resorts which incorporates four properties: The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai; The Address, Dubai Mall; The Address, Dubai Marina and The Palace, The Old Town is the official accommodation provider for Arabian Travel Market 2009’s Hosted Buyers programme and attending international press.

budget accommodation to expand to other regional centres,” he added. Although most regions were reporting double-digit growth in hotel performance in the first six months of last year, the credit crunch bite and deepening recession eventually saw significant declines in RevPAR growth, with North America down 1.6 percent and Europe and Asia Pacific registering growth of less than two percent for 2008. However, the Middle East - buoyed by an 11.3 percent increase in visitors (up to 52.9 million for the calendar year)—turned in strong overall RevPAR growth of 18.3 percent to average out at US$148 million, placing it

Riding out

the storm

Middle East’s investments to give the Gulf a headstart A leading industry voice has said significant investments made in the Middle East’s tourism industry during the last decade will help it recover from the current economic downturn quicker than other areas. Robert O’Hanlon, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Partner at Deloitte Middle East, who is leading a seminar at Arabian Travel Market 2009, believes the challenges of global economic fall-out and dollarpegged destinations becoming more expensive for UK and European travellers – the region’s traditional source markets - can be mitigated by new and existing hotel brands providing value for money, whatever their target demographic. O’Hanlon predicts that growth in budget and premium hotel options will ensure the Middle East navigates the global tourism downturn, which saw regional revenue per available room rates (RevPAR) drop by more than 10 percent

16 I Travel Arabia May 2009

from November 2008 to January 2009. “Gulf countries have signalled they are willing to invest in long-term, sustainable tourism developments which appeal to a global audience. The hotel industry is viewed by these players as the decisive driver in the development of their business and tourism sectors,” said O’Hanlon, who will give the keynote speech at the “The Middle East Hotel Performance Review”—one of 18 seminars at Arabian Travel Market 2009, the region’s premier travel and tourism event, taking place 5-8th of May in Dubai, UAE. “The region’s underlying wealth and the appreciation of quality ensure there will always be a call for premium accommodation; while mid-market and budget operators are well placed to gain ground over competitors if current economic conditions persist beyond 2009. “I fully expect the Dubai-led trend in facilitating for quality mid-market and

“In 2008, Asia Pacific showed an overall occupancy rate of 65.5 percent, Europe 65.7 percent, the Middle East 68.8 percent, and the USA 60.4 percent. ahead of Europe for the first time. “In 2008, Asia Pacific showed an overall occupancy rate of 65.5 percent, Europe 65.7 percent, the Middle East 68.8 percent, and the USA 60.4 percent. All these regions, apart from Middle East, which was up 1.2 percent, experienced occupancy declines,” said O’Hanlon. “In the Middle East, occupancy rates were 70.9, 72.6, 68.8, and 60.8 percent in October 2008 through to January 2009 respectively. Whilst these remain high by global standards, they reflect a drop compared to the prior year. This decline mirrors both the lower global demand and the increased supply during 2008.” O’Hanlon also issued a stark ultimatum to the region’s hospitality industry, stating if it was to weather the current storm, it needed to remain committed to providing quality value and services. “Apart from utilising the opportunities created by a recessionary environment, hotels must continue implementing steps that create value in the long run. They must resist the pressure to slash rates and provide a lesser-quality service. The strategy for the tourism industry this year is to focus on survival; for hotels in particular this means providing value for money to maintain their brand strengths as hoteliers compete to fill rooms.

MUC: IT‘S ALL YOURS The green forests offer the cool shade

The majestic mountains are more beautiful than any film set The colourful meadows are just perfect for a relaxing picnic

And the sparkling lakes make their visitors happy

Bavaria offers its guests a healthy mountain scenery with colourful meadows, green forests, sparkling clear lakes and friendly people. Added to that a metropolis close by for cultural enjoyment and shopping. And amidst this green vacation paradise is Munich Airport. Munich Airport – Best of Europe.


large-scale tourism projects under review Officials have noted that these projects have helped propel Dubai into being an international celebrity, citing their impact on visitor arrivals; as well policymakers agree that these infrastructures will provide Dubai with the necessary headstart on its road to recovery once the crisis ebbs. Most of the projects have been in place over the past few years. A report provided by the DTCM division’s One Stop Information Center, entitled “Developments in Selected Major Government and Private Sector Heritage Projects,” showed that these projects include the Al Maktoum International Airport; approximately 60 hotels, including around 35 five-stars; some 10 theme parks, including a AED30-billion international business center, and a AED 1.8B Healthcare City; a AED3-billion bridge connecting Bur Dubai and Deira; a AED 658-million Olympic swimming pool; and the AED45-billion Dubai Metro rail system. Other projects include the AED350-billion Jumeirah Gardens , which was planned to be completed in 12 years; the Creekfront Development, which will make the creek one of the most comprehensive cultural destinations in the world; the AED 2-billionJAFZA Convention Complex along Sheik Zayed Road which will be comprised of office buildings, state-of-the-art conference centres and a 700-seat modular auditorium. Among the theme parks are the SeaWorld Dubai on the Palm Jebel Ali. According to the DTCM report, the project will be implemented through an agreement with U.S.-based Busch Entertainment Corp. whereby Nakheel will build SeaWorld Dubai, Aquatica, Bsch Gardens and Discovery Cove theme parks under the “Worlds of Discovery” banner. Shopping malls are also included in the list, the report showed—the Dubai Pearl Shopping Mall facing Al Soufouh; the Mall of Arabia on Dubai Land; the Mirdiff Center on the Emirates Road and Tripoli Street; Nakheel Shopping Malls on Palm Deira and Jumeirah International City and Ibn Battuta Mall; the Royal Mall in Jumeirh; the Arena Mall at the Dubai Sport City; the Corporate Mall at Burj Al Alam, Business Day; and the Zabeel Mall. Dubai Promenade

18 I Travel Arabia May 2009

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The Splendid Handicrafts of


20 I Travel Arabia May 2009

In this rushed 21st century there are not many of us who know that in Morocco there still exists a medieval world of craftsmen who are creating, with their hands, masterpieces of art. Incorporating a synthesis of the Libyco-Berber, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African and Andalusian artistic traditions, HABEEB SALLOUM writes about these artisans’ long and honoured history.

Century after century, whole families, handing down the trades from father to sons, have kept Morocco’s artistic traditions alive. The family’s know-how, always open to contributions from the outside world, is constantly improved without deviating from tradition. New ideas are assimilated, brewed, melted then recreated to become genuine Moroccan art. These craftsmen who, in our time, compete with modern mechanical technology, are able to survive and,

The craftsmen like their forefathers in the days when Moorish Spain and Morocco were one, still turn out superb handmade articles that dazzle the onlooker. In the same way as they have been for hundreds of years, these artisans are grouped in numerous streets specializing in different crafts. Fascinating to any visitor, the souks not only in Fez but also in the other cities of Morocco, appear to come straight out of The Arabian Nights. I will never forget the first time I walked down into the heart of the medieval part of Fez and saw artisans working amid shops displaying their colourfully embossed articles of leather. Green, red, violet, white and yellow, marvellously treated by that city’s celebrated tanners and dyers, leather was being gilded and transformed into dozens of products. Book covers, wallets and purses in all shapes and forms, desk sets, belts, hassocks, photo frames and countless other articles were being decorated with sumptuous motifs comprising geometric designs,

The craftsmen like their forefathers in the days when Moorish Spain and Morocco were one, still turn out superb handmade articles that dazzle the onlooker. in fact, prosper. Unbelievably, these Moroccan skilled workmen, unlike their brethren in other parts of the world, have fought against the machines of the modern age and have not lost the battle. With skills inherited from their fathers, they produce, today, some of the finest handmade products in the world. If one wishes to be transported to a world of ancient oriental splendour, Fez el-Bali or the old section of Fez is the place to visit. Within its walls no automobile is allowed to enter and, as it was in the medieval ages all work is carried on by man or donkey.

arabesques and stylized flowers or stars. The artistry of these Moroccan craftsmen was dazzling and breathtaking. However, this should not have come as a surprise since the ancestors of these leather artisans have been world-renowned hundreds of years. In the Middle Ages Moroccan

May 2009 I Travel Arabia I 21

In all aspects of the handiwork industries, nothing is created hastily. The taste for the superb, along with the passage of time has created perfection

leather was so famous that the best leather of that time and Moroccan were synonymous terms. Next to leather products, the craftsmen of Fez and Marrakesh are world famous for their brass and copper utensils. In the shops and homes, gleaming brass and copperware entice the tourist and Moroccan alike. Trays in all sizes, ashtrays, braziers, incense burners, door knockers, kettles, sugar boxes, teapots and other articles decorated with interlacing arabesque designs and intricate floral motifs are produced with hands inheriting the skills of centuries. Candelabra and lanterns with green, red and yellow glass inserts are in demand by the many visitors Morocco hosts annually. Numerous restaurants and nightclubs make use of them to create for their clients a relaxed aura. The coloured lights project to the customers a haunting and romantic atmosphere. In Morocco, a room lit with coloured lanterns is always complemented with attractive handmade carpets. The oldest of that country’s handicrafts, they come in basically two types: rural and urban. However, these are divided into a wide range of many styles. In the homes of the wealthy in Morocco the handmade rugs are usually associated with inlaid furniture and other wooden knick-knacks usually made from thuya wood (a type of oak). Essaouira, famous for its parquetry, is where many of these charming pieces of furniture, desks, all kinds of tables, chests and jewellery boxes are made. The city’s skilled artisans polish the hard thuya to a satin finish, then inlay it with cedar, lemon wood, ebony, mother-of-pearl and silver in floral and geometric patterns. By using thin veneers of the same wood in a chequered design, or with chevrons, stars and other forms alternating with mother-of-pearl, ebony and silver they bring out the subtleties of the thuya wood. The saying that the wood craftsmen of the city combine and harmonize their inlaying to sing a song of beauty has much merit.

22 I Travel Arabia May 2009

In Fez, the craftsmen are well known for their skill in decorating all types of structures with cedar wood, which is abundant in the nearby forests. Ceilings, doors and windows are made attractive with zouak, a type of decor dominated by geometric figures. The city’s artisans, as well as those in neighbouring Meknes, also specialize in masharabiehs (screens made of small pieces of cedar wood turned on a lathe and then assembled in clever designs). Delicate and appealing these screens make the windows of the traditional homes attractive. Alongside the inlaid articles are the ceramics that beautify, besides the homes, fountains, palaces, mosques and public buildings. The tile-makers whose ancestors made Andalusia an earthly paradise still practice their trade in Fez and Meknes. Throughout Morocco,

tiled green roofs harmonizing with the surrounding greenery and breathtaking tiled blue, turquoise, white and yellow patios, rooms and hallways are all the handiwork of these master craftsmen. For the preparation of their food the Moroccans, in the main, employ glazed red or brown pottery. However, enamelled ornamental pottery made in Fez, Meknes, Sale and Safi are produced with the finesse of Italian or Spanish wares. Amphoras, dishes, jars, pots and vases are decorated mainly with cobalt blue on an enamel background. Cross-stitch designs, interlaced curves, polygonal stars and geometric or floral designs are then applied in black to these colourful utensils. In addition, in Safi, ceramic artisans produce in darker colours the metallic sheen found in Malaga pottery which itself was initiated

Rural carpets, known as Berber carpets, are the oldest type and the most common. Some have very thick woollen piles while others have short goat or camel hair piles. In almost all cases, they reflect the colours of the landscapes where they are made. Hence, they come mostly in beige, brown and tan with a few in black, red and white. Some have designs recalling prehistoric inscriptions while others have geometric compositions made up of lozenges, arrows and saw-tooth lines. Urban carpets are a newer type of rug. They were only introduced

by the Arabs. In all aspects of the handiwork industries, nothing is created hastily. The taste for the superb, along with the passage of time has created perfection. For export, the production of handicrafts is strictly regulated by the Moroccan government, which allows only the top-notch products to be exported outside the country. In the country itself, the co-operative shops Coopartim sell handmade goods of guaranteed quality at reasonable prices. Hence, a visitor need not worry about bargaining if he/she is not inclined. Nevertheless, whether sold in these

from the East into Morocco in the 18th century. Rabat and Sale became the production centres of these rich carpets. Traditionally, the urban carpets have a harmony of seven colours and a multitude of designs. Three bands of unequal width frame a rectangular field with a star-shaped motif in the centre. Bands of different colours in geometric or floral designs encompass these and, at each end, there is a kind of mihrab arch. Fine carpet experts indicate that these colourful rugs bring to mind garden paths around a pool surrounded by flowers and pet birds.

regulated stores, in the traditional shops, or laid out on the sidewalks or on the bare ground in a country souk, the visitor will find everywhere an extraordinary collection of handicrafts, brilliant in colours and magnetic in appeal. These handmade products are one of the most fundamental characteristics of Moroccan life. Varied in range from works of art to simple utilitarian articles, they are a living tradition suited for everyday use even in our modern times. Vivid and alive they are a living testimony to the rich cultural heritage of Morocco.

