Niyi David


According to data published ahead of the inaugural edition of Travel Forward, which will take place alongside Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020 at Dubai World Trade Centre from 19 – 22 April 2020, the Middle East’s travel and tourism industry is expected to increase its spending on Internet of Things (IoT) technology by 22% by 2022.

With technological advances not only continuously evolving, but indeed accelerating the quality of life, and the introduction of new innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Virtual Reality (VR) and IoT, Colliers International predicts the Middle East online travel and hospitality market will outpace the global market by 17% over the next three years, with annual sales exceeding US$100 billion by 2022.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Technology, and the use of technology, is increasingly part of everyday life. Travel, tourism and hospitality are at the very forefront of tech innovation with many organisations investing huge sums of money to gain competitive advantage, while improving the customer journey and overall experience.

The launch of Travel Forward at ATM 2020 not only confirms our commitment to continuously innovating our offering for all industry stakeholders, but also provides a platform for the industry to come together to take advantage of technological advances and stay at the forefront of innovation.

Danielle Curtis

“That is why the introduction of events such as Travel Forward are so important to our sector’s future. Enhancing our existing technology offering, Travel Forward – which will be co-located with ATM 2020 – will showcase the very latest innovations from some of the brightest minds in the travel and tourism industry, allowing delegates to test new technologies and applications that could help them boost efficiency and transform their operations.

“With an array of high-profile keynote speakers and world-class technology experts lined up for the Travel Forward Conference Theatre, the event will connect buyers and suppliers from across the Middle East and beyond as well as facilitating face-to-face interviews and business opportunities.”

The debut Middle East edition of Travel Forward will cover the full spectrum of industry tools, from emerging innovations such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and machine learning, to existing systems such as booking engines, business management software and end-user technology.

In addition to the Travel Forward Conference Theatre, ATM’s own dedicated Travel Tech Theatre will also be returning – enabling exhibitors to conduct live demonstrations for attendees.

The standalone event will also feature ‘The Startup Showcase’ – a forum in which the brightest minds in the travel and hospitality industry will not only introduce and explain the theory behind their innovations but also demonstrate their advantages in real time.

A ‘Startup Competition’ will give suppliers the opportunity to make a six-minute visionary pitch about their latest innovation to a panel of judges. The three most impressive tech startup pitches will then be selected to present to the entire conference theatre, where audience members will vote for a winner who will receive service ‘tokens’ from a company and/or cash and/or mentoring.

Curtis added: “Travel Forward was originally launched during World Travel Market 2018 in London. Based on the success of the event to date, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) rolled out a Latin America edition earlier this year, with the Middle East and a South Africa version to follow in 2020.

“The launch of Travel Forward at ATM 2020 not only confirms our commitment to continuously innovating our offering for all industry stakeholders, but also provides a platform for the industry to come together to take advantage of technological advances and stay at the forefront of innovation.”

ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia.

Adopting Events for Tourism Growth as the official show theme, ATM 2020 will build on the success of this year’s edition with a host of seminar sessions discussing the impact events have on tourism growth in the region while inspiring the travel and hospitality industry about the next generation of events.

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in conjunction with the Lagos State Government (LASG) through its Ministry of Environment and Water Resources is set to host the 12th edition of the annual “Walk for Nature” with the theme: ‘Plastic Pollution: The Enemy of Our Development Agenda.’

The theme for this year has been chosen to create increase awareness about the need for Lagosians to collectively tackle the menace of plastic pollution.

The NCF/LASG Walk for Nature is an initiative aimed at raising awareness on a wide variety of contemporary environmental issues confronting everyday living in Nigeria by demonstrating the importance of nature conservation, sustainable use of natural resources and environmental education.

This partnership with the Lagos State Government for the Walk is in its 12th year, supported by corporate organisations: such as Chevron Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, IHS Towers, Fan Milk Nigeria Plc, Mobile Classroom, Nestle Waters, etc. that share in the vision of a Nigeria where people prosper while living in harmony with Nature.

The 3km walk takes participants through a designated route of inner and outer Marina, with participants donning branded t-shirts bearing the theme of the event.

Relevant government agencies will be present to provide support services – these include the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), and Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC). The Police, supported by the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps will equally be on ground.

The Walk for Nature ends with a reception featuring speeches from stakeholders expounding the theme, with keynote addresses from His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Honourable Commissioner of Environment & Water Resources, NCF leadership, sponsors and community members.

