Page 1

International Media Production Zone

April 2012, Volume 8, Issue 87

Out of T his World A ‘hotel’ ins an airpo ide rt

The latest Arabian craze

SHOPPING VILLAGES High-end brands galore!

Arabian Experience

Islamic art form

Luxury Retreat

Cannes—a world of its own

Taste Travel

Dining on the Seine

EXCLUSIVE: First woman to cross Empty Quarter tells how it was

Editor’s Note Kudos to Hajar Ali, the first woman to cross Empty Quarter. Now that she has done it, maybe Guinness World Book of Records can finally include the area in its list of mainstream expedition sites. Ali told us she will lobby Guinness but would need support from tourism boards in Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE and Yemen where Empty Quarter is spread out. Shame if they don’t. On another note, Ali said she will also be crossing the Iraqi marshland this month. These two activities, she said, were meant to highlight cultures on the edge, more specifically, that of the Bedouins’ whose age-long lifestyle and traditions are slowly becoming extinct as a result of the discovery of oil and the juggernaut of modernization that came with it.

Herba climbed a total of 2,040 steps, or 333 meters, in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 41 seconds hoping to break a world record. He did it jumping up with his bike three or four steps at a time. Guinness World Book of Records is expected to issue a decision soon. ***** Travel Arabia recently went to Cannes and Paris on invitation by Atout France, the country’s tourism board. This edition has an excerpt of the trip: Cannes—a city where, indeed, an ordinary day is an extraordinary one elsewhere. Check it out in our Luxury Retreat section.

Jojo Dass Editor

Commendations should be underway. ***** Remember Krystian Herba? The renowned 30-year-old Polish trial cyclist, who bicycled his way from the ground to the top floor (68th) of the world’s tallest hotel, Rose Rayhaan by Rotana, tells us his travel fancies and more in this edition’s Travel Bag. The art of Islam is a form of expression covering various peoples over some 1,400 years.

Travel Arabia I 1



Cheddar Gorge on Traveller's Tips


Meling Pot






P.01 P.04 P.06 P.08


P.11 P.16 P.20 P.24

Whistle Stop p.30 Taste Travel p.40 MELTING POT P.52 MY TRAVEL BAG P.64

International Media Production Zone


April 2012 18

April 2012, Volume 8, Issue 87


Out of Th is World A ‘hotel’ ins an airpo ide rt

The latest Arabian craze

SHOPPING VILLAGES High-end brands galore!

Arabian Experience

Islamic art form

Luxury Retreat

Cannes—a world of its own

Taste Travel

Dining on the Seine

First woman to cross Empty Quarter tells how it was

2 I Travel Arabia

on the cover Shopping villages across Europe, named Chic Outlet, has become the latest craze among shopaholics in the Middle East.

At Ember Grill and Lounge, every season introduces a stunning new collection of the world’s latest culinary trends, perfectly tailored to your taste. In the heart of The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue, it’s the city’s place to be seen. From a chic post-shopping dinner featuring stylish cuts of beef and seafood, to flirty after-work cocktails in the Lounge, Ember is the ultimate catwalk for the social fashionista. T: +971 4 888 3444 E: DINE@THEADDRESS.COM WWW.THEADDRESS.COM


Preserving culture

Publisher KGI

Dear editor It’s somewhat flattering to some extent hearing a foreigner still adjusting to the local lifestyle about how UAE, Dubai more particularly, has withstand modernization and the influx of different people with their own culture and ways to preserve its culture and traditions. Mr. Anders Dimblad, which you featured in Impressions of your March 2012 edition, couldn’t have put it more aptly when he said that some countries which have taken the road to urbanization and modernity have, unwittingly probably, left behind their history, which is sad. Sandra Meifer New York, USA

Address 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 Media House Indigo General Manager Shaza Sharaffdeen Editor Jojo Dass Contributors Elaine Nettleton Caroline Tapken Sharon Garrett Julian Redman Maryam Jabbar Gill Sheperd Photographer Maher El Zein Creative Manager Karen Haroon Designer Najeeb Hamza Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif Sales & Marketing Executive Crisna De Guzman Circulation Manager Ihab Abdallah 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 KGI unless stated otherwise. Travel Arabia is fully independent, and its views are not those of any company mentioned herein. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. © 2011 KGI

4 I Travel Arabia

Dear Ms. Meifer Happy you find the piece interesting. Editor

Neat Dear editor Your March 2012 edition’s cover was neat, putting together an old Saharan fort and a sitar playing artist, in a way like saying how present-day Dubai is: a mix of cultures. Of course such picture is not what you actually see everyday. Neat photography I should say. Elwood Barntree Greenwich, London UK Dear Mr. Barntree Indeed. Not a picture you see often. Editor

Enlightening Dear editor Your recent feature about what has become of the Bedouins is a good read and will make for a fine reference: well researched and subtly poignant. Come to think of it, modernization and oil exploration actually made life easier for them. The downside is that tourism capitalizes on them so much so that the real thing is lost in the smoke-and-glass travesty and hooplah. Rola Azeem Dubai, UAE Dear Ms. Azeem Like they say, can’t have your cake and eat it too. Editor

Admiring the Bedouins Dear editor I have long admired the Bedouins whom I see as the most resilient of all people. They should be held high for having survived through time living in a very harsh and inhospitable land. For all it’s worth, how do you live and raise a family in the desert? Nice take on your feature about them in your March 2012 edition, by the way. Vickie Suarez Dubai, UAE Dear Ms. Suarez Happy you like it too. Editor

Experience the dierence at Al Raha Beach Hotel

The Al Raha Beach Hotel symbolizes the very essence of elegance. It offers guests the perfect venue to combine both business and pleasure. In beautifully landscaped gardens, with a variety of leisure and eclectic dining experiences, it has easy access to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Al Raha Beach Hotel effortlessly accommodates every type of event from small business meetings to large outdoor celebrations in any of its stylish venues. Al Raha Beach Hotel...To enjoy both business and pleasure! For more information, call +971 2 508 0555 or 800 ALRAHA or visit

Managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, a Division of National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels PO Box 38616, Abu Dhabi, UAE | T. +971 2 508 0555 | F. +971 2 508 0444 | E. | A Member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Let’s Do It this


A selection of a few events around the region.

Academia Teatro alla Scala Orchestra Muscat, Oman Royal Opera House A group of outstanding opera soloists led by internationally renowned soprano Simone Kermes will perform some of the world’s most famous arias and operatic highlights with the music performed by the Accademia Teatro alla Scala Orchestra conducted by Massimiliano Caldi. The other featured soloists are soprano Pretty Yende, tenor Leonardo Cortellazzi and bass baritone Daniel Kotlinski. Their performances will include the Barber of Seville by Rossini and some of Mozart’s most famous and well known works including Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte and the Marriage of Figaro in addition to highlights from Verdi’s La Traviata.

The Saudi Bride Show

6 I Travel Arabia

Atelier Live Music Festival

Al Gharbia Watersports Festival

Inaugural 12-hour non-stop music festival Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium, UAE 2pm April 6, 2012 Huge international music stars, among them Taio Cruz, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, Ne-Yo, Jay Sean and Edward Maya, are lined up. Atelier live is a new nightlife concept combining all genres of dance music alongside fashions shows inbetween the live concert performances. The catwalk element of Atelier will showcase 24 international models, who will keep the spirit of fashion, style and party going before the next performance. Tickets: Virgin Megastores, Spinneys, Reel Cinemas and at +971 55 705 0581

Abu Dhabi, UAE April 12, 2012 to April 21, 2012 Website http://www.algharbiafestivals. com/watersports2012 Join 10 days of fun at Al Mirfa Public Beach, Al Gharbia

Casablanca Festival of Video Art Morocco The Casablanca Festival of Video Art, held at the Universite Hassan II Mohammedia, explores the latest in video and multimedia installations. It also promotes the exchange of ideas by holding workshops and conferences for artists and anyone interested in the subject. Inquiries:

Ad Dammam, KSA Dhahran International Exhibition Centre Apr 2 – 6, 2012 The Saudi Bride Show is an inspiring and charming event bringing an amazing selection of exclusive exhibitors assisting the brides-to-be to prepare for the very special wedding day. The show hosts every year 100 exhibitors and more than 40,000 females of different categories and cultures visit the event. The exhibition is dedicated for females only, a exhibitors and visitors.

Sufi Culture Festival Fez, Morocco Fez’s Sufi Culture Festival celebrates the heritage of Sufism, a form of spiritual education seen as the centrepiece of the Muslim faith. Lectures, meetings, art exhibitions, music concerts and other rituals offer an insight into the spiritual current. Inquiries: contact@festivalculturesoufie. com


AED 450* U.A.E. Resident Rate

Arabian Ranches Golf Club GUEST ROOM RATES Offer valid from 1st April - 30th June 2012

Treat yourself to a weekend away or let us take care of your visiting friends, family or work colleagues, whilst keeping them close to your home. Stay and relax in one of our eleven luxurious guest rooms at Arabian Ranches Golf Club and receive an amazing room rate starting from AED 400*. REGULAR RATE ARABIAN RANCHES RESIDENT RATE

AED 525* AED 400*

*Room rate is per room, per night, plus 10% municipality fee and 10% service charge. Terms and conditions apply.

Arabian Ranches Golf Club offers you an amazing array of amenities and activities that include: 18 hole Championship Golf Course, Restaurant and Sports Lounge, 9-hole Par 3 Course, Golf Academy, Flood-lit Driving Range and Practice Facilities, Pro-shop and Group Fitness Classes

For reservations, please call +971 4 423 8877 or email

Arabian Ranches Golf Club | P.O. Box 36700, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 3663000 | Fax: +971 4 3663355 |

Find and follow us on


Four ways to “I do”

Fly into the Anantara Wildside Looking for an out of this world experience for a weekend getaway? Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara has teamed up with Seawings to offer guests a taste of the high life. With private flight transfers between Jebel Ali Seaport and Sir Bani Yas Seaport on Sir Bani Yas Island, ‘Weekends on the Wildside’ is the ultimate weekend experience, combining luxury with exploration in the way only Anantara can. Situated along the resplendent coastline of Sir Bani Yas Island, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara provides an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of the city. As part of the Weekends on the Wildside package, guests are transported by private jet for a two night stay, including breakfast. Whilst at the resort, guests can discover an array of exotic wildlife with a Wildlife and Nature Drive, get an adrenalin fix with activities such as Kayaking and Archery or unwind with a blissful 60-minute massage at the Anantara Spa. A wide range of activities are available at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, making it the perfect escape for adrenaline junkies. For bookings and reservations, contact or telephone +971 4 883 2999.

