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Over 5 million guests to enjoy Wi-Fi U.A.E., networked by du, at Global Village
posted on 16/10/2014

du has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Global Village, to provide Wi-Fi services across 14,000 square metres of the entertainment and retail destination. The MoU was signed during GITEX Technology Week 2014, on the sidelines of the telecom operator being chosen as the Official Wi-Fi Provider of Dubai Smart City.
Through the agreement, du will be the official Wi-Fi provider for Global Village throughout its operating season, from 6 November 2014-11 April 2015. Wi-Fi U.A.E., networked by du, will cover 31 pavilions, 25 restaurants, and more than 150 kiosks, serving upwards of 5 million visitors over 157 days.
Fahad al Hassawi, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said: "Connectivity, anywhere, any way we want it, is the future of Dubai. Mobility is what will fuel our progression into becoming a truly Smart City. As the Smart City Official Wi-Fi Provider in Dubai, we are empowering our community with the ability to access their world from wherever they want and however they want, quickly and conveniently." du's end-to-end, fully managed Wi-Fi solutions will empower Dubai residents and visitors through seamless connectivity, du's end-to-end, fully managed Wi-Fi solutions will empower Global Village visitors and employees through seamless connectivity, with one login and one portal, at all these locations.
To enjoy Wi-Fi U.A.E., networked by du, customers can connect when the service is available from their Wi-Fi -enabled device and choose from three usage options: free high speed for government services, complimentary basic service, or premium high speed service. Full details of each option will be available through a landing page that is automatically opened upon connection.
Ahmad Hussain Bin Essa, COO, Global Village, said: "The initiative of du to provide Wi-Fi at Global Village will enhance the customer service experience for over 5 million guests, as well as exhibitors and investors. The Wi-Fi offering will be accompanied by the launch of our brand new website and mobile application, as well as self-purchasing ticket kiosks at the main gates; all of which are in tandem with the Smart City vision of Dubai. The app will benefit the customer directly as it will provide smart solutions at Global Village including a real-time location map, car park pinning in order to locate ones car easily, live feeds of cultural shows, and much more. We look forward to the broadband facilities being provided by du to complement the Global Village experience for its customers." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Soaring sculptures of flora and falcons to be displayed at soon-to-open Yas Mall
posted on 15/10/2014

The artist behind the monument that honours the former South African president Nelson Mandela at the site in South Africa where he was arrested in 1962 is making his mark on Abu Dhabi.
Marco Cianfanelli of Johannesburg is in the final stages of installing three sculptures he designed in the capital's newest retail giant – the 2.5 million-square-foot Yas Mall on Yas Island, due to open next month.
Release, the famous sculpture in South Africa, depicts Mandela through 50 contoured steel columns. The Yas Mall sculpture – commissioned by Aldar Properties and as yet unnamed – has been created in a similar fashion.
When the mall opens, the first thing visitors will see at the main entrance is a giant sculpture of six falcons made of 132 painted steel columns standing 18 metres tall on an undulating base that is 50 metres in length.
"The landscape at the base represents dunes,” explains Cianfanelli. "The columns are arranged almost like the patterns the wind makes in the sand that creates the vertical form. The idea is that, as you move around the sculpture, starting when you drive into the mall and when you are inside, you see different falcons from different angles.
"The multiple views and the scale is what makes this sculpture exciting for me,” continues the artist. "From any position, you will see one falcon and the others will break apart, becoming an expression of rhythm, movement or flight. I enjoy these sculptures not just at that precise moment when the image becomes clear, but also when it is losing its clarity.”
The artist began work on the project last summer in collaboration with Jeremy Rose, the same architect he worked with on the Mandela project and other key monuments in South Africa.
The pair first visited the site in Abu Dhabi in June and worked on the initial design stages until September. The production process began in January in South Africa. In May, the 140 tonnes of steel that make up the sculptures were ready for shipping to the U.A.E.. Installation began last month.
"We have never done a sculpture on this scale, where so many things happen from so many angles. I am pleased to say it is coming together really nicely,” says Cianfanelli.
As well as the huge landmark that sits at the entrance, mall visitors – expected to number as many as 20 million per year – will also see two more of Cianfanelli's works inside.
Situated in the East and West Cultural Courts, the 12-metre-tall steel trees are based on the idea of the local ghaf tree, but are more stylised and, instead of leaves, they have parts of the Arabic alphabet carved into the branches.
"The idea for the trees evolved over time,” he says. "They look a bit like rugged trees of the desert and the leaves are not representative of words – rather, the beginnings of language. The two trees are different, but are variations of each other.”
Heavily inspired by the local environment and wanting to design something that appealed to the many different nationalities who live and work in the U.A.E., Cianfanelli says that the most important aspect for him is that he leaves behind a piece of art that has a strong relationship with its environment.
"The falcons are a wonderful way to represent the local identity in a way that is uplifting,” he says. "I hope people also find the work inspiring and beautiful.”
• The sculptures will be unveiled at the inauguration of Yas Mall in November. Visit – The National -