May 2009 I Travel Arabia I 23


Exploring Thailand...

naturally amazing

Ecotourism and adventure travel has become some of the hottest buzzwords in the tourism industry for the last decade. Thailand, with its wealth of natural attractions, national parks and highly developed infrastructure, is the perfect destination for tourists looking for an adventurous holiday, or just an opportunity to really get away from it all and spend some quality time in the great outdoors. Already the transportation hub and tourism capital of SE Asian, attracting more than 11 million visitors a year, the kingdom boasts and array of both hard and soft adventures. From trekking and visiting hilltribes in the mountain-studded North to exploring the coral reefs, and scaling the limestone cliffs of the South, or hiking, rafting and bird-watching in the verdant national parks of the central region, Thailand has eco-friendly activities for every taste and every budget. One attribute that make the country stand out in the region is its diverse geography. The cooler climes of the North contrast sharply with the torrid zones of the South, while the arid and hilly Northeast makes a startling counterpoint to the lush green paddy fields of the Central Region( known as Thailand’s “rice bowl”) and the sprawling modern metropolis of Bangkok.

24 I Travel Arabia May 2009

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Visit Tourism Authority of Thailand stand (between Hall 7-8) @ ATM 2009 at Dubai Trade Center May 5-8, 2009


Al Rais Holidays

nvesting on the future

26 I Travel Arabia May 2009

UAE’s pioneering tour agency spends $1.5M for a centralized, global online booking system “We’ll take you there,” is Al Rais Holidays’ slogan. Aptly put, considering that it has just recently invested $1.5 million in upgrading its online booking system that would allow travel agencies to hook into its database of approximately 8,000 hotels in different destinations worldwide and wrap up transactions with customers in no time at all. The Central Reservation System—as it is called—was started to be installed in Sept. last year and was completed in March. It was scheduled to complete its dry run this month and go fully operational internationally in June. Phase 2 of the system would allow clients to browse through Al Rais Holidays’ website, book their tour plans, and make payments through credit cards. This is scheduled to go on the market before the year ends. “We are investing on the future as we are planning to expand and go regional—the GCC and beyond—in the next three to five years,” Mohammed Jassim Al Rais, deputy managing director for holidays, told Travel Arabia. Part of the expansion, he said, is the opening, in March, of an Al Rais branch in Jumeriah, which is fully dedicated to holiday tour bookings. As of writing, Al Rais, said talks were also underway to open a similar office in Deira to be opened after this summer. These new offices, Al Rais said, will complement the existing one in Bur Dubai, which is also fully designed for holiday bookings, and will make it easier for customers to transact business with the company. “We want to reach more people and be closer to all our customers. Bur Dubai is traffic choked,” Al Rais said. Al Rais Travel has a total of 23 strategically located offices across UAE, including the newly-opened Jumeirah branch in Al Safa. Al Rais said they still opted to proceed with expansion plans despite the current global financial crisis because “we are a solid company.” “Right now,” he said, “cash is king.” “Small travel agencies might close. Sometimes crisis is an opportunity for others to reach out to more people and be closer to all customers,” he added,

noting that the volume of customers the company had in the first quarter of 2008 has not changed compared to the same period this year. “People always travel. There are two types of markets in the UAE,” Al Rais explained, “the locals and the foreigners.” “ The local market has not been affected.” Al Rais Holidays is a household name in the international travel and tours industry. It also has very strong presence in Malaysia, Thailand and Australia. “What makes us different is that we have the ability to tailor-made a customer’s travel plans. We have ready-made packages but we can also tailor-made it according to a client’s needs and budget. “Sometimes, a customer would approach us and say, ‘I have $10,000. Where could I go?’ We’ll arrange it A to Z.” On July 22, 2007, Al Rais Travel was bestowed the “Best Foreign Tour Operator” award for 2005-2006 by Tourism Malaysia’s prestigious Malaysian Tourism Awards. In a letter to Al Rais Travel dated Aug. 1, 2007, Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Tourism Malaysia director general, said: “ I am most appreciative of the efforts undertaken by your organization in promoting Malaysia and am looking forward to your continued support in making Malaysia the premier destination in Asia.” According to Al Rais, the company brought 11,000 tourists to Malaysia last year. Al Rais Travel was established in 1977. Today, 52 major carriers operating out of Dubai has the company as their passenger sales agent. The company also is the general sales agent for 20 international airlines. Al Rais Travel likewise operates Al Rais Rent-a-Car, which was established in 2003, and is composed of a large fleet and wide assortment of vehicles for rent providing services such as rental packages, short- and long-term corporate leasing, VIP limousines, chauffeurdriven cars and airport transfer services among others.

The guru speaks "In life, it’s how you view what is in your bowl: as either half full, or half empty." —Micky Jagtiani. India’s 14th richest man, Micky Jagtiani also known in business circles as the Gulf ’s “Retail King”, dropped out of Accounting school in London because it bored him, and cleaned hotel rooms, drove a taxi in the city for very little money. In 1975, he found himself in Bahrain managing the Babyshop store he inherited along with USD3,000. At this crucial crossroad in life, he chose to view the bowl as half full. From a single store in Bahrain Jagtiani has grown a retail conglomerate of over 1,000 stores across GCC, Egypt, Jordan and India, employing over 23,000 employees and providing a value-driven product offering for the entire family through a diverse portfolio of retail and hospitality brands. What was once a small business entity is now the Dubai-based conglomerate, Landmark Group. “It was a very fast growth,” Jagtiani tells Travel Arabia. “We have grown exponentially over the past decade. In India, we believe a lot in destiny and a lot of our success is attributed to this. At 26, the would-be billionaire was alone in life—his only sibling had died of leukemia when Jagtiani was 22; two years later, his father succumbed to heart fail-

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ure; another two years later, his mother also passed away. “Of course, it was tough,” says Jagtiani. However, these drawbacks did not deter me but only made me stronger. If at all,’’ he says, “they were, the two things that kept me going —hardship and sorrow.” He says one has to admire these qualities. “They will teach you more in life than anybody else,” he explains. In Jagtiani’s spacious office at Jebel Ali hangs a large oil painting of a monk holding a bowl, that is not entirely full. Asked why he keeps the painting, Jagtiani says: “In life, it’s how you see what you have -either half full or half empty.” It is better to have little, than nothing at all. It is with this ideology, he has now dedicated himself to giving back to society with his charitable initiatives. Deeply passionate and committed to social issues, Jagtiani has established philanthropic projects and has actively lent support to society’s less privileged. In 2000, he founded Landmark International Foundation for Empowerment (LIFE) which has been instrumental in providing vocational training, schooling and medical facilities to orphaned children and the destitute in many cities across India.

“We aim to expand the foundation. Our goal is to touch and better the lives of as many people as we can,” he says. Jagtiani is married to Renuka, who is the CEO of Landmark International, the franchising arm of the conglomerate; and has three children—28-year-old Aarti and 24-year-old Nisha, both of whom work for the Group, and 21-year-old Rahul, who is studying business management at Georgetown University.

Micky Jagtiani reviews a file in his office.

The perfect setting for business At Al Murooj Rotana Dubai, any business requirement is always met with a touch of perfection. A leading business hotel with resort ambience, 247 elegant rooms, 10 award winning dining venues, 5 meeting rooms and a breathtaking 744 sqm pillar-less ballroom with a stunning waterfall feature is all you need to ensure a perfect business environment. If you’re looking for exemplary service, superior resources and state-of-the-art technology, make Al Murooj Rotana your business address in Dubai.

P.O. Box: 117546, Dubai, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)4 321 1111, F: +971 (0)4 321 5555,

An absolutely downto-earth salesperson “It’s all about people.” Jeff Strachan He plays football every Tuesday and golf on weekends. He enjoys reading, and because of the demands of his job, traveling has also become a hobby— says Jeff Strachan, Marriott International’s area director of sales and marketing for the Middle East and Africa. This down to earth hands-on sales person is a well respected Scottish national that hails from the East Coast of Scotland. Academically Strachan has earned a degree in Leisure Management from the West of Scotland College. An ardent globe trotter, he worked in several countries like Spain and France before his first placement in the hospitality industry “I suffered from a syndrome like most kids—which was not having any idea of what they wanted to be. I ended up doing leisure management which happens to be my talent. Indeed I was fortunate to be in the first batch of students in this course,” Strachan talks to Travel Arabia. Having honed his skills in all aspects of leisure management, Strachan underwent the biggest challenge of his career when he joined Marriott International in 1996. He was given the opportunity to work at the Renaissance Manchester Hotel. His first important position came in 2000 when he moved to the flagship JW Marriott Dubai as director of marketing for four years.

During his tenure, the JW Marriott Dubai led the city in market share and launched a number of innovative marketing promotions for the hotel’s 12 restaurants. Strachan and his dedicated team received a number of international and local awards including the Best Conference Hotel in the Middle East, Sales Team of the Year and an accreditation in the best restaurant marketing campaign in the Middle East. Strachan has been with Marriott International for the past 13 years and he is thrilled to stay with the hospitality industry because “It’s all about people. A hotel is merely a building but makes any hotel spectacular are the people behind the great service you experience. You must have the passion and feel what is needed to be delivered,” added Strachan. In February 2004, he joined the Marriott Hotel in Kuwait as country director of sales and marketing, during which he opened the first Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Kuwait in the Middle East. According to Strachan, the Courtyard by Marriott is a moderately priced lodging brand. It is designed by business travelers for business travelers. This lodging brand has recently increased its number of downtown locations and its features usually include 80 to 150 guestrooms.

Visual of the Renaissance Dubai Motorcity

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“That segment of the industry is developing quite a lot in Europe,” added Strachan, as several years back, there were only five-star hotels under the Marriot International brands. There is currently one Courtyard by Marriott Dubai in the Green Community. There are three currently under construction—one each in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Motor City and Dubai Lifestyle City. The four-star, 195-room Courtyard by Marriott Abu Dhabi is scheduled to be operational in 2011 while the 250-room Courtyard by Marriott at the Motor City is due to open in 2010. The Courtyard by Marriott Dubai at the Lifestyle City is planned to be ready in the same year. Across the Middle East five other Courtyard by Marriott are underway. One is in Doha, Qatar, and four others in Saudi Arabia. “Other hotel chains are now opening up similar set-ups like the Courtyard. But what they don’t have is the Marriott Executive Apartments brand. Matter of fact, we are further ahead of the competition with this brand,” added Strachan. Marriott Executive Apartments is a corporate housing brand designed to meet the needs of business executives on an overseas assignment of 30 days or more. This brand offers travelers residential accommodations with hotel-like amenities. The first Marriott Executive Apartments in Dubai opened in January in 2002 at the Creek. “When this was opened, it was way ahead of its time.” Strachan continued to

say that there are currently two Marriott Executive Apartments in the UAE and the recently opened one in Bahrain. One more is in the construction pipeline at the Lifestyle City. Four others are also underway across the Middle East—three in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar. The Courtyard by Marriott Dubai and Marriott Executive Apartments Green Community sprung forth as a result of the gap created by growth. It has been in existence in other countries over the past several years. As cities expand, he explains, there arises a need for international brand name hotels to open smaller hotels at the city’s outlying areas. “Dubai grew rapidly in the past 10 years. There smaller hotels were concentrated around Bur Dubai and Deira. Now they are emerging everywhere in the Middle East in a blink of an eye. With the growth of the city, it allowed hotels to build new but smaller ones. That’s how the growth of hotels will continue in the next 10 years. There will be different tiers to accommodate different kinds of travelers, from 5-star, 4-star, 3-star to long stay apartments. He also stressed that the traveling business market has become very big especially in the Middle East. Showing his fine mettle by being the area director of sales and marketing for the Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, Strachan describes his voyage in the hospitality industry as remarkable with a lot of perseverance, hard work and commitment.

