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Night Souq to transform Deira into tourist magnet
posted on 14/12/2014

Hot on the heels of the full leasing of Nakheel's new Night Souq at Deira Islands, the developer has issued a tender for the construction works, a spokesperson said.
The Night Souq at Deira Islands – home to 5,300 shops and nearly 100 restaurants – was fully leased last month, with hundreds of local businesspersons making a dash for units at the new attraction.
The project will stretch almost 2km along Deira Island's waterfront, offering visitors quayside cafes and restaurants.
Nakheel describes it as a modern twist on the souq, a traditional Arabic marketplace. The Night Souq will join a list of attractions on Deira Islands, a development coming up near the Dubai shoreline.
Food and beverage outlets will be located to the front of the island, with the back portion taken up by a host of retailers. It will be easily accessible by road via bridges and by water, and be within walking distance of hotels, residences and the Deira Islands Mall, Nakheel's other major retail project at the islands.
A Nakheel official had earlier said the Night Souq will transform the Deira district into a hub for tourism, retail and entertainment. Deira is the original trading heart of the city, where buyers and sellers from all over the world converge for business.
Deira Islands is a four-island waterfront city master planned by Nakheel that will add 40 km, including 21 km of beachfront, to Dubai's coastline and pave the way for the development of hundreds of new hotels, serviced apartments, mixed-use buildings and residential waterside projects.
Nakheel itself is developing a significant amount of the 4.5 million-square-metre south island – home of the Night Souq – by creating a unique creekside destination, easily accessible from the mainland by bridges and by water via abras. Attractions will include Deira Islands Mall, a 250-room hotel; an amphitheatre for 30,000 people; and a marina that can accommodate large yachts.
All four islands will feature hotels, resorts and residential, commercial and retail units. Nakheel will master plan and complete infrastructure work ready for third party development on each island. The developer also plans to build five hotels of its own at Deira Islands. – Gulf News -


Traditional hospitality at UAE's Global Village pavilion
posted on 21/11/2014

The traditional look and feel of the UAE pavilion is a fantastic experience for visitors. The pavilion gives off the impression of being a traditional souk. The design of the sandy coloured facade supports this, and as visitors enter the pavilion the fragrance of the burning bakhoor and oud immediately awaken the senses.
The Al Dhanai store is a regular fixture of the UAE pavilion with Ali Al Dhanai, the owner, bringing his products back to Global Village for the 9th time. While the store is popular for its local honey, bees wax, and honeycomb, the real pull for many visitors is the experience of traditional and renowned Emirati hospitality that they receive at the stall.
The honey is all locally produced in Dibba Fujairah, giving the honey a distinct flavour as it is mainly produced from the flowers on two trees -- sidr and samar. The two trees are said to make very distinctly flavoured honey that is popular amongst tourists and locals.
Every year guests are welcomed and offered traditional Arabic coffee and lulu dates, to reflect the hospitality and generosity of the UAE people. Mohammed Rashid Al Hafiti who works in the store, even offers guests a seat in the store, as Emiratis would to a weary traveller. Some of the tastiest dates that are on offer in Global Village can be found at this stall, with a special mixture of coconut shavings sprinkled on the date.
Mohammed also sells other items, especially locally produced products that have traditional value, namely the Shemagh -- a traditional Emirati head dress -- and the traditional kandura for men. The culturally significant and ever popular yollah, the plastic prop that is regularly used in the traditional Yollah dance, is also on sale, as well as the walking sticks that are used in Emirati dances.
Visitors can expect a true taste of Emirati culture at the UAE pavilion and this will allow tourists, local residents, and Emiratis to see that the hospitable nature of the UAE is still widely sought and highly regarded. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan opens Yas Mall
posted on 20/11/2014

