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Cairo Reports Increased Occupancy The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region reported mixed performance during October, according to data compiled by STR Global.

ASSISTANT EDITOR Maria Kazeli SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba CONTRIBUTORS Dominique Christou Ana Mladenovic PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou WEB DEVELOPER / IT Soteris Constantinou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103670 WEBSITE EMAILS



Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar




Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Oman (OMR)



Qatar (QAR)



Saudi Arabia (SAR) Riyal





Algeria (DZD)



Egypt (EGP)



Iran (IRR)



Iraq (IQD)



Kuwait (KWD)



Lebanon (LBP)



Libya (LYD)



Morocco (MAD)



Syria (SYP)



Tunisia (TND)



Yemen (YER)





ost notably, Cairo’s occupancy was boosted 95.4 percent to 55.3 percent, reporting the largest growth in that metric. In year-on-year comparisons, MEA reported a 7.2 percent increase in occupancy to 67.6 percent, a 2.4 percent decline in average daily rate (ADR) to USD182.34 and a 4.6 percent growth in RevPAR to USD123.19. Elizabeth Winkle, managing director, STR Global, commented, “It was only the second month all year the region reported a decrease in ADR. But, because of the 7.2 percent occupancy growth driven by countries such as Egypt and Lebanon, October still ended with positive RevPAR.”

Emaar Leverages Dubai’s Growth Emaar Properties approved the distribution of a total of AED17.12 billion (USD4.66 billion) in dividends to shareholders.

T Emaar Properties' meeting

his is one of the largest dividends declared by a public joint stock company in the UAE and the region and represents about 250 percent of the par value of the group’s shares. Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said that this underlines the company’s commitment to creating longterm value for shareholders. “We are thankful to our shareholders for their continued support and their confidence […]. We will continue to explore growth opportunities in property, shopping malls and retail and hospitality and leisure, by leveraging Dubai’s positive growth.” 13 DECEMBER 2014


Sharjah Welcomes a Busy Cruise Tourism Season With the arrival of two new cruise ships, MV Mein Schiff 2 and Aida Aura in Khorfakkan, Sharjah welcomed the start of a busy cruise tourism season.

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he two vessels arrived at the port with a total of 3,400 passengers onboard, and more than 71 calls by 17 major international cruise liners are expected at Khorfakkan during the upcoming two cruise seasons, carrying more than 157,000 international cruise passengers. H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), said that SCTDA is committed to developing the tourism infrastructure and services in the emirate, especially on its East Coast which is known for its natural beauty, long coastline, golden beaches and picturesque mountains.

German delegation in Bahrain

Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek

Bahrain Lures German Investments

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Dubai Parks and Resorts Progresses Well


ahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB) recently hosted a group of German journalists on the sidelines of the Arab International Aluminium Conference (ARABAL), in a bid to promote investment opportunities in the Kingdom. The three-day visit included meetings and interviews with public and private sector representatives, as well as visits to ARABAL. The group also toured the Bahrain Fort and its museum. H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, transportation minister, Bahrain, said, “These visits come as part of the EDB’s efforts to build Bahrain’s reputation of openness and strong economic and cultural relations, and promoting the Kingdom globally as an ideal business and investment destination.”

reliminary infrastructure work across Dubai Parks and Resorts’ projects has reached 35 percent of its completion. Civil works have commenced and more than 50 percent of the construction contracts have been procured. Paul La France, chief projects officer, Dubai Parks and Resorts, commented, "We have a great team that is overseeing the progress of this project. […] With the procurement of the majority of the planned rides in place, we have entered a new phase of development. Following a stringent bidding process, we have chosen some of the world’s leading players in the entertainment rides industry. Several of the attractions are world-firsts in terms of integrating best-in-class technology and expertise.”



Amadeus Raises Money to Save Children

Hotel Attributes Business Growth to TravelClick


n June and July, Amadeus conducted its annual customer satisfaction survey among travel agency customers in 18 markets worldwide. This year, in order to encourage a higher participation rate and reward customers for sharing their views on Amadeus' performance, the respondents were offered to make a donation to one of two UNICEF projects, global immunization campaign or water and sanitation project in Mauritania, while in Australia respondents had also a choice to donate to a local non-governmental organisation called Variety, the Children's Charity. Though this initiative, the technology solution provider collected approximately EUR11,500 (USD 14,330) worth of donations.



