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INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT - SHOPPING, LEISURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES

UAE's Global Village in Dubai receives prestigious TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
posted on 08/06/2015

Global Village, Dubai's leading family and cultural entertainment destination, has received the prestigious Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site.
The award follows the park receiving positive reviews that are consistently rated a minimum of 4 out of 5 by millions of monthly visitors on the TripAdvisor website, the world's largest travel review site. TripAdvisor has 340 million unique monthly visitors and has reviews of more than 4.9 million attractions and restaurants.
Global Village is one of Dubai's major seasonal events with a large number of families from the UAE, other GCC countries, and further abroad, visiting over its 5 month season.
The 20th season of Global Village will begin on 3 November, 2015 until 9 April, 2016.
Products are available from over 70 countries around the world, and with cultural shows taking place at every pavilion; guests can see what dances and music set each country apart.
Guests have 25 dining experiences to choose from all over the world, as well as 150 kiosks with snacks and beverages to try.
The Heritage Village has its own area in Global Village to showcase the amazing culture and heritage of the UAE, by educating visitors as to how people lived in the UAE many years ago. The Heritage Village shows how Emiratis' houses would have been like and how they lived in the desert.
In line with Dubai's vision for 2021, and in the run up to Expo 2020, Global Village is committed to bringing local residents and guests in the UAE high quality family entertainment and as well as interact with cultures from all over the world. Global Village has worked consistently to making Dubai a fantastic family destination for tourists and local residents.
Ahmad Hussain, Chief Operating Officer at Global Village, said, "We are very proud to have been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor and believe there is no greater testament than the support and validation of our customers and visitors, who have consistently voted and reviewed us as one the best in the world.
"Global Village will continue to strive towards the commitment of the nation's 2021 vision of creative innovation as well as to provide the best in entertainment and excellence in customer experience." The immensely popular family destination that has 70 countries represented across 31 pavilions at Global Village is a true reflection of the cultural diversity in Dubai and has witnessed a 15% growth in visitor numbers year on year since its inception nearly 20 years ago.
TripAdvisor is a travel website company that provides people with a platform to rate and review destinations they have visited. The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is awarded to properties and attractions that consistently receive outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor from people who have visited the destination. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395281607560.html

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Yas Mall wins 'Best International Shopping Centre'
posted on 05/06/2015

Yas Mall has won the 'Best International Shopping Centre' at the tenth anniversary of The Global RLI Awards 2015, hosted at Meydan Gallery by magazine Retail & Leisure International.
Judged on the mall's exemplary customer care; diverse offering in fashion, F&B and entertainment; mall layout and ease of navigation; maintenance and cleanliness; the UAE's newest retail destination beat off stiff competition from other malls in the country and internationally in China and Turkey.
Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Development Officer at ALDAR Properties PJSC, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have won this high calibre, international award beating a short list of impressive competitors. It is testament to the hard work of the whole Yas Mall team and all of our retailers. This recognises the very high standards that have been achieved by everyone in our first year of opening." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395281490140.html

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UAE retains top 10 retail spot for emerging markets
posted on 04/06/2015

The UAE retained a Top 10 ranking among retail destinations within the emerging markets universe, in the latest A.T. Kearney Global findings. This is the eighth straight year the UAE gets to do so, though there is a slippage from last year's fourth position.
UAE retail sales were up 6 per cent to US$70.9 million last year, in A.T. Kearney's projections. During the same period, there was a 7 per cent increase in retail capacity to 1.6 million metres. And more are on the way.
On a compounded basis, retail sector volumes gained 5.3 per cent on a compounded annual basis between 2010-14.
Clearly, the decline in Russian and other tourist arrivals will not put a brake on the pace of new developments as mall owners and retail chain owners look to the future rather than the now.
"The UAE is exhibiting a pattern typical of most retail hubs … the UAE's economic strength has allowed it to attract the biggest retail brands in the world, introducing them to further lucrative markets in the rest of the GCC and beyond,” said Shamail Siddiqi, Principal of the Consumer and Retail Practice, A.T. Kearney Middle East.
And who will the new developments attract? Luxury brands will continue to steam in as well all manner of F&B concepts, according to the report.
‘Although the market is near saturation, Dubai is cementing its position as the Middle East's retail hub,' the report notes. ‘The city's grandiose retail development has an increasing focus on the luxury segment.'
‘Despite the record drop in oil prices, retail sales growth is expected to continue. Indeed, the retail space pipeline remains strong, with several major projects underway in Qatar, the UAE, and Oman.
‘Kuwait has felt the impact disproportionately, due to its high reliance on oil and relative lack of diversification.'
A.T. Kearney bases its ‘Global Retail Development Index' on several parameters, including a particular market's attractiveness for retailers, the element of country risk involved, level of saturation the retail sector has attained, and the time pressure related to entry, among others. Each parameter is then assigned a certain ranking to come up with the final ranking.
China, Uruguay and Chile took the top three positions. Among Gulf states, Qatar entered the Top 10 for the first time, placing fourth, while Saudi Arabia was on 17th.
‘Luxury remains a bright spot in emerging markets, as the wealthy have proven less vulnerable to economic woes than the general population,' the report states. ‘Mall developers have taken advantage of increased consumer spending and mobility.' – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/retail/uae-retains-top-10-retail-spot-for-emerging-markets-1.1529523

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Seven Emirates Investment welcomes ‘7-Eleven’ store chain to the region in co-operation with DED
posted on 03/06/2015

Dubai's reputation as a magnet for multinationals and international investors will get another strong endorsement this year with the 7-Eleven global franchise opening its first store in the city in September 2015.
Khamis Al Sabousi, President of Seven Emirates Investment, and Omar Bushahab, Chief Executive Officer of Business Registration and Licensing, BRL, sector in DED held a press conference to announce the arrival of the international convenience store chain.
Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED, and representatives from 7-Eleven stores in Japan and USA as well as strategic partners in the business, attended the event.
Bushahab commented, " We are delighted to see Seven Emirates Investment taking off with the opening of the first 7-Eleven store set for September 2015. It's a critical step forward for Seven Emirates Investment, which also underlines the ease of doing business in Dubai and its successful economic policy on one hand and the confidence international companies have in the emirate on the other hand."
The Seven Emirates Investment President said that bringing a leading retailer like 7-Eleven to the region is part of his company's efforts to develop existing supply chains, provide innovative nutritional solutions, and encourage young people to explore franchising as a business model by also providing the support and training required. "Franchising promotes growth of private businesses and helps ambitious youngsters achieve their goals, while ensuring their participation in the development of the retail sector."
"Dubai attracts millions of tourists to its shopping and entertainment facilities annually, and has been rated the second leading shopping destination globally for the fourth year in a row. Likewise, Abu Dhabi stood third among top markets targeted by international brands and new entrants in 2014. Dubai also occupies first place worldwide in the co-existence of nationalities, with people of over 200 nationalities living in the city. We will see that our stores keep up to the standard of development as well as the blend of cultures and nationalities in the UAE, and that the consumer finds all his daily requirements in 7-Eleven stores," said Al Sabousi. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281397086.html

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Al Maryah Central: Glitzy mega mall in the making in Abu Dhabi
posted on 02/06/2015

