In Brief


Aqua Park set to open in Bahrain

A BD6 million ($15.9 million) world-class Aqua Park will open to visitors this month, the first attraction at Durrat Al Bahrain mega-resort on the south-east coast of Bahrain.The 450,000-sq-m park will include 14 water slides and nine different pools. Other attractions will include a volleyball court, and later, a tennis court. The BD300 million project is a joint venture between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Saudi-based Dallah Al Baraka Group.

Website offers key tips on Saudi tourism

RIYADH: The Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) has launched a website - to raise awareness about its activities. Commission secretary Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said all information about SCT, its development projects and future strategies could be obtained from Internet.

UAE and Britain sign air services deal

DUBAI: The UAE and Britain have signed a bilateral agreement to strengthen air services between the two countries. The deal provides flexibility to airlines from both countries to introduce innovative pricing. There is also no limit to the number of flights the designated airlines of each country can operate between points in the two countries, officials were quoted as saying.

Emirates Hotel opens Lebanese outlet

DUBAI: The Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai has opened its new Lebanese restaurant Al Nafoorah. The restanurant was opened by Dona Barakat Turk, Lebanese consul general for Dubai and the Northern Emirates. The invited guests included Miss Lebanon Joelle Behlock and Lebanese singer Julia Boutros. The menu features a selection of mezzehs and popular Lebanese dishes ranging from tabouleh and 'kebheh' to manakeesh and tanour bread. There are also grills and daily specials.

Expats to pay more for Dubai visit visas

DUBAI: The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) will charge an additional fee of Dh100 ($27.3) to attest the work contracts of resident expatriates who are applying for visit visas. Department sources said the new rule would apply to urgent and normal visit visas for expatriates' friends or relatives. A spokesman said the move was aimed at preventing fraud because people submitted forged work permits.

British seaside resort goes for the jackpot

LONDON: Blackpool, Britain's biggest seaside resort, hopes to become the Las Vegas of Europe when a glitzy, $220 million five-star hotel casino joins a beachfront now dominated by roller-coasters, discount shops and 10-pin bowling alleys. The government has already endorsed proposals to relax gambling rules and construction of the Pharaoh's Palace casino will wait until Britain formally changes its laws.

Emirates seals $1.5bn aircraft engine deal

DUBAI: Emirates has signed an agreement with the GE-P&W Engine Alliance for the GP7000 engine family to power the airline's Super Jumbo Airbus A380-800 aircraft. Emirates is the main launch customer of the A380 double-decker, with 22 on firm order and 10 options. The agreement was signed in Dubai by Emirates chairman, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed A1 Maktoum, and Lloyd B Thompson, president of the GE-P&W Engine Alliance in the presence of US consul general Richard Olson. The deal is reported to be worth $1.5 billion.

Turkish starts third Bahrain flight

MANAMA: Turkish Airlines has launched a third scheduled weekly flight from Bahrain. It will be operational until September 15, to meet increased demand over the summer. But it could be extended indefinitely if demand continues, says the airline. The Sunday flight leaves at 2.55am to arrive in Istanbul at 7am. The other flights are on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

TMA plans permanent UAE base

DUBAI: Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA) plans to establish a permanent base in the UAE and operate more services between Beirut and the Far East via Dubai. Its chairman and president Fadi Saab said the airline plans to diversify its activities for a better service to the local and regional markets through its main base at Beirut International Airport and the establishment of a permanent base in the UAE.

SIA increases services to Dubai

DUBAI: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has started three additional weekly flights from Dubai to Singapore and back to meet growing demand on this route. It brings to 10 the number of non-stop Boeing 777 weekly flights and the airline says it plans to further increase the flights to 14, depending on the market demand. The new flights operate on Mondays Wednesdays, and Fridays.

SWISS lures Arab families

DUBAI: Swiss International Air Lines, the national carrier for Switzerland, has launched a summer campaign offering special benefits for large UAE national families planning their holiday in Europe this year. The promotion, which is available until September 1, allows a minimum of four adults who book their flights in Business or First Class, to receive special benefits and rates. The family members or companions must all share the same residence.

Royal Nepal to resume Dubai flights

DUBAI: Royal Nepal Airlines has resumed direct flights from Dubai to Kathmandu. The airline said it will operate three weekly flights, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving Dubai at 1.55am and reaching Kathmandu at 7.50am. It will operate a Boeing 757, which carries a maximum of 190 passengers, on the route.

Malaysia woos airlines with cash incentives

KUALA LUMPUR: The government said it would give cash to airlines starting new services to Malaysia, in its latest incentive to make the country's main international airport a regional hub. Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik Ling revealed the offer as Qatar Airways increased its flights from Doha to Kuala Lumpur from four to six weekly. .