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ravelClick, a provider of cloud-based hotel revenue solutions, boasted strong business performance through its online solutions secured for Villa Magna in Madrid. The recently renovated five-star property had contracted TravelClick to build its new web presence to include a more engaging booking experience. After nine months of using the system, Villa Magna reported a 36 percent increase in online bookings, 64 percent rise in web traffic and a 61 percent upswing in booking revenue. “TravelClick’s responsive design allowed us to improve our website’s functionality and therefore boost direct web bookings and increase revenue. It is rewarding to know our customers are having a better online experience with Villa Magna,” said Fiorella Simoes, director of sales and marketing, Villa Magna.

New Deal between Sabre and Azerbaijan Airlines


ith a new technology agreement between Sabre and Azerbaijan Airlines, travel agents in Azerbaijan can now efficiently shop and book the airline’s full content, including fares, availability as well as schedules, in the technology provider’s global distribution system. Azerbaijan’s flag carrier has long been a customer of Sabre, marketing and selling its fares to connected agents globally. Under the newly expanded agreement, Azerbaijan Airlines will now make all its content available locally to all agents using Sabre. Discussing cooperation, Natig Nabiyev, director of business development, Azerbaijan, Sabre, stated, “This is great news for local travel agents, who can now use Sabre’s travel marketplace to efficiently shop, book, and manage all travel needs locally and internationally.”

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NIKI LANDS IN ABU DHABI AIRPORT Abu Dhabi International Airport welcomed the Austrian carrier, NIKI, a codeshare partner of Etihad Airways, marking the launch of direct flights between the UAE capital and Vienna.

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U Airline and airport officials celebrate the landing


hmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports, enthused, “This new service is aimed at passengers travelling both for business as well as for leisure. The timings are geared towards making convenient connections in Abu Dhabi for onward points in the Gulf, Asia and Australia.” Christian Lesjak, managing director, NIKI, stated, “We are delighted to commence operations in Abu Dhabi. Its growing status as a major global transportation hub and its increasing attractiveness as a destination […] was a major factor in our decision.”

US and Canada Boost Airport Show Presence tilising a bigger space to display a wider range of technologies and solutions, key aviation industry players from the US and Canada will reach out to regional buyers through a joint pavilion at the 15th edition of Airport Show, to be held in Dubai between May 10 12, 2015. Based on statistics, the Middle East continues to be the focus of attention in the global aviation industry given the massive investments in airports expansion. In fact, according to International Air Transport Association, USD40 billion is being earmarked for developments in the GCC states alone, with the UAE taking the top spot.


WEEKLY NEWS Thailand Lures Jordanian and Egyptian Visitors

RAK Goes to Brazil

Phuket, Thailand



he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) held its Amazing Thailand Road Show in Jordan and Egypt from November 24 – 26, presenting eight distinct tourism products and service providers to potential partners in these countries. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, deputy governor, international marketing, Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas, TAT, stated, “Both Jordan and Egypt are considered new sources of lucrative tourist markets for Thailand. This road show is to build on the presence of Thailand as a destination for worldclass holiday options, especially for honeymooners […].”

he Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) has recently hosted a delegation from the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ). The high-profile group delivered a seminar in São Paulo that showcased the wide range of business opportunities available in the emirate’s free zone to Brazilian enterprises. Senior executives presented to the audience the multiple benefits of operating from RAK FTZ, such as a 100 percent tax exemption and foreign ownership, low-priced offices and warehouses, and better opportunities to increase sales in Asia, just to name a few. “Brazil has excellent business relations with the UAE and ABCC has always facilitated the further strengthening of our ties,” commented Michel Alaby, secretary general, ABCC.

São Paulo

Flexible Autos International Opens in the UAE


rade-only car rental specialist Flexible Autos, which recently rebranded from Flexible Car Hire, has opened its newest branch, Flexible Autos International in the UAE. The company has been expanding across Europe for the past year and now has business operations in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and the UAE, with plans to expand into the Nordics in 2015. The UAE branch will oversee the regions of Middle East, Africa, Asia and the CIS countries. Seasoned industry professional, Asoka Ponnuswamy has been appointed to manage the regional office.


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Roller Coaster Restaurant Thrills Abu Dhabi Diners

SCTA and Egypt to Sign MoU on Tourism


decision by the Saudi council of ministers recently mandated H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), to discuss with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism the draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation between the two countries in the field of tourism. Once the two parties sign the final version of the document, it will be submitted to the council of ministers for the completion of necessary statutory procedures.