The developer of Al Maryah Central — the glitzy mall in the making in Abu Dhabi — dispensed with the guessing game when it came to their anchor tenants... or at least two of them.
Right at the outset of the project, it was announced that the signature US department stores, Macy's and Bloomingdale's, will be in residence when the mall opens in the first quarter of 2018.
This was quite unlike the typical mega-mall developments in the UAE (and even across the Gulf) where anchor tenant details are released well into the development programme, and, in some instances, even closer to completion.
For Gulf Related, at the helm of Al Maryah Central (the first phase itself is expected to cost $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion)), there were multiple benefits from naming Macy's and Bloomingdale's right out.
The two stores — both being introduced to Abu Dhabi for the first time — will each take up 200,000 square feet from the overall mall's 1.7 million square feet.
"It was important that we signed agreements with two of the US' most prominent department stores... We see them as partners in helping make this project a success,” said Kevin Ryan, Managing Director of Development at Gulf Related. "We are in the process of finalising deals with other key fashion anchors as well as cinema, food market, and family entertainment operators.
"Al Maryah Central is a true fashion centre — it is not a typical hypermarket-anchored design. There will be a mix of new brands as well as brands consumers in Abu Dhabi know well, ensuring there is something for everyone. We are working with all the key brands now. However, we are keeping space available for some who are not yet in the region.”
These arrivals are what will ensure Abu Dhabi retains its standing as the place global retailers need to be. In the last two years, the city's various shopping destinations — Yas Mall, the retail component at Abu Dhabi World Trade Centre Etihad Towers, and The Galleria — have created the capacity to make it happen. Al Maryah Central mall keeps that process an on-going one.
"Together, the Al Maryah Central mall and The Galleria create a retail district of over 2 million leasable square feet,” said Ryan. "In total, we will have around 400 stores and 145 F&B outlets.” (The Galleria has a further 115 stores and 25 F&B concepts.)
Al Maryah Central will be linked at several locations to its neighbour, Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, which includes The Galleria. Ryan says there will be perfect symmetry between the retail clusters.
"Gulf Related clearly envisions our consumers, whether shopping or dining, will visit both on the same visit,” Ryan said. "Al Maryah Central also provides a unique opportunity is part of Abu Dhabi Global Market and therefore part of the soon-to-be implemented free zone. All of our leasing programme has taken Abu Dhabi Global Market and the anticipated growth in customers into consideration.
"The Galleria will continue to offer luxury retailers and complementary upscale brands, as well as a wide range of casual dining, cafes and destination waterfront restaurants.
"A major point of difference at Al Maryah Central will be the family entertainment offerings — currently not available in Abu Dhabi. "Adding to this, we are designing an outdoor component with three roof-top parks featuring numerous attractions and gathering spaces that provide for a range of activities, film screenings and themed events.
"Al Maryah Central will be a really great place to live, work and play and a This centre will be a game-changer for Abu Dhabi — and the UAE — in terms of customer journey, product offer and convenience. Al Maryah Central will be central — physically and emotionally.” – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/retail/al-maryah-central-glitzy-mega-mall-in-the-making-in-abu-dhabi-1.1527885

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Nakheel out to make a ‘Pointe’ with Dh800m project
posted on 27/05/2015

Completion of The Pointe, a project located on the Palm Jumeirah that could well become Dubai's priciest waterfront-based dining and entertainment strip, is set for the first quarter of 2016, according to Nakheel, its developer.
Construction has already crossed the 30 per cent mark while on the leasing side, more than 100 outlets out of the 145 available have been taken up.
The 1.2km project, which is located right on the tip of the island and across the bay from the Atlantis, is expected to cost Dh800 million.
The Pointe could attract between 40,000 to 50,000 visitors a day in its first full year of operations, according to a senior Nakheel official. Of this, 60 per cent could comprise tourists staying at hotels on the Palm.
Of late, water-side leisure locations such as The Beach (from Meraas) and The Walk have been visitor magnets, while Dubai Parks & Resorts is building a themed area around the water as part of its Riverland attraction.
Palm premium
"Anything on the Palm comes attached with a premium — the same will be the case for The Pointe,” said Omar Khoory, director of retail at Nakheel.
He, however, declined to get into the specifics of the lease rate band.
"As for the individual F&B concepts, they can offer anything from a burger to fine dining,” Khoory said.
"With all the tourist traffic we are projecting to this destination, we could not limit the Pointe to being an all-exclusive destination.”
The bigger format outlets would be around 10,000 square feet, one of which will be used by Nakheel's hospitality division for its own F&B concept. The first fit-outs could start from the third quarter of this year.
Across the island, the retail and hospitality components are being topped up. First up — in August — will be the launch of the retail component of the Golden Mile, which Nakheel acquired from IFA. Khoory confirmed that all of the earlier lease commitments entered into by the IFA would be honoured.
Nakheel Mall
In the development pipeline is Nakheel Mall, a Dh1 billion-plus project occupying a prime location on the destination. The mall, scheduled for opening in 2017 and currently 55 per cent leased, could take in anywhere up to 70,000 visitors a day. The Palm currently has a 35,000 resident base.
"My estimate is that 20 per cent or so of the brands represented will be making their debut in Dubai at Nakheel Mall,” Khoory said. "Again, lease rates at the Mall would carry the ‘Palm premium' — that's a given because of the sheer numbers of visitors that the Palm attracts, and will [continue to] do so in future.”
Nakheel is also building the 52-storey Palm Tower, 18 floors of which have been set aside for a hotel and the rest for residences, adjacent to the mall. However, no decision has been made on who will manage the hotel.
"There are no more plots on the Palm for hotel projects... all 32 have been acquired by investors,” Khoory said.
Currently, nine of these are fully functional properties, of which the Atlantis recently confirmed an expansion which would add 800 hotel rooms and 200-plus freehold residences in a separate structure. Another seven hotel projects are in various stages of the construction cycle.
There are more than 4,000 hotel rooms available on the Palm. – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/business/property/nakheel-out-to-make-a-pointe-with-dh800m-project-1.1522210

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Dubai ranked world's second hottest shopping magnet – again
posted on 19/05/2015

