Abu Dhabi captures leading destination title from Dubai


Abu Dhabi has walked off with the coveted title of Middle East’s Leading Destination in a shock announcement at this year’s prestigious World Travel Awards on Monday, May 3 at the luxurious The Address Dubai Marina.

The news means that Abu Dhabi is the first destination to seize the region’s most sought-after title from Dubai. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority also scored as the region’s Leading Tourist Board. Etihad Airways saw a night of honors too, taking home a series of major awards including Middle East’s Leading Airline, Middle East’s Leading Airline Economy Class, Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class, Middle East’s Leading Airline Inflight Entertainment, Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff, and Middle East’s Leading International Marketing Campaign. Dubai’s Burj Al Arab was also successful, presented with the Middle East’s Leading Hotel award.

Guest of Honor at the region’s most important night of the year was HH Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Khalid, who was presented with the Middle East’s Leading Personality of the Year award.

He was joined by more than 400 senior industry figures in the travel industy, including His Excellency Sheikh Faisal Khalid Sultan Al Qassemi; Her Excellency Dr. Rajiha Bint Abdul Ameer Bin Ali, minister of tourism of Sultanate of Oman; His Excellency Jamal Al Hai, senior vice president of Dubai Airport; Bernhard Bohnenberger, chairman and managing director of Six Senses Resorts & Spas; John Bullough, CEO of Aldar Properties; Ali H. Lakhraim, president and CEO of Millennium Hotels & Resorts; Ahmed Al Mammari, vice president of Royal Jet Group; and Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer of Etihad Airways.

Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Emaar, and Safar Travel & Tourism triumphed at the ceremony. Rotana, in particular, made a strong show of force, winning an impressive total of nine awards, including the highly sought-after Middle East’s Leading Hotel Brand.

Emaar took the coveted title of Middle East’s Leading Tourism Property Development Company; Safar Travel & Tourism was awarded with Middle East’s Leading Business Travel Agency and Abu Dhabi’s Leading Travel Agency, both for the second consecutive year.

Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, and Qatar Airways won awards for Middle East’s Leading Resort and Middle East’s Leading Airline Business Class, respectively.

The Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi, was voted unanimously as Middle East’s Leading New Hotel. Another unanimous vote was for Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award, which went to Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

In addition to the overall Middle East winners, there were award categories too for Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Makkah, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Yemen, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ra al-Khaimah, and Sharjah.

Key winners in the regions included AKMC-Al Shohada Hotel, awarded Makkah’s Leading Hotel; Six Senses Zighy Bay, named Oman’s Leading Resort; and Regency Travel & Tours, first in the new category of Qatar’s Leading Travel Agency.

The full list of winners for the World Travel Awards Middle East Ceremony 2010 can be found by logging on to http://www.worldtravelawards.com/winners2010-10 . The World Travel Awards, now in its 17th year and the global travel and tourism industry equivalent of the Oscars, is helping to drive up standards of customer service and business excellence throughout the world.

“The Middle East is a shining example to the international industry, even in the challenging times that this region and destinations worldwide have been experiencing in the past two years,” said Graham E. Cooke, founder and president of World Travel Awards.

“World Travel Awards believes that one of the key priorities in travel and tourism is making sure that companies and organizations have the right type of skills and training to underpin the industry and help create new jobs and prosperity for the region. As the Middle East industry becomes more sophisticated, these jobs are inevitably becoming complex and high value,” he said. “Skilled people are the lynchpin of the Middle East’s future growth potential.

“No travel and tourism company cannot hope to be successful in these awards unless they offer unparalleled customer service. The key objective, however, is alleviating inconsistencies of delivery.

“Too often customer service quality can fluctuate and create real challenges in maintaining a reputation for excellence – but this is clearly not the case for our winners! Without exception, they have reliably demonstrated outstanding service.

“I want to congratulate them all. Their contribution to global tourism is truly remarkable. They should be justly proud of their achievements.”

The overall winners will now compete against the crème de la crème throughout the world at World Travel Awards Grand Final, which will take place in London (UK) in November, immediately before World Travel Market.