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Cairo developer plans new 300-room Movenpick hotel

Swiss hospitality group Mövenpick has joined hands with Egypt-based real estate firm Arabia Investment & Tourist Development to set up a 300-key hotel on the country’s North Coast – a popular leisure destination.

Part of an upscale mixed-use residential development, Mövenpick Hotel & Residences North Coast will be strategically located 70km west of Alexandria and 280km North West of Cairo, with Borg El Arab International Airport just 15 minutes by road.

The property will feature 150 hotel rooms, as well as 150 branded units that will become part of a rental pool, said the statement from Arabia Group.

Once completed, the resort will be a leading family-friendly destination, offering a raft of leisure options including a fitness and spa facility, large swimming pool, kids’ clubs and water-play attractions, and several amenities and activities.

A key highlight at Mövenpick Hotel & Residences, North Coast, Egypt, will be one all-day dining and one specialty restaurant besides a café and snack bar, a beach grill, one banquet hall and three meeting rooms.

On the new property, Tareq Othman Ahmed Shoukry, the chairman of the Arabia Group, said: "It is part of a modern mixed-use development that will set a new benchmark for hospitality standards on this expanse of Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline."

“With our proven track record developing large-scale projects in Egypt and Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ experience managing successful properties across the entire Mena region, we are in a strong position to leverage the growth of this area as it continues to undergo significant transformation,” he stated.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2020, the same year the company will open another landmark resort in Egypt – the 214-key Mövenpick Resort El Ein Bay, part of a new modern integrated beach and golf resort in El Sokhna.

Andrew Langdon, chief development officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, said Egypt’s North Coast was a development focal point, with new projects ranging from dining, wellness, leisure and entertainment facilities to new conference venues and large commercial zones such as Borg El Arab City featuring five industrial parks, which is just 15 minutes from our new property.

“With more tourists and families flocking to this area of the country, from Egypt, the Middle East and key European markets, as well as an influx of oil and gas and business travellers seeking meeting space and high-quality accommodation, we are in a strong position to benefit from this surge in activity,” he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Schneider to supply electrical works for three Egypt projects

Schneider Electric has been contracted to supply and install all electrical works for three projects in Egypt which include the Furniture City, Galala water desalination plant, and a Beni Suef cement factory, said a report.

Egypt's Department of Military Affairs selected Schneider to supply the medium-voltage and electrical panels for the Furniture City. The supply will be completed by the middle of next year, Mohamed Shahin, head of industries sector in Egypt and Africa, Schneider Electric, was quoted as saying in a Daily News Egypt report.

The company was also contracted by the Armed Forces Engineering Authority for the supply of medium- and low-voltage panels, as well as speed switches and automatic control of the desalination plant, it said.

Shahin added that the company was chosen by Assiut Cement Factory (Cemex) to supply the low and medium-voltage electrical panels and will begin supply next year.

Schneider Electric provides technological solutions, software, and services to enable its clients to manage their operations better through using automated control systems based on a range of integrated solutions.


Saudi Arabia opens $218 Jeddah waterfront project

Saudi government has opened to the public a 4.2-km-long waterfront in Jeddah city built at a cost of SR800 million ($218 million), said a report.

Covering a 700,000-sq-m area, the development boasts vast green areas, advanced infrastructure and a 650-m-long walkway as well as three new beaches with a total area of 50,000 sq m, reported Saudi Gazette.

It was inaugurated by Prince Khaled Al Faisal, Emir of Makkah region and Adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

The entire waterfront project will be completed in six phases. The first three phases extending from border guard in the south up to Al Nawras Square in the north have been completed and opened for public, according to the report.

The fourth and fifth phases have just been completed featuring over 275,000-sq-m green areas, it said.

The sixth phase, which will be taken up in the future, extends from Jubair Bin Al Harith Street to Al Rahma Mosque in the north, stated the Saudi Gazette report.

The Jeddah water front besides a six-km-long sewage network, a 14-km-long drainage network of rainwater and floods, a seven-km-long network of irrigation tanks, drinking water, and an electricity network consisting of 35 kms of low voltage cables and communications network.

There is also a 4,634-m-long sea walkway and 650-m-long hanging pedestrian bridge connecting the Corniche with Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Street, stated the report.

There is a 125-m-long fishing pier with 15 canopies, which can accommodate 814 people, it added.


Saudi Railway to launch Hail operations

Saudi authorities have announced the official opening of the fourth station on Northern Railway network at Hail city.

The railway, built at a cost of SR10 billion ($2.7 billion), will start its operations from Sunday (November 26), reported The Saudi Gazette.

Emir of Hail Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saad inaugurated the railway station yesterday (November 22) in the presence of Minister of Transportation and president of the executive board of the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) Nabil Al Amoudi and other officials.

