Free Copy For Visa Applicants. Not For Sale
Volume 1 | Issue 4 | June - July 2018
Many Hues of Ras Al Khaimah Great Visa Services with a Brand New Look & Feel The Delectable African Cuisine
ENHANCE YOUR TRAVEL EXPERIENCE Dear customer, Welcome to VFS Global COMPASSTM, a complimentary magazine created exclusively for VFS Global’s application centre customers. COMPASSTM shares with you useful information about visa application services, as well as other interesting news on travel and destinations around the world. Please do feel free to take this issue home for a longer read or to share it with your family and friends.
Zubin Karkaria CEO, VFS Global Group
In this issue, we introduce you to the new standard of VFS Global Visa Application Centres and Premium Lounges, which will soon be replicated across the world. The refurbished look-and-feel is part of our continued efforts to constantly upgrade, modernise and refresh our centres across 139 countries, so that applicants can experience the same high quality of services, no matter which part of the world they are in. Our cover story is on one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world: Switzerland. You will find here a curated ‘bucket list’ of the country’s interesting must-dos. We also bring you a peek into what several other destinations have on offer, including a feature on the culinary traditions of South Africa. Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of Lebanon to India His Excellency Mr. Rabie Narsh shares his perspective on why Lebanon is steadily becoming an attractive tourism destination, and how travellers have evolved with regards to kinds of destinations they wish to explore. The representative of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism too shares insightful views on stepping up tourism promotion and upcoming travel trends. You can also read about how Artificial Intelligence is now becoming an all-pervasive trend in many industries, and its emergence at VFS Global as the new frontier in service delivery. I hope you find this issue interesting and wish you an excellent travel experience – wherever you may be headed!
Lake Lungern in Obwalden, Switzerland
June-July 2018 / 1
Volume 1 | Issue 4 | June - July 2018
Contents Pg 22
Guide to Visa Application 06 E njoy best-in class services at VFS Global centres worldwide 10 Visa application service now a convenient affair 12 H ost of convenient services while applying for a UK visa 14 Acquire a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visa by following these simple steps
People & Places
16 H.E. Mr. Rabie Narsh, Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of Lebanon to India, on his plans to promote Lebanon as a preferred choice for travellers
22 A Swiss Escapade Take a boat ride, hike the Apls, sip its wine, or taste its chocolate
26 Experience of a Lifetime Moscow thrills visitors with its majesty and artistry
18 Fly by Beirut Make the most of your 48 hours in the Lebanese capital
Touch Down 20 Futuristic Airports New-age technologies
Culture 30 Scandinavian Midsummer Midsummer celebrations in Scandinavia
32 Vacation Vibes Travel tales of celebrities that keeps the world entertained
38 A Destination of Distinction Experience the Arabian hospitality in Ras Al Khaimah
44 V FS Global and Artificial Intelligence
34 S ummer Streak Paintbox brights trending on the summer runways
People & Places 36
Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, wants to create a compelling destination for visitors
Africa on a Plate A visit to Arica is incomplete without savouring some of the traditional food
46 P rivilege Program launched in UAE & India 48 V irtual registry for Wills, offering stability to residents of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah 52 VFS Global Network
Globetrotter 42 Events Planner Happenings in June and July
June-July 2018 / 3
Volume 1 | Issue 3 | June - July 2018
VI S A
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guide to visa application
with a brand new look and feel Enjoy best-in-class services at VFS Global centres worldwide
nternational travel is no longer a luxury restricted to families or businesses with deep pockets. A large percentage of travellers, irrespective of background, is increasingly keen to explore foreign destinations and embark on at least one overseas visit per year. With visa services offered for 59 countries worldwide, VFS Global prides itself on being a household name among avid travellers.
VFS Global operates in 139 countries across the globe, and provides the same professional and best-in-class service at all its Visa Application Centres and Premium Lounges. Along with managing the visa process at the backend, VFS Global is focused on providing a world-class experience to travellers at its visa application centres, during the application process itself. The key to the success of any enterprise spread internationally is the system of standardisation. Walk into a Starbucks anywhere in the world, and the cafe, along with the coffee, will look the same. This is also especially true for VFS Global, which is now embarking on a journey to further extend the scope of its services offered for travellers at all its centres worldwide. New or refurbished VFS Global Visa Application Centres and Premium Lounges across
Key features of the new Application Centres Increased number of submission counters Ergonomically designed counters Special counters for disabled applicants Spacious, bright and comfortable waiting areas Clear, large signages Dedicated supervisor to assist applicants in the waiting area Modern design Free COMPASS Visa Application Centre Magazine (in India and UAE)
the world will have the same look and feel, ensuring that applicants feel comfortable in a familiar environment, no matter which centre they visit. The first Visa Application Centres to feature VFS Globalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new standardised design are the Joint Visa Application Centre located in Mahalaxmi in Mumbai, India, and the Application Centre for France in Algiers, Algeria. The Mumbai centre was launched in February 2018
â&#x20AC;&#x153;A brand promises certain attributes and qualities and hence it is extremely important that it is used consistently and effectively to become a powerful asset. Corporate identity and imagery are core elements of branding. The standardisation of our Visa Application Centres and Premium Lounges all over the world is a major achievement to enhance brand visibility, customer experience and offering client governments as well as consumers, modern, appealing and convenient application centres.â&#x20AC;? Zubin Karkaria, Chief Executive Officer VFS Global Group June-July 2018 / 7
guide to visa application
“You can have the best brand in the world - but what if people aren’t emotionally touched? You can build great customer experience - but what if customers don’t remember you? Brands are here to last, to make an impression, to make a promise and to make people feel at home when they are with you. VFS Global has set itself the goal of harmonising and strengthening the VFS Global visual brand and experience in our application centres. We have created modern, contemporary and professional design for the general centres and Premium Lounges. Once again, VFS Global is setting the industry benchmark - with a new and even stronger brand perception.” Peter Brun Chief Communications Officer VFS Global
with visa services for 20 countries on offer. The centre in Algiers is the second largest in the world for a single country and was opened in April 2018. The design will now be replicated at centres across the world in a phased manner during refurbishments.
The Premium Lounge For those wishing for more customised attention, the Premium Lounge service is the perfect solution. VFS Global’s exclusive Premium Lounges offer endto-end personalised service, assuring individual assistance with all your visa related queries, quicker completion of the application submission process, and immediate biometric enrolment, all within a modern day plush lounge facility that feels like home. Applicants who opt for the Premium Lounge service can also avail VFS Global’s complimentary photocopying and photo-booth services as per parameters specified by the embassy, and use the in-house equipment to print any mandatory documents that may have been forgotten.
Key features of the Premium Lounge Spacious and plush facility Professional and responsive staff who speak the local language Dedicated helpline and email contact for convenient appointment booking Personalised attention for every applicant Quicker completion of the submission process Refreshments Includes SMS updates and courier return of passport by courier Offers convenient payment options either online or at the centre
What’s more, once a decision is made on the visa application, the passport and documents will be delivered to their doorstep by courier. Automatic updates at each stage of the visa application will also be shared via voice calls and SMS.
Meet and Greet
Airport Assistance packages starting from
Also offer: Travel Assistance | Flights | Hotels | Car Rentals | Forex | Intl. Driving Licence | Meet & Greet | Corporate Services | much more... Ahmedabad 074349 90006 Bangalore 080 4095 3601 Chandigarh 070873 03732 Chennai 044 4353 5603 Cochin 0484 4022755 Hyderabad 073064 99430 Jalandhar 070878 68628 Kolkata 033 4209 7700 Mumbai (BKC) 022 6170 8940-45Â Mumbai (Mahalakshmi) 022 6600 1401-04 New Delhi 097173 90202 Pune 020 67405625Â
guide to visa application
OF VISA SERVICES
customer speak Words of appreciation from celebrities for VFS Global’s Visa At Your Doorstep service
Enhance the convenience of your visa application experience “The entire team of ours was looked after so well. Everything was made intact. Thank you.” Mohanlal, Actor
“Deeply appreciate this personalised service which is very important for situations that demand this. Keep it up.” Latha Rajinikanth, Film producer
lanning an international holiday can be an exciting process, even while scouting
that can go a long way in enhancing your visa application experience.
for the best deals, or booking the right experiences in hotels or flights. Visa
Visa At Your Doorstep
application is also a key part of this
Apply for a visa from a location of choice, be it home, office, or school campus*. This service allows applicants the flexibility of submitting visa applications and enrolling biometrics from a location most convenient to them. The service is especially ideal for large groups of people travelling together, as all applicants can submit applications on the same date and at the same location.
process, and taking note of the anxiety that often comes with this aspect of travel planning, VFS Global offers a range of services aimed at making your visa application convenient and hassle-free.
Familiarise yourself with some of VFS Global’s innovative value-added services
“It was an absolute pleasure getting my visa done. The staff was very welcoming and helpful.” Varun Aaron, Indian cricketer VFS Global staff will ensure all applications are complete and ready for processing. • Ideal for individuals, students and groups • Available on any day of the week • End-to-end personalised assistance
DISCLAIMER *Some of the above mentioned services may not be offered in some countries, or for specific missions/Embassies/consulates. To check if any of the above services are available in your country, or if they are offered for a specific embassy/consulate, or to book any of the above value-added services, visit the country-specific website via www.vfsglobal.com. *Availing any of the above mentioned value-added services does not affect the processing time or decision of your visa. These remain the sole prerogative of the Embassy/Mission/Consulate. The services are charged in addition to the visa application fee.
visa application without a pre-booked appointment. Ideal for applicants... • who have missed their appointment • who turn up late for an existing appointment • who have booked an appointment online but want an earlier date
Form-Filling Assistance Receive end-to-end assistance with completing and submitting your visa application form at any of our Visa Application Centres or via our call centre. Our in-house experts will provide professional guidance at the centre closest to you. • Form-filling assistance at the convenience of home/office • Assistance is just a call away • Easy option to pay service fees – online or IVR Payment
Premium Lounge Enjoy personalised assistance while submitting your visa application in the comfort of a luxurious lounge. VFS Global’s Premium Lounges are carefully designed to provide the applicant personalised attention and assistance, to ensure seamless, streamlined and speedy visa submission process. • Spacious and luxurious facility • More personalised services for every applicant • Quicker completion of the submission process
Translation Service Did you know there are over 6,000 languages in the world? That is why, VFS Global offers Translation Services. When applying for your visa, you can opt to have your documents translated at the visa application centre, prior to submission. Guidance by professional translators ensures a more seamless visa submission process.