For guests looking to have a truly unforgettable tropical wedding, Banyan Tree Group offers four options in the Maldives that pay tribute to the region’s pristine natural beauty. From a sandbank on a far-flung island to an underwater ceremony, these celebrations are the apex of exclusivity and privacy, setting the tone for an experience to fuel lifelong memories. The Group’s four Maldivian resorts - Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Banyan Tree Madivaru, Angsana Ihuru and Angsana Velavaru – are idyllic retreats from which to plan a destination wedding. Every resort offers a selection of wedding packages – from a Sunset Beach Wedding in the dedicated wedding pavilion at Angsana Velavaru, to spectacular Underwater Wedding and Sandbank Wedding experiences available at all four resorts. All packages include an on-property liaison to manage the details, a wedding certificate and photo CD of the ceremony. For reservations, please call our Maldives reservation office: +960 676 7115. Alternatively please email: for Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru:; for Banyan Tree; for Angsana Ihuru:; and for Angsana Velavaru:

360-degree oceanview Rixos, one of the world’s fastest luxury hotel chains, has opened its first hotel in the UAE, Rixos The Palm Dubai. Located on the tip of the Palm, also known as the Eighth Wonder of the world, Rixos The Palm Dubai salutes the daylight under astonishing 360 degree ocean views. Bearing the signature of renowned architect Haldun Kilit, the hotel’s superb quality development enjoys an astounding buildup ratio of only 30%, allowing it to offer a highly individualized service to its 233 rooms & 28 residences. For more information about the company, please visit

8 I Travel Arabia

Shanghai business

Shanghai is a non-stop city welcoming world travellers with its glamorous character and abundance of opportunities. Now with the two new accommodation packages at Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, business and leisure travellers can enjoy exceptional values in the city. The Business Package offers time-conscious business travellers these inclusions: conveniently located luxurious accommodations, arrival pick-up from the airport or train station to the hotel in a BMW 5-series sedan, express check-in service with no stop at the front desk, and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Room rates start from CNY 1,700.00 per standard room per night with a minimum two-night stay required. For an additional fee, guests can opt for Executive Club privileges that include daily breakfast, light refreshments throughout the day, use of a private boardroom, cocktail happy hour and much more. The Stay Longer Suite Promotion offers a complimentary third night with two consecutive paid nights, along with enhanced Executive Club privileges from now until June 30, 2012.

Seven-language singer Rosario, a talented musician of mixed Lebanese and Italian descent, and a pianist who can sing in seven different languages has come to nest at the Cristal of the Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi attracting a huge crowd every night except Saturdays. Hailing from a musically inclined family, where his mother was an opera singer , Rosario has begun learning music when he was at the age of eight. He plays music from all genres, and is a big fan of Stevie Wonder. Rosario has performed in Cyprus, Italy, Lebanon and Jordan.

Tokyo Sky Tree from your room Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo has become renowned for its magnificent views, and now there is a distinctive new feature on the skyline: the Tokyo Sky Tree. The Tokyo Sky Tree is a state-of-the-art broadcasting tower that commemorates Japan’s full transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. It replaces the 333-metre Tokyo Tower, built in 1958, and at 634 metres high, is the tallest structure in Japan and one of the world’s tallest towers. Now guests can enjoy close-up views of this historical new landmark structure by booking Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s 634 package which includes: • One night’s luxury accommodation in a spacious east-facing, 50 square-meter Deluxe Room with spectacular city views including the Tokyo Sky Tree • Daily breakfast for one or two persons, served in K’shiki restaurant on the 38th floor • A complimentary bottle of red wine and a special ‘Tokyo Sky Tree’ welcome plate Complimentary wireless or wired Internet access As well as magnificent views of the Tokyo Sky Tree, all of Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s east-facing guest accommodation has panoramic views overlooking the traditional downtown areas of Asakusa and Ryogoku, as well as the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay. On a clear day guests can see as far as Mt Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture and the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. And, in the west-facing guest rooms, guests can enjoy stunning views of lively business district, Otemachi and Marunouchi, the Imperial Palace, and even Mt Fuji in good weather. For reservations or further enquiries, please telephone +81 (3) 3270 8950 or e- mail <

Travel Arabia I 9

Ride them horses

Free unlimited high speed wifi Dusit International, the legendary Thai hospitality brand, now offers free unlimited high-speed internet via wifi and wired Internet to every guest throughout their stay at any Dusit property worldwide. This service will also apply to all future opening properties including Dusit Thani Maldives, Dusit Devarana New Delhi and Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi all scheduled to open in 2012.

Desert Islands has opened the Sir Bani Yas Stables on the heritagerich Sir Bani Yas Island in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. The stateof-the-art horse riding facility, located next to Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, has capacity for 30 horses, and is home to a range of highly-talented horses of different breeds from Arabia and around the world. Wholly-managed by Anantara, and developed and owned by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the Sir Bani Yas Stables has two barns, six sand paddocks, two large grass paddocks, a lunge ring, a covered riding arena, training ring and riding ring. The stables also feature a variety of horseback riding activities and lessons, each tailored to meet individual needs and abilities.

Perfect honeymoon

Hotel room TV becomes connected Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced it will be transforming the standard in-room television into a fully connected, interactive entertainment centre and virtual concierge at its fullservice properties across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Once the installation is complete, guests will have access to a range of offerings that, depending on location, include interactive entertainment, hotel services, local information, and advanced features that go well beyond the technology guests today expect to see. The upgrade will allow properties to welcome their guests to the room with a personalized greeting and mood-setting music, and offer new features that include the ability to browse the Internet to visit Facebook, Netflix, YouTube and other popular websites; manage and print documents, spreadsheets and presentations; make hotel room service orders and housekeeping requests, such as new towels or extra robes; access local directions; and make dinner reservations.

10 I Travel Arabia

Take your bride away to a dream honeymoon in truly romantic style. The Coral Hotel Dhahran (Saudi Arabia), a luxury property designed as a grand venue to host any event from major corporate conferences to prominent local weddings, invites you for the perfect honeymoon by offering a Junior Suite at just SAR 750 per night. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an offer honeymooning couples will find difficult to resist. The newly-weds get the honeymoon treatment as part of the package, with a welcome drink, breakfast in bed, bottle of Saudi champagne, heart-shaped cake, rich fruit basket, special bouquet of flowers and romantic candle-light, among other things. For more details about the package and for reservations visit:

Rising high above the fringe of Media City, Fraser Suites Dubai enjoys panoramic views over the sparkling coastline and stunning cityscape. Superb one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, magnificent lifestyle facilities including a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s wading pool, steam & sauna, kid’s club, tennis and squash court; relaxed dining in Aqua Café and the exclusive Awazen Spa - Fraser Suites Dubai has it all. Add the award-winning Fraser Difference - renowned personalized service and outstanding facilities to meet your every need. Welcome home.

Reservations: +971 (04) 4401400, Email:

The Fraser Collection Bahrain • Bangkok • Beijing • Budapest • Chengdu • Doha • Dubai • Edinburgh • Glasgow • Hanoi • Hong Kong • Istanbul • Jakarta Kuala Lumpur • London • Manila • Melbourne • Nanjing • New Delhi • Osaka • Paris • Seoul • Shanghai • Shenzhen • Singapore • Suzhou Sydney • Tianjin • Bangalore (2012) • Guangzhou (2012) • Perth (2012) • Wuhan (2012) • Wuxi (2012) • Chennai (2013) By Frasers Hospitality

Arabian Experience

The art of

Islam A form of expression covering various peoples over some 1,400 years

12 Travel Arabia

‘Islamic art is perhaps the most accessible manifestation of a complex civilization that often seems enigmatic to outsiders.’ —Dr. Linda Komaroff, associate curator of Islamic Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


escribing Islamic art in a nutshell is like describing an unborn child while in his or her mother’s womb without CT scan—you could end up groping because the child, enigmatic as can be while nestled inside, is the sum of all and is definitely a work of art, love and passion as it is a gift of life. As one expert in the field, Dr. Linda Komaroff once put it, Islamic art is “perhaps the most accessible manifestation of a complex civilization that often seems enigmatic to outsiders. “Through its brilliant use of color and its superb balance between design and form, Islamic art creates an immediate visual impact. Its strong aesthetic appeal transcends distances in time and space, as well as differences in language, culture, and creed.”

Indeed, the term Islamic art may be confusing as it not only describes the art created specifically in the service of Islam, but as well characterizes secular art produced in lands under Islamic rule or influence, whatever the artist’s or the patron’s religious affiliation. Islamic art therefore is one that is unified in style and purpose sharing certain common features that distinguish them apart, according to Komaroff, who went on to say that although this is a highly dynamic art, which is often marked by strong regional characteristics as well as by significant influences from other cultures, Islamic art “retains an overall coherence that is remarkable given its vast geographic and temporal boundaries.” Of paramount concern to the development of this singular art is Islam itself, which fostered the creation of a distinctive visual culture with its own unique artistic language, she said. Meanwhile, other experts in the field agree with Komaroff ’s assertion that calligraphy is the most important and pervasive element in Islamic art. Komaroff: “It has always been considered the noblest form of art because of its association with the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, which is written in Arabic.”

Travel Arabia 13

She said that this “preoccupation with beautiful writing extended to all arts – including secular manuscripts; inscriptions on palaces; and those applied to metalwork, pottery, stone, glass, wood, and textiles – and to non-Arabicspeaking peoples within the Islamic commonwealth whose languages – such as Persian, Turkish, and Urdu – were written in the Arabic script.” Calligraphic design is omnipresent in Islamic art, where, as in Europe in the Middle Ages, religious exhortations, including Qur’anic verses, may be included in secular objects, especially coins, tiles and metalwork, and most painted miniatures include some script, as do many buildings. Other inscriptions include verses of poetry, and inscriptions recording ownership or donation. Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts, which can be found adorning and enhancing the visual appeal of the walls and domes of buildings, the sides of minbars, and metalwork. Also, Islamic art is usually focused on the depiction of patterns and Arabic calligraphy, rather than on figures, because it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form is idolatry and is thereby forbidden in the Qur’an. Another characteristic of Islamic art, according to her, is a “preference for covering surfaces with patterns composed of geometric or vegetal elements.” She said complex geometric designs, as well as intricate patterns of vegetal ornament like the arabesque, create the impression of unending repetition, which is believed by some to be an inducement to contemplate the infinite nature of God. “This type of nonrepresentational decoration may have been developed to such a high degree in Islamic art because of the absence of figural imagery, at least within a religious context,” Komaroff said. Islamic art is not at all restricted to religious art, but includes all the art of the rich and varied cultures of Islamic societies as well. It frequently includes secular elements and elements that are frowned upon, if not forbidden, by some Islamic theologians, other experts say. Moreover, the art form was developed from many sources—Roman and Byzantine, even early Christian and Chinese art.

14 I Travel Arabia

Owen Jones: Fusions on Arabian art The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Owen Jones Collection will be on exhibit at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization till July this year. Due to its outstanding contributions to art and culture, Sharjah was chosen as the only venue in the Middle East to show this spectacular touring exhibition, which was previously presented at the Alhambra in Granada and will travel on to South Korea in July. London-born Owen Jones was a highly versatile architect and designer whose explorations of Islamic design contributed to the reshaping of the 19th century British design. Founded in 1852, V&A, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects, was named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. The collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day. His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasmi,

Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the exhibition on March 21, 2012. The exhibition gives an unprecedented opportunity to

illustrate Jones’ deep passion and respect for Islamic art, design and architecture; and demonstrates how the West looked towards the Islamic world to create a muchneeded modern style within design and architecture.