Retailers post footfall and sales rise on Eid festivities
posted on 06/10/2014

With the ‘Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Adha' celebrations in full swing, shoppers have been eagerly picking up the amazing offers and discounts on offer across the fashion, electronic, luxury and jewellery retail sectors.
Retailers have also been benefiting from the extended duration of the ‘Eid in Dubai' celebrations that is organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, or DFRE, an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) with an influx of more visitors this season. ‘Eid in Dubai' was launched on September 25 and will conclude on October 11.
The sectors that have seen the biggest growth include electronics, jewellery, watches and fashion — with electronics receiving a boost from Gitex Shopper — which coincides with the celebrations. Nadeem Khanzadah, head, OmniChannel Retail, Jumbo Electronics, said: "The ‘Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Adha' celebrations is a fantastic initiative by DFRE, and at Jumbo Electronics we have seen overall sales jump by more than 25 per cent over last year already during the Eid period, which also coincided with Gitex Shopper. In addition to U.A.E. residents shopping in huge numbers, the celebration this year has also encouraged GCC tourists to spend more time in the city and we have seen this reflected in the increased customer traffic into our stores and the corresponding surge in our sales numbers.
"The best numbers have come in the smartphones category, fuelled by the new launches of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Sony Xperia Z3, and new brands such as Obi Mobiles, Oppo and Xolo, which target young and trendy consumers with feature-rich devices at aggressive price points. The smartphone category has grown 40 per cent over the same Eid and Gitex period last year.”
Commenting on the impact made by ‘Eid in Dubai' on the luxury retail segment, Abraham Koshy, COO – Watch Division, Rivoli Group, said: "As a leading luxury lifestyle retailer, the Rivoli Group has continued to trade well during the festive period and we anticipate achieving record business for Eid. During the gifting season people tend to shop for luxury watches and accessories amongst other things.
"DFRE has created a successful model event with ‘Eid in Dubai', and extending the length of this year's celebrations has worked as a catalyst to maximise our sales. This season we have achieved double digit growth rate over last year and believe it is due to the prolonged activities being offered during this ‘Eid in Dubai'”
With jewellery sales especially high during the gifting season of Eid, Chandu Siroya, managing director, Siroya Jewellers, said: "Eid is a special time for all to buy gifts for both family and friends and what better gift than a piece of jewellery. Generally, sales of jewellery during the week of Eid Al Adha are very good. This year gold prices are also very favourable to the customers, and this is encouraging them to invest more in jewellery gifting. Sales during this year are about 10 to 15 per cent higher than last year during the same period. I find that all types of jewellery are in good demand but the sale of bangles is at its highest this year.”
Raed Baker, chairman of Liali Jewellery, added: "We are very upbeat about Eid and expect at least 20 per cent sales growth as we are located in all major shopping malls from residents and GCC tourists and have also increased our advertising spend around this period to achieve the same. With gold prices being so low, this is an opportunity not to be missed! For diamond lovers, we have introduced new pieces in three of our collections that are very affordable.” – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Global Village gears up for November 6 opening
posted on 02/10/2014

The management of Global Village is finalising details for its November 6 opening, including beefing up safety and security and adding new attractions to the theme park.
Senior management at Global Village recently briefed senior government officials in the emirate on the broad range of new developments and initiatives that are set to entice visitors to the largest outdoor family entertainment attraction in November.
Now in its 19th season, the management met representatives from Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police, Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the Roads and Transport Authority, and the Department of Economic Development to update them on the progress of the park's latest developments.
They promised a "bigger and better than ever” season this year that will run until April 11, 2015.
Brigadier General Abdullah Ali Abdullah Hassan Gaithi, Director of the General Administration of Security Bodies, Enterprises, and Emergency – Head of Events Security Committee, lauded the new developments that aim to enhance visitor experience, without giving specific details.
"The whole season is gearing up to be a hugely successful six months and we are delighted to be working once again in such close partnership with our colleagues at Global Village,” he said.
Ahmad Hussain, Chief Operating Officer at Global Village, said part of the park's objectives is to partner with government authorities to ensure the success of operations at the park and ensure the safety and security of everyone.
"One of our primary concerns is the safety of the five million visitors we attract every year which is why we work so closely with the Events Security Team to ensure that everything is up to the highest international standards in Global Village.” – Gulf News -

20-day Zayed heritage festival in Abu Dhabi from Nov 20
The fifth edition of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014 starts on November 20 and will run for 20 days.
Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the U.A.E. President, President of the Camel Race Association and Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014, has officially adopted the key elements and activities of the festival. Visitors will be captivated by live interactions and innovative entertainment that brings to life the U.A.E.'s rich heritage.
"This festival is a reflection of our Emirati heritage, and a voyage through time that encompasses our past, present and future. It reminds us all that our nation's prosperity is not a mere coincidence, but built on the strong foundations of past achievements,” said Sheikh Sultan.
From November 20, the festival's fifth edition will enthral visitors for 20 days of non-stop enlightenment with attractions that have been enriched and enhanced year after year. In addition to U.A.E. citizens and residents, this showcase of heritage par excellence is expected to attract visitors from all over the world.
Mohammed Haji Khouri, Director-General of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Humanitarian Foundation, said, "This festival carries special significance for every person in the U.A.E.. Therefore, we are proud to contribute to its success by buying products from 150 outlets and distributing them for free to visitors at the festival.”
Last year, a large numbers of visitors enjoyed multiple attractions in Al Wathba area. The exhibitions included "Memories of a Nation”, which displayed ancient artefacts and historical treasures dating back to 500 years ago from the desert, oasis, mountains and sea. A fifth element — the city and the state — symbolised the U.A.E.'s modern unity under the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The festival also featured glorious performances to celebrate National Day, including a parade of over 5,000 Emiratis marching to honour the founding father and using their movements to showcase historical scenes. Khaleej Times§ion=nationgeneral


U.A.E. retail sector surges with 33% growth forecast for 2015
posted on 18/09/2014

The United Arab Emirates retail sector is expected to grow over 33 percent by 2015, according to a September 2014 report by Ventures Middle East released in conjunction with The Big 5 building and construction exhibition.
That growth is attracting investment into other countries in the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, and to a smaller extent Qatar and Bahrain, the report said.
Dubai is the region's leading retail destination, with the second largest number of global brands after London, according to the report. The Dubai Mall and the Dubai Shopping Festival alone attract close to 35 million visitors per year.
New developments on the horizon include Dubai's recently announced ‘Mall of the World' entertainment and hotel district, which will include the world's largest mall, spread across eight million square metres, at an estimated cost of US$ 6.8 billion.
George Kostas is the CEO of Majid Al Futtaim - Properties, a leading shopping mall, retail and leisure developer the Middle East and North Africa, which owns and operates 17 shopping malls across the region.
He says the U.A.E. has earned a reputation as successful global and luxury retail brands destination since it attracts wealthy visitors from around the world.
"We expect an even greater investment in the retail and tourism sector in the lead-up to the Expo 2020,” said Kostas, whose company will expand and refurbish its Mall of the Emirates – including two new hotels - build a new shopping mall in the International Media Production Zone and a new luxury hotel at City Centre Deira.
"A rise in consumer purchasing power and a growing young and brand savvy population have made Dubai one of the world's most attractive hubs for retailers. To meet these future demands, Majid Al Futtaim has committed to over Dh 3bn (US$ 817m) of new investment across our Dubai portfolio.”
Leading shopping projects across the region include the Vendome Mall at Lusail in Qatar, which is under construction at an estimated value of US$ 1.37 billion, the planned Al Diriyah Festival City in Saudi Arabia, which has a value of US$ 1.6 billion, and the planned Muscat Festival City Mall in Oman.
"Leading retailers from around the world are all clamouring to enter a GCC market which has huge potential,, and that's only good news for developers in the region,” said Andy White, Group Event Director of The Big 5.
"We are seeing increased activity across the entire GCC as countries continue to position themselves as destinations for major tourism events. Increasingly, visitors to The Big 5 are sourcing products for retail projects and we continue to develop our event to help professionals take advantage of this exciting opportunity.”
The Big 5 runs from 17 – 20 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is open from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily. – Emirates 24│7 -