H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, yesterday inaugurated Yas Mall, the largest and latest shopping and entertainment destination on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior , H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Executive Council Member, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, a number of Sheikhs and members of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and senior officials.
The ceremony, which took place in the Town Square, commenced with the arrival of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, accompanied by the UAE national anthem. This was followed by a performance dedicated to the vision of the UAE leadership.
The programme also included an interactive video highlighting Yas Island's present and future. The last performance celebrated the launch of Yas Mall and showcased an extraordinary art installation of six falcons made from steel representing a symbol of force, courage, grace and pride.
The inauguration ceremony included a tour by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed around Yas Mall's different sections and facilities. Spanning three floors, Yas Mall includes more than 370 stores, 60 of which are international restaurants, along with 83 unique-concept stores, which further enhance the Mall's retail offer of local and international brands.
The 2.5 million sq. ft. mall, which was developed by Aldar Properties, provides visitors with an exciting range of leading local, regional and international retail brands and entertainment attractions, serviced by nearly 10,000 covered parking spaces.
Yas Mall will open to the public for the first time on Wednesday, 19th November, a few days ahead of the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Located on Yas Island, Yas Mall offers a shopping destination for both tourists and residents supported by its easy access from the centre of Abu Dhabi. Yas Mall's proximity to other exciting attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Links, Yas Park and Yas Water World as well as its direct link to Ferrari World, adds further value to the leisure and entertainment offer on Yas Island.
Yas Mall includes 20 VOX screens which bring even more excitement to Abu Dhabi, with the Emirate's first 4Dx technology, as well as a family entertainment zone by Fun Works, with the region's first 60,000 sq. ft. area dedicated to playful learning.
Yas Mall was designed to achieve a Two Pearl Estidama rating, Abu Dhabi's sustainable framework for design, construction and operation. It integrates a series of green strategies that make it a forerunner in the next generation of development in the Middle East. Some of these strategies include the use of regionally sourced and durable materials including modular limestone flooring and wall cladding and the use of shading strategies such as vertical glazing that is protected from direct sun via deep insets, canopies and a brise-soleil system, as well as improved outdoor thermal comfort through landscaping and shading devised over exterior parking and primary pedestrian pathways.
Estidama, which means sustainability in Arabic, is Abu Dhabi's own green building guideline. All buildings in Abu Dhabi must meet a minimum of 1 Pearl; Yas Mall is a 2 Pearl Estidama Building. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Nakheel launches 5,000 shops at Deira Islands Night Souk in Dubai
posted on 03/11/2014

Nakheel says local entrepreneurs are queuing to be part of its ambitious plan for a night market in Dubai – with one family even booking space for three dozen shops.
The developer said yesterday that leasing had begun for retailers and restaurants at its Night Souq, which is to have 5,000 shops spread along 1.9 kilometres of waterfront on its Deira Islands development.
The 15.3 square km development is to open in the middle of 2017 and is to feature 96 quayside cafes and restaurants.
"It will promote local business and entrepreneurship, serve hundreds of thousands of residents living on and around Deira Islands and act as a major attraction for Dubai's growing number of annual tourists,” said Ali Rashid Lootah, the chairman of Nakheel.
Interest in the Night Souq, particularly from the Emirati population, has been very high according to the Dubai property developer, with the average 170 sq metre shop costing Dh55,000 per year to lease.
"Deira is the original trading hub of the city, where buyers and sellers from all over the world converge to do business. Nakheel's Night Souq will serve to extend these traditional commercial activities by significantly boosting trading opportunities in the area known as Old Dubai,” said Mr Lootah.
In recent years, night markets have become a draw in tourist markets from Marrakech to Melbourne and Laos to Los Angeles. The largest night market in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, for example, has more than 200 stalls selling foods such as tan shui (fish balls) and oyster omelettes.
For the Deira Islands version, Nakheel is allowing a maximum of six shops per person. Interest from young Emirati entrepreneurs has been high, according to a company spokesperson, who said that one local family had already snapped up 36 shops. Nakheel is keen to attract more independent brands to the Night Souq rather than the international brands readily available at the malls.
"The retail industry is obviously booming and there is very strong demand for the food and beverage sector,” said Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy at CBRE. "There is a very large visitor tourism population and visits to Dubai are growing at 10 per cent a year, so there is a strong demand for retail and new destinations.”
Comprising four linked islands, Deira Islands is a 4.5 million sq metre project that is being partly developed by Nakheel. All four islands will feature hotels, resorts and residential, commercial and retail units.
Attractions will include the Deira Islands Mall, a 250-room hotel, an amphitheatre for 30,000 people and a marina. More than 280,000 people are expected to eventually live there, and the projected number of new hotel rooms is 50,000.
Nakheel will master-plan and complete infrastructure work ready for third-party development on each island. The developer also plans to build five hotels of its own at Deira Islands.
In June, it awarded a contract worth nearly Dh40m to RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers to act as the design and supervision consultant to the Deira Islands Mall, which will comprise 200,000 sq feet of leasable space.
The islands are to have nine new beaches and the developer also started selling 94 plots of land for hotels and hotel resorts earlier this year.
Nakheel reported a 47 per cent surge in profit in the third quarter of this year to Dh2.6bn compared with the same period a year ago. – The National -


Pottery Barn and Cheesecake Factory among 42 brands revealed for Yas Mall
posted on 03/11/2014

