Free Copy For Visa Applicants. Not For Sale
Volume 1 | Issue 3 | April - May 2018
Second Home to meâ€¦
SHAH RUKH KHAN
The Charms of Belfast Get Access to VFS Global Premium Lounge Football Voyage in Russia
*Terms & Condition Apply. Offer valid till 31st May For Corporate gift inquiries write to us at: email@example.com DUBAI : The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Festival City Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Al Ghurair Centre, Mirdif City Centre ABU DHABI : Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall SHARJAH : Sahara Centre AL AIN : Al Ain Mall, Al Barari Outlet Al Ain FUJAIRAH : Hina, Lulu Mall
Make your travel easy Dear customer, Welcome to the VFS Global COMPASSTM, a complimentary magazine created exclusively for VFS Globalâ€™s application centre customers. Please do feel free to take it home for a longer read or to share it with your family and friends. We hope this magazine gives you useful information about the general visa application process, as well as other interesting insights on destinations and travel in general to enhance your overall visa application experience.
Zubin Karkaria CEO, VFS Global Group
The focus destination of this issue is the United Arab Emirates, with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan sharing his views on his favourite things to do in Dubai, and Mr. Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, inspiring you to explore the Emirate of Dubai. The issue also highlights some magnificent shoot destinations in Italy, and the best ways to spend two days in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ahead of the Football World Cup this summer, COMPASSTM provides an insight into top five places to explore in Russia and how the VFS Global application centre network is a key success factor for the tournament to distribute mandatory FAN ID to football fans. Nick Crouch, Regional Director for South and South East Asia, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), shares his perspective on changing customer demands and on how UKVI stays ahead of the game. The issue also offers an array of very interesting articles related to travel and the visa application process in general, and also brings you up to date with some of the latest developments at VFS Global. I do hope you find this issue interesting and wish you an excellent travel experience â€“ wherever it is you may be headed.
April-May 2018 / 1
Volume 1 | Issue 3 | April - May 2018
Contents Pg 38
Pg 18 Pg 8
Guide to Visa Application 08 ‘Visa At Your Doorstep’, Premium Lounge and Platinum Lounge offered by VFS Global K visa application now made 12 U easier 14 T hings to remember before applying for a student’s visa 16 DVPC mobile app to apply for a UAE visa
People & Places
24 On a Football & Sightseeing Trail Heading to Russia to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup? Don’t forget to explore these destinations
Picture Perfect We take you through some magnificent shoot locations across Italy
Touch Down 22 Arty Airports Airports that are architectural marvels and enthral travellers with their simplistic approach to passenger needs
Celeb Calling 28 “ Dubai is Second Home to Me” Shah Rukh Khan takes us on a journey through Dubai
Pg 30 Pg 24
Free Copy For Visa Applicants. Not For Sale
Volume 1 | Issue 3 | April - May 2018
Second Home to me…
SHAH RUKH KHAN
Photo: Dubai Tourism
The charms of Belfast Get Access to VFS Global Premium Lounge Football Voyage in Russia
People & Places
People & Places
30 I ssam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, talks about the best things to do in Dubai
Canvas 32 D ubai’s Artistic Makeover Dubai is becoming the art hub of the Middle East
Outdoor 34 M iddle Eastern Adventure Adventures in the Middle East
Nick Crouch, Regional Director for South and South East Asia, UK Visas and Immigration, on how UKVI stays ahead of the game
Cityscape 40 4 8 Hours in Belfast Belfast in Northern Ireland is known for its cool hangouts, galleries and vibrant nightlife
About VFS 46 S ecure your assets in Dubai & RAK 48 O nline-guided learning programmes for students worldwide 50 P rivilege Program launched in UAE & India 52 V FS Global’s Sustainability Roadmap 54 VFS Global Network
44 Event Planner Happenings in April and May
April-May 2018 / 3
Volume 1 | Issue 3 | April - May 2018
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Exclusive Marketing Partner License No 93700 Compass magazine is printed and published by Prakash Johari on behalf of VFS Global and published at Maxposure Arabia FZ LLC (MAFL), Dubai Media City, Building No. 8, Ground Floor, Premises No. EO10, Dubai, UAE, P.O. Box 502068. Compass is published bi-monthly. All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and/or photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the MAFL. The MAFL does not assume responsibility for loss or damage of unsolicited products, manuscripts, photographs, artwork, transparencies or other materials. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or VFS Global. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of this magazine, but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. For inquiries | Tel: + 971 44310793, www. maxposuremedia.com. TM
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Fifteen Currencies. One Card. Introducing the Emirates NBD GlobalCash Card – the ultimate multi-currency prepaid card. Say goodbye to carrying cash when you travel. Simply carry the Emirates NBD GlobalCash Card that can be pre-loaded with up to 15 currencies of your choice. Convenient. Flexible. Secure. The best way to pay when you travel – Emirates NBD GlobalCash Card. Get your card at the nearest branch.
Connect with us
guide to visa application Guests at the VFS Global Premium Lounge in Mumbai
As pioneer and market leader in the visa services industry, VFS Global has leveraged key requisites such as convenience, exclusivity and personalisation to intuitively cater to the individual needs of the present day traveller.
The Premium Lounge
Enjoy unmatched convenience of the unique services such as ‘Visa At Your Doorstep’, Premium Lounge and Platinum Lounge offered by VFS Global
uthenticity and personalisation have become two vital check-boxes that a discerning traveller likes to tick-off the
They look for experiences where authenticity blends with innovation and thereby offering them a whole new range of indulgence.
The Premium Lounge service is not just a service but more of an experience. VFS Global’s exclusive Premium Lounges offer the comforts of a modern day lounge facility during a visa submission process, which can be availed at 162 locations in 52 countries globally, including regions like the Middle East, South Asia, Asia Pacific, Russia, Eastern Europe and the Americas. Within the plush ambience of the lounge, dedicated and trained staff equipped with local language skills is always available to answer all your visa-related queries and assist you with quicker completion of the application submission process. Applicants can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the hospitality at the lounge, while all their visa submission requirements are taken care of. long with complimentary photocopying A and photo-booth services as per parameters specified by the embassy, the well-trained visa officers also assist the applicants with all form-filling services and printing of any mandatory document, which an applicant may have forgotten to carry with them. Applicants don’t have to return to the VFS Global Visa Application Centre to collect their applications in person as it can now be couriered to an address of their choice. They can even track their application from the time it is dispatched for processing at the respective embassy until it is ready for collection or sent across to the customer.
moment they begin planning their travel. Modern day technology has transformed the entire process of preparing for a journey, be it booking the right hotel, selecting the right airline or even narrowing down on a location to visit.
Recent trends have shown that travellers have now evolved to become ‘experience driven’ owing to the greater importance placed on enjoying innovative services over just spending on materialistic or tangible items.
Guided by these changes in the travel industry, especially in the demand for value added services, VFS Global has conceptualised and rolled out a host of personalised services and product offerings. Amongst the bespoke value added services launched by VFS Global, top-tier facilities such as the ‘Premium Lounge’, ‘Platinum Lounge’ (available in Dubai) and the ‘Visa At Your Doorstep’ service have transformed the overall application submission experience.
Things to remember while availing the Premium Lounge service Remember to leave an address at the VFS Global centre after you submit the application to avail the courier dispatch service. Remember to add your current mobile number to get regular updates on your visa status via SMS notifications.
“VFS Global staff is very helpful, quick and efficient.” N. T. Rama Rao Junior, Indian cinema actor, about Premium Lounge services at the Hyderabad VAC
“Absolutely hospitable and friendly service. Very courteous and friendly staff. Thank you for the respect and comfort” Jyothika Sadanah, Indian cinema actor, about Premium Lounge services at the Chennai VAC
“Very helpful and customer friendly service. Thank you.” Arvind Swamy, Indian cinema actor, about Premium Lounge services at the Chennai VAC
“Efficient and easy processing. Courteous staff and ease of doing business. My compliments to the VFS Global team. Thanks.” K.T. Rama Rao, Honourable Minister for Information and Technology, Telangana state, about Premium Lounge services at the Hyderabad VAC
The Platinum Lounge The exclusive Platinum Lounge facility available at Wafi Mall, Dubai, UAE, provides uncompromising service quality and superior customer support within a secure and private environment to visa applicants travelling to the UK or Australia. The Platinum Lounge facility offers applicants a range of services that include professional chauffeur driven car provided from any location within the UAE (on prior notice) to quicker visa processing under Priority Visa Services*, and a choice of delectable meals and refreshments from a handpicked a la carte menu when at the lounge. From the time an applicant books an appointment to the time they leave the lounge, they will receive personalised end-to-end attention from professionally trained staff that cater to their needs, all within the lap of luxury.