Group Appointment Customers travelling in a group can use this service to ensure the whole group can apply at the same visa application centre at a particular time and day. This optional service is extended to all groups including tour operators, large families, conferences etc.* • Ideal for large families and tour operators
• Allows the group to complete its visa submission on the same day
Walk in without appointment If you are in need of making an application on an urgent basis, or are running out of time to submit your visa application, walk into the centre and opt for this service. VFS Global will process your
Avail of certification/endorsement services for your document photocopies by VFS Global staff. Now submit certified photocopies instead of original documents in your application pack. • Retain your original documents when submitting a visa application • Get official endorsement on document photocopies
Travel Shops Travelling to UK, Dubai or France from India? Enjoy a little retail therapy while submitting your visa applications. You can purchase from a range of the most popular products and services in any of these destinations through our Dubai, Britain or France Travel Shops, available at select visa application centres. Check with the VFS Global representative in your country whether this offering is available in your city/country. • Provides complete destination information • Tickets of various attractions and sights easily available, so you don’t have to stand in line.
*Locations where the Visa At Your Doorstep service is offered vary, depending on city or country where the service is offered. Please check with the VFS Global representative in your city or country for details.
June-July 2018 / 11
guide to visa application
UK VISA Application MADE EASY Applicants can now choose from a host of convenient services while applying for a UK visa
circumstances, they can immediately avail this service and submit their application on a date and time convenient to them.
On Demand Mobile Visa UK visa applicants can now also apply for a visa from a location of their choice, such as a home, office, or school campus. VFS Global staff will visit at a location of your choice and accept applications and biometrics. This service is ideal for large groups as the entire group can enrol biometrics while submitting their visa applications together on the same date and from a location that is convenient for the group.
Bundle Services UK visa application centre
he United Kingdom is full of bustling
Keep My Passport While Applying
cities, historic towns, cosy villages,
This useful service, if opted for, allows the applicant to retain their passport after they enrol their biometrics, until the UK Embassy takes the final decision on the status of their visa application. This benefits many applicants facing a common predicament when applying for multiple visas, i.e. having to wait for one embassy to process the visa before submitting the passport with the next embassy.
traditional pubs, contemporary nightlife, epic national parks, idyllic countryside and ancient ruins. History meets modern culture in the UK, a mix that is very rare. Add to that the renowned educational institutions and a range of global sporting events around the year, make it a mustvisit for travellers across the globe.
As one of the prominent travel destinations for many decades and its proximity to other countries in the Schengen region, the UK has been a favourite amongst tourists and students. VFS Global has been associated with the UK Government since 2003 and has developed a number of solutions and services aimed at making the visa application process more seamless and convenient for applicants who apply from different parts of the world. Apart from the Premium Lounge, Platinum Lounge (exclusively for applicants in Dubai, UAE) and ‘On Demand Mobile Visa’ service, a number of value-added services are available to suit the bespoke needs of international travellers.
Travellers to the UK can also avail of multiple services with VFS Global’s Premium Service Packages – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each package includes a tailored selection of various Premium Services, ranging from SMS updates to Premium Lounge usage, designed to ensure increased comfort and a seamless application submission process.
Super Priority and Priority Visas
Walk In Without an Appointment
Unique services, like Super Priority and Priority Visas, offer UK visa applicants a chance to have their visa applications processed within the shortest of timeframes. While a UK visa application under Super Priority service is expected to be completed within just a single working day, under the Priority Visa Service, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) aims to process the application within five working days. Priority Service must be availed at the time of application submission and applicants are also requested to check the eligibility for these services, as it may vary depending on visa category.
A missed visa appointment or an urgent travel need is no longer a dilemma for UK visa applicants. Opt for the ‘Walk in Without an Appointment’ service and visit any VFS Global UK Visa Application Centre to submit the application without a prior appointment. Even if an applicant feels that the prescheduled visa appointment time is no longer suitable due to unforeseen
Besides all these services, there are other customised services on offer such as form-filling assistance, document checks, certification, regular updates on the status of the visa via SMS updates, courier return and delivery of processed passports and documents and translation services at select locations.
As a result of the Keep My Passport While Applying, applicants planning their combined UK-Schengen trips can now complete formalities of visa application for multiple countries and that of the UK in a single day, while they are at the Visa Application Centre.
guide to visa application
Stress no more over
Applying for a student visa can be a long process, so make sure you start preparing well in advance
tudying abroad for higher education is an alluring prospect for many students, though the process of preparing to study abroad can sometimes be lengthy. Nonetheless, once you have chosen an appropriate course and university, the most important next step is to apply for the
iii) List of documents: Check the full list of documents required well in advance on the visa section of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s government website, so that you have them ready at the time of visa application submission.
The length of your course will determine the type of student visa you need to apply for. For example, if you have opted for a course that is shorter than six months, you may need to enter on a short-term study visa. This visa may not allow you to work while studying.
Meeting the Health Requirements
You can apply for a student visa only after you have been accepted into an academic course in the country where you wish to study. You will need to submit the acceptance letter and pay for some or all of your tuition fees when you apply for the visa.
Some countries have health restrictions on their student visa categories. For example, you may need to undergo medical tests to prove that you do not carry any infectious diseases, or prove that you have been immunised if your home country has lately had an outbreak of diseases such as cholera or yellow
visa. Given below are key student visa tips:
Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Procrastinate i) Prepare well in advance: The thumb rule here is to apply at least one to three months prior to the course commencement date, depending on the country you are applying to. ii) Visa category: The student must inquire with the college to which he/she seeks admission or with the concerned embassy. This is extremely important as student visa requirements for different regions within the same country can vary significantly.
The student must inquire with the college to which he/she seeks admission or with the concerned embassy
Expert Speak Radiya Pacha Gupta Associate Professor St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai Head of the International Programme
fever. Some countries require you to take mandatory health insurance before they grant you a student visa.
Get your documents in order Keep all the original documents handy, including all the academic certificates and of course your current passport, which should be valid for the next six months. The common documents you will require at the time of the visa interview, some of which have to be original copies, are listed below: • Passport • Photos • Acceptance letter • Financial documents with proof of funds • Student loan approvals • Academic qualifications • Test scores • English language qualifications • Proof of international student health cover Please note that this is only an indicative list – please do refer to the exact checklist of requirements for the country you are planning to study in on the official website of that country.
Do your Homework Before Flying Take time to understand the finer aspects of your visa category once you get your visa. What does that stamp mean? Can your family go with you? Can you work part-time? If so, how many hours per week? After graduation, can you apply for a work permit, and if so, for how long is it valid? Make sure you know all your entitlements upfront, as every country has different requirements.
Dos and don’ts when applying for a course abroad It is important to plan your applications well in advance and adhere to the respective application and scholarship deadline(s) in order to receive an offer of admission. We recommend that students should review information online regarding the documentation required such as student visas, work/study permits, etc and make necessary arrangements for accommodation and travel. It is always advisable to network with university students and faculty members to build yourself a strong foundation. It is important to note that there are various scholarships available for students and therefore it would be beneficial to constantly be on the lookout for them. Students must thoroughly review and understand the visa application form as well as ensure that they fill the correct application for student visa. It is crucial to support the application only with the necessary documents and not provide anything in addition to what is mandated. Ensure that your finances meet the requirements of your target university and visa requirements as well. While preparing for your travel to your destination, it would be good for students to familiarise themselves with the culture, language, food and climate. Always carry adequate funds
in terms of cash or Forex card as well as ensure that you take all essentials with you e.g. medication, stationery, warm clothes, food items etc to help you tide over the first few weeks. If you have subject-related books, it is recommended to carry them if weight permits. We also remind students to carry passport-sized photos along with the photocopies of their passport and visa. It is important to keep a photocopy of passport and visa in a place other than where your actual passport is. Keeping a handy record of phone numbers of students, friends and family members in the country of your destination is advisable and so is international roaming on mobile phones until a local SIM card is procured.
On latest trends in outbound student-related travel Students usually review all options regarding countries depending on their requirements, for the purpose of migration and to study at Ivyleague universities with appropriate scholarships. We have recently observed that countries like the Netherlands, France, Germany, China and Canada have gained prominence amongst international students, apart from the US and the UK that are still popular, of course.
June-July 2018 / 15
people & places
Serene experienceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;An exquisite &
Lebanon is gaining steady momentum as a destination for Indians. Have you seen an increase in visas being issued in India? Can you give us a little bit more insight into what were the key factors that contributed to this growth? Yes, we have seen a significant growth in the number of visa applications since I have assumed charge. Networking with
the Indian trade as well as the travel and tourism fraternity and promoting the destination have helped position Lebanon in the market. Lebanese authorities want more and more Indian tourists to visit the country. For this very reason we have streamlined the visa application process by collaborating with VFS Global, making the entire process easier and quicker.
H.E. Mr. Rabie Narsh, Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of Lebanon to India, elaborates on his plans towards promoting Lebanon as a preferred holiday destination in the Indian market TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Capital Beirut
Currency Lebanese lira/pound (LL); US dollar (US$)
Languages Spoken Arabic, French, English
Time Zone Eastern European Time (GMT/UTC plus two hours)
WHERE TO VISIT WHEN IN LEBANON… Beirut downtown • Hamra Famous Street • Achrafiyeh • Jimmayzeh • Al Chofu region • Beiteddine • Barouk • Baakline • Deir al-Qamar • Saidon • Tripoli • Baalbek Roman ruins • Byblos • Jounieh • Cassino du Liban • Jeita Grotto • Harissa • Bcharri Zgorta • Ehden • Batroun • Southern Lebanon • Bekaa Valley
Are there any new initiatives in the pipeline to facilitate increase travel and tourism between India and Lebanon? We are looking to promote Lebanon in India as a major tourist attraction. We plan to collaborate with several trade partners. We also have many activities and initiatives in the pipeline.
Which are the major trends that you are witnessing in the Indian market? Indians are evolved travellers. They believe in experiential travel and now want to do things at their own pace. Travel is seen as a mode of self-realisation, exploration and experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. One of the clearest trends we are seeing is a willingness to explore new destinations.
What is the best time to visit Lebanon? What are your top 5 must do’s while there? Lebanon is a year-round destination. In
winter, one can enjoy snow activities. During spring, fall and summer, travellers can visit the coastal cities as well as experience the picturesque landscapes in the countryside. Travellers must indulge in the exquisite and delicate Lebanese cuisine.