DFRE launches pioneering step to enhance retail experience
posted on 11/09/2014

The Premiere Retail Events (PRE) initiative involves the establishment of a multi-million dirham fund to provide support to both global and home-grown brands to innovate new outstanding experiences that enhances the existing retail and tourism offering of the emirate.
The first set of grants will be provided to companies who devise ideas for the landmark 20th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival and will grow to become a longer-term initiative to support retail innovation during festival periods all year round. The grant will be the basis of a co-venture between DFRE and the awarded company.
Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: "Dubai is a centre for world-class creativity and thinking and DFRE will partner with global brands and major home-grown businesses to bring amazing and innovative event ideas to life.”
"Dubai has the perfect retail environment and flexible infrastructure to stimulate unique commercial concepts that could range from major live events to "pop-up” stores, experiences or citywide showcases, all of which will add to the emirate's existing world-class offer. Each grant will be made to companies that set new global benchmarks for ideas, impact and inspiration,” she added.
The initiative is encouraging global brands and well established home grown business owners to think about events that would have a game changing impact on the consumer experience in Dubai.
To succeed and be awarded a grant and co-venture status by DFRE, the concept behind the proposed experience needs to be either a first in the world or at least a first in the region. The ideas that are submitted will go through a rigorous evaluation process and DFRE intends to focus its partnership to a select number of concepts – ensuring each can get the maximum support required and have a real impact on the public through its individual creativity, size and innovative approach.
Laila Mohammed Suhail, added: "We view the launch of this initiative part of the evolution of the festivals and retail sector development in Dubai. The Premiere Retail Events initiative will leverage DFRE's accumulated experience to drive the next level of growth in these two sectors.” – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Dubai to start work on world’s largest mall by Q1 2015
posted on 09/09/2014

The Mall of the World, which will become the world's largest shopping mall, will see construction starting from first quarter 2015, according to Dubai Holding.
"Dubai Holding is currently appointing specialised consultants and expects to commence work on the first phase of the project during the first quarter of 2015,” the company said in a statement.
The 48-million square feet, climate-controlled development was announced in the second half of 2014 and will be located within Mohammad bin Rashid City.
The project will house a shopping mall with an area of 8 million square feet, the world's largest theme park, which will be covered by a glass dome that will be open during the winter months, a wellness dedicated zone, a cultural celebration district and a wide range of hospitality options comprising 20,000 hotel rooms.
Once completed, the development is projected to become a year-round destination, welcoming around 180 million visitors annually, Dubai Holding said.
In June, Dubai Holding will need Dh25 billion to build an entertainment district over a period of 10 years, CEO Ahmad bin Byat had told Reuters.
Dubai will be hosting Expo 2020 from October 2020 to April 2021 and in the run-up to the event nearly 277,000 new jobs will be created.
Construction projects are estimated to reach a total of Dh1.1 trillion (US$315 billion) in the U.A.E. this year, according to UK-based EC Harris.
Projects worth US$212 billion are under construction when the report surveyed the market in May with the construction industry is expected to reach full capacity as social infrastructure spending increases and mega projects presently being planned are brought forward.
Major projects under construction are Bluewaters Island, Dubai Water Canal, MBR District One, Dubai Adventure Studios, The Lagoons etc.
The latest development to restart work was Limitless' Downtown Jebel Ali, its 200-hectare mixed-use community. On Sunday, the master developer awarded a contract worth Dh19.5 million for infrastructure design and supervision services for Zone 2, 3 and 4. – Emirates 24/7 -


Brightly shines Abu Dhabi’s retail sector
posted on 02/09/2014

With increasing signs of improvement in the U.A.E.'s economy on the back of strong growth of real estate assets, there has been a surge in investor confidence, particularly in the retail occupier market.
Abu Dhabi's retail sector, in particular, continues to garner significant interest from global and regional retailers. While Dubai has kept its crown as the U.A.E.'s largest retail market, with a stream of impressive entrants in the capital this year, Abu Dhabi has clearly outpaced its neighbour in terms of retail growth.
This is evident by the fact that during 2013, Abu Dhabi delivered 168,000 square metres of retail space, placing it in 18th position globally for shopping centre space completed, and Number One in the GCC, according to a recent study by real estate firm CBRE.
In comparison, last year Dubai delivered just 35,000 square metres of retail space. This is an accomplishment in itself, but what makes it even more interesting is that the population of each of the countries ahead of the U.A.E. — China, Russia, Indonesia, and the Philippines — is more than 100 million.
The U.A.E., on the other hand, only has a population of 9 million, further showcasing its retail success despite its population increasing at a rate lower than other countries.
While Abu Dhabi has always enjoyed a reputation for attracting business and diplomatic travel, its approach to presenting the city as a tourist destination is heavily anchored on culture, entertainment and heritage. This strategy of welcoming world-class entertainment and tourist attractions has clearly caught the attention of international retailers.
The capital is often termed as a shoppers' paradise with a number of shopping options, including the recently launched, The Galleria, whose opening last year brought a significant number of new luxury and food & beverage brands in the emirate for the first time.
These developments have brought Abu Dhabi forward on the global retail map, positioning the capital, very rightly, as an independent global brand. Supplementing the retail facilities, the capital is also proactively building an ongoing program of artistic and cultural events and exhibitions that celebrate music, literature and the arts.
Major development projects include the Saadiyat Cultural District, the Guggenheim and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Thrill seekers are able to ride the world's fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which has seen visitor numbers soar since it opened in 2010.
For Abu Dhabi, retail forms one of the most vital streams of economic activity. The government recognises this and steps have being taken to generate synergy for public-private partnerships to boost the emirate's hospitality and travel markets — two industries that directly impact the retail business.
The government's policy highlights the intention to support the growth of retail-driven tourism by focusing investment on locations with the potential to become world-class retail destinations. These include the Yas Mall on Yas Island, which is due for completion in the final quarter of 2014, along with other major centres.
These measures will clearly lead to an increased number of tourists flocking the capital and eventually boosting the emirate's retail industry. Avid travellers from across the world with high disposable incomes are already seen in large numbers splurging on luxury accessories across the capital. Chinese tourist arrivals in Abu Dhabi alone reached 32.259 in the first quarter of 2014.
Abu Dhabi represents ideal conditions for international retailers. It is also a perfect launch pad for entering the other Middle Eastern and African markets.
It will continue to thrive due to increasing purchasing power, a growing expatriate population, strong brand association, solid household consumption and modern retail concepts coupled with the expanding tourism and hospitality sectors. Investments from Chinese and Russian companies and high net worth individuals is also expected to provide further impetus to various ongoing construction projects in the emirate.
Combined, Dubai and Abu Dhabi present visitors with every conceivable attraction, each charting its own course. As the nation prepares for Expo 2020, the race is on to keep pace with the influx of visitors, a challenge that both emirates must meet. If previous form is anything to go on, Abu Dhabi looks set to more than meet the challenge.
The capital's retail market has never looked this promising. – Gulf News -