The Northern Railway, which passes through Hail, covering a distance of 2,750 km is the longest railway in the country for passenger and freight transport, stated the report.

Speaking at the launch, Al Amoudi said the new train service would contribute to the kingdom’s overall economic growth, as it will attract new investors to the region.

Dr Bashar Al Malek, the chief executive of SAR, said the launch of Hail operations comes as part of the second phase of its passenger services expansion, following last February’s launch of services between Riyadh, Majmaah and Qassim.

Hail is the fourth station launched this year for passengers of the Northern Railway. In the next phases, which will be completed in 2018, two other stations will open in Jouf and Qurayyat, he stated.

"We have designed the train station keeping in mind operational efficiency. It consists of three floors with a total area of 137,217 sq m and has two separate lounges for arrivals and departures," explained Al Malek.

It also boasts a food court, a services area with various commercial stores, travel agency offices, car rental offices, post office and two platforms with a total area of 20,000 sq m besides a mosque for 300 worshippers, he added.


Spanish group Ineco wins Dammam Airports contract

Spanish transport engineering specialist Ineco has been awarded a major contract by Dammam Airports Company (Daco) to develop the masterplan for the King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia.

The plan includes the expansion of all airport facilities to cater to growing passenger demand, as well as the study of the connection of the airport’s cargo area with the country’s main rail freight line.

In addition, a new airport city will be developed, along with the recently initiated cargo village, said the statement from Ineco.

Dammam Airport is the third largest airport in Saudi Arabia in terms of passenger movements. Since 2009, passenger throughput at the airport has grown at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10.7 per cent to reach 9.68 million passenger per annum in 2016.

With a 2047 horizon, this project aims to turn the airport into a regional hub, making it an important intermodal node for the movement of passengers and cargo, said the statement.

Daco CEO Turki Abdullah Aljawini and Roy Toh, the director for traffic development, were recently at the Ineco headquarters to see the progress of the project.

With this contract, Ineco is consolidating its position in the Middle East, where, in addition to participating in the development of high-speed rail between Makkah and Madinah, we have also developed the masterplan for Kuwait airport, the expansion of Fujairah airport and the ORAT (operational readiness and airport transfer) at Abu Dhabi airport.- TradeArabia News Service


Dubai's luxury apartment premiums soar 150pc

The median asking prices in the most popular luxury buildings across Dubai are around 150 per cent more than what the average resident pays in the area, according to a new report.

In some communities, the most popular luxury high-rises cost up to 150 per cent more than the median home prices in the same area, according to Propertyfinder data.

With at least half a dozen luxury real estate projects in development, the prices of these existing luxury apartments are up for adjustment, but in the meantime, buyers should be prepared to pay a premium compared to their less spendy neighbours, stated the report.

"Never buy the most expensive house on the block" is common wisdom often passed on to property hunters. But in Dubai, where one’s home is often located in a high-rise, it can be tough to tell who is paying the most, and how luxury offerings compare to the neighbours in the building next door, it added.

Propertyfinder Group determined the median asking prices in popular luxury buildings, then compared those to what the average resident is paying in the area.

Comparing those median prices for luxe living to the median prices of the area overall revealed that some Dubai residents are paying nearly three times more for the best address, it stated.

Dubai Marina is by far the most popular community in Dubai. In the Marina, residents pay a median price of Dh1,570 per sq ft, according to Propertyfinder data through the end of October 2017. But for those who call Le Reve or Silverene towers home, the asking prices there are a whopping 150 per cent more than the area’s median: asking up to Dh4,000 per sq ft.

A similar story plays out in Downtown Dubai, Propertyfinder.ae’s third most popular community by search volume. Those who wish to buy an apartment in the world’s tallest tower will pay an epic premium, said the property expert.

The median asking price in the Burj Khalifa is between Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 per sq ft. The median price per square foot for sale in Downtown Dubai is nearly half that, at Dh2,132.

A community that bucks this trend is Jumeirah Village Circle. Its median asking price for apartments is Dh925.

A top luxury offering in that area, according to search data, is Milano by Giovanni Boutique Suite. Buyers can expect a median asking price of around Dh1,000 per sq ft, which falls close to the area’s overall median.

Propertyfinder Group said luxury apartment buyers, never spoilt for choice in Dubai, will have even more to choose from in the coming years as Bluewaters Island, Bvlgari, CityWalk, Dubai Creek Harbour, and Dubai Hills Estate finish development.

Shiny new offerings will have a downward effect on existing luxury units. That is, the neighbourhood’s most expensive offering may soon be more affordable, it added.- TradeArabia News Service



In February 2016, the Ministry of Finance announced the introduction of Value Added Tax (“VAT”) in the UAE, and has ended a long period of speculation and discussion of “when” and “if” VAT would be introduced.

