A new tourist destination is taking shape along the shores of Dubai's creek - just two miles from Dubai International Airport.
When complete, Dubai Festival City (DFC), which will be dominated by canals, a marina, waterfalls and fountains, will change the shape of tourism in Dubai and be a centre place destination for the emirate, said an official.
"Even seasoned travellers look for a signature destination such as Times Square in New York, Covent Garden in London or St Mark's Square in Venice," said Omar Al- Futtaim, chief executive, Al-Futtaim Group, Developers the Dubai Festival City project. "These are all places where people meet to see and be seen, to soak up atmospheres, experiences and memories - Dubai Festival City will fulfill these needs."
The unique 'city-within-a-city,' which spans 1,600 acres of prime waterfront real estate, will be a tourist's haven with a huge choice of entertainment, hotels, sports, shopping as well as places to dine and relax.
"Quite simply there will be no where else like it," said Al-Futtaim. "Dubai Festival City is important to the tourism efforts of Dubai and its evolution as a city. It will provide a unique sense of place and bring life back to the traditional heart of Dubai - the Creek."
The destination will boast five hotels, including a 600-roomed convention hotel, a boutique hotel skirting a championship standard golf course and a resort built on a man-made island in the Creek.
"The resort will be an international destination complete with a beach and water sport facilities, but set in the heart of the city," said Tabler. "It will offer unmatched standards of facilities and service."
Work on the first phase of Dubai Festival City, which includes a championship 18-hole golf course, is progressing apace with grassing due for completion this month.
The Al Badia Golf Resort has been designed by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II LLC, and has been inspired by an oasis.
It will be the sixth all-grass golf course in Dubai and will greatly enhance the emirate's standing as an international golfing destination.
It will also be the first course in the emirate to feature life-style homes - each with fabulous views over the course and of Dubai's dynamic skyline.
Before embarking on the golf course, Dubai Festival City commissioned a study by the International Management Group, which confirmed its feasibility for both the emirate's local and tourism sectors.
The 7,250 yards, par 72 course is due to open in January 2004.
Meanwhile, work has started on the Mediterranean-style hillside residential development. The first 175 residences are due for lease in the first quarter next year.
"Where a person lives is often an extension of their personality, a place for relaxation with families and a place of welcome," said A³14l-Futtaim. "The model units will enable people to experience and understand the joy of living within a golf course, park-like environment."
At the very heart of Dubai Festival City visitors will discover the 'City Core' with 'The Crescent" being the main shopping and meeting place. Here shoppers will find a vast range of lifestyle stores and brands and a collection of local products, jewellery, leisurewear, home accessories, life-style décor and children's goods. Once they've finished shopping they can relax over a meal in one of a myriad of restaurants and cafes or check out the entertainment venues - including a 53,600 sq m entertainment zone.
"Dubai Festival City will be a family entertainment hub for the entire region."
"These visitors are a key target for us," explained Al-Futtaim. "The impact of tourism will have the most dramatic, short-term impact.
"Tourists and consumers want unique experiences and new things to consider, explore and enjoy. They are looking for the next horizon and how they can add more to their holiday experience. Dubai Festival City will provide this."
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.