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The economic spinoffs of Qatar's World Cup will be felt all over the region that has been looking to diversify beyond the oil sector.

Series: Middle East Travel Roundup

Middle East Travel Roundup

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Etihad Airways looks forward to welcoming over 1.5 million travellers at Abu Dhabi International Airport between November 21 and January 8. Abu Dhabi kicked off a calendar of events with The Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held between November 17 and 20 last week. Football fans from around the world will also be flocking to the region as the FIFA World Cup started in Doha from Sunday. “Etihad with its partners, is geared up and ready to host 1.5 million expected guests over the next six weeks,” said Shaeb Al Najjar, general manager of hub operations at Etihad Airways.

Egypt’s ministry of tourism launched an international campaign to promote sustainable tourism in the country. The campaign titled “A civilization inspired by nature,” was launched on the sidelines of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP 27) hosted at Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh from November 6 to 18. The campaign will target Egypt’s prominent source markets that include U.S., Germany, UK, Italy and the Gulf countries. The campaign highlights the ancient Egyptian’s relationship with nature and its respect for the environment while showcasing the efforts of the modern Egyptian state in preserving the environment and adopting sustainable practices, said Amr Al-Qadi, CEO of the Egyptian General Authority for Tourism Promotion. A set of short promotional films on Egyptian destinations highlighting their environmental diversity will mark the beginning of the campaign, said Susan Mostafa, director general of Tourism Promotion Department at the authority.

UnderTheDoormat Group CEO Merilee Karr said her company’s new technology and distribution agreement with Visit Oman can be a novel approach to short-term regulation — one where technology can spur governments to embrace the sector rather than shun it. Through an agreement signed last month in Muscat, Oman, government-approved property listings delivered through the UK’s UnderTheDoormat Group’s Hospira property management and distribution platform were to be live in November in time for the World Cup in Qatar. Oman already offered had short-term rentals from a variety of players.

Dubai expects 46 ship calls and more than 300,000 passengers to arrive at the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal during the cruise season until June 2023. The first cruise passengers for the season arrived on Thursday as Dubai Harbour welcomed AIDAcosma, officially marking the start of the 2022-23 cruise season. Setting sail from Germany on its maiden voyage, AIDAcosma is a first-of-its-kind liquid natural gas-powered ship with a capacity of over 5,500 passengers. As sustainability and decarbonisation are crucial elements of Dubai’s tourism strategy, we welcome the arrival of eco-friendly cruise ships like the Aida Cosma, further boosting our efforts to become a major sustainable tourism destination, said Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Saudi Arabia-based real estate developer Dar Al Arkan has said that it has signed an agreement with the Trump Organization to develop Trump residential villas, a hotel, and a golf course in AIDA project in Oman. The expected value of the project is $4 billion, and it will be developed over 10 years on an area of 3.5 million square meters. The AIDA project is a joint venture between Dar Al Akan and the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) — the executive arm of Oman for tourism development.

The world should follow the United Arab Emirates model in formulating a comprehensive inclusion strategy to develop inclusive tourism, said attendees at the third edition of Dubai Accessible Travel and Tourism International Summit. The summit featured the first major gathering of tourism industry stakeholders post-pandemic, bringing together senior decision-makers of international organisations, airports, airlines, hotels, tour operators and other stakeholders to debate the challenges, lost opportunities and future growth avenues. The summit came up with 59 key recommendations to deal with the main challenges faced by people of determination in the areas of mobility, hospitality and travel worldwide.

Cyprus-based Tus Airways operated the first-ever direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Doha on Sunday. Football’s world governing body FIFA had said last week that Qatar had approved the direct flights for World Cup ticket holders despite having no ties with Israel. FIFA said the arrangement would be subject “to Israel’s security requirements.” The airline will be operating twice-weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Doha for the duration of the tournament.

Sharjah is all set to host the ninth edition of the Sharjah International Travel and Tourism Forum to be held on Thursday. Organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority the forum that has for its theme – Building a Resilient Future for Tourism — complements the tourism authority’s efforts to bolster Sharjah’s position in the global tourism map. One of Sharjah’s most prominent tourism events, the forum hosts industry experts to discuss the novelties of travel and tourism and share ideas that support local economy, with a focus on innovation and sustainability. The forum translates the emirate’s strategy to envision the future of the tourism sector and highlight the opportunities it offers, said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority. Midfa also spoke about how the high growth rates experienced in the tourism sector has inspired the emirate to bring forth global expertise in the sector to develop tourism and its infrastructure through the use of next-generation technologies that support improving tourist experiences and discuss opportunities for sustainable tourism.

