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The aviation industry in the Middle East has greatly benefited from its strategically important geographical location, that enables airlines to establish easy connections to continents across the globe.

Series: Middle East Travel Roundup

Middle East Travel Roundup

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The Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions are expected to account for 58 percent of the global air passenger demand in 2040. Aviation market intelligence CAPACentre for Aviation has region-wise listed the total numbers of the airport project and the volume of investment include 155 in Middle East worth $209 billion. Airports in the Middle East will need to invest $151 billion in capacity expansion as the global air passenger demand is expected to increase more than two-fold in 2040. With over 110 airports, the Middle East is already among the fastest growing in the world, accounting for 170 million of the global traffic. Close to 19.7 billion passengers are expected to traverse the world’s airports by 2040, according to the Airport Council International and the Middle East airports will handle 1.1 billion passengers by 2040 — a significant increase from 2019’s 405 million. In the United Arab Emirates, the New Sharjah International Airport expansion, with an approximate cost of $517 million, will get completed by the fourth quarter of 2024. Kuwait Airport is expanding its passenger terminal 2 to handle 13 million passengers, at an estimated cost of $4.36 billion. In Qatar, Hamad International Airport Phase 2B’s expansion work on the passenger terminal is expected to commence this year and will enhance passenger capacity to more than 60 million annually. Saudi Arabia is set to build one of the world’s largest airports which will have six parallel runways. The airport will help drive annual passenger traffic to 120 million by 2030 and 185 million by 2050.

Niall Gibbons, the outgoing CEO of Tourism Ireland, has been headhunted to lead Neom in Saudi Arabia, according to a Sunday Times report. Following a 14-year tenure as the head of Tourism Ireland, Gibbons submitted his resignation in January and is anticipated to formally relinquish his role in April. He is scheduled to start at Neom in the next few weeks and is expected to relocate with his family to Tabuk, a province close to the border with Jordan, according to the Times report. Gibbons had been with Tourism Ireland for 21 years. Educated at Trinity in Dublin and a chartered accountant by training, he has played a part in every aspect of the promotion of the island of Ireland as a tourism destination overseas since the set-up of Tourism Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Maintaining its momentum from last year’s global tournament, Qatar welcomed a total of 730,000 visitors in January and February, marking an increase of 347 percent from the previous year. With 389,000 visitors, February marked the highest number of international arrivals to Qatar in the past 10 years, with the exception of the months of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, making it the busiest month for tourism in the country. By 2030, Qatar aims to welcome 6-7 million visitors annually, increase employment in the sector and have tourism account for 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Commenting on the record figures, Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer at Qatar Tourism, said, the numbers highlight Qatar’s growing reputation as a world-class destination for travellers seeking unique experiences. “This record-breaking achievement galvanises us even further to continue to innovate and provide unforgettable experiences for our visitors,” Trenkel said.

Saudi Tourism Authority has successfully concluded its first roadshow in China with 13 partners including destination management companies, hoteliers and airline partners in attendance. During the multicity roadshow, Saudi Tourism Authority held meetings with over 300 trade partners and travel buyers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to promote Saudi as a leisure destination, sharing insights into the emerging trends in meetings, incentives, conferences and events tourism. Saudi’s inclusion in the Approved Destination Scheme, alongside China’s inclusion in Saudi’s e-visa program and 96-hour stopover visa — where guests flying onwards on Saudia can avail a complimentary one-night hotel stay in Saudi — facilitates seamless group travel. “Saudi is growing at the speed of light — the world’s biggest tourism developments are in Saudi and there is much to share. The milestone project Bujairi Terrace, and developments in Al Ahsa Oasis and Hegra underscore our commitment to meet China’s demand for cultural and heritage tourism in Saudi and a shared future where Saudi and China can cement our relationship through investment and close collaboration to meet our goal of welcoming 4 million Chinese visitors by 2030,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and Member of the Board at Saudi Tourism Authority.

United Airlines has launched a new nonstop daily service between its New York/Newark hub and Dubai International. United is the only U.S. airline to offer non-stop flights between Dubai and the United States. The new service marks United’s return to Dubai, which the airline previously served up until 2016. The launch of the new service is part of United’s commercial agreement with Emirates, announced in 2022, enhancing each airline’s network and giving customers easier access to destinations within the United States and around the world. The agreement also provides loyalty programme members of both airlines additional opportunities for more rewards. Customers booked to fly in United PolarisSM can also take advantage of access to Emirates lounges when travelling on, or connecting to and from, United’s new Dubai service. 

Atlantis, Dubai held a successful travel trade event in Mumbai to introduce Atlantis, The Royal to the market. Headlined by Neil Shah, director of sales, Atlantis, various highlights and offerings of the new resort were shared with the trade partners to acquaint them with the recently opened resort. “India has proven to be a key international market for Atlantis, The Palm since its inception in 2008 and we are looking forward to the same positive response for Atlantis, The Royal,” Shah said. He went on to add that the array of curated experiences offered by the resort warrants longer stays and Atlantis anticipates an increase in the number of visitors in the coming months. Atlantis, The Royal opened to guests on February 10 following a spectacular launch with performances from Beyonce and Swedish House Mafia with a host of global celebrities in attendance.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and flyadeal are set to add 25 new destinations this year on the Saudia group network. Destinations including Beijing in China, Birmingham and Gatwick in United Kingdom, Djibouti, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Johannesburg, Trabzon, Izmir, Antalya and Bodrum in Turkey, Kano in Nigeria, Nice in France, Lisbon, Malaga in Spain. “Given the increase of demand in international travel, this is the right time to expand our global network, said Saudia Group CEO, Ibrahim Al-Omar. All new routes are set to begin throughout 2023. Saudia has also recently launched the Your Ticket Your Visa service that allows guests to stay in the kingdom for up to 96 hours, during which they can travel around the country and perform Umrah. The digital integration with the ministry of foreign Affairs facilitates the issuing of the transit visa and links it to Saudia flight ticket within three minutes, according to the airline.