OGO’S, a new roller coaster-inspired dining venue at Yas Mall, is set to turn the UAE capital’s dining scene on its head. Launched by Abu Dhabi-based The Roller Coaster Restaurant, the 1,300m2 outlet boasts a unique visual appeal with its focal point being a network of 30 individual roller coaster tracks that loop, spiral and spin around guests to impress them with a menu of international comfort food. Commenting on the 378-seat restaurant, Jessica Wadih Al-Absi, CEO, JWA Group, said, “The UAE is globally acknowledged as a groundbreaking destination for world firsts and with the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, part of the neighbouring Ferrari World experience, ROGO’S offers a spectacular culinary experience for fun-loving diners looking for a new and exciting dining adventure.”

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IATA to Help Stranded Passengers


he International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a new arrangement to help passengers impacted by airline bankruptcy. A voluntary deal on behalf of its members flying to, from and within Europe will cover the repatriation of passengers unable to return home due to an airline ceasing operations as a result of financial failure. Under the agreement, IATA member airlines flying to and from Europe will make their best efforts to offer repatriation to travellers stranded away from home. Passengers will be provided access to discounted transport to return home, subject to available capacity and rescue fares of a nominal amount will be available for purchase up to a maximum of two weeks after the event.


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Orascom Increases Profit and Occupancy In the first nine months of the year, Orascom Development generated a net profit of CHF36.4 million (USD37.8 million).


Orascom Development's Taba Heights, Egypt

his was attributed to improved real estate and construction revenues, accompanied by a strong recovery of the company’s hotel segment which showed a rebound as travel bans to the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea area were lifted. The average occupancy rate for the summer months reached 63 percent compared to only 42 percent during the first half of the year. All destinations contributed to this positive result and for the first nine months of the year, the group's average occupancy rate reached 49 percent while total RevPAR climbed to CHF43 (USD45).

Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre Unveils Le Royal Club


ollowing an AED450 million (USD122,5 million) expansion, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre launched the 196-room Le Royal Club, an exclusive annex building spread across 15.38ha of landscaped gardens. The eightstorey Le Royal Club boasts 52m² rooms, check-in lounges on each floor, convenient facilities such as a rooftop pool and an exclusive lounge, plus 24-hour valet service. Expressing his delight for the opening and revealing further details of the ongoing project, Ranjan Nadarajah, general manager, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, said, “By second quarter of 2015, we will be offering the state-of-theart event and conference facilities to compliment the 580 rooms and 18 food and beverage venues of our hotel.”

Le Royal Club guestroom

RAK Properties Breaks Ground for Bermuda Villas


AK Properties held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Bermuda Villas, a new housing project that is part of the company’s flagship master development, Mina Al Arab in Ras Al Khaimah. Overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Bermuda Villas will offer views of the emirate’s coastline and will also comprise state-of-the-art facilities including a private beach, separate swimming pools for adults and children, a children’s play area and a multipurpose court. The event was officiated by Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, CEO, RAK Properties, who commented, “Upon completion, we are confident that our new project will enhance Mina Al Arab’s position as the premier waterfront community in Ras Al Khaimah.”


The groundbreaking ceremony

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WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION Jumeirah Group Lures Muslim Travellers

BWI Celebrates Saudi Opening

B Burj Al Arab

est Western International (BWI) launched its third hotel in Saudi Arabia, BEST WESTERN Jazan Hotel, bringing the first internationally-branded hotel to the city. “We are delighted to continue our expansion in Saudi Arabia – one of the Middle East’s fastest-growing tourist economies,” said Ron Pohl, senior vice president, brand management and member services, BWI. “All across the country, business and leisure tourism is growing and the government is moving forward with large-scale infrastructure development projects.” The hotel offers 52 rooms, all with LCD TVs, universal plug sockets and free WiFi, in addition to a restaurant, coffee shop, fitness centre, prayer room, a business hub and a function room for small events.


umeirah Group recently concluded its annual GCC road show, presenting its luxurious hotel portfolio to audiences across Riyadh, Doha, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi. The programme focussed on family tourism in response to the growing demand for luxury travel options from the international Muslim community. This year, up until November 24, business from the Gulf region accounted for 326,644 room nights and 22.7 percent of revenues. The average room rate (ARR) grew 1.4 percent with occupancy increasing four percent and RevPAR surging 7.4 percent. UAE travellers are a key market for the group, registering a 16 percent growth in room nights and 34 percent in room revenue year-to-date.