Emaar Properties announces intention to list Emaar Malls Group
posted on 01/09/2014

Emaar Properties PJSC yesterday announced its intention to proceed with the sale of existing shares in Emaar Malls Group (EMG) via an initial public offering (IPO) on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).
The IPO will be made available to individual investors (30 percent), as well as qualified institutional investors (70 percent), with 10 percent being targeted for preferential allocation to existing Emaar Properties shareholders as at 10th September 2014. Emaar Properties expects to sell at least 15 percent of EMG as part of the IPO.
Emaar Malls Group, the developer of the iconic Dubai Mall, recorded revenues of Dh 1.250 billion (US$ 340 million) during the first six months of 2014. This is 13 percent higher than the H1 2013 revenue of Dh 1.106 billion (US$ 301 million). The Q2 2014 malls revenue is Dh 650 million (US$ 177 million), 11 percent higher than Q2 2013 revenue of Dh 584 million (US$ 159 million).
Whilst valuation will be dependent upon the book building process, Emaar Properties will earmark approximately Dh 5.3billion (US$ 1.44billion) from the IPO proceeds to be paid as a dividend. This amount aggregated with the dividend received from EMG prior to the IPO of Dh 3.7billion (US$ 1.01billion) will allow Emaar Properties to pay a dividend of approximately Dh 9billion (US$2.45billion) to its shareholders.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said, "The intention to generate proceeds for Emaar Properties by listing EMG shares on DFM will continue the established trend of returning funds from the group to shareholders. This underlines Emaar Properties commitment and gratitude to our shareholders for their dedication and loyalty since 1997. Additionally, the IPO of EMG is a milestone for the development of the U.A.E. capital markets as, for the first time, it combines institutional and retail shareholders in the same offering on the DFM. This further demonstrates Emaar Properties pioneering role in the U.A.E. capital markets, having been the first company to list on the DFM in the year 2000.
"Emaar Malls Group has delivered strong growth and profitability in the last six years that has enabled it to make substantial investments which are expected to increase its GLA by around one million square feet by 2016 and enhance the group's revenue and margins. As the owner of EMG, Emaar Properties is excited about the future growth of the Group and will do its upmost to ensure that the business continues to flourish in this new stage of its development." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Dubai Festival City Mall begins 2nd phase expansion
posted on 01/09/2014

Dubai Festival City Mall on Sunday launched phase two of its retail expansion project which will feature more space to house new fashion, lifestyle and unique dining choices overlooking the iconic Dubai Creek.
The project will deliver an enlarged Festival Square connecting with the unique waterfront dining locations creating a stunning environment for guests to meet, shop and dine overlooking the back drop of Dubai's skyline and Dubai Creek.
"Dubai Festival City Mall provides families, residents and tourists with the most appealing shopping, leisure and dining options. Responding to the wants and needs of our guests and retailers underpins all that we do,” said Murray Bell, Managing Director, Retail, Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate.
"Launching the second phase of the mall's expansion is testament to our commitment towards our stakeholders and Dubai's growth and marks a significant milestone in our forward thinking expansion plans,” he added. – Emirates 24│7-


Yas Mall to open in November: Aldar
posted on 28/08/2014

Aldar Properties on Wednesday announced progress in the pre-opening phase of Yas Mall with the aerial fit-out of Geant hypermarket, which is planned to open in November 2014.
Geant began its fit-out by installing an air-conditioning system.
A helicopter was tasked with the installation, which involved lowering five units each weighing 1 to 1.5 tons and on average seven metres long. The operation was performed by a project team involving Aldar, Geant, the tenant coordination company Vindico and the main contractor of the project Sixco, and took just over 50 minutes.
The completion of the air-conditioning installation marks a milestone in the lead up to the hypermarket opening this year which will service the city's international and local visitors including Yas Mall's neighbouring communities.
The fit-outs are continuing at a steady pace and 95 per cent of outlets are committed in terms of leasing ahead of the November opening.
Yas Mall has also announced three further leading retailers as part of its partnership with Chalhoub Group and Retail Arabia including a new concept House of Fraser Department Store, Abu Dhabi's first Hamleys store and the first Joe Fresh store in the UAE.
The mall will also house 20 screen cinemas operated by Vox and Funworks. – Emirates 24│7 -


Phase 2 of Mall of the Emirates’ Evolution 2015 underway
posted on 27/08/2014

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and North Africa, recently announced that phase two of Mall of the Emirates' strategic redevelopment, Evolution 2015 is currently underway.
This stage will see the mall expand by a gross leasable area of 25,000sqm to include the introduction of a new, major Vox Cinemas experience, retail anchor stores as well as new lifestyle options, and a diversity of dining choices. With a phased completion with elements unveiling by mid-2015, Evolution 2015 will see the launch of brands making their debut in the Middle East at Mall of the Emirates alongside the expansion of existing luxury and lifestyle shopping brands, at an overall estimated investment of more than Dh1 billion.
"In embarking on phase two of Evolution 2015 at Mall of the Emirates, we have surveyed the needs of our two key audiences — guests and retailers — to see how we can best meet their changing needs,” said Dimitri Vazelakis, executive managing director of shopping malls for Majid Al Futtaim Properties. "More space for luxury maisons, the introduction of new fashion brands, an enhanced dining experience and a state-of-the-art cinema destination – these are some of the most anticipated elements, and what we are turning into reality at Mall of the Emirates today.”
Recognising that fashion accounts for almost half of Mall of the Emirates' current sales, Evolution 2015's phase two will see more spacious premises for some premium brands alongside fashion lines choosing the mall as their regional launch platform. Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates, among the U.A.E.'s most preferred movie-going destinations, is creating an entirely new destination for film-lovers, with 24 screens, advanced technologies including Vox Max large-scale screens, and an expanded Vox Gold premium experience.
Evolution 2015's phase two will also unveil a new dining destination at Mall of the Emirates featuring approximately 12 food and beverage options to complement the new lifestyle retail and cinema offer. New brands as well as popular restaurants and cafιs will feature in this new leisure precinct. Rounding out the Mall of the Emirates Evolution 2015 are the elements that will ensure guests' convenient access and comfort, including parking for more than 1,300 cars as well as new prayer rooms.
"Mall of the Emirates is one of the most trusted and premium retail destinations in the region, and Evolution 2015 enables us to expand and enhance the experience that we offer to our guests and retail partners by innovating, maximising our offer and delivering a consistently superlative experience,” Vazelakis added. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


U.A.E. tops in global apparel designs
posted on 23/08/2014

The rise of fast fashion has been meteoric in the U.A.E., as recession-weary consumers are becoming more aware of new branded outfits that have grabbed the attention of global apparel manufacturers.