According to the announcement, the UAE will impose VAT at a rate of five percent on the sale of goods and on services as from 1 January 2018. The five percent rate has been agreed between all GCC countries, and the framework agreement on the implementation of VAT is expected for release in July this year. The implementation will take place throughout the GCC, however the other GCC countries have from 1 January 2018 until 1 January 2019 to also implement VAT. The amount generated from VAT revenue in the UAE is expected to be between AED 8 and AED 12 billion in the first year.

According to the Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, there will be some exemptions from VAT: the GCC countries have agreed to approximately 100 staple food items that will be exempt, and have agreed to zero rate certain industries such as education, social services and health care. Furthermore, according to Younis Ak Khoury, undersecretary at UAE’s Ministry of Finance, the implementation of the VAT will take place in several phases. Thereby, VAT registration in Phase 1 will be obligatory for UAE companies that generate an annual revenue of AED 3,75 million and above. For UAE businesses with an annual revenue between AED 1,87 and AED 3,75 million VAT registration will be optional.

With the roll-out of Phase 2, the registration will become obligatory for all businesses. The introduction of a value-added tax system in the UAE will not only affect consumers but also have a broader impact on business. The announcement of the VAT introduction date has put an end to the discussion about the possibility of VAT in the UAE, and raised new discussions about the readiness of businesses for the proposed date of 1 January 2018. Some business owners say they will require more time to implement the new system or to revamp their financial structures.

At the moment, it is uncertain exactly which VAT model will be implemented in the UAE and if every GCC country will apply the same model or if there will be different models to implement. We can mention three main VAT systems, namely the European, New Zealand and Japanese models.

The New Zealand model comes closest to resembling the ideal as it is levied at a single rate and is based on a relatively broad consumption of goods and services, extending through the retail stage of the economy with minimal exclusions. Most jurisdictions have adopted a European VAT model, however, this is marked by multiple rates and varying degrees of exemptions. In practice, no two VAT systems look exactly alike but show differences in rates, thresholds, exemptions, refunds and coverage.

The VAT system to be implemented by the GCC is still subject to speculation, but the following factors have to be considered:

The goal of this article is not to analyze which of the models will be the best for the UAE but to start a discussion on the practical implementation of VAT and the day-to-day challenges that businesses may face in the UAE after 1 January 2018.

Preparing for VAT (“VAT-readiness”)

In order to deal with the challenges, businesses in the UAE should evaluate and review their daily business activities, with a focus on the following points.

Understanding: Conduct analysis of all operational processes and business domains in order to determine all areas that will be affected.

Preparation: Elaborate future implementation strategy, prepare a checklist.

IT Systems: Make sure your IT systems are VAT enabled, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting and point-of-sales IT systems. The IT systems must be able for complete implementation of all legal regulations in order to comply with VAT requirements in daily business.

Current accounting: Keep your books in order and make sure they are up to date by 1 January 2018, ready for the change as the time of supply is critical to your VAT liability.

VAT accounting:Ensure you have all the correct accounts and VAT codes set up to accommodate the calculation of your responsibility to generate a VAT return, which will need to be submitted periodically.

VAT return: Make sure your incoming and outgoing invoices are VAT compliant, on both the supply and sales fronts.

Employees:Check that your staff is knowledgeable about VAT and update job descriptions to reflect VAT duties and responsibilities.

Public officer: Appoint an appropriate person to be the public officer representing the company before the VAT authorities and make sure the person is suitable and prepared for the role.

VAT guide: Prepare a policy manual for the business, to cover the company’s policy regarding VAT.

Contracts: Put resources in place to provide for VAT should any contract or project span into January 2018.


As general custom around the world, the principles of self-declaration as well as of prepayment are expected to be applied in UAE. Companies, as registered taxpayers, shall be responsible for calculation of the VAT payable as part of a self-assessment process and execute a prepayment during a fiscal year. At the end of the assessment year the company shall submit an annual tax declaration.

It is expected that the duties and responsibilities of company management will incur certain liabilities, and the consequence of non-compliance, errors and omissions weighs heavily on the company’s managers.

Taking into consideration the abovementioned consequences of non-compliance, the coherent and correct implementation of the VAT process and legally compliant execution on daily basis is essential for the management of the company in order to avoid future errors and sanctions.


After implementation, VAT will affect practically all functions within a business, including IT, human resources, procurement, finance and marketing. VAT is applicable on goods and services at each stage of the supply chain with the ultimate burden being borne by the customer, at least in theory. If not applied correctly, VAT may become an additional cost to the business, and non-compliance with the tax law will lead to severe penalties.

Therefore, all businesses must undertake and review their current situation in terms of their suppliers and customers and if the former are registered or not. The timely training of employees who will be dealing with VAT issues is just as crucial as ensuring that all systems of the business enable VAT administration.