Visual of the Doha City Center

Visual of the Renaissance Bahrain

May 2009 I Travel Arabia I 31

Marwan Fadel had his humble beginnings training the sales and marketing staff of a company in Beirut that sold encyclopedias back in 1999. He moved on and chased his dream to work with international hotels, starting out as a sales executive. Today, Fadel is one of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ head honchos in the region. “I had, at first, wanted to be a lawyer,” Fadel says. But two years into law school, he says, he threw in the towel, and shifted to the hospitality industry. “I decided I’m not going to be a lawyer. My passion is in the hospitality (business). Sales and marketing is a passion for me. I can’t see myself being somebody else. Being an area (executive in sales and marketing) is what I had wanted to be right in the beginning. Now that I’m an area, the sky is the limit. I want something else,” Fadel says, smiling with obvious content. So, does he think he has come full circle? “The opportunities are there,” Fadel says. “It is for all positions within the organization of Starwood. There is a career path. There is a ladder and I am sure everybody will have their opportunity to grow.” For almost six years in Dubai since Oct. 2003, Fadel managed to grow up the ladder from a Sales Manager to the Sales and Marketing Director of the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort & Towers Dubai, one of Starwood’s chain of hotels in the region. Recently, He got his new post as Area Director of Sales & Marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Dubai beginning of March. His job: to be in charge with promoting all hotels operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Dubai; look into new marketing opportunities; plan new projects; and make sure the international hotel chain’s general strategy is implemented to the last detail. Asked if he thinks his new appointment speaks a lot about his qualifications, Fadel says: “In Starwood We have great talents. I was chosen to take this position but it doesn’t mean that others are not

Humble beginnings 32 I Travel Arabia May 2009

From working as sales manager for an encyclopedia company in Beirut to becoming one of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ top brass, Marwan Fadel still doesn’t think he has finally gone full circle.

qualified. Everybody in Starwood have an opportunity to grow. Fadel has been with Starwood since 2001, starting out as sales manager at the Sheraton Coral Beach Hotel & Resort in Beirut. Ten years to the day he got his first job as sales and marketing trainer at the encyclopedia company, Fadel says time has been kind. “It was a very fast 10 years,” he says. “It was an interesting, good experience. The biggest move was when Starwood gave the opportunity for a transfer to the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Dubai from Beirut. That was the turning point.” Fadel says that through the years, it has all been about learning new things everyday. “Absolutely,” Fadel says. “I am on a need to know basis.” So how does his day start? Fadel says lately, he gets up at 6:00 a.m. to be in the office by 7:30 a.m. “I check my emails, read the newspapers, attend morning briefings, spend some time with the team to know their plans, attend more meetings with the other Starwood Hotels and make sure everybody’s on the same page and right track. “We need to be sure we are always standing on our toes. We are focusing at the moment on emerging markets. These will continue to grow. We want to be the leaders and the

pioneers,” he says. After his daily morning ablution, Fadel says he always make it a point to spend time with his four-year-old son, Matheas. “When he opens his eyes, I want to be there,” he says. “I sit with him every morning for 30 to 40 minutes before he goes to school; I love it.” As a manager, Fadel says he is “very well organized and very flexible.” He says he also believes in keeping space. Moreover, the typical workaholic that he is, Fadel says he envies people who could switch off when it’s time to go home at 6:00 p.m.. “I try to find the balance. It’s very difficult. I envy people who could just switch off at 6:00 p.m.,” he says, adding that he often brings his work home with him. “My ‘To Do’ list at the beginning was really very long. But as it goes along, you reach a point where you couldn’t do it all anymore. Now, my list is not that long because I want my deputy to be more involved, and this is part of a development plan that I’m preparing for him the same way my previous leaders did it for me. “I am also very flexible. I can adjust to any situation. I flex my management style according to the situation. I believe in keeping space. I have to respect your space. You can’t really impose yourself on anyone,” he says.

May 2009 I Travel Arabia I 33

Ready for a bigger one

“When you were young, you had some things in mind. But in the end something comes through and it was not what you dreamed of.” Hussein Hachem. Al Murooj Rotana Dubai General Manager Hussein Hachem, the man behind the successful and smooth opening of the property on Sept. 1, 2005, got his first shot at the hotel industry when he was in high school. “During summer,” he tells Travel Arabia, “I worked in hotels. That’s how I got attached to the profession.” He has come along way, having spent 30 years from the day he got his first hotel job in Beirut. Prior to his current position, Hussein was Jumeirah Rotana

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Dubai’s general manager. “To get on top was not easy. To stay on top is even more difficult,” Hachem says. At the workfront, Hachem says he’s ready for a bigger task—“Having opened successfully Al Murooj Rotana Dubai, I am ready to repeat the exercise with a larger scale property should there be an opportunity,” he says. Asked how the crisis has affected Al Murooj Rotana, Hachem says Dubai hotels that may have been hardest hit are those on Sheikh Zayed road due to the fact that many businesses were attached to Dubai International Financial Centre. “At the moment, we do not get large conference and meeting bookings of 200300 guests which we used to receive in the past; the current trend is for smaller functions. Also, the business travelers who are the key clients of our property, has shortened the length of their stay. “On the positive side, the opening of The Dubai Mall across the road has helped us to improve the weekend business,” Hachem says. In view of current situation, he says Al Murooj Rotana has started special promotions targeting different market segments. Al Murooj Rotana Dubai has launched a special summer MICE promo where, for a special rate of AED 740* (single) and AED 890* (double) room, customers, can, among other benefits, enjoy a complimentary welcome drink, international breakfast and lunch buffet and 2 coffee breaks; a complimentary room for every 15 paid rooms with a maximum of 3 complimentary rooms

per group; free use of the main meeting room, audio & visual equipment and LCD; free use of one breakout meeting room when you book 30 rooms and above; and 2 hours of internet per delegate per stay. The offer is valid from June 1st to September 15th 2009 and subject to availability. The rate is quoted for weekdays, and a reduction of AED 100 will apply on week-ends. The offer is valid for minimum booking of 10 rooms. With hotels competing for a contracting market, Hachem says Al Murooj Rotana “tries to custom made our offers based on the needs of our clients without sacrificing the quality of our product and services at the same time. We also rely on the name and reputation the property has built on the local and regional market, which is a big help to us at the moment” It is worth mentioning that the hotel has won prestigious awards in 2008— MENA Awards – Gold in “Best Conference / Convention Hotel” category; and World Travel Awards – “Dubai’s Leading Meeting Hotel.” Hachem has been with Rotana Hotels for the past 15 years starting at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, and then at Rotana properties in Al Ain, Damascus and Dubai (Jumeirah Rotana & Al Murooj Rotana). Prior to Rotana Hotels, Hachem was with Sheraton hotels in UAE and Germany. Asked if he had ever wanted to be a hotelier, Hachem says, “When you were young, you had some things in mind. But in the end, something comes through and it was not what you dreamed of.” Hachem says the past 30 years have been interesting. “Sometimes, you need to put long hours in, meeting different people of different nationalities and cultures. The bad side is sometimes you don’t get to see the family often. I only see the kids before they go to school in the morning and before they go to bed,” he adds. That’s why, he says, weekends are always a family day—“It’s a must. No question about it.” Hachem has four kids—18-year-old Ali; 14-year-old Mohammed; 10-yearold Hassan; and, the darling angel of the house—two-and-a-half-year-old Zeinab, who’d probably grow up a daddy’s girl. “She’s the angel of the family. She keeps everybody busy. I come to her everytime I come home from work,” Hachem says, laughing.

The GM who cooks Mark Kirk, General Manager of Traders Hotel, Dubai shares his hospitality experience and insights of being a Chef at heart.

Lounging comfortably at The Junction restaurant while having lunch with Travel Arabia, Mark Kirk, General Manager of Traders Hotel, Dubai recalls his early kitchen days as the most enjoyable time and shares how his career kick started when he decided to leave Europe to gain experience in Asia. “Growing up wanting to be just a Chef in the kitchen was all I ever wanted to be” Kirk recalls, his happy days working as a Sous Chef in several European hotels, like Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, Ritz Hotel Paris in France and The Dorchester Hotel in London before his move to Asia. His turning point came when he joined Shangri-la Bangkok, where he became the Executive Chef and years later to The Middle East as a Resident Manager in Shangri-la Barr Al Jissah Resort in Muscat, Oman before his posting to Traders Hotel, Dubai as General Manager. Prior to being a Resident Manager, Kirk travelled around Shangri-la’s leading hotels in Asia with numerous management positions as he climbed the corporate ladder - Shangri-la Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang, Malaysia; Pudong Shangri-la in Shanghai, China; Shangri-la Mactan Island Resort in Cebu, the Phillipines

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and Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan. So, what makes Kirk decide to leave UK for Asia? “Well, back in those days it was very important for chefs working in European hotels to gain experience in Asia before they could proceed further in their career. I joined the Shangri-la group with the full intention of leaving after a year but I fell in love with the company. Hence I stayed on”, says Kirk. His 17 years of experience within the company has taught him to cultivate a passion for work while developing him into an all rounder. Kirk relates, “Shangrila Hotels and Resorts focuses a lot on trainings for its employees to ensure that they are well-trained according to the company’s vision, mission and culture. The management always encourages its employees to learn and upgrade themselves to a higher level. All employees are given a career plan the moment they start work and it’s the management’s responsibility to make sure that they are well taken care of in their personal development and career achievements. The company believes in hiring its employees based on their attitude and train them to be skilful. When your employee is happy, the customers will be delighted - that’s the key to Shangri-la’s management success.” Kirk is a perfect example of Shangrila’s mould. While working as an Executive Chef at Shangri-la Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang, Malaysia, Kirk was enrolled into Washington State University’s open management course and later was sent to Singapore to complete his training. In addition, Kirk also enrolled himself for a self paced development programme and several online courses with e-Cornell. From having to work in the kitchen to running a hotel at the Executive office, Kirk is now an all rounder hotelier whose daily routine starts with a quick breakfast with the staff at the staff cafeteria before heading off to various departments for a quick inspection. His last stop would end at his office, checking emails and getting

ready for another exciting day. How has this changed his personality and mindset, one wonders. “Well, I was very happy being a Chef, but once I became part of the management team, I set my goal to become a GM and never regretted that. It’s an exciting and challenging job where you get to learn new things everyday if you keep an open mind.” When asked if he misses his culinary days, Kirk says with a warm smile, “I still like to walk to the kitchen and get my hands on the pot and cook up a dish or two sometimes. I never lose that guy in me and I’ve always been happy as I am.” What about the future? Where does Kirk sees himself in years to come? “I like staying in the Middle East and I love the team here. I don’t see myself going back to the UK for a long time. I love being overseas but I’d like to go back to Asia to be with my family one day.” “Asia has been my second home since I left the UK. I enjoyed myself so much that I got married there” says Kirk, who is now happily settled down with his wife, Samphran, a Thai national, with their two sons, Douglas, 14 and Allan, 4. So, don’t be surprised if you bump into Kirk spearheading one of Shangri-la’s leading hotels in Asia.

Towering above all! Centrally located on the Sheikh Zayed Road, Towers Rotana - Dubai is a preferred choice for families and business travellers alike. With 360 guestrooms, suites and Club Rotana Executive Rooms this business friendly hotel offers a variety of award-winning dining outlets including the most popular “Teatro”, stylish “ Flavours on Two” and talk of the town “Long’s Bar”. Well known for hosting conferences and meetings, Towers Rotana - Dubai offers excellent service, great atmosphere and fitness facilities making it the favourite meeting venue of Dubai’s social activities.

P.O. Box: 30430, Dubai, UAE. T: 971 (0)4 343 8000, F: 971 (0)4 343 5111,

Al Rais Holidays

goes online

Al Rais Holidays to launch online booking system, promotional offers at ATM 2009 Al Rais Holidays will be launching its online booking system, along with special packages offering discount vouchers to travelers going to selected countries, at the Arabian Travel Market 2009, according to Munir Sherwani, manager, Holidays. Sherwani said the online booking system would allow travel and tour agents to link into its vast database of hotels in several destinations across the globe. “We will be tapping the market of travel agencies in other countries. We will officially be launching this at the ATM event,” Sherwani told Travel Arabia. Under the system, networking will also be made possible with Al Rais Travels’ franchise partner, Lufthansa City Center, a division of Lufthansa Airlines, which sells holiday packages. “Al Rais’ online booking system is a very comprehensive system, and its

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strength lies in its cutting edge technology, which delivers exceptional products and meets the most demanding expectations,” Sherwani said. He said at least 500 travel and tour agencies were expected to avail the system, which will be accessible to them through commission basis Meantime, Sherwani said Al Rais Holidays will be selling special packages in May that would allow travelers going to selected destinations to avail different discount vouchers—shopping and restaurants meals, among them. He said these destinations are Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Thailand, and Australia. “It’s a special added value, and we will be selling them throughout the month of May starting at the ATM event,” Sherwani said. Moreover, Sherwani said that be-

ing a general sales agent for ACP Rail International, Al Rais Holidays will be selling train tickets and passes for travelers going to Europe, USA, Japan and Australia. These tickets and passes can be purchased also starting this month at all Al Rais Holidays booking offices. For inquiries, call 355-7700 or 3940100.

Better value Reda Moukthar General Manager

The man at the helm of Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha is working on something to ensure that quality service is not eroded by efforts to cut on cost in the face of the ongoing financial crisis. “We are doing a lot of things to know the effects,” said Reda Moukthar, Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha general manager. “Everyone is cutting on cost. We’d like to study to see which promotional event will fit each country,” he said. Moukthar said they have been coordinating with travel and tours agents to

promote the hotel with special rates. “We are trying to find out what type of promotional events to launch,” he said. According to Moukthar, rates may be cut, but not to the extent that it could affect Holiday Inn’s reputation and prestige; more importantly, he says, not to the point that it could affect the quality of service for the guests. “We will maintain the level of service despite the drop in the rate,” he said. Holiday Inn is the newest hotel in Dubai, having opened just last year. A warm welcome awaits guests at the unique hotel. Holiday Inn has 310 rooms and suites interior designed to a high specification. It also has a six-storey high central atrium housing a waterfall. Rooms overlook the Atrium. There is also a choice of bars, lounge, and fine dining restaurants. Holiday Inn likewise has a fully equipped gym with personal trainers; and houses a state of the art business centre. The hotel, is conveniently located on Sheikh Zayed Road; is a walking distance and in line with Mall of the Emirates and Ski Dubai; and is just 20 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and 45 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport. Moukthar, meantime, said the upcoming Arabian Travel Market to be held from May 5 to 7 is an opportunity for hotels to network with travel and tour agencies to see how best to address problems arising from the crisis. “It is time to meet with the clientele to see what the requirements are, what we can do together to get the business in,” he said.