Things to remember while availing the Platinum Lounge service Platinum Lounge service (only in Dubai) is available to applicants travelling to the UK or Australia only. You do not need to pay an additional fee for form-filling assistance, SMS and courier return service if availing the Platinum Lounge service. The Platinum Lounge service is available at any time the applicant requests with no additional fee. Prior notice must be given to avail the chauffeur services from any location in the UAE.
customer speak “Thank you very much for your quick response and making it sure to send my passport the same morning to the embassy. I was very surprised when you called me to say that my passport is on the way back for collection. Yes! I got my visit visa and thank you once again for your enterprising approach and support. Great Work!” Lohith Achaiah
“I had applied for a UK 4 Tier Student Visa on behalf of my son at the Platinum Lounge in Wafi Mall and we were attended by Mrs Doaa and Ms Rammani. This is to appreciate their services, help and support. Everything was very smooth and the overall experience was great. Both the ladies made it so easy and hassle free. Thanks for everything.” Sheetal Beri and Vardan Beri
*Priority Visa Services are available only to UK visa applicants.
April-May 2018 / 9
guide to visa application
“I am a television personality and my work schedule tends to be quite busy. The Visa At Your Doorstep service was a great help in applying for my visa, as I was able to do so from a location of my choice in true comfort. The staff offered personalised service by assisting me with the entire process and were very efficient. It was a pleasant start to my travel!” Dhivya Dharshini
Happy customers displaying the Privilege Card
How does this work The customer submits the request for this service either online (by visiting the country specific website via vfsglobal.com) or by contacting the relevant helpline number based on their location. Once the payment of the fee for the service is completed online, the customer will receive the update containing the confirmed appointment details. VFS Global’s staff will travel to the location specified by the customer at the appointed time, to accept the visa application and enrol the biometrics if required of the entire group, individually.
VISA AT YOUR DOORSTEP If you do not wish to visit the Visa Application Centre but would like to apply for your visa at a time and place of your choice and convenience, then ‘Visa At Your Doorstep’ service is the right option for you. This is a popular premium service, which meets the needs of travellers who would like to opt for highly personalised services, at a location of their choice. By leveraging on VFS Global’s expertise of providing innovative Mobile Biometric enrolment technology solutions, the company’s visa officers are equipped to securely enrol an applicant’s biometrics from virtually any location as per the mandatory requirements of the respective embassy.
‘Visa at Your Doorstep’ service is of immense benefit to those who reside in satellite locations away from the hustle and bustle of a city and face difficulty in commuting to the nearest Visa Application Centre. Launched in April 2016, this highly popular service is particularly beneficial to high net worth individuals who seek personalised services, companies with a large number of staff who travel extensively, government delegations, those in the field of entertainment and cinemas who have an upcoming shoot abroad, MICE groups and even large groups of families or friends who plan to travel overseas together. With flexible pricing, depending on the group size, this service can in fact be more economical, especially with large groups of travellers.
DISCLAIMER Availing Premium Lounge service, Platinum Lounge service or Visa At Your Doorstep services does not affect the processing time or decision of your visa. These remain the sole prerogative of the Embassy/Mission/Consulate. Premium Lounge, Platinum Lounge and Visa At Your Doorstep services are charged in addition to the visa application fee.
guide to visa application
making UK VISA EASY & CONVENIENT
A host of options now await UK visa applicants tailored to fit their unique preferences Super Priority and Priority Visas Have an urgent trip to the UK that has come up at short notice? With unique services like ‘Super Priority’ and ‘Priority Visas’, UK visa applicants have the chance to get their visa applications processed in the least possible time.
he United Kingdom has attracted a great deal of inbound travellers all throughout the year. Be it with its fascinating buildings of historic and architectural importance, renowned educational system or with the variety of sporting events around the year. The UK is considered one of the top 10 tourist destinations that attract visitors
they have to wait for one embassy to process the visa before submitting the passport with the next embassy. 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.
Britain Travel Shop
especially with the proximity it shares with other popular Schengen countries.
VFS Global, in association with United Kingdom Visas and Immigration, have developed a number of solutions and services aimed at making the visa application process more seamless and convenient for the applicants applying from different parts of the world. Apart from the Premium Lounge, Platinum Lounge (exclusively for applicants in Dubai, UAE) and ‘Visa At Your Doorstep’ services, a number of additional services are available to the varying needs of the global traveller.
Keep Your Passport While Applying Many applicants face this common dilemma when they need to apply for multiple visas, especially while planning a UK and Schengen combined trip, where
While a UK visa application under Super Priority service is expected to be completed within just a single working day, UK Visas and Immigration aims to process a decision within five working days under the Priority Visa Service. The 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 based on the requirements, which include exceptions like overseas domestic workers for Super Priority Visa Service and customers applying for EEA family permits, or visas for Overseas Territories and Dependencies (including the Channel Islands) for Priority Visa Service.
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 the UK in a single day, while they are at the Visa Application Centre.
Walk In Without an Appointment 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 circumstances, they can immediately avail this service and submit their application on a date and time convenient to them.
As an added convenience to applicants travelling to the UK, VFS Global in partnership with VisitBritain operates ‘Britain Travel Shop’ at select Visa Application Centres across 24 countries, which include South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East. The ‘Britain Travel Shop’ kiosks offer a wide range of sightseeing and travel options in the UK, which applicants can purchase during the visa application process. In addition, with other customer-centric services such as form-filling assistance, document checks, certification, regular updates on the status of the visa via SMS updates, courier return, delivery of processed passports and documents, and translation services at select locations, submitting a UK visa application has never been this easy!
April-May 2018 | 13
guide to visa application
STUDENT VISA simplified 5 things to remember before you begin your visa application process
f you are planning to study abroad,
student visa is an essential document.
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.
Even when you focus all attention to choosing the appropriate study course at a prestigious university, you should give due importance to acquire a valid student’s visa well before the travel date that will cover the entire period of your stay abroad.
It’s helpful to be aware of how to go about it. After all, you would want to get your visa application sorted quickly and painlessly. Given below are key student visa tips:
Do Not Procrastinate a) 1-3 months in advance: You will need to apply at least one to three months prior to the course commencement date, depending on which country you are applying to. Or, you may not be able to leave in time for your orientation classes.
b) Visa category: The student must inquire about the visa category with the college to which he/she seeks admission to or with the concerned embassy. This is important as requirements for different regions within the same country can vary.
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.
specifications), 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: • 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
Are You Healthy Enough? 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 disease, or, prove that you have been immunised if your home country has lately had an outbreak of diseases such as cholera or yellow fever. Some countries require you to take a mandatory health insurance before they grant you a student visa.
c) List of documents: Check the full
Get Your Documents in Order Early On
list of documents required well in advance on the visa section of the country’s government website so that you have them ready at the time of visa application submission.
You’ll need original copies of important documents, such as your IELTS/TOEFL test scores or your academic results and certificates (depending on the checklist
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.
Study the Visa Conditions Before You Fly 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.
Remember! The above tips are generic and not specific to any country. Applicants are advised to confirm country-specific details their application. Student visa decisions are on vfsglobal.com before submitting the sole prerogative of the embassy you are applying at. As a visa processing agency, visa service providers, including VFS Global, have no role or influence on the decision of your application to study/travel/work abroad. VFS Global does not offer recruitment or immigration advice or services.
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Also offer: Travel Assistance | Flights | Hotels | Car Rentals | Intl. Driving Licence | Intl. Student Identity Card | Meet & Greet | Corporate Services | much more... Dubai Wafi Mall, 2nd Floor, Umm Hurair 2, Dubai,UAE +971 43935065
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www.onevasco.com Follow Us
guide to visa application (DVPC) mobile app has simplified travel to Dubai by providing Emirates passengers with the convenience of applying for their UAE visa on the go. Besides physically walking into a DVPC Application Centre, passengers flying to Dubai by Emirates Airline can now also apply for their UAE e-visa using their smartphones or tablets. The DVPC mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded for free from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store, globally. Using the app, they can opt for a 96-hour Transit Visa, a 30-day Tourist Visa or a 90-day Visit Visa based on their Emirates Airline itinerary.
APPLY FOR DUBAI VISA on the go! Emirates Airline passengers can use the DVPC mobile app to apply for a UAE e-visa in just 5 minutes
ubai is home to one of the world’s busiest international airport owing to its geographically central location between
The user-friendly transactional app involves a one-time user registration and profile creation for yourself or your family members. You can use it for submitting the data needed for the visa application, making payments and receiving the service digital.
enables visitors to effortlessly pack-in as many activities and experiences within the time limit of their short-term tourist visa.
DVPC also offers online visa application services for residents in over 180 countries through www.emirates.com.
To provide passengers with convenient stop-over options to enjoy this dynamic city, Emirates, one of the world’s leading airlines, currently operates flights to 141 destinations across the globe via Dubai.
Its value-added services such as Express Visas (where visas are turned around on priority for urgent applications) and doorto-door services (application pick-up from home or office) have also redefined the UAE visa processing services.
Asia and Europe. The city’s remarkable evolution into an essential global transit hub, reinforced with its warm hospitality and array of world-class attractions and activities, has firmly established Dubai as a leading destination for the discerning global traveller of today.
A Hop-Over Destination Dubai has become a convenient hop-over destination due to its unmatched accessibility via air and wide range of vacationing options that cater to the needs of every traveller. From the skyscrapers lining Sheikh Zayed Road, the world-class mega malls and multi-million-dollar offshore developments, to the old world souks, pristine beaches, dreamlike desert safaris and adrenaline-charged adventure activities, Dubai has it all.