Ibrahim El-Salahi: Boundless An exhibition, Ibrahim ElSalahi: A Visionary Modernist, is open for viewing at the Sharjah Art Museum from March 20, 2012 to May 31, 2012. The exhibition which was organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, and guest curated by Salah M. Hassan, Cornell University, NY, highlights the exemplary work of Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi. The retrospective includes 80 works encompassing over five decades of the artist’s career. A Visionary Modernist follows work produced during El-Salahi’s travels from Sudan, while in self-imposed exile in Qatar, and on his continued

spiritual journey in Oxford, United Kingdom. The exhibition highlights drawings, paintings, and literary ephemera on loan from international institutions and private collections. El-Salahi’s body of work is not bound within one style nor is it constrained by the early parameters of Sudanese aesthetic practices. His paintings combine a critical understanding of western art principles with reference to Sudanese and Islamic art forms. His trademark linear style remains a pre-eminent unifying device expressing the intuitive merging of Islamic spirituality with critical social consciousness.

Travel Arabia I 15

Living Arabia

Rub al Khali Inhospitable yet picture-perfect

This barren landscape, home only to spiders and rodents, has captured the imagination of creative minds, adventurers and oil investors.


or all its worth, artistic minds, probably thinking it’s as good as it gets, see the aesthetics in this sea of dunes called Rub al Khali, popularly, Empty Quarter as the Arabic term transliterated reads “quarter of emptiness.” Known as one of the largest sand deserts in the world, it baffles everyone to think how the Bedus, the desert’s original inhabitants, had survived Rub al Khali’s

16 Travel Arabia

harsh inhospitable conditions. What’s probably less intriguing is that this barren landscape, home only to spiders and rodents, has captured the imagination of creative minds, adventurers, and oil investors. ‘Ocean of Fire’ The Empty Quarter was where the fictional “Ocean of Fire” horse race was set in John Fusco’s Hidalgo, a 2004 film based

on the story of an American distance rider, Frank Hopkins, and his mustang, Hildago, who raced against Arabian purebred horses. The film was actually shot in the U.S. and Morocco. The Empty Quarter also had an important role in horror genre star, Clive Barker’s Jericho, a supernatural-themed first person shooter video game released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2007.

First woman to cross this ‘Ocean of Hell’

Hajar Ali, the first woman to cross Empty Quarter

Empty Quarter is a “must-do” for adventurers and explorers yet for all its worth, this place is still not something for the record. A voice in the wilderness—this case, the dunes—is attempting to change that: Hajar Ali, who, for six days in March 2012, crossed the “Ocean of Hell” to be the first woman to do so, a world record. She cut through the desert with a satellite phone on board a four-by-four SUV. “I had…submitted this to the Guinness World Book of Records but they are unable to list it because Empty Quarters isn’t on the mainstream list of places for expeditions (unlike Mt. Everest, North and South Poles),” Ali tells Travel Arabia in an exclusive interview. Continued on page 23

Barker’s dark fantasy Weaveworld, which deals with a parallel world theme and released in 1987, also had Empty Quarter written all over. American science fiction and fantasy author, Tim Powers extensively used the book, The Empty Quarter by the British explorer and Arabist, St. John Philby, as resource in his 2001 novel, Declare, a supernatural spy novel about the Cold War. There are more.

Empty Quarter also served as the site of Machine City, Zero-One, in the Matrix series; Gerald Seymour’s novel Unknown Soldier was almost entirely set there too. Crossing the Quarter Just as one climb a mountain because it’s there, more and more extreme sports enthusiasts have been entering Empty Quarter, attempting to cross it for the same reason.

They sign up every year to the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, a multidisciplined, five-day endurance event that cuts through the emirate with routes that include at least three days into the Empty Quarter. Several other race events cut through portions of the Empty Quarter. This year, the Challenge, which ran April 1 to 6, had 103 competitors from 35 nations. The first documented crossing of the

Travel Arabia 17

Empty Quarter was in 1931 by Bertram Thomas, an English civil servant, whose feat was quickly followed in 1932 by Philby. Between 1946 and 1950 Wilfred Thesiger, a British explorer and travel writer from Addis Ababa, crossed the area several times and mapped large parts including the mountains of Oman. In 1932, the famous English explorer, Rosita Forbes was to cross the Empty Quarter with Philby but the latter decided against it believing he was in a position to set out on his own. Forbes had in the winter of 1920-21 crossed some 600 miles of desert on to the Libyan Kufara oasis. Eighty years later today, another woman, Hajar Ali pursued Forbes’ dream. On March 22, 2012, Ali, a lady from Singapore who runs her own off-the-beaten-path luxury travel company, crossed the Empty Quarter. Riding a four-by-four, Ali took the route from Al Ain to Salalah in Oman through the Umm As Samim, (Mother of Poison), an area known for its sabkha, or salt flats, and quick sands. Ali had a backup vehicle in case she gets stuck in the sand. She also had a satellite phone. She made it in six days. (Please see related box story) Not empty after all The lifestyles of the Bedus were forever changed due to the discovery of oil in the Empty Quarter. The Empty Quarter is the second most oil-rich site in the world. Vast oil reserves have been discovered underneath the sand dunes. Sheyba, at the northeastern edge, is a major Arab light crude oil-producing site in Saudi Arabia. Also, Ghawar, the largest oil field in the world, extends southward into the northernmost parts of the Empty Quarter. The area, which covers 650,000 kilometers, encompasses most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, including most of Saudi Arabia and areas of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The desert, which is 1,000 kilometres long, and 500 kilometres wide, has surface elevation varying from 800 metres (2,600 ft) in the southwest to around sea level in the northeast. The terrain is covered with sand dunes with heights up to 400 metres. The Empty Quarter has a daily maximum temperature average of 47 °C that can reach as high as 60°C especially in the summer.

18 I Travel Arabia

British explorer and Arabist, St. John Philby


“I hope to be able to change that and raise the profile of the Empty Quarters amongst the expedition community. In order to do this, however, I would need the support of national tourism boards in Abu Dhabi and/or Oman,” she says. Ali says her journey “was quite an experience.” “Personally it’s been very satisfying to set a world-first through one of the most remote, extreme environments. The Empty Quarters has such a great history of exploration behind it,” she says. Ali, whose educational background is in strategic studies, a more applied form

of international relations, says that among the most memorable parts of her travel across Empty Quarter was waking up amidst the sand dunes. “Morning light is especially beautiful in the desert and waking up amongst nature, discovering and identifying animal treks made during the night, is definitely one of the most memorable experiences. The sand storms, especially during the last night and discovering a round of bullets close to the Yemeni border are other interesting moments,” she says. The expedition, which took off, March 22, 2012 from Al Ain in the UAE,

concluded successfully in Salalah, Oman on March 28, 2012. “We went further than planned, going close to the Yemeni border,” Ali says. She had a backup vehicle in case she gets stuck in the sand. The expedition was part of a series of two trips, the other being into the Iraqi Marshlands, designed to highlight the importance of protecting “cultures on the edge.” The expedition has been sponsored by Urbane Nomads, a travel company Ali has founded which specializes in luxury travel to remote places.

Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road DUBAI A stylish hotel, centrally located near the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre and Jumeirah Beach. The preferential choice for travelers both business and leisure.





700 Hotels worldwide

Tel.: +971 (4) 3019888 Email:

Luxury Retreat


A small fishing harbour becomes a world of its own

20 Travel Arabia

Snuggled in the French Riviera, this city has been playground of the rich and famous as early as 1834.


eople walking with their Terriers, Retrievers, and Dachshunds. A boulevard of lovers. Rows upon rows of signature shops. Vintage Bugattis and Benzes. And a marina of superyachts abuzzed with activity. An ordinary day in Cannes is an extraordinary one elsewhere. Small place, big name Cannes, a relatively small place with a big name, was founded in 997 AD, then a small fishing harbour filled with wetland vegetation. It was here where Napoleon Bonaparte landed on March 1, 1815 from Elba, where he had been sent in exile, to launch his bid to regain power—an attempt defeated three months later in Waterloo. The year 1834 saw Cannes becoming The Place with the arrival of a former British statesman, Lord Henry Brougham and Vaux who thought he would just be spending the winter there but ended up staying 34 years during which he brought in his peers—people in high places indeed—including kings, queens, princesses and dukes as well as great writers and artists like Victor Hugo, Prosper Mérimée, Guy de Maupassant, Domergue, Chateaubriand, Stendhal, Picabia, Renoir and Picasso. And so Cannes’ first tourist season was born. In the days when the first trains brought Queen Victoria of England, Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, and other royalties from Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Spain, Cannes was enriched by sumptuous palaces, mansions, big luxury hotels and venues for festivities. Majestic One of the hotels was the Hôtel Beau Rivage and La Villa des Enfants, which was acquired by Hotelier Henri Ruhl in 1920 who had it transformed to what is now Majestic Barrière. Majestic Barrière officially opened on Feb. 1, 1926. It is situated along what in 1850 was a strip of seaside walkpath

Travel Arabia 21

An ordinary day in Cannes is an extraordinary one elsewhere.

now called La Croisette, an avenue renowned internationally for its prestigious shops and luxury hotels. Majestic Barrière offered 250 master bedrooms with bathrooms, plus about another hundred “de courier” rooms for governesses, private secretaries, chauffeurs etc., who always accompanied wealthy travellers of the day, and another hundred rooms—the most modest—for the hotel staff. The hotel was sumptuous. The reception rooms were decorated by Francis di Signori, one of the most prominent artists of the time. The monumental staircases leading to the upper floors were made of Carrara marble. For the flooring, however,

22 I Travel Arabia

red marble from the Pyrenees was used. In total, the workmen laid no less than 180 tons of this material, as valuable as it is bright. Today, Majestic has undergone some more renovations to keep it abreast with the times. Majestic Barrière, which was named Best Hotel of France 2011 at the prestigious International Hotel Awards, has 350 rooms including 85 suites; seven floors; three restaurants—la Petite Maison de Nicole, le Fouquet’s Cannes, and le B sud. It also has three floors of underground carparks and, probably one of the hotel’s most enduring attractions, 1,500 photos of film stars adorning the walls.

Filmfest The stars have all the reason to be in Cannes, staying at Majestic: The Annual Cannes Film Festival held usually in May. The event has quite a colorful past. At the end of the 1930s the Americans and the British were shocked by interference from fascist governments in the selection of films for the Venice Film Festival, the Mostra di Venezia. They therefore encouraged the idea of an international film festival in France. Possible host towns included Vichy, Biarritz and Algiers, but Cannes won the vote because of “its sunshine and delightful setting” as well as its suitable infrastructure. Presided over by Louis Lum ière, the inventor of moving pictures, the 1st International Film Festival in Cannes was to take place from Sept. 1—20, 1939. Its aim was “to encourage the development of the cinematographic art in all its forms and to foster a spirit of collaboration between countries that produce films”. But it was not until Sept. 20, 1946 in

Cannes’ former Casino that the International Film Festival opened—the first major international cultural event after the war. The first French convention centre was built in 1947 to host this prestigious event. The first Festivals exuded the air of a society, tourism or film event rather than

a film competition. The Cannes Film Festival quickly became the quintessential event for film professionals, as well as the annual event with the greatest media coverage Today, almost 4,000 journalists attend the Festival. From a wetland harbour town, indeed, Cannes has grown miles on end.

