Middle East gears up for WTM


Product launches, new developments and high investment are the key messages at World Travel Market this year from the Middle East.

Exhibitors from the Middle East are currently preparing for the greatest global business to business event of the year for the international industry, involving 202 representative countries and regions.
They will be among more than 5,000 exhibitors and nearly 50,000 professionals from every corner of the world and from every sector.
The four-day event takes place from November 12 to 15.
Here’s a roundup of key messages that the Middle East will be communicating at the leading event:

Abu Dhabi ‘s efforts to distinguish itself from near rival Dubai will continue apace at this year’s WTM. Sporting and cultural themes take centre stage, with the UAE capital focusing on what it describes as ‘creating unique visitor experiences’. In the spotlight will be the progress being made on the new 5.6km motor racing circuit being constructed to host Formula One Grand Prix races from 2009.
Abu Dhabi will also be keen to discuss recently announced plans to host the world’s richest cycle race – the ten-day, three-stage Race of Champions, to be held annually each November, as well as the European PGA-sanctioned Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
But aside from sport the emphasis at the event will also be on the capital’s cultural ambitions. Most of Abu Dhabi’s tourism plan is centred around the $1.6 billion redevelopment of Saadiyat Island, which will have 19 kilometres of white sand beach, two golf courses, 29 hotels with over 7,000 rooms and three marinas when complete in 2018. The island will be home to four museums, as well, including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The staggering scale of Dubai’s infrastructure development will again be the talk of WTM. With the state pouring billions of dollars into its tourism vision, visitors to the Dubai stand can expect to feel overwhelmed by the scale of projects currently planned and underway.
For example, a staggering 19 hotel properties – including such names as Ritz-Carlton, Movenpick and Intercontinental – are to open next year, adding more than 7,000 rooms – no surprise that Dubai wants to attract 15 million visitors by 2015.
WTM is certain to showcase many of the developments scheduled to open in 2008. Aside from hotels, these include sports stadiums, golf courses and attractions.
Towering high above them all in central Dubai will be the Burj Dubai, set to be the world’s tallest skyscraper and centrepiece to a large-scale mixed-use development of hotels, homes, parkland and shopping, when it opens in 2009.
Dubai Festival City will offer a wealth of leisure options when it is finished this year. Boasting 90 waterfront restaurants and golf course, the area also features 12-screen cinema, marina, entertainment complex and bowling alley. Situated in Dubai Creek Park, Dubai Marine World opens its gates next year. The first Middle East aquarium will include a dolphinarium, alligator park, a coral reef aquarium, fish farm and research centre.
The UK continues to be the major source market for Dubai, with more than 687,000 visitors in 2006 – more than 10 per cent of global visitors. The emirate is now featured by 210 UK operators and has 415 hotels – up from 293 hotels in 1996.
Further information about the planned Universal City theme park in Dubailand will be available too. The Hollywood-based company is intent on building a new park with the traditional range of rides, along with shops, 100 restaurants and over 4,000 hotel rooms.
More on the region’s other players next time!
(Fiona Jeffery is managing director of World Travel Market)
This Travelling World by Fiona Jeffery