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Nov. 6, 2019

TIME Hotels, the UAE-headquartered hospitality company is celebrating big wins at the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards 2019 which took place in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland after adding three new awards to its growing list of accolades.

Recognised for their excellence within the luxury hotel segment of the market were three of TIME Hotels’ properties, namely: TIME Nozha Beach Aqua Park Hotel & Resort which bagged the Luxury Family Beach Resort Award, TIME Dammam (Luxury Contemporary Service Apartments Award) while TIME Express took home the Luxury Contemporary Hotel Award.

We are incredibly proud of all of our achievements this year and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our exemplary staff in every department who uphold the brand values of TIME Hotels, as well as our guests who have helped make 2019 such a success for TIME Hotels. With so much achieved to date we look forward to continuing our success as we begin looking ahead to 2020.

Mohamed Awadalla

The CEO of TIME Hotels, Mohamed Awadalla commenting on the achievement said: “Winning these coveted awards is not only another successful step in our mission to continue developing TIME Hotels as a major player within the international hospitality industry, but is also recognition of our sustained commitment to excellence.

“Over the years we have built our success on delivering international standards of service through our friendly and dedicated teams, supported by signature warm and welcoming Arabian hospitality and a unique collection of market-relevant properties.”

Established in 2006, the World Luxury Hotel Awards, are the pinnacle of achievement in the luxury hotel industry, recognizing global, continent, regional and country luxury accommodation across over 100 different categories.

Voted by guests, travellers and industry players alike through an online public vote, the accolade reflects the hard work and dedication exhibited by TIME Hotels’ exceptional staff and its unparalleled service offering.

“We are incredibly proud of all of our achievements this year and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our exemplary staff in every department who uphold the brand values of TIME Hotels, as well as our guests who have helped make 2019 such a success for TIME Hotels. With so much achieved to date we look forward to continuing our success as we begin looking ahead to 2020,” Awadalla added.

Commenting on the 13th annual World Luxury Hotel Awards, Marketing Director, Michael Hunter-Smith, said: “We congratulate this year’s winners. True luxury is not easily attained. It takes highly efficient and dedicated staff who are willing to go the extra mile and stop at nothing to ensure that every guest feels cared for and no challenge goes unresolved. This is the definition of luxury. It is what makes the winners shine.”

A new series of buyer forums and networking events focused on India, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia’s growing outbound potential, has been launched by Arabian Travel Market 2020 (ATM), as GCC travel and tourism companies and destinations look to attract a larger share from these major source markets.

These new forums and networking events have been designed to explore the untapped opportunities that India, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia’s expanding tourism markets present, following the successful launch of the ‘Arabia China Tourism Forum’ at ATM 2019, and they advise travel, tourism and hospitality professionals, on how to attract and cater to these key markets.

ATM will be inviting 150 hosted buyers from India, China, Russia and the Middle East, as part of the networking sessions, as well as partnering with CBN Travel & MICE once again to bring an additional 84 new buyers from China.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 19-22 April 2020, said: “Identifying the key players in the top source markets, along with current and emerging industry trends are two of the most valuable insights ATM has to offer. Therefore, the 2020 edition will continue to follow that successful model with a packed agenda, including new forums and networking opportunities as well as an engaging seminar programme.”

According to research from Colliers International, looking at the UAE alone in partnership with ATM, the number of Indian visitors travelling to the UAE is expected to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7% to 3.01 million by 2023, while arrivals from Saudi Arabia will witness an increase of 2% to 1.76 million during the same period.

The data also predicts an above average annual growth rate for both Russian and Chinese arrivals to the UAE, with the number of Russian tourists expected to increase at a CAGR of 12% to 1.6 million and Chinese tourists estimated to increase at a CAGR of 8% to 1.27 million by 2023.

Taking a look at the key drivers, beside Expo 2020 which is now less than one year away, Indian, Saudi Arabian, Chinese and Russian visitors have grown in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; relaxed visa regulations; the growth of their respective economies; increased disposable incomes and a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations as well as a broad range of hotels and resorts across the region.