DVPC Mobile App to Book Your Visa On The Go Keeping pace with Emirates’ expanding flight network and the latest technology, VFS Global’s Dubai Visa Processing Centre
For more information on DVPC Visa Application Centres, the DVPC mobile app, and the online platform please visit www.dubaivisa.net.
The DVPC mobile app Emirates Airline passengers can use the DVPC mobile app to apply for their UAE e-visa in a matter of minutes 3 easy steps to apply via the mobile app
Step 1: Download, register and create your profile Step 2: Retrieve your Emirates booking to apply
Furthermore, the city’s infrastructure and superior amenities, perfected under the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, uniquely
Step 3: Make payment and receive your approved visa on the app and via email
people & places
Strike a pose like your favourite film star at these fabulous locations across Italy Words: Kiran Mehta
Interior of Doge’s Palace
There’s Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Venice. It’s a formula that could never go wrong
Gondolas in Venice
t’s possible to fall in love with Italy even if you two have never met; particularly so, if you’re a movie-buff. The swatches of the country seen on our movie-screens are breathtakingly beautiful. From a love-story set in the sun-dappled Tuscan hills, to a heist that plays out in the backdrop of
There’s Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Venice. It’s a formula that couldn’t go wrong. Little wonder that the film, The Tourist, was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards. The comedy-romancethriller sees the dishy actors flitting across Venice. A math-teacher from Wisconsin is in Venice to mend his broken heart. He falls head-over-heels for a mystery woman, who is on the run from Scotland Yard. Even as Jolie dodges cops and intelligence units, she takes viewers on gondola rides across the Grand Canal, into the historic Santa Lucia railway station, into Arsenale, the Interpol’s Venice headquarters, the Guggenheim museum and lots of other fantastic tourist hot-spots. The aptly named film is the ultimate guide to the city.
and Laura Baxter – grieving over the sudden death of their daughter, Christine, who drowned in a pond. In an attempt to dull the pain, John takes up a commission to restore a crumbling church. The city transforms into a living being, alternatively soothing them, and reminding them of Christine. The film captures a little-known side of Venice; shot in January, you see empty streets, full of potential. Instead of sunstreaked alleys, you see locals wrapped in layers. Scenes take you down Venice’s famed canals, where you can sense the serene, yet sinister, nature of water. Even the cobble-stoned streets of Venice take on a new shade: you are made aware of the sharp turns in the alleys, where you can hear the foot-steps of others, but cannot see them.
cobbled-stoned Venice, or a family drama set in the Sicilian sea-side, Italy is where
Don’t Look Now
many Hollywood dramas have unfolded. Go
This 1973 thriller makes Venice come alive. The film shows an English couple – John
on, be a diva and follow our guide:
Venice comes shrouded in mystery, and every scene showcases more surprises. It shows you that no matter how many April-May 2018 | 19
people & places
Trastevere in Rome
visits you make to this Italian city, you’ll find something unexpected. All you need is to see it with new eyes.
Spectre James Bond is the ultimate globe-trotter, raking up those air-miles, with impossible missions that take him to the most picturesque locations. The backdrop is almost as pretty as the Bond girls themselves. And it is in Casino Royale – featuring Lake Como – that Bond earns his license to kill. While Italy has been featured in several Bond films, Vatican City comes alive in Spectre. Strictly speaking, the citystate is an independent country and the world’s smallest sovereign state. Yet with a two-kilometre border separating it from Italy, it’s an inseparable part of the country. You enter via Italy and the Schengen visa applies.
Spectre’s most riveting scene is that of a high-octane car-race along the Tiber River and against the back-drop of St.
Want more of Italy? Under the Tuscan Sun is an American romance-drama, that puts the focus on the sundappled Tuscan hills. The film showcases the Villa Laura, a 17th century estate, which is available to rent for your next getaway. Bollywood’s The Great Gambler starring superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman, also features Italy. The hit song, Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahani is shot on a Gondola ride in the city of Venice.
Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The Vatican comes dotted with spectacular works of art. The holiest of Catholic shrines, the Basilica, features a towering dome, fashioned by Michelangelo. On the inside lies the Pieta, a sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ, created by Michelangelo.
Chat with the locals and you’ll discover a softer side of Bond. Turns out the production crew worked alongside the city council and cleaned up the city – painting over the graffiti – prior to the shoot. They didn’t stop at that; during the night shoots, the crew also handed out hot meals to the homeless.
Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir played out in India, Indonesia and Italy. Starring the gorgeous Julia Roberts, the film takes you through the character’s struggles, where a modern woman gives up her career, her life as she knows it in New York City, to find herself. Her first stop, or the ‘Eat’ part of the story, plays out in Rome and Naples. Against the dreamy back-drops of these cities, she nourishes her body and gives into her cravings, by digging into the most delicious meals. She takes viewers to starred restaurants in Rome for creamy pastas, gelato stores for fantastic sweettreats, pizzerias for cheesy pizzas and more. You can follow Robert’s trail, or find your own delectable hot-spots in a country that’s known for its culinary delights.
airports Today, airports have become an integral part of our life. Some are architectural marvels while some enthral with their simplistic approach to passenger needs Words: Anjaly Thomas
As the second busiest airport in 2017 (in terms of passenger numbers as calculated by Airports Council International), and the largest of the five primary airports serving London, Heathrow is the hub for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. This 72-year-old airport holds a distinction for having the best airport shopping experience. With personal shopping lounges, a Harry Potter shop and a blow dry bar, it is clearly the most popular airport in Western Europe. There are over 400 luxury brands sold at the airport and restaurants are run by Michelin-star chefs, including Gordon Ramsay.
North America’s busiest passenger gateway, JFK, with its six terminals (it began with 10) is definitely busy. Its infrastructure and passenger handling is definitely something to talk about – but the year 2017 gave the world something else to keep the conversation flowing. January 2017 saw the opening of Ark at JFK Airport, a luxury terminal for pets.
Highlight: Michelin Restaurants
Munich One of Europe’s busiest; Munich Airport has recently broken new ground by initiating testing of humanoid robot in T2. The airport serves as a major hub for Air Berlin, Lufthansa and Condor, and it features airy, glass-heavy architecture. A nearby visitor’s park features mini golf and a display of historic aircraft. With its own brewery and beer garden, it is clearly a hot favourite amongst those who enjoy a pre-flight drink. It is in fact referred to as a city centre, with over 150 shopping outlets and over 50 bars and restaurants.
Highlight: The beer garden
Highlight: Pets terminal
Mumbai Dubai In a country with many “firsts”, Dubai International Airport is a world in itself. Beginning with its reputation of being the world’s busiest airport for international travel, Dubai airport is also home to the world’s biggest duty-free shopping centre. Home base of the internationally recognised Emirates Airlines, Dubai is also served by 140 airlines as well as low-cost upstart flydubai, which handles 13.2 per cent (Reuters) of the traffic. New concourses and runways now in the works will eventually expand capacity to 200 million passengers a year, with enough space to dock 100 Airbus A380s, the world’s biggest jet, at a single time. The lounges and spas operate on an unimaginably luxurious level and one could be forgiven for feeling as though in heaven. Dubai International Airport, like the city itself, is a class apart.
India’s second-busiest airport hub, Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai has gone from being an ageing and overcrowded facility to a gleaming international hub. Terminal 2, opened in 2014, is airy, roomy and offers multiple dining options for passengers while the First and Business Class lounges easily rub shoulders with Dubai or Changi offering spa, showers and full meals. The new terminal has added to its boast-list, the world’s longest cable stayed glass wall and the world’s largest public art programme, including a mural of Bollywood stars. Terminal 2 was designed by the NYCbased Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which also designed San Francisco Airport and Changi International Airport, two urban airports, which, like Mumbai’s, were strapped for land.
Highlight: The longest cablestayed glass
Singapore As one of the busiest airports in the world, Changi does take the crown as the world’s best, that too for the fifth year in a row. Singapore’s Changi Airport connects customers to over 200 destinations worldwide, with 5,000 arrivals and departures a week by 80 international airlines. Home to Singapore Airlines, Silkair and Tigerair, the airport has received raving reviews and appreciation from passengers for its luxury passenger amenities, seamless operation, eye-catching architecture and shopping. Spas, entertainment areas, movie theatres keep the passengers occupied during their changeover. Changi is a destination in itself! The butterfly garden, waterfalls and open air-decks find a place of pride at the airport. What even better is that passengers with more than six hours layover can take a free city tour, lounge by the swimming pool, or binge-watch flicks at the free 24-hour cinema.
Highlight: Duty free shopping Highlight: Butterfly garden and free showers
April-May 2018 / 23
On a football &
If you are heading to Russia to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup, here is a list of top 5 places that you could enjoy exploring Words: Ragini Puri Kremlin and Cathedral of St. Basil
ussia has an enviable range of architectural wonders and spectacular landscapes and is rich in history and culture. It ranks among one of the most unique places to travel to in the world. Being the host of 2018 FIFA World Cup (June 14-July 15), football fans can soak in the thrill of witnessing the World Cup and also make the best of their visit by exploring the country’s heritage hotspots.