Dubai has retained its position as the world's second most important international shopping destination for the fourth consecutive year, closely behind London, according to the 2015 edition of the CBRE report: ‘How Global is the Business of Retail?'.
According to the latest edition of the report by the leading global property advisor, Dubai has a presence of 55.7 per cent of international retailers. Last year saw new international retail brands enter the Dubai market almost on a weekly basis, with 45 global brands entering the emirate's already bustling retail mix.
Some of the high profile retailers that entered the Dubai market in 2014 included Hollister, Cavalli Caffe and McQ Alexander McQueen opening outlets in the emirate.
The findings of the report confirm that despite a drop in global oil prices, Dubai's retail sector – one of its primary economic growth engines – has continued to dominate the global rankings thanks to the emirate's competitive shopping offerings for its residents and tourists alike.
"Dubai's retail sector has remained resilient over the past few years, with major retail centres recording occupancies of over 95 per cent and rising footfall figures,” the CBRE report states.
The report highlights the factors that continue to propel Dubai among the very top in the global retail standing.
"Dubai's success has been driven in part by the overall quality of its developed infrastructure, and a combination of factors ranging from the ease of travel, visa availability, air flight connections and hotel quality,” it notes.
"Dubai Chamber welcomes news that the city has retained its position as the second most important international shopping destination globally for the fourth consecutive year. Dubai's retail sector is vibrant and continues to be driven by strong economic growth, increased consumer spending and tourist arrivals, which hit a record high of 13.2 million last year,” said Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
"Dubai provides a wide range of opportunities for foreign retailers and brands, whether that is individual stores or franchise options. The quality of available retail space is an added incentive for global retailers looking for expansion and key projects, such as Mall of the World promise a healthy future outlook. Dubai Chamber supports the retail sector through various initiatives and activities and as the voice of the business community we will continue to facilitate growth and developments in this important sector,” Buamim added.
"Middle East shows no signs of abating with focus on Abu Dhabi and Dubai. With some of the biggest shopping malls on the planet, the environment for expansion in the Middle East remains attractive with well-established franchise partners and templates for how to proceed being in place,” the report says, suggesting that growth will continue.
Retailer globalisation remained a key theme with half of the 164 cities surveyed attracting at least five new retailers. Markedly, Abu Dhabi featured prominently on the list of target cities with 55 new brands, ranking the emirate in third place for new retail entrants during 2014. Tokyo took the coveted top spot with 63 new retailers entering the market followed by Singapore.
International retailers continue to flock to Dubai as customers – both residents and tourists - see value in Dubai's shopping, which is among the cheapest in the world. "Sustained consumer demand from both the local population and visitors from across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and beyond has been instrumental in the growth of the retail sector,” the report confirms.
Overall, the report highlights that even as Dubai has retained the Number 2 spot as a magnet for international retailers for four consecutive years, this year is going to be even better with more international brands making a beeline to add to the emirate's retail offerings.
"The rise in tourist numbers along with the planned festive activities for 2015 will see another strong year for the retail sector. With strong fundamentals, the sector is expected to see further growth with the addition of new retail brands waiting to enter the market,” it states.
Globally, only London (57.9 per cent global retailers present in the city) is ranked above Dubai (55.7 per cent global retailer presence), with the other, more established cities following the emirate in terms of international retailer presence. Shanghai (53.4 per cent) and New York (46.3 per cent) are next in line, with jointly ranked Singapore and Moscow (46 per cent each) making up the rest of the top five international cities for retail representation.
These cities are followed by Hong Kong (44.7 per cent), Paris (44 per cent), Tokyo (43.4 per cent) and Beijing (41.7 per cent) make up the remaining Top 10.
The traditional retail triumvirate of London, Paris and New York continue to be challenged and in some cases overtaken by cities from Asia Pacific and the Middle East, the report notes, adding that this trend is likely to continue and there will be a day when we see a new number one atop the overall retail penetration rankings.
"The growth of Dubai's tourism sector over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal as visitor numbers have increased exponentially from around 5.4 million in 2004 to over 11.6 million in 2014,” it states.
"The role of the retail market has been pivotal in this success with the Emirates becoming synonymous with high-end retailing, offering unrivalled exposure to luxury products and placed second only to London in overall brand coverage globally,” the report notes.
"Dubai's global air connectivity and its growing stature as a hub for trade between the East and West has clearly given an added impetus to the retail sector. Dubai continues to remain the clear destination of choice for the majority of the brands looking to enter the region for the first time, frequently using the emirate as a stepping stone to wider regional expansion programs,” said Nick Maclean, Managing Director, CBRE Middle East.
"Whilst Dubai has maintained its position for overall retail representation in 2014, the increased number of new retailer brands entering Abu Dhabi has been driven in part by a significant increase in supply in the capital amidst the opening of a number of new malls, most notably Yas Mall which opened in November 2014,” added Maclean.
Mid-range fashion retailers remained the most active sector globally and focused on targeting the European market. Whilst luxury and business fashion retailers continue to target the Americas and Asia Pacific region with 26 per cent of expansion into the Americas and 24 per cent in Asia, coming from this sector. Luxury retailers contributed more than one-fifth of new retail entrants to Asia Pacific last year.
"Dubai's economic growth remains strong and it retains its position as a leading leisure and shopping destination in the world. The UAE retail sector will continue to see strong growth in 2015, driven by robust inbound tourist numbers and demand for new brands in the region, with almost all retailers using the UAE as a hub for their entry into the GCC. In addition, the UAE's free-market economy, which makes it easy to do business in the country, will be a key driver of this growth,” said Ahmed Galal Ismail, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Ventures.
Majid Al Futtaim owns and operates 17 shopping malls, 11 hotels and three mixed-use communities in the region. Its malls portfolio includes Mall of the Emirates and City Centre malls.
"We have witnessed high growth last year, and with our regional expansion plans, we remain committed to growing this further,” said Ismail. – Emirates 24/7 - http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/dubai-ranked-world-s-second-hottest-shopping-magnet-again-2015-05-19-1.591115

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Al Maryah Central Development receives UPCA approval for Phase 1 Retail
posted on 01/05/2015

Al Maryah Central Development, the $1.5 billion mixed-use development by Gulf Related, has yesterday been granted Detailed Project Approval from the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) for the Phase 1 retail component of the development.
Phase 1 of Al Maryah Central, the 3.1 million square foot mixed-use development will deliver a 2.3 million square foot shopping centre in Q1 2018 which comprises of 400 stores, 90 food and beverage outlets, a 20-screen cinema, a medical centre, a crèche, health-club, a public library, food market and will be fully connected to existing and future transport links.
The development will also deliver three rooftop parks atop the mall. Further phases will deliver two 400,000 square foot integrated towers set for completion by 2019; one with a hotel and serviced apartments and the other with luxury residences.
Kenneth A. Himmel, President and CEO of Related Urban and Co-Managing Partner of Gulf Related said, "Detailed Project Approval from the UPC for Phase 1 is yet another crucial milestone for Al Maryah Central, Gulf Related, our investors, retailers and the residents of Abu Dhabi, allowing us to meet our Q1 2018 opening date. This development will create an urban retail, leisure and entertainment destination on Al Maryah Island that will serve the rapidly growing customer base on Al Maryah Island as well as catering to the wider needs of Abu Dhabi city. We are well placed to deliver against our schedule, with construction having commenced at the end of last year, and are rapidly progressing with our finance and leasing commitments, on which we expect to make further announcements in the coming months."
Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital and Co-Managing Partner of Gulf Related said, "This milestone highlights our commitment to bringing high-quality, world class retail to Abu Dhabi, making Al Maryah Island a destination for residents and visitors near and far. Abu Dhabi is growing quickly, its economy is diversifying and expanding rapidly. We look forward to being part of that growth and helping Abu Dhabi reach its Vision 2030." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395279970587.html

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Dragon City to boost UAE, China trade ties
posted on 10/04/2015

Nakheel's newly-announced, 11 million sq.ft Dragon City project in Dubai will play a key role in further boosting trade links between the UAE and China, according to Chang Hua, the People's Republic of China‘s Ambassador to the UAE.
Hua's comments came during a visit to Nakheel's Dubai headquarters, where large-scale models of Dragon City and other new Nakheel projects are on display. The projects were endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, last week.
Nakheel chief executive officer Sanjay Manchanda, said: "Dragon City will build on the phenomenal success of Dragon Mart. We are creating a vast, mixed-use community that will open up more opportunities for trade between the UAE and China, and provide new facilities for Dubai's residents and visitors, including the growing Chinese population here.” Dragon Mart — already the largest Chinese trading hub outside mainland China — is to undergo a 6.5 million sq.ft. extension with retail and residential components. The expansion includes a 2.2 million sq.ft. retail complex with nearly 1.3 million sq.ft. of leasable space; a two-tower residential component with 1,120 one and two bedroom apartments; and a 250-room hotel. This new expansion project complements the existing, 2.95 million sq. ft. Dragon Mart extension which includes a mall, car park and hotel. Dragon City will eventually span 11 million sq. ft. – Khaleej Times - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/biz/inside.asp?section=uaebusiness&xfile=/data/uaebusiness/2015/April/uaebusiness_April101.xml