Travel to Lebanon from India is mostly confined to two or three cities. Does the embassy plan to work with the tourism board to improve dispersal of Indian travellers to other parts of Lebanon? Yes, we want tourists from all parts of India to witness the exquisite and serene Lebanon experience. In addition to the major metros and Tier I cities, we also plan to promote the destination in Tier II cities.
Travel is seen as a mode of self-realisation, exploration and experiencing different cultures and meeting new people
WHEN TO GO Daily flights connect India and the UAE with Lebanon. Best times to visit are:
December–April Skiing and après-ski parties in the mountains.
May–September The perfect time to go hiking along wild trails and through cedar forests.
June–August Beach lounges and nightclubs beckon.
How important is increase in air connectivity to improve tourist numbers on both sides? Very important, unparalleled! Direct flights to Lebanon will definitely aid in the growth of travellers between the two countries.
How has your experience been so far in India? What are your favourite destinations within the country? Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel around much due to commitments at work. However, I am looking forward to explore the cultural, natural and historical beauty of this great civilisation. June-July 2018 / 17
Fly by Beirut Got 48 hours in the Lebanese capital? Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how to make the most of it
Words: Kiran Mehta
eirut holds the traditions of the Middle East and the hedonism of the West. This is where the twain meet! Whether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re
It was closed in that year and was reopened in the 1990s with over 1,300 archaeological artefacts on display.
looking for ancient Phoenician figurines, or want to visit a night club, or shop in a souk, Beirut has it all.
National Museum of Beirut The Beirut National Museum has been through a lot in its history. When the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, the museum was on the infamous Green Line that divided East and West Beirut.
The museum, principal museum of archaeology in Lebanon, is designed in the Egyptian revival architectural style and is coated with Lebanese ochre limestone. It holds collections that date back to the prehistoric ages and go on till the Islamic empires. The artefacts here grace the floors of the building and tell the stories of ages that have passed.
Highlights include intricately carved Phoenician sarcophagi and frescoed Roman tombs. P.S. To ensure you don’t miss out on the historical significance, the museum offers iPads, which can read the labels against the artefacts, to provide you with a commentary.
Destroyed by the civil war, the Beirut Souks was rebuilt in modern architectural styles, with elements of the past
a children’s science museum, an entertainment area, a cinema complex, street markets and more. Walk the district and you’ll find the most sought-after fashion labels, from across the globe.
Traditionally, souks evoke the smell of earthy spices, the sight of colourful lanterns and hand-woven carpets. However, the souks in Beirut have moved away from the traditional mould. Destroyed by the Civil War, it Beirut Souks was rebuilt in modern architectural styles, with elements of the past such as long vaulted alleys and the Hellenistic street grid layout.
Beirut Souks, a shopping mecca, consists of over 200 shops, 25 eateries,
Colourful carousels, toy trains, variations of the tea-cup ride – this amusement park has attractions that will thrill the
P.S. Perhaps the love for the good life, particularly the emphasis on fashion, is courtesy of the French; Lebanon was under the French mandate after the First World War.
kids. But, even if you don’t have children in tow, drop in to Luna Park for the Ferris wheel. This attraction undoubtedly offers the best views of the city – from soaring minarets and spires of cathedrals to glass encased sky-scrapers, all the way to the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Make it here at sun-down and you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views, as the sun gives way to twinkling city lights. P.S. The very first Luna Park opened in Coney Island, New York, in 1903.
Falafel Sahyoun Falafel is a tasty, filling staple that is enjoyed on the go. While falafel is available across many restaurants in the city, Falafel Sahyoun is one of the oldest family-run falafel stores in Beirut. Started by Mustafa Sahyoun, the brand has now split into different branches. His two sons operate different stores with the same name, and they are right next to each other. Whichever shop you end up at, you’re in for a treat – crispy fried balls wrapped in khubus (Arabic bread), with a generous sprinkling of parsley, a filling of sliced tomatoes and radish, and a hint of tahini sauce. P.S. There are many theories about the origin of falafel. One theory proposes that it came from India, where deep frying was common, and was brought to the Middle East by travellers and tradesmen.
Night Life Often called the Middle East’s party capital, Beirut is known for its vibrant nightlife. While various pubs and restaurants have opened up in the city, Karantina district houses some of the best ones in town. Alternatively you can also try B 018, a nightclub with a retractable roof opening to the stars.
Cafe in Central Beirut
P.S. Be an early bird because the entry fees soar as the clock ticks. June-July 2018 / 19
Say goodbye to the conundrums of security checks, queues and stressful baggage claims in airports of the future Words: Aishwarya Vishwanathan
assle-free and smooth experience are two things that drive the airports of the future. Airport operators are deploying high-end technologies to link different services and provide a more relaxed travel experience.
One of the major concerns that drive passengers and airport authorities alike is identity management. With the use of biometric-enabled technologies, your face becomes your passport. Airports around the world, like Heathrow Airport, Hamad International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Changi Airport, are using self-service boarding kiosks that use biometric scanning and recognition during security checks and lounge check-ins, to speed up security searches and to provide self-service baggage drop options.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Robots have already made their successful debut in the world of aviation. The use of artificial intelligence and robotics holds tremendous potential to improve passenger experience at airports by providing smarter and efficient baggage check-in experience and helping the ground staff to provide better services. At Geneva Airport, you are sure to bump into Leo, a bag-drop robot
that helps you to secure your baggage and attach a tag to it right at the terminal gate. This reduces the hassle of trudging with your baggage through the terminal. Other airports using similar technologies include Life-size Resistance X-wing Fighter Docks at Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Changi Airport and baggage handling bots at Seoulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Incheon Airport.
Smartphone Apps Major airports are partnering with Google Maps to aid passengers in navigating through airport facilities. They are also integrating mobile solutions to provide real-time data to passengers and to alert airport staff about any delays to keep the process smooth. Athens International
Want more of Drones? Drones have been used in Hollywood movies since 2012. Sam Mendesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Naomie Harris, was the first of the James Bond movies to use drones for filming aerial footage.
Airport has successfully implemented a smart app that provides information to passengers regarding special retail offers, airport parking services and updates regarding their flight. FRAnky at Frankfurt
Augmented Reality wayfinding makes the entire airport experience a cake-walk for passengers
Airport, described as “artificial intelligence with charm”, is a messenger-based app that gives information about restaurants, shops and service facilities, and also sends regular updates about flights.
Drone Technology Traditionally, airports send out maintenance team on foot to check the upkeep of airport runways. In order to optimise this operation and to gather data on land imaging,
volumetric data and surveying data, aviation industry is now utilising drone technologies. These machines provide a significant saving in cost and time. Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the first airports to use these Unmanned Aerial Systems for predictive maintenance supports. Edmonton International Airport is also using robotic birds to scare away birds and prevent their collision with aircraft.
Augmented Reality Augmented Reality (AR) wayfinding makes the entire airport experience a cake-walk for passengers. Travellers will be able to follow the digital trails of their AR navigation tool to find departure gates, the right check-in area and baggage belts. One of the best examples of successful implementation of this technology is Gatwick Airport, which helps passengers to use cameras on their mobile device to find directions.
Another ground-breaking implementation of AR technology was seen at Changi Airport. The technology comes in the form of a pair of smart glasses providing instructions to the ground staff. So, a ground handler loading cargo onto a plane can now “see” and scan a virtual QR code displayed on the baggage containers and through the glasses instantly view the details of its weight, loading sequence and allocated position within the aircraft. June-July 2018 / 21
Escapade A Swiss
Take a boat ride, hike the Alps, taste its chocolate or sip its wines - the to-do list in Switzerland is packed with delights Words: Oscar Bloom
Waterfall in Lauterbrunnen village
ith towering peaks and glistening glaciers across the country, it is no surprise that Switzerland boasts some of the most spectacular hikes in the world. Go for the Zermatt Lake Trail to watch the iconic Matterhorn, know Swiss history in Lake Lucerne, or spot native animals like the ibex or the marmot hiking through Swiss National Park in GraubĂźnden. However, there are a lot more things to do in the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most beautiful country.
Mountain bikers in Zermatt
mountain biking in Zermatt One of Switzerlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s iconic landmarks, the Matterhorn, in Zermatt offers mountain bikers ample opportunities for adventure. The winding singletracks, high-speed slopes, gruelling climbs and epic descents are ideal for all levels of bikers.
Discover Lakes Apart from the mountains, Switzerland is home to numerous lakes, from the biggest and best known, such as Lake Geneva and Lake Zurich, to lovely little mountain lakes that are off the beaten track. The lake near Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland has turquoise waters set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. In summer, people visit this lake to take a dip, rent a boat or hike up the stunning trails around the lake. The Black Lake (named because June-July 2018 / 23
When planning a holiday to Switzerland, you don’t have to go far. VFS Global and Switzerland Tourism have joined hands to bring you the Switzerland Travel Shop, a kiosk setup within Visa Application Centres that provides tourism-related information, as well as the chance to pre-book your sightseeing passes, day trips and rail passes. The first Switzerland Travel Shop has been set up at the New Delhi Joint Visa Application Centre, with an offshoot model, Switzerland Travel Corner, commencing operations at the centres in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
Top Switzerland products: Swiss Travel Pass Swiss Coupon Pass Mountain Excursions: Mt Titlis Jungfraujoch Mt Schilthorn Mt Pilatus Matterhorn Gornergrat
The Glacier Express covers a total of 290km taking you through different landscapes, valleys, deep gorges, tunnels and bridges
in certain lighting conditions its waters can appear very dark) in the Fribourg Pre-Alps is popular for swimming, fishing and standup paddle boarding. It is also the starting point for various hikes and mountain-biking trails. The other lakes worth visiting are Trübsee in Nidwalden, Chavonnes in Vaud and Sils in Graubünden.
Village Sojourn If you are looking to relax and slow down, head to the smaller towns of Switzerland. Wengen and Murren, two villages overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley, offer access to the Bernese Oberland
peaks without the crowds of Interlaken. Chateau d’Oex in the Lake Geneva region is a perfect base for hot-air balloon enthusiasts. Gandria, a village perched at the bottom of Mount Brè, is famous for its wonderful and romantic atmosphere. Morcote is home to several architectural wonders and Swiss heritage sites like the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate, Greek sculptures etc.