“There is a lot of competition in the market. To be in the market, you always have to think of new concepts and ideas that are exciting and would draw the crowd to your hotel.” Reda Moukthar

May 2009 I Travel Arabia I 39

The rugby player ‘We have a role to play by with the title. But as a person, you have to be humble enough. You always have to have your feet on the ground.’ Jean-Pierre Trabut

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi General Manager Jean-Pierre Trabut (pronounced: Trabu) believes the hotel, the emirate’s first, which had a symbolic opening in 1979 with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in attendance, has not lost her charm. Instead, Le Meridien, a five-story building now dwarfed by the hotels and other establishments that have sprouted around her through the years, has become the emirate’s grande fierté, the iconic, crowning glory to which all else bows to in reverence. Trabut tells Travel Arabia: “We are much of a city hotel that has the amenities of a business hotel. I think we have become established and we are now being copied. Our concept is very unique,” he adds. According to him, 25% of Le Meridien’s clienteles are regulars. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi is conveniently located within

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a few minutes’ walk from the city’s business district, shopping malls, historical areas and exhibition centers. It provides luxury with efficiency, and offers various services and facilities with its beautifully refurbished 234 spacious rooms and suites. It also presents diverse conference and banqueting facilities to accommodate all kinds of events, such as conferences, product launches, meetings, seminars, workshops, personal parties and weddings. In addition, the hotel can arrange an outdoor function for up to 1000 people at the poolside, along with outdoor catering. The recreation facilities provided by Le Méridien Eden Spa & Health Club are a collection of health, fitness and fun. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi is recognized and famed for its Méridien Village, one of the main attractions of the hotel which lies in its exclusive scenic gardens with picturesque walkways, surrounded by its unique mix of 14 restaurants, representing various cuisines from around the world. Indoor and outdoor seating is available in a relaxed and enjoyable surrounding. The hotel offers 14 restaurants and bars for you to choose from. Méridien Village Abu Dhabi brings the world to your plate with restaurants from around the globe, such as Talay (Thai), Le Bistrot (French), Captains Arm’s (English), Pappagallo (Italian), Al Birkeh (Arabic), Chi Chi’s (Mexican), La Brasserie (International) and many more. You can watch all your favorite matches and championships

at the NRG sports café or sway your night away at our G Club dance club. Trabut’s words about Le Meridien’s charm may not be gospel truth, but it certainly holds water coming from a man who, at 29, was already general manager of a U.K hotel—Folkstone—following only six years of entry into the hospitality industry as management trainee in 1983. He then went international, working as deputy general manager of Hotel Royal Mansour in Casablanca, a very exclusive hotel for celebs; Shelbourne, a 160-year-old hotel right in the center of Dublin, Ireland; and Meridien Hotel in Martinique. Heading hotels visited by high-end clients is a coveted job. “What I realized was that titles do speak a lot. We have a role to play by with the title. But as a person, you have to be humble enough. I feel I have a big role, but you always have to have your feet o the ground,” Trabut says. Trabut, who also heads a rugby team—the Ecole Francaise De Rugby Abu Dhabi—doesn’t think he has come full circle. “You could always learn new prospects wherever you go,” he says. A seasoned hotelier that he has become, Trabut says the hospitality industry has undergone revolutionary changes. “I think the hotel trade has moved up,” he says. “Before, it was never an industry. It was a family enterprise. The owners were more devoted to their business. Now, there are different, very, very skilled people doing the job. We have evolved into a far more structured set-up. “There has been an evolution in our profession.” Words coming from a man who, at six years old, got a chef ’s hat and an apron from his grandma as “fancy dress” for a school event, and was always in the kitchen cooking as he was growing up. The kitchen guy—food and beverage eventually became his first hotel post has undergone evolution, too.



Winning luxury awaits you at Millennium Hotel Sharjah. You can feel it in our wide selection of 259 exclusive luxury rooms and suites with modern amenities and spectacular views. Spacious interiors built for comfort and style create a unique retreat for the business and leisure travellers. We look forward to welcoming you. Come and enjoy the multi-awarded Millennium experience. • Latest Technology in all rooms


• Four International/Specialty Restaurants • Fully-equipped Business Centre / Meeting facilities • Health Club • Spa • Gym • Two Swimming Pools Corniche Road, P.O. Box: 3930, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Telephone: +971 6 5192222, Fax: +971 6 5560999 Email:

More than 114 hotels worldwide

Kazi’s Iconic seeking to

expand further

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Taking off from the success of its first hotel apartment in Al Barsha, Kazi’s Iconic is looking at opening another one as soon as the current financial crisis ebbs. “We plan to expand and carry on to provide our services as soon as the economical condition improves in Dubai. We plan to open another hotel apartment . It will most probably be Barsha or Tecom,” Atty. Umair Ali Qazi, Director of Kazi’s Iconic Hotel Apartments, told Travel Arabia, adding that the company, which is also into real estate, is considering another site in Al Barsha, Tecon.. Kazi Iconic Hotel Apartments opened in July, 2007. It is an eight-floor building and has 48 rooms—32 of which have two bedrooms; 16 of which have one. The rooms are very spacious and well maintained. In less than two year’s time, the hotel apartment has established itself as the choice of European visitors, locals on weekend breaks and corporate officials like EMC, Nokia, Hyundai, LCL on business trips to Dubai. Qazi attributed Kazi Iconic’s success to its efforts in promoting family values; also, its proximity to a giant shopping mall has been a plus factor. “In our Hotel the culture and environment is based on family values and morality,” Qazi explained. “We don’t serve alcohol. We don’t practice such practices that offend family values.” “Also,” he added, “we are very close to the Mall of Emirates, its just a 5 minutes walk. The location is ideal for tourists and corporate officials, that’s why we are selling.” Qazi said another factor that has helped in their success is good marketing. “I think it was based on effective marketing. When we started we marketed a lot in Dubai. Since we originate from Pakistan I also did a lot of marketing in Pakistan—we had our brochures distributed in known recreational clubs and hotels there. We also did booking engines. It all paid off,” he said. Now, without reinventing the wheel, Qazi said the company will be opening one more as soon as the conditions improve. Apart from Kazi’s Iconic Hotel Apartments, the company is also connected to Kazi & Nephews, which is into real estate investments and has five properties subleased to tenants—one in Tecom; two in Al Barsha; one in Al Muraqabbat; and one in Friej Al Murar. Qazi, who took up law at the University of London and graduated in 2006, also did his Bar-at-Law in London in 2007, was a part of ABN Ambro’s (London, UK) legal team before he joined Kazi Iconic, which is a family enterprise. “I do admit its been a big jump—from dealing with legality to real estate,” said Qazi. “This industry is all about service. It’s been good. It’s a totally different thing from where I come from. It panned out well in the end,” he added. Qazi, in his spare time, provides consultancy services in property law which helps him fulfill his legal passion.

“I believe there are plenty of things that individuals can do to lead an environment- friendly lifestyle. They can do this by starting with tiny steps to change behavioural patterns of people.” Moine Kandil.

Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi General Manager Moine Kandil strongly believes that the hospitality industry in the United Arab Emirates must adopt green policies. In this light, he says, the Millennium is definitely going in the right direction and is considered as one of the leading hotels promoting environmental awareness. There are numerous ways a hotel can have an impact on the environment. The projects implemented do not necessarily have to be on a grand scale as various facilities can be fitted to help hotels minimise the damage they could cause to the environment. Kandil introduced numerous green initiatives in the hotel, many of which have already been implemented. “I believe 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,” says Kandil. He adds, “The responsibility for sustaining  the world as a health environment for future generations rests with us all and warrants greater attention. As such, the Millennium Hotel is embarking on a variety of initiatives to support the cause which includes 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…particularly that guests nowadays are becoming more environment minded than ever before and their green conscious seems to be the hottest topic these days.”

Central Air-conditioning | Housekeeping | Restaurant | Satellite TV | Channels | Safety Box | Car Parking | Fully Equipped Kitchen | Wired/Wireless Internet | Room Service | Real Estate Consultant | IDD | Car Parking | Rent a Car | 24 Hrs service

Going Green

PO Box 125335, Dubai UAE T: +971 4 3514545 F: +971 4 3514546


Picture this:You and you’re special someone, floating in a hot air balloon some 2,500 feet up in the sky, enjoying the experience, watching the orange desert below and the picturesque horizon with the sun settling down the edge of the world.

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UAE’s pioneering hot air balloon company If this doesn’t blow you away, probably nothing will. In fact, you could just so suddenly get into it, the romantic in you could end up proposing a marriage. No worries, enjoying your company up there, she won’t say no. Fortunately you won’t have to just picture this. Amigos Balloons could be your luck. Flown by the first professional and most experienced balloon pilot in the Arab world-- Capt. Tariq Al Omari—the flight will certainly be one for your books, and something to talk about years later. “Flying in a hot air balloon is a much different experience,” says Omari. “Balloon flight is mostly a nice and quiet float above the ground, with you and your company watching the sunrise or sunset. The experience is totally romantic.” Flights, which normally takes an hour, were mostly done above the desert. Omari, who has been flying hot air balloons since 1994, runs the Amigos Balloons, UAE’s first hot air balloon company, which opened in 2002. The company has five balloons in different sizes and shapes. Three of them are for passengers—one can take up to five passengers; the other, 10; and the largest, 14. The other two are for training and advertising. “Ballooning in the UAE started in 2000 with Balloon AL Wafaa. But, in 2002, after I moved to Dubai, we submitted the requirements to have our permission granted to fly balloons here in UAE. We were the given our AOC (Air Operation Certificate). From then on, ballooning started in UAE in a more official and

regular manner,” Omari says. Starting a hot air balloon business in a country that is not so used to it was not a walk in the park, recalls Omari. “It was a pioneering experience full of challenges. It was hard starting a new thing but the only thing that kept us going is the joy of being able to be the first to do it,” Omari says, adding that they remain optimistic hot air balloon would soon become popular in the UAE like it is now in other parts of the world where festivals are held every year. Omari says most of their clients are Europeans. Omari’s first balloon flight was at Wadi Rum in Jordan as a basic training, followed by an advanced training in Spain. He holds a commercial pilot certificate from USA, Jordan and UAE. He has flown over Jordan, UAE, North America, South Europe and North Africa. He has also flown over the pyramids in Egypt in 1997 and in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1999 and 2000. The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. On Nov. 21, 1783, in Paris, France, the first manned flight was made by JeanFrançois Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in a hot air balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is the gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule) which carries the passengers and usually a source of heat.

Accor’s sixth hotel in Dubai will add 480 rooms to the market, boosting potential to promote the city as a destination for visitors on a budget, whether travelling for business or leisure.

Accor Hospitality expands economy room market share in Dubai

The recent opening of the ibis Al Barsha will initiate the third hotel Ibis & Novotel cluster for Accor in Dubai, following its development of midscale and budget properties at the Dubai World Trade Centre and the City Centre in Deira, a company press release stated. Located on the Sheikh Zayed Road close to the business hubs of Internet City, Media City and Jebel Ali Free Zone, as well as the Mall of the Emirates and the Jumeirah beachfront, the ibis Al Barsha will be the first of five Accor properties in the area that aims to serve both business and leisure travelers, offering year-round value pricing as well as the superior facilities and services expected by visitors to Dubai. According to Philippe Montaubin, ibis Al Barsha Hotel general manager, the hotel

has a long-term strategy to boost visitor markets that dovetails with the current move to discount rates prevalent in the city. “At ibis Al Barsha, we are launching with a brand promise to deliver economy rates year round, not just for a few months,” he said. With initial room rates starting from Dh299, the hotel expects to cover all markets with appeal to business travelers cutting costs as well as families traveling to Dubai for shopping or a city break, plus stopover and other group business. The hotel has 378 double rooms, 100 twin-bed rooms and two special needs rooms across six floors, many of the rooms are interconnected and suitable for families. Other facilities include WIFI in lobby and public areas, underground car park, free safety deposit boxes at reception, complimentary scheduled airport shuttle service, plus a variety of dining options including the Baharat restaurant, an international buffet service with flavours of the Mediterranean, the Arab world and the Orient; the 24-hour Café Bonjour; for live music and a vibrant but cozy ambience the Casa Latina CigarBar, and a convenient chill-out venue at the Madison Bar completes the selection.