Dynamic new fashion labels are invigorating Dubai's apparel industry. 

In the past half-decade, a handful of talented designers have founded clothing lines exclusively for the Middle East consumers, addressing the region's culture and religious norms, despite the region's tradition of classic tailoring and the acknowledged skills of apparel manufacturers.

The international brand designers are providing the discerning shopper with distinct interpretations of the contemporary wear. 

Banana Republic, a global apparel and accessories brand focused on delivering modern American style along with celebrated designer Roland Mouret on Thursday evening unveiled the Roland Mouret Collection 2014 — a limited-edition, covetable capsule highlighting Mouret's keen understanding of fit and the female form through the use of Banana Republic's signature Sloan fabric. Banana Republic's Sloan Collection of dresses, skirts and pants has gained acclaim for the use of contour stretch fabric. Founded in San Francisco, Banana Republic is located in over 700 company-operated and franchise retail locations worldwide including the Gulf region and the U.A.E..

The foundation of the Roland Mouret for Banana Republic Collection — the Banana Republic Sloan fabric — is a unique blend of rich, bi-stretch fabric, which creates a "magic” fit that shapes through figure-flattering silhouettes. 

Mouret, famous for his exceptional skills in draping, structure and style, naturally gravitated toward this signature material, which he hand-draped, cut and pinned on the body to create this iconic capsule. – The Gulf Today -


Dubai’s retail sector to hit Dh150 billion by year-end
posted on 21/08/2014

Dubai's retail sector will be worth a phenomenal Dhs150 billion by the end of this year as the emirate's households shopping power is on the rise with positive economic indicators and strong rebound in tourism and hospitality sector, according to reports.
According to the latest data from Colliers International, Dubai's households spend between Dh37,000 and Dh85,000 each year. However, the average spending power of US$14,400 (about Dh53,000) per household per year has seen the retail sector riding a wave of growth to reach record figures.
The city is now rivalling established global shopping hotspots like London, Milan, New York and Sydney, with the U.A.E. now ranked as the world's fourth most attractive retail destination in AT Kearney's latest global index. Business Monitor International (BMI) is projecting that Dubai's retail sector will reach Dhs150 billion mark by the end of this year.
Dubai Economic Council also estimates the city's retail sector to have become as big as the financial and real estate sectors in terms of value.
The retail revolution is set to intensify, as Dubai welcomes 25 million visitors in the build-up to World Expo 2020. As part of this long-term view, The Galleria Mall's sister development, The Galleria Villas offers upmarket residences near the mall in close proximity to Dubai's golden beachfront, with both developments totalling 324,300 square feet.
Shahab Lutfi, founder and chief executive of The Galleria Mall's developers H&H Investment & Development, said the Galleria Mall and Villas is a fresh concept based on family quality time, in Dubai's trendy suburb of Jumeirah Beach. The attractions are as diverse as Dubai's multicultural population.
"By bringing famous global brands here, we are bringing the world to Dubai and helping to make our city the world's undisputed shopping paradise.”
Commenting on what Dubai's shoppers and tourists can expect, Shahab Lutfi said it's no longer enough to simply have a massive mall, because the quality of the visitors' experience is equally as important as the quantity of attractions.
"From the beautiful setting to the convenient parking and intimate family-friendly atmosphere, The Galleria Mall is helping Dubai to raise the bar in retail therapy. With even more shops opening soon, we are living up to our promise that this is truly where you belong.”
At a recent event, CBRE Middle East managing director Nick Maclean said Dubai's success in retaining its position as the second most important city in terms of international retailer presence underpins its status as a regional hub for business and tourism.
"The retail sector remains one of the most vital streams for economic activity in the emirate and the industry is likely to witness significant growth in the lead up to Expo 2020 in six years' time,” he said. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Fly the skies with Emirates Airline’s A380 Experience
posted on 18/08/2014

If you're unable to escape to cooler climes this summer, Emirates Airline has a novel way for you to jet abroad, without going anywhere.
Head to The Dubai Mall and on the ground floor near the ice rink, you'll come across their A380 Experience. It's a flight simulator that allows you to take the controls of a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A380. How difficult could it be to take off and land a super jumbo, I wondered? Incredibly difficult, I was to discover.
My experience began with a friendly meet-and-greet from my captain and co-pilot. He showed me to a row of plane seats and a selection of destinations popped up on the TV in my armrest.
I was able to choose from 12 airports and settled on Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as the final destination. Choosing the weather conditions were next and, for added excitement, stormy skies were programmed in.
Soon it was time to head inside the simulator, which was an open-backed cockpit of an Emirates plane. I had been expecting to step inside an elevated simulator, encapsulated inside a machine that would soar and nose-dive at the touch of the sidestick.
Nevertheless, the fact that it wasn't the case didn't detract from the experience and there was something surprisingly thrilling about sitting in the throne-like leather chair of a first officer.
Before pushback, I was given a full briefing about the overwhelming number of buttons and instruments that enveloped me. Soon, we were ready for the take-off – cabin crew, arm doors and cross-check.
After the briefest of taxis along a rainy runway, it was full throttle ahead and we were airborne.
The weather obscured the view of Paris more than a little and meant that maintaining altitude and staying on course was a challenge. My instructor informed me this was intentionally the case because commercial pilots regularly used the simulator for practice.
Before there was time to make my inaugural announcement from the flight deck, we were readying to land. As time was tight, the 30 minutes really does fly by, the captain changed the weather conditions to clear and the arrival airport to Dubai.
It enhanced the experience a great deal and the panoramic 3-D view was exactly as you would expect to see it through a pilot's eyes.
As I banked the plane, The World and Palm Jumeirah came into full view and upon the final descent to Dubai International Airport, we had a bird's-eye view of all the city's landmarks. All too soon, it was time to disembark and hang up my uniform.
All in all, the experience was a great one, albeit over far too quickly. The instructors are a mine of information – most of them qualified pilots – yet there's little time to grill them on the finer points of turbulence or landing on water.
For those with a fear of flying, the simulator is said to help, not least because it demystifies the process a great deal. For those who desire a PPL, private pilot's license, it's also an excellent first step.
Fundamentally, it's an exhilarating experience, where no matter how bad your technique, the captain will reassure you that you've spilt no one's coffee and you've passed with flying colours.
• The Emirates Airline A380 Experience costs from Dh349 for 15 minutes. To book a flight or buy gift vouchers call 056 738 7444 or go to – The National -