Further development and details are still awaited, however, it is advisable for all businesses to start the review and preparation process in a timely manner to be able to evaluate their company’s situation and apply the necessary changes – after all, to paraphrase W. Edwards Deming “if you can measure it, you can manage it”.

Abu Dhabi announces major boost for social housing

The Abu Dhabi Executive Council has boosted its public housing policy with a number of major changes including the creation of a new residential package and a plan to develop a mega housing project - Al Riyadh City - in the emirate, said a report.

The move comes in line with government efforts to reduce the waiting time for social housing by more than half.

All these improvements to the housing policy have been endorsed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is also the chairman of the executive council.

The move is aimed at boosting the quality and variety of services provided, as well as to expand the base of beneficiaries, reported state news agency Wam.

"The housing package is designed to reduce the waiting period by more than half, allowing for the exchange and trading of granted and built-up land, as well as the purchase of additional land at subsidised prices according to certain terms and conditions, with the aim of providing more options for beneficiaries and ensuring their social welfare," remarked Sheikh Mohamed.

To allow for greater flexibility in its exemption policies, the government has expanded the base of beneficiaries of financial grants, providing the chance as well to buy readymade housing units from any real estate project in the emirate while benefiting from the exemption advantages, he added.

The new housing package will include adjustments to the duration and rates of payments, to ensure greater flexibility and facilitate payments to beneficiaries, said the Wam report.

The other major announcement is the development of Al Riyadh City, the largest housing project in Abu Dhabi, spread over 8,000 hectares - equivalent to 85 per cent of the area of Abu Dhabi island - located 30 km from Abu Dhabi Downtown.

On completion, the Al Riyadh City - previously known as south Shamkha and north Al Wathba - is likely to house over 200,000 citizens. It will boast several residential neighbourhoods with a full range of public facilities, such as parks, schools, shops, mosques, and medical and community service centres, which will comply with the highest standards of sustainability.

Also the government has set up a new property firm, Modon Real Estate Company, for developing housing, infrastructure and community facilities such as Al Riyadh City.


Dubai Properties' luxury villa project on track

UAE-based Abdul Rahim Architectural Consultants (Araco) said more than 35 per cent of the construction work has been completed on a residential development within The Villa, a project masterplanned by Dubai Properties.

The project, which boasts 18 high-end villas, is being developed by Tadhamon Capital, a Sharia-compliant investment firm as part of The Villa Project in Dubailand.

To meet the needs of families in the emirate, the villas are available in a variety of sizes each feature five bedrooms – including one master and one guest – and a maids’ room, said a statement from Araco.

The 18 villas have elegant designs and finishes along with spacious areas to accommodate a practical and high-end lifestyle. In addition, the villa community features an international supermarket, cafes, restaurants, jogging and bicycle tracks, children’s nursery and play areas, in addition to being a well-established gated family-oriented community, it stated.

Divided into four neighbourhoods, the entire development of The Villa will feature hundreds of homes once completed, many of which are already sold or occupied, said Araco in its statement.

With over 30 years of experience in the real estate sector in the UAE, and the region, Araco provides comprehensive services to clients ranging from architectural, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) and structural engineering besides interior design, project management and supervision.

Araco’s scope of work comprised all engineering designs, including architectural, structural and MEP, in compliance with the standards and regulations set out by Dubai Properties, said a senior official.

"We are very excited to work with Tadhamon Capital on this project and we look forward to a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship with this well-established company, in this project and in many more to come," noted Abdul Rahim Lari, the managing director.

Tadhamon Capital is a Sharia-compliant investment firm with a primary focus on asset management across three principal business lines – real estate, alternative investments, and treasury and capital markets.

Established in 2008 as a closed Bahraini joint stock firm, Tadhamon Capital operates under a Category One Investment Business Firm Licence issued and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The firm has an authorised capital of $100 million.- TradeArabia News Service


Ajman's Al Zorah introduces adrenaline-fuelled watersports

Al Zorah, the unique lifestyle and leisure destination in the UAE, nestled in the exotic setting of natural mangroves and breathtaking lagoons of Ajman, has expanded its portfolio of sporting activities to offer ultimate thrilling watersports experiences.

Perfect for adventure enthusiasts and family retreats, the luxury destination will host several motorised and non-motorised sports including jet-skiing, wake boarding, flyboarding, kayaking, paddle boating, water skiing, kite-boarding and much more. Catering to all age groups and levels of ability, the new additions promises visitors an action-packed experience at Al Zorah.

Unlike any other tourist destination, Al Zorah provides visitors and adventure seekers an extraordinary, spirit-uplifting natural setting for adrenaline-fuelled water activities, operated by Adventure Leisure Tourism (ALT), a destination management company. With friendly, safety-conscious instructors and equipment available on the peninsula, guests can take it at their own speed and wait for winds that suit them.