Royal Caribbean’s 2010-11 yearround Caribbean season to feature five ships from four Cconvenient homeports Royal Caribbean International has unveiled its 2010-11 year-round Caribbean season, comprising of 243 sailings aboard five of the world’s most innovative cruise ships. Twentyfour distinct itineraries, ranging from five to nine nights, will include visits to 25 captivating ports of call and offer virtually unlimited choices–onboard and on-shore–for family and adventurous vacationers. Serenade of the Seas will expand from seasonal to yearround service at San Juan, Puerto Rico, while Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will continue regular sailings from Port Canaveral and Miami, respectively. Royal Caribbean shore excursions also will offer guests an expansive variety of optional diversions to complement their days in port. On itineraries featuring a call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on Haiti’s northern coast, guests will be able to race each other on the Dragon’s Tail Coaster, an alpine coaster to open in summer 2009 that winds down the adjoining mountainside. Having sailed seasonally from San Juan since 2003, Serenade of the Seas will begin year-round service in April 2010 from the Puerto Rican city-port with two alternating seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries through December 2010. From May 2010, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will continue alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries departing respectively on Saturdays and Sundays. On January 30, 2011, Liberty of the Seas will begin alternating a six-night Western Caribbean, departing every other Sunday, and an eight-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, departing every other Saturday. With eight restaurants and more than 15 bars and lounges, these Freedom-class ships offer guests more ways to enjoy a memorable Caribbean cruise vacation. From Port Everglades, vacationers can choose a Saturday or Sunday departure aboard one of the world’s largest and most revolutionary cruise ships in the industry, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, debuting in November 2009 and 2010 respectively, will feature Royal Caribbean’s new neighborhood concept. Nine decks above, the first zip-line at sea will whisk guests from end to end on a thrilling aerial adventure. Boardwalk will lead to the AquaTheater at the stern of the ship, where the amphitheater – another first at sea – will offer a guest pool area by day and a performance venue at night, featuring dramatic acrobatics, synchronized swimming, water ballet, professional highdiving, and elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights. Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 20 ships currently in service and two under construction.  For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit or call +9714 3314299

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Azimut Yachts’ 58 Flybridge

A tribute to the sea Two 800mHP MAN R6 engines push the Azimut 58 Flybridge to a top speed of 32 knots.

The new Azimut 58 Flybridge developed and built in the Azimut Yachts yards in Avigliana, Turin was officially presented at the recent Genoa International Boat Show. A tribute to the sea, the element from which every form draws life—this was the thought that gave rise to the creative idea behind the new Azimut 58: ample flanks from which large spaces take shape to live a direct relationship with the sea; and generous volumes whose forms reflect the waves of the sea. The Azimut 58 Flybridge was designed by Stefano Righini, reflects the turquoise sea, and diffuses in the interiors of the saloon the luminosity of the external panoramas through huge expanses of glass and the new rectangular panoramic windows of the master cabin, which, for

the first time, has been designed such that it can be opened. The large, square bow, a flybridge that unites the dining area with the sun deck in a rational way have distinctive features of the external volumes that ensure maximum comfort and pleasure of onboard life. The layout of the interiors permits great versatility in use of the spaces to provide high adaptability to the owners’ needs: the “V” or sliding beds of the VIP and guest cabins, respectively, allow variable use of this part of the sleeping area; the saloon, which affords guests a striking view and a direct relationship with the sea, thanks to the minimal interference of the uprights on the large windows, can become either an area for enjoying convivial moments with guests or a relaxation

zone perfectly integrated with the large, functional galley, located on a higher level together with the dining area, very bright thanks to the use of low-slung furniture. The luminosity of the main deck is accentuated by the light color of the pickled oak, which gives a warm, cozy look to the internal furnishings and creates a subtle contrast of elements with the dark brown of the leather inserts. The characteristics of the Azimut 58 exhibit a line of stylistic continuity with the Azimut 47 Flybridge presented at the 2006 Genoa Boat Show, a choice that makes Azimut Yachts models recognizable throughout the world and denotes a precise, coherent stylistic direction. Two 800mHP MAN R6 engines push the Azimut 58 Flybridge to a top speed of 32 knots.

ART Marine LLC, P.O. Box 118063, Dubai U.A.E. Contact: +971 50 5546954 E: W:

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WHETHER IT’S A ROMANTIC DINNER FOR TWO, A MOMENT TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS OR FAMILY, OR SIMPLY AN EXCUSE TO TAKE TIME OUT FROM A BUSY SCHEDULE.. Why not take some time out to experience the breathtaking scenery of the Musandam peninsula, and why not do it from the comfort of one of our magnificent luxury yachts? Situated on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the Omani fjords that await you are largely only accessible by boat - relax in the serenity of the dramatic landscape that surrounds you, indulge in dishes prepared for you by your very own personal chef and snorkel in crystal clear waters and explore the beauty of what lies beneath the surface. Treat yourself to a short escape away that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. To learn more about our charter portfolio, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

ART Marine LLC P.O. Box 118063, Dubai, United Arab Emirates T +971 4 4068825 | +971 4 3481281 | E

ME Best Sales & After Sales Dealership ME Best Charter Company

Arabian Gulf Yachting Awards 2008

Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club

opens Bull’s Eye Indoor Shooting Course

In an apparent support to what has now become another growing sport in the UAE, Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club has recently opened Bull’s Eye Indoor Shooting Course—a month-long, hourly activity of classroom lessons, and sessions in practical shooting and gun trouble shooting. “It’s a one-on-one activity,” said Baiju Noorudeen, SGSC shooting manager. “People used to think that shooting guns is for killing; today, however, shooting has become a sport in the UAE.” As long as you are above seven years of age and have a parent or guardian with you if you are under 18, you can avail of the course’s basic pistol one-onone lessons. The course covers the basic fundamentals of pistol shooting, including safety, grip, stance, sight picture and trigger control. Certainly a great preparation for your

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shooting career, the course also includes classroom sessions and time at the shooting range, which, by itself, is a great way to learn shooting in a fun and relaxed way. Advanced reservation are suggested, but walk-ins can sometimes be accommodated. The course costs AED 2,500 for individual enrollees and AED 2,000 for group plus ammunition and course certificate to be issued by the club’s top officials, including Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, SGSC deputy chairman. The course is designed to improve your shooting skills, and familiarize you with the handgun you are using. It is also designed to give you a working knowledge of advanced control and basic combat skills By the end of the course, you should by able to use a weapon safely. Classroom lessons cover instructional sessions in range control systems and

basic range rules; firearms safety rules and precautions; fundamentals of firearms shooting; firearm controls—safety, rip, stands, sight, and trigger control; advanced controls and basic combat skills; and tight group and controls. Sessions in practical shooting cover range control systems and basic range rules, firearms safety rules and precautions, fundamentals of firearms shooting, and firearms control. Sessions in gun troubleshooting cover the dismantling and assembling of firearms, main internal parts of the gun, how to clean weapons, and how to store guns without causing damage tom the weapon. What makes SGSC a standout among the rest of pistol shooting establishments across UAE is its variety of guns--.22 cal. pistol, rifle and revolver; 9mm Luger, Makarov, Sigsauer X5 and X6, Glock 17, 26 and 36, and CZ 75B, 75D and 75 Shadow; and the .38 Special, and .38 Wadcutter

It is perfectly designed to accommodate families, the morden executive globe trotting businessman and holiday makers.

Dusit Thani Dubai

Celebrates Thai New Year Songkran marks the day when the Sun alters its position in the Zodiac to welcome the Thai New Year. Thailand adopted the tradition from the ancient Brahmins in India who believed that the sun re-enters Aries and completes orbiting around the earth on April 13. April 13 is celebrated by all Thais throughout the country, the festival lasts for 3 days. It is tradition that prior to the New Year, people clean their houses in the hope of casting away any bad luck, and to welcome good fortune. At Dusit Thani, guests celebrated

Songkran with the “water ceremony,” one of Thailand’s most cherished traditions, along with captivating Thai performances representing cultures from different the regions of Thailand. Joining the festivities were His Excellency, Karn Chiranond, Thai Ambassador, Mr. Pasan Teparak, Thai Consul General, Ms. Suhaila khouri, Jordanian Trade Consul and Mr. Robert Dunn, American Trade Commissioner. This year, Dusit Thai Dubai extended the Songkran celebration throughout the month of April. 

Dusit Thani General Manager Doug King, third from left, checks if everyone is comfortable during the show. To his right were Thai Ambassador Karn Chiranond, and Consul Gen. Pasan Teparak.

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Oaks Liwa Heights

Hotel Apartments opens

Australian based hotel and resort group, Oaks Hotels and Resorts has successfully launched its first apartment hotel into the booming United Arab Emirates market, with the opening of Oaks Liwa Heights Hotel Apartments in Dubai in late 2008. The Oaks Liwa Heights hotel apartments is located in the Jumeirah Lake area, one of Dubai’s most rapidly expanding accommodation areas, offering convenient access to all that Dubai has to offer. The close proximity to Emirates and Montgomerie world class golf courses, beaches, Palm Jumeirah and major shopping malls, puts Oaks Liwa Heights in the perfect location for both business, corporate and pleasure. Also nearby are the business districts, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai

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Multi-Commodities Centre, Jebel Ali Free Zone and the soon to be completed World Centre Airport. Fully furnished, contemporary and tastefully designed one and two bedroom apartments offer comfortable living style with inclusions such as fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, direct dial telephones, TV and DVD player, and courtyard balcony, with high speed Internet access also available (fee applies). Onsite facilities including swimming pool, gymnasium, squash court and

coffee shop are all available to both long and short term guests along with a host of guest services. With short-stay and long-stay accommodation available, Liwa heights makes it easy to enjoy a pleasurable holiday, a quick business trip or a longer term business residence. For more information or to make a booking, please visit or contact the team via telephone: 00971 4 436 3434 or email:

Day or night,Big Bus is all over Dubai! Operational since March 2009, the Big Bus Company is delighted to announce the launch of a brand new service, The Panoramic Night Tour of Dubai.

Famous for offering open top double decker bus sightseeing tours of London, Philadelphia, Hong Kong and Dubai, The Big Bus Company now offers a spectacular panoramic night tour of Dubai providing visitors with the opportunity to discover the sights and sounds of Dubai as the sun sets and the city comes to life. This panoramic night tour of Dubai starts from two main departure points, Deira City Centre at 19.30 and Souk

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Madinat Jumeirah at 20.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Passengers on the night tour will experience the typical high standards of sightseeing that they have come to expect from The Big Bus Company with a dedicated English speaking tour guide providing an informative and entertaining commentary. Mr. Chris Crompton, General Manager of the Big Bus Company Dubai said: ‘We are tremendously excited by the

launch of our latest offering, The Panoramic Night Tour of Dubai. For many years now we have focused on providing the highest quality of hop on, hop off, sightseeing tours and with the launch of our night tour of Dubai we can offer the passenger a new and unique perspective of the city. Dubai truly sparkles at night and we hope that we can show our passengers the best of this iconic city from the top of a double decker bus.’

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: Package Deal Regular Night Tour Ticket Prices 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.

The Millennium Hotel Sharjah first opened its doors in December 2002 and has evolved as Sharjah’s top-of-therange hotel since. In November 2005, the 259-room hotel with its extraordinary location on Khaled Lagoon, was recognized as “Sharjah’s Leading Hotel” by the travel industry’s most prestigious World Travel Awards.

Millennium Hotel Sharjah

home of the Emirate’s finest restaurants

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Elegantly furnished, well-appointed guest accommodations, ranging from Deluxe Rooms to the Royal Suite, present the perfect combination of comfort, luxury and the latest technology, thus creating a second home for all guests. Sharjah’s finest restaurants are found in this five-star property, all of them enjoying stunning views across the sapphire waters of Khaled Lagoon. “Mojo”, the Thai seafood restaurant with its blue and black interior, creates an air of mystery and calm. The menu ranges from traditional Thai dishes to never-before-seen seafood specialties. Another culinary treat is “Shiraz”, often described as “Sharjah’s hidden treasure”. This restaurant serves authentic Persian cuisine at its best. The show kitchen allows the guests a look “behind the scenes”. Savor traditional-style kebabs along with freshly baked bread, right out of the oven. “Al Dallah”, the 24-hour tea and coffee lounge offers as well fresh juices and delicious homemade pastries, giving everyone a perfect reason for a little self-indulgence. An “insider-tip” is the property’s catering division. So whenever planning for a business reception in the office or any other event at a venue of the customer’s choice, the delicacies will be delivered and set-up according to requirements. Complementing this magnificent hotel are its meeting facilities, with “Al Jawhara” Grand Ballroom, the Oriental “Majilis” venue and three boardrooms, supported by a business center offering full secretarial support. These facilities have become some of Sharjah’s most popular when it comes to business and private occasions, with highly professional meeting planners, ensuring that the customers get the maximum out of their event. The exclusive “Le Club” leisure facilities are comprised of two pools, a fully equipped gym, saunas , steam rooms and Spa. The entire pool area is served by the “Pool Terrace Restaurant” offering chilled drinks and light snacks along with breath-taking views across the city and the Lagoon. Sherif Ezzat, acting general manager of the Millennium Hotel Sharjah, has the full right to be proud of his property. Once you enter the lobby, the mix of luxury, casual elegance and great service is what makes our guests come back over and over again.

“We feel honored that people extend this kind of trust and appreciation to us and that is why we put a permanent effort in enhancing our facilities and in ensuring that our guests receive the best of everything at all times. Our philosophy is that each and every person staying at our property is special to us and receives our full attention. Having been acknowledged as ‘Sharjah’s Leading Hotel’ by the World Travel Awards in London proved that our customers and travel professionals alike value our efforts and our product. This recognition of excellence further encourages us to take our guest satisfaction to an even higher level,” he said. Millennium Hotel Sharjah has secured its place among the best hotels in the entire UAE. “Sharjah, as a destination, is getting more attractive by the hour. And for all those travelers, whether business or leisure, we want to remain their first choice when it comes to choosing their hotel in the Emirate of Sharjah.” Ezzat said.