Dubai Aquarium in world’s top 25 on TripAdvisor
posted on 12/08/2014

The sharks and rays in Dubai Mall must have been swimming proudly these days.
Dubai's Aquarium and Underwater Zoo has been voted one of the best aquariums in the world by the users of TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site.
The site announced on Tuesday the winners of its Travelers' Choice awards for Zoos and Aquariums around the globe. There were 275 winners identified and Dubai's Aquarium was ranked 25th on the list.
Monterey Bay Aquarium in California emerged as the overall winner, followed by Oceanario de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal; Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia and Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The award winners were chosen using an algorithm that took into account the number and quality of TripAdvisor user reviews which were gathered over a 12-month period.
"For those wanting to see the world's most wondrous creatures, TripAdvisor has named the Travelers' Choice Zoos and Aquariums, as chosen by the community of millions,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor.
"Travellers can enjoy a fun and educational experience at any of these popular award-winning attractions.”
The 10-million litre Dubai Aquarium in Dubai Mall is the largest suspended aquarium in the world. It is home to thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks and rays. One of the latest additions to the animals on display is the 750-kilogram crocodile that was brought in from Queensland, Australia.
The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo also allows visitors to have a close encounter with a giant catfish, piranha and some penguins while walking through a mini indoor rainforest. – Gulf News –


An open air market amid pristine scenery
posted on 09/08/2014

Once a weekend market, Souq Al Jumaa in Fujairah is now open all days and has become a major tourist attraction with its heritage as well as fresh products.
Fujairah figures prominently on the U.A.E.'s tourism map, thanks to its pristine landscapes and beautiful scenery. The emirate has many landmarks which serve as a magnet attracting tourists and gives it fame not only in the region but in the world as a whole. These include the traditional Souq Al Jumaa, Arabic for the Friday Market.
It is an open market and lies amid mountains and valleys. Various stalls and shops line either side of the road that links the city of Masafi and Al Dhaid. The souq becomes especially crowded on Fridays and other holidays.
Located 33 miles off Fujairah city, Souq Al Jumaa is famous for its locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables for both serious buyers and window shoppers. Colourful carpets and rugs, traditional products, pottery, artefacts and handicrafts, and household appliances, honey, Arabic ghee, dates, and popcorn are the other attractions.
Well-maintained nurseries with exotic flowers and plants add to the beauty of the market. Flower vases and other plant accessories are also available here. And, do not go by the size of the market; the small-sized nurseries house a unique collection of seedlings of ornamental plants, flowering and aromatic plants and fruit bearing trees.
According to Saif Rashid, a shopkeeper, Souq Al Jumaa has gone through many phases until it was finally completed. It started 25 years ago when a man used to come from Dibba, Fujairah, every Friday to sell the agricultural products of the farms in Fujairah areas.
As time went by, the number of hawkers and salesmen increased. And they were mostly elderly Emiratis who showcase their products under the shade of the Samar trees.
The souq remained unchanged until His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, issued ordered the Fujairah Municipality to look after and develop the place. Citizens were granted shops where good quality and miscellaneous products were sold. The souq continued to grow and became popular and is now open on all days of the week, not just Fridays and official holidays.
"What distinguished Souq Al Jumaa from other bazaars is its strategic location amid a range of mountains which connect Masafi and Al Dhaid ,” said Salem Rashid Al Zahmi, a shopper. Therefore, he said, it is a focus of attraction for tourists who thronged the place to enjoy watching the stunning views of the mountains and the products showcased in the market, which reflect a living picture and testimony of the U.A.E. heritage and domestic products.
He said Souq Al Jumaa has become a landmark for the visitors of the emirate and the city of Masafi. The market becomes busy and overcrowded on weekends, especially in winter time. Yousouf Ali, another shopper, said what makes the souq different is its open door shops amidst the beautiful nature. It is like the old markets which use canopies to protect their goods from rain, sun and humidity. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Abu Dhabi beaches receive two million visitors in H1
posted on 06/08/2014

The Abu Dhabi cornice, Al Bateen and ladies beaches attracted about 2 million visitors during the first half of this year.
The Abu Dhabi beaches received during three Eid Al Fitr days over 30, 000 visitors. The Abu Dhabi cornice attracted over 23, 000 visitors, while Al Bateen and the ladies attracted about 7, 000 visitors in corresponding period.
Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, Director of the Department of Community Service at Abu Dhabi City Municipality said the swimming beach at the Abu Dhabi cornice received about 1.6 million, citing the-state-of-art infrastructure and the latest safety standards. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Aldar ties up with Chalhoub for region’s biggest department store at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi
posted on 23/07/2014