Kazan Dubbed as the ‘Sports Capital of Russia’, Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, makes for a delightful destination for sports-lovers. The city hosted the 2014 World Fencing Championships, the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and is one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This ancient city also brims with architecturally rich monuments and landmarks. Amongst them, the Kaza Kremlin, the Leaning Suyumbike Tower and the Qol Sharif Mosque are the top attractions. Grand mosques and churches are prominent on Kazan’s cityscape and provide a glimpse into its mixed ethnicities.
St Petersburg Another host city for the FIFA World Cup, St Petersburg is the cultural crown of Russia and a great place to familiarise yourself with the Russian culture and history. Founded as the imperial capital by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, this city, with a colourful and chequered history, is now a bustling metropolis. St Petersburg sees a footfall of up to five million tourists each year, more than any other city in Russia. A treasure trove of ancient delights, St Petersburg is dotted with attractions that vie for attention. The historic city centre is a hugely popular attraction among tourists. A visit to the city remains incomplete without entering the art powerhouse of Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. April-May 2018 / 25
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Roam its vast halls filled with art treasures. Then explore the mosaic-filled Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. The Winter Palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress, Peterhof Palace and Fountains, Mikhaelovsky Theatre and the apartments-turned state museums of literary idols Pushkin, Dostoevsky and Nabokov are worth visiting.
Kizhi Island Renowned for its centuries-old wooden architecture, Kizhi Island makes for a serene and picturesque destination away from the hustle and bustle of big cities. Located at the northern end of Lake Onega in the Karelia region of Northern Russia, visitors need to take a ferry from Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia, to reach the place. One can also visit the island en route from St Petersburg to Moscow on a river cruise. While wooden architecture is common throughout Russia, Kizhi Island boasts some of the nation’s most intricate specimens. The most impressive site on the island is the Church of the Transfiguration or Preobrazhenskaya (the Church of 22 Domes). This architectural marvel was built
Temple of All Religions
UNESCO HERITAGE SITES Kazan Kremlin – Kazan City Centre - St Petersburg Kizhi Pogost – Kizhi Islands, Historic Monuments of Novgorod Surroundings - Veliky Novgorod Western Caucsus - Sochi
in 1714 using only axes and pine trees, and without using a single nail. The Church of the Transfiguration along with the nine-domed Church of the Intercession and a bell-tower together form the famous Kizhi Pogost.
Veliky Novgorod Billed as the ‘Birthplace of Russia’, Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod the Great) is one of the most ancient cities of the country. In 2009, the city celebrated its 1150th anniversary! Located approximately 110 km from St Petersburg, fascinating history and vibrant heritage offers visitors a glimpse into its evolution as one of the most important cities
of Russia. Novgorod has several imposing medieval churches and monuments, most significant among them being the St. Sophia Cathedral. One of the oldest surviving buildings in Russia, this cathedral is regarded as a symbol of the city and stands at the religious and spiritual centre of Novgorod.
Sochi One of the 11 host cities for 2018 FIFA World Cup, Sochi is a coastal resort in southern Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region. With its experience of hosting big-league sporting events such as the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, Sochi has cemented its position as a popular sporting city and boasts of a brilliant infrastructure for tourists. The city offers great opportunities for sports enthusiasts with options ranging from mountain climbing, hang-gliding, diving, sailing, aqua bikes to skiing and much more. Russia’s architectural marvels and heritage charm delight Russians and global visitors alike. With so much to explore, your time in Russia is guaranteed to be unforgettable!
CALLING ALL FOOTBALL FANS Head to the nearest VFS Global Visa Application Centre to collect your FAN ID for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup™
WHAT IS A FAN ID? A FAN ID is a document that all the spectators of 2018 FIFA World Cup™ matches must have to get access to stadiums along with a match ticket. • Comfort and safety at the stadium • Visa-free entry to the Russian Federation with a FAN ID
As Russia looks forward to welcoming football enthusiasts for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, VFS Global offers extra convenience to football fans by providing 165 of its Visa Application Centres across the globe as FAN IDs distribution points. If you wish to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup, you can obtain a FAN ID in combination with a match ticket. A FAN ID provides fast and convenient access to the stadium for all spectators. Foreign spectators can enter Russia visa-free with a FAN ID. It also entitles spectators to free travel on special trains connecting the host cities and on public transportation of the host cities on match days. Entry to the
• Free use of public transportation on match days
Russian Federation with a FAN ID will be possible starting 10 days prior to the date of the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Visitors must leave Russia using their FAN IDs within 10 days after the date of the last match. When visitors opt to collect the FAN IDs at the VFS Global centres, the vast network of centres, easy accessibility, online tracking, free SMS/email notifications amongst other advantages, will make it much more convenient, providing them with greater
speed and transparency in the process, thereby enhancing their overall World Cup experience. “We are prepared to issue up to 2 million FAN IDs to spectators of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. FAN ID registration and issuance are now officially open. We call upon all international fans who have a match ticket or a ticket purchase request confirmed by FIFA to order a FAN ID and have it delivered either to one of the VFS Global Visa Application Centres or by mail,” said Andrei Romankov, Deputy Director of the Communications Ministry’s Strategic Projects Department. Visitors can fill an application for FAN ID and get one even after purchasing tickets to attend the event. 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/. April-May 2018 / 27
Dubai is Second Home to me…
Shah Rukh Khan, the brand ambassador to Dubai Tourism, takes us on a journey through Dubai as he shares his favourite spots and unique experiences of the city
hen I came to Mumbai, I had screamed my desire to rule the city to the sea that surrounded it. I have a natural affinity to seas and oceans. I feel I can tell them my secrets, my dreams and they will take my dreams and help me realise them. Maybe this is the reason why I love vacationing in places that are close to the sea. Whether it is Malaysia or elsewhere.
One place that truly fascinates me is Dubai. I am not just saying this because I get paid to promote tourism there, but also because I love Dubai enough to have a home there! Dubai is second home to me. Whether I am here on vacation with my family and friends or my many business trips here for shoots – Happy New Year was the first Bollywood film to be shot entirely in Dubai – it’s a city that I truly relate to on so many levels – driven, passionate and spirited. Dubai offers endless experiences that stay with you forever. Whatever you want to do – an adrenaline-fuelled adventure like skydiving or a desert safari or a delicious culinary experience of tantalising flavours – and whether you’re travelling with family, friends or as a couple, this city truly offers a complete holiday experience. It reminds me very much of Mumbai, in its all-embracing nature and its multi-cultural vibe. People from all across the world are welcome in Dubai. The essence of Dubai is not just in its stunning locations but its welcoming hospitality too.
The first thing that impresses me about any place is the vibe. And this vibe is created by the people that live there. The people in Dubai are warm and welcoming - they will go the extra mile to help you if you are here for the first time. The warmth and spirit of the city resonates with me, and the best part is that experiences can be customised as per what you want. The variety and diversity of stunning tourist offerings is astounding, really. I am from the film business, so I would love to talk about the Bollywood Park. A theme park around Bollywood is a first and therefore it is a huge attraction. They have been very kind and have come up with the popular Ra.one ride and also have a Donthemed section. There is so much colour in the spice markets, the shopkeepers literally invite you to sample their wares. If you are a fan of street food, then you will be in gastronomic heaven in the spice markets. I love non-vegetarian food, especially grilled chicken and the homemade tandoori chicken. I have mutton
I strongly recommend touring Spice Souk, Skydive Dubai and the beaches when in Dubai
occasionally. I prefer Mughlai or Hyderabadi cuisine, the spicier, the better! But my favourite food was the sort my parents would make, often together. I have grown up on Mughlai and Deccani food. He was a Pathan and their love for food is legendary. My father loved not just eating, but also cooking. So my Pathan father’s raan would make a perfect combo with my Hyderabadi mother’s mutton biryani and the khatti dal. The sheer variety of food I have tasted in Dubai is just amazing. I go overboard with the gastronomic offerings here. If you are into connecting with nature, do go to the Dubai Aquarium. It is a favourite with my children. That, and Legoland. Dubai Fountain and the Palace Downtown Dubai are also stunning to look at and enjoy. The mountainous Hatta region is my favourite secret getaway. In fact, working with Dubai
Tourism has helped me rediscover this inspiring city in a whole new way. Dubai is excellent for adventure and outdoor lovers. Skydiving at the various spots, with all those breathtaking buildings and vistas beneath you, is exhilarating. My son and I always bum around on the beaches with volleyball games, while my wife loves the Dubai Mall. I look forward to getaways that allow me to have fun in Dubai. I strongly recommend touring Spice Souk, Skydive Dubai and the beaches when in Dubai. The city has something in store for everyone. A holiday in Dubai is a fascinating, multifaceted journey through the city of endless possibilities. So like I say in those films that I shot with Dubai Tourism, ‘Be My Guest’. Seriously, it is heavenly!
As told to Aarti Kapoor Singh
April-May 2018 / 29
people & Places
International Airport, the world’s No. 1 airport for international passengers, and simplified immigration procedures. Dubai International Airport, which is the home base of Dubai’s international airlines, Emirates and flydubai, facilitates a vast network of airlines that together operate flights to over 240 international destinations.