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Dubai to host First Shopper Smart Living Show
posted on 29/03/2015

With the global household appliance industry expected to reach an estimated value of US$324.2 billion by 2019 , the launch of Shopper Smart Living is on track to meet the growing regional demand for white goods, home appliances and smart home tech being driven by increases in urbanisation and per capita income, as well as continuously evolving design trends.
Co-located with GITEX Shopper Spring at Dubai World Trade Centre and also running from 1 – 4 April 2015, Shopper Smart Living will showcase the best in home appliances, large domestic appliances, high end consumer electronics, studio kitchens, lifestyle appliances, home automation technology, lighting, security systems and energy conservation systems.
"We are delighted to launch Shopper Smart Living and extend our value offering to smart home tech and the latest in home appliances. Now shoppers can update their personal tech and home products at the same time, enjoy exclusive show offers as well as take advantage of exciting competitions and an unrivalled shopping experience" said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, DWTC, organiser of GITEX Shopper Spring.
A number of big name brands and retailers will be present at the show's debut, including ALDRO for home and kitchen appliances, Emax Electronics, General Enterprises Company (GECO), Jacky's Electronics, Makook Smart Living, Moonway Group, Mega Electronics, Samsung Gulf Electronics, Sharaf DG and VRR Trading, bringing the latest in eco-friendly advances, home customisation and appliance trends to create the ideal home environment. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395278574320.html

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Fly the world’s largest aircraft at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall
posted on 16/02/2015

If you travel the world on business, you might sometimes wonder what it's like to fly the plane yourself.
Well, for those who fantasise about handling the controls of an Airbus 380, iPilot, Abu Dhabi's first flight simulator, is a safe as well as cost and time-effective way of gaining access to the cockpit of the world's largest aircraft.
For Dh999, you can have an hour's flight with a trained pilot instructor. When I took the controls, iPilot's Mena director Alastair Orr was my co-pilot. He tells me flying the Airbus is similar to driving a real bus. "I don't want to undermine pilots, I know they hate that analogy. It's a lot more fun than driving a bus,” he adds.
Mastering a real Airbus would take two years, so iPilot cram in the most fun and important aspects of flying.
My co-pilot tells me I can fly anywhere but he can't find the ICAO code we need for Iceland's airport, so I opt for London Heathrow instead. You can choose daytime or night-time settings and the weather you prefer to fly through. I play it safe with sunshine, and my co-pilot loads the scenery using an iPad mini.
For take-off I'm told speed is of the essence, so I go maximum thrust and focus my sights on the end of the runway. The control rudders steer the tail fin on the ground, and the side stick steers the aircraft in the air. It's all easier than I'd expected – making it hard to understand why pilots get paid so much. Now I'm able to relax and enjoy the view of London landmarks such as Canary Wharf and the Shard.
"The most popular destination is Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong, even though it's closed now”, says Mr Orr. "It was one of the hardest approaches in the world, which is why it's still so popular.”
But however challenging you make your flight experience, you aren't allowed to crash – the plane will simply bounce back on screen if you try. "We take this experience very seriously. We don't allow any crazy things,” says Mr Orr.
There isn't the hydraulic platform that I'm told you'd get on flight training centre simulators, so you don't get such a strong sensation of movement. But the screens are set to almost 180 degrees for an authentic panoramic view making my bumpy landing feel very real.
Q&A
German entrepreneur Wolfram Schleuter, iPilot's chief executive, explains more about the experience:
How was the idea for iPilot born?
I received a gift voucher for my birthday from relatives for a flight simulator experience. I liked it very much, but it was designed for the pilots themselves to train on, so you had to pay a premium for it. I thought this would be really successful if we could make it about 60 per cent cheaper. With iPilot, you only pay Dh999 for an hour's flight with a trained pilot instructor.
Can people also use it to conquer a fear of flying?
Absolutely. Often, fear of flying is fear of the unknown. We show people how safely the aircraft can fly, even when the engine stops. And flying through fog is actually easily handled. People use their fear in an almost playful way. We don't see it as a psychology session, but as a way to actually show people, hands on, how to be in control of an aircraft.
Why did you choose the Airbus 380 for Abu Dhabi's first iPilot store in Yas Mall?
This is the aircraft that Etihad has just started using, so the real Airbus 380 is now flying to and from Abu Dhabi. I think this will give us a big push. We also use the Airbus 380 in Mirdiff City Centre in Dubai and a Boeing 737 simulator in Dubai Mall.
What are your future plans?
We have seven stores in Europe and three in the UAE, and we're looking to open stores in another 10 locations in the next two years. - The National - http://www.thenational.ae/business/the-life/fly-the-worlds-largest-aircraft-at-abu-dhabis-yas-mall

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Yas Mall boosts revenues for Abu Dhabi’s Aldar in fourth quarter
posted on 14/02/2015

Full-year profits at Abu Dhabi's largest listed property developer, Aldar Properties, fell slightly last year even as the company handed over more than 7,000 new homes, launched new projects and opened Yas Mall.
Aldar reported yesterday that profits for 2014 attributable to owners of the company slipped by 0.4 per cent to Dh2.23 billion from Dh2.24bn in 2013. Aldar put the dip down to the recognition of high margin land plot sales in 2013 compared to 2014. The sales relate to the transfer of assets to the Abu Dhabi government.
Revenues for the year increased 21 per cent to Dh6.55bn in 2014 from Dh5.38bn the previous year.
For the final quarter of the year, Aldar reported that it had made a net profit of Dh718 million, up from Dh406m the same period the previous year.
Recurring revenues in the three-month period increased 19 per cent to Dh701m from Dh591m a year earlier after it opened the 235,000 square metre Yas Mall in November.
Revenues in the quarter also increased on the back of the handover of units at Gate Towers on Reem Island.
"2014 has been an exceptional year for Aldar. We have executed successfully against a clear strategy and delivered on our promises of strengthening our balance sheet, monetising our land bank and growing our recurring revenues, thereby improving the quality of our earnings,” said Mohammed Al Mubarak, the Aldar chief executive.
"We have a development plan with the potential to launch 7,300 units across our existing destinations over the next four to five years.”
Aldar announced a dividend of 9 fils per share – up 29 per cent on the previous year. – The National - http://www.thenational.ae/business/property/yas-mall-boosts-revenues-for-abu-dhabis-aldar-in-fourth-quarter

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Dubai Mall is ‘the centre of world retail’ welcoming record 80 million visitors in 2014
posted on 11/02/2015

