Bumper Summer

Summer Surprises which ran from June 21 to August 31, has yielded a bumper season for hotels, shopping malls and airlines, organisers of the annual event say, citing provisional estimates.
A riot of colour at the Flower Surprises.

Dubai Summer Surprises 2001 appears to be on track to achieve its objectives, with hotels, shopping malls and airlines reporting results well above expectations, DSS chief executive officer Hussain Ali Lootah has said.

"We can confidently say that Dubai Summer Surprises has met its target of making Dubai a favourite summer destination for visitors, especially families," Lootah said.

He said provisional results indicated that DSS 2001 had brought huge benefits to the different sectors of the emirate's economy, including retailers, hotels, airlines, car rental companies, etc. The final figures are likely to be known later this month.

"We could achieve this objective because of the strong partnership between us and the private sector," he said.

"Also, the teamwork between the various Government departments has been exemplary. The individual departments did a commendable job by organising great attractions."

Lootah said the efforts of the DSS Organising Committee, government departments and the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) had contributed greatly in bringing visitors to Dubai this summer.

He also hailed the role played by Emirates airline, a key sponsor of DSS, in promoting the event by putting the DSS logo on aircraft livery and through its offices worldwide.

"A striking feature of this summer was that there were a larger number of overseas visitors, who came in search of a more exotic destination like Dubai where tourism infrastructure boasts international standards and leisure activities are available at attractive rates," Lootah said.

"Most airlines had to increase the number of flights into Dubai due to heavy demand.''

Many also offered extra free baggage allowance out of Dubai, a trend first set by Emirates.

Reports from hotels, airlines and retailers indicate that the private sector is pleased with the growth of Dubai Summer Surprises and are ready to back this summer event that has blazed a new trail in the region.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, which has 17 flights a week into Dubai, reported an increase of 19 per cent over corresponding period last year, according to Mohammed R Linjawi, the airline's UAE manager.

Hotels and hotel apartments of Dubai have been experiencing occupancy of between 75 and 100 per cent since the start of DSS 2001. Occupancy at hotel apartments has been particularly high, as many GCC families prefer furnished and spacious apartments.

Adrian Osman, operations director, Travco, said nearly 30 per cent of the visitors booked through them came from Europe, including Spain, Germany and Italy.

"They are keen to see the city, experience desert adventures and beaches. They also make it a point to visit shopping malls to enjoy DSS activities," Osman said.

"Dubai Summer Surprises led to a dramatic increase in footfall at the malls," said Eisa Adam Ibrahim, President of Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG).

"Some of the newer malls reported a hefty visitor traffic of over 100 per cent, while others experience a modest rise since the start of DSS 2001. The visitors came not just from the GCC but different parts of the world."

The DSMG-organised Win-a-Home promotion with a daily prize of Dh10,000 ($2,723) and a grand prize of a plush apartment in Dubai Marina worth Dh1.3 million proved to be a huge success, with some malls reporting an increase of over 100 per cent in sales.

This year's event featured 10 themed weeks starting with Ice Surprises which began on June 21 and climaxing with Back to School Surprises.

Since the start of Ice Surprises, malls and other venues have hummed with activity, as families take children out for evening entertainment in climate-controlled places, such as the Winter Fun City and the Planet Ice shows at Al Nasr Leisureland.

The aroma of cuisine from all over the world pervaded Dubai's shopping malls during Food Surprises.

Food-related events such as cookery demonstrations by hotel chefs, cooking competitions, food carnivals and record-breaking feats were organised by Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Techno Surprises featured numerous shows, competitions and activities celebrating the technological progress around the world.

A display of some major inventions from the world of science were on show in different malls.

Water Surprises, organised by the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, made a splash with more than 36 activities organised at different venues across Dubai.

The highlights of the week were the Rain Forest at Dubai Airport Expo, water ski shows by a Florida group in Dubai Creek and water bubble shows presented by four international artists.

Global Surprises, which opened on July 19, featured many educational, entertaining and fun-filled activities for the whole family.

Dubai Ports Authority created events on the theme of ancient civilisations to introduce visitors to famous leaders and introduced global music to shoppers.

Dubai Municipality provided over 50 surprises during the Flower Surprises week with a total budget of Dh2 million.

Many of the events were accompanied by cinematic and light effects. Other events included musical plays, flower-themed contests, fashion shows and workshops.

Art Surprises, one of the new themes organised by the Dubai Information Department, lined up activities based on music, paintings, drama, cinema, etc, thus adding a new dimension of artistic areas to Dubai Summer Surprises, as art occupies an important position in a nation's life.

Sports Surprises, organised by the Department of Health & Medical Services, featured fitness programmes, acrobatics, beach volleyball & football, dart championships, babyfoot tournament, Chinese martial arts, chess, snooker, billiards, bowling, skating, karting, tennis, traditional games, computer games, treasure hunt for divers, Scrabble and special events for people with special needs.

Heritage Surprises highlighted the UAE and Arab culture through musical performances and several cultural activities spread at eight malls, camel races at Nad Al Sheba and boat races in Dubai Creek.

Finally, Back to School Surprises, organised by the Department of Economic Development, included an exhibition featuring models of unique projects and inventions made by school children at different malls, a fun workshop on world landmarks and many competitions.