SPOILT CHOICE FOR
Emirate IN THE
Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, speaks up on what makes Dubai class apart
Dubai continues to be a preferred destination for travellers from across the globe. What makes Dubai standout as a tourist destination? Dubai has earned itself an international reputation as a ‘must-visit’ tourist destination for the diversity of value offerings and experiences that tourists are able to enjoy during their stay in the city. The emirate’s strategic geographic location on the crossroads of East and West, providing accessibility to twothirds of the world’s population within a flight time of eight hours, is also a key reason why families look to Dubai as the perfect holiday getaway. Other factors that make Dubai an attractive destination include excellent air connectivity from Dubai
Ranked as the fourth most popular destination in the world on the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, Dubai is also known for its highest quality facilities and amenities. Tourists have a variety of accommodation choices in over 680 hotels that are equipped with over 1,00,000 rooms, from budget hotels to luxury resorts, as well as the opportunity to go on a unique shopping journey at the many malls and souks and select from a multitude of dining, leisure and entertainment options for families and children.
What are the upcoming special events and festivals in 2018 that visitors to Dubai can look forward to? There are plenty of things to do and enjoy in Dubai even after the curtains come down on the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), as throughout the year, Dubai organises many other festivals and events across arts, entertainment, culture and sports with the aim of enhancing the overall visitor experience. Apart from DSF, visitors can look forward to Dubai Food Festival, an annual city-wide culinary celebration that showcases Dubai’s position as a gastronomy destination, from February 22 to March 10. Other special periods that visitors can look forward to are Dubai Summer Surprises, which is a festival aimed at promoting Dubai as a family holiday destination during the summer, the 3-Day Super Sale, where shoppers can avail themselves of massive discounts across several international designer brands and cultural celebrations showcasing Arab and Emirati hospitality and traditions during the month of Ramadan and also Eid. The festivals and events are not only of a global scale but also cater to people of all cultural backgrounds and nationalities in keeping to the city’s multicultural and cosmopolitan
European Visas. Trained staff members at the kiosk provide information and will try to sell tour packages and promote Dubai’s attractions. The staff also helps process visa applications to the UAE through the Dubai Visa Processing Centre, an exclusive facility of VFS Global run on behalf of Dubai and Emirates Airlines for processing UAE visa applications.
setting, as evident in the activities held in Dubai during Diwali, in recognition of India’s biggest festival, and the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Can you elaborate on the Dubai Travel Shop concept and how the same is working along with DCTCM towards boosting tourism to Dubai. Dubai Tourism constantly looks at adjusting its marketing efforts and developing new marketing initiatives to help promote Dubai among new audiences and attract more travellers. We have entered into a partnership with VFS, a renowned global service provider for processing visa applications, to introduce the Dubai Travel Shop at overseas locations that drive high footfall to promote Dubai among potential new visitors. As a first step, our joint efforts will be focused in India, which is Dubai’s top source market for tourists and one of the largest suppliers of outbound tourists. The Dubai Travel Shop concept features promotional kiosks that have been introduced at the Shengen Visa Application Centres operated by VFS in Delhi and another centre that has opened in Mumbai in February to create awareness of the multiple tourism experiences one can enjoy in Dubai and encourage new visitors from among those applying for European visas.
Dubai is known as a travel destination for all, right from families with kids to the adventurous traveller. Can you highlight some of the services that are available at the Dubai Travel Shop, which cater to the different kinds of travellers? Currently, the Dubai Travel Shop provides various services aimed at raising awareness of Dubai as a tourism destination and facilitating travel to the emirate. The kiosk, which is designed to reflect the characteristics and vibrancy of the Dubai brand, is equipped with a TV screen showing content related to Dubai and promotional Virtual Reality sets that engage people aiming to apply for
new & unique attractions that you recommend The Dubai Frame An architectural feat that allows visitors to get a 360 degree view of both the new and older parts of the city from a single location.
Dubai Safari Park A wildlife experience that had its soft opening in December 2017, in addition to La Perle by Dragone at AI Habtoor City, which has heralded a new era of theatrical entertainment.
Theme Parks The Dubai Parks and Resorts, the region’s largest integrated theme park destination and IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, are always introducing fresh and innovative elements aimed at enriching the entertainment experience for families. Other attractions of Dubai Park and Resorts includes: Motiongate Dubai, a Hollywoodinspired theme park, World of The Hunger Games, featuring rides and attractions based on blockbuster movie franchise. Other attractions here are Bollywood Parks and Resorts, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park.
What are the ongoing efforts to further boost Dubai-bound tourism to achieve the Tourism Vision 2020? We have adopted a multi-pronged approach to ensure an increase in tourist arrivals and achieve our strategic goal of attracting 20 million visitors per year by 2020. One of the key factors that continue to influence a rise in visitors to the city is the easing of visa regulations. Dubai currently offers visas on arrival for citizens of 50 different nationalities with nationals of Russia and China, two of our new source markets, becoming the latest to benefit from this facility. Further, to encourage more Indian tourists to visit the emirate, the UAE has extended visason-arrival to Indian nationals with a valid American visa or Green Card. However, hassle-free entry procedures are only one part of an effective tourism strategy. We are pleased with the efforts being carried out by the home-grown airlines, Emirates and flydubai, to help boost visitor numbers, including new route launches. Our vast network of over 20 overseas offices is also promoting Dubai to the world, in addition to innovative concepts like the Dubai Travel Shop. Additionally, we have an ongoing global marketing campaign that relies heavily on digital communication channels and smart technology to promote Dubai to families and tourists in all our key source markets. We are also continuing to work closely with our public and private sector stakeholders, especially in the hotel, retail and events sectors, to further enhance Dubai’s value offerings that would ultimately lead to attracting more visitors and accelerating the pace of growth in Dubai’s tourism industry.
April-May 2018 / 31
With several world-class events marking the annual calendar, Dubai is fast becoming the art hub of the Middle East Words: Sarah Abdullah
continents with over 4,000 affordable contemporary artworks for sale.
ast year was a watershed year for the UAE’s art scene. Louvre Abu Dhabi opened, Art Jameel announced a spacious complex on Deira Creek and Sharjah Art Foundation held a retrospective of the Emirates’ most historically significant artist, Hassan Sharif.
The UAE’s art world has experienced a remarkable evolution over the past few years, with events like Art Dubai, Sikka Art Fair and World Art Dubai taking centre stage. Once considered a touristy, glitzy region boasting of only luxury malls, high-rises, yachts and high-end hotels and restaurants, it is now emerging as the art hub of the Middle East. In March 2018, the entire city of Dubai came alive with 3D art forms, art festivals and exhibitions and other creative shows. First up was Dubai Canvas, (March 1 to 7), which is hailed as a mecca for leading 3D artists to come together and create brilliant optical illusions. Several public spaces at La Mer, the vibrant new beachfront district in Jumeirah, transformed into unique open-air canvases for artists to create and display their work. The biggest and most-awaited of them all, however, is Art Dubai (March 21 to 24), which featured 78 galleries from 42 countries, making this year’s edition the largest and most globally diverse to date. Both virtual reality and Saudi Arabia dominated the 12th edition of the festival. Another fair that has gained a lot of popularity in a short span of time is the World Art Dubai. Now in its 4th edition, (April 18-21), organisers are expecting to see over 140 exhibitors across five
majestic Dubai Dubai remains a vastly popular travel destination for travellers across the globe. Its lure is not only based on shopping, but also on the ancient and contemporary attractions that the destination offers. In an effort to make the travelling experience to this global city more seamless and convenient, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) entered into a unique partnership with VFS Global in October 2017, to promote Dubai as a “Destination of Choice”. An exclusive brand “Dubai Travel Shop” has been created to serve this purpose and a first-of-itskind kiosk setup at the Joint Visa Application Centre at the heart of New Delhi, India. After Delhi, Dubai Travel Shop is set to open its next kiosk in Mumbai. The one-stop centre helps travellers to the emirates with the opportunity to book all their Dubai travel requirements from the same location. It offers easy access to information on Dubai and also offers passes to top attractions, sightseeing, day tours and airport-local transfers. Also on offer are various travel-related products and services, which would enable the travellers to personalise their journey all across Dubai in advance and make their trip a memorable one.
An indicator of its ongoing success, Art Dubai Modern 2018 featured 16 galleries exhibiting artists from 14 countries. For the first time, Art Dubai Modern offered an opportunity to see galleries present meticulously curated collective exhibitions, in addition to solo and two-artist shows. Art Mecca While in Dubai, of special interest to art enthusiasts will be the industrial neighbourhood of Al Quoz where contemporary art is set among the factories and warehouses of the area. Anchored by several galleries on Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz has become one of the most significant spots of contemporary art in the region. Growing from just 10 galleries few years ago, Al Quoz, even by a conservative estimate, is now home to over 60 art, design and creative spaces. In fact, international art houses are making a beeline to enter the art scene in the region. In 2016, Stéphane Custot opened Custot Gallery Dubai, adding to his London gallery, Waddington Custot. Similarly, NewYork based Leila Heller flagged off a 14,000 square-foot gallery in 2015. There are several other places that are worth checking out such as Mottahedan Projects, which was launched by avid art collector Mohammed Mottahedan in 2011 and stands out for its unconventional approach to artists and how works exhibited. Artspace, which opened its doors in 2003, boasts an elite, international clientele, which includes prominent private collectors, architects, interior designers and diplomats. The Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, situated within the Dubai International Finance Centre, focuses on four key areas of activity – exhibitions, education, residency and consultation. Also noteworthy are Lawrie Shabibi and Meem Gallery. From the masters of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art to up-andcoming talents and emerging international artists, Dubai has proudly established itself on the global art map.