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Le Royal Beirut to Enter 2015 on a Stronger Note


e recently launched our new management company, a highly strategic move considering that Le Royal owns hotels in different countries around the world,” said Joyce Mouawad, corporate sales and marketing director, Le Royal Beirut, revealing that more ambitious plans are in the pipeline for other locations. Commenting on this year’s business performance in Lebanon, she said that despite the instability, hotel performance was satisfactory. “We believe that 2015 is going to be similar to this year,” she added, stressing that her team will aim to attract the GCC market, while also accommodating the strong Syrian and Iraqi ones. “The corporate segment is also important for us, so is the rising relaxation and spa tourism within the safe confines of our hotel,” concluded Mouawad. Le Royal Beirut


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ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain Unveils Rimal Spa

C Rimal Spa

reating a new benchmark for luxury spas in the Kingdom, Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain has opened Rimal Spa offering a host of result-driven treatments. Providing a new place to relax and unwind, the European-style spa features segregated male and female wings with 12 treatment rooms, including single treatment suites, one double female suite and two Turkish Hammam suites. “The exemplary service and European quality standards are bound to impress hotel guests and residents alike,” assured Daniel Kaan, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, adding that the latest addition is set to attract increased business from the wellness travel segment.

IHG Assesses Potential Heads of Departments

IHG staff at the event

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rowne Plaza Sohar has recently hosted InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)'s Career Development Center Heads of Department Potential for the GCC region. David Todd, regional general manager, Oman, IHG, led the delegation of deputy department heads from across the region, together with Adel Aramouni, general manager, Crowne Plaza Sohar, and Alena Miatlushka, human resources consultant, Oman, IHG. The leadership skills, behaviour and work experience of deputy department heads from various GCC properties were evaluated, while senior leaders observed their performance, provided immediate feedback and put forward suggestions for their further development.



Qatar Executive Exhibits at MEBA Qatar Executive once again displayed its growing portfolio of services at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show in Dubai.

Q Qatar Executive’s Bombardier Global 5000 Vision

flynas: Maintaining Aviation Safety

atar Airways’ corporate jet division used the event to showcase its brand-new Bombardier Global 5000 Vision, which boasts one of the widest and most spacious cabins among super-large business jets. The Doha-based company also highlighted its expanding business aviation services and raised interest for its maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Doha as well as the new general aviation terminal, which is slated for opening in the first half of 2015 at Hamad International Airport. As Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, noted, since its inception five years ago, Qatar Executive has continued to exponentially grow to provide guests a differential level of service and convenience.

Global Air Travel Continues to Rise

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lynas and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) organised a training programme to enhance fatigue risk management among pilots and flight attendants, and instruct the methods to prevent risks occurring, thus ensuring safety of operations. The programme is designed to complement the flynas safety systems scheme, which was inaugurated several years ago to ensure the airline maintains the highest levels of safety. The stress risk management programme is one of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA)’s requirements and all airlines operating in the Saudi market and internationally will be asked to fully implement this initiative by 2015. The three-day programme included a number of workshops and was attended by flynas senior executives and 36 employees from the relevant administrations.


n the first nine months of the year, global passenger traffic grew 4.7 percent against the 2013 figures. In September alone, passenger numbers jumped almost five percent year-on-year. International travel increased 5.1 percent, while domestic passenger movements rose 4.9 percent. African airports saw a strong recovery with Cairo and Hurghada seeing passenger traffic jump back 23.2 percent and 457.2 percent respectively, while overall African passenger numbers grew 9.6 percent despite the Ebola outbreak. The Middle East also achieved robust growth in passenger traffic at 9.3 percent, while the Asia Pacific region experienced a surge of 5.1 percent. Meanwhile in Europe, overall air travel rose 4.6 percent during the period under review.

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Qatar Strengthens Ties with China

Oman Air and Airbus on the Future of Aviation

Etihad Airways Partners with NIKI

O The signing of the MoU


kbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways met with a delegation from the Chengdu Culture and Tourism Development Group to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the group and the airline. Designed to foster ties between Qatar Airways and the tourism authorities in Chengdu, one of the airline's gateway to China, the MoU will integrate the resources of both representative parties to promote and strengthen the benefits of the connectivity that the route provides. “Qatar Airways has progressively developed our operations in China for over 10 years, connecting passengers through a variety of gateways to our new global hub and home, Hamad International Airport,” commented Al Baker.

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man Air and Airbus recently held The Future by Airbus presentation at the Oman Tourism College. The presentation aimed to challenge students to think more innovatively about the future of aviation. Sharing insight into air traffic trends, energy harvesting and breakthrough technologies, Airbus inspired students with its vision of sustainable aviation in 2050. More than 200 participants from the Oman Tourism College were captivated by Airbus’ predicted revolution of the industry, taking away valuable information to transform aviation in the region. Attendees also watched a screening of Airbus’ Smarter Skies movie, latest instalment in The Future by Airbus. “It is important for us to invest in the next generation of aviation experts, as innovation flourishes with inspiration,” said Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO, Oman Air.