Also expected at the rally are Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture, heads of faith-based organisations, conglomerates, institutions, associations and students among others

Venue: State House, Marina, Lagos State

Date:    Saturday, 19th October, 2019

Time:   7:00am

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) held its annual teachers training on Friday, 20th September, 2019 at Lekki Conservation Centre with the aim to equip secondary school teachers to teach conservation practices to students, as part of its goal towards the promotion of environmental education across the nation.

The training discussed the activities for the school term and demonstrated how to raise a garden through composting from kitchen food waste.

The facilitator, Mrs. Temitope Okunnu; CEO of FABE International, said that composting is a great way of reducing food waste and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. “Composting isn’t hard as we’ve been led to believe. Anyone can compost in any location if they understand the basics of the natural process”. She added.

According to her, Waste food materials such as eggshells, banana peels, vegetables, bread, yard waste, coffee grounds, manure from rabbits and chickens are very good for composting. Composting can be done in sacks, cement bags or open pit that is 4ft deep.

She equally talked about the rules guiding composting which include “turning compost from the bottom part to the top part, to ensure adequate ratio of nitrogen to carbon present in the compost.”

Other activities featured were inauguration of new school conservation clubs, grouping of schools into districts, election of coordinators and their assistants and; presentation of gifts to some coordinators for their performance in the previous year.

Outcome of the group deliberations were devising method of using bottle caps for making jewelries, making tables from tyres, planting of trees/flowers, making of Christmas tree, and clean-up activities; promotion of ideas such as Environmental awareness to schools in the locality, regional meetings amongst coordinators, clean-up exercise, waste recycling also raising a school garden using waste materials; and focusing on general clean-up activities, creating awareness on Environmental Education, regular club meetings, community services, club week, environmental awards, membership drive and Environmental beautification.

The training rounded up with participants touring the orchid garden. About fifty teachers participated in the training event.

Dubai, 10th October 2019

The world’s first floating Smart Police Station has been inaugurated by H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates at GITEX 2019 following a collaboration between Dubai Police and the group behind the innovative Floating Seahorse Villa, Kleindienst.

Kleindienst Group is the largest European real estate company in Dubai with more than 1,000 employees over its diverse portfolio of businesses which include property development, construction, hospitality, property brokerage, and corporate business centres. The announcement was made during GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, which took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from October 6 – 10.

The floating seahorse Smart Police Station (SPS), which will be located at Kleindienst Group’s Heart of Europe project, and is expected to open in Q1 2020, will offer unmanned innovative, high performance e-police services to the residents of the development as well as the Dubai community at large.

The partnership also further underscores Dubai’s innovative 360-degree plan to promote happiness, sustainability and public safety by using smart technology as well as educating the community on protecting marine life.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police said: “This extraordinary, unique and pioneering project has grabbed the attention of police and security institutions around the world, as they seek to replicate the experience in their countries.”

In addition to providing safety and security services the SPS will also play a crucial role in promoting sustainability and marine life protection in the Heart of Europe development and in the rest of the UAE. A series of visits to the SPS are planned for UAE residents, schools and tourists to see firsthand the positive impact Kleindienst is having on the marine ecosystem.

Josef Kleindienst, Chairman of Kleindienst Group said: “Our partnership with Dubai Police is built on innovation, engineering ingenuity and imagination. We were the first in the world to develop a luxury floating above and underwater living experience through the Floating Seahorse Villa and I’m pleased our design capabilities have been recognised by Dubai Police with the first floating Smart Police Station. As a Developer, we are committed to supporting Dubai’s vision on sustainability, innovation and safety.

“The Heart of Europe project is gaining momentum and the SPS is a good example of the infrastructure and amenities which will in place and available to the waterfront community. Our vision for protecting underwater life is also being realised through the vital role the stations will play in promoting sustainability,” added Kleindienst.

The Kleindienst Group was established over 30 years ago in Austria and Hungary and has been present in Dubai since 2003. The Heart of Europe is the flagship masterplan of the developer in Dubai.