Waterfalls Watch Waterfalls may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Switzerland. However, the country is home
Gornergrat tourist train
to some spectacular ones, including the Rhine Falls, which are the biggest in Europe. Located in Neuhausen/Schaffhausen and close to the German border, they are over 150m wide and 23m high. Waterfalls at Nozon Gorge in Romainmôtier and Iffigfall in Bernese Oberland are also stunningly beautiful and worth a trip.
Where the Wine Flows There are many delightful grape variants in Switzerland, some of which are exclusive to this country. Locally known as Fendant, Chasselas is the white wine of Switzerland. It is a dry, acidic and clean-tasting wine, with an extremely floral nose and a fresh, even sparkling, feel in the mouth. Petite Arvine has a vivacious nose of grapefruit and rhubarb; in the mouth, it is complex and round, with a characteristic hint of salt on the finish.
Take a Train
With 46 railway companies and more than 5,000km of track, train travel is the most efficient, convenient and breathtaking way to experience the natural wonders of Switzerland. The Glacier Express covers a total of 290km between Zermatt and St. Moritz taking you through different landscapes, valleys, deep gorges, tunnels and bridges. The Bernina Express travels between Chur, Davos and St. Moritz, crossing the Bernina Pass at 2,253m and then entering Italy.
Sound of Music With over 10 music festivals already planned between June and August, Switzerland is the playground for some of the world’s best musicians. Greenfield Festival (June 7-9) is for rock music lovers, Festival Au Bord De L’eau (June 29-July 1) will honour Groove music and the visual arts through local and international artists, and the Montreux Jazz Festival (June 29July 14) is a must for jazz fans.
Chocolate Paradise Swiss chocolate is known for its quality and excellence. So when in Switzerland, a trip to a chocolate factory to sample this national treasure is unmissable. There are several tours offering visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the art of chocolate-making. Later satisfy your taste buds or buy the best edible souvenirs for your friends and family. June-July 2018 / 25
Unplugged With stunning architecture, leafy boulevards and a wealth of museums, Moscow thrills visitors with its majesty and artistry Words: Venetia Menzies
ne of the largest cities in the European continent, Moscow has been transforming for centuries. Russia’s cultural, political and industrial capital and today’s megacity, Moscow has been a place of exchange since the 14th century. A bridge between the East and the West, the world’s most talented artists, writers and athletes have been attracted to this cultural hub to collaborate and compete. It is all set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, inviting footballers and fans to watch history unfold in the medieval capital of Russia.
Stuffed toys for sale in a Moscow mall
For football fans travelling to Moscow to watch FIFA matches, the city has plenty to keep you busy off the pitch. The rich history of the city can be seen in its diverse architectural styles, revealing the many layers to the nation’s cultural and ideological character. This is most evident from the City Centre’s infamous Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the Kremlin, the political centre of Russia and the country’s most popular tourist attraction. Inside its mammoth red brick walls lies a treasure trove of historic and artistic relics, such
Kremlinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Spasskaya Tower
Inside the Kremlinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mammoth red brick walls lies a treasure trove of historical and artistic relics
June-July 2018 / 27
spotlight as 15th century cathedrals, paintings, cannons and the world’s largest bell. Next to the Kremlin is Lenin’s Mausoleum, a unique attraction that offers tourists a chance to catch a glimpse of the revolutionary’s embalmed body. Adjacent to this is St Basil’s Cathedral, an architectural marvel built by Ivan III (known to most as Ivan the Terrible), which was consecrated to celebrate his conquering of the Khanate of Kazan. One little-known theory is that the building’s colourful onion domes, now a staple of Russian Orthodox architecture, were remodelled from the ruins of destroyed mosques. Before leaving the Red Square, it’s essential to check out the city’s famous shopping mall, The Gum. Once the USSR’s State Department Store, it is now home to some famous designers and retailers. For something a little less pricey, shoppers should head to the city’s bustling community flea market, known as Izmaylovsky, to discover discount souvenirs and traditional Russian products.
Need to apply for a FAN ID? Head over to VFS Global What is a FAN ID? It is a mandatory document for all spectators of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ matches and is required to get the access to the stadium, along with the match ticket. It is issued after ticket purchase once for all matches. You can purchase tickets: www.FIFA.com/bilet Head to the nearest VFS Global Visa Application Centre to collect your FAN ID for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup™. To apply for a FAN ID, fill in an application form on www.fan-id.ru and collect the document at the nearest VFS Global Visa Application Centre. For information about the VFS Global Visa Application Centres, visit: www.vfsglobal.com/fan-id/
The city is bursting with different art galleries and museums, but if you only have time for one, the Tretyakov Gallery is a favourite. Established in 1856 and home to more than 2,000 Russian paintings, the
Advantages Visa-free entry to the Russian Federation. Free use of public transport on match days and in the special trains between the host cities. Book train tickets: www.transport2018.com Ensures comfort and safety at the stadium.
collection reveals the rich variety of artistic styles that have emerged throughout the country’s history. If you don’t have time to make it there, Moscow’s metro system, the deepest in the world, is proudly known to locals as a gallery in itself. It is home to intricate mosaics, columns, socialist statues and murals, offering a dose of culture for your daily commute. Gorky Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, as well as to learn a little about the country’s political history. Nestled at the back of the park is a collection of rejected and forgotten political statues known as the ‘Fallen Monuments’. Cruise boats, offering a tour of the city on the Moskva river that gave the city it’s name, depart and finish at this park. If you are interested in learning more about local life in Moscow, there is no finer place to meet friendly Moskovites than the cafe Ziferblat. Upon arrival in the city’s eclectic cafe, visitors are presented with a clock. You can drink and eat as much as you like, paying only for each minute you spend there. With free books and musical instruments, it is the perfect place to unwind and make new friends.
The arrival of summer is special in Scandinavia and is marked by the Midsummer Festival. It revolves around maypoles, dancing, flowers and sumptuous feasts
ometime around the latter half of June, to coincide with the summer solstice, much of Northern Europe revels in Midsummer celebrations, which are also designated as St Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day in memory of St John the Baptist. Not only are the days long and beautiful, but this is seen as the perfect time to celebrate the onset of summer. Celebrations during this time range from dancing and singing to elaborate banquets, flowers and wreaths everywhere and appreciation of the countryside. However, nowhere is Midsummer more glorious and colourful than in Scandinavia.
Midsummer is especially big in Sweden with celebrations going back several centuries to agrarian and pagan times when the day commemorated the height of summer and of fertility. Houses were decorated with leaves and flowers and maypoles (midsommarstang) were set up in open areas for people to dance around. In the evening, bonfires were lit and copious amounts of alcohol and food along with revelry made up the celebrations. Celebrated on a Friday between June 19-25, much of these celebrations have continued unbroken. It is common to see parks, gardens, public areas, summer cottages, and much of the outdoors wearing the signs of Midsummer celebrations. People pick flowers to make wreaths for the maypole and even wear them as tiaras on their foreheads. Traditional dances are held around the maypole while a feast comprising pickled herring, boiled
Words: Anita Rao Kashi
View of old town, Stockholm
potatoes served with dill, sour cream and chives, ribs, salmon and fresh fruit such as strawberries for dessert is enjoyed.
Offers & Traditions In addition to being an event to celebrate the change in season, Midsummer is also the time for love and relationships. Popular custom envisages young girls picking flowers to put under their pillow, which is supposed to trigger dreams of their future husbands. It is also a popular time for weddings, what with the promise of beautiful weather and long, bright days. In Denmark, celebrations of Midsummer, called sankthans, go back to the time of the Vikings. This was traditionally the day that medieval doctors gathered herbs that were required for curing ailments for the whole year. It was also the day when people would light bonfires to ward off evil spirits and visiting healing water wells. Though the latter tradition no longer exists, the Danish countryside does light up with bonfires, especially on beaches and open spaces, with picnics, music and dancing. In Norway, Midsummer, called Sankthansaften as well as Jonsok (Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wake), was traditionally the time for pilgrimages, especially to Roldal Stave Church in Roldal in Southwest Norway seeking health and wellness. Today, however, bonfires mark the day with outdoor celebrations and fun rituals such as mock weddings that symbolise the birth of new relationships and life. June-July 2018 / 31
There’s something about the lives of superstars that keeps the world entertained, especially when it comes to their travels
Globe-trotting desi girl My life is always scheduled. My favourite way to unwind is to do nothing and just relax at home with my friends! My home is actually my favourite destination, but I’m hardly there because of my work schedule. On one hand, I’m in a state of permanent exhaustion with all that travelling, and on the other I also feel extremely responsible because of the opportunities I am blessed with. Imagine juggling work across two ends of the globe: film readings and home in India and TV shows and appearances and a second home in the USA. A whirlwind is an understatement for my schedule! I love coming back to the US! I have lived in Newton (outside Boston), in Queens and in Cedar Rapids, but then I was a 12-year-old ninth-grader who had a huge culture shock! It was weird when I came back for the first season of Quantico, because I used to come to Manhattan, to Saks 5th Avenue with my cousins as a teenager and lo and behold, I am shooting there! Since it was my maiden TV show here, I felt like a newcomer all over again. It reminded me of the days when I first started working in Hindi cinema. I consider shooting for all these international projects a vacation for me. It is more of a rejuvenating holiday than work. When it comes to destinations in India, I like Jaipur because of its colour and its royal old-world charm. Globally, I’m in love with Brazil. I visited the country while shooting for Khatron Ke Khiladi. I am always on my Apple laptop. It is my favourite way of staying in touch with my people and work. I want to travel and holiday in Mexico. Hope I get to do it soon. As told to Aarti Kapur Singh
Cultural chops I love the sense of heritage and culture in China. And also the fact that the country is moving forward without letting go of its roots. Beijing, the capital, is a blend of modern architecture and ancient sites. You can explore the splendid Forbidden City complex, the Tiananmen Square and the National Museum of China. At the Peking Opera School where I studied, the feeling of knowledge, the smell of learning pervades everything! Besides that, I love Jodhpur in India. We shot large parts of Kung Fu Yoga there. I think I have a natural and a very strong affinity to places that have historical importance. Jackie Chan
A relaxing adventure The last few years have been more relaxed for me, and I have done a lot of things I liked doing but could not find the time to do. Travelling tops that list. A beach is my first option when I search a destination. Miami is my all-time favourite beach destination. It has so much energy! Hawaii is a close second. Other than beaches, I love Mexico for being so full of life. During my career, I was introduced to the historical richness of Egypt and I fell in love. I have returned to Egypt several times and I never skip going and seeing the Sphinx! Anna Kournikova
Beach-loving supermodel I love to travel to have fun in a different way, where I can horse around, walk, tan, play and not dress up. I love holidays too! Aspen is a favourite place to go to. Personally, I am a complete beach person. I am happiest when holidaying on a beach, or even anywhere close to a beach. Tahiti is my favourite beach destination for its beautiful sights. I also like California for its vibe. When Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m at the beach, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll take a surfboard out and just sit on the water. I probably could surf again but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a little bit scared of being bad at something that I was once good at.