How to get there Business Class on aboard Air France KLM is probably the best way to do it especially if going elsewhere after the Cannes trip. On the ground, the package includes dedicated check-in desks; access to numerous lounges like KLM Crown Lounges at Amsterdam, Dubai, Toronto and Huston, as well as exclusive partner lounges at other airports; and priority boarding and disembarking. On board, seat legroom or pitch is five feet. The seat, which has a horizontal length of 1.9 meters, reclines 170 degrees with extra long foot rest, in-seat power outlet, an AVOD IFE with a10.4” screen and a massage button. The seat also has pre-set positions. The multi-language cabin staff provides customized service Interactive entertainment includes over 85 movies, 80 hours of T V programs, video games, language lessons, audio books and a choice of over 300 CDs. Moreover, every customer gets one of the much coveted Delft Blue miniature houses as a gift. The meals, designed by top Dutch chefs, are superb too. Air France KLM offers flights from all Gulf cities—Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Bahrain, Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Muscat and Tehran to their respective hubs of Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Amsterdam Schiphol airports, connecting to their worldwide networks, in particular to Europe, the Americas and to Africa. These routes can be combined with flights to and from the UAE. For instance, depart on Air France from Dubai and return on KLM to Doha via Amsterdam.

Travel Arabia I 23

Outside Arabia

Chic Outlet shopping villages The new Arabian craze

24 I Travel Arabia

Travel Arabia I 25

‘We see a strong following of Middle Eastern customers (because) we are extremely close to understanding pretty much what the ME customer loves.’ —Desiree Bollier, CEO

Wertheim Village

Silk Franfurt Wertheim Village

Kildare Village


hic Outlet Shopping, a collection of nine shopping villages by Value Retail across Europe, is an experience fast becoming the new craze for shopaholics in the Gulf region out for luxury brand names and more. Desiree Bollier, CEO of Value Retail Management which runs Chic Outlet, tells Travel Arabia why: “Everybody loves a bargain. Now combining a bargain with

26 I Travel Arabia

Fidenza Village

tremendous experience that becomes power.” Chic Outlet has become synonymous with luxury brands, charming open-air village settings, a welcoming five-star service and, not least, exceptional value for money. World-leading brands offer their genuine previous seasons’ collections with savings of up to 60%, and sometimes more, on the recommended retail price, in their own luxuriously appointed bou-

tiques, all year round. Bollier says they have customers from the Middle East who has been returning to many of Chic Outlet’s villages simply because “we have worked for many years in building the awareness with that customer: she’s sophisticated, demanding and she loves to have a very good experience. “We are extremely close to understanding pretty much what the ME customers love, if they like to eat, if they love



At Centro Sharjah, we understand our guest needs and for this, we designed a package for smart travelers with an affordable budget who seek parking space and comfortable stay before or after their flight. PARK your car at our hotel, SLEEP overnight with us for a rate starting from AED 357* per room per night and FLY to your destination. The package includes: • Overnight stay at Centro Sharjah in one of our comfortable and stylish classic rooms. • Dedicated parking space for one car. • Complimentary buffet breakfast at C. Taste restaurant for up to two persons. • Airport pick up and drop of from & to Sharjah International Airport. • Complimentary use of gymnasium and swimming pool for the duration of your stay. Terms and Conditions: This promotion is valid until the 30th of September 2012. Free parking for 3 days only, after which AED 50 will be applicable for every additional day up to 30 days, from the day of check out until the day you collect your car. This price is inclusive of 10% service charge and 10% municipality fee. The hotel is not responsible for any damage caused to the car. This promotion is not valid in conjunction with any other offer or discount.

Book now through and award yourself with free internet access during your stay. For more information, please call +971 (0) 6 508 8000 or email and avail of this special promotion.

Rotana Times

join us

follow us

Hotels by Centro Sharjah – owned by Air Arabia P.O. Box 3677, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)6 508 8000, F: +971 (0)6 508 8111

Watch us

Bicester Village

idea of having restaurants and sit-down meals. We built them with the arch and the landscaping and the offer and services of a full price so you will have a VIP room, mystery shopper, and so on. “The only time you will know that it is an outlet is when you pay which is where the fantastic surprise is because (savings) is up to 40 percent, but there was no hint of (the products and services being) cheap outside of the price,” she says.

Japanese Garden county Kildare

horses (we have private tours to organize), if they love Disney we are a partner. We’re quite knowledgeable and we customize our appeal to that customer so he or she is happy coming and spending the day.” Shopping destination Bollier says that in opening Chic Outlet, they “actually created a destination where the outlet, offering a great price difference, is just a part of.” “We built the villages with a level of sophistication. We built them with the

28 I Travel Arabia

The villages Among the Chic Outlet villages is Bicester Village, located near the Cotswolds at the heart of rural Oxfordshire which enjoys a prime central location in England with exceptional transport links. Also within striking distance are renowned tourist destinations, among them the UNESCO World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace, the National Trust 19th-century Renaissance-style château Waddesdon Manor, and Oxford with its world-famous university and celebrated Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Bicester Village recalls the scale and ambience of the villages of south-east England. For its part, Fidenza Village is located in Emilia Romagna, in the heart of the wealthiest and most populous region of Italy. The village is close to Parma, the world renowned artistic and gastronomic centre. The architecture of Fidenza Village is inspired by the region’s rich cultural heritage, especially well known as the homeland of opera composer Giuseppe

Verdi. Ingolstadt Village, which is within an hour’s drive of Munich, is located in the heart of Bavaria, Germany’s wealthiest region, close to the Austrian and Swiss borders. Known for its beautiful castles, striking landscapes, innovative industry and traditional culture, Bavaria is also Germany’s most visited region. Kildare Village meantime, is located adjacent to the town of Kildare in the heart of Ireland’s most populated region, which is also famed for its tradition in thoroughbred horse breeding and racing. The design of Kildare Village, as individual boutique stores facing an open-air, landscaped pedestrianised boulevard, is inspired by the ambience and scale of the region’s stables and stud farms, creating an

La Vallée Village

intimate and tranquil setting. Other villages La Roca Village and its sister village Las Rozas offer the only up-market luxury outlet options in Spain. La Roca Village was the first of the villages to open in Spain. Inspired by the historical Modernista movement, the architecture of La Roca Village is an interpretation of a traditional-turn-of-the-century Catalan town, complete with detailing inspired by historical buildings in the region. Las Rozas Village was the second of the Villages to open in Spain, the architecture of which was designed to evoke a collage of international styles with over 100 boutiques lining open pedestrianised malls. La Vallée Village is the most successful outlet shopping destination in France, and is located within Disneyland® Paris (Europe’s most visited tourist attraction). With its pedestrianised street and intimately scaled buildings, La Vallée Village evokes the charming rural towns and villages of the Ile-de-France region. Maasmechelen Village, for its part, is a pan-European shopping destination, strategically located at the crossroads where Belgium and the Netherlands meet, and draws from a wide European customer base. The design of Maasmechelen Village celebrates the architectural heritage of the Limburg region with building form and detail inspired by the artisan

craft and traditions of the area. Wertheim Village is situated within the picturesque wine-growing region of the Tauber Valley, and is near Wertheim, recognised as one of the country’s most beautiful towns. The village is also located near the intersection of the famed Castle Route and the Romantic Road – two of the most important and popular itineraries in Europe. The architectural design of Wertheim Village is a creative interpretation of the regional Franconian style, and makes use of architectural details to recall the historical building traditions for which the region is world famous. Varied facades, different roof profiles, architectural ornamentation and rich landscaping provide customers with an engaging shopping environment. Value Retail has also formed a new venture to bring its distinctive villages to China. This extraordinary enterprise will focus on China’s major metropolitan markets including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Value Retail’s first Village in China will be located in historic Suzhou, which is strategically located 50 miles west of Shanghai, and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. It will serve the surrounding Jiangsu province and the global gateway city of Shanghai – together recognised as China’s most important economic region as well as a top tourism destination.

Soaring high! Offering a spectacular experience of a four-star deluxe hotel where your comfort is our satisfaction, we give you the best service and the best accommodation you will ever experience. We are centrally located in Al Nahda 1, Deira Dubai. Also, we are only 10 minutes' drive from Dubai International Airport, Mirdif City Center, Deira City Center and Al Mamzar Beach Park. With 271 guest suites and apartments having full facilities, Al Nawras Hotel Apartments is ideal for families and business travelers, providing convenience and best value for money. Experience our international cuisine from Arabic to Continental dishes prepared by our professional chefs, a well-equipped gymnasium, outdoor swimming pool, as well as steam and sauna.

Al Nawras Hotel Apartments, A Sophisticated Style of Living!

P.O. Box 88189, Amman St. Al Nahda, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel No. +971 4 607 9000, Fax. +971 4 607 9111 E-mail:, Website:

Whistle Stop

Dubai from the Sky

A We continued over Jumeriah’s long stretch of beaches and headed over towards the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, desperately looking for some of my favourite places. —Julian Redman , Contributor

30 I Travel Arabia

fter 6 years in Dubai, I finally got to see this glorious city from an aspect I have been so eager to see. Thanks to ALPHA TOURS and Captain Mark Trotter, I was fortunate enough to see “Dubai from the Sky” with their luxury Helicopter Services from the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. As we arrived, we were kindly hosted by a professional team of staff who welcomed us to the Alpha Tours Heli-Lounge where we were registered, sat through a safety briefing and had the nerve-wrecking “weigh-in”; fortunately that part wasn’t broadcasted with the rest of the passengers…. but we all had money on “that big guy” being the heaviest! Alpha Tours host a variety of activities within the UAE from excursions to Al Ain, desert safaris, fishing and cruises along the extensive UAE coastline; a professional and well organized unit, I was grateful for the opportunity to enjoy

one of their many experiences with a helicopter ride over Dubai. As we eagerly waited for our flight two ‘copters were buzzing in and around the bright blue Atlantis Heli-pad. This activity was clearly extremely popular as each flight was fully booked with lots of customers always lining up for the “mustdo” tour over Dubai. Our host for the day, Capt. Steve Long, is one of the finest pilots from an elite crew whose backgrounds include the New Zealand Navy and British Air Force, providing a distinct comfort for any passenger perhaps a little nervous of flying – rest assured you have the highest qualified pilots in charge of a “mission” they could do blindfolded. So as we cleared the Palm Crescent, we flew towards the World, which after so many years of press and speculation, I was glad to see with my own eyes. Laid out meticulously four kilometers off

the shoreline, it demonstrated what a challenging and ambitious project it is and I am looking forward to an invite to someone’s home when it’s built. Capt. Long introduced the recently opened Royal Island Beach Club, based on the Island of Lebanon for an exclusive guest list to visit, relax and enjoy. I think I may just give them a call and arrange a visit. We continued over Jumeriah’s long stretch of beaches and headed over towards the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, desperately looking for some of my favourite places like Reem Al Bawadi on Jumeirah Beach Road and iKandy in the Shangri La Hotel– it was exciting to see Dubai’s central business district from this angle. Before making the long u-turn back to the Atlantis, we passed over Wafi and The Raffles Hotel and headed down the famous Dubai Creek. Having lived in Deira for three years, many of my fondest early memories of moving to Dubai come from this area of town—from the glorious Park Hyatt Hotel to the hustle and bustle of the Creek-side dhows, and of course the nostalgia of Bastikah

Nights. We gently glided over a myriad of buildings, Abras and activities below. As we passed over Dubai’s docks, we saw the impressive QE2 Royal Britannica Yacht moored in all its splendor—we all speculated on the official announcement of its final destination and look forward to visiting that tourist spot when it opens too. So, as we passed along Jumeirah’s coastline, we saw the famous Union House, where the UAE celebrated its 40th Anniversary in December 2011 and we watched with pride the UAE flag towering above its location and gently fluttering in the light winds. From here, we passed over one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, Sho-Cho’s, at Dubai Marine where the atmosphere and popularity of this place is one to experience when in Dubai. Continuing down the coast, we passed over the infamous Burj Al Arab and Jumeriah Beach Hotel—home to “360” located at the end of the JBH Marina with great views of Dubai and the Burj Al Arab; and then of course “Skyview” located at the top of the Burj Al Arab for exquisite views and hospitality; this area

Travel Arabia I 31

is one of the most popular locations for tourists and residents alike. So as we start to see the Atlantis coming back into view, we knew our Alpha Tours trip was coming to a close. But we still had time to hover over Media City, the Royal Palaces and my apartment on the Shoreline. With the sun setting over the Palm, it really made the 8th Wonder of the World look even more wonderful, making it a great end to the flight. Our final pass was over the new Rixos Hotel, a glorious property at the end of the Eastern Crescent recently opened under the auspicious attendance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and for which I had the honour of attend. I have no doubt this will become the hottest spot in town for beach club activities and relaxing under the evening sunset. So as we circled The Atlantis, I thought, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This 30-minute trip has flown by.â&#x20AC;? Thank you Alpha Tours and Capt. Trotter, and thanks Capt. Long for your hospitality, the informative and safe flight. I sincerely look forward to another trip very soon. Alpha Tours is at http:// Happy Travels.