Dubai, UAE, 6 October 2019:

Dubai has welcomed 113,000 overnight visitors from Nigeria in the first seven months of 2019, according to statistics contained in a press release issued by the Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) reporting a stellar incline in tourism volumes from the West African country.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest source market for inbound traffic to Dubai, and with an impressive double-digit growth, inbound traffic grew by 28 per cent year-on-year, to cement its position as the emirate’s 17th largest source market. Dubai’s diverse portfolio of attractions has experienced sustained interest amongst Nigerian travellers through ongoing strategic trade partnerships, bespoke integrated marketing campaigns, and always-on social media activations.

Building on ongoing efforts to provide a platform to broadcast Dubai’s multifaceted comprehensive offerings to African tourists, Dubai Tourism, led by the CEO, Issam Kazim, showcased its support at the Akwaaba African Travel Market for the fourth consecutive year with a strong delegation of 21 Dubai-based partners, which included a team from Expo 2020 Dubai. West Africa’s most prestigious travel trade event brought together industry stakeholders from across the public and private sector to provide a platform to share key market insights, further cementing the emirate’s relationships with operators and offering the opportunity to promote Dubai’s ever-evolving destination offering to a highly targeted audience.

Winning the ‘Best Stand’ award for the fourth year in a row, the Dubai Tourism stand, which was the largest at the show, welcomed visitors and set an Akwaaba record with over 700 delegates attending its industry panel session. To the delight of the crowd, six of the nine Nollywood celebrities from the ‘Dubai Faceoff’ campaign made a surprise appearance on stage to voice their experience and admiration for the city. During the session, Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) was joined by His Excellency Fahad Obaid Mohamed Al Taffag, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide market insights and an update on visitor figures. Other highlights included Dubai’s diverse destination offerings and an overview of in-market campaigns.

The event also encompassed several strategic meetings with trade and media partners, including TBI, a key trade partner and one of the largest in Nigeria; Megaletrics, one of the largest owners of radio stations in Nigeria, as well as Dubai’s other key trade partners GHI Assets, NANTA, Seki, and
As Dubai Tourism continues to represent itself as a model case study for tourism to the African travel market, it maintains its focus on increasing overall marketing activities including training workshops, trade activities (sales activations, fam trips) and campaigns as well as expanding upon the number of Dubai-based partners that participate in roadshows and events in the Nigerian market. Dubai-based partners present at Dubai Tourism’s stand included American Hospital, Avani Deira Dubai Hotel, Copthorne Hotel, Dubai Health Authority, Emaar Hospitality Group LLC, Expo 2020, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, Golden Treasure Tourism L.L.C, JA Resorts & Hotels L.L.C, Jumeirah Group, Mida Travels, Pacific Destination Tourism L.L.C, Rayna Tourism L.L.C, Red Apple Middle East Tourism LLC, Royal Arabian Destination Management DMCC, Tabeer Tourism, The Ritz Carlton Dubai, JBR, Travel Destination Online DMCC, W Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Wings Tours Gulf (L.L.C).

Issam Kazim, CEO, (DCTCM), said: “The immense hospitality and genuine welcome we received during our time in Nigeria paved the way for a hugely successful Akwaaba Travel Market 2019. Our continued presence at industry events such as these is testament to our globally diversified market strategy to engage with key strategic partners, cementing our positive relationship with the African travel trade ecosystem.”

Further fostering growth across the African continent, Dubai Tourism continues to leverage its multi-layered marketing strategy, delivering specialised communications programming that recognises the power of social media in influencing travellers’ decision-making processes. This approach saw the launch of the ‘Dubai Face Off’ campaign, where Dubai Tourism successfully collaborated with trade partners WONTRA and Tour Brokers International to provide an exclusive travel package that let fans travel with ‘Nollywood’ celebrities. As part of the campaign, nine well-known Nigerian celebrities gave fans the rare opportunity to accompany them to Dubai, with the package offering flight tickets, entry visa, airport transfers, four nights stay at a 4 or 5 star accommodation, a desert safari experience, city tour, tickets to IMG Worlds of Adventure, world class dining experiences, as well as designated time with the celebrities.
With strategic support from stakeholders across the city, the celebrity figures and their fans participated in a series of challenges that incorporated social media engagement, asking fans to vote on their favourite winners throughout their stay. The campaign surpassed projected results with over 200 fans travelling to Dubai  for the exclusive campaign, while the celebrities received just under 31 million engagements on social media to boost the department’s ‘always-on’ social media strategy – which, to date, has exceeded the entire year’s forecasted engagement targets by almost 300 per cent.
Issam Kazim, CEO, DCTCM, commented on the campaign: “As Dubai continues to become a prime destination of choice for Nigerian travellers, we are committed to extending the potential of one of our fastest growing source markets by offering custom-made integrated marketing campaigns and trade activations that showcase the city’s world-class propositions and exceptional experiences on offer. The ‘Dubai Face Off’ campaign is a prime example of our endeavours to harness the power of user generated content and organic circulation in targeting segments eager for customised and diversified experiences.”
As the department continues to build on and cement its strong relationship with the Nigerian market, Dubai tourism has plans to launch a second targeted winter marketing celebrity campaign with out-of-home advertising, radio, and social media activations to further engage Nigerian tourists and position Dubai as the destination of choice all year round.