April-May 2018 / 33
Adventure Scuba diving and desert safaris are passĂŠ. The new wave of adventures to hit the Middle East range from flyboarding to mountain climbing. Check them out! Words: Maryan Al-Dabbagh
ungee jumping off the hundredth floor of a building, scaling rugged mountains, diving deep into the sea, or riding huge roller coasters, adventure sports such as these have always hooked thrill-seekers who will go the extra mile for that electrifying feeling. The Middle East has always been a fascinating place with its different cultures and rich history, but it’s also a mecca for travellers looking for heart-pumping thrills.
Flyboarding in Dubai Glitzy shopping malls, seven-star hotels and a lavish lifestyle are few things that come to mind when you think of Dubai. However, this is just half the Dubai story. Today this
emirate in the UAE has transformed itself into a city filled with action and adventures. While skydiving with an exotic view of The Palm has been a popular activity for a while, the latest thrill on the grid is flyboarding. Flyboarding combines a jet ski turbine with a wakeboard, enabling you to fly above the ocean or dive under like a dolphin. It’s easy to learn. A coach and a jet ski usually tail you throughout your journey to keep an eye on how well you are doing. What’s great about this sport is that it can be done on any day, regardless of the weather.
ferrata (iron paths) climbing route in Oman offers unparalleled views. Opened last year, Alila Jabal Akhdar’s new via ferrata route is the highest in the Middle East. It is also probably the most memorable way to experience Oman’s Jabal Al Akhdar, or Green Mountain, an expanse of craggy cliffs and limestone rock formations overlooking a perilous gorge. Offering different experiences at different levels, the adventure activity has been designed keeping varying needs and physical capabilities in mind.
Via Ferrata in Oman
So how does it work? Climbers attach themselves to cables using a waist
Not for the faint-hearted, the latest via
April-May 2018 | 35
Pearl diving, Bahrain
The beach resort of Al Dar Island offers regular pearl dives and cruises to Jarada Island where you can go pearl diving on your own
harness and carabiner clips. While their legs remain free, the explorers use their hands to grip the steel cables and trace the rock face, offering a view of the area’s desert-like landscape from an exhilarating angle. Despite the epic heights, there’s no training required and anyone over 12 years old can book the guided experience.
Pearl Diving in Bahrain A key part of life in Bahrain for centuries, pearl diving is a classic Bahraini experience. For more than 2,000 years, Bahrain’s pearls have been prized as some of the best natural pearls in the world. While it was shut for tourists for over 80 years, it opened up recently as a drive to boost tourism to the island nation.
The beach resort of Al Dar Island offers regular pearl dives and cruises to Jarada Island where you can go pearl diving on your own. Visitors just need to follow a simple sixstep guide to become a modern pearl diver. The best part of this adventure - if you find a pearl whilst diving, it’s yours to keep! In addition to pearls, you also get the chance to see up to 30 types of coral and more than 200 species of fish. Dolphin watching around the many reefs is another popular outing. For nature enthusiasts, a 45-minute ferry ride from Al Dur Jetty to Hawar Island can be a wonderful experience. Renowned as a wildlife preserve, the islands offer pristine beaches and a chance to spot dolphins and rare birds.
Canyoning in Jordan
Road trippin’ in Saudi Arabia
Proudly called the ‘Grand Canyon of Jordan’, Wadi Mujib stretches almost 70 kms from the Desert Hwy to the Dead Sea. And canyoning is the perfect way for adventure-seekers to experience the challenges and beauty of Jordan’s canyons. The trail starts at the Visitor Centre near the Mujib Bridge, where you take the cantilevered walkway over the dam and follow the course of the river between towering sandstone cliffs to the base of a large waterfall. Depending on seasonal rainfall levels, the gorge may sometimes contain pools deep enough for swimming. It is an ideal way to take it easy and enjoy the cool water and shade, especially in the heat of the summer.
A great way to discover the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to criss-cross the country on its numerous highways. The Kingdom possesses a variety of routes – from deserts to mountains – giving a wide range of options to travellers looking for adventure journeys. One among them is the trip to Taif from Jeddah, crossing the Al Hada mountain range. Considered one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the region, this route connects Taif city to other areas of the west and north. The views are enchanting and attractive even by the night. Hairpin bends, beautiful greenery, flower gardens and fresh water springs are few of the highlights of this journey.
Jordanian delight Best food Mansaf is a dish of rice, lamb and a dry yoghurt made into a sauce called jameed. It’s not only one of the most beloved Jordanian foods, but is also considered the national dish of Jordan.
Where to try While a lot of restaurants serve Mansaf, Al-Quds is the best one.
April-May 2018 / 37
people & places A key priority for us is to boost the UK’s prosperity – so UKVI works closely with the Department for International Trade, Visit Britain and other agencies and external partners to promote the UK as a destination for work, study and tourism. It’s always great to be able to highlight the fantastic destinations the UK has to offer.
Can you share some insights into what is happening in the visa market and how UKVI is responding? First and foremost, numbers are increasing. UK visas granted to Indian nationals number well over half a million, an 11% increase since last year across all visa categories.
Nick Crouch - Regional Director for South and South East Asia, UK Visas and Immigration talks to Compass about changing customer demands and how UKVI stays ahead of the game
The UK continues to be a preferred destination for Indian travellers, is there an effort to further boost UK-bound tourism, and if so, then in what way? India and the UK are already very wellconnected here, and recent statistics show this. The last year was strong for tourism from India to the UK, with 278,000 visits from tourists in the first six months of 2017, up 45% on the same time in 2016 – and those visitors spent £224 million between January and June 2017, up 19%. This is reflected in our visa numbers. We grant over half a million visas a year to Indian nationals, and the vast majority of those are visit visas.
Secondly, the customer base is demanding more and more by way of convenience. We are working hard to meet that demand, in conjunction with our commercial partner, VFS Global. However, we are not just responding to the market, we are driving it. With the numbers increasing, we are focusing even more on our ‘Beat the Peak’ campaign. Our headline advice is practical and simple: apply as early as possible. Your visa will start from your proposed travel date, which can be up to three months in advance of when you apply, and will be valid for six months (or longer if you apply for a longer-term visa). So if you’re travelling in July and want to avoid the busiest times for processing, why not apply in April?
UKVI has always been at the forefront of developing solutions to improve the visa process for applicants. Can you elaborate on the various services and products offered? Of course, and there are almost too many to talk about! But I’ll split these into two: Firstly, we are providing more ways to apply. The UK has more Visa Application Centres in India than anywhere else – and I was lucky enough to accompany the former UK Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, as he opened our newest centre (in Whitefield, Bengaluru) in November last year. This means more locations to make your application and less need to travel. We are also looking at expanding other services, such as the On Demand Mobile Visa service
UK visas granted to Indian nationals number well over half a million, a 9% increase since 2016 across all visa categories that takes the application process out into the workplace or home, adding an even greater level of convenience. Secondly, our partnership with VFS Global means we can offer additional services to make customers’ applications easier. You can ask for a Priority or Super Priority Visa service to get your application in five days or one day respectively. Or you can access primetime appointments, SMS updates and premium lounges to make the process easier and more comfortable. You can also use the courier service so you don’t need to return to the Visa Application Centre to collect your passport. All of this is geared to further improving the customer experience. What makes me particularly proud is the number of those innovations that have been introduced as a direct result of customer feedback. So if the suggestions keep coming, we can keep improving.
Technological advancements have made quite an impact on the way we apply for visas (e.g. the introduction of biometrics). Do you foresee any other significant changes in the way Indians apply for a UK visa going forward? This is a big priority for UKVI and a lot of work is going on in this area. Right now, a series of projects are underway that will deliver significant customer service changes for the better. For instance, we will improve the digital experience, allowing customers to upload supporting documentation using digital devices. Furthermore, we just recently announced that 90% of customers worldwide are now able to apply for their new visa, visa extension or change of visa type via Access UK,
the Home Office’s new online application service. Access UK is replacing the visa4uk website, and offers a dynamic online alternative to hundreds of paper forms.
significant growth here, with this year’s numbers up 28% compared to the previous year. In the last year, 94% of Tier 4 students who applied were granted their visa.
Since the UK is a big destination for students in particular, how are you promoting student travel in India?
To help support our student customers, late last year we promoted our Don’t Be Late for Class campaign. This was aimed at students, agents, universities and others to encourage early application and use of the correct documents and supporting evidence. We also work closely with key partners including British Council to help us support students across India through the visa application process.
