Summer of fun for Gulf holidaymakers
It's festival time in the Gulf.And sun, fun and shopping are being promised holidaymakers in the Gulf this summer at elaborate holiday programmes chalked up by regional states. The fifth edition of the now hugely popular Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) kicked off last month, beginning the summer holiday season in the GCC. Similar events, at least in intent and ambition, are being held in Jeddah, Bahrain, and Qatar as regional tourism authorities bid to keep the Gulf's high spending tourists and their dollars at home this year. DSS 2002, which began with the appetising aromas of Food Surprises, will take visitors and residents of the UAE through 10 weeks of themed events culminating in the Back to School Surprises in the final week of August. The programme has a budget of Dh65 million ($17.69 million) and has been backed by some of the top commercial names in Dubai. The government aims to top last year's figures of 1.96 million visitors and Dh1.18 billion sales generation at this year's event. Bahrain Summer takes off on July 1 with organisers Economic Development Board promising attractions for families "never before seen in the Gulf". A city of tents including what is billed to be the world's biggest tent will be one of the major venues for the BD4 million ($10.6 million) extravaganza which aims to attract about 375,000 people. Qatar's Summer Wonders promotion will be a month-long event from July 15 to August 15 and targets local residents as well as visitors from neighbouring states. The country's first nationwide promotion will centre around Doha's three leading malls - City Centre, The Mall and Landmark Mall - and organisers have promised visitors and residents fun, entertainment, heritage displays, food promotions, sporting events, movies and shopping discounts. In Saudi Arabia, the 45-day Jeddah 23 festival began last month and organisers have lined up more than 250 activities during the festival which aims to attract three million visitors this year. The activities will cover sports, cultural, arts, technical, technological, entertainment and marketing fields.