Surpassing annual footfall figures achieved by the world's most popular tourist destinations and key international airports, The Dubai Mall is once again the ‘world's most-visited lifestyle destination' welcoming over 80 million visitors in 2014.
For the fourth consecutive year, the flagship mall asset of Emaar Malls (DFM: EMAARMALLS) continues to appeal to global visitors and retail enthusiasts as a must-visit destination with its world class lifestyle, retail and entertainment offering.
Mohamad Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Malls, said, "This is another historic milestone for Dubai, with a record 80 million visitors to The Dubai Mall in 2014. No other global tourist destination or even airports, which traditionally have the highest footfall, achieved the significant visitor arrivals The Dubai Mall recorded.
"With wholesale and retail accounting for nearly 30 percent of Dubai's real GDP, The Dubai Mall continues to make a sterling contribution to our city's diversified economic growth, as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai." The visitor numbers recorded in the mall were higher than footfall figures provided in 2014 by Business Insider* with Times Square, New York City at 39.2 million; Niagara Falls at 22.5 million; Central Park New York at 37.5 million; Union Station, Washington DC at 32.85 million; Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom Orlando at 17.5 million and Eiffel Tower in Paris at 7 million, among others.
The contribution of The Dubai Mall to the city's retail sector is significant, and is estimated to account for about 5 percent of Dubai's GDP. Tenant sales recorded across the mall's 1,200 plus retail stores and 200 F&B outlets at the mall, cumulatively grew by 14 percent in 2014, with growth seen across categories including fashion, luxury jewellery, footwear, sports and recreation, health and beauty, entertainment and food.
The popularity of the mall as the must-visit destination was further highlighted by the strong social media engagement of The Dubai Mall from people around the world. One of the Top 10 geo-tagged locations globally on Instagram (@thedubaimall), the mall also has over 1.5 million fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheDubaiMall), the highest for any shopping mall destination in the world.
The Dubai Mall also leads in social engagement over Twitter (@TheDubaiMall) with over 250,000 followers. The Twitter feed of the mall has the most audience in the UAE, which is 80 percent more than the second most popular Twitter handle from the UAE. It is also the fastest growing profile in the country.
Nasser Rafi, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Malls, said: "We are proud to have welcomed 80 million visitors to The Dubai Mall, who enjoy our best in class retail, entertainment and leisure offers. We are committed to creating memorable experiences for our customers not only within the mall environment, but also to be engaging and connecting with people around the world on our social platforms.
"While we set records in visitor arrivals and social media engagement in 2014, we are now looking to take the mall experience to beyond the extraordinary with the expansion of our Fashion Avenue by adding another 1 million sq. ft. (built up area) and a further 150 high-end and luxury international brands. Our vision is to deliver an unmatched experience for our visitors." As a world leader in family-leisure and entertainment, The Dubai Mall's attractions also include SEGA Republic, the largest indoor theme park of its kind; KidZania , the dedicated children's city; Dubai Ice Rink, an Olympic sized ice rink; and the 22-screen Reel Cinemas that can seat over 2,800 people. The mall also serves as the gateway to At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY, the world's tallest observatory deck. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395276346910.html

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Al Qasba enthrals visitors with spectacular shows
posted on 10/02/2015

SHARJAH, 10th February, 2015 (WAM) -- Al Qasba internal and external facades are hosting a number of shows as part of the Sharjah Light Festival 2015. Al Qasba, a unique waterfront destination in the heart of the city of Sharjah, attracts hundreds of visitors every day.
‘A Time Travel at the Speed of Light', a 20-minute show on the Al Qasba external facade, presents the spectacular development of Sharjah as the Arab Tourism Capital. In the show, the sun rises on an enormous stretch of desert sand and breathtaking landscapes – the name Sharjah means ‘the rising sun'. A caravan appears on the horizon followed by wind blowing across the desert. The theme of Sharjah Arab Tourism capital appears throughout the show, which takes the viewers on a remarkable journey of picturesque scenes and dramatic sounds.
‘Circus of Light', a 10-minute show at Al Qasba internal facade, highlights a nomadic lifestyle and art in motion. The show, involving live circus performances, creates magic with 3D and 2D animations while the synchronised soundtrack adds to the festive atmosphere. Circus of Light is a truly family entertainment experience with plenty of surprises, a work that clearly celebrates light.
Another show in the internal facade, ‘Come to Play with Me', involves hand-drawn cartoon visuals of brightly coloured characters. In the show, children from the Arab world, dressed in their traditional clothes, are seen playing in an imaginary land of large plants and flowers accompanied by a whole cast of birds, animals and insects dancing with them. The show concludes with a scene in which the falcon and the lizard, two of the characters in the show, invite the children in the audience to play with them.
Al Qasba includes several leisure facilities, the most important of which is the Eye of the Emirates, a giant Ferris wheel. The location also features a range of trendy restaurants and cafes that offer flavours from all over the world. Al Qasba hosts a range of fun events throughout the year combining cultural and entertainment activities that highlight the Arab and Islamic heritage. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395276252874.html

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Boxpark transforms Al Wasl street into a classy urban locality
posted on 24/01/2015

Shop, dine, play and walk in the unique settings of containers lined up on a Dubai street in a new concept of a souq next door.
Boxpark, Dubai's latest shopping district, has transformed a 1.2km stretch of Al Wasl street into a cool urban locality.
Developed by Meraas Holding, Boxpark is a concept borrowed from several cosmopolitan cities, where 220 shipping containers are put together to form a unique architectural design with an eclectic mix of colours.
Set to open by the end of this month, the outdoor mall offers easy park and dine option with a line up of cafes and restaurants as well as great shopping experience with global brands in funky settings.
Organisers say that Boxpark will be a place to be for hangouts in the next few months, offering what people might look for in a much smaller and convenient scale than the malls can offer.
"I have been watching the development over the past year and I was wondering what is being done with all these containers. It is an interesting design and they seem to have done a good job. I am looking forward to checking out the shops as soon as they open,” said Khalid Omran, a resident of Al Wasl street, living right across the Boxpark.
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Another resident, who lives in Satwa and passes through Al Wasl street daily said he is also looking forward to checking out the new stores and cafes once they open.
"I love shopping and I hope they will have good deals at Boxpark. I walk through the area every day and it will nice to stop over every once in while and hang out a bit,” said Dany Camus from Philippines.
However, not all are convinced the concept will work in Dubai weather.
"It's a good idea and a great urban design. But outdoor concepts are never a sell-out in Dubai because of the weather, but, nevertheless it is an interesting new development,” said Hadi Mohammad, who also lives in the vicinity. – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/society/boxpark-transforms-al-wasl-street-into-a-classy-urban-locality-1.1445778

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Dubai Mall helps to lift Emaar Malls Group profit
posted on 22/01/2015