The UK is really keen to encourage genuine students to study in the UK. India is third globally in the number of UK student visas granted. Furthermore, we have seen
What are the new and emerging destinations in the UK that you recommend for Indian visitors, anything ‘off the beaten path’ perhaps? We are hearing that winter destinations are more popular for Indians nowadays. – any tips? You won’t be surprised to hear that London is the primary destination for Indians travelling to the UK. It is the main point of entry and, as a Londoner myself, I know that the city has wonderful tourism destinations and opportunities. Beyond that, however, we are seeing an increasing diversity of destinations from Indian tourists. Scotland continues to be popular, but so are the towns and countryside of Yorkshire and Cornwall, the valleys of Wales and also Northern Ireland – where most of Game of Thrones was filmed and some incredible natural sights like the Giant’s Causeway are to be found. Additionally, given India’s love for cricket, England and Wales’ hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2019 means there is a huge opportunity to inspire Indian visitors to book a trip and explore more of Britain. And in terms of winter trips there is a lot the UK has to offer. From Christmas markets, including Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, to celebrating Scot-style at the Oban Christmas Festival, there is so much on offer during the festive season. If you’re lucky, you might even get a bit of snow.
How is the UK’s European Union (EU) exit expected to impact immigration laws for Indians looking to migrate to the UK? After we leave the EU, we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK. We have been clear that we want a deep and special relationship with our EU neighbours and, of course, we want EU citizens to continue to feel welcome here. Additionally there are new opportunities for Britain to look globally to increase shared prosperity with partners. Indeed, the Prime Minister recently announced measures to boost the UK’s world-class tech sector - including doubling the number of visas available to tech talent from around the world. India, with its own internationallyrecognised tech sector, is well-placed to benefit from initiatives such as this.
VisitBritain is actively promoting the destination in India. How does UKVI work with the tourism board, to increase the tourist inflow? VisitBritain increases awareness of the huge amount the UK has to offer visitors, and UKVI manages the visa process. Where we can specifically help out is debunking some of the myths around the visa system, such as how hard it is to get a visa. Remember, approximately nine out of ten Indians who apply are granted a UK visa – and that adds up to well over half a million annually. Britain continues to offer great value for visitors from India. In October 2017, Britain was on average 14% more affordable for visitors from India compared to the same month in 2015. April-May 2018 / 39
48 Belfast hours in
Known for its cool hangouts, galleries and vibrant nightlife, Belfast in Northern Ireland is a destination worthy of a mini break Words: Rhucha Kulkarni
place that has recently found its way
nature as it houses the Botanical Gardens
into the tourist-circuit with its emerging
and the lush green university premises.
cosmopolitan environment and endearing
Here’s how to make the most of two days
history, Belfast in Northern Ireland is an
in the capital and the second largest city of
ideal weekend destination. One of its most
appealing features is the fact that the city is segregated into ‘quarters’, each with its little
quirks. While the Cathedral Quarter boasts
Morning: After a hearty breakfast at
of buzzing pubs and high-end restaurants,
Granny Annie’s, kick-start your Belfast experience by paying ode to the city’s rich
the Queen’s Quarter seems to be one with
ship-building traditions. Visit the Titanic Belfast - the world’s largest museum dedicated to the infamous ship. A walk through nine interactive galleries give you a complete Titanic experience, from its ship-building days to its tragic demise at the bottom of the Atlantic. You can also get a sense of the grandeur of maritime life by walking the decks of the last remaining White Star vessel, the SS Nomadic. Once
Titanic Belfast Museum
you’re done, head to the Odyssey Complex, a sports and entertainment arena in the Titanic Quarter. Catch an entertaining show, or try your hand at bowling alley for a perfect mid-morning break.
Afternoon: Delve deeper into Irish history with a visit to the Crumlin Road Gaol, a former prison. Several organised tours will help you discover the prison’s chequered past. If you are brave enough, opt for the ‘Paranormal Tour’. It will take you to the sites where paranormal activities have been reported along with chilling details of some of the executions. After satiating your appetite for Ireland’s history, it’s time to appease your appetite. For some local fare, visit the award-winning St. George’s market, which is housed in a gorgeous Victorian architectural building. Tap to the tunes of live music, while digging into some local delicacies like Ulster fry and Belfast Bap, which are excellent options for a late lunch.
Evening: What better way to capture a city’s sunset than from the vantage point of the Cave Hill Country Park. Hike up a short distance to reach the summit of McArt’s Fort at the crest of the hill. On a clear day,
For some local fare, visit the awardwinning St. George’s market and tap to the tunes of live music, while digging into some local delicacies
you may even be lucky to see as far as Scotland! Or look out from the towering relics of the Belfast Castle for a panoramic view of the city. Post-sunset, it’s time to hit the famous Belfast pub scene, starting with the renowned Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast’s most famous bar. Take in the sumptuous with stained glass, marble and mahogany decor while enjoying a drink. Next up – some crazy pub-hopping in the hip Cathedral Quarter along with some fantastic food. A great way to end the day!
Day 2 Morning: Load up your energy reserves by digging into some delicious eggs at the famous National Grande Café. For more on Ireland’s maritime history, pay a visit to the HMS Caroline. A walk through the Captain’s Cabin, Royal Marines Mess and Seamen’s Wash is a window into the world of seafarers during the war days of 1916. To enjoy a different take on history, visit the Ulster Museum. Artefacts and art offer a peek into earlier Irish life. What’s more, kids can have a blast at the interactive Nature Zone, April-May 2018 | 41
cityscape Beacon of Hope statue
complete with exhibits from natural history, geology and other educational subjects. An interesting detour is the Ulster Folk Museum, a reconstructed Irish village with farmhouses, mills and churches, which will orient you to the traditional Irish lifestyle. Then, move from past to present-day Belfast with a guided tour of the Belfast City Hall to understand the current affairs of this thriving city.
St. Anne’s Cathedral
Evening: End your day with a shopping spree at Victoria Square, Belfast’s premier retail centre. It’s a great idea to take the stairs to the top of the glass dome and soak in the beautiful cityscape
Give your Belfast escape the perfect ending with some culinary indulgence, the Michelin-star way. Ox and Deanes Eipic are great options to choose from, for their multi-course culinary excellence.
Afternoon: As the late afternoon sun warms your body and soul, indulge in some green therapy at the Botanic Gardens. It was originally Charles Lanyon’s (the architect) beautiful Palm House, built in 1839. Be sure not to miss the Lord Kelvin statue and pay homage to the inventor of the Kelvin scale. Just stroll through the enchanting lawns of the Queen’s University and admire the Victorian architectural grandeur. If you are an art aficionado, it will do your creative soul a world of good to check out the Metropolitan Arts Centre (The Mac) or even splurge on a music or comedy show at the Black Box.
at sunset. For those of you seeking a more local shopping experience, head to Wellington Street and load up on vintage and arty souvenirs.
Fast Facts Connectivity 7.8 million passengers travelled through Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport in 2016.
Tourism There are over 1.4 million overnight trips per year contributing £278 million to the economy (2015). Source: belfastcity.gov.uk
Belfast is an ideal mix of history, culture, nature, fun and so much more. It works well for an action-packed sightseeing holiday and is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your loved ones. Be sure to plan your Belfast getaway soon!
How to Reach: The George Best Belfast Airport is the nearest local airport, about four kilometres from the City Centre. It has several regular flights from London. Belfast International Airport is further away but serves more international destinations. Dublin Airport is another alternative, about 160 kilometres away.
Snowbombing April 3-8, Mayrhofen, Austria Snowbombing is a music festival that takes place at the Mayrhofen Ski Resort in Austria. The lineup for this event includes a selection of international artists across genres, like Liam Gallagher, Dizzee Rascal and Pendulum. The festival also includes more than 100 acts showcasing igloo rave, enchanted forest party, Austria’s largest fancy dress street party, etc.
Commonwealth Games April 4-15, Gold Coast, Australia This will be the fifth time that Australia has hosted the Games, the others being – 1938 Sydney, 1962 Perth, 1982 Brisbane and 2006 Melbourne. As the first regional Australian city to host the Commonwealth Games, it will be the biggest sporting spectacular the Gold Coast has ever seen.
Check out what’s on around the world in the months of April and May!
Bahrain Grand Prix April 6-8, Kingdom of Bahrain The Formula 1 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit. The best of motorsports will line up for an epic 57 lap battle and will witness racing stars like Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen among others.
Yeouido Spring Flower Festival April 6-13, Seoul, South Korea The Yeouido Spring Flower Festival will give visitors a chance to catch a glimpse of beautiful spring flowers such as azaleas, forsythia, royal azaleas, in full bloom. Besides enjoying the splendour and fragrances of spring, visitors can also witness street performances, fireworks and photo exhibitions here.
Cannes Film Festival
Songkran April 13-15, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand An annual event that marks the beginning of the Thai New Year, celebrations for Songkran start with water fights followed by cultural celebrations, traditional performances and a spread of street food, something that is enjoyed by Thai locals and tourists alike.
May 8-19, Cannes, France One of the most important film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival takes place every May. The festival, which is all set to roll its 71st edition on the French Riviera, is planning some radical changes like to begin the 12-day annual event on a Tuesday, instead of a Wednesday, and end it on a Saturday, not the customary Sunday.
Gathering of Nations Indian PowWow April 28-30, Albuquerque, New Mexico Over 2,500 indigenous/native American/Indian dancers and singers from Canada and the US come annually to participate socially and competitively.