As told to Aarti Kapur Singh Gigi Hadid
June-July 2018 / 33
Self-expression gets a bold and familiar signature this season, with paintbox brights Words: Shashi Priya Philip Lim
ummer is here and if you don’t already know it, the hottest colours for the season are well, a wee bit on the pop side. No, the pastels aren’t going anywhere. So don’t just trash all your pastel dresses.
explains the Pantone Colour Trend Spring 2018 Report. Though fashion designer Anushree Reddy dedicated an entire collection to a softer pink, the season’s shade card asks you to try focusing on fuchsia.
Ever since Pantone predicted the trend of ‘paintbox brights’ for the year 2018,
experts recommend that fashionistas do
yellow, purple, green, red and blue.
A very strong, heated and dynamic colour with an orange undertone, this courageous, never-to-be-ignored shade is viscerally alive. At the London and New York spring fashion weeks, Vogue even highlighted it as the upand-coming statement shade. So this time around, don’t be scared to go red-to-toe.
Little Boy Blue
Witty and expressive, Spring Crocus is a flamboyant and tantalising fuchsia shade that summons you with its beguiling charm,
US First Lady Melania Trump single-handedly got this hue worldwide attention thanks to the Ralph Lauren ensemble she wore
a head-to-toe splash of it for the ultimate confidence boost. But what exactly do ‘paintbox brights’ comprise? Well, simply a flourish of gender-neutral flamboyance and self-expression in familiar shades of pink,
Designers recommend a head-to-toe splash of ‘paintbox brights’ for the ultimate confidence boost Mary Katrantzou Aalto
to her husband’s inauguration. Recent documentaries on Princess Diana, who favoured blue, have brought about a revival of the shade. Designer Gaurang Shah even named his collection Neel at the Lakme Fashion Week 2018.
Lime Punch Sharp and pungent, Lime Punch hits a chord with its strident and striking citrus - like presence in the spring 2018 colour palette. In both the London and New York Spring Fashion Weeks, the lime punch was picked as a significant colour for the season and an entire spectrum of it kept making appearances at Lakme Fashion Week 2018.
Arcadia Greens have been all over the map in the last few years, but Greenery’s vibrant, organic cast made it Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. And looks like no one’s bidding it farewell anytime soon, even though muted hues give way to gleamy, gem-like bright tones this time around. June-July 2018 / 35
people & places our only offering; the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah boasts a wide variety of attractions that appeal to the broader audience, such as its amazing beaches, rugged mountains, luxury resorts and desert wilderness camps, and its strategic location just 45 minutes away from DXB International Airport. As part of our ‘Destination Ras Al Khaimah 2019’ strategy, we are looking beyond traditional sun and sand holidaymakers and targeting cultural explorers and luxury indulgence and wellness seekers with products that meet their different interests.
How do you think Ras Al Khaimah is a worthy tourist destination for travellers?
Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, wants to create a compelling destination for visitors seeking authentic culture and naturebased Arabian experiences
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is all over the news these days. Tell us more about your adventure tourism offerings to the world. We are working towards building and asserting Ras Al Khaimah’s position as a leading adventure hub of the Middle East, and showcasing the breadth of our offering to the active adventurer audience, particularly in and around Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain. This includes the Via Ferrata climbing and hiking routes and Jebel Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline at 2.83km, which is truly a ‘bucket list’ attraction for anyone visiting the UAE. Nevertheless, adventure tourism isn’t
Over the last couple of years, we’ve focused on sustainably leveraging our scenic resources and developing a tourism product that appeals to our core markets, both domestic and overseas. Our competitive edge and charm comes from what we promise visitors: an authentic and accessible Arabian experience in incredible surroundings. • We have 64km of pristine coastline that appeals to the sun-and-sand travellers. • I n terms of culture, we have all three tribal traditions – coastal, desert and mountain – living in beautifully preserved authentic environments and a place where visitors come face to face with archaeological sites, museums and a largely unchanged rural life. • W e have the Hajar Mountains where we are growing our adventure tourism product. We pride ourselves on being known as the Adventure Emirate. RAK is home to Jebel Jais, the UAE’s tallest mountain, which rises to 1,934m above sea level. It features the region’s first commercial Via Ferrata – the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata – offering world-class rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking. Recently, we opened Jebel Jais Flight. • We are also focusing on growing our offers for luxury and wellness seekers with world-class hospitality, resorts and spas, and in the future, a luxury mountain camp.
We are focusing to grow our offers for luxury and wellnessseekers with worldclass hospitality, resorts and spas and a luxury mountain camp What are the popular destinations and new hotspots for tourists? Apart from Jebel Jais Via Ferrata and Jebel Jais Flight, a new viewing deck park will also serve tourists and residents looking to enjoy the stunning mountain scenery. For those who don’t have a head for heights, there are water sports activities like diving and kayaking through the mangroves to see the rare green turtles. We also host sporting events like the RAK Half Marathon to appeal to this type of traveller, and this continues to be a growth area for us. We also have a lot of cyclists who ride up Jebel Jais over the weekend. With the increased focus on growing tourism to the UAE, it’s important we utilise our natural assets to attract this growing market. Ras Al Khaimah also boasts of several ancient archaeological sites, giving visitors a fascinating insight into its history and the rich culture that still runs through the very heart of its local population. Visitors can bask under the Emirate’s golden sun rays or spend the day discovering Ras Al Khaimah’s finest local products from artisanal textiles to delicious traditional cuisine. Some highlights are: • T he Ras Al Khaimah National Museum is in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family until the early 1960s. The museum houses an excellent collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts. • The Dhayah Fort, a 16th-century mudbrick fort, was built in a strategic hilltop position facing the Gulf, to defend the region from any attack. • K hatt Springs is an area of mineral-rich hot pools, where the water is noted for its relaxing and therapeutic properties. The
resort lies amid a palm-tree strewn oasis, backed by mountains. The waters are a top get-away-from-it-all holiday draw for locals and tourists.
How do strong air connectivity and quality service complement Ras Al Khaimah as a destination? More than 90% of visitors travel via Dubai airport, which is only 45 minutes’ drive away. In 2017 the Emirate witnessed a 19% growth in the overall number of guests, with a substantial increase from emerging markets particularly amongst visitors from Eastern European countries. Inbound tourism from Poland was up 160% versus 2016 and the number of visitors from the Czech Republic also increased by 51%. The strong performance came on the back of ongoing strategic partnerships and agreements that took place between RAKTDA and in-market tour operators and an increase in marketing activities to showcase the breadth of offers in the destination for key tourism segments.
Tell us something more about your new tourism strategy Destination 2019. Destination Ras Al Khaimah 2019 is the first tourism strategy for the Emirate. It sets out a clear roadmap for growing tourism in the years ahead. As the result of extensive research into consumer insights, the strategy will enable us to lead our industry and many stakeholders to deliver our common goals through 2019 and beyond. Our strategy aims to bring one million tourists to Ras Al Khaimah by the end of 2018, focusing on three key tourist segments beyond the traditional leisure market seeking sun and sand. These segments are active adventurers, cultural explorers and luxury indulgence and wellness seekers. Our vision is to create a compelling destination for visitors seeking authentic culture and naturebased Arabian experiences. We will highlight the aspects that are unique to Ras Al Khaimah and present them to the world, ensuring the highest possible standards are delivered at each touch point of the customer journey.
Germany, the UK and Russia continue to be our largest international source markets.
How has RAK performed in terms of hospitality in 2017 and what are your expectations for 2018? Hotel occupancies performed well in 2017, with the average occupancy throughout the year at 73.6%, a growth of 3.5% versus 2016. Average length of stay also grew by 2.7% to 3.41 days showing the increasing appeal of the destination beyond the weekend break or staycation. The increased demand highlights the need for more hotel rooms and RAKTDA has plans to grow its current resort portfolio from just over 5,400 rooms to more than 10,000 by the end of 2020. Diversification of accommodation options is equally important and RAKTDA recently signed an MoU with Airbnb to regulate and increase the inventory of holiday homes, ensuring that high-quality stays are available for tourists.
How do you differentiate Ras Al Khaimah from emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi? What advantages does this bring? The diversity of the land in Ras Al Khaimah is one of its main points of differentiation from anywhere else in the world. Our natural assets include 64km of golden beaches, the highest mountains in UAE, hot springs, rich flora and fauna and a unique terracotta desert. Only in Ras Al Khaimah can visitors enjoy so many adventures packed into just one break, whether it is an authentic Arabian desert safari, a beach escape or action-packed activities in the mountains. Ras Al Khaimah continues to represent a desirable destination for international travellers, and through the efforts of our own initiatives, working with target market partners and developing new attractions such as the world’s longest zipline in Jebel Jais or the Via Ferrata, we are increasingly in front of mind for consumers who are choosing holidays. Our vision is to be a sustainable and competitive tourism destination. We will inspire people from around the world to visit Ras Al Khaimah. June-July 2018 / 37
While Ras Al Khaimah remained in the shadows of its more famous siblings Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, it is finally coming into its own
RAK bay with harbour in background
The Middle East’s first commercial Via Ferrata is now open for those seeking an adrenaline-filled day Jebel Jais
as Al Khaimah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It offers magnificent landscapes, breathtaking coastlines and rich, terracotta desert planes. Year-long sunshine, over 60 km of white sandy beaches and its close proximity to Dubai (45 min from the busy metropolis) make RAK a unique experience on its own. Whether you are looking for a leisurely sea cruise or something a little more exciting, RAK has something for everyone, both onshore and offshore.
Heritage Walks Immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of the UAE’s northernmost Emirate at the National Museum of RAK. It served as the residence of the ruling family until 1964, when the late Ruler, H.H. Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, moved to a modern building in Mamoura. Later it was converted into the National Museum in 1987. It is filled with archaeological, historical and ethnographical objects partly donated by members of the ruling Al Qasimi family and residents of RAK.