Curtis said: “Over recent years in particular, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in these tourists to the Middle East and as we look ahead to the 2020 edition of the show we are seeing more hotel and travel professionals than ever before eager to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by these key markets.”

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.

SHARJAH, U.A.E. (Oct. 16, 2019) —

Though the new Al Bait Sharjah has opened as an antidote to the bright-light-big-city glitz of Dubai, the hotel has not rolled up its welcome mat on the most well-to-do. Indeed, the resort this month has debuted a new weekend getaway package that includes accommodation in its signature heritage house, transfer by yacht, custom clothes, edible gold, calligraphy and other rarefied amenities.

The $68,000 price tag on this weekend away is not for the faint of wallet; indeed, the price tag is tantamount to the value of 1.5 kilos of gold.

“Still,” said the hotel’s general manager, Patrick Moukarzel, “one might argue that it’s rather economical at $850 per person per couple per year if you amortise the cost of the weekend as memories over the next four decades!”

The weekend begins with a yacht transfer from Dubai with exclusive welcome amenities that include edible, 24 karat gold. Dockside, a 1967 Mercedes Pullman – one of only 304 in the world – transfers guests directly to the hotel. 

Once at the resort, guests resort to the fully privatised Bait Al Midfa Heritage House, where the suite will be strewn with flower decorations on a scale of a floral atelier and utterly personalised at every turn from gold embroidered and initialed wardrobes and slippers to personalised engraved jewelry set from the renowned local designer in the resort’s Jewellery Shop. 

The first dining opportunity upon arrival is the Al Bait Tray for Two, complete with a gold twist, including one of the most expensive desserts in the world adorned in gold and jewels and concocted with the most expensive organic ingredients. Full disclosure, the resort will not reveal the exact recipe of this dessert.  

Next up is a private, exotic couple’s spa retreat within the already secluded Heritage House. Depending on preference (and weather), there is the choice of a treatment outdoors or in one of the atmospheric rooms in the spa.

Floating from the spa experience, the day ends under the stars watching a suitably romantic film in an outdoor cinema experience in the privacy of the Heritage Courtyard with – of course – gold popcorn or a full-on gastronomic affair, if wished.

After a night on a specially imported, USD $22,000 mattress, which provides two more hours of sleep than a normal bed, a curated breakfast is served out at sea on a yacht. All hands on deck gives way to all hands at calligraphy in a private class, with gold, at the resort.

Lunch takes place in the heart of the kitchen at Al Bait Sharjah, in the shadow of a hundred-year old windtower. In the afternoon, local tailors take measurements for a bespoke abaya and kandoora by a famous Arab fashion designer, which will then be shipped anywhere. 

The day closes with a curated dinner picnic on a private island in Sharjah with a private musician and butler service while the sun dips into the horizon. Naturally, a royal bathing ceremony will occur upon return to the resort. On the day of departure, a spiritual awakening ceremony at a private pool with a spot of yoga, segues to a romantic breakfast in the privacy of the Heritage House. 

Delegates from the Middle East are heading to WTM London 2019 slated for November 4 – 6, looking to achieve an even greater share of the multi-billion-dollar international travel market against the backdrop of Expo 2020 looming on the horizon with the Middle East region continuing to represent high growth potential for the travel industry.

The UK is predicted to retain its position as one of the top European destinations for GCC nationals to visit – accounting for 890,000 trips by 2023, according to research from Colliers International.

Simon Press, Senior Director, WTM London, said: “While part of this growth can be attributed to the Middle East – and in particular the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s large expatriate populations, residents from the MENA region are no strangers to destinations within the UK, their culture and history – as well as their retail and luxury hospitality offerings.

“And in addition, the relaxation of tourist visa requirements combined with Brexit weakening the British Pound have provided an additional incentive for Middle Eastern tourists.”

This year, WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, turns 40 and 50,000 participants as well as 5,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries are expected to join in the celebrations with organisers predicting a record year for 2019, boosted by a strong contingent of exhibitors from the Middle East region.