Dubai-based air and travel services provider dnata has expanded its partnership with American Airlines to support the carrier’s growing business in India. American Airlines currently operates daily flights between New York and Delhi and also offers domestic services through its partnership with IndiGo and is now planning for further expansion. Dnata Representation Services will provide a range of sales and marketing services to American Airlines as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in India. It will act as the essential link between the carrier and local trade, supporting its commercial operations in the market. Dnata’s vast network, extensive experience in airline representation and broad marketing, sales and operational expertise will help American Airlines enhance its market presence to meet rapidly increasing demand across the country.

The Ajman Department of Tourism Development signed a memorandum of understanding with Wego to develop a joint framework and mutual co-operation to enhance the tourism sector in the emirate of Ajman. The partnership would help Wego reinforce its objectives of launching new promotional campaigns in different destinations, said Mamoun Hmedan, chief commercial officer and general manager of the Middle East, North Africa and India regions at Wego. Mahmood Khaleel Alhashmi, director general of the Ajman Department of Tourism Development said the partnership would help develop Ajman’s travel and tourism sector and improve the quality of services and advanced technology offered to the visitors of the emirate. “Through this collaboration, we will be offering tourists a new and unique must-see destination to visit in 2023, and we are confident that Ajman has a wide variety of recreational, cultural, and sporting activities suitable for every visitor. There is literally something for everyone,” Hmedan said.

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf in Madinat Jumeirah reopens doors to its seven exclusive Malakiya Villas following a year-long refurbishment. Designed by Dubai-based Sahar Alyaseer, the villas are available in two-and three-bedroom configurations. All seven villas including the Royal Malakiya Villa come with a plunge pool, expansive private terrace, kitchen and access to Madinat Jumeirah’s two-kilometre private beach and exclusive pools, including Celeste, an adult-only infinity pool. “These villas embody the pinnacle of Arabian hospitality, we are committed to curating personalised stays, ensuring that every detail is taken care of, and every request is met with the utmost precision and care. The villas offer a luxurious home-away-from-home for our guests,” Peter Roth, regional vice president of Madinat Jumeirah and general manager of Jumeirah Al Qasr, said.

Dubai Airports has announced the launch of the Future Faces Graduate Programme, which aims to attract and recruit high-performing and driven Emirati graduates from a range of disciplines in line with the operator’s ongoing Emiratisation efforts. The annual initiative will provide opportunities for Emirati graduates to gain a holistic understanding of airport operations at one of the busiest international airports. Through the 12-month training period, trainees will get to experience cross-functional job roles and will be supported with focused career planning and personalized feedback and guidance. Final placements at the end of the programme will be granted based on completed requirements and business confirmations. “The Future Faces Graduate Programme is a brand-new platform that allows ambitious young grads to upskill their talents in a dynamic aviation environment, with the opportunity to experience tailored job rotations,” said Meshari Al Bannai, executive vice president of human resources development at Dubai Airports.

United Arab Emirates-headquartered Global Hotel Alliance, an alliance of independent hotel brands, has launched its Green Collection, bringing under one umbrella nearly 200 hotels, resorts and palaces operated by Global Hotel Alliance hotel brands demonstrating their commitment to protecting people and the planet. “Across GHA’s 800 properties from 40 brands, located in 100 countries around the globe, there are some world-class examples of practices and initiatives with a positive environmental and social impact, and we are incredibly proud of these efforts, which we celebrate with the launch of Green Collection,” said Global Hotel Alliance CEO Chris Hartley. The Green Collection’s launch is timely given that United Arab Emirates has declared 2023 the Year of Sustainability. The launch of Global Hotel Alliance’s Green Collection perfectly aligns with Dubai’s sustainable tourism strategy, further highlighting the importance of responsible travel in a rapidly evolving global tourism landscape, said Yousuf Lootah, acting CEO corporate strategy and performance, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. “Through this concept, Global Hotel Alliance is also demonstrating that sustainability can go hand in hand with business success by encouraging more efficient business behaviours, processes and practices,” Lootah said.

Emirates’ flagship A380 made a landmark touchdown at Christchurch Airport on Monday, marking the resumption of its daily service from Dubai to Christchurch via Sydney after more than three years. Not only has Christchurch become the smallest city on Emirates’ A380 network, but New Zealand is now the first country on the airline’s network to exclusively carry our four-cabin A380, said Barry Brown, divisional vice president Australasia, Emirates. Currently, Emirates’ A380 is deployed to almost 40 global destinations with more routes to be announced in the near future. The resumption of the Dubai to Christchurch route headlines a planned ramping up of seating capacity across Emirates’ global network, after boosting operations 31 percent since the beginning of its financial year. This operational boost included the re-introduction of Emirates’ nonstop A380 route from Auckland to Dubai in December.

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Tags: asia monthly, atlantis, dnata, dubai international airport, Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), emirates air, Global Hotel Alliance, ireland, jumeirah, middle east, middle east newsletter, qatar, saudi arabia, saudia airlines, united airlines, world cup

Photo credit: The Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions are expected to account for 58 percent of the global air passenger demand in 2040. Kamran Jebreili

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