Adrenaline Rush at the Via Ferrata Route
Bird’s Eye View of the Splendid RAK Bay
The Middle East’s first commercial Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron route”), which offers an interesting blend of rock climbing and alpine hiking, is now open for those seeking an adrenaline filled day on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain. Via Ferrata is a cool concept that started in the Alps of Switzerland as a protected climbing route. It consists of steel cables fixed to the mountain. RAK’s 470m-long Via Ferrata is unique to the region, and it comprises three individual start and finish points, as well as three zip-lines measuring 50m, 60m and 300m.
With a backdrop of steep mountains, the Dayah Fort is a twin-towered hilltop fortress built in the early 19th century. A conical shaped hill at the foot of the mountains served as a natural defense post for the oasis. Visitors need to climb the zigzagging staircase that lead to this fort in order to enjoy a 360-degree view of the vast date-palm oasis and the Hajar Mountains that form the elegant vistas of the RAK area.
Feel-good Shopping A shopaholics paradise, RAK is replete with malls, souks and roadside stalls, which offer everything from Western goods to merchandise typical of the region. One can shop for endless varieties of dates, baklava, perfumes, gold jewellery, richly embroidered textiles and shawls, carpets, hookahs and varieties of exquisite handicrafts the Arab culture is famed for.
Exploring the Ghost Town Located just 19km south of RAK’s main town is Al Jazirat Al Hamra, an old pearl fishing village. Once a thriving community, it has now transformed into an open air museum. In the 14th century, Al Jazirat Al Hamra was built by three local tribes. Literally translating to “red island”, it is estimated that in around 1830, almost 200 people lived in this small village, with most of them earning their living as pearl fishermen. June-July 2018 / 39
Africa on a Plate
From grand dishes to stews and aromatic curries, a visit to Africa is incomplete without savouring some traditional food
Piri Piri Chicken One of the favourite South African recipes, Piri piri chicken is made from the iconic Mozambican chilli piri piri, also known as the African birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye chilli, mixed with salt, garlic, lemon, onion, oil and vinegar. This succulent feast of chicken is traditionally served with matapa, a dish of cassava leaves cooked in a peanut sauce.
Kapenta with Sadza Crisp-fried kapenta (sardines) are stewed with tomatoes, onions and groundnut powder, and served with fresh greens. Like other traditional African dishes, it is accompanied by sadza, a delicious maize porridge. The traditional way to eat this dish is to scoop up the sadza with your hand and to dip it or roll it in the accompanying fish and relishes.
Bunny Chow Bunny chow is a half-loaf of bread, hollowed out and filled with steaming curry cooked with chicken, mutton, lamb, mince or kidney beans. It is one of the most popular takeaway meals in Durban, the seaside hub of South Africa’s ethnic Indian community. This street-side food was originally served as a filling meal to homeless people who lived on the outskirts of the city. Today, it has a huge fan following and comes as a happy alternative to sandwiches.
Potjiekos Potjiekos (meaning ‘pot food’) is a traditional dish cooked in a three-legged pot. This mouth-watering stew made of beef, chicken and mutton, is a product of several hours of slow cooking. Cooked in layers, it is typically served with pap (porridge), amadombolo (dumplings), or umngqusho (samp and beans). The sinewy and gelatinous cuts of meat used in potjiekos are known as stewing meat. Other meats such as venison, mutton, chicken and even fish make ideal potjiekos.
Cape Breyani Based on rice and an exotic array of spices, this classic Cape Malay cuisine comprises of layers of rice, meat and lentils topped with crisp-fried onions. It is deliciously accompanied by an onion and tomato salad. Dotted with butter, and palate-tickling spices, this flavoursome dish is now served across restaurants and is an inevitable part of African cuisine.
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Phi Ta Khon June 15, Thailand The Phi Ta Khon festival is the biggest attraction of the otherwise sleepy farming village of Dan Sai, nestled in the mountains of Loei province of northeastern Thailand. It is held over three days, involving music, dance, games, fireworks and religious sermons.
Paris Jazz Festival June 30–July 22, France With a daring and eclectic line-up of jazz music each year, the Paris Jazz Festival is a symbol of the vitality of the French and Parisian jazz scene. This year’s line-up will focus on jazz, world music and Afro-American music (soul, blues).
Check out what’s on around the world in the months of June and July!
FIFA World Cup 2018 June 14–July 15, Russia The biggest international sports event, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia. After being a part of the electrifying ambience at the matches, soccer fans can explore the various attractions that the 11 host cities have to offer, from Red Square and Bolshoi Theatre to the beautiful canals of St Petersburg.
Midnight Sun Film Festival June 13-17, Finland Founded by Aki and Mika Kaurismäki and Peter von Bagh, Midnight Sun Film Festival brings together leading international and Finnish directors and their work to the magical surroundings and everlasting sunlight of Finland.
Mansfield Lantern Festival June 23, Melbourne, Australia This open-to-all lantern festival is held to celebrate the onset of winter and a sense of togetherness with arts, crafts, workshops, regional food, a lantern parade, street theatre, music and more. Participants release lanterns into the air at dusk.
June 24, Goa, India Sao Joao festival marks the feast of St. John the Baptist in Goa, India. On this day, Goans wear fancy headgears made of leaves and fruits and carry out colourful processions with music echoing in the backdrop.
Wimbledon July 2-15, London The Wimbledon Championship is one of the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Besides being a part of the premier event, visitors can also explore the many places of interest in and around London.
British Summer Time July 6-15, London British Summer Time takes over Hyde Park for two weekends this summer. With massive headliners such as Bruno Mars, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon, the shows are promised to make this festival a must visit.
July 20-22 and 27-29, Belgium Tomorrowland is one of the most renowned dance music festivals in the world. House, EDM, techno, drum and bass, hardstyle and every other genre of electronic music will be represented by artists attending the festival.
Fuji Rock Festival July 27-29, Japan An annual music event, this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lineup for the Fuji Rock Festival ranges from N.E.R.D, MGMT and Skrillex, to James Bay and Bob Dylan (with his 101st performance in Japan).
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VFS Global’s AI initiative in learning In July 2017, VFS Global announced a partnership with award-winning UK-based Edtech Oxademy Technologies and its subsidiary Oxademy Business School to form the new global digital learning platform named ‘VFS-Oxademy’.
VFS Global launching
to serve applicants
The Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbots are expected to simplify visa application process
echnological innovations and solutions
What is Artificial Intelligence?
have been pivotal to global economic
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already revolutionising the way we perform several tasks today. AI machines can often mimic human actions and perform a near-efficient and fast-paced replica of repetitive and manual-intensive tasks. It is an avenue that supports the creation of
growth, since the last two centuries. From the steam engine, to aircraft, to handheld devices and now self-driving cars, these pioneering technological solutions have created opportunities for growth by offering customised solutions to common problems.
VFS-Oxademy offers the ‘first-of-its-kind’ knowledgedriven AI cloud infrastructure called OX360, which identifies each learner’s strengths and weaknesses and generates learning paths based on individual learners behaviour, personalising the learning to each individual student. This intuitive system will also provide real-time analysis of the students’ performance data.
Evolution of AI Influenced by Alan Turing’s theory of computation in the 1950s, which raised the key question of “Are machines capable of thinking?”, it is claimed that John McCarthy, a professor of mathematics at Dartmouth, first came up with the term “Artificial Intelligence” in the year in 1955 at a conference organised around this. Two years later, with the growing curiosity and scepticism around this field and the potential it held, American Economist Herbert Simon and Cognitive Psychologist and Computer Sciences Researcher Allen Newell predicted that computers would beat humans at chess within 10 years. During the late 1960s, Cognitive Scientist Marvin Minsky remarked that “Within a generation the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will be substantially solved.”
‘intelligent’ machines that react and work like humans. This includes commonly used traits like problem-solving, reasoning, learning, planning etc and has already become a mainstream concept that has begun impacting many aspects in present-day life. Though there was a lull that followed during the 1970s and 1980s, initiatives under AI then picked up steam in the late 1990’s where information gathered began to be used for logistics, data mining, medical diagnosis etc. In May 1997, Deep Blue became the first computer chessplaying system to defeat Garry Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. This event made the world stand up and take notice, as AI had truly arrived. At present, with greater use of cloud computing technologies as well as extensive use of research and analytical tools in a mobile and connected world, the use of AI by renowned tech companies and other organisations is at an all-time high!
Real Impact and Opportunities Analysis based on a 2017 PwC report estimated that global GDP will be 14% higher in 2030 as AI is estimated to add $15.7 trillion in terms of productivity. Tech pioneers of this generation like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and even the late Stephen Hawking have all been talking about AI for several years, be it in support of this technology or otherwise. All this noise actually points out to how AI now is changing the way we interact, gather information and simply get things done. There are immense opportunities offered by the field of AI in the coming years, barring the usual bottlenecks of the vision, implementation and sustenance of this technology.
What is a Chatbot? Chatbots are programmes powered by AI and Machine Learning to converse with customers and other stakeholders through an interactive interface. This can be used for a wide variety of objectives, be it functional, engagement or even
Coming soon: ViVA, the VFS Global Chatbot VFS Global is set to roll out its chatbot, ViVA, the first-of-its-kind technology in the visa application processing and consular services industry. ViVA will offer added convenience to applicants by helping them with their visa-related queries and act as a round-theclock support. Offering a consistent experience, ViVA will also register customer feedback and help to improve upon the quality of services. Turnaround times will be shorter as customer queries will be responded in a fast and efficient manner.