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tihad Airways welcomed the inaugural flight of its codeshare partner NIKI, from Vienna to Abu Dhabi on November 25. A number of events were held at Abu Dhabi International Airport to celebrate the new service, including a traditional water canon salute and ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by Christian Lesjak, managing director, NIKI; James Mueller, senior vice president, global sales, Etihad Airways, and Ahmed Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “It is important as a codeshare route that allows Etihad Airways to provide direct access for the first time between Abu Dhabi and Vienna [...].


WEEKLY NEWS AIR Emirates Skywards and Starwood Preferred Guest Join Forces

E Frits Van Paasschen, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and Thierry Antinori announced the launch of Your World Rewards

mirates and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide launched a new partnership providing reciprocal benefits to Emirates Skywards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members. The initiative, labelled Your World Rewards, allows Skywards and SPG elite members who register for the programme, to elevate their earnings and benefits when they opt for the airline or the hotel company. “The combination of Emirates’ growing global network, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s innovative take on hospitality and our top-rated loyalty programmes allow us to recognise our most valuable customers with a heightened level of service and greater rewards wherever they travel – be it to one of our more than 140 destinations or at any of Starwood’s 1,200 hotels,” said Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, Emirates.

flynas Partners with MasterCard


lynas has joined forces with MasterCard to offer its passengers added benefits when buying a ticket on flynas international flights. The six-week campaign, which began on November 24, will end on January 4, 2015 and is valid for MasterCard cardholders across the globe. Commenting on the collaboration, Wael Al Sarhan, director of marketing and communication, NAS Holding, said, “This partnership with MasterCard is yet another example of the way flynas seeks to add extra value to its services through promotional offers and other benefits for its guests.”

Qatar Airways Cargo Successfully Transports Horses


atar Airways Cargo freighters transported 67 show jumping horses from Belgium to Qatar for the final round of the Longines Global Champions Tour season which concluded in mid-November. The horses were transported via two Boeing 777F charter operations, along with approximately 20 tonnes of cargo and equestrian equipment and 11 grooms per freighter to ensure a smooth trip. Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer cargo, Qatar Airways, commented, “We take great pride in our handling capabilities and ensure all appropriate care is taken, providing pets and other transported animals [...]. Our focus remains on providing the special attention required, during all phases of transportation, to ensure a smooth comfortable and restful journey for the animals.”


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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Please give us an intro to Saraya Bandar Jissah. HAMOOD BIN SULTAN AL HOSNI: The Saraya Bandar Jissah project is located in the touristic hub of Muscat, Oman, and is nestled between the Al Hajar Mountains with stunning views looking out onto a pristine and secluded bay. The USD600 million project has 398 exclusive residential units comprising villas, townhouses, duplexes and apartments which are spread over five zones, as well as two luxury five-star hotels, operated by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, which are located on the beautiful beachfront. The site covers 2.2km2 and will also include a recreational complex, staffing accommodation and a technical zone. [...] Great effort has been made in marrying together a sleek and individual modern design with the traditional surroundings of Bandar Jissah, incorporating traditional Omani architectural themes and design elements. Saraya Bandar Jissah will be a recognisably Omani development through the extensive use of local materials [...]. There will be a large recreation club located in the centre of the development, offering a community hub for all residents and their guests. The club boasts stunning views over the park area and will provide everything from your daily shopping to dining out and a full workout in the gym, or relaxing by the infinity pool. Omran, as the investment arm of the government in terms of tourism and hospitality projects, is Saraya Oman’s 50 percent shareholder in the development. This gives the market real confidence in the quality of the project [...].

Q & A with

Sheikh Hamood bin Sultan Al Hosni CEO, SARAYA BANDAR JISSAH

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How is Saraya Bandar Jissah going to change Oman’s hospitality scene and which are the property’s feeder markets aimed to be?

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Please give us some insider information on the two hotels within the project.


HAMOOD BIN SULTAN AL HOSNI: The two luxury five-star hotels at Saraya Bandar Jissah will add another dimension to the hospitality experience on offer in Oman. What makes this project even more unique is that the two hotels perched on the beach offer tourists quite distinct boutique or resort experiences to choose from. The internationally-renowned luxury hotels and resorts operator, Jumeirah Group, will provide a secluded retreat for visitors and residents alike. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts is an expert operator, bringing with it

decades of regional expertise. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts is synonymous with luxury and unrivalled service, providing their guests with a sumptuous and relaxing home away from the dayto-day rigours of life. Both hotels will front onto the Bandar Jissah beach where guests will enjoy the magnificent seascapes framed perfectly by the ancient rock formations which connect the land with the sea on either side.