Imad Dana, Chief Executive Officer of Al Zorah Development Company, said: “The introduction of the leisure and recreational activities at Al Zorah further reinforces our objective to offer a distinctive tourist and lifestyle destination. Watersport enthusiasts and families looking for an exciting vacation and an intuitive experience can escape the bustle of city-life and create unforgettable memories at Al Zorah.”

He further added: “Our highly reputed operators – Adventure Leisure Tourism and Quest for Adventure - will ensure our guests receive the highest quality of service and have them experience the best watersports and rides, as they enjoy the magnificent views of the mangroves, the golf course, and waterfront.”

Besides the exhilarating water sporting activities at Al Zorah, the Kayak Tours conducted by ‘Quest for Adventure’, an adventure sports company, offers visitors an opportunity to explore one of the region’s most prized natural mangroves, officially declared as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention.

The destination will soon host special events like Stand-Up Paddle Boating Championships, Best Underwater Photo Competition and Jet-skiing Acrobatic Displays. Furthermore, Marina 1 at Al Zorah, constructed along the creek is near completion and will unveil berthing facilities for yachts, over 17 food and beverage outlets and additional entertainment activities including seaplane tours and abra rides. - TradeArabia News Service


Abu Dhabi launches new 4-day transit visa for all nationalities

Abu Dhabi will start issuing new four-day, or 96-hour, transit visa for all nationalities travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, jointly with Abu Dhabi Airports, Etihad Airways and General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, announced today the launch of a new visa counter to facilitate the visa application process and grant both transit and arriving passengers visas to Abu Dhabi within 15 to 30 minutes.

The new service is located at the Terminal 3 transit area at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

The Dh300-visa can be used by passengers with planned trips from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), or with intermediate flights through Abu Dhabi en route to their destination if their layover exceeds four hours. The transit visa can be applied for both at the new visa counter on arrival, or through the online designated portal, provided passengers meet the application criteria. Travellers can also request to change their transit visa to a tourist visa at the airport if they are planning to extend their stay in the capital.

The launch of the new visa counter is part of the Life in Abu Dhabi initiative, in support of the Enriching Tourist Experience. Established in May 2017 as part of the Government Services Office at Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Life in Abu Dhabi is an annual gathering aimed at developing a number of public sector services for the government of Abu Dhabi.

The new counter will issue several types of mission and tourist visas available to travellers who do not fall under the current visa upon arrival scheme. Passengers can now approach the visa counter in T3 to apply for, and obtain the relevant visa within a maximum 30 minutes.

In addition, the visa counter is now issuing the new 96-hour transit visa, which is a key part of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing efforts to attract more visitors to the capital. This project is being jointly implemented by several parties including Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Abu Dhabi Airports, General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways and Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi.

Brigadier Mansour Ahmed Ali Al Dhaheri, Director-General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, said his department had facilitated the registration process for tourism companies and held several workshops for companies and entities working in the tourism sector.

He said: “The launch of the new entry visa system strengthens the country’s efforts to maintain its regional leadership and position on the global map in the fields of tourism, economy and education. The benefits of the advanced system cover several areas aimed at advancing competitiveness. The new system offers several benefits including the unification of work standards and procedures, as well as equipping health, education and tourism sectors with advanced, modern laws and regulations.”

The move is expected to drive an increase in the number of hotel guests from around the world to all three regions of Abu Dhabi. October 2017 figures revealed an 18 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared to the same month last year, with 418,883 domestic and international visitors checking in to one of the Emirate’s 163 hotels or hotel apartments.

October’s rise has maintained the Emirate’s eight per cent increase over the year in terms of the numbers of hotel guests, and this number is on track to surpass the 2016 total of 4.4 million guests.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways Executive Vice President – Commercial, said: “Etihad Airways’ mandate is to promote and support Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030, and that means raising the city’s profile on the world stage as a leading leisure and cultural destination, which has recently been greatly enhanced by the opening of the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.

“The new transit visa is a great initiative for the emirate and for visitors, as now everyone is able to take advantage of Etihad Airways’ unique stopover offers, which feature a range of benefits including at least one night’s accommodation for any guest transiting through Abu Dhabi. This is a great way for visitors to create a ‘holiday within a holiday’, or simply break a long trip with a relaxing city break and enjoy the many attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer.”

Etihad Airways’ popular stopover programme is a perfect option for travellers on a 96-hour transit visa, providing great deals on hotels and various activities around Abu Dhabi.

Guests who wish to take advantage of the stopover programme can book a two-night stay from a choice of over 60 participating hotels in Abu Dhabi, and will receive the second night free. Business Class guests receive a complimentary night’s stay, while First Class guests receive two free nights.

Etihad Airways’ guests flying in The Residence cabin onboard the airline’s flagship Airbus A380 will be treated to two complimentary nights at the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel during their stopover.