Yas Mall's landscape became a little bit clearer after one of the region's biggest retailers, Alshaya Group, yesterday announced the 42 stand-alone brands it would bring to the capital's newest mall.
The group said its investment would create 2,000 jobs, mainly sales assistants and would represent Alshaya's single biggest opening on one day, it said, but declined to give the exact day. The 235,00 square-metre mall will open before the Formula 1 weekend on November 21st.
The mall will feature 400 shops from 370 brands, said Talal Al Dhiyebi, the executive director of asset management at Aldar Properties, the operator.
Industry sources said that Alshaya, which operates 2,600 stores across the Middle East and North Africa, Russia, Turkey and Europe, has up to 15 more brands within Yas Mall's department stores. Out of the 42 outlets the retailer listed yesterday, Pottery Barn Teen and Icing are the first in the country. The fashion brands Muji, West Elm, Jo Malone and River Island will be the capital's first stores.
F&B outlets such as Texas Roadhouse and The Cheesecake Factory will also operate in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
The mall is expecting 20 million visitors in its first year, bringing in more than 50,000 people a day, and Aldar is banking on a 15 per cent to 20 per cent annual increase in retail sales across the U.A.E. to sustain business.
"There is a lot of resident population around us with massive communities,” said Mr Al Dhiyebi.
"At Al Raha Beach Aldar has over 3,000 residential units that are over 97 per cent occupied. In Khalifa City we have again 4,000 to 5,000 residential units, which are again nearly totally occupied. These residential communities will be supporting us significantly through the week. Our tourist numbers are growing and we are part of the 2030 vision. ”
Attractions will include a 20-screen Vox cinema, the region's largest department store at 200,000 square feet, an "edutainment” concept store, direct access to the Ferrari World theme park and the country's first Lego concept store.
For the second quarter of this year Aldar reported net profit of Dh506m, driven by unit handovers and a 45 per cent growth in recurring revenues across its property portfolio, including a faster-than-expected lease-up at its Al Rayyana development. – The National -


First Macy’s outside the US to open in Abu Dhabi
posted on 28/10/2014

The Al Tayer Group will open the region's first Macy's and second Bloomingdale's store at Abu Dhabi's Al Maryah Central.
It will be the first Macy's department store outside the US.
This follows an agreement signed with Gulf Related, the developer of Al Maryah Central located on Al Maryah Island.
The stores are to open in 2018, and each will be spread over four levels.
Macy's will take up 205,000 square feet, while Bloomingdale's will have 230,000 square feet. The first Bloomingdale's in the region is at Dubai Mall.
Al Maryah Central will directly connect to the recently opened upscale destination, The Galleria.
The Al Tayer Group will operate more than 20 outlets at the location, bringing its total anchoring commitment to 520,000 square feet plus. – Gulf News -


Abu Dhabi’s biggest mall eyes Dubai, GCC patrons
posted on 25/10/2014

The biggest mall in Abu Dhabi is set to open next month just before the Formula 1 event.
Connected to the world's largest indoor theme park Ferrari World, Yas Mall completes the Yas Island proposition, which already boasts of the world's best-known attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld and Yas Links, along with a large choice of hotels.
Giving a tour to reporters, Talal Al Dhiyebi, executive director of asset management at Aldar, said: "The construction is complete and the building is handed over...right now tenants are preparing their stores, shop fronts and training their staff before a formal opening.”
He said the biggest mall that offers 2.5 million sq.ft. of leasable area would not only attract shoppers from Abu Dhabi, but from Dubai, the GCC and beyond.
"We're planning a lot of marketing activities to attract shoppers. We will launch promotions and package selling as well for the destination Yas,” Al Dhiyebi said.
Bathed in natural light, the wide and spacious avenues of Yas Mall will host over 370 of the most desirable retail, food-and-beverage brands and entertainment offerings, all within easy reach of the capital and only 45 minutes from Dubai.
The mall's design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of height, light and space.
Yas Mall aims to bring many distinctive brands under one roof. All the stores are being encouraged to launch outlets, which are unique in design or offering. Chalhoub Group, known for managing retail outlets and building brands, is creating its first own brand department store.
The mall will also house the largest Debenhams outside of the UK in which shoppers will have access to a personal stylist.
Yas Mall will house the first Hamley's, Hollister, Brook's Brothers in Abu Dhabi, and first Lego Store, standalone Under Armour store, two-level Go Sports store and Joe Fresh in U.A.E. and the first Geant Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi.
At the heart of the facility is the largest enclosed gathering space where a huge class roof allows ample sunshine to naturally-lit spaces surrounded by greenery and water features.
The 20 screen Vox Cinemas will boast the biggest MAX screen in Abu Dhabi at 24.5 metres wide. Along with three Gold Cinemas, its 4DX technology will engage all five senses and make audiences feel as if they are part of the feature.
There will be over 60 food-and-beverage outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and cafes spilling out onto Town Square.
Yas Mall is a place for families to spend time together and caters to children of all ages. Offerings include the first FunWorks in the U.A.E., the region's largest adventure play system, with a 60,000 sq. ft. area dedicated to playful learning and edutainment with activities ranging from science and arts to theatre and construction. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


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 -



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