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The 206-room resort hotel will offer an array of world-class facilities and services including a beachfront ballroom for weddings and events, international cuisine restaurants and sports activities including a dive centre. The hotel will also offer stunning elevated views onto the beach and sea from its raised entrance and reception. A key topographical feature of the hotel site is a large rock spur that acts as a natural shield for the secluded beach. To the back of this beach will be 20 private hotel villas which form a part of the same resort complex yet enjoy private access and private services for the most luxurious and secluded retreat. The second of the Jumeirah hotels, the boutique hotel at Saraya Bandar Jissah will provide 112 rooms in a truly unique style. Modelled on the traditional Omani village architecture, the hotel will be structured around three levels flowing down to beach level. [...] Each room will be built into the mountainside, clinging to the slope and providing superb vistas over the eastern side of the beach to the hilltop villas beyond and out to the sea. Scheduled for a grand opening in 2017, the two hotels form the major leisure components of Saraya Bandar Jissah.


HAMOOD BIN SULTAN AL HOSNI: As the only Integrated Tourism Complex launched since 2007, we believe that Saraya Bandar Jissah will be a benchmark for other tourism development projects. We believe that coming to the market and making it a success will encourage other competitors to return to the market. We actually want to develop that part of the city, because we find it very unique in terms of sightseeing and revenue opportunities. [...] This is a proudly Oman-based development, and our primary market focus is very much within the Oman market with the buyer profile expected to be predominantly local Omanis with remainder being expatriates residing in Oman as well as GCC nationals. However, we are also fielding a high level of interest from foreign investors who wish to get in on the ground floor once sales bookings are open. [...]



Marriott Expands in Spain and Turkey


arriott International has announced two new hotels in Valencia and Istanbul. The 91-room AC Hotel Colón Valencia is the brand’s second property in the city and 60th in Spain. Centrally located, it is near the commercial, business and tourist hubs and offers a lounge and a bistro restaurant, three meeting rooms, a fitness centre, business centre and a terrace. AC Hotel Istanbul Maçka boasts 98 keys and is situated on the European side of the city, close to Maçka Park and Istanbul Congress Centre. Suitable for both business and leisure guests, it features a lounge and a restaurant, three meeting rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, two treatment rooms and The Market, which is open 24/7.

BWI Strengthens Malaysia Portfolio


est Western International (BWI)’s expansion in Malaysia continues with the addition of a new luxury hotel in Genting Highlands. The company will manage the brand new BEST WESTERN PREMIER Ion Delemen, Genting Highlands, which is currently under construction and is slated to open in the first quarter of 2016. Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, noted, “We are making tremendous progress with the expansion of our portfolio in Malaysia, especially in terms of our high-end hotel products. [...] With its modern design, beautiful natural setting and first class amenities, I am confident this exceptional hotel will become extremely popular with both local and international visitors.”

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Kempinski Celebrates Entry in Malaysia

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empinski and KSK Group Berhad recently signed a management agreement for a large-scale luxury project, 8 Conlay, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle. The development will see a 260-room Kempinski hotel and the 403-unit Kempinski Residences, plus up to 1,092 keys of 8 Conlay Residences serviced by Kempinski, in two adjoining towers, all linked via a central retail podium. The project is to be completed in 2020, while residences in the first tower will become available for sale from March 2015. Alejandro Bernabé, CEO, Kempinski, stated, “We are excited about bringing the Kempinski brand to Malaysia, and demonstrating the value of five-star luxury services to branded and serviced residences at 8 Conlay.”

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Agent’s Insight NAME:

Asim Shahzad


Tours manager


Kapico Travels & Tourism




Amuda Goueli

European OTA Boots Presence in the Middle East

Who are you? I am Asim and I have been working in this field for almost 20 years now. Initially, I started handling timeshare but I gradually started learning other areas in the field like ticketing and tourism. The experience has not only made me professional in tourism, but has also helped me gain a big clientele and some very good friends around the world. Our company was established in 2006 and with the help of qualified, professional and honest staff members, we have become one of the top agents in the area. We have six branches in the region and over 70 qualified employees. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My favourite thing is exploring new destinations around the world. That has helped me guide my clients to travel to the right places according to their requirements. When is the best time to visit Kuwait? Kuwait is basically not a tourist place. Most of the business is outbound but business associates keep on coming all-year-round. Still, the best time to visit the country is between December and April when Kuwait has a very pleasant weather all day long. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Austria is my all time favourite, I am ready to travel there at any time. Why should people come to you for travel advice? My clients like to come to me because I handle them very sincerely and honestly, and I help them get the most suitable place according to their requirements. 13 DECEMBER 2014


pain-based online travel agency (OTA), has relaunched in the region with a new sales office in Dubai, opened earlier this year. The company will also introduce a pay from home system, followed by what is hailed as the first Google Glass hotel reservation app, HotelNearMe. Aiming to become the leading OTA in the Middle East by 2017, anticipates annual double-digit growth during the next three years. “The Middle East market is experiencing considerable growth and is estimated to reach USD15 billion in 2015, according to PayPal. More money is spent on travel than on any other online purchase in the region and there is currently no strong local OTA,” said Amuda Goueli, CEO,