Easter Brunch at the Millennium Hotel Sharjah In a very warm and family festive atmosphere, Mr.Sherif Ezzat Acting General Manager of the Millennium Hotel Sharjah, management and staff organized the Easter Brunch in the Hotel’s lobby on April 12th 2009, While the kids enjoyed themselves with the clown during the Brunch.

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One year of splashing with the dolphins at

Dubai Dolphinarium Dubai Dolphinarium, the popular dolphin facility in the UAE, will celebrate its first anniversary during the week of May 22-May 30, 2009. The Dolphinarium located in the heart of the Dubai Creek Park is an amazing place, where you are guaranteed to meet some of the most beautiful animals that inhabit our oceans and have lots of fun with them.

During the week-long exciting anniversary celebrations, visitors will witness exciting promotions, on the spot competitions for kids, art and essay writing contests, fun prizes to be won and magic shows. Commenting on the first anniversary celebrations, Steve Preston, general manager, Dubai Dolphinarium, said, “The concept of Dubai Dolphinarium has been extremely successful in the past year with kids as well as adults. Our focus has been to offer an experience that is both entertaining and educational. It is exciting for children to explore the marine life through a medium which is interactive and enjoyable. We are certain that the entire week of celebrations will be full of enthusiasm for kids with a number of creative competitions which will facilitate healthy learning.” “Our aim at Dubai Dolphinarium is to create an enriching family fun experience for both residents and tourists, while simultaneously giving out the message of protection of our precious environment. Education of the marine life and its conservation is a key element we concentrate on, making it

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fun and interactive for kids as well as adults. Through workshops and classes, we are attempting to educate children on the importance of the preservation of our sea creatures, as we believe that it is their knowledge and love for the mammals that will help preserve our marine life,” he further said. As a part of the anniversary celebrations, Dubai Dophinarium will be running an essay writing competition for kids. The competition which is being organized through various schools in Dubai will conclude on May 30, 2009 where the best entries will be awarded with trophies and exciting prizes. Dubai Dolphinarium was established by Dubai Government and Dubai Municipality in May, 2008. Located at the Dubai Creek Park, Dubai Dolphinarium offers a balance of fun and family entertainment. The Dolphinarium houses three trained bottlenose dolphins and four seals, which perform tricks and performances for an audience capacity of 1,250. Dubai Dolphinarium, a 5,000-sq. m. modern marine mammal facility, is the first fully air conditioned indoor Dolphinarium in the Middle East.


As the summer heat starts setting in once again and you couldn’t stand the kitchen, run to the buffets, the brunches, the BBQs— the whole caboodle of dining treats. They’re all over the place. Check them out. Al Bustan Rotana Hotel Dubai Choices Restaurant Craving for a gastronomically perfect weekend? Make your way to Choices for the Global Friday Brunch. Elegantly set in the contemporary surroundings of the modern dining venue, the weekend brunch buffet features a lavish spread of rich signature dishes from all over the world. Kids and adults alike will have fun exploring all the exciting flavours of the countless dishes to choose from. Experience this once and you will keep coming back for more. Gather family and friends and explore the wonders of Choices Global Friday Brunch from 12:30 till 03:00 pm for only Dhs. 75* for kids, Dhs.180*, inclusive of juices and soft drinks and Dhs.199* inclusive of selected beverages.

Al Diar Siji Hotel, Fujairah Siji Café Al Diar Siji Hotel’s Siiji Café brings the richly tropical flavor of coconut to its array of sweets promotion this month. Cool the heat of the season with the refreshing fresh coconut drink served in the shell.  Also perfect for the summer are choices of

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Coconut & Pineapple Cream Cake, Soft Coconut Pound Cake, Coconut Cassata Cake, and creamy Coconut Jelly Trifle. Coconut Wandu Tart, a Thai dessert of sugar dough case filled with sour dough coconut mixture filling topped off with cashew nuts is also on offer.  Price starts at Dhs 25.                            

Zorba Bar & Cocktail Lounge Have a taste of Mexico at Al Diar Siji Hotel’s Zorba Bar & Cocktail Lounge this May with flavorful choices of beef, chicken or shrimp flavor of Taco Caesars Salad, Burrito, and Chimichanga.   Relax & enjoy live music from Maze Duo while crunching on some crispy chips corn tortilla with all the fillings.  Completing the list of mouthwatering snacks are deepfried crunchy chicken flautas, quesadilla, and Cheese nachos with cajun shrimp.  Price starts at Dhs 35.

Al Murooj Rotana Dubai Double Decker Pub Daily Lunch Menu @ AED 49* / 59** per person 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm Soup & Sandwich of the Day Mexican Burger Prime beef burger covered with Chili beef, served with French Fries and salad Lunch Combo. Choose one of the following combinations: Salad & Sandwich of the day or Sandwich & Dessert of the day English Breakfast Sausage, bacon, eggs, baked beans, hash browns, mushrooms and tomato (including tea or coffee and a fresh juice) Weight Watchers A lighter option with no more than 100 calories! A healthy salad with a lemon vinaigrette and pasta of the day dish B.L.A.T. A great sandwich with bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato. Served with French fries and salad B.E.S.T. A working man’s classic: bacon, egg, sausage and tomato sandwich. Served with French fries and salad. Roast Dinner Roast of the day served with potatoes and mixed vegetables (Available on Sundays only)

introduced special business lunch taking only 45 minutes from the moment of food order. The business lunch menu is comprised of 3 courses. The meal starts with rich in flavour “Dal Aur Palak Ka Shorba” being Spinach & Lentil Soup. Shortly afterwards the remaining dishes are being served compactly arranged on a special tray. The guests are offered to choose one of four main courses presented by Gosht Rarha (tender & juicy lamb); Murg Makhani (chicken dish); Madras style Fish Curry and Classic Mutter Paneer (vegetarian). The mouthwatering Keshari Rasmalai rounds off the feast. All menus are complemented by Aloo Jeera and Dal Makhani. In addition, all four menus are accompanied by Saffron Rice, home made Tandoori breads, fresh green salad, Raita, Achar, Papads & Chutney. The business lunch is available from Sunday to Thursday from 12:00 noon till 3:00 pm. The price is AED 99* net per person. Vegetarian menu is AED 89* net per person. The price is inclusive of 10% Municipality fees and 10% service charge. For reservations and more information, please call 04-3211111 or e-mail on

Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi Prego’s & Bruahaus The Month Of Asparagus from May 1st till May 31st 2009 A whole month dedicated to white and green asparagus and their place in German and Italian cooking. Come and taste the difference! Restaurant Direct Tel: 02 – 6979125 (Prego’s) 02 – 6979118 (Brauhaus)

Rodeo Grill Taste Of Australia With Chef Craig Squire From June 7th till 11th, 2009 Australian Chef CRAIG SQUIRE from North Queensland is coming to Rodeo Grill to Showcase the Modern Australian Cuisine. This great Australian Food Festival will keep you coming back for more. Restaurant Direct Tel: 02 – 6979126

Zaika With time becoming the most precious commodity, Indian restaurant Zaika in Al Murooj Rotana Dubai has

Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa Al Manara Beach Bar Enjoy the sea, sun and sand with our

BBQ Friday Brunch and splash in the warm Arabian Gulf with the included all day beach access for AED 350* per person. Bring along the family for an unforgettable day at Al Manara Beach Bar. Brunch is served from 12:30 pm till 4:00 pm. Don’t forget the special a la carte menu available daily at our beach bar. For more information please call Restaurant Reservations at the Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa on +971 4 399 5000 or email

JW Marriott Dubai Hofbräuhaus Say goodbye to the winter chill and welcome in the warm beauty of springtime, with a traditional German celebration at Hofbräuhaus of the JW Marriott Dubai for the month of May. In keeping with the spirit of Maifest, there’s plenty of food and beverages to enjoy, accompanied by lively German music and singing. Come and indulge in a delicious traditional Bavarian buffet for AED 165 per person from 6.00pm to 2.00am daily except Sundays. Enjoy specially made May Punch or Maibock – a German beer brewed only during this season. Check out the Bavarian sausage salad with onions and gherkins; Jellied chicken with vegetables and green sauce; Cold cut platter with forest ham and salami; Fish with rollmops; Smoked Salmon and peppered mackerel; Assortment of German cheese; Lentil soup; Bavarian Beef Goulash; German noodles in beef consommé and White sausage dumplings in creamy sauce. At the carving station, don’t miss out on the Marinated roast chicken; Meatloaf

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This month we have prepared an extraordinary Strawberry and Swiss white chocolate mousse cake for 8 of your beloved family and friends for AED 80. For reservations or any additional information please contact Le Méridien Abu Dhabi 02 644 6666.

Media Rotana DubaiChannels

and roasted duck. Get the smell of freshly baked Pumpernickel bread; Sesame rolls and homemade pretzels. The desserts are simply ravishing. Make sure you have room for Bavarian cream with strawberry sauce; Plumquark cake; Chilled rhubarb with milk rice; Apple strudel; Steamed Yeast dough with cherries; Fried toast bread with egg, Raspberry tart and Black forest cake. With the kind sponsorship of Lufthansa Airlines, you can enjoy the music and songs from the two-piece German band while you eat, drink and dance as Maifest comes to town. One can also enjoy ‘Maiwein’ (May wine) flavoured with fresh waldmeister . The dinks are accompanied by delicious German bread, cheese, pickles, tangy mustards and sweet pastries. For reservations, please call 971 4 6077977/7009/7588 or log on to www. Hofbräuhaus is closed on Sundays.

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Pappagallo For a delightful hint of Italian flavor, we would like to propose for you in this early summer of May our exceptional Cannelloni filled with ricotta cheese, mushrooms, spinach and chicken for AED 65. Afterwards, enjoy your Espresso while enjoying the sunlit terrace and relax your eyes to the breathtaking greenery at the center village.

Al-Finjan Your favorite tea lounge Al Finjan overlooking the breathtaking views of the greenery in Méridien Village awaits your to discover our Strawberry specialties for the month of May.

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Join us and experience the shrimps and mussels channel at Channels Restaurant. Channels chefs are going to take you on a culinary journey of the best shrimps and mussels that tantalize the senses and encompass the taste. Enjoy every Wednesday a mouth-watering experience of the treasures of the sea for only AED 159* net per person including unlimited selected beverages or for AED 179* net including premium selected beverages from 7:00 pm until 10:30 pm For Reservation or more information, please call 04-435 0000 E-mail:

Prego’s Lunch Crunch- 30% OFF the regular menu Prego’s is introducing the finest business lunch in town. Ditch the PDAs for cutlery and tuck into a well deserved fare at Prego’s from Sunday to Thursday, 12 noon till 3:30 pm with a 30% off the regular menu. With free valet parking and express service, your lunch gets even more leisurely. Bon appétit! *Price is inclusive of 10% Service Charge. For Reservation or more information, please call 04-435 0000 E-mail:

Renaissance Dubai Hotel Persian Food Promotion Discover the freshness and fragrance of one of the most ancient cuisines in the world- Persian food. Savour flavourful classics laden with herbs, fruits and the star ingredients- saffron, dill and pomegranate namely Aashe Joe (Iranian winter barley, Lentil soup with lamb, Kash and fried onion garnish), Jojeeh Kebab (chicken barbecue with olive tomato & saffron), Kebab Hussaini (Beef barbecue) and Zereshk Pulao (chicken dish with dried barberries).

Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Take pleasure in the lavish Greek culinary creations prepared by our chefs around the Mediterranean, and enjoy the lively sights and sounds that are distinctively Greek. Dinner buffet is priced at Dhs 170++ inclusive of a glass of Greek Bubbly. Sofra bld is open daily for breakfast from 6am to 10:30am, lunch from 12nn to 3pm, and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Friday Brunch is from 12nn to 4pm.

Hoi An Saigon Street Food Festival. Tease your taste buds with the delectable Saigon street food prepared by Chef Kevin with a wide variety of seafood and meat. Hoi An is open for dinner from 7pm to 11.30pm daily.

