Abu Dhabi has strong presence at ITB and as a destination

An artist’s impression of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which will be represented at ITB 2008

Abu Dhabi has been selected as one of the top ten destinations in the world by, the UK’s largest online travel agent.

It joins the other destinations of Alaska, Argentina, Berlin, Boston, China, Cape Verde, Reykjavik, New Zealand and Liverpool as one of the Top Ten places to visit in 2008.
“Few places can have undergone such fundamental change over the past 50 years as the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Today visitors can enjoy the beach, desert safari’s, variety enough to quench even the strongest thirst for retail therapy,” explained
HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the apex body that manages Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector, said, “The choice of Abu Dhabi in’s Top 10 places to visit in 2008 is a reiteration of the growing stature earned by the emirate in the global tourism industry.
“It also highlights the concerted efforts made by ADTA and stakeholders to showcase Abu Dhabi to global travellers and further develop the tourism luxurious offerings in the emirate through a carefully structured strategy, stressing on the influential role of the continuous programmes managed and supervised by ADTA like road shows and Abu Dhabi Tourism Champion which had been launched in 2005 and covered major tour operators in basic cities in Europe.”
Talking of the emirate’s unique luxury attractions, Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, director general of ADTA, stated, “Abu Dhabi has an eclectic spread of choices that meets the demands of global travellers. Apart from famed sea, sun, sand and luxurious choices, which visitors to the UAE are assured of, Abu Dhabi also offers a unique cultural and heritage environment that fascinates visitors.”
The ADTA will have a large stand at the ITB Berlin, and will be present at the Destinations as Mega-Projects conference, held in Hall 7.1 a, Auditorium New York 1, on Friday, March 7 from 1330 to 1600.
The topic is entitled Abu Dhabi: The Development of a Gigantic New Cultural Destination on the Gulf. This will feature its many development projects including the cultural district of Saadiyat Island  featuring the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi universal museum, the Performing Arts Centre, the Maritime Museum, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum and a Biennale Park with 19 pavilions.
World renowned architectural experts will talk about their design concepts and other issues such as: “How will these attractions be marketed in the future? Will Abu Dhabi’s World Economic Forum ranking in global competitiveness soon adjust upwards? Will tourists, interested in culture, soon be more likely to travel to the Gulf region than to traditional European countries?”

Mosque tours
From the beginning of this month, ADTA will start scheduled guided tours of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, set to become a signature building for the UAE capital. One of the world’s largest mosques covering 22,000 sq m, it combines traditional Islamic designs and modern architectural techniques.
The move to allow tourists into the mosque aims at promoting greater cross-cultural religious and heritage understanding, the authority said in a
“To reflect the true spirit of Islam, a religion of peace, education and tolerance, the mosque tours will allow residents and tourists alike to experience this inspiring addition to Islamic architecture and to receive an insight into Islam and Abu Dhabi’s heritage from trained and certified national tourist guides,” said ADTA’s licensing and classification division director Nasser Saif Al Reyami.
The mosque is named after Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late UAE president and Abu Dhabi ruler, the man who was known as ‘the father of the nation’ for his work as an architect of the UAE federation.
“The introduction of the mosque tours reflects Sheikh Zayed’s internationally recognised unifying influence – a legacy which is being upheld today by the Abu Dhabi Government. The tours also demonstrate Abu Dhabi’s inclusive approach to becoming a global tourism destination with true universal appeal,” said Al Reyami.
“It stands as a symbol of the warm hospitality and traditions of Abu Dhabi and subtly informs travellers of this message as they approach the capital. The role of the mosque embodies the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Arabic and Islamic traditions,” added Al Reyami.
The mosque was built by craftsmen from all over the world commissioned to produce the finest of construction and interiors materials, which include: the world’s largest carpet at 7,119 square metres, from Iran; the world’s largest chandelier from Germany made from one million Swarovski crystals; 28 different types of marble and 24 carat gold throughout.
ADTA manages and conducts training programmes to support the tourism industry for the entire emirate, which includes general tourist guide training, site guide training for museums as well as the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan Mosque. 
Four tours were held on February 21 as part of Abu Dhabi’s celebration of International Tourist Guide Day. Daily tourslasting between 60 and 90 minutes, will take place at 10 am from Saturday to Thursday. Registered visitors are asked to be at the mosque 15 minutes before the tours start.
In order to respect the mosque as a place of prayer, a dress code applies: visitors must wear modest, conservative loose fitting, clothing; long sleeves, no shorts or short skirts (for men and women); shoes will be removed before entering the mosque, so slip off shoes are recommended, and a headscarf for ladies is essential.