Key features of Chatbotbased interface adopted by VFS Global include Creating a ‘conversational’ experience for the end-user Voice-enabled interaction and assistance Multi-lingual capabilities to interact with a wider base of audience Live chat integration and cross platform synchronisation Real-time and Artificial Intelligence-based analysis of inputs
How does VFS Global’s Chatbot help with applicant engagement? Assist with pre-lodgement enquiries Assist with post-lodgement enquiries Provide application status tracking with updated information Ensure appointment scheduling capabilities based on the applicants location and visa he plans to apply for Support with online visa assistance capabilities
How does VFS Global’s Chatbot help with applicant support? Availability around the clock and 24X7 as Chatbots never get tired! Help with gathering feedback and also in consumer insights that improvise output Offer a consistent experience across all applicants or users who use this capability.
for pure fun. Popular bots include the virtual assistant created by a popular e-commerce company and the intelligent personal assistant offered by a popular mobile company to interact with their users. A 2016 report by Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, mentioned that the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse by the year 2020! We are at an interesting phase in the AI revolution where there is higher probability of interacting with a bot and not knowing it, than ever before. In fact, AI has already begun impacting the lives of millions of people across the world through: • Smart virtual assistants, such as voicebased personal assistants available on mobile phones • Extensive use in facial recognition and biometrics • Generating media or tailor-made content based on Web user’s preferences and needs
Why do people like Chatbots? A base of four billion global users across messaging applications points to the fact that consumers are now very comfortable with a chat-based user interface. This interface provides quick exchange of information and ensures a very high level of engagement. Recent surveys indicated that most online consumers return to a website that has a chat option, and a majority of them found chat option as ‘extremely helpful’. Even companies that offered online chat as an option witnessed a rise in Web traffic and a subsequent drop in calls to call centres. Taking these developments into consideration and also being mindful of the changing requirements as to how customers and applicants would like to interact, VFS Global has commenced steps to build in AI-based technology in its conversations with applicants for select client governments in specific locations, with the intention to scaleup this requirement in future. June-July 2018 / 45
Become a member now Now launched in the UAE and India, the first-of-its-kind membership program provides global travellers with personalised assistance at every stage of their journey
o bring the global traveller of today unparalleled personalisation and elevated experience of services, the world leader in the visa processing domain, VFS Global, has launched the exclusive VFS Global Privilege Program* that aims at delivering multi-faceted and uninhibited services to individuals who are looking to set-off on their journey their way.
Crafted to delight visa applicants with a host of meaningful benefits and privileges, the VFS Global Privilege Program simplifies the overall visa application and travel experience. Be it before or even during travel, the program’s intuitively designed service offerings uniquely liberate members from frequently experienced travel-related complexities and apprehensions. After a successful launch in India, the membership program** arrives in the UAE, with curated offerings targeted at the truly global UAE resident. In India, the membership programs, tailor-made for travellers of varied groups, include the Gold Privilege, the Silver Privilege, the Gold Family Privilege, the Student Privilege and the Senior Citizens Privilege programs. In the UAE, the membership programs, meticulously designed for the selective global citizen, include the Platinum Privilege, the Gold Privilege and the Silver Privilege programs. In both India and the UAE, members have access to ‘Always On’ services, which are available for use any number of time during the entire period of the membership validity. A dedicated global Privilege Helpdesk number enables members to simply pick up the phone and receive assistance on just about anything they need. From advice on documentation and guidance on updating the application form to booking an appointment or guidance on travel-related queries, the helpdesk is there to assist!
In the UAE, the membership programs include the Platinum Privilege, the Gold Privilege and the Silver Privilege programs
When members set out on their travels, a specialised 24x7 Global Travel SOS Helpline is available for them to call, should an emergency arise. Be it the loss of a passport or legal assistance in a foreign country, help will be just a call away. When at the Visa Application Centre, members receive personalised service in the comfort and plushness of VFS Global’s world-class Premium Lounges from dedicated Relationship Managers, who personally assist them with the entire application process. Under the Platinum tier, members in the UAE can opt to submit their applications in the ultra-luxurious Platinum Lounge or via the unmatched convenience of doorstep visa services, which allow them to submit their entire application from the location
of their choice, anywhere in the UAE. Gold members in the UAE also have the exclusive benefit of opting for VFS Global’s doorstep visa services. A host of useful Value Added Services such as Insurance, Forex, SIM cards, travel concierge services and even arrangements for driving licences are also available for added convenience to members. Additionally, complimentary services ranging from courier services, photocopying and printing to SMS status alerts, are offered to take care of every travel related need of a member all under one roof. A holistic overview of the packages reveals that they have been created to empower travellers, who are in different stages of life. Thoughtfully enveloping the diverse needs of each category of travellers, the VFS Global Privilege Program is proof of the company’s multidimensional approach to travel-care and travel facilitation. To enrol and for detailed information on the programs and applicability to your region, please visit www.vfsglobalprivilege.com or call 1800 266 9720 (India) / +971 4 205 5908 (UAE) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*VFS Global Privilege Program services are currently available only in select countries and for select missions. ** Membership tiers and benefits vary as per the region.
June-July 2018 / 47
Protect your assets with virtual registry of Wills, a one-of-its-kind service, offering stability to residents of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah
n 2017, Dubai saw the fruits of an AED 25.5 billion inflow in foreign investment, keeping it in the top 10 global cities to attract such investment, according to FDI*. Many businesses have remained flexible in their support of such growth, by introducing innovative products and services with foreign
level of investment by offering them stability and peace of mind.
Many foreign investors, and even residents of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, are not aware that due to Sharia Law, if your Will is not registered with the government of Dubai, any Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimahowned assets may not be passed on as per your wishes. However, since May 2015, residents and investors in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah have had the option provided by the DIFC Wills Service Centre of choosing how to protect their assets via a Will. This is a first-of-its-kind service in the MENA region, enabling the registration of an English language Will under common law. In other words, this is the surest and most efficient option to protect your assets, and the only one, apart from Sharia Law, that provides certainty of succession and inheritance in line with your wishes at time of probate.
Financial Assets Will – known as the ‘Will for everyone’, whereby any eligible persons can complete and submit for registration a DIFC Will online, which can encompass up to 10 separate bank and brokerage accounts. In addition, the DIFC Wills Service Centre also offers standard Full Will and Guardianship Will options via in-person registration at their Dubai offices.
Global Security & Identity Verification Services Offering Peace of Mind The Virtual Registry is a smart government
If you have acquired, or are planning to acquire assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, the DIFC Wills inheritance calculator allows you to establish how Sharia Law might affect their distribution. You can access the calculator through the website at http://difcprobate.ae/calculator.
investors in mind. The DIFC Wills Service Centre is one such example, supporting this
eligible persons to register a DIFC Will, which is specific to their free zone and RAK International Corporate Centre (‘RAKICC’) registered companies and can encompass up to five separate shareholdings.
The DIFC Wills Service Centre – for Foreign Investors In 2017, the innovative ‘Virtual Registry’, an extension of the DIFC Wills Service Centre, was launched with overseas asset-holders in mind. The smart service enables eligible investors living outside of the UAE to create, register, witness and store a Will for Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah assets from anywhere in the world. When registering a Will online, the DIFC Wills Service Centre has three options available for eligible investors to access remotely.
Property Will – an online facility that enables eligible persons to complete and submit for registration a DIFC Will, which can encompass up to five real estate properties (or a share in up to five real estate properties) that are situated in either the Emirate of Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah. Free Zone Company Share Will – an online Will that enables
registration to date The number of Wills registered to date (over 3,000) is primarily led by resident and non-resident Indian and British investors, with an increasing number of Chinese, Russian, American and Canadian nationals also utilising the service – a trend which continues to grow.
For an identity check at home or in office, customers can request the mobile service via an appointment, as long as they are located within a reasonable distance from a VFS Global centre. Following the recent introduction of ‘The Law for Administration of Non-Muslim Estates in Dubai and Execution of their Wills’, registering Wills with DIFC to ensure Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah-owned assets are secured for the future has become more important than ever before. Furthermore, the added protection received through identity verification provides testators the peace-of-mind that their Will cannot be disputed at a later date on the grounds that someone impersonated them at the time of signing.
The DIFC Wills Registration Service
VFS Global’s extensive network gives DIFC Will customers free access to online identity verification services across the globe
service that, for the first time, enables global investors and asset owners wanting to register a Will to do so from wherever they are in the world. Assisted by a team of DIFC specialists, eligible testators can complete the entire process via their laptop or smartphone.
Night view of Ras Al Khaimah bay
In the wake of reports that the number of Wills being contested all over the world is a concern, DIFC Wills Service Centre partnered with VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, to provide those registering their Will with next-level security assurance. VFS Global’s extensive global network gives DIFC Will customers free access to online identity verification services across the globe, enabling customers to conveniently complete their mandatory identity verification process within 30 days in their country of residence. VFS Global will authenticate the identity of the Will owner by checking against governmentissued identification cards or passports. The identity credentials will then be passed on to the DIFC in a secure manner to be stored on an encrypted server, along with the Will, for 120 years.
DIFC Wills Service Centre is an initiative of the Dubai Government. It gives effect to the freedom provided by UAE Personal Status Law, which allows non-Muslims the ability to choose what happens to their assets when they pass away in a simple, secure and confidential process, enabling them to take care of tomorrow. The number of Wills registered to date (over 3,000) is primarily led by resident and non-resident Indian and British investors, with an increasing number of Chinese, Russian, American and Canadian nationals also utilising the service, a trend that continues to grow. If you are eligible to register a Will and you have decided which type of offering is the right one for you, the next step is to organise all the necessary documents you need to proceed. The Registry is not qualified to give legal advice for the actual drafting of the Will, so you are strongly advised to do this with one of its registered Will Draftsmen. Its website lists all legal practitioners who comply with the Registry’s rules. To access the DIFC Wills online Virtual Registry and begin the process of registering your Will, please visit www.difcwills.ae.
June-July 2018 / 49
through ethical business practices
A comprehensive plan addresses VFS Global’s environmental, social and governance responsibilities
ustainability means being oriented towards the future, contributing to the society while
Ongoing work at the Kolar Biodigester Project in India
ensuring long-term success of the business. Being an industry pioneer and leader, VFS Global has always acknowledged its responsibility towards conducting its operations in a socially responsible and ethically sound manner. The company has been active in the environment conservation space and in supporting social causes such as education for the underprivileged across the globe as part of its long-term Corporate Social Responsibility
Ongoing Sustainability Initiatives at VFS Global
(CSR) activities. VFS Global is highly committed to creating ‘Shared Value’ in areas where we have greatest intersection between VFS Global’s business and the society and where we can create the most value and make the most difference.
VFS Global and its Swiss parent-company Kuoni Group are owned by international private equity company EQT, based in Sweden. In 2017, VFS Global has introduced EQT’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) roadmap to further extend and enhance the company’s CSR commitments and initiatives.
Core Aspects of VFS Global’s Sustainability Roadmap • Adherence to UN Global Compact principles • Respect and support of human rights and intolerance to any abuses • Eliminate forced and compulsory labour; support for UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 • Eliminate discrimination with reference to employment • Promote environmental responsibility and encourage environment-friendly technologies • Work against corruption in all forms
“Ethical and sustainable business practices are an integral part of the VFS Global ethos. We have always been highly committed to creating the most value to the benefit of the company, its people, clients, partners and society, and our community-oriented initiatives around the world reflect that philosophy.” Peter Brun Chief Communications Officer, VFS Global The ethos of VFS Global is centered around our people – a motivated, engaged, empowered and well developed team – and ethical and sustainable business practices, which are congruous with overall social development and environment conservation. We believe in creating shared value as our way of delivering a long-term positive impact for all stakeholders and the society through everything we do as a company.