Sheraton Deira Hotel The Terrace Restaurant Its vibrant colour and nutritional punch makes Broccoli the superhero of the vegetable kingdom and now is the talk of the town at the Mediterranean-styled The Terrace Restaurant this summer for lunch from 12 noon till 4pm and charged at Dhs. 40 net per dish of Broccoli. Feel the Mediterranean while you enjoy the Friday Brunch at the Terrace restaurant from 12 noon till 1600 hrs. The lavish Friday Brunch serving Mediterranean specialties offers an array of International hot and cold dishes, soups,

PC Hotel Creek Deira

another new exciting property is

Coming very soon the Pearl Continental Creek tower Hotel & residence located in the heart of Deira, Dubai’s bustling business district. PC Hotel teCom meDia City

PC Hotel tecom media City Pearl-Continental Hotel apartments is strategically located in media City tecom area on sheikh Zayed road very near to the commercial and entertainment district of Dubai including Dubai World trade Center

Booking & reservation Pearl- Continetal Hotels management, 2213 grosvenor House. Commercial towers,sheikh Zayad road, Post Box: 125918, Dubai, Uae, tel: + 971 4 329 8699, Fax: +971 4 329 8698 email: |

landscaped garden and beach front of the 5-star Sheraton Jumeirah Beach at the heart of Dubai Marina.

veggies, salads, cold cuts, seafood, meats, rice, noodles, sweets, all for Dhs. 115 net per person. Also included within the price are House beverages - soft drinks, mineral water, red/white house wines. Soft Italian and Spanish pipe music serenades you through the brunch creating an exotic Mediterranean experience while seated at the Terrace restaurant. Furthermore you can eat as much as you like – no limit. Another option is to go for Dhs. 89 net, which accompanies soft beverages. For reservation or more information, please call 04-2078615.

Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort & Towers Azure Selection of Spanish Tapas and Wines available for Lunch and Dinner. Outdoor cooking.

Spend the day reclining in the Dubai sun with a flute of champagne, a cocktail or perhaps a fruit flavored Shisha, relaxing in a captivating environment amongst palm trees, the sea and the white sanded beach whilst being entertained with international renowned guest DJs and live entertainment from St. Tropez. Ease a stressful week with a head & foot massage, and cool off from the heat with a chilled towel and water sprays.  As the sun begins to set, feel the music set a new pace as the DJ gets you on your feet. Soak in the ambiance whether you choose to dance or peruse the menu for something more stimulating to drink, a full VIP bottle service will fulfill even a connoisseur’s taste. “La Plage Beach Club” is conveniently situated inside the Dubai Marina, and is within walking distance of the Jumeriah Beach Residence community. Featuring Special Guests: INTERNATIONAL DJs: Nick Waters - St.Tropez Stephane Karl - St.Tropez LIVE MUSIC BY Nick Studer - Saxophonist - Resident Nikki Beach St.Tropez First party: April 10th – and every Friday afterwards Operating hours: 3PM-12AM Dress Code:  Smart Casual Musical Policy:  DJ Live Entrance fee: AED 150 per person

Towers Rotana Dubai Flavours On Two

Specially Prepared menu highlighting Asparagus Specialties a la Carte.

Flavours from Italy Every Thursday & Friday An array of pasta freshly cooked in front of your eyes. Get creative and make your own sauce and then lend us your recipe. There’s also a variety of antipasti, freshly baked breads, tasty cheese and the famous naughty but nice desserts buffet awaits. For only Dhs179* per person *Price is inclusive of 10% municipality fees and 10% service charge

Sea Breeze


Moods Individually prepared cocktails, which would be served on a Cocktail tray at the table by pouring part of the cocktail and leaving the rest in the shaker for the guest to pour. Garnish and decoration to suit the cocktail.

Grill Room

Mussels, Clams, Blue Crab, Prawns (All fish in the shell, would provide bibs.) Introducing the La Plage Beach Club La Plage Beach Club is an all-new outdoor venue located in the beautifully

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Early Bird Promotion 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) Long’s Bar Daily Deals 25% lunch discount everyday 40% selected beverages 12pm-8pm Every-night drinks promos after midnight Face club discounts (40%) Opening hours 12pm-3am New Electrifying Theme Nights *** Please call 04-3122202 for Reservation.

Traders Hotel Dubai The Junction The Junction Restaurant at Traders Hotel Dubai spices up its monthly promotion for diners with the Indian Spice promotion from 1 to 31 May 2009. The Indian Spice promotion is available daily for dinner from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at only AED85 net per adult and AED42 net per child. The promotional price includes 10 per cent municipality fee and 10 per cent service charge. For reservations, please call The Junction at (04) 214 7272. The Indian Spice promotion features a wide range of authentic Indian cuisine. Diners can savour a choice of heavily spiced cuisine from different parts of India such as Hyderabadi Biryani Rice, Chicken Mughalai and Fish Amritsari. For diners who prefer vegetarian dishes, the restaurant will also serve vegetarian specialities like Malai Kofta (Fried Vegetable Balls in Cream Curry Sauce) and Paneer Akbari (Stuffed Cottage Cheese Fingers in Thick Gravy Sauce). Alongside the exotic spiced cuisine, Chef Joby, the Indian Chef, is presenting the all-time favourite Joby’s Paratha and Traders’ Special Appam Stew at the live station. Diners can also enjoy the chef ’s selection of soup of the day, an unlimited spread of Indian salads and condiments along with Indian sweets and desserts such as Gulab Jamun (Dough Balls in Sugar Syrup) and Shali Turka (Bread and Butter Pudding.

Millennium Hotel Sharjah Discover the amazing Iranian grilled flavors of Chelo Kebab Kubideh, Chello Kebab Joojeh, Chelo Kebab Chishlik served in the real Iranian atmosphere For reservation or more information, please call 06 5192222 Extn 7335


Air Arabia

takes off to Goa, India Air Arabia, the first and largest lowcost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa, has launched non-stop service to Goa, India, from the carrier’s main hub in Sharjah, UAE. The launch of this new destination reflects Air Arabia’s growing expansion into the Indian market. Roundtrip flights will operate three times a week between Dabolim International Airport in Goa, and Air Arabia’s hub in Sharjah. Air Arabia is now the only UAE-based international carrier to offer direct flights to Goa from the UAE. The LCC will fly to Goa on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing Sharjah at 00:25 AM and arriving at Goa at 5:05 AM. Return flights will depart Goa at 5:50 AM and arrive in Sharjah at 7:35 AM. Air Arabia’s first destination in the

Indian state of Goa is also the carrier’s 13th destination in India. In total, Air Arabia will serve 46 destinations across the Middle East, North Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia and the Southern Europe, including Athens. Greece, when service to that European city commences on April 21, 2009. AK Nizar, head of the airline’s commercial department, said: “We are delighted to now offer non-stop service between Sharjah, the cultural capital of the UAE, and Goa, one of the great heritage cities of India. Today, even more members of the large Indian expatriate population living in the UAE and GCC can take advantage of our extensive Middle Eastern and international network.

Sharjah embarks on 8th promotional roadshow As part of its efforts to encourage regional tourist activities and strengthen tourist ties among GCC countries, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), in association with representatives of the emirate’s tourism sector, had organized a delegation that embarked on Sharjah’s 8th promotional Road Show in the GCC. The Road Show—which was intended to promote Sharjah’s unique tourist attractions and attract more GCC tourists to the emirate—had been scheduled from April 7 to 17 2009, in five major GCC destinations: Doha, Kuwait, Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah. In addition to the SCTDA, the Sharjah delegation includes senior representatives from Sharjah Museums Department, Air Arabia, Sharjah Millennium Hotel, Golden Tulip Hotel, Radisson SAS Resort, Verona Resort and Marbella Resort. SCTDA’s third stop on the road show was Dammam, KSA, where the Authority organised workshops to present Sharjah’s latest tourist offerings to travel and tourism industry. The tour coincided with the imminent launch of Sharjah Summer Promotion 2009, which includes discounts and offers and events particularly with a view to encourage shopping activity during the summer. Commenting on the occasion, SCTDA chairman, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, said: “The current promotional tour has a special importance as it comes at a time of major changes and challenges that require tremendous cooperative efforts to attract more tourists to the emirate. The authority is keen to intensify marketing and promotional activities for Sharjah to further boost the emirate’s leading position on the regional and global tourism map.” The SCTDA is endeavouring to push the wheels of economic growth forward, in line with the fast growth witnessed in the tourism sector. The number of hotel facilities in the emirate has increased to 103 (37 hotels and 66 hotel apartments) with 8,000 hotel rooms. The emirate received 1.5 million visitors in 2008, a significant increase from 600,000 visitors in 2001. Twenty-seven percent of these tourists – or 398,186 – were from GCC countries.

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DSS 2009

t o r e v e a l s u m m e r p l a n s a t AT M

The 12th edition of the region’s biggest summer annual event, Dubai Summer Surprises, will feature prominently in this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) as the Dubai Shopping Festival Office participates through the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The leading Summer Extravaganza will be revealing its main events that will take place between June 11 and Aug. 14, 2009. Organised annually under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, ATM 2009, being held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, will run through four days from May 5 to May 8, featuring leading travel and tour operators from across the world. More than 200 exhibitors from 70 countries were represented during ATM 2008 with more

than 14,000 visitors walking through the exhibition’s doors. Apart from promoting the 2009 edition of Dubai Summer Surprises, the DSF Office, located at stand UAE2500 at the venue, will also put up the Modhesh Brand that has witnessed overwhelming growth and brand exposure in the past few years. “This year’s ATM is significant for the DSF Office because despite the challenges facing the global tourism sector, we aim to showcase another splendid edition of DSS in seemingly exigent circumstances. ATM is the ideal opportunity to gauge the changing dynamics of the global tourism industry and the exhibition will subsequently aid us in determining target markets and promotional strategies. During the four-day ATM, we will be revealing details of the upcoming DSS 2009,” said Khulood Al Thani, Marketing Director, DSF Office. Khulood also noted that the partici-

Al Diar Siji Hotel to showcase new serviced apartments at ATM Al Diar Siji Hotel (ADSH), a 5-star business hotel managed by Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) will showcase its newly-opened luxury serviced apartments as it participates in the ATM (Arabian Travel Market) this May in Dubai. With the opening of Siji Hotel Apartments (SHA), Al Diar Siji Hotel management hopes to increase tourist influx to Fujairah as it provides additional accommodation options to leisure guests, corporate travelers and families coming to the East.

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“Fujairah is now becoming a more popular tourist destination in the UAE, and with alternative choices of less expensive accommodation which also gives more options like bringing and cooking their own food, we hope that leisure tourists will continue to come even with the present economic condition,” said Fouad Melhem, ADSH and SHA general manager. Siji Hotel Apartments features 78 tastefully furnished apartment units fitted with quality finishes, fixtures and high-end furnishings.

pation of government departments and private sector entities under the umbrella of DTCM reflected the commitment of both the private and public sectors in showcasing Dubai as a leading travel, leisure, and commerce destination.

Dubai Marriott donations

The Dubai Marriott Business Council recently made cheque donations of Dhs 84,788 to the UN’s World Food Programme as part of its continuing commitment to the community.

Dubai Airports unravels the future at Airport Cities World Conference Dubai Airports is leading the talks on the challenges and rewards of designing the airport of the future at the Airport Cities World Conference and Exhibition taking place in Athens, April 27-29, 2009. The two-day event will be attracting some of the industry’s key decisionmakers from various airports, airlines, government and aviation regulatory authorities around the globe. The program will address how airports are strategically planning to develop as cities in their own right. It will also examine what role airport operators should play in “outside the fence” development of

property around the airport and will highlight the needs to identify and establish long-term partnerships to succeed. Anita Mehra Homayoun, Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications said, “It is a great honour for us to receive this invitation and to share our knowledge and experience with our counterparts the world over. Managing the World’s Leading Airports is our vision and to take part in such a prestigious event is vital to our continued growth and leadership.” She will take attendees through the Dubai Airports’ ongoing and future

expansion plans, Dubai’s aviation growth potential and the challenges of opening the world’s largest terminal flawlessly. Dubai Airports owns and manages the operation and development of Dubai International as well as the upcoming Dubai World Central — Al Maktoum International. According to Airports Council International’s figures, Dubai International is the only airport among the world’s top ten busiest airports in terms of international passenger volumes, to show positive growth both in the last quarter of 2008 (7.1%) and the first quarter of 2009 (2%).

GCC royal delegate visits Sharjah Museums The Sharjah Museums Department recently welcomed Umm Al Momineen Women Association awarded royalty guests at “Education Day celebrations” in Ajman. The Ajman delegate was composed of 16 female royalties including H.H Fahda Saud Al-Saud, chair of board of directors of Al Faisaliya Society in Jeddah- Saudi Arabia, and H.H Lamya Al-Khalifa, chair of Al Nour Society-Kingdom of Bahrain. The purpose of this visit was to introduce the royal delegate to the Emirati distinctive old local traditions and explore the rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture. The visit started at Sharjah Art Museum where the delegate explored the beauty of more than 85 British Orientalist Paintings at “Lure of the East” exhibition. They also visited the Sharjah Biennial 9 which was hosted at Sharjah Art Museum. Then, they were introduced to Bait Al Naboodah, Al Eslah School Museum and Soug Al Arsah. Bait Al Naboodah is a former residence of the pearl trading Al Shamsi family. This house is a unique example of the traditional Emirati house and preserves the values of society in Sharjah. The mission of Bait Al Naboodah is to use this outstanding example of local architecture to recall and revive Emirati traditions. The opposite museum, Al Eslah School, was established in 1935 and is considered the first formal educational institute to be opened in the Emirate of Sharjah. The school’s mission is to enable the generations of the past and of the present to meet and to maintain Emirati customs and traditions regarding the Arabic language, religion and Islamic education.

