Dubai woos regional tourists

The Palm Islands project is just one of the major tourism developments currently under way in Dubai.

Dubai, which will be officially represented at the MTF for the first time this year, aims to create increased awareness about the emirate as one of the most exciting new destinations in the world today.

The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will highlight the range of major tourism related projects and activities in Dubai and the phenomenal growth in the number of visitors received by the emirate.

"The regional market focus of MTF is one of the most important sectors for Dubai's tourism industry and it is one of our priorities to stimulate growth in this key sector," said Khalid A bin Sulayem, the director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

"Middle Eastern tourists travel frequently and are amongst the highest per capita spenders in the world. Regional tourism is a profitable and sought after segment but the competition's fierce, so we have to market Dubai to our potential visitors at such an important event."

Dubai's nearly 400 hotels and hotel apartments received around 3.5 million guests last year, an increase of 13 per cent over the previous year.

The emirate has been actively promoting its tourism attractions around the world at major travel exhibitions besides roadshows, marketing visits and other media.

"We adopt a series of promotional methods depending upon the unique needs of each market," said Abdulla Al Falasi, DTCM's deputy manager overseas promotions, who will represent the department at the MTF. "These include exhibition participation, product shows, marketing visits, presentations and roadshows, VIP and executive missions, familiarisation and assisted visits, advertising, brochure production and distribution, media relations and enquiry and information services."

DTCM was set up in 1997 to replace the former Dubai Commerce and Tourism Promotion Board (DCTPB) to promote Dubai's commerce and tourism interests internationally and to assume a broader role as the principle authority for the planning, supervision and development of the tourism sector in the emirate.

The following are the major public and private sector projects launched in Dubai certain to further boost the emirate's attraction as a tourism destination:

* Transformation of old Dubai: Emaar properties will be redeveloping the old Dubai with restoration of old buildings and construction of new ones. The project will stretch from the Amiri Diwan area on the creek to the Al Seef Road encompassing existing heritage buildings and constructing new buildings for residential, office and leisure purposes.

* Children's City: The first interactive Children's City in the Gulf is nearing completion in Dubai's Creekside Park and is expected to open in December.

Dubai Muncipality is building the 90,000 sq ft attraction, which will provide children with their own learning zone and amusement facilities.

  • Dubai Zoo relocation: Dubai Zoo will be relocated over the next year to a new area stretching over six square kilometres. The new location, which is situated in a half moon-shape area encircling Mushrif Park, will be developed to include safari park facilities as well as covered enclosures for the animals.

  • Shindagha Cultural and Heritage Project: Thirty-two traditional houses in Shindagha will be re-built as part of Dubai Municipality's plans to restore the area to its former glory. The Municipality's goal is to re-establish old Shindagha with its traditional wind-tower houses and narrow 'sikkas' (alleys).

  • Palm Island project: Two of the world's largest man-made islands shaped like palm trees will be created off Dubai's coast. The islands will be built off the Jumeirah and Jebel Ali coast.

    The project will result in 120 kms of land being reclaimed from the sea and two new communities built. Each island will house up to 40 hotels offering 4,000 rooms per island.

    Construction is expected to start in June 2001 with expected completion of the islands in 2003 and the completion of the properties by 2004.

    The first contract for the dredging and land reclamation of one Palm Island was awarded to a Malaysian company for Dh 991 million in end May.

    Several new hotels have opened their doors this year already and several more are under construction in a major boost to tourist facilities in the emirate.

    Other projects underway in Dubai include a major expansion of the Dubai World Trade Centre which will boost the exhibitions and conference facilities, a festival city, Umm Suqeim Beach Project, a ski resort and a gold and diamond park among others.

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