Emaar Malls Group, the retail unit of Emaar Properties, posted a 5 per cent increase in fourth-quarter net profit to Dh412 million last year from Dh394m, led by an increase in traffic to its flagship The Dubai Mall, the firm said.
For 2014, the Dubai-listed firm posted a 23 per cent increase in net profit to Dh1.35 billion from Dh1.1bn a year earlier. Revenue was up 13 per cent at Dh2.7bn compared with Dh2.4bn reached in 2013.
Revenue from The Dubai Mall accounted for 82 per cent of the total, which came in at Dh2.2bn, up by 12 per cent from 2013.
"The strong revenue growth recorded by Emaar Malls highlights Dubai's clear emergence as the world's premier shopping and leisure destination,” Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Malls and Emaar Properties, said in a statement.
"In addition to contributing about 5 per cent of Dubai's GDP through retail sales at The Dubai Mall, our shopping mall assets created sustained positive economic impact by attracting international retail investments, creating thousands of new jobs and supporting the city's hospitality and aviation sectors.”
Tenant sales across Emaar Malls' portfolio were more than Dh18bn last year, an increase of 14 per cent compared to 2013.
Total tenant sales in The Dubai Mall were Dh16bn last year, 14 per cent higher than the Dh14bn achieved in 2013.
Emaar Malls has a total gross leasable area (GLA) of about 6 million square feet and recorded a GLA occupancy rate of 95 per cent last year.
Emaar Malls is currently expanding The Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue by 1 million sq. ft. to have more stores.
Emaar Malls' initial public offering last year raised Dh5.8bn by floating 15 per cent of its shares on the Dubai Financial Market. – The National - http://www.thenational.ae/business/retail/dubai-mall-helps-to-lift-emaar-malls-group-profit

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Mohammed bin Rashid tours Box Star Project
posted on 18/01/2015

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, toured the tourist and commercial Box Star Project, located along Dubai's Al Wasl Road in Jumeirah, sprawled across 1,200 metre long stretch.
H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, accompanied Sheikh Mohammed.
H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director- General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai and Abdullah Ahmed Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas Holding also accompanied Sheikh Mohammed during the tour.
Sheikh Mohammed and his accompanying officials toured the commercial and tourist project which has a unique architecture as it uses unconventional building materials such as industrial containers, concrete and steel materials, to add a touch of modernity.
Sheikh Mohammed was briefed by Al Habbai on the design of the project's shops and yards and familiarised himself about the new building materials used in the project, which will, when opened at the end of this month, be a rare building of unique architectural importance.
Sheikh Mohammed congratulated them on this promising project, underscoring the importance of such international malls that entice families inside and outside the country by encouraging family tourism. Such initiatives need to be promoted to reflect the UAE's authentic heritage.
Box Park will be a revolutionary lifestyle destination where urban chic meets contemporary sophistication. Providing a refreshing alternative to sprawling, insular malls, the concept will feature an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes and high-end fashion outlets, intermingled with open spaces and amenities.
Following the example set in other cities such as New York, London, Paris and Christchurch, where similar temporary ‘pop-up' structures have been erected, 8x8 will be a permanent destination where all kinds of people including residents and tourists can spend a memorable and fun-filled day out. A spatial experience that is inviting, comfortable, engaging and memorable, this self-contained destination will be a place to shop, dine, relax and soak up the outdoor ambiance.
Nestled in the heart of Jumeirah, Box Park will serve as a seamless addition to the surrounding community and is set to become the new social hub of Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395275213007.html

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‘The Beach’ new attraction for all
posted on 11/01/2015

Dubai has an endless number of places that should not be missed; whether you are a resident or a tourist. The Beach opposite JBR is one of Dubai's newest additions to the leisure and entertainment landscape, offering first time experiences of an outdoor lifestyle destination in the region.
The development has emerged as one of the city's must-visit locations by the sea and uniquely set along the coastline of Dubai Marina. It captures the essence of Dubai: charming and urbane, warm and welcoming, the destination spans over 300,000 sq. ft. and truly brings the region's community together.
The entire project is the first of its kind to offer a wide range of facilities to the residents surrounded at the Jumeirah Beach Residence while the leisure-seeking tourists and visitors don't resist the charm of its design and detail with architectural definition.
The Piazza, which stands apart as art hub in the Marina, witnesses a huge number of visitors that come to admire the architect in the presence of live performances and art installations to support the growing art appreciation in Dubai, alongside bringing traditional performers to celebrate Emirati culture and the nation's festivities.
The Beach, which consists of plentiful choices to both residents and tourists of the region offering a range of shops, Cineplex, outdoor screen, restaurants, play-areas, walkways, lawns, outdoor running track and gym equipment, benches, sunbeds and cabanas, bean bags against a canvas of the sea, sky, sand and palm trees.
For those who make their time at The Beach to enjoy some foods, the restaurants make an appeal to different tastes, offering casual dining and cafes by the shore.
The promenade hosts a variety of new international and regional concepts, with a comprehensive line of dining options, ranging from quick service restaurants to boutique-style eateries and sophisticated dining concepts. Some new outlets making their debut at the venue include La Playa, Dubai's first outdoor screen, Real Madrid Café, the first of its kind in the world, Eggspectation, Le Paradis du Fruit, Fruiteiro do Brasil, Eat Greek, Leopold's of London, Tike, Awani and Obica.
From fashionable boutiques to international retail outlets, The Beach offers just the right mix of stores for beachfront shopping with funky boutiques like Sauce on Sea, to a tourist's dream spot to grab their latest memory at "I Love Dubai”.
The facility provides an array of fun-filled and adventurous outdoor experiences including weekly fitness sessions, a splash pad play area specifically designed with kids in mind, and the waterpark, an inflatable playground attracting both kids and adults looking for an extraordinary water sports experience that takes fun to new heights.
Families can enjoy a stroll together after dinner or prams can be pushed in the morning with their friends on the outdoor fitness track fitted out with workout equipment - a great way to stay fit while walking on a cushioned surface. For relaxation, the lawn is perfect for a family picnic or a soak in the sun - an ideal spot to enjoy the outdoors by the sea.
However, visitors can spend a day at the beach in style at the club, where they can tan on a sunbed, have their own side table, rent a towel and receive all day access to changing rooms, toilets and internal showers. The open beachfront is also accessible to the public for regular beachgoers.
A great way to catch the latest film after a day out at The Beach is at Reel Cinemas, a 10-screen theatre hosting over 900 people and features three platinum movie suites, a platinum lounge with a dedicated kitchen, and seven standard screens.
Guests can also watch their favourite film or a sports event under the stars while seated comfortably on bean bags at La Playa Lounge, the outdoor screen - a new experience for film goers in Dubai that can host up to 1,000 people.
While everything is set to attract the visitors, the ample car park space is also a huge attraction for many.
The visitors can enjoy the 3-hour complementary parking upon spending Dhs75 at any outlet at the destination or while watching a movie at Reel Cinemas. – The Gulf Today - http://gulftoday.ae/portal/6346f538-3ac0-4fb2-abcd-ebad19afef69.aspx

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Yas Mall rises to become leading retail destination in the region
posted on 07/01/2015