Aldar Properties has signed an agreement with the luxury brand retailer Chalhoub Group to create the region's largest department store, at Abu Dhabi's soon-to-open Yas Mall.
Chalhoub, which opened the world's largest shoe store – the 96,000 square feet Level Shoe District in The Dubai Mall in 2012 – said that it had signed an agreement with Aldar to lease 200,000 sq. ft. of shopping space in Yas Mall.
In a statement yesterday, Chalhoub said that the new store would showcase 200 global brands with concessions and designers covering beauty and cosmetics, fashion, accessories and "an extensive children's selection”.
The new store would surpass the 192,000 sq. ft. Galeries Lafayette store in The Dubai Mall which opened in 2009 and is currently the region's largest single store.
"At the moment Abu Dhabi is significantly behind Dubai in terms of retail with no destination mall in the city so far,” observed Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy at CBRE's Dubai office. "Although the size of this new store is fairly comparable with Harvey Nichols or Galeries Lafayette, the difference is that in Abu Dhabi there is very little else to compete with something like that.”
Aldar did not say how much the rent would be on the big new store. According to Moody's estimates, Aldar's recurring revenues will grow to around Dh745 million by the end of the year, a quarter of which will be generated by the 2.5 million sq. ft. Yas Mall alone.
"We believe that Yas Mall is the perfect place for us to be launching a new and exciting store concept to market and showcase a selection of international design houses,” the Chalhoub Group chief executive, Patrick Chalhoub said.
Aldar said that the deal meant Yas Mall is now 95 per cent leased ahead of the opening which is planned for November. However, it added that the new department store would not be among the shops pulling up their shutters for the first time at the grand opening scheduled for the weekend of Friday, November 21.
Chalhoub employs more than 9,000 staff across 14 countries and manages more than 470 retail outlets, partnering with brands such as Chanel, Fendi, Saks Fifth Avenue Baccarat, Christofle, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci.
The group has expanded its presence in Abu Dhabi over the past few years, opening stores such as the children's luxury clothing outlet Katakeet in Abu Dhabi Mall as well as branches of its Faces beauty concept in Bawabat Al Sharq, Khalidiya Mall, Marina Mall and Mushrif Mall.
The group also operates branded stores such as Fendi, Christian Dior, Lacoste and Mulberry in the capital, especially at Mubadala's new Galleria luxury shopping centre on Al Maryah Island and in Marina Mall.
"We believe that by creating a new concept, with one of the region's most respected luxury retailers, we will create a unique shopping experience that complements the diverse retail mix already in place at the mall,” said Mohammed Al Mubarak, the Aldar chief executive.
Last week Aldar announced that the long-delayed Yas Mall would also house the second House of Fraser store outside the UK as well as Hamleys the world's oldest toy shop and Joe Fresh, a Canadian fashion brand.
Yas Mall is being built by Six Construct. When it was appointed in October 2011, the completion date for the mall was initially set for the fourth quarter of 2013. The opening date was then delayed until spring 2014 before being moved to coincide with Abu Dhabi's Formula One weekend in November. – The National – Read more:


Dubai Aquarium makes way for giant octopus
posted on 23/07/2014

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is now home to a giant Pacific octopus that is found in the North Pacific Ocean and is the largest species among octopuses.
Reaching 4.3 metres in height and weighing more than 70 kg, the giant octopus has almost no bones, allowing it to slip into very small crevices to reach for food or hide from predators. Its head contains all vital organs including three hearts, while the rest of the body essentially constitutes eight arms. It has excellent eyesight and can taste with its tentacles.
Being one of the most intelligent invertebrates, they can work out puzzles and complicated routes through a maze in only a couple of attempts. They also master the art of camouflaging, being able to change the colour and texture of their skin using specialised skin cells.
The underwater zoo, located on level 2 above the main aquarium, presents the biodiversity in different ecological zones including rainforest, rocky shore and living ocean. Apart from Humboldt penguins and Caiman crocodiles, the animals featured here include piranhas, giant spider crabs, small claw otters, sea jellies and clown fish. – Khaleej Times – Read more:§ion=nationgeneral


Mall of the World to put Dubai retail ‘20 years ahead’
posted on 22/07/2014

The mega-project that will include 100 hotels, wellness, cultural and theatre districts is the world's first temperature-controlled city capable of receiving 180 million visitors a year.
The shopping and retail industries of the U.A.E. are set to be 20 years ahead of the region with Dubai's launch of the Mall of the World in the run-up to Expo 2020, the CEO of a leading general trading company based in the U.A.E. says.
Midhat M. Abu Ghazaleh, chief executive officer of Abughazaleh Trading Company, a major wholesale distributor and manufacturer, said: "Dubai was 10 years ahead of other regional markets as far as shopping and retail are concerned. In 1996, the emirate set itself apart from the region with the launch of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which created a dramatic upswing in the U.A.E. retail sector. Now, with the announcement of Mall of the World, the scale and magnitude have been expanded, which will surely take Dubai 20 years ahead of the regional market.”
He added: "This new mega-project that will include 100 hotels, wellness, cultural and theatre districts is the world's first temperature-controlled city capable of receiving 180 million visitors a year. This speaks volumes for the vision of Dubai and no risk management expert will advise international retail brands against setting up presence in the emirate as Dubai government is investing heavily to take the shopping and retail sector to a totally new level.”
The emirate's investment drive into the shopping industry has been relentless since Al Ghurair Centre was launched in Deira many years ago, to be followed by bigger and better world-class malls over the years.
He added: "With the current portfolio of malls and brands setting up presence here, Dubai was always ahead of the market. Now it has even moved up further and set a higher benchmark for others in the region.” – Khaleej Times – Read more:§ion=uaebusiness

Dubai Canal ‘will bring economic prosperity and well-being to the city'
Billboard posters have appeared by the side of Sheikh Zayed Road, thrilling motorists with a glimpse of what the creek extension will look like when it crosses Dubai. – The National – Read more:


Abu Dhabi to add 778,000sqm of retail space over three years
posted on 20/07/2014

Abu Dhabi will add 778,000sqm of retail space over the next three years, which represents eight per cent of the total new shopping space (9.8 million sqm) opened in 2013 in 180 cities globally.
The figures were revealed by Bassam Saleh, marketing manager, Bawadi Mall, the five-year old hugest shopping mall in Al Ain, based on a global study conducted by property adviser CBRE.
The study also says that a total of 39 million sqm of shopping centre retail space is currently under construction in the world's biggest cities, with Abu Dhabi having more retail space under development than anywhere in the Gulf.
Saleh says: "It does not come as a surprise to many that Abu Dhabi has the largest retail space under development in the GCC, because the capital of the U.A.E. has been taking firm steps in becoming a world class city. Malls in the emirate have standards that are on par with leading shopping destinations in the world, such as Paris, London and New York. Visitors feel they are in a five-star shopping arcade, in terms of services, ambience, promotions, outreach programmes and staff in stores and management.”
"Bawadi Mall has adopted the ‘edutainment' concept that has converted the shopping service into an experience enjoyed by all members of the family,” said Saleh.
He added: "We adopt global best practices to make the visitors welcome and comfortable. One of the main reasons for the stupendous success of our approach is that we consider the visitor a tourist rather than a customer coming to shop. We greet them with entertainment and social activities that address the diversity of cultures living in the U.A.E..”
Saleh added that Abu Dhabi in general and Al Ain in particular offers superior shopping ambience, driven by strong collaboration between mall management, tenants representing international, regional and local brands as well as visitors who remain the central part of any shopping experience.
He said: "These visitors with high purchasing power, a strong shopping culture and appreciation of classy brands are energising the shopping industry, as supply keeps pace with the huge demand, translating into high footfall.”
Bawadi Mall has a strong line-up of entertainment activities for the remaining of 2014. Moreover, the ideal shopping environment provided by the mall and the numerous promotions offered at all retail outlets including fashion, hospitality and entertainment are reinforcing the mall's position on the regional map of shopping malls as Al Ain city's footprint on the region's tourism map is getting bigger.
In addition, Bawadi Mall hosts several educational, health, social, and art shows organised by government and private entities in Al Ain city. "These events, held largely during peak periods, are widely welcomed by visitors and tourists alike,” added Saleh.
Bawadi Mall has 400 food and beverage, fashion, entertainment outlets, and it is one of the leading destinations for U.A.E. residents and tourists. – Khaleej Times – Read more:§ion=uaebusiness