Previously, the transit visa was only available for citizens of certain countries while other passengers had to apply though the official channels prior to their arrival to the capital. The transit visa cost was also reduced to Dh300 thus enabling more passengers to explore Abu Dhabi and enjoy its top attractions. Travellers can also request to change their transit visa to tourist visa if they are planning to extend their stay in the capital. – TradeArabia News Service


Vox Cinemas launches new venture in Bahrain

Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa (MEA) and Asia, has opened its first standalone Vox Cinemas location in Bahrain at the newly-launched Avenues Mall, offering customers an amazing cinema experience.

This comes within weeks of the launch of its joint venture with Bahrain Cinema Company, Vox Cineco at City Centre Bahrain.

Spanning 4,877 sq m, the newly-opened cineplex has 10 wide screens that will deliver unmatched entertainment levels to movie fans across the country, said the company in a statement.

TBringing two of Vox Cinemas’ signature concepts to Bahrain audiences for the very first time, customers will now be able to watch their favourite blockbusters in the premium Theatre by Rhodes and Max (which boasts ultra-comfortable seating experiences). The total seating capacity of the Vox Cinemas at the Avenues Mall is 929.

The Vox Max will have the highest seating capacity of 277 - split between 173 regular and 104 VIP.

The cineplex will feature three Theatre by Rhodes units.

A first-of-its-kind concept in Bahrain, Theatre by Rhodes brings unrivalled indulgence to the new VOX Cinemas venue by delivering a perfect combination of the best of film and food.

With an exclusive menu created by Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes, Theatre by Rhodes sets a new standard for “dinner and a movie”.

The concept’s gourmet in-cinema dining allows movie enthusiasts to revel in unsurpassed VIP treatment, lavish lounge areas, dedicated in-Theatre waiter service and an outstanding menu with made-to-order fine food, said the statement from Majid Al Futtaim.

Vox Cinemas is owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, the cinema arm of the wider Majid Al Futtaim Ventures group of businesses.

Lauding the launch, Cameron Mitchell, the chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, Vox Cinemas, said: "We are extremely proud to finally open the doors to our first standalone cinema in Bahrain and invite guests in. This next big step for our business is also the second location in Bahrain, following our recent joint venture with Cineco, which introduced the Imax experience to Vox Cineco at City Centre Bahrain."

"Allowing us to continue creating great moments for movie lovers in Bahrain, our new location at The Avenues – Bahrain is designed to offer an exceptional entertainment experience for our customers," stated Mitchell.

"Allowing us to continue creating great moments for movie lovers in Bahrain, our new location at The Avenues – Bahrain is designed to offer an exceptional entertainment experience for our customers," stated Mitchell.

Majid Al Futtaim is set to pump in Dh1.2 billion ($326 million) into the Middle East entertainment market as part of its massive expansion plans.

The company has set a target of opening more than 600 Vox screens across seven countries in the region - UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and Lebanon, said Michelle Walsh, the chief operating officer for Vox Cinemas.

"The investment will involve a series of acquisitions, organic expansions and a commitment to data-driven exceptional customer experience," she remarked.

With fully digital screens, Vox Cinemas (Latin word for voice) will be offering its audience in Bahrain more daily movie sessions, more movie releases and more flexible timings besides its exclusive cinema dining experience Theatre by Rhodes, she stated.

Aimed at the high-end customers, the tickets for Theatre by Rhodes are priced at BD16 ($42), while the Max VIP tickets will cost BD5 and Max BD4.

With this new launch, Vox Cinemas has refined every aspect of the cinema-going experience in the region to make it more engaging, fun and hassle-free - from the ease of ticket purchase to innovative seating alternatives, and more delicious food and beverage options.

Vox Max, she stated, is a mega-screen concept which was first launched by Vox Cinemas in the UAE in 2011 and since then it has become one of the most popular movie-going experiences for customers today.

"We present movies the way directors intended them to be watched – on huge screens, with crisp, digital imagery supported by surround sound technology and comfortable seating," explained Walsh.

"Our aim is to create great moments for everyone every day, through offering innovative cinematic experiences and exceptional customer services and dining inside a theatre is one of them," she added.

Now with this new Vox Cinemas, movie-buffs will be able to enjoy their favourite blockbusters with the ‘mega-screen’ Vox Max concept, which features ultra-comfortable Max VIP seats and the newly released Dolby Atmos digital surround sound, for a truly immersive experience," stated Walsh.

"Those looking for a more exclusive experience can do so with the Theatre by Rhodes screens, complete with luxurious VIP seats and a full restaurant-style gourmet menu," she added.

To make its more special for its customers, Vox Cinemas will be soon launching a new loyalty programme, Vox Rewards.