Since opening its doors in November 2014, Yas Mall, Aldar's flagship retail development, has been making waves, bringing a brand new shopping, dining and entertainment experience to the region.
Within close proximity of the airport and seven luxury hotels, Yas Mall has fast establishing itself as one of the most popular malls in the region, serving as an exciting leisure break destination for tourists from all over the GCC. Its vibrant, first-of-a-kind offering allows all ages and interests to be where it's all happening, adding to the existing iconic attractions on Yas Island, including Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Links and Yas Waterworld.
In just over one month, the mall has welcomed an array of visitors over the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, followed by landmark celebrations such as the UAE's 43rd National Day. It is now firmly positioned as an integral part of the capital's tourist map, representative of the intrinsic role shopping and leisure plays in the UAE's vibrant lifestyle. Yas Mall hopes to attract over 20 million visitors in its first full year of operating.
Talal Al Dhiyebi, Executive Director of Asset Management at Aldar, commented, "It is with immense pride that we see Yas Mall operating successfully today, transforming the Abu Dhabi retail landscape and putting the capital firmly on the international retail map. Retail remains an important growth sector in the UAE and particularly Abu Dhabi. Yas Mall answers the demand for better designed malls offering a distinctive lifestyle experience beyond shopping.
Yas Mall offers a spacious design filled with natural light, an abundance of open spaces and an easy to navigate layout. It is a mall of firsts, offering the UAE's first Lego Store, and the first 4Dx Vox Cinemas, Geant Hypermarket and Cheese Cake Factory in Abu Dhabi. It also houses the largest Debenhams department store outside of the UK.
Visitors can spend a day exploring 370 of the most desirable retail, F&B brands and entertainment offerings, the majority of which are open, or will open in early 2015, all within easy reach of the Capital and the Abu Dhabi International Airport. Highlights include Zara, Nike, Adidas, Fun Works, Hamleys, Go Sport, Jamba Juice and Angelina Cafe.
Families especially enjoy the mall's family friendly approach, including a two-storey wide FunWorks with a focus on educational play, a Build-A-Bear Workshop and even a children's cinema and play area that can be rented for private parties. A regular programme of vibrant, interactive events will ensure that each visit is as unique as the last. When it comes to dining, there is an endless selection to choose from, including Abu Dhabi's first Cheese Cake Factory, P.F. Chang's, Rogo's Rollercoaster Restaurant, Carluccio's Restaurant, Angelina, and Pie Face. For relaxation, visitors can catch the latest blockbuster at the 20 screen VOX Cinemas which will boast Abu Dhabi's biggest MAX screen at 24.5 metres wide, or visit Ferrari World that is directly connected to the mall.
Yas Mall has already attracted a loyal social media following, boasting a combined total of more than 150,000 fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter." – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395274733034.html

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Abras prove a hit with Global Village visitors
posted on 27/12/2014

Blue Abras (tourist abras powered by electricity) have once again been hugely embraced by Global Village visitors for the six year running; a practice that has had a substantial contribution to the revival of this traditional transit mode characterized by fun & entertainment. This high footfall recorded by Blue Abras is reflected on the healthy number of riders of this mode which has exceeded 15,000 riders since November last.
Emirates 24/7 quoted Dr. Yousef Al Ali, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency as saying: "We are very keen on taking part in the events of the Global Village for several months each year as part of our vision to have an indelible impact on this annual showpiece. This has reflected on our ability to attract huge numbers of the public, be it residents or visitors of the UAE, by operating traditional abras to beef-up our marine transport fleet, considering them part & parcel of our mobility options, particularly noting that abras have the privilege of being the first transit mode in Dubai linking the two shores of the Dubai Creek i.e. Deira and Bur Dubai." "Deploying traditional abras as an entertainment transit means at the Global Village is a key step through which the RTA is seeking to invite the attention of various community segments of different ages to this transit means in a bid to promote the tourist movement in Dubai, and also showcase the pioneering efforts of the RTA in undertaking a variety of inland and marine transit projects," explained Al Ali.
"The deployment of traditional abras at the Global Village also echoes the close coordination & cooperation between various entities in Dubai as the management of the Global Village has a significant contribution to the success of the project by allocating the appropriate place & line for up to 5 abras. The tourist journey passes through the lake across a host of villages overlooking the water canal; offering much enjoyment to abra riders who can have a panoramic view of key landmarks of the Village. The considerable interest of the public in these abras every season is quite evident as the number of abra riders at the Global Village last year (the fifth year of the service) clocked 121,074 riders.
"Traditional abras at the Global Village are powered by electricity in order to ensure a pollution-free environment. Abras are operated daily from 4 pm up to 12 am (midnight) and the tourist journey takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Each abra has a capacity to accommodate six riders and the fare is fixed as 50 dirham," said the CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency in a final remark. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates-international/1395274356100.html

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Blue Flag raised on Al Bateen beach for the fifth time
posted on 24/12/2014

The Blue Flag has been raised for the fifth time on a beach in the Capital — and this time, the ladies beach at Al Bateen.
A programme by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Blue Flag is awarded to beaches and marinas that met the strict criteria of water quality, environmental management, and environmental education and safety.
Since it started in 1987, the Blue Flag has been raised on more than 4,000 beaches and marinas in 48 countries.
The Abu Dhabi Corniche was awarded the Blue Flag in 2011, the first to be given in the Arabian Gulf region, according to Abdulla Al Junaibi, community service director at the Abu Dhabi City Municipality.
The Capital currently has five Blue Flags on its public beaches — three in the 3.2km stretch of the Corniche beach (Phase 1, 2 and the Hiltonia Lagoon), the 800-metre Al Bateen public beach and the 230-metre ladies beach at Al Bateen. "One of our main strategic goal is to improve (and adopt) the best services in our social facilities according to international and best standards… focusing on the environment, health and safety,” said Al Junaibi.
As part of the Blue Flag requirements, the Abu Dhabi beaches have 24-hour security, lifeguards, first aid clinics, washrooms and changing rooms. Safety buoys are also placed to be reached within 15 seconds by the lifeguard on duty. And to make the visit to the beach special needs-friendly, two wheelchairs are allocated at Al Bateen and two at the Corniche.
Water quality is also being monitored and tested on a monthly basis for three types of bacteria and findings are posted on the beach information board with a smiley if faecal coliforms are below 250 and faecal streptococci are below 100. If the bacterial count exceeds the acceptable quantity, the Blue Flag is lowered till the problem is resolved and water quality is once again established. From January to November this year, there were around 2.5 million visitors to all beaches managed by the municipality in the Capital. Of these, about 30,000 visit the open and paid areas on a monthly basis and around 15,000 come to the ladies beach. – Khaleej Times - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/government/2014/December/government_December62.xml§ion=government

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Nakheel rounds up retailers as Circle Mall bookings pass 30 per cent
posted on 23/12/2014

Almost a third of shop space at Nakheel's new Circle Mall at Jumeirah Village in Dubai has been booked less than two weeks after its launch, developer Nakheel confirmed yesterday.
Around 130,000 square feet at the new retail and leisure destination is accounted for, with upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose confirmed as the anchor store. The multi-screen cinema and most of the casual dining and food court space is also already taken.
Circle Mall will have 200 shops, an anchor supermarket, two department stores, a cinema and a variety of dining outlets. It is one of several projects in Nakheel's growing retail portfolio, which includes malls at Deira Islands, Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Village Triangle, souks at Deira Islands and Warsan Village, a retail complex at Palm Jumeirah's Golden Mile and neighbourhood centres at Nakheel communities across Dubai.
Ali Rashid Lootah, Chairman of Nakheel, said, "Retail expansion will continue to be a focus for Nakheel in 2015 and beyond. We are targeting 10 million sq. ft. of leasable space through a diverse range of new projects from large-scale malls and souk-style complexes that will attract residents and tourists from far and wide, to local centres that serve the immediate needs of people living in our communities.
"The reaction to Circle Mall, and to other recently-launched Nakheel projects proves that retailers – be they global household brand names or individual entrepreneurs are hungry for new space where they can expand their business and capitalise on Dubai's growth." Located between Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Hessa Street, the Circle Mall will serve hundreds of thousands of people living in and around Jumeirah Village, and provide a new leisure destination for residents and tourists across the rest of Dubai. Construction is expected to begin in Q1 2015.
Nakheel yesterday announced a second extension to Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, adding another 640,000 sq. ft. of shop space and a multi-storey car park to the complex. The developer also confirmed plans to release a tender for the construction of Deira Islands Mall in January 2015. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395274170184.html