SHEIKH AHMED BIN SAEED AL MAKTOUM President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority

We want Dubai to be the top choice for international travellers

Royal Jet is proud to be a pioneer in the region

“It has taken us years to build up the critical competencies and infrastructure that we have today, and we now have a solid base on which to further develop. We will continue to take a consensusbased approach to infrastructure investment, embrace open competition, and focus on opening up and connecting markets through efficient operations. In the end, we want Dubai to be the top choice for international travellers and traders – as a destination, and as a transport hub.”

“It is an honour to be recognised by the Middle East aerospace industry [with the Business Aviation Operator of the Year distinction at the Aviation Business Awards 2014] for our ongoing achievements over the past year. It is a highly competitive marketplace and Royal Jet is proud to be a pioneer in the region, and we are committed to providing the ultimate, luxury chartered service to our valued clients.”


We are extremely thankful for having recognised our hotel’s effort

Customer experience and the employee experience are clearly linked

ANDREAS MATTMÜLLER Chief operating officer, Middle East and Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

“[Our company’s brand promise] Natural Enjoyment has encapsulated everything we want for our guests and our employees. Through this programme, we have given our work ethic an almost tangible element, which resonates through the company and even beyond in areas outside our hotels and resorts. The customer experience and the employee experience are clearly linked which is why this programme is so successful.”

VIPIN KHATTAR General manager, Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh

“We are honoured to have received this significant award [the Award of Excellence for best performing hotel in Sharm El Sheikh] from the [Egyptian] Ministry of Tourism. We are extremely thankful to them for having recognised our hotel’s effort. This award belongs to the team of Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh, for their sheer hard work and dedication.”

TRAVEL TALK IS YOUR SPACE – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to


13 DECEMBER 2014


Jumeirah Group Releases Turtles Jumeirah Group marked the start of the World Economic Forum with a release of 10 turtles.


ne 70kg loggerhead and four young hawksbill turtles were equipped with satellite tags, in addition to two green turtles and three hawksbill turtles. All were returned to the waters after a period of rehabilitation thanks to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah. They can be tracked over the coming months by logging onto the company’s social network sites. Gerald Lawless, president, Jumeirah Group, who also hosted the event, said, "Since 2004, we have been enormously proud to support the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project which has successfully rehabilitated and released 710 turtles to date.”

US Leisure Travel on the Rise

UNWTO Pushes for Sustainable Tourism


new international programme which aims to catalyse a shift to more sustainable tourism over the next decade was launched at the World Travel Market in London. The Sustainable Tourism Programme of the Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns will be led by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the governments of France, Morocco and Korea, with the support of United Nations Environment Programme. The initiative is put forth by the notion that if the expected immense growth of tourism is not sustainably managed, it can deplete natural resources leading to water shortages, loss of biodiversity and land degradation, among other impacts.

REC Honoured for Promoting MICE


ripAdvisor’s US winter travel survey revealed that 79 percent of the respondents plan to travel for leisure this winter, up from 67 percent in 2013. Around 84 percent preferred warm destinations, with the beach getaways ranking top, followed by city escapes and cruises. As for 2015, 33 percent of respondents hope to travel more for leisure than they did this year, while 58 percent plan to travel about the same. Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications, TripAdvisor, urged travellers to avoid travelling during the last two weeks of December, as they can save about 25 percent off average winter rates if they travel during early December or mid-January.

13 DECEMBER 2014

.R.H. Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiques (SCTA), has honoured Riyadh Exhibitions Company (REC) in recognition of its ongoing efforts in promoting the MICE sector in the Kingdom. The honour came in conjunction with REC’s participation as a strategic partner of the second Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions which featured the latest trends in the conference and exhibitions industry. REC was commended for its work towards activating and boosting the pivotal role of the MICE industry in driving economic and tourism growth.