"It will reward loyal cinema goers by providing them complimentary tickets, food and beverages as well as a range of special offers and movie updates," said Walsh.

Also the company is planning for partnership with leading credit card companies and banks. "We already have struck a deal with Visa and talks are on with other comoanies as well," she added.

According to her, plans are afoot to introduce the large 4DX cinema concept in the kingdom which will take the movie buffs into a world of their own where they can touch, smell and feel and live every moment of their chosen movie attraction.

Traditional cinema fare also takes on a new twist at Vox Cinemas with the candybar featuring a restaurant-style menu that includes crepes, sandwiches, French fries, salads, gourmet popcorn, muffins and beverages such as coffee and fresh juices, she added.- TradeArabia News Service


Jumeirah Group to operate first hotel in Bahrain

Dubai Holding, the global investment conglomerate, and Sevens Holding has announced the signing of a management agreement for Jumeirah Group to operate a luxury hotel in Bahrain.

The 167-key hotel, which will be called Jumeirah Royal Saray - Bahrain, is scheduled to open on February 27, 2018.

The agreement marks Jumeirah Group’s entry into the Bahrain hospitality market and is a strategic milestone for the world-renowned luxury hospitality brand.

Edris AlRafi, chief executive officer of Dubai Holding, said: "We have been looking to bring Jumeirah to Bahrain for a number of years and we are delighted to partner with Sevens Holding for Jumeirah Royal Saray - Bahrain. This signing is a significant landmark in achieving our strategic expansion goals worldwide, and this elegant hotel will be an excellent addition to the Jumeirah Group portfolio. We are very much looking forward to welcoming guests from the local community, as well as introducing this stunning destination to international travellers."

Commenting on the agreement, Mohamed Al Kayed, chief executive officer of Sevens Holding said:""The Bahraini tourism industry is increasingly growing, with rising inflows of business and leisure travellers visiting the Kingdom on an annual basis. We are excited about our partnership with Jumeirah Group, and are confident that the Group's global track record of outstanding hospitality, together with our local market expertise will further enrich the regional luxury hospitality market at large."

Jumeirah Group is one of the world's most luxurious hotel groups and operates a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts of distinctive design, including the flagship Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The group's portfolio extends globally with hotels and resorts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Frankfurt, Mallorca, London, Maldives and Shanghai. - TradeArabia News Service


Diyar Al Muharraq mock-up villas to be ready in March

Diyar Al Muharraq, one of the leading urban developers in Bahrain, has announced that the mock-up villas within the third phase of its Al Bareh development will be ready for viewing in March 2018.

Situated in a prime location in the west side of Diyar Al Muharraq, Al Bareh is a seafront development that wholly embraces the elements of nature in a seamless blend.

In order to comprehensively imbue into Al Bareh a sense of serenity and harmony, myriad parklands and adequate greenery will be incorporated and spread throughout the project, said the developer in a statement.

Keeping in mind the functional needs of the community that will reside in Al Bareh such as the consistent provision of basic necessities, land areas have been allocated for community retail purposes, it added.

With the construction on track for completion in February 2018, Diyar Al Muharraq will be showcasing four types of show villas including two waterfront plots and two inner plots.

The waterfront plots are a 855 sq m, with a total built-up area of 570 square meters per villa, while the inner plots are circa 500 sq m with a total built-up area of 415 sq m per villa.

The show villas are designed to exhibit some of the different designs incorporated within the project. All the villas in the Third Phase of Al Bareh will be offered for sale in April 2018.

Al Bareh comprises three main products which include sea front residential plots dedicated to encompassing high-end villas with fabulous waterfront views overlooking the main canal and that are easily accessible by road, inner residential plots, within walking distance to waterfront parks, appropriately positioned in the heart of Al Bareh, and residential investment plots, with access to parks and community facilities, designated for the construction of low-rise multi-storey buildings.

The Al Bareh plots are being offered for sale on a freehold basis to all nationalities.

Speaking on the occasion, Diyar Al Muharraq CEO Dr Maher Al Shaer said: "In line with our hallmark consistency and accomplished efforts to expedite the completion of our project in its entirety, it brings me immense pleasure to announce that the mock-up villas of the Third Phase of Al Bareh are nearing completion.

Potential homeowners will be given the opportunity to view and subsequently, decide on the purchase of houses within the development according to their preferred design, remarked Al Shaer.

"We are immensely proud of this project due to its capacity to offer a surreally opulent lifestyle and look forward to the foreseeable future wherein our first residents within Al Bareh start settling in," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Iran signs joint venture to build solar panels

Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO) has signed an agreement to establish a joint company for building solar panels with the Chinese company Sunshine and Hong Kong-based Konda Energy.

Deputy head of IDRO for promoting advanced industries and energy megaprojects, Fardad Daliri, said that registering the company will begin in a month after finalization of its articles of association, reported Irna.