A franchise agreement has been signed between Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s affiliate and ALDAU Development Group for the opening of a Hyatt-branded hotel — Hyatt Regency Cairo West.

Set to open in the last quarter of 2020, the property joins Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh and further adds to Hyatt’s growing brand footprint in North Africa.

Hyatt Regency Cairo West will feature 242 contemporary guestrooms and suites, inspired by Egyptian culture; with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pyramids of Giza or the hotel’s pool and lush gardens. Room amenities offered will include the latest technology such as smart mirrors and sensor LED lighting control, as well as in-room massage and beauty facilities in a number of the suites.

Situated within the Pyramids Heights Business Park, the hotel targets business and leisure travellers.

The property also features five restaurants, bar and lounges, a fitness centre, an outdoor heated swimming pool and casino adjacent to the building. In addition to that, the hotel will feature seven meeting rooms, a Grand Ballroom and outdoor function area.


Top hospitality group Accor is set to further cement its position in Singapore following the signing of a partnership with Global Premium Hotels to launch 13 Ibis budget hotels in the island country.

Booking will be available through Accor’s distribution network from October 7, 2019 for the properties which have been rebranded from existing Fragrance hotels.

Also, two Parc Sovereign hotels will commence renovation plans towards the end of 2019, and each will be rebranded Mercure and Ibis Styles hotel respectively by mid-2020.

This partnership cements Accor’s position as the largest hotel operator in Singapore, bringing its total inventory to 7,625 rooms across 30 hotels, 3,357 rooms in the luxury and premium space, 1,840 in midscale and 2,428 in economy.

“These new Ibis budget hotels spread across central and suburban locations in Singapore are perfect for savvy business or leisure travellers. Featuring cosy rooms for one, two or three people and conveniently located to leisure attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, Clarke Quay, Mount Faber and Sentosa Island, these new additions to our network in the city offer wider choices to guests looking for a short break or weekend getaway,” said Garth Simmons, chief operating officer, Accor Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore & South Asia.

Ranging in size from 32 rooms to 168 rooms, selected hotels also feature a pool and/or gym. ibis budget Singapore Clarke Quay and the Singapore River, feature a fitness centre and a rooftop swimming pool. The Ibis budget Singapore Selegie boasts a rooftop pool with great views of Singapore’s city skyline. Additionally, Ibis budget Singapore Clarke Quay, ibis budget Singapore Imperial and ibis budget Singapore Selegie offer a casual dining café.

GPHL CEO Ko Lee Meng, said, “We are excited to launch a new Accor brand in the market and deepen our relationship with Accor. Having provided quality accommodation and great value to visitors to Singapore these past 20 years, the rebranding and enhancement of our existing properties marks not just another milestone for our group, but an evolution in our business and a boost to our expansion strategy.”


Leading hospitality group, Accor have signed a partnership with GFH Financial Group to manage a Mama Shelter brand hotel in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. The project is also expected to comprise a restaurant and a sea view rooftop pool, according to the deal.

The Mama Shelter Bahrain will be part of the waterfront location at GFH’s Harbour Row development within the US$1.5 billion Bahrain Financial Harbour project, as one of the Kingdom’s most prominent mixed-used projects, and it is set to open in 2020.

“Mama Shelter Bahrain is the first MAMA which will face the sea. The design has been thought out in two ways. Firstly, the relationship with the sea as it is a waterfront hotel. The second is to propose a lifestyle experience which refers to the nomadic aesthetic and the hospitality from the inner part of the region,” explained Benjamin El Doghaïli, head of MAMA’s Design Studio.