Adding to this, several Middle Eastern companies have been shortlisted for the International Travel & Tourism Awards (ITTAs) – which take place on Tuesday 5th November and recognise the outstanding successes of destinations, tourist boards, private sector companies and individuals working in the industry. 

Among the 90 shortlisted nominations for the ITTAs – which are presented by WTM and supported by the UNWTO – are entries from Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Azerbaijan Tourism Board and The Jordan Trail Association.

Press added: “Over the last decade the tourism industry in the Middle East has grown ten-fold. The developments have been incredible with the tallest buildings and tallest hotels; revolutionary transport infrastructure; theme parks and leisure attractions that are the envy of the rest of the world.

“Bearing that in mind, it should come as no surprise that five outstanding campaigns from the MENA region have been shortlisted for the upcoming ITTAs. Both the volume and quality of entries received from the region not only demonstrates the vital role tourism is playing in the economy but also reconfirms the Middle East as one of the most dynamic travel destinations in the world.”

Expo 2020, which is now just 12 months away, will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab World. Taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, 192 pavilions from countries around the world will be showcased, with over 25 million visitors – 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open, expected.

Adding to this, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2% per annum to US $133.6 billion by 2028, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

And, in Saudi Arabia more relaxed visas [30-day Umrah Plus Visas, eVisas and specialist visas for events] combined with Vision 2030 and tourism mega-projects such as the Red Sea Project are set to increase international visitors to the kingdom by 5.6% per annum to 2023.

John Pagano, CEO at The Red Sea Development Company, said: “Participating in World Travel Market 2019 is an opportunity to showcase the amazing beauty and diversity of the Red Sea Project and the progress we have made toward delivering a luxury destination that will set a new standard in sustainable development. The event provides a forum to explore potential collaboration with some of the world’s most renowned hospitality and tourism-focused businesses.”

Commenting on the Red Sea Development Company’s decision to sponsor the Best in Responsible Tourism Award at the ITTAs, Pagano, said: “Our decision to sponsor [this category] reflects our commitment to embedding sustainability and responsible practice throughout the design, development and, ultimately, the operation of the Red Sea Project.”

This year, key exhibitors at WTM London from the Middle East will include; Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTC), Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Jordan Tourism Board. Other exhibitors include The Red Sea Development Company, Kuwait Airways, Orascom Development, Samaya Investment and Smart Travel Deal.

Similar to last year’s event, WTM London 2019, will place a spotlight on the Middle East with a host of key speakers lined up from the region for the show’s regionally-focused Inspiration Zones which will provide a platform to address evolving travel trends in the Middle East & North Africa as well as providing an update about Expo 2020.

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 Dubai Creek Harbour has welcomed a new property into its space. The new Vida Creek Harbour has officially opened as the fourth hotel under the Vida Hotels and Resorts brand and the first to open in the area.

The hotel features 286 rooms and suites with in-room technology, complimentary Wi-Fi and a 24-hour concierge service.

In addition to that, the hotel has five meeting rooms, co-working spaces and a range of dining options such as the Stage2 lounge and the Courtyard which serves Mediterranean and Modern European day dishes at the outdoor terrace. Guests can also access the fitness centre.

The property features a range of art installations including a sculpture by  South Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa, the Wildlife Sanctuary and the Dubai Square.

Offering views of the waterfront and the Downtown Dubai skyline, Vida Creek Harbour is the fourth hotel under the Vida Hotels and Resorts brand and the first to open in the Dubai Creek Harbour.

Source: HotelierMiddleEast.com

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has launched an agro-tourism page on the ecotourism UAE application page in a bid to boost agro-tourism and emirates position on the world tourism, ecotourism map.

According to Emirates news Agency (WAM), the page features information on 23 private farms across the country as well as lists of activities available in the area, types of products sold, terms and conditions for visitors, opening hours, location maps, pricing, and contact details.

With this addition, MOCCAE is attempting to connect people with nature, and educate them about sustainable practices, such as community farming.

The Ministry is also working on supporting the UAE’s agricultural sector through raising awareness of the country’s local food produce and quality, as well as highlight its efforts to re-introduce certain crops.