32 I Travel Arabia

Traveller's Tips

Cheddar Gorge

Seven Days in Somerset


lanning the summer holiday is always a bit of a minefield: trying to balance an actual holiday with extended family commitments can be stressful to say the least. However a UK summer holiday does not have to break the bank or cause family arguments if planned in advance and everyone is advised of the schedule: so treat yourself to a break and enjoy Seven Days in Somerset:

What to do in Somerset Day 1 Cheddar Gorge (www.cheddarcaves. an outing for kids large and small: this limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills is the site of the Cheddar caves where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found in 1903. Your entry ticket includes an open top bus tour, entry and audio guide to the caves, cliff walks, lookout tower and many more activities designed to

34 I Travel Arabia

ensure a fun day out. The kids will love the stalagmites and stalactites – remember to take jackets as the temperature in the caves is 11 degrees year round, not to mention the unpredictability of British summers. Day 2 Clark Village Outlet Shopping: (www. for the adults, but with activities for the kids too: up to 60% off great brands in over 90 stores; picnic areas plus places to eat for all appetites and King Arthur’s Castle adventure playground for the little ones.Drop in at Clarks Shoe Museum if you still have stamina, or Glastonbury Abbey for romantic ruins, peaceful parkland and history brought to life. Day 3 Longleat Animal Park (www.longleat. for a safari drive adventure to see over 100 animals in a park environment, shows and events and an adventure park. Plan to spend the day!

Where to stay: Yallands Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast – Taunton A small, family run bed and breakfast establishment in a Grade ll listed building dating back over 400 years, set in a secluded garden with small orchard and stone barn. Boasting a variety of different sized rooms for singles, couples and families, it is small and personable with friendly hosts in Karen & Chris Ward plus amazing breakfasts! Karen even cooks dinner when arranged in advance, offering a wide choice of excellent menu options from which to select without having to go out. Yallands is also central for many superb activities in and around Taunton and a great base from which to explore Somerset. Yallands can provide maps, directions and information on all the activities suggested here, but reservations are recommended as it is a very popular B&B in the area.

Old Wardour Castle, built in the 14th century with turrets to climb, grottos to explore and landscaped gardens to wander around; and Muchelney Abbey to see the only complete thatched monksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lavatory in England (amongst other things!). Day 7 After a hectic week exploring the countryside, your last day should be spent relaxing on Somerset Waterways with Future Perfect Boat Trips (http://www.swdt. , exploring the canals, waterways and enjoying the scenery. With so much to do in the region, a certain amount of planning is important, but when you stay in a family-run B&B, the advantage is local knowledge, time to talk and an interest in the local area which is enthusiastically imparted to any guests showing interest. Yallands Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast can be booked online through or by email to mail@

Longleat Animal Park


West Somerset Railway

Tudor Room

Day 4 One for the boys! Explore West Somerset by Steam Train ( Take the steam train from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead then enjoy a visit to the harbour and historic ships or a day at the beach! The website details each station passed along the way, and what can be seen if you chose to get off and explore. A great day out without having to drive! Day 5 Everyone loves an amusement park,

and Brean Leisure Park is the largest in the South West. 30 fantastic rides for large and small kids, from river boat rides to thrilling roller coasters, pony rides to dodgems. There is even a water park with swimming pool complex and four water chutes, so take the swimwear, just in case the weather is kind. Day 6 A day out exploring castles and heritage sites is perfect in any weather. Within driving distance of Taunton you can find the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge;

Yallands Farmhouse Photos copyright of English Heritage Travel Arabia I 35


recreational kiting activity where a person is towed by a boat while attached to a specially designed canopy wing and sent suspended high up between the blue sky and the shimmering waters below—a thrilling experience that makes this an activity of choice. The Banana Ride and the Donut Ride can be enjoyed by children and adults. The speed and manner of the ride can be

Snorkel. Scuba dive. ‘Parascend’. Sail. Now that gives more sense to the ‘sun-andsand’ hype.

Stunning Fujairah

Just as you are about to give up hope comes this paradise of a place at Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah

Fujairah which lies between the brown Hajjar rock mountain range that separates it from the rest of the country, and the turquoise Gulf of Oman, is the place for hiking and camping in the gullies or streambeds—wadis in vernacular—and for enjoying a vast choice of marine sports. The emirate, home to the oldest mosque in the country—built in 1446 of mud and bricks—is fast becoming the destination of choice for city-weary residents of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah as well as travellers from neighboring Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia looking for a unique family holiday. Watersports are becoming more and more popular amongst locals and tourists. Fujairah has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving sites in the UAE. The clean beaches and the numerous water sports such as surfing, sailing, swimming, and deep sea fishing draw visitors to this place all year round. Among the hotels to stay is the Moroccan-style Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah, which offers a wide range of water sport activities for children and adults.

36 I Travel Arabia

The hotel’s marine sports are managed by Sky & Sea Adventures Dubai, a company that has maintained a 100-percent safety record and operates at five-star hotels in Dubai and Fujairah. Some of the preferred activities at Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah are parascending or parakiting, banana ride, donut ride, fly fish ride, wake boarding, water ski, kayaking, snorkeling, and sailing. The parascending or parakiting is a

controlled by the riders where children are generally given a slow one while thrill seeking teenagers may opt to be towed faster, even seeking to be pulled through choppy waters or across wakes. Water skiing too is a must for lovers of adrenaline rush as the rider is towed by a motorboat running at approximately 24 miles per hour depending on water condition, board size, rider’s weight, type of tricks and rider’s comfort level. With the Hajjar standing tall, one wonders how it’s like below Fujairah’s waters, which is why scuba diving is also popular as it allows a full view of the stunning seascape down there. Guests witness striking corals, multi-colored shells and different varieties of fish. At Miramar, professional instructors from Divers Down East Coast UAE facilitate the dive where guests are awed by the aquatic life and the sights of ancient shipwrecks. Dive lessons are offered with course materials available in several languages.

Out of this world

of airline travel and a touch of Japanese influence into a small but luxurious cabin. “I expect Yotel to be in the world’s top 10 hotel brands in the next 10 years,” he said. Woodroffe evolved the idea with Gerard Greene, Yotel CEO who himself had spent years staying in boring and expensive hotels and was aching to do something about it. Greene had wanted to create a hotel experience that was free from all the things that usually irritates travellers about hotel rooms, and make it functional and sleek. A Yotel cabin may be booked by the

Popping up at concourses are cabins where you can freshen up and shake down jetlag for your next flight.

A ‘hotel’ in an airport Just what you need Finally! Now you won’t have to wait long hours inside air terminals bored stiff for your next flight or reduce yourself to a pitiful sight sprawled on the floor in some corner of the airport, sleep-deprived and struggling to be abreast of time—in vain. Cabins which follow the concept of Japanese capsule hotels but with a twist—that is luxury hotel comfort—have broken ground and appear to be headed to becoming the next phenomenon in air travel. Yotel, as the cabins are called, was conceived by Yo! Sushi founder Simon

38 I Travel Arabia

Woodroffe, a 1960s Marlborough College drop-out, during one of his trips several years back. In that British Airways flight, Woodroffe, who had gone on the road with Rod Stewart and The Moody Blues, becoming a stage designer, and appeared on TV in the first UK series of “Dragon’s Den,” was upgraded to first class. And voila! Yotel was born. “I went to sleep with the conundrum of how to create a flexible and convenient hotel experience at an affordable price,” Woodroffe said of the flight. He decided to translate the language and the luxury

hour, and in advance online at www. Standard cabin is seven square metres in size with a large single bed; premium cabins are 10 square metres with a double bed. Yotel has flexible check-in and out times. It is located within the airport terminal; and it has functional and luxurious design which means affordable luxury. Food, snacks and drinks are available 24 hours a day seven days a week. The cabins have motorized moving beds to save space, work desks, en-suite bathroom with monsoon shower, free wi-fi, complimentary hot drinks and a flat screen TV. Yotel first opened in London’s Gatwick Airport. Two more airport hotels followed, at Heathrow in December 2007, and at Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands in Sept. 2008. In 2011 the company launched its first city centre hotel concept in New York City, USA.

Taste Travel

Marinated prawns or Rossinistyle grenadine of veal with Eiffel or the La Cathédrale Notre-Dame on the side.

Dining on the Seine

A river cruise where sky is the limit

Seine River was where the French heroine Joan of Arc’s ashes were thrown into after she was burned at the stake in 1412. On its banks was where Napoleon Bonaparte had wanted to be buried. Today you’ll be having a lunch or dinner cruise on board one of the many excursion boats that make their way up and down the river from the Eiffel Tower, where your journey into France’s historic past begins. Blows your mind? Especially considering that you can make arrangements for a private party or practically have your stay during the entire cruise done your way, why not? “Sky is the limit,” says Pier Tognazzini,

40 I Travel Arabia

manager at Bateaux Parisiens, one of the companies running the boats. Tognazzini tells Travel Arabia it’s precisely for this reason—personalized service—that they often have icons on their guest list. Bateaux Parisiens has 12 glass-topped cruise boats offering lunch and dinner cruises. The cruise passes by the Les Invalides, a military hospital built in 1671 under Louis XIV, and where Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb is; the Le Louvre, a medieval fortress turned into a palace and now a museum; and the La Conciergerie which was built in 1310 and used as a prison during the French Revolution. The cruise also guides guests to the La Cathédrale Notre-Dame, French for Our Lady of Paris, made popular in 1831 by

Victor Hugo’s novel, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The cathedral built between 1160 and 1330 houses the purported Crown of Thorns imbedded on Jesus Christ’s head before crucifixion. In all, 12 historic sites line up the Seine river waiting to be devoured by hungry eyes. Bateaux Parisiens has four special packages for viewing pleasure: ParisBistro Cruise, a new combination of an hourlong cruise in an entirely glassed-over boat with a panoramic view, and dinner at the quay at the Bistro Parisien; and the “ParisIrresistible” Lunch Cruise at 12.45 p.m., a two-hour lunch cruise also on an entirely glassed-over boat. There is also the “ParisEssentiel” Dinner Cruise at 6.30 p.m., which is a 12-km trip of over an hour 1 hour with a direct view of “essential” Paris accompanied by traditional French cuisine prepared on board by the Chef; and the “ParisIlluminations” Dinner Cruise at 8.30 p.m., a 24-km trip of two hours and a half with all the monuments illuminated, giving passengers the impression of being elsewhere, outside time. Bateaux Parisiens accepts breakfast or dinner group reservations for 15 persons or more. Private cruises also possible in evenings. The boats can accommodate up to 340 people for dinner seated and 400 for cocktails. Bateaux Parisiens is open for reservations at tel. + 33 (0)1 76 64 14 54. Also check online at www.bateauxparisiens. com.