Gulf Air sets up website for frequent flyers

DUBAI: Gulf Air has launched a new website for members of its Falcon Frequent Flyer (FFP) programme. The facility, entitled e-FFP, will be available to FFP members via the Gulf Air website www. The site features information about earning opportunities through the airline and its partners.

Cyprus Airways gets a new look

DUBAI: A new look Cyprus Airways is flying to the UAE. The airline has recently commenced repainting its aircraft. The new look is mostly blue and white with less ochre than previously, while the word Cyprus has greater prominence. The carrier's famous symbol, the moufflon, maintains pride of place on the tail fin and the Cyprus flag is on the nose of the aircraft. The new design follows the introduction of new uniforms for staff recently.

Lufthansa sees higher passenger numbers

MANAMA: Lufthansa German Airlines has registered a 25 per cent and 40 per cent increase in traffic from Bahrain and Doha respectively, so far this year, said Uwe Wriedt, Lufthansa's director for Gulf, Iran and Pakistan and general manager for passenger sales-UAE. Wriedt also said Lufthansa would add a daily flight to Munich from Dubai, with effect from October 28.

Second terminal for Abu Dhabi airport

ABU DHABI: Work on a new $250-million satellite terminal at the Abu Dhabi International Airport will start in the first quarter of 2003. The new terminal will be the airport's second and will increase airport capacity to 7.2 million passengers a year from the current 3.7 million passengers.

Qatar and Oman to offer joint visit visas

DOHA: Tourists from 33 countries visiting Qatar beginning this month will be able to obtain a joint Qatar-Oman visit visa at the entry point under an agreement signed by the two countries earlier this year. The joint visas can also be obtained from the two countries' embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. The visa will be valid for three weeks and can be renewed for another week.

More check-in counters for Bahrain airport

MANAMA: Bahrain International Airport is to add six more check-in counters and a fourth baggage reclaim belt to meet increasing demand, Assistant Under-Secretary for Civil Aviation Affairs Shaikh Hisham bin Abdul Aziz Al Khalifa has said. Separate check-in and immigration counters for a fast track service will also be introduced for first and business class passengers by the end of the year.

Worldspan plans pricing restructure

ATLANTA, US: Global reservation systems provider Worldspan has announced plans to restructure its pricing model to better reflect the value of the global distribution system (GDS) and its distribution partners and to disseminate more equitably the costs of distribution. The company said the new pricing model initiative aims to ensure that suppliers and others involved in the distribution process receive clear and recognisable value for their purchase of GDS services.

Sita completes $26m airport project

DUBAI: Sita has successfully completed the supply, installation and commissioning of a wide range of information technology (IT) systems at Dubai International Airport, in support of its ongoing expansion and growth. The new communications and IT infrastructure systems have been integrated by Sita over a three-year period, as defined in the original contract and, including added variation orders, the project is valued at over $26 million.

Dubai creek boat charges fixed

DUBAI: Charges for chartered Abra (traditional boats) services for journey through Dubai creek has been fixed by the municipality 's Public Transport Department. Under the new rules, a motor-propelled Abra can be chartered for Dh50 ($13.2) per hour and a rowing Abra for Dh30 per hour, said Abdul Aziz Malik, director of the department.

30 firms attend Amman travel show

AMMAN: More than 30 firms from all over the world took part in a holidays and vacations fair held recently at the Holiday Inn Amman. The show was opened by tourism minister Dr Taleb Al Rifai and the exhibitors included both inbound and outbound travel operators, as well as tourism boards of Morocco, Kuwait, Turkey, India, Lebanon and Thailand.

Jordan plans new tourism project on Dead Sea

AMMAN: Construction of a $4.2 million tourist centre overlooking the Dead Sea - the lowest point in the world - has started, according to Jordanian Tourism Ministry official. Fuad Aghabi. He said the Dead Sea Panorama project, funded by a loan from Japan's Bank for International Co-operation, will include a museum, exhibition halls, meeting rooms and a hilltop lookout taking in the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley and the West Bank.

ATM visitors top 11,000

DUBAI: As many as 11,418 visitors from 69 countries attended the Arab Travel Market held in Dubai in May. Of the total 5,643 were trade visitors, 600 were media and 5,175 were consumers, according to final figures released by organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE). Overall the figures were fractionally up on 2001 by 1.4 per cent driven largely by an increased turnout of media and consumers.