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Nakheel all set to ramp up at Deira Islands
posted on 22/12/2014

In what will be a substantial boost for the local construction sector early in the new year, Nakheel confirmed tenders will be called for the Dh1.7 billion plus (excluding the land cost) Deira Islands Mall — with a gross leasable area of 2.85 million square feet — by late January. The mall project will also encompass two hotels offering a combined 600 keys and properties with 300 serviced apartments.
The Mall itself is looking at a three-year project, as the developer scales up its retail and residential leasing portfolio. It will also see four residential towers being built by Nakheel, which will go into its leasing portfolio, which is an income stream that the developer has been focusing heavily on.
Another major tender — potentially around Dh500 million — will be for adding 640,000 square feet of leasable area at Ibn Battuta Mall. In the medium-term, Nakheel's target is to have a retail leasing portfolio of 10 million square feet.
"For 2015, we are planning on awarding project tenders totalling Dh7 billion on top of the Dh5.3 billion awarded this year (lower than the Dh6 billion that had been projected earlier),” said Ali Rashid Lootah, Nakheel's Chairman. "We do not see an impact on Dubai from the oil price situation … the property market too will be insulated as in any uncertainly investors will look to staying committed to real estate.”
Confirmation of the mall, hotels and residential high-rises comes on top of a sizeable investor platform Deira Islands has already attracted. The 90 plots that were put up for sale to sub-developers earlier this year for waterside hotels have been acquired, Lootah said. Demand was also high for the small outlets that will make up the Night Market there.
Nakheel will, at the same time, develop a resort project on Deira Islands in "partnership with a global name”, Lootah added. "There's very limited new build happening in Deira and that means extremely high lease rates on apartments and offices. With Deira Islands, substantial new capacities are being created — once major infrastructure works are ready, we will focus on the freehold component there and when we can get better pricing.”
Another sizeable exposure will take the form of 80 high-rises — offering a combined 4,000 units — in the Port Jebel Ali area. Another focus of the project will be the Waterfront, where it intends to fast-track the needed infrastructure works for the sub-developers to come in and do their bit.
At Nad Al Sheba, there will be 1,500 villas that Nakheel is building. It will also be opening the retail and F&B components at the Golden Mile on Palm in the first quarter, with the British supermarket operator Waitrose confirmed as an anchor tenant.
Asked if it might be time to consider tapping a loan to part-fund upcoming projects, Lootah said: "So far, we have enough of own funds to cover requirements. But if we were to approach the banks to borrow, they won't be saying ‘no!'.” – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/business/property/uae/nakheel-all-set-to-ramp-up-at-deira-islands-1.1429907

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Global Village bridging people: Sheikh Mohammed
posted on 21/12/2014

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday paid an inspection visit to the Global Village, the leading family entertainment and cultural attraction in Dubai.
During his tour, Sheikh Mohammed visited the pavilions of a number of countries to learn about their folklores and cultural heritage through the exhibited traditional products and art shows.
Sheikh Mohammed, who exchanged greeting with exhibitors and visitors during his tour, expressed his delight over this annual global cultural event launched by Department of Economic Development (DED) in 1997.
He stressed that "such cultural and popular festivals play a great role in building bridges between the people of the UAE and the peoples of the world away from formalities and protocol.
He also hailed the efforts of the organisers of the event which has become a popular destination for Emiratis, expatriates and citizens of other countries in the region.
Some 40,000 visitors throng the Global Village every day to enjoy a host of products and live art shows from across the globe.
Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director-General of the Protocol Department and Hospitality in Dubai, and Mohammed Al Mulla, Director of the Global Village, accompanied Sheikh Mohammed during his tour. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2014/December/nationgeneral_December178.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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Global village: Around the world in a day
posted on 20/12/2014

Once a ticket has been purchased to enter the cultural wonderland; senses are heightened as they are put to the test.
With the winter breeze brushing against one's skin as the stroll around Global village begins, a noticeable increase in greenery and open space allow greater masses of people to fit in one place without feeling crowded.
Synergy of the distant sound of the rippling water from the gondolas, African drums pounding the chest, the voice of stall vendors inviting people into pavilions, chatters in different languages and Arianna Grande's music blasted near the rides in Fantasy Island allows these, otherwise known as noise, different sounds to serve as the atmospheric soundtrack of the place known as the ambience.
Though one's eyes are overwhelmed with the lights beaming from the pavilions, rich aroma of spices from available cuisines invade the lungs inviting visitors in to try the different savoury dishes.
The mist from the dancing fountain, splashing away to the Pirates of the Caribbean song, rests on one's arms and face while walking from one pavilion to another. The sound of giggly children's footsteps fill the place as they rush to their parents by crossing the bridge that connects the Fantasy Island theme park area with the food court area.
Given that Global Village brings together an array of pavilions from around the world in one location, visitors have native products available for them at the tips of their fingers.
Walking into the Indian pavilion, colors shine on every corner with artistically beaded shoes, soft cashmere scarves with intricate stitching and uniquely patterned native attire.
As for the Afghanistan pavilion, one cannot help but notice the sweet scents conquering the open space. Known for its honey, the pavilion offers visitors a quick taste of Afghani honey, also known as their signature product.
"A lot of people, both local and international, come to our pavilion to taste our honey and then they buy it,” said Mohammad Ashraf, a stall vendor in the Afghanistan pavilion. "They come for it because we get the honey from small bees in the mountain areas.”
However, Ashraf adds that although honey seems to be the key selling product, Afghanistan is also well known for its dried fruits. Another pavilion in Global Village well known for its honey would be the Yemeni pavilion with a wider variety available in stalls.
Egypt, the pavilion that won the Best Pavilion title last year, has a man standing at the entrance in a pharaoh costume to welcome the people entering. While the Indian pavilion proudly displays its cashmere variety, the Egyptian pavilion has a wide consumer base in terms of its cotton goods.
Upon entering, 100 per cent cotton made pajamas and clothing are showcased making them their best seller.
Mohammad El Sayed "There are products that aren't provided all year long anywhere except during the period of time in which Global Village takes place,” said Mohammad El Sayed, stall vendor in the Egyptian Pavilion. "Our products such as our 100% cotton clothing and Egyptian nuts are widely popular especially among the local people of the country.”
Nerien Rophail, a Canadian pharmacist currently living in Dubai, expressed her fondness of Global Village in an educational sense. Rophail, who has traveled to several countries in the past, explains that visiting the different pavilions resembles traveling to the different countries.
With a facility such as Global Village available to the public, she was able to discover more about the countries she has visited and the ones she aspires to visit someday.
"For instance, I had no idea that Afghanistan was famous for their honey, carpets, jacket and dried fruits,” she explained. "And that's why by watching native performances, tasting the food they have to offer and interacting with the natives in the pavilion teaches you about the culture of the place.”
Visiting Global Village allows visitors, like Nerien, to travel the world in one night. It allows people to move from one country to another a, couple of steps apart, saving the price of a plane ticket. – Gulf News Agency, WAM - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/leisure/global-village-around-the-world-in-a-day-1.1429380

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