King’s Day April 27, Amsterdam, the Netherlands King’s Day marks the gaudy-colour loving Dutch monarch’s birthday with a huge street party. The fun begins the night before, and the celebrations continue into the next day.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 27- May 6, New Orleans, Louisiana The festival brings together talented musicians from around the world. The line-up for this year includes maestros like Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Sting Jimmy Buffett and Lionel Richie, among others.
Stars of the White Night May 26- July 23, Saint Petersburg, Russia Stars of the White Night prides itself in showcasing the masterpieces of music and theatre. The event boasts of world class programmes, which include finest opera and ballet productions, great symphonic works, masterpieces of chamber music and new premieres. April-May 2018 / 45
SECURE YOUR ASSETS in
DUBAI & RAS AL KHAIMAH FROM ANYWHERE in the world
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. If you have, or are planning to acquire, assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, the DIFC Wills inheritance calculator allows you to find out how Sharia Law might affect their distribution. You can access the calculator through the website at difcprobate.ae/calculator
In 2017, the innovative ‘Virtual Registry’, an extension of the DIFC Wills Service Centre, was launched with overseas asset-holders in mind
s 2018 begins, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one. In 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 support
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.
of such growth, by innovating products and services with foreign investors in mind. The DIFC Wills Service Centre is one such example, supporting this level of investment
When registering a Will online, the DIFC Wills Service Centre has three options available for eligible investors to access remotely.
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
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 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.
Financial Assets Will – Known as the ‘Will for Everyone’, whereby any eligible person can complete and submit for registration of a DIFC Will online, it 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 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.
For an identity check at home or in the 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.
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 high-level security assurance.
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. Furthermore, the added protection received through identity verification provides testators the assurance that their Will cannot be disputed at a later date on the grounds that someone impersonated them at the time of signing.
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 identity verification process within 30 days in their country of residence. VFS Global will authenticate the identity of the Will owner by checking against government-issued 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.
The DIFC Wills Registration Service 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 right 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 on its website. To access the DIFC Wills online Virtual Registry and begin the process of registering your Will please visit www.difcwills.ae.
April-May 2018 | 47
eeping pace with the evolving landscape of teaching and learning, VFS Edu Support
unleash human potential while positioning students for professional advancement:
Services Pvt. Ltd. launched ‘VFS-Oxademy’ in 2016, a digital learning platform in partnership with UK-based Edtech Oxademy Technologies and its subsidiary, the Oxademy Business School.
VFS-Oxademy Online Programmes: VFS-Oxademy programmes are designed for dynamic professionals and individual learners looking to develop their strategising, business analysis and leadership skills. The following courses are designed to help
• MBA: Master of Business Administration
• MSL: Masters in Strategic Leadership • MSOL: Masters of Science in Organisational Leadership
• GLDP: Global Leadership Development Programme (4-6 months professional certificate programme) • Advanced Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Negotiation (five-day residential programme, every August, at Jesus College, Oxford)
VFS-Oxademy offers online-guided learning programmes for students worldwide. It launches ‘Mykro’, the world’s first mobile ‘AI based’ training, communication and engagement platform
Why VFS-Oxademy? • Courses are delivered in either a complete online mode or ‘blended’ mode, which combine online and classroom learning • Faculty affiliated with the world’s leading universities • Courses include world-renowned guest speakers who provide global networking opportunities • Award-winning “Guided Online Learning” platform understands every learner’s learning preferences • Systems compatible with all devices • Learners have access to the world’s largest digital library (selection of 1M+
The entry requirements for enrolling in the study programmes include: • A minimum of a lower second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification • A minimum of two years relevant work experience, which includes managerial responsibility (work experience is a must for MBA) • English proficiency test (IELTS 6 or equivalent)
VFS-Oxademy launches ‘Mykro’
Multi-platform Technology: Mykro works on all device
ebooks, 750+ publishers and 1,500 imprints) and the best research-led business intelligence publishing platform Opportunities to work on a real-world project with an Oxademy Industry Partner (OIP) Courses include live interactive tutorials, accessible from a PC, Mac and any portable device Significantly lower cost compared to the same on-campus programme Degrees are identical and on par with on-campus programmes
In a move towards transforming the way businesses and organisations impart training to their employees, VFS-Oxademy has recently launched ‘Mykro’ – the world’s first adaptive, multi-sensorial, micro-learning platform that uses the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to provide oneon-one engagement and learning. Mykro is a mobile, user-centric and highly flexible learning platform that provides effective, fast, personalised and attention-grabbing training, which helps modern organisations better train and engage with their staff.
How can Mykro transform the way employees learn? • Provides a secure AI-based and cloudbased micro-learning platform • Creates and delivers concise, engaging and relevant training
• Accessible anytime, anywhere • Uses smart communication cards and notifications to send updates on the latest company news • Creates engaging and accessible micro-learning courses and staff communication messages • Segments and manages learners so that training and communication is tailored by region, role, etc. • Deep analytics to track training progress, engagement, completion, ROI, and other KPIs • Compatible with iOS and Android mobile platforms • Larger content is automatically broken into smaller bite-sized modules • Available at a fraction of the cost of any online or offline learning with maximum impact The Mykro platform is currently being used by several large organisations, including one of the top four consultancies, four universities, a training provider and the world’s largest retail education site. In India, Quality Education Support Trust (Quest) and Unicef are using the Mykro platform to move from older, slower, less engaging and static learning resources to a robust online library of evolving, ‘just-intime’ and well-aligned courses for teachers based in India in their own languages and local context.
The unique feature of VFS-Oxademy’s online modules is that it uses OX360, the award-winning Artificial Intelligence (AI) cloud infrastructure/technology, which is sensitive to the specific behaviour and learning patterns of each individual learner. According to the personalised learning pathway rolled out for the individual learner, he/she can finish the degree course in a period of 16, 24 or 36 months. Busy executives wishing to advance their job prospects by bettering their educational qualification can conveniently log on to the VFS-Oxademy study programmes after office hours and earn their degrees in due course without taking leave from work. April-May 2018 | 49
launched IN UAE & INDIA Global Privilege Helpdesk provides travellers with personalised assistance at every stage of their journey
very journey is as unique as the individual who carefully plans every aspect of their trip to suit their bespoke needs. While travel designs may vary widely, one thing that connects all travellers is the need for comfort, convenience and security at every stage of their journey.
To bring the global traveller of today unparalleled personalisation and elevated experience of services, 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 programâ€™s intuitively designed service offerings uniquely liberate members from frequently experienced travel-related complexities and apprehensions. After a successful launch in India, the program** arrives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with curated offerings targeted at the truly global UAE resident. In India, the membership programs, tailormade 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 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 â€˜Always Onâ€™ services, which are available for use any number of times 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. 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! When members set out on their travel, 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 of VFS Global’s 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
Crafted to delight visa applicants, the VFS Global Privilege Program is set to simplify the overall visa application and travel experience
in the luxurious Platinum Lounge or via the unmatched convenience of ‘doorstep visa services’, which allows 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.
Additionally, complimentary services, ranging from courier services, photocopying and printing to SMS status alerts, are also offered to take care of a member’s every travel-related need, all under one roof. A holistic overview of the packages reveal that they have been created to empower travellers, who are in different stations of life. Thoughtfully enveloping the diverse needs of each category of travellers, the VFS Global Privilege Program is a proof of the company’s multi-dimensional approach to travel-care and travel facilitation. To enrol and for detailed information on the program 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 email@example.com
*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.
April-May 2018 | 51
towards the future, contributing to the society while 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
society A comprehensive plan addresses VFS Global’s environmental, social and governance responsibilities
ustainability means being orientated
for the under-privileged across the globe as part of its long-term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. VFS Global is highly committed to create ‘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.
Sustainability Mission As a global industry leader, VFS Global acknowledges its corporate responsibility towards sustained and long-term development of its business in line with ethical good business practices and with our client’s sustainability requirements. We focus on upholding Human Rights, Anti-Corruption compliance and Environment-friendly operating practices. We also contribute to the progressive development of society at large and local communities to the best of our abilities. We are committed to tracking and improving key performance indicators related to these aspects, and transparent reporting of the same to create value for the company and the society. Team Malaysia embark on a green drive
VFS Global is highly committed to create the most value to the benefit of the company, its people, clients, partners and society. Peter Brun, Chief Communications Officer, VFS Global
VFS Global’s Sao Paulo team’s ode to the Nature
Ongoing sustainability initiatives at VFS Global 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.
The Rio de Janeiro team cleaning a local park
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 of UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 • Eliminate discrimination with reference to employment • Promote environmental responsibility and encourage environmentally-friendly technologies • Work against corruption in all forms
At VFS Global, we are proud of our foundations, which consist of people, successful business operations and the overall environment we are taking care of. Through the Sustainability Roadmap, our initiatives are monitored and tracked and specific measures are taken. We fundamentally 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.
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, waste management since 2013. There are various other environmental conservation and social upliftment initiatives undertaken globally.
April-May 2018 / 53
VFS GLOBAL NETWORK
April-May 2018 / 55
Answer: Lotus, frogâ€™s leg, green frogâ€™s eyes, shadow, grass, shadow on leaf, bee, lotus leaf, grass in the background, water turbulence
Find 10 Differences Join the dots
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Complimentary Visa Application Magazine for applicants across the United Arab Emirates