Seasoned chef says Dubai’s sophisticated people keep the restaurant scene on its toes Dubai’s dining scene is “fantastic!” says Dusit Thani Executive Chef Antonello Manca because the city has “all kinds of meal options—from east to west.” “I think Dubai’s dining customers are trendy and very much in-the-know about food. They keep themselves abreast with the various culinary events, launches and promotions in the city,” Manca tells Travel Arabia. This, he says, is a good thing for chefs and hoteliers who in turn have to fill the need for new dining experiences by continuously developing themselves and their products to keep their market share. This, in the end, is good for the customers because they always get the best food and services, he says. In this light, Manca says there will be many changes happening in Dusit Thani’s culinary options and many exciting projects to follow, one of which would be the re-launch of the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Pax Romana, and

Benjarong Restaurant

a program to deliver a full experience from pre-dinner drinks to post-dinner entertainment. Meanwhile, Manca, who is from Italy, says Italian food is not all pizza and pasta as has been stereotyped. “Many tend to think that in Italy, we only eat pizza and pasta dishes, that is not true at all,” he says. “We have 20 regions in Italy and many different cuisine within each one.” Over the past years, Manca says he has had many signature dishes, “but one that springs to mind is my version of black cannelloni filled with crab, fresh mint and mascarpone served with lime and lemon grass sauce.” Manca says gastronomy to him was not as much a career choice as it was pure interest and passion. “I had opportunities to follow different paths but once I got into the hospitality business I was hooked and never looked back since,” he says. Asked what particular cuisine inter-

Dusit Thani Executive Chef Antonello Manca

ests him most, Manca says, “Italian food is in my blood, but I have learned and discovered so many types of cuisine— from Far Eastern to African. I love them all as every single one has so many varieties.” A busy man indeed, Manca says his day starts pretty early with a cappuccino, a good walk around in the outlets to great the team and see the work-flow, breakfast buffet, executive Lounge, banquet facilities, then to his office to see the reports, and log books among others. “I then get ready for the morning briefing and start the day,” he says. Where to catch him during his days’ off? That would be Jumeirah Beach. “I love the sea, fishing and the outdoor. So, weather permitting, most probably I would be somewhere around Jumeirah beach,” he says. Manca says Dusit Thani is currently running a live lobster promotion at Pax Romana. At the hotel’s signature restaurant Benjarong, Northern Thai Royal dishes are set for this month. “We will have special celebration for the Thai New Year, Songkran where we will host a twoday brunch on April 13 and 14. The executive chef also said Dusit Thani Hotel’s all-day dining outlet, Californian will continue with its successful theme nights while Deli will have a chocolate promotion.

Travel Arabia I 41

Towers Rotana Executive Chef Alan Snyman

Pescetarian Ethan

Hollywood star had fish and veggies during ‘Lord of War’ Capetown shoot Sometime in 2005, stars Ethan Hawke and Nicolas Cage were in Cape Town, South Africa to shoot “Lord of War.” Hawke stayed at the Mount Nelson Hotel where he was introduced to the hotel’s executive sous chef who asked him about his food preference.

Ethan Hawke

42 I Travel Arabia

“He said, ‘I can have anything provided it’s fish and vegetables,’” recalls Alan Snyman, who now is with Towers Rotana Hotel as executive chef. “He was very gracious. He never complained,” he says. Snyman, who is well known for running Teatro, Towers Rotana’s flagship


restaurant, tells Travel Arabia how it had been preparing meals for the top Hollywood star who stayed at Mount Nelson Hotel three weeks for the duration of the film shoot. He says it was a challenge because he had to keep coming up with ideas on how to prepare a different pescetarian meal every time lest he bores Hawke. “We would come up with a new meal and ask him if it’s fine with him, and he would say, ‘Sure. Use me as your test subject,’” Snyman says, adding that at least one of those meals has stayed on the Mount Nelson menu to date. Snyman, who was on his third year in law when he shifted to gastronomy, has done the rounds of the Cape Town hotels, starting out as an apprentice at Champers Restaurant in Gardens in 1993 before eventually moving to Towers Rotana in 2009. He says it took his father two years to finally talk to him again and not after dining at a restaurant, where the budding chef was working at, and receiving complements from his peers, who were dining with him, about his son’s food. Snyman says he finds Dubaites as people with discerning taste. “They are educated. They know a good meal from a bad one. They know when you’re making something traditional or not. They’re well-travelled so they know what’s new,” he says. This he says is a challenge to Dubai chefs who are then compelled to push their culinary creativity higher. In the same vein, Snyman says that he believes there still are a lot of cuisines to explore and discover especially in the face of a continuously advancing technology that allows for new cooking methods in a different and more precise way.

a comfortable stay leave the rest to us


Our elegantly decorated rooms and suites, designed for luxury and comfort, give a panoramic view of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skyline. All our rooms are equipped with premium amenities such as satellite interactive TV, electronic safe, IDD telephone, voicemail, high speed internet access and more. The hotel is just 20-minute drive from Sharjah International Airport, the hotel is conveniently placed for both business and leisure guests.

For enquiries and reservations: Tel: + 971 6 703 1111 Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman is operated by RHotels (a member of RHolding) under a franchise agreement from Wyndham Hotel International.

Greek means light and healthy Elia, at the Majestic Hotel, brings the taste of real Greece to Dubai Indulge in the original Kalamata Greek olives and Chef Baxevanis’ unique carob bread drizzled with extra virgin Greek olive oil.

Chef Baxevanis

Elia, meaning olive tree is the first contemporary Greek restaurant in Dubai. With Chef Baxevanis, at the helm, the restaurant ensures a truly authentic experience as only fresh Greek ingredients are used in every single recipe. The dishes are light and healthy, using many organic herbs and vegetables. The chef ’s philosophy revolves around the freshness and prime quality of all the ingredients. His love of Greek ingredients, both well known

44 I Travel Arabia

and long-forgotten “gems” from older generations, is expressed in every one of his signature dishes. Chef Baxevanis is a multi-award winning celebrity chef whose reputation in Greece is legendary. His team in Elia, headed by Chef Ilias has placed all their effort and creativity in bringing to Dubai the taste of real Greece. At Elia you can indulge in the original Kalamata Greek olives and Chef Baxevanis’ unique carob bread drizzled with extra virgin Greek olive oil. A wide array of hot and cold mezze such as stuffed calamari, tomato kefte, shrimp saganaki and the popu-

lar Dakos salad from Greece are featured on the menu. It is hard not to be wowed by the creative use of nuts, Greek cheeses, interesting herbs and unique combinations which provide a distinctive flavor. The main courses feature both traditional favourites such as souvlaki and moussaka but also contemporary signatures such as seafood yiouvetsi and lamb cutlets with grilled halloumi cheese and a creamy olive-garlic sauce. Vegetarians are surprisingly spoilt for choice in Greek cuisine as well. Not to be missed are the desserts which are refreshingly uplifting and are the pleasurable conclusion of a unique gastronomical experience. Since its opening in 2007 Elia has received several commendations. Elia’s vision is for Greek cuisine to assume its rightful place on the global culinary map. Elia is located at the Majestic Hotel, a four star deluxe tower hotel of 28 floors, conveniently located in the heart of Bur Dubai. The hotel is owned and run by a Greek family. With the opening of Elia, the Greek management of Majestic Hotel wanted to bring the true taste of Greece to Dubai.

Book any of our hotels in Dubai or Abu Dhabi Online Take advantage of our special rates

Book now and enjoy the following: Valet parking service available free of charge Full kitchen in each suite Daily turn down services Two and Three bedrooms available for families Late check out up to 3:00 pm on availability For reservations: Abu Dhabi: Tel. +971 2 641 3555, E-mail: Dubai: Tel. +971 4 228 2280, E-mail:

Friday brunch à la Dubai This time of the year Dubaites do it al fresco

The Terrace at Media Rotana is one of those unpretentious venues that is effortlessly relaxed Friday brunch is such an established part of the culture in the UAE that it is often the highlight of the weekend for many. And with the clement weather enticing diners outdoors a venue that offers a terrace with a view as well as value for money is a sure winner. The Terrace at Media Rotana is one of those unpretentious venues that is effortlessly relaxed. It is on the first floor of the hotel with views out over the city and a laid back atmosphere that invites diners to linger. Arriving at The Terrace, the mouthwatering aroma of the shawarma stand immediately stimulates the taste buds, tempting diners to gravitate over to check if it tastes as good as it smells. The real appeal of The Terrace is the feeling of spaciousness with everything at hand. The food stations are all visible

46 I Travel Arabia

wherever you are seated so plotting your course of attack is easy. Choosing where to start though is the difficult part. The cold section displays a colourful selection of salads, inviting diners to create their own dishes with a choice of chef ’s special dressings and accompanying freshly cut vegetables. Moving on to the seafood corner, juicy prawns and fresh oysters buried in ice sit alongside perfectly formed sushi and sashimi that are presented at just the right temperature. There is a good variation of hot main dishes with a substantial Arabic and Asian influence, as well as vegetarian options. There is also a carving station featuring the roast of the day served with a selection of sauces and gravies. Dessert fans will love the chilled chocolate mousse cake and the crème bru-

lee. But the star of the show is the freshly made crepes that are made with sweet apple filling and a choice of raspberry, chocolate and crème anglaise sauces. Food always seems to taste better outdoors somehow and The Terrace seems to have solved the issue of pesky flies with the clever use of transparent cabinets to keep the food fresh and clean. The atmosphere is super laid back and unhurried and by the end of the afternoon, the air is perfumed with fragrant shishas. The resident DJ keeps the mood chilled from his spot on the pool deck and as the day turns to evening the music is cranked up and it’s time for sundowner cocktails. The Friday brunch at The Terrace runs from 12 noon to 3.30 pm and is Dhs 199 inclusive of selected beverages and Dhs 239 including shisha.


5th Taste of Dubai Three days of food, fun and music Over 22,000 people. Back-to-back musical acts. Rows upon rows of food stands. Celebrity chefs in cooking crash courses. Dubai stood still as the mother of food festivals, a bon vivantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dream indeed, turned Media City into a Garden of Eden. The pictures tell more.

48 I Travel Arabia

Travel Arabia 49

Travel Arabia goes to ITB Berlinâ&#x20AC;Śagain. Close to 180,000 people went to ITB Berlin, a March 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 11, 2012 event participated in by over 10,000 exhibitors. For the third time in a row, Travel Arabia participated in this major global tourism event to remain abreast of the goings-on in the international travel and tour industry. Here, some snapshots of the event.