REC's International Stone and Stone Technology Show






Mohammad Al Hashimi has fulfilled a new role within Emirates’ commercial division by being promoted to vice president of commercial product. Having worked with the airline since 2006, he will support Emirates’ strategy in view of the economic and commercial impact Expo 2020 is to have on the future of travel in the destination. Al Hashimi joined the company after graduating from the American University in Dubai, and has gained valuable experience through his various positions within the airline. His responsibilities now include developing new and unique commercial products, working closely with the tourism authorities on inbound leisure and business travel, as well as promoting Dubai as a world-class MICE destination.

Steve Russell-Rayner has joined The Wave, Muscat as head of projects management. With over 30 years of international experience in project development and management gained in various positions across the GCC, Europe, Africa and Asia, he is a qualified mechanical engineer. Russel-Rayner previously held directorial and vice presidential positions and has a proven track record of increasing the value and turnover of commercial and residential developments. He is considered an important addition to the management at The Wave, Muscat bringing a wealth of global experience overseeing projects from the design stage through to delivery, and has a proven record of meeting objectives and offering strong directional leadership.



Stephan Schüpbach will take upon him the role of vice president of operations for Jumeirah Group and will be responsible for overseeing the performance of the company’s owned hotels in Dubai, managed hotels in Asia Pacific, the global wellness brand Talise and leading Asian preopening preparations. Since 2010, Schüpbach has been general manager of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and has led its pre-opening team. He joined the group in 2006 as hotel manager at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, then continued as general manager for Al Qasr and Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah. Before that Schüpbach held top positions at One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives and The Ritz Carlton hotels in Wolfsburg, Germany and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Stuart Wilson has joined Jannah Hotels & Resorts as vice president of development and investment to spearhead the group’s expansion across the UAE and the wider GCC region. Wilson holds a master’s degree in real estate from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, New York, and during his studies he focussed on hospitality development and international real estate investments. Wilson brings over 10 years of experience from different sectors including development, asset management and research, while his practice spans three continents. In his new role, he will seeks to generate iconic mixed-use hospitality projects that create value for investors and provide outstanding experiences for both guests and residents..

13 DECEMBER 2014


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Emirates launched a unique musical competition for fans and music lovers in the GCC region, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Jordan

Etihad Airways has extended its title sponsorship of the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Emirates concluded a successful year as the official airline of the European Tour with the DP World Championship winding down in Dubai

13 DECEMBER 2014

Royal Jordanian Airlines honoured its employees in recognition of their years of service

Royal Jet was awarded Business Aviation Operator of the Year at the Aviation Business Awards 2014

Peter Drescher and Melissa Lim of Mรถvenpick Hotels & Resorts accepted the Innovation in Work Culture accolade at the 2014 Daman Corporate Health Awards


NEWS & EVENTS SCTDA Satisfied with WTM Performance


harjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) reported a successful performance at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM), with the emirate’s stakeholders enjoying numerous meetings during the show. H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, SCTDA, underscored the importance of these regular meetings to highlight Sharjah’s tourism offerings. He further stressed that the European tourism markets registered steady growth in recent years, with more than 409,585 tourists in the first six months of the year. Sharjah’s delegation at the show also included Sharjah International Airport Authority, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, Coral Beach Resort Sharjah, Sharjah Museums Department and others.

EVENTS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL & HOSPITALITY SHOW Muscat, Oman December 14 – 16 Set to connect participants to multiple investment and business opportunities in Oman’s emerging luxury, leisure and business tourism industry.

EAST MEDITERRANEAN INTERNATIONAL TOURISM AND TRAVEL EXHIBITION (EMITT) Istanbul, Turkey January 22 – 25, 2015 The 18th edition of EMITT will assign an entire hall to health care, aesthetics, thermal and spa tourism.


Sharjah's stand at WTM

Dubai Named Host of 2018 ICCA Congress

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 25 – 28, 2015 Organised by Riyadh Exhibitions Company, the event showcases equipment, technologies and services from the biggest Saudi, regional and international industry players.


ubai has succeeded in its bid to host the 2018 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress, hailed as the world’s most prestigious MICE event. Steen Jakobsen, director, Dubai Business Events, a division of the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, commented, “The ICCA Congress is known to attract a gathering of meeting industry professionals from across the globe and will be a fantastic opportunity for the emirate to familiarise leading ICCA members with everything Dubai and the Middle East have to offer for business and leisure tourists. We look forward to working closely with ICCA and the members of the Middle East Chapter to organise the first ICCA Congress taking place in our region.”


FITUR Madrid, Spain January 28 – February 1, 2015 A global meeting point for tourism professionals for inbound and outbound Ibero-American markets.

13 DECEMBER 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 266  

Travel Trade Weekly Middle East & North Africa is the first and only weekly virtual publication of its kind in the MENA region. It is distri...

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