Aldar brings global brands House of Fraser, Hamleys and Joe Fresh to Yas Mall
posted on 17/07/2014

Aldar Properties PJSC ("Aldar" or "the Company" ADX: ALDAR), Abu Dhabi's leading listed property development, investment and management company, yesterday announced a new partnership agreement with Retail Arabia, a leading regional retail franchise owner for Yas Mall. The partnership includes a new concept House of Fraser department store spanning 110,000 square feet, the first Hamleys - the oldest and largest toy shop in the world - store in Abu Dhabi, as well as the first Joe Fresh - the international fashion brand - store in the UAE.
Mohammed Al Mubarak, Aldar's Chief Executive Officer commented: "We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Retail Arabia as we continue to bring unique retail experiences to Yas Island and the wider Abu Dhabi retail landscape. We are particularly pleased to see House of Fraser's continued expansion in the UAE and to be the first to market in Abu Dhabi with Hamleys and Joe Fresh demonstrates our commitment to creating the best and most unique shopping experiences for our customers." Nabil Daud, CEO, Retail Arabia International said: "This is a very exciting moment for Retail Arabia and we are delighted to partner with Aldar on what we see as one of the region's most exciting retail projects for some time. The House of Fraser at Yas Mall will give customers a new shopping experience as we roll out our new exciting concept and will be home to a range of international brands launching for the first time in the UAE. The first Hamleys and Joe Fresh stores in Abu Dhabi will also make a big contribution to the existing strong retail mix at Yas Mall." Yas Mall will open with an exciting range of leading international and regional retail and F&B brands, a 20 screen state of the art cinema operated by VOX Cinemas and a family entertainment zone by Funworks. With the completion of Yas Mall, Aldar will become the largest owner and manager of retail space in Abu Dhabi.
Another major department store signing is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Explore a new world with the UAE’s first underwater safari
posted on 17/07/2014

Looking for an adventure this summer? You won't need to look too far as Abu Dhabi has launched an underwater snorkelling safari tour – a first in the UAE.
And no, you don't have to be a professional diver to do it.
The four-hour safari tour involves snorkelling in two different locations of Yas beach on Yas Island and a walking tour that promises some unique marine animal sightings along the way.
"Our under-water journey begins and ends at Yas Island. At first we go out in power boats to the Ooid shoals on Yas beach. Ooid shoals are nothing but a result of tidal waters rolling up sand on the shallow beds of the Arabian Gulf. The salinity of the water and its warm temperature roll up the sand into spherical walls making them look rather unique,” explained Mark Freeman, owner and managing partner of Noukhada Adventure Company that launched this tour in June.
Found mostly in shallow tropical seas like the in Bahamas, the ooids are a rare occurrence in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf. "When it is low tide – one gets a better glimpse of the Ooid shoals as they are more exposed. Marine adventurers and geologists are very excited to find them on our tours,” said Freeman.
The snorkelling safari also involves walking around the shoals to catch a glimpse of marine animals. "During low tide, some exotic marine animals show up on the shallow side of the water, waiting for a strong tide to wash them off to sea. On one of our trips, we found moon snail nest eggs and cattle fish swimming up here. As people wade into the water, they also get to see coral reefs.
"Assuming the wind is not too strong, we get back into the boat and head off to the north part of the Sadiyat Island – Ra's Al Ghurab. Here again, depending on whether people are comfortable in deep or shallow water, we do some more snorkelling in select routes around coral reefs. We take ample care while snorkelling to not knock off any coral heads,” said Freeman.
According to Freeman, best times to snorkel are in the mornings when the tide is low. "We have a daily time-table of the tides on Yas beach. Those booking for an underwater tour can check this before fixing the time with us.”
The tour costs Dh300 per person. People are advised to bring their own food and water for the trip. – Gulf News – Read more:


More beaches hope to fly the Blue Flag in U.A.E.
posted on 16/07/2014

This year, the U.A.E. is aiming to almost double the number of its beaches and marinas that have won the Blue Flag, a voluntary eco-label certifying they are safe and healthy.
Currently 18 beaches and six marinas in the U.A.E. have the Blue Flag certification out of 83 private beaches, 33 public beaches and 24 marinas.
It aims to add another 20 beaches and marinas after a review process in August.
"(It) would be our ultimate aim to see all U.A.E. beaches flying the blue flag,” said Moaz Sawaf, conservation and education project manager at Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, the organisation representing the Copenhagen-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education that owns and runs the Blue Flag Programme.
"We are now in the third year of the project (and) it's been very widely accepted,” Sawaf added. "We've had huge support by the municipalities. They're working on turning all their public beaches to Blue Flag.”
There are 32 criteria to achieve the Blue Flag certification. These are predominantly built on four pillars: Environmental education, water quality, environmental management, and health and safety.
"The Blue Flag label basically shows the commitment of the beach to health, safety and the environment,” Sawaf said. "This is about the water quality — clean bathrooms, waste bins, rubbish segregation, lifeguards, first aid, all of those should be in place.”
Also, each year the beach has to hold five environmental management activities, either for the public, schools, or a group of people.
The water quality is tested on a monthly basis. If it does not meet international standards, the beach is closed until the problem is rectified. Sawaf said this happened to the Abu Dhabi Corniche Beach in 2011 when it was shut for several days over oil pollution concerns.
Most of the 18 Blue Flag beaches are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the municipalities got on board enthusiastically. This year, beaches from Fujairah, Sharjah and Ajman are also hoping to make their mark.
The campaign is a good fit with the direction the U.A.E. is following, as its goals are sustainability, environmentalism and a green economy, Sawaf said.
The U.A.E. is probably one of the fastest adopting countries right now. "It's among the top five in the Blue Flag,” he said.
The Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF is receiving applications for new beaches and marinas for the international application review which will take place at the Blue Flag headquarters in August. – Khaleej Times – Read more:§ion=nationgeneral



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