50 I Travel Arabia

Dana Sahara Hotel offers travelers an elegantly designed home away from home hotel apartments in the heart of Sharjah. It ensures to take care of their guest stay and needs to an extensive level of quality service. At Dana Sahara Hotel, we are committed to provide you with warm hospitality service and comfort.

For resrvations: P.O.86880 Tel: +971 4 2589888 Fax: +971 4 2585682 Email: Website:

For resrvations:


PO Box 62600 Sharjah, UAE Tel: 00 971 6 5635555, 00 971 6 5635555 Fax: 00 971 6 5635999 Email:

Emirates Stars is a modern furnished hotel apartment Conveniently located near to Dubai International Airport, City Centre, Shopping Centres, AI Mamzar Beach. Easy access towards Sh. Zayed road via Al lttihad road. Each apartment offers a spacious living and dining area, fully equipped kitchenette for your comfort and convenience. Emirates Stars commits its promise into bringing you a warm hospitality service with privacy of a home whilst on business or leisure to Dubai.

Melting Pot a cornucopia of the good times ahead

52 I Travel Arabia

SHOPPING Dolce & Gabbana Key chain AED720 Blackberry holder AED530 Zip Wallet AED 1960 Tablet case AED 2720 Credit card holder AED 530

Dubai Soirées DoDo up close at The Address Dubai Mall

In this edition, a special on men’s fashion

Kenzo Jacket AED 2760 Short AED730 Emporio Armani Polo Shirt AED440 Christian Dior Belt AED1,245

John Galliano AED 5,125

Dolce & Gabbana AED 1,050

EA7 Emporio Armani AED450

Marc by Marc AED420-440 D&G AED 775 All products are available at Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai

Dubai’s fashionistas recently gravitated to Cabana in The Address Dubai Mall to celebrate the charming DoDo jewellery collections, available exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. Here some snapshots of the affair. Photo courtesy: Naseer Haider Siddiqui, Hummingbird Studio

Travel Arabia I 53


Arabian Ranches Golf Club The Friday Family Brunch 12pm – 3pm Ranches Restaurant & Terrace Fascinate on our idyllic Ranches Restaurant and Terrace with panoramic vistas of the 9th and 18th holes. Children are the stars of the day! Let them enjoy the family weekend spirit with our array of fun activities, from bouncy castle, to face painting or even our mini-kid’s concert and more. Inquiries and reservations +971 4 360 7935 or email

Centro Sharjah C. Taste Surf ‘n’ Turf night on Thursdays starts at 7pm A buffet of salads, soup and desserts for only AED 50 followed by your favorite seafood or meat from our lavish market and our chefs will prepare it according to your taste at our market prices. Inquiries and reservations: +971 (0) 6 508 8000 Price inclusive of 10% service charge and 10% municipality fees. Other terms and conditions apply

Dusit Thani Dubai

The Address Dubai Marina Mazina Saturday family brunch. 12:30pm – 4pm A choice of cuisines from around the world. Children get entertaining activities and performances. Children under 6 years enjoy complimentary meals; half the price for those 7-12 years old. Shades Tuesdays to Fridays 8pm – 1am (2am closing time on weekends) An evening under the stars. Tapas and à la carte offerings by an infinity pool that has stunning views of the Dubai Marina with chilled-out tunes as you unwind after a hard day’s work. New resident DJ, Enigma8 dishes out latest songs BBQ weekends Fridays and Saturdays 12pm – 4pm Spend a lazy afternoon by the infinity pool, while feasting on the all-you-can-eat barbeque that combines chilled out tunes with amazing views. Inquiries and reservations: 04 4367777 or dine.

Benjarong April 8 – 15, 2012 Songkran Festival celebrations Authentic Royal Thai special four-course dinner menu which includes all-time favourites such as Goong Pao Nam Pla Wan (grilled tiger prawn with tamarind

Centro Sharjah

54 I Travel Arabia

sauce), Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (roasted duck in red curry with pineapple, tomato and grapes) and Khao Niew Mamuang (sweet mango with sticky rice), complemented with classical dance and music performances. April 13 – 14, 2012 -- Songkran Brunch on the 24th floor April 15 – 16, 2012 – Songkran Themed Nights Buffet at The Californian restaurant. Restaurant Reservations + 971 4 3174515 /

Jumeirah Beach Hotel La Parrilla Afternoon Tea 1pm – 3pm A five-course menu with 10 newly launched exclusive teas on offer, as well as the premium coffee selection Inquiries and reservations: +971 4 406 8999 or email jbhboxoffice@jumeirah. com.

Mafraq Hotel The Burlington Grill Every Thursday night in April guests can enjoy al fresco dining with a traditional barbecue on Mafraq’s terrace overlooking the tranquil, heated pool. Opening hours: Lunch noon to 3pm and Dinner 7pm to midnight. Friday Brunch offers all their customers 25% discount throughout the month of April Friday Brunch timings: 10am until 4pm. From Sunday to Thursday, Business Lunch Buffet with soup of the day and endless fresh food. Opening hours: Lunch noon to 3pm and Dinner 7pm to midnight.

The perfect place for BUSINESS,


Cassells Al Barsha Hotel offers a warm and friendly atmosphere with excellent facilities, 312 room and suits, the most spacious and elegantly appointed rooms in the city. In keeping with our standards, our accommodation is tastefully and comfortably furnished with superb amenities that ensure guests both a relaxed and memorable stay. The hotel is located just in front of the Sharaf DG Metro Station (Al Barsha) walking distance to the Mall of the Emirates and a short drive to leisure enclaves and business hubs such as Dubai Media City, Internet City, Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai International Convention Centre.

Cassells Al Barsha Hotel

Post Box: 114400, Abu Dhabi, U. A. E. Tel: +971 4 408 4777 Fax: +971 4 408 4771 Email: Website:

Inquiries and reservations: +971 2 659666 or email

Nour Arjaan by Rotana Fujairah Murjan Restaurant Monday Mediterranean Night starts 7:30pm A culinary journey with a buffet of refreshing salads and soups, yummy Musaqqa, Hummus, delicate crepes, Sea food Paella, Mahshi and lot more freshly prepared by our expert chefs. Friday Brunch A wide variety of dishes for your taste buds to relish. A splendid combination of international cuisines, with a selected beverage. There’s also a lot to keep the kids engaged – from face painting and movies, to toys as giveaways. Taste of India Thurdays Traditional Mughlai curries, barbecues, biryanis and spice it up with a selection of chutneys and pickles. Savour the moment with hot, cold sweets and a select beverage. Inquiries and reservations: + 971 (0)9 202 5555

Shangri-La Hotel and Traders Hotel

Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa Tapas Restaurant &Lounge Surrounded by turquoise water, indoor and outdoor seating on the panoramic terrace overlooking the sea. Live band from Cuba performs every night. Sunday –Spanish Tapas & Latino Live Music Monday – All you can eat Mussels & Fries cooked the way you like it. Tuesday – Paella & Sangria party. Wednesday – Oysters & Chablis Thursday – Weekend special promotion Friday – Latino night with Spanish food and selected beverage with Salsa Dancing competition. La Mer Seafood Restaurant A wide variety of seafood and catch of the day cooked at the live cooking station with a French savoir faire to please all tastes. Inquiries and reservations: +973 1763-6363 or email:

Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Bord Eau celebrates the first bloom of spring with the season’s blind-tasting menu. Shang Palace invites you to experience the delectably innovative menu while Pearls & Caviar introduces new chef Cyril Calmet and his new culinary creations. Traders Hotel continues to invite you to enjoy the cool breeze with the Mediterranean Feast on Thursdays and the Beach

Nour Arjaan by Rotana Fujairah

56 I Travel Arabia

Barbecue Party on Fridays.

The Address Dubai Mall Na3Na3 Good Friday Brunch buffet and Easter Sunday Brunch buffet. 12:30pm to 4pm Cabana Easter Sunday lunch buffet. 12.30 to 4pm Ember Grill and Lounge Vintage Nights every Tuesday / 7pm – 11pm A collection of fine red and white beverages for tasting, accompanied by a fivestar, five-course feast of the world’s latest culinary trends. Churrasco Nights every Friday 7pm – 11:30pm Join the fiesta with traditional Brazilian churrasco nights. Succulent pieces of grilled beef and seafood on skewers, carved at your table by passadors. Brazilian band performing. Inquiries and reservations: 04 438 8999 or email: dine.dubaimall@theaddress. com

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa The Retreat The perfect gastro-pub just got better, come and sample the new menu. Cuisine: International Dress code: Smart casual Opening hours: Friday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 12:00 AM Sunday - Thursday: 12:00 PM - 12:00 AM Inquiries and reservations: +971.2.616.9999

United Arab Emirates

Stay Downtown Location

Tulip Inn Sharjah is conveniently located in the heart of the city, right next to Mega Mall which includes upscale luxurious shopping, dining and a children’s arcade. The new property is conveniently located in downtown Sharjah and is located 20 minutes from Sharjah International Airport and 30 minutes from Dubai International Airport.

Facilities and Services The brand new hotel suites consists of 124 rooms, which include 57 studios, 33 one bedroom suites, 30 two bedroom suites and 4 three bedrooms penthouse suites, all overlooking the city of Sharjah. Tulip Inn Sharjah’s standard rooms are beautifully furnished and fully equipped to suit long and short-term guests alike. The following services and facilities are available in the Hotel: • IDD telephone • Individual air-conditioning units • Multi-lingual TV satellite channels • Bathroom with full shower, hair dryer and shaver outlet • In-room safe deposit boxes • Currency exchange • Laundry and dry cleaning • 24-hour room service • 24-hour housekeeping • Fully – equipped kitchen with cooking facilities • In-room washing machine • In-room iron and ironing board • Fridge / Mini Bar • Non- smoking rooms

Dining Facilities • Season’s is an all-day dining restaurant offering delicious specialties with buffet and a la carte menus. • Tulipa Lobby Café is a perfect venue for a casual get together. Enjoy a variety of light snacks and beverages. • Guests can also enjoy meals in the comfort of their room with 24-hour room service.

International standards, local flavours Tel +971 6 572 7206 Fax +971 6 573 4916 P.O.Box 28443 Sharjah, UAE E-mail Website


Deeply cleanses and balances oily, problem and congested skin Massages (30 minutes each) Hand & Arm Hot Stone Therapy Cooling-hot stone massage with frangipani monoi oil deeply nourishes arms, hands and nails Stress-away shoulder to scalp Deeply relaxes, opens up your shoulders and stretches the back of the neck Bookings: +971 4 350 5333.