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Gold swiss-belhotel Dubai gears up for opening

Gold Swiss-Belhotel Dubai has announced that the structural work on the soon-to-open hotel located in Bur Dubai is 100% omplete with the finishing touches being applied to the interiors for a July opening, Nils Rothbarth, general manager, said. “The structural work is now complete and we are in the final stages of interior design and soft furnishing. We are on schedule for a soft opening in July,” he said. The four-storey hotel located in Al Mina Road (near Port Rashid, the cruise terminal and Al Diyafah Street) will feature 184 rooms/suites and has been designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of market segments. “We are positioning the hotel as the ideal choice for business travelers in close proximity to the Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre and bustling Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as leisure travelers looking for an affordable alternative without compromising on service or quality,” said Rothbarth Swiss-Belhotel International manages hotels in Australia, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Kuwait and Oman. The group also has an office in Dubai. For more information on Swiss-Belhotel Hotels & Resorts please visit

Beach Rotana thanks you for bringing together 4 prizes at the What’s On Awards 2009

Cyprus Airways increases frequency from Dubai Cyprus Airways has now increased its frequency to Cyprus from Dubai without any stopovers to Bahrain. The move has been carried out to serve the markets of the UAE and Cyprus’ demands for increased connectivity. Flights will now depart Dubai every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 04.35hrs arriving Larnaca at 07.25hrs. “Cyprus Airways has a quality product that has won numerous international awards over the years for its superb cuisine as well as on-board services. Coupled with our prices that are hard to beat, we have a winning value proposition for travelers. GCC travelers have the option of changing their flight times or travel dates, with a nominal charge, subject to seat availability,” said C K Hussain, Gulf Manager, Cyprus Airways.

Moritz Klein, general manager of the Beach Rotana said: “We are proud of this achievement and are very thankful to our clients. It is evident that because of them and for them, we always strive for excellence. Collecting 4 What’s On awards is an honor. The management team and myself will save no effort to ensure that the Beach Rotana remains the ultimate address for all food lovers. ” The Beach Rotana won the following awards:


Favorite Italian Restaurant

Indigo Favorite Indian Restaurant

Finz Favorite Seafood restaurant

Trader Vic’s Special Panelist award.

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ADNH says Abu Dhabi’s tourism posted 29% growth in 2008

focuses on added value Rotana announced recently the launch of the conference offers with more than 14 free use of facilities and services at 13 participating hotels in Dubai and Northern Emirates where it has over 90 meeting and conference rooms with over 14,000 sqm2 of space. Competitive rates starts at AED 545 (terms and conditions apply) with more than 14 free features such as buffet breakfast and lunch, welcome drink, two coffee breaks, complimentary room for every 15 rooms, use of the main meeting room with audio and visual equipments and LCD, two hours internet per delegate per stay, free upgrade to the group’s head and free two hours welcome cocktail reception. In addition, guests will enjoy discounts up to 25% on laundry, international calls, treatments in Bodylines leisure and fitness club and Zen Spa by Rotana, and finally the team building activities in The Cove Rotana Resort – Ras Al Khaimah; and Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa – Al Aqah Beach. According to Naeem Darkazally, area director of sales and marketing for Rotana Dubai & Northern Emirates, the offer is about extra value and it came in line with the current economical situation. “The practice of slashing price is not effective and will not increase the business volume. We believe that our meeting offers will maintain the relationships with our loyal clients and will provide the best value and most importantly; decrease the budget pressures in Meetings to our corporate bookers,” Darkazally said. The offer is valid for meetings and events held in 2009, from June 1st to September 15th. The participating hotels in the Dubai & Northern Emirates are Al Bustan Rotana Dubai, Al Murooj Rotana Dubai, Media Rotana Dubai, Towers Rotana Dubai, Jumeira Rotana Dubai, Arjaan Dubai, BurJuman Arjaan Dubai, Villa Rotana Dubai, Rihab Rotana Dubai, Rimal Rotana Dubai, Sharjah Rotana , The Cove Rotana Resort – Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa – Al Aqah Beach.

76 I Travel Arabia May 2009

The Abu Dhabi hospitality sector posted a “remarkable” 27% growth in 2008, but the year ahead is showing signs of a slowdown, according to H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Hajeri, chairman of Abu Dhabi National Hotels board. “Our sector has shown a remarkable growth of 29% in 2008 over 2007,” H.E. Al Hajeri said in his speech delivered at the annual general meeting of the company’s shareholders on Apr. 14 at Sheraton Hotel, Abu Dhabi. He, however, also said, “We have no false impressions of the challenges that await us this year. The hospitality sector in Abu Dhabi, although not as affected as many countries (have been) worldwide, does show signs of slowing in 2009.” H.E. Al Hajeri said the first quarter of 2009 has already produced positive profit growth for ADNH “and we will be working to build on that growth through the rest of the year.” He said Etihad Airways has continued to announce an ever-increasing number of routes making up an impressive global network. The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, he added, already has a very busy 2009 calendar with more than 50 international exhibitions booked. H.E. Al Hajeri said that despite the global challenges, ADNH “performed very well” in 2008. Total revenues, he said, were AED 1.7 billion , up from AED 1.3 billion in 2007—an increase of 31 percent. Operating profits, according to him,

increased to AED 597 million, up from AED 460 million in 2007—registering a year on year growth of 30 percent. Net profit closed at AED 292 million from AED 471 million in 2007, he said. “Bucking the global trend in the hospitality business, ADNH’s hotel sector recorded excellent results. Net profits from hotel operations grew from AED 309 million in 2007 to AED 425 million in 2008, a 37% increase,” H.E. Al Hajeri said, adding that occupancy and average brates in ADNH hotels exceeded citywide norms and previous year’s results by more than 37 percent. H.E. Al Hajeri said a management agreement was signed with Hyatt International for all operational and management aspects of the 314-room Park Hyatt Hotel and Villas currently being developed on Saadiyat Island. The establishment is set to open in 2011. “We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Yotel Investments to introduce their revolutionary concept to the UAE capital in the form of two hotels to be developed over the next five years,” H.E. Al Hajeri. He added that ADNH is looking forward to the “imminent opening of the Jumeirah Beach Sofitel hotel in the coming months.” He said this 450- room hotel occupies “pride of place along the now very popular promenade walk of Jumeirah Beach Residences in Dubai and is set to become the area’s five star hotel of choice this summer.” Work on the ADNH Resort and Spa to be operated by Marriot International in Abu Dhabi is progressing as planned to be opened mid-2010, H.E. Al Hajeri also said. Al Diar Barsha Hotel and Apartments, Al Diar brand’s first signature in Dubai, is now in soft opening and brings the total number of the four star group hotels to nine, H.E. Al Hajeri said.

56,000 Etisalat customers experience mobile calls on board Emirates Airlines via Aeromobile

Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Etisalat.

Etisalat, the UAE-based Telecommunications Services Provider, has announced that over 56,000 of its customers have experienced the in-flight mobile service by using their mobiles phones in the air, since the service was first introduced by Etisalat a year ago through the AeroMobile system. According to Aeromobile, this represents 27% of the total users across the world, on the Aeromobile network, making Etisalat a leader in the in-flight Mobile service, with maximum number of customers for this service. The service enables passengers to safely make and receive calls and SMS text messages while in-flight. The service was first operated by Etisalat in the UAE on an Emirates flight between Dubai and Casablanca, a year ago. The system has since been installed on 32 of the Emirates air-

line’s fleet, and is available on around 25% of its Aircrafts. Emirates presently operates over 60 Aeromobile equipped flights in a day to various global destinations. Essa Al Haddad. Etisalat’s chief marketing officer said, “Etisalat’s in-flight mobile services target a niche audience who prefer to be virtually connected all the time. Since its launch last year, Etisalat’s in-flight mobile services have been a huge success and have received tremendous positive appreciation from its customers. We are proud to be leaders in this niche market, providing connectivity even in the sky. “ Etisalat customers can benefit from the in-flight mobile services while traveling on the Emirates airlines to 60 selected routes. Standard international Roaming charge applies for both Wasel and GSM customers, while calling on board.

Travelport to have major presence at ATM Reinforcing its position as the leading global distribution system (GDS) provider in the Middle East, Travelport, operator of the Galileo booking platform, will have a major presence at Arabian Travel Market 2009. Taking place 5-8 May, ATM is the region’s leading annual travel and tourism exhibition for industry professionals, and Travelport intends to make a splash with a sneak preview of its latest offering for travel agencies at the Galileo by Travelport stand. Marking its ATM debut since it began direct operations in the Middle East, Travelport GDS will be highlighting some of the advanced capabilities of its flagship Galileo platform at this year’s event, including live demonstrations of upcoming products designed to help agents compete more effectively. “Arabian Travel Market is the ideal platform for Travelport to reach out to the travel trade and highlight some of the key successes we’ve enjoyed since launching our direct operations in the region,” said Rabih Saab, vice-president, Travelport GDS Middle East. “It will also be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our industry leadership by showcasing some of our most highly-anticipated products ever.” The Galileo by Travelport stand at Arabian Travel Market will be located at Hall 6 of the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, where senior executives from the company will be on hand throughout the show to meet with customers and members of the travel trade. Travelport GDS is one of the world’s leading global distribution system (GDS) providers, operating both the Galileo and Worldspan platforms, providing real-time travel information and booking capabilities to online and offline travel agencies in over 145 countries.

78 I Travel Arabia May 2009

Austria sees record arrivals from Middle East

Emirates Holidays unveils travel brochure Emirates Holidays, the tour-operating arm of Emirates airline, has unveiled its A World of Choice 2009-2010 brochure. For the first time its extensive range of exciting holidays to over 120 destinations across the world has been consolidated into one comprehensive, easy to use format. All holiday options can now be found within one bumper edition. Commenting on the new brochure, John Felix, Senior Vice President, Emirates Holidays, said: “Despite the general downturn, getting away and having a holiday remains important and we are there to bring it all together. We have a proactive approach to holiday making, which is accessible to everyone.  However much you are prepared to invest in the kind of break you want, we provide tailor-made holidays to suit your needs and requirements.” He added: “‘Emirates Holidays has an ongoing commitment to improve its products and services. The decision to combine the Emirates Holidays brochures was made early last year due to direct feedback we received from both travel agents and our customers to make their research for holiday packages easier. Having one brochure will also simplify our distribution process and display logistics. And by using less paper, it’s a more environmentally friendly way for us, our partners and our customers to work together.” The near five hundred page brochure will be distributed to Emirates Holidays shops and travel agents across its international network. In addition, there will also be a dedicated brochure on the UAE, tailored editions for Russia, Mediterranean regions, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Plus, an Arabic language brochure for exclusive distribution in the Middle East and Arabic speaking parts of Africa. To mark the launch of the A World of Choice 2009-2010 brochure, Emirates Holidays hosted “Emirates Holidays World,” a three-day interactive travel event  at The InterContinental Hotel Convention Centre, Dubai Festival City from 1st to 3rd May. Emirates Holidays World contains Emirates Holidays’ vast product range of family holidays, city breaks, beach holidays, tours, safaris, cruises, adventure holidays, theme parks, spa breaks and honeymoons. Over 30 countries from Europe, the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean as well as Asia and Australasia are listed. Said Felix concluded, “Whether travelling alone, as a couple or as a family, people are being more prudent with their money at the moment.  This exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for potential holiday makers to actually meet representatives from all the countries on offer and to really work out what they want to do and where they want to go.  There is no other opportunity like this in the travel calendar so we really urge everyone to make the most of it and to come along to find out more.”

80 I Travel Arabia May 2009

Despite a slowdown in tourism markets the world over, 2009 is proving to be a record year for Austrian Tourism with regards to arrivals from the Middle East. “As per the latest data available, we welcomed 102,100 tourists from the Middle East in 2008, a growth of 11.7% as compared to 2007. In January alone this year, we have seen over 3,000 arrivals, a very encouraging start to the year considering we have yet to see the peak during summer holidays,” said Klaus Ehrenbrandtner, director, Middle East, Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO). Over the last five years since ANTO set up a representative office in Dubai, traffic from the region has exploded by 160%. Although the Middle East represents a fraction of Austria’s international tourist arrivals (over 21.9 million in 2008), the Arab tourist is the world’s highest-spending traveller, with 81% choosing to stay in four- and five-star properties and averaging an expenditure of AED 8,873 (US$ 2,415) per-trip – almost triple the average global average of US$ 887. Part of ANTO’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has not let up its marketing efforts or reduced its budget this year despite all the challenges the industry has faced since last July. Its stand at Dubai’s upcoming Arabian Travel Market remains as large as last year’s, and the contingent it brings along will be even larger in 2009. “Trade partnerships and education are the key areas ANTO is focused on; we recently concluded a GCC-wide road show where we introduced Austrian tourism players to travel agents in the Middle East. Also, much of our regular daily schedule is focused on direct interaction with and education of the trade,” said Ehrenbrandtner.

Dubai Office: Abu Dhabi Office:

+ 971 4 211 25 28 / 29 / 30 + 971 2 626 1010 / 7771

Profile for Kalimat Group International

Travel Arabia May 2009  

May 2009 issue of Travel Arabia by Kalimat Group International

Travel Arabia May 2009  

May 2009 issue of Travel Arabia by Kalimat Group International


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