Dubai-based carrier Emirates Airline has announced an exclusive partnership with Uplift, the buy now pay later solution, to benefit its U.S. and Canadian customers. Passengers booking flights on Emirates can now spread the cost of their travel through flexible payment options available for booking through Uplift over 3, 6, 9 or 12 monthly installments. Customers will see the total cost of their trip upfront. The airline said in a statement that there would be no late fees or prepayment penalties and travel could happen before customers complete their payment. “We selected Uplift as our buy now pay later solution provider in North America due to their deep knowledge of travel and rich experience working with the top airlines in the industry,” said Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President for USA and Canada. Uplift partners with over 200 airlines, cruise lines, resorts and other major travel providers to offer buy now pay later payment options.

Minor Hotels will be launching three NH Collection properties in the Middle East in 2023. The openings will feature two NH Collection properties in Dubai and one in Doha. Located midway between the city centre and Hamad International Airport, NH Collection Oasis Doha Hotel will open in early 2023 with 299 guest rooms and suites. A beach club and restaurant is scheduled to open later in 2023. The 14-storey NH Collection Dubai The Palm, located at Palm Jumeirah, will launch in February next year with 227 hotel guest rooms and 306 suites, five dining outlets, including a rooftop venue. Adding to its expansion in the Middle East, Minor Hotels will be operating the 265-key NH Collection La Suite Hotel Dubai from the first quarter next year. The property at Sheikh Zayed Road will undergo an extensive renovation before being launched with the NH Collection flag later in 2023.

Last week marked the resumption of AirAsia X’s flight between Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The carrier brought back the pilgrimage route to Jeddah after two years, marking the airline’s service resumption to the Middle East. The flight that took off with over 80 percent load factor also marked the beginning of the airline’s partnership with IKHLAS — Capital A’s Muslim-friendly travel and lifestyle platform. IKHLAS would also be offering affordable do-it-yourself travel and Umrah options soon, the airline said in a statement. AirAsia X will be offering six-weekly flights in this route. “This route has always been our success story in the past due to the substantial traffic between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, as well as the consistently high demand for Umrah services not only from Malaysia but also Indonesia, making Kuala Lumpur an important Umrah hub for the region, said AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail.

Saudi-based online travel agency almatar has partnered with Snapchat parent company Snap to launch a predict and win contest for football fans during the FIFA World Cup. Through its partnership, almatar looks to engage Snapchat’s 20 million users in Saudi Arabia, while engaging them through immersive experiences. “By interacting with more than 3 million users on the almatar app to showcase our support for the Saudi national team, we will be able to raise awareness about marketing messages dedicated to domestic tourism,” said, Faisal Alrajhi, president of the almatar app. Alrajhi added that this would also enable them to explore opportunities to tap into the Saudi online travel market.

Qatar Tourism’s The Age of Modern Architecture in Qatar exhibition, recently opened its doors at M7, the design and innovation hub located in Msheireb Downtown Doha. The exhibition features striking black and white imagery of Qatar’s architectural wonders by artist Joel Tjintjelaar. Currently live, the exhibition is free-of-charge and on show until January 21. The exhibition showcases some of Qatar’s most iconic and grand architectural designs, such as the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar National Library, Raffles Doha and Fairmont Doha, Doha Tower, National Museum of Qatar and Al Janoub Stadium, highlighting how these structures contribute to Qatar’s identity. Commenting on the exhibition launch, Berthold Trenkel, Chief Operating Officer at Qatar Tourism, said, “By visiting the exhibition, residents and the millions of guests in Doha will have the opportunity to explore some of Qatar’s most prized attractions.”


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Tags: abu dhabi, accessible travel, cruise industry, dubai, egypt, emirates airlines, Etihad Airways, middle east, middle east newsletter, qatar, saudi arabia, Skift Pro Columns, snapchat, trump hotels, umrah, world cup

Photo credit: The Abu Dhabi International Airport expects a surge of 1.5 million flyers over next six weeks. sutr / Flickr

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