Burj Al Arab wins ISO certification

DUBAI: Dubai hotel landmark Burj AI Arab has been awarded the ISO 9001/2000 certification for its quality management system. Burj Al Arab is the fourth property of the Dubai-based luxury hospitality group Jumeirah International to win the ISO 9001:2000 standards. The other three are the Jumeirah Beach Club, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and Wild Wadi Water Park.

OAS wins Emirates award for top station

MUSCAT: Oman Aviation Services (OAS) at Muscat airport was awarded the best performing station in the Gulf, Middle East and Africa by Emirates Airlines. OAS also received the Punctuality Championship Award for the Emirates Global network for the year 2001-2002. The Best Performing Station award is based on six crucial performance indicators consisting of customer satisfaction, safety and security, service level agreement, baggage services, punctuality and revenue optimisation.

Starwood board wins top honour

DUBAI: The board of directors of global hotels group Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc has been honoured as the lodging industry's top performing board for the year 2001 by HVS Executive Search, a division of the global hotel consulting firm HVS International. The award is presented each year to the board of directors that is most effective in leading a public lodging company.

Raffles bid to woo meetings organisers

SINGAPORE: Raffles International Limited has launched "Book It, Bank It" - a new programme to entice meetings and events clients. "Book It, Bank It" rewards corporate clients when they book meetings or events with 10 rooms or more at any Raffles hotel by 'banking' up to 10 per cent of their total bill into a hotel account. Funds held in the account can be used for any future meeting, hotel function, room stays, or even at the hotel's restaurants and bars. It can also be used as an employee reward.

Radisson SAS names Qatar agent

DOHA: Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts has appointed Doha's Tourist Travel Bureau (TTB) as its general sales representative (GSR) in Qatar. The agreement was signed by Mike Pilkington, regional sales & marketing director at Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, Middle East & Africa and Ahmed Hussein, managing director, TTB, Qatar's largest outbound travel agency. Qatar becomes the award-winning hotel chain's third GGC market to get dedicated sales representation, following similar deals in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Beach Rotana hotel wins excellence award

ABU DHABI: The Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi, has won the prestigious Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award for its outstanding quality of service and standards within the tourism sector in the UAE capital. The award was presented by Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the chairman of the court of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and honorary chairman of Abu Dhabi chamber of commerce, to Rotana Hotels chairman Nasser Al Nowais and president and chief executive Selim El Zyr.

Dubai hotel ballroom gets a facelift

DUBAI: Hotel Inter-Continental Dubai is in an expansion mode. It has invested Dh6 million ($1.6 million) to refurbish Dubai's first grand ballroom, Zabeel, which is now ready for weddings and conferences, said an official. Haitham Matter, director of sales and marketing at the hotel, said the room could accommodate more than 1,500 people in conference seating and can serve up to 700 people for banquet dinners.

Le Meridien rings in phone promotion

DUBAI: A free mobile phone for every $10,000 booked at Le Meridien hotels worldwide is part of a major initiative launched by the hotel group to promote its toll-free reservation lines in the Middle East and West Asia. Le Meridien is celebrating 10 years of dedicated sales operations in the Middle East, having set up its regional reservations centre in Dubai in 1992.

Abu Dhabi Grand gets new management

DUBAI: The Le Meridien group has formally taken over the management of five-star Abu Dhabi Grand Hotel. The hotel will continue to be called Abu Dhabi Grand, a senior official of the Dhabi Group, owner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Hotel, said. The hotel's Dh120 million ($32.7 million) expansion project, launched during the management of Rotana Hotels, would continue as it was being financed by the owners.

Givenchy spa to pamper Royal Mirage guests

DUBAI: The Royal Mirage in Dubai is set to indulge its guests even further when its new Givenchy spa opens on December 15. General manager Oliver Louis and Alain Crevet, president and CEO of the Paris-based Givenchy Parfums said the new developments will include a Health & Beauty Institute, set amidst palm trees and water fountains with a private driveway and covered entrance. The spa will have an ornate reception, 12 private treatment rooms including one exclusive suite for private consultations, a resting area with an organic juice bar and a dedicated Givenchy boutique.

KHI takes stake in Egypt hotel

RIYADH: Kingdom Hotel Investment Group (KHI) has taken a stake in another Mšvenpick hotel in Egypt. The group which is chaired by Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said it had taken 25.6 per cent stake in the El-Quseir Mšvenpick hotel in Egypt. The purchase was made from Orascom Holdings, part of the Orascom group of companies owned by the Sawaris family in Egypt. Last month, KHI announced the purchase of a 26.5 per cent stake in the El-Gouna Mšvenpick on Egypt's Red Sea coast.