The property will house 160 rooms, with design elements by MAMA’s Design Studio, led by Benjamin El Doghaïli. Each room features complimentary films and WiFi as well as a selection of products from the MAMA SKIN range of organic amenities.

MAMA’s CEO, Jérémie Trigano said: “We discovered a beautiful site in the city of Manama on the banks of the Arabian Gulf and a modern, forward-thinking partner, GFH properties, brought to us by the Accor team. The chemistry was there and we therefore decided to bring the MAMA magic to the country, with the hope of opening in 2020”.

Commenting on the project, Mark Willis, CEO Accor Middle East & Africa said: “Our partnership with GFH continues to flourish with the signing of Mama Shelter Bahrain as well the debut of the Raffles brand, which was announced earlier in the month. Accor believes that Mama Shelter marks a definitive first in lifestyle hotels in Manama and has the potential to be a global showcase for this dynamic brand.” 

Hisham Al Rayes, CEO GFH Financial Group said: “We’re extremely pleased with this partnership with Accor and the value proposition it creates not only at Harbour Row but for the Kingdom of Bahrain, where GFH continues our focus on supporting development goals in the lifestyle and tourism sector, which is set for continued expansion. Debuting a Mama Shelter branded hotel in Bahrain crystalizes our commitment to introducing cutting edge brands that resonate with both local residents and the community at-large as well as appealing to the needs and helping to attract an even greater number of regional and international travellers to Bahrain.”


The World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress (WMTC) will take place outside the USA for the first time, with its 12th edition set to be hosted in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates capital from 15-17 October 2019.

Organised by Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) in collaboration with the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, WMTC Abu Dhabi 2019 will bring together representatives from the top hospitals, insurance companies, payers, ministries and other industry players from more than 90 countries.

The 2019 event will focus on China and Russia, as well as GCC nations such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and other Middle East (MENA) countries and Northern Africa.

The first day of the event will feature the Ministerial Summit, hospital site tours and an all-day workshop event for industry insiders. The final two days of the Congress will feature keynote speeches and three educational sessions.

“Medical tourists can spend weeks in their destination, typically alongside family members,” said Jonathan Edelheit, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) and WMTC Abu Dhabi. “As a result, medical travel and health tourism can have a big economic impact on the entire tourism sector,” he added.

Commenting on the conference, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are proud to partner with the Medical Tourism Association to bring the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress to Abu Dhabi, a move in line with our strategy to transform the emirate into a world-class healthcare hub. As an area with huge growth potential, the medical tourism sector is one of our primary focuses at the moment, an avenue through which we seek to further fuel the dynamic growth of the capital, in sync with the United Arab Emirates’ economic diversification plan.

“Abu Dhabi has all the necessary infrastructure to become one of the most popular medical tourism destinations in the world, offering world-class medical care and facilities alongside diverse cultural, retail and leisure attractions, all in a safe, secure and family-friendly destination. We are confident that the emirate can provide the best possible care and experience not only for patients but also their families and carers,” he added.

Medical tourism is a key factor in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision initiative, which aims to establish the Emirate of Abu Dhabi among the most preferred destinations in the world.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Breaking Down Barriers” and with Abu Dhabi’s central location and ease of access, this year’s WMTC will be easier than ever to attend.

“Abu Dhabi has set the foundational elements and is now in a position to evolve into a world-class healthcare destination, making us proud to be their partner on this initiative and journey,” said Edelheit. “Through the support of the Abu Dhabi government we are hosting our largest buyer programme ever, flying in more than 100 key healthcare buyers from around the globe. While there, they will conduct Abu Dhabi hospital site tours and take B2B meetings to accelerate the growth of Abu Dhabi’s medical tourism initiative.” 


The Anantara Tozeur Resort, the upcoming project by Anantara Hotels & Resorts in Tunisia, expected to open in late 2019 with 93 guest rooms and villas will be located right next to the original sets of the 1977 original classic Star Wars.

In addition to that, the property will also feature Tunisian and Thai speciality restaurants, swimming pools and a fitness centre, Anantara Spa with hammam, desert expeditions and ballroom and meeting facilities.

Guests can drive across the Chott el Djerid, the Sahara’s largest salt lake.  Daytrips across the desert include visits to the abandoned villages of Chebika, Tamerza, and Mides, and the film set of the original Star Wars.