ISO certifications: The company is certified ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management System, ISO 27001:2013 for Information Security Management System, ISO 14001:2004 for Environmental Management System, and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001:2007. Appraisals: VFS Global was appraised at People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM) Level 3, by the CMMI Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. Environmental commitment: It works to offset the carbon footprint of all business travel since 2012 in partnership with myclimate (Swiss non-profit organisation engaged in climate protection). Social commitment: It supports the education of underprivileged children in India since the past three years. The company tracks water and electricity consumption, paper usage and waste management since 2013. There are various other environmental conservation and social upliftment initiatives undertaken globally.
Supporting education in India Education has been identified as a core need in India, critical to the ongoing development of the country. It has been the Indian Government’s priority to ensure basic education to all children. The government’s Economic Survey 2018 identifies employment, education and agriculture as pivotal success factors for the socioeconomic development of India.
VFS Global employees distributing 400 hygiene kits at a labour camp in the UAE on Labour Day 2018. The initiative was among VFS Global’s continuing efforts to contribute meaningfully and responsibly to communities where the company is present. Employees across offices in the UAE contributed to this cause.
In line with the Indian Government’s priority on education, VFS Global has been supporting the education of underpriviledged children in India since the past three years in association with highly-reputed and well established NGOs such as Akanksha Foundation and Nanhi Kali. The company has been proud to be engaged in education projects – more specifically for underpriviledged girl children – in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
As part of its social upliftment initiatives, the VFS Global team in Russia supported the Romanov Rehab centre for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and asthma, in St. Petersburg.
These projects not only support and provide core education services to the children but also deal with peripheral social mores that inhibit children – especially girls – from completing secondary education.
VFS Global joins hands with Dadobro movement in Russia VFS Global in Russia has tied up with the international Dadobro voluntary movement in order to foster a socially-oriented corporate culture among its employees. The movement brings together more than 20 companies from around the world. It has 2,500 volunteers spread across 50 cities in eight countries, namely Russia, the UK, Finland, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Dadobro (joining two Russian words ‘Da’ meaning Yes and ‘Dobro’ meaning Good) acts as the bridge between the needy people and the corporates. Employees of those companies that have joined the movement can volunteer for the humanitarian initiatives organised in their cities. In a year, the movement organises about 800 initiatives based on their world view of doing good to the planet and for all those living on it. The main Dadobro initiatives lie in the area of providing help to orphanages and hospitals, donating blood, taking care of veterans
The VFS Global team in Kazakhstan, together with the Da! team, has arranged various community-building initiatives, including an auction, the proceeds of which were given for the treatment of homeless animals.
and nursing homes, running environment protection initiatives, helping with animal shelters etc. Apart from strengthening the core essence of humanity in the employees, the Dadobro events provide a good platform for corporate team building. Besides, as a company, VFS
Global has always prioritised its growth as a sustainable business that gives back to society in whatever way it can to make the world a better, kinder place to live in. Say “Da!” and let’s together make this world a positive place. Visit the Dadobro official website: dadobro.com/en June-July 2018 / 51
VFS GLOBAL NETWORK
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Port Moresby MALAWI Lilongwe
MAURITIUS MOZAMBIQUE Antananarivo Port Louis MADAGASCAR
Harare Bulawayo ZIMBABWE BOTSWANA Polokwane Gaborone Pretoria Midrand Nelspruit Maputo Rustenburg Kimberley Sandton Johannesburg Bloemfontein Durban SOUTH AFRICA George
Port Vila NEW CALEDONIA Noumea
Canberra Auckland Melbourne Wellington NEW ZEALAND Christchurch
June-July 2018 / 53
Figures as on 30 April 2018
Network of VFS Global Address
Missions served Ahmedabad
Ground and First floor Emerald House, Near Parimal Garden Cross Road, Off C G Road, Ahmedabad â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 380006
Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Estonia, Sweden, Luxembourg, Latvia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, France, Belgium, Portugal and UK / Ireland
Ground & First Floor. Shri Ambika Mills-Gujarat Chamber Building Ashram Road, Ahmedabad - 380009
Algeria, UAE, South Africa, US, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Thailand and Japan
Bengaluru Global Tech Park, No 11 First Floor Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Shaughnessy Road, Langford Town, Bengaluru 560025
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Georgia Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, UK, Ireland, MEA, Australia, UAE, Turkey and Thailand
Unit number 305 and Unit No 405, Second and Third Floor, Level 3/4, Prestige Atrium, No.1,Central Street, Bangalore 560 001, India
Algeria, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, South Africa, Vietnam and US
Chandigarh Sector 8C, SCO, 186-187, Front Side, Chandigarh-160018
Ground Floor, SCO - 62 - 63, Sector -8 C, Madhya Marg, Chandigarh
Elante Mall, B 208-209, 2nd Floor, Elante Offices, Industrial Area Phase 1, Chandigarh
Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Estonia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland, US, Japan, Latvia, MEA, Malaysia, Thailand and Turkey
Elante Mall, B-208, 2nd Floor, Elante Offices, Office Block B, Plot no. 178178 AIndustrial & Business Park, Phase - 1, Chandigarh - 160002
Chennai Fagun Towers, Second and Third floor, No 74, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai- 600 008, India
France, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Switzerland, Austria, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Malta, Estonia, Croatia, Italy Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, MEA, Algeria, UAE, Ireland and UK
Old No.2, New No.3, Sadasivam Street, Gopalapuram, Chennai-600086, India
Good Shepherd, No. 82, Kodambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai- 600 034, India
ISPAHANI Centre, No 123, 124, Nungambakkam High Road, 1st Floor, Thousand Lights, Chennai -600 034, India.
Japan and Turkey
No 47 1st Floor, Montieth Place, Montieth Road Chennai -600 008, India
Goa Algeria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, France, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Luxembourg, MEA, Denmark, Estonia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Turkey, Japan, Thailand and UK TEL
Gera Imperium 1, Office No 301, 3rd Floor, Patto Plaza, Panjim Goa 403001, India
Gurugram ILD Trade Center, Unit no 419-420,4th floor, ILD Tower, Sec-47, Sohna Road, Gurugram -122001
Germany, Austria, Algeria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Belgium Japan, Luxembourg, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, UK and South Africa
Hyderabad 1-8-384 / 385, Gowra Grand, Sardar Patel Road, Begumpet, Hyderabad - 500016, India
1-8-313, 2nd Floor, LINUS Bldg., ChiranFort Lane, Begumpet, Hyderabad 500016, India
206, 2nd Floor, Ashoka Capitol, Banjara Hills Road no: 2, Hyderabad-500034 India
8-2-700, 3rd Floor, Srida Anushka Pride, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034, India
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ireland and UK
Ground Floor, Srida Anushka Pride, Road No 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034, India
203, Maheshwari Mayank Plaza, Greenlands, Ameerpet, Hyderabad 500 016, India
UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, MEA, Algeria, Japan, Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus and Vietnam
VISA Application Centres in India Address
Missions served Jaipur
Mangalam Ambition Tower, Subhash Marg (Malan Ka Chauraha), C Scheme, Jaipur-302001, Rajasthan
Germany, Algeria, Italy, Austria, Estonia, Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Hungary, Cyprus , Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Japan, and UK
Jalandhar Aman Plaza, 3rd Floor, 310, Lajpat Nagar, Mahavir Marg, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chowk, Jalandhar - 144001
Australia, Algeria, Canada, Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Vietnam and US
Midas Corporate Tower, Lower Ground Floor, Plot No, 37, G. T. Road, Jalandhar - 144001
UK & Ireland
Kochi Floor, S & T Arcade, Kurisupally Road, Ravipuram, Cochin-682015
Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Cyprus, Japan, Algeria, UAE, MEA, UK and Ireland
1st Floor, Coastal Chambers, MG Road, Ravipuram, Kochi - 682015
US, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Swiss, Japan, and Kuwait
Kolkata Rene Tower, 5th floor, Plot No. AA-I, 1842, Rajdanga Main Road, Kasba, Kolkata 700107, India
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, Malaysia, South Africa, UAE, MEA, South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Georgia and Thailand
Jasmine Tower, 1st floor, 31 Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata 700017, WB, India
BIPI Building Omega, Ground Floor Bengal Intelligent Park, Block-EP & GP, Sector-5, Bidhan Nagar Kolkata 700091
Lucknow (User Pay) Golden Tulip, Lucknow, 6, Station Road, Lucknow – 226001
UK (This service is currently available on the third Tuesday of every month)
Mumbai Ground Floor, Third floor and Fifth floor Trade Centre, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East), Mumbai- 400 051
US, UK/Ireland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Croatia, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, France, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Canada and Australia
Eighth floor, Mafatlal Centre, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021
Urmi Axis Building, First Floor, Second Floor, Third Floor and Fourth Floor, Behind Famous Studio, Opp. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi (West), Mumbai – 400 011
Japan, Australia, UK, Ireland, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Malta, Slovenia, Portugal, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Malaysia OSC, Latvia, Turkey, Algeria, UAE, Georgia Nigeria (BVN) and Thailand
New Delhi Shivaji Stadium Metro Station, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place, New Delhi- 110001
Austria, Algeria, Netherland, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, China, UAE, Latvia, South Korea, Ministry of External Affairs (India), Japan, South Africa, UK, Canada, Australia, Ukraine and Turkey
S1- American Plaza Ground Floor ITT, Nehru Place
Kuwait and US
7th Floor, Prakash deep Building, Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi
Puducherry Austria, Algeria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey and Japan
No 32, Eswaran Kovil Street, Puducherry- 605 001, India
Pune Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, Canada, US, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, UK/Ireland and UAE
4th Floor, F core, Marvel edge, Viman Nagar, Pune- 411014
Thiruvananthapuram T.C 2/2408-3, First floor, Asiatic Business Centre, Attinkuzhy, Kazhakootam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India 695581
UAE, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Hungary, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey, MEA, UK, Latvia and Japan
June-July 2018 / 55
Answer: Caterpillar’s teeth, black dot on ladybird, grasshopper’s leg, flower, pattern on the bee, butterfly’s wings, pattern on the spider, snail’s shell, ant’s one leg, tree’s bark
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