Qatar Airways buys 18 Airbus planesDOHA: Qatar Airways has signed a $5.1 billion deal with Airbus to buy 18 aircraft with options for 16 more. The deal, announced at the Paris Air Show, will increase the airline's fleet from 24 to 52 by 2008. In addition, the airline will be taking two new Airbus aircraft on a five-year lease from GECAS. Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the A340-600 aircraft that the airline will receive in June 2006. The airline placed a firm order for 14 Airbus A330s for delivery between September 2004 to 2008 and options on another eight. These planes will be powered by General Electric engines. A firm order was placed for two A340-600s for delivery between June 2006 and 2010 and options for another eight. The A340-600s will be powered by Rolls Royce engines. September opening for Mina A'Salam Dubai DUBAI: Dubai-based Jumeirah International has scheduled the opening of its new Mina A'Salam 'grand boutique hotel' in September. Mina A' Salam, translated as port of peace, will be the largest, luxury beachfront property in the UAE, stretching along more than one kilometre on the shoreline, the chain said. The 292-room luxury hotel will be the first hotel to open within the vast Madinat Jumeirah, which will encompass two five-star hotels: Mina A'Salam and Al Qasr, as well as 31 villas designed with Arabian themes. The resort will be completed and open fully by autumn 2004. Hotels ready for Dubai 2003 DUBAI: Dubai has 272 hotels with 23,000 rooms. This can comfortably entertain the 16,000 visiting delegates and guests at Dubai 2003, said Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing's (DTCM) director general, Khalid A bin Sulayem. Bin Sulayem said at the fourth Hotel and Hotel Apartment Group meeting yesterday that Dubai hotels are fully equipped and can conveniently look after the guests and officials during the Dubai 2003. Addressing representatives of hotel and hotel apartment group and the officials of the other government departments, .bin Sualyem revealed that the Dubai hotels have more than enough rooms to accommodate the guests. Electronic passports needed ABU DHABI: The US State Department has announced that beginning October 10, all nationals of countries eligible to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) and desiring to do so must present a machine readable passport (MRP). According to a release issued by the Public Affairs Office at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi, nationals of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK are eligible for the VWP. The change, however, is related only to those who wish to avail the free visa facility. Those who do not have an MRP (a passport with electronically scanable data) must get a US non-immigrant visa.