ESPA at Yas Viceroy Step into spring fresh faced with an Intensive Facial and receive either a complimentary Full Body Salt & Oil Scrub of your choice or a Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage. Inquiries and bookings: +971 (0) 2 656 0862 or email

Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City Senso April Package Full Body Aromatherapy Massage Soothing Facial Free access to swimming pool and steam Duration of Treatment: 2 hours Inquiries and

The Spa at The Address Dubai Mall

The Spa, The Address Dubai Marina

Sign up to become a member of The Spa at The Address Dubai Mall and benefit from an array of privileges including preferential discounts on all restaurant and lounges at The Address Dubai Mall in addition to discounts on laundry and personnel fitness training sessions. Inquiries: or Tel: 04 4388025

Queen for the day / King for the day package Pamper yourself from head to toe with a series of treatments to make your day. Begin with a scalp treatment, choice of a 50-minute massage and facial from our exclusive list. Time: 10am to 9pm Price: This package includes 145 minutes of treatments for AED 962 for ladies |

Bloomingdale’s Dubai Elemis expert touch treatments exclusively in the UAE. Let expertly trained Elemis therapists work their magic with a selection of specially designed anti-ageing therapies, for instant results when time is of the essence. Facials (30 minutes each) Plump-Up & Tone Facial Powered by Pro-Collagen to smooth lines, firm and revitalise skin. Power Resurfacing Powerful enzymes even the complexion and reveal younger-looking skin De-Stress & Rebalance Remineralises and renews tired, overworked and depleted skin Purify & Shine Fix

58 I Travel Arabia

The Anantara Spa at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort

AED 932 for men Super Detox Wrap Detox with a Green Tea Body Scrub combined with a Spirulina Algae Wrap for a powerful anti-oxidant and an intense De-Stress Muscle Release Massage with Lemon Grass Oil to flush out those toxins and boost your lymphatic system. Complete the experience with a Booster Facial to feel fully rejuvenated. Date: Until 31 May 2012 Price: AED 599 for 125 minutes of spa treatments for with full day access to the Infinity pool located on the 4th floor Inquiries and reservations: 04 436 7424 or e-mail spa.dubaimarina@theaddress. com

The Anantara Spa at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort Introducing Shiffa Dubai Range Inspired by ancient Arabia, Shiffa means healing or to heal in Arabic. The Anantara Spa at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara will be the first spa in the Middle East to offer the luxurious Rose Bliss Balm, Shiffa’s top secret for beautiful skin. An ultra-decadent, pure body balm the Rose Bliss Balm is the ultimate in nourishment and rejuvenation for the skin and will be included in the Shiffa Rose Bliss Balm Body Massage (60 min/490 AED, 90 min/ 590AED) at the Anantara Spa at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. This beautiful ‘freestyle’ massage using the luxuriously anti-ageing and firming Rose Bliss Balm, allows the spa therapist to tailor this treatment especially to every guest’s needs. Bookings: +971 (0) 2 886 2088 or visit

MAG me Hotel Apartment

A new travelers haven has opened its doors, located in the heart of Bur Dubai, MAG me Hotel Apartment welcomes you...

It has 91 clean and fully furnished rooms, equipped with modern facilities and excellent service. A fitness club, swimming pool and lobby lounge restaurant to make your stay a truly memorable one. Whether you are visiting for business or with your family for leisure and shopping, MAG me Hotel Apartment is an ideal place to stay. It is strategically located behind Burjuman Shopping Centre and with very close proximity to the Gold Souk, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Media & Internet City and Dubai Marina area.

Come stay with usâ&#x20AC;Ś For other services: Visa assistance, Desert safari and other tours, please call Mr. Nashaat +971 55 2777762

Tel. +971 4 3464333, Fax. +971 4 3464343, P.O. Box. 23325, Dubai, U.A.E, E-mail.,


ACTIVITIES Desert Islands Resort & Spa and Seawings Weekends on the Wildside Private flight transfers between Jebel Ali Seaport and Sir Bani Yas Seaport on Sir Bani Yas Island. Guests are transported by private jet for a two-night stay, including breakfast. Whilst at the Resort, guests can discover an array of exotic wildlife with a Wildlife and Nature Drive, get an adrenalin fix with activities such as Kayaking and Archery or unwind with a blissful 60-minute massage at the Anantara Spa. Inquiries and reservations, seawings@ or +971 4 883 2999.

Six Senses Zighy Bay

The Address Dubai Mall The Ultimate Wellness Retreat During this exclusive six nights and seven days programme, take advantage of the highly trained and experienced PTX Performance Training physical fitness instructors, healthy meals and personal mentoring. A typical day will include a full board programme of healthy and nutritious meals, beverages and snacks at Cabana. The program also include a range of complimentary treatments at The Spa to de-stress and unwind over the course of your stay. Participants can expect a significant transformation in terms of weight loss with lean muscle tissue, making them fitter and stronger. Dates available: April 21 – 27, 2012 and May 12 – 18, 2012 . Reservations: 04 4238888 or email: stay@theaddress. com.

The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre Suite Summer Offer Book an Executive Suite between June 1, 2012 and August 31, 2012 and receive a free connecting Deluxe Room, plus amenities that offer convenience for families. In addition to this spacious two-bedroom suite, guests will also receive family dinner for four (2 adults and 2 children under 12 years of age) in Can Can Brasserie each evening, transport to Dubai Mall daily, six pieces of clothing laundered daily, a family-friendly welcome amenity on arrival, and if required, an extra bed placed in the room. Reservations: +9714-372-2222 or click www.ritzcarlton. com/DubaiIFC.

60 I Travel Arabia

April 3-12, 2012 Chocolate Bonbons Cooking Demonstration This interactive demonstration with our Pastry Chef will give you the fundamen-

tal information and tools needed to work with chocolate. Join in and make festive chocolate bites. This activity is offered in the Board Room, between Maktabah and Summer House. Cinema Paradiso Our take on the classic drive-in theatre, we show Six Senses favourites on the big screen and personal stereo surround sound wireless head phones. Relax under the stars, sprawled on loungers with usher service and unique popcorn flavours. Chaica’s Club, ages 4-12 Bird Watching Scavenger Hunt Did you know that Oman has many beautiful birds? You may have heard many of them singing. We will take you throughout the resort with a list and pictures of the birds to find as many as possible. Inquiries and reservations: +968 2673 5555, +968 26 735888.

Tranquil Moments Awazen Spa at Fraser Suites: Balance

62 I Travel Arabia

With its pristine white tiled floors, modern decor and bright overhead lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking of the Awazen Spa at Fraser Suites Dubai as a health clinic. It is not. The Awazen Spa, Awazen means balance, is a cosy facility that comprises three treatment room plus a consultation room, a coupleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s room and a toasty hammam with subdued lighting and heated walls. It is here that I am treated to a Royal Hammam, an intense cleansing and exfoliating massage that is less of a pampering and more of a cleansing body treatment. The word Hammam actually means â&#x20AC;&#x153;spreader of warmthâ&#x20AC;? which is an apt description for this room and the treatment that followed. Lying face down on a towel placed on the raised stone platform, I was doused in warm water before being liberally massaged with Moroccan black soap which is left on the skin for ten minutes to prepare the body for the exfoliation that follows before being rinsed off. After the full body wash, the Moroccan therapist donned an abrasive glove I was given a very vigorous and very thorough all over scrub. This coarse mitt removes all the dead cells from your skin and stimulates the circulation, reducing the build-up of cellulite. Next, the royal body mask, which is made from seaweed to detoxify and eliminate impurities, was applied all over. I was again left for ten minutes while the mask went to work leaving me to relax and enjoy the warmth and tranquillity of the chamber. I was then rinsed off before my therapist applied the final mask, the marine mask. Packed with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals found in sea water and marine plants this, I was told, is good for rapid skin renewal. After a final rinse under the rain shower I was led to the seating area and given a soothing chamomile tea as I examined my skin which stung a little where old skin layers had been buffed off but felt so incredibly soft and smooth. The Awazen Spa, which is located on the seventh floor of the hotel, is part of a sizeable health club that boasts a tennis court, squash court, gym and male and female Saunas. It comprises a male and a female spa with separate entrances and completely individual treatment facilities. There is also a delightful enclosed balcony dotted with foliage and recliners which has been designed for guests to relax after their treatment. The Royal Hamman is Dhs 400 for 75 minutes. Good for: hotel guests looking for an invigorating pick-me-up at the end of a long day

My Travel Bag What’s in your travel bag ? Sharing what he has in this edition is Krystian Herba, the renowned 30-year-old Polish trial cyclist, who bicycled his way from the ground to the top floor (68th) of the world’s tallest hotel, Rose Rayhaan by Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. He climbed a total of 2,040 steps, or 333 meters, in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 41 seconds in a bid to break a world record. What’s in your Travel Bag? Send them to

seen it, I would be much triggered to see China and its mysteries, when I have the chance, to see how beautiful and modern place it is. Name three places in the world that you’re really raving to see. First, the Himalayas, because I’ve always loved the space—it gives me happiness and freedom. My second goal is also mountains but this time in Peru: the Andes. The interesting thing is that I would really love to explore them on my mountain bike because I know that it would be an extreme challenge. The third is New Zealand because of the flora’s variety and picturesque views that for sure would take my breath away. Does traveling alone tickle your fancy? Sometimes it is good to travel alone and run away from reality—meet new people, new places and new traditions. But I like to be surrounded by my friends, by people who care about me, because travelling with them gives me more power and allows me to have real fun. When was the last time you travel? Where? My most recent trip was on Nov. 5, 2011; I went to Frankfurt in Germany. I was there to conquer with my bike a big skyscraper—Messe Turm. The sure thing is that Frankfurt is the financial capital of Europe and there are many huge skyscrapers there. It is a place where we can explore not only modernity but antique places as well. What is your dream destination? I have to say that Dubai has always been my dream destination. Now that I have

Himalaya Mountain

64 I Travel Arabia

There is no doubt that travelling enriches us. Some would immediately hit the pool or the spa or bar. Others would jump off the road with their videocams and digicams when arriving at a new place. How about you? I’m a sportsman so it is obvious that I cannot sit in just one place for a long time. Of course, sometimes I feel the need to just lie on a beach or sit in a bar and do nothing. But mostly I love to spend time actively. Running, riding a bike or windsurfing give me much more pleasure than anything else.

travelling is exploring new places, cultures and traditions. I get a chance to meet various people with different attitudes in life and I often learn something from them. Sometimes it is good to see how people struggle in life, because then it is easier to appreciate what we have. It is also inspiring to observe other religions and rituals that people profess. There is no doubt that travelling enriches us. What drives you to travel, food? shopping? sightseeing? For sure the things that drive me to travel are not food and shopping. Sightseeing can be one of the reasons, but I have to point out that I don’t like to go to museums and the likes. I’m rather impressed by landscape and surrounding. What is your favourite Middle East destination? I was recently in Dubai but my stay was mostly business. I hope that one day I will have a chance to explore the whole of UAE, especially Abu Dhabi which is a place that interests me. People’s lifestyle and the standard of life there is much more different than in my country and I think it’s worth seeing. Ferrari Park and the most modern Formula 1 track are the things that I would love to see because I’m also a fan of motorization.

What excites you when traveling? The most exciting thing for me during

Next stop? Now in Poland, we have winter so my next stop will be on the ski slope. There is always something more for me snowboarding and skiing. It’s not only fun, it also gives me fulfillment, happiness and freedom.

New Zealand

Andes Mountain

Treasured Time. Our promise to you.

At Rotana, we have chosen to acknowledge how precious time is to you by making all time spent with us, Treasured Time. This means that we pledge to understand and meet the individual needs of all our guests. In so doing, we have evolved our product brands to include, Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana, Centro Hotels by Rotana and Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana.

Visit us during ATM on our stand, HC3940

P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ

Travel Arabia April 2012  

The Leading Travel Magazine in the Middle East

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you