Source: HotelierMiddleEast.com

The Sheraton Bahrain, a Marriott Hotel will be shut down until 2021 as the property undergoes a complete renovation that will cost the sum of $40 million.

According to report on the Hotelier Middle East website, officials revealed that the renovation will commence on October 1, 2019; and the entire property including guest rooms, conferences, meetings spaces, recreation facilities and public areas will be renovated.

“The renovation is a key milestone for this iconic hotel in Bahrain and reiterates our commitment towards creating an elevated brand experience for our guests. The project is expected to be completed by 2021 and will require the full closure of the hotel,” a spokesperson for the hotel said.

In a 2015, the website reported that Sheraton Bahrain would be undergoing a renovation soon. The then hotel manager Thomas Flindt said: “There are infrastructure challenges as it is a 33-year-old hotel. Renovation will take place over the next couple of years but whether we are going to do it as a whole where we close down completely or in phases is still yet to be seen.”

According to reports, the renovation is estimated to be around US$40 million.

Sheraton Bahrain features 256 rooms and suites, with the signature Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Beds and workspaces. 

Source: HotelierMiddleEast.com

The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 19 to 22, 2020, and the official show theme that will be adopted is “Events for Tourism Growth” according to the latest press release from the organisers.

According to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2% per annum to US $133.6 billion by 2028 – driven in part by additional tourists to the region as a result of mega-events, major sporting and political events, cultural festivals, concerts and MICE events. 

Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab World. Taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, 192 pavilions from countries around the world will be showcased, with over 25 million visitors – 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open, expected.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Events of all kinds have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the UAE, GCC and wider MENA region over recent years.

“With this in mind, ATM 2020’s spotlight theme will be launched as a platform to explore the impact events have on tourism growth in the region and to inspire the travel and hospitality industry about the next generation of events, while bringing together senior travel executives to meet and conduct business under one roof over four days.”

In the UAE alone, the major exhibition centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi experienced a 14% growth in footfall between 2016 and 2018, with Dubai World Trade Centre welcoming 3.4 million visitors in 2018 and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, combined with Al Ain Exhibition Centre – welcoming over two million during the same period.

Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab World. Taking place from October 2020 to April 2021, 192 pavilions from countries around the world will be showcased, with over 25 million visitors – 145,000 visits for every one of the 173 days the site is open, expected.

Organisers of the event are predicting 11 million visits by people living in the UAE and 14 million from overseas visitors – most of whom are expected to be tourists. According to consultancy firm EY, this will provide a US$33.4 billion (AED122.6 billion) boost to the local economy – supporting the equivalent of 49,700 full-time jobs a year.

In Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade, according to a recent report from real estate firm Savills.

This investment combined with more relaxed access to visas are predicted to significantly add to the attractiveness of the country with entertainment activities in the kingdom predicted to attract 25 million visitors by 2021.

Curtis said: “Looking at 2018 alone, exhibitions across Saudi Arabia witnessed a 103% increase in visitation with a total of 61 major events taking place over 349 days. Last year was also a milestone in terms of sporting events for the country, with events such as the King Salman Tennis Championship, WWE Crown Jewel and Formula E taking place in the Kingdom.”

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.

Saudi Arabia has announced the implementation of a unified visa system for pilgrims travelling to the kingdom for haj and umrah. Following a restructuring of the system by the Council of Ministers, pilgrims as well as visitors and transit passengers now will pay SR300 ($80) for a visa.

According to a report by Arabian Business, the Cabinet has also cancelled the fee for repeating the Umrah pilgrimage. Previously an umrah pilgrim had to pay SR2,000 ($533) in case of repeating the pilgrimage during a three-year period.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Benten, who is also chairman of the Committee of the Guests’ Service Program said: “This also shows kingdom’s readiness to receive the increasing number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims through huge infrastructure projects and improving the system of services in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.”

The kingdom is due to announce the launch of tourist visas at the end of the month (September 2019).

Source: HotelierMiddleEast.com