IDRO will own 30 per cent of shares in the company.

IDRO seeks to establish the industry, use existing capabilities in the country and commission a research and development (R&D) unit in the technology, he said.

Earlier, IDRO conducted feasibility studies on producing solar panels from silicon after signing a cooperation deal with the German company Schmidt.

Seven industrial units producing solar panels are operating in Iran and the county’s share of solar electricity is set to increase, the Irna report said.


Vodafone Qatar, GWC launch innovative app

Vodafone Qatar and Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC), a leading logistics provider, have launched an innovative digital solution for enhanced customer experience.

Vodafone’s logistics department and GWC’s contract logistics and information technology department, worked closely to develop an Android application and a web based order management system (OMS) which allows for end-to-end management of the supply chain cycle, said a statement.

This includes, real-time stock visibility and allocation, order placement, work flow approvals and notifications, distribution and delivery to Vodafone end customers, it said.

Additionally, the system captures digital proof of delivery statements, all signed forms and cash collection details all through digital devices at the time of delivery to customers. This has enhanced efficiency and significant reduction in delivery time of Vodafone products to customers, resulting in a better customer experience, it added.

Vodafone Qatar’s chief operating officer Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulla bin Jassim Al Thani, said: “As a company we’re committed to leading on digital innovation, blending the best of technology and human interaction in a personal, instant and easy way.”

“The solution with GWC is an example of this where we now have a state-of-the-art logistics facility with a scalable IT based digital solution for our company’s operations. This ensures greater customer satisfaction whether through our various retail outlets or through our online portal,” he added.

The success of the OMS solution developed by GWC for Vodafone is now being looked at as an industry best practice that GWC will extend to its other customers, said a statement.

GWC Group CEO Ranjeev Menon said: “It is our passion to foster and pursue innovation in all our operations. This collaboration with Vodafone establishes a unique solution for Vodafone’s supply chain operations supported by our bespoke IT systems, and this is a testament to Qatar’s ability to set a world-class standard in logistics operation.”

Vodafone Qatar held a site visit on November 23, to its dedicated facility at GWC’s Logistics Village Qatar (LVQ) with senior officials from both companies present, it stated. – TradeArabia News Service


New water park and resort hotel planned for Lusail island

A new luxury resort with a water park and four-star hotel will be built on an island off the coast of Lusail, Katara Hospitality announced this week.

The triangular Qetaifan Island North is expected to attract both tourists and residents.

The first phase of the project – the aqua park and 400-room hotel – should be completed by spring 2022, the state-funded hospitality group said.

Renderings of the resort show multiple pools with water slides, all set in landscaped grounds and adjacent to a series of beaches.

Leading off that is a pier extending out to another smaller island, and little trains appear to run the length of the connection.

The project is the first new tourist development to be announced since Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said last week that it will be ramping up efforts to attract 5.6 million visitors to the country by 2023.

The resort will be developed and managed by a new company, Qetaifan Projects, which is a QR11 billion subsidiary of Katara Hospitality.

Meanwhile, project management consultants Atkins will design the masterplan, infrastructure and components of phase one.

A shopping plaza, park, souq, mixed-use retail complex and staff accommodation are all planned for the second stage of the island’s development.

Katara Hospitality has not yet given an opening date for this phase.

Second island

The development will be one of two adjacent islands off the coast of Lusail city.

Qetaifan Island South is being run by Lusail Real Estate Development Company and will feature luxury villas.

In March 2014, 50 plots were sold to developers, while a year later a further 35 plots villas were snapped up in a public offering.

According to Lusail’s website, this island promises “exclusive property” with communal areas, dune-grassed landscaping with boardwalks as well as pools and spas.

Both islands will be connected to the mainland by “iconic” hanging bridges, Katara Hospitality said.

Previous plans have shown a cluster of four islands, however the latest announcement mentions only two.

Lusail ‘extension’

The new island is the latest development for Katara Hospitality. It plans to expand its current portfolio of 42 hotels in a dozen countries, to 60 properties by 2026.

Construction is underway on another key landmark project by Katara Hospitality in the new city – Katara Towers, which are expected to be complete by 2020.

When complete, it will house two hotels, luxury apartments, restaurants and entertainment and recreation facilities.

The hotel owner/operator has billed the north island development as a “key element of Lusail City’s expansion.”

Ambitious plans for Lusail include attracting 200,000 people to live there by 2022. However, much of the new city is still under construction.

In addition to hosting Qatar’s centerpiece World Cup stadium, the city will have multiple hotels and upscale shopping malls as well as residential complexes and business towers.

Additionally, a light rail network is being built, which will ultimately have four mainlines covering 33km.

The first line – yellow – is expected to start operating in January 2019, with the rest following by 2020, according to the joint venture QDVC.


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