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News summary from the first day of the Arabian Travel Market, Dubai

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Timed to coincide with the peak summer booking period from the Arabian Gulf, the Ministry of Culture & Tourism for Azerbaijan has launched of an Arabic/English website dedicated to the promotion of th

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Timed to coincide with the peak summer booking period from the Arabian Gulf, the Ministry of Culture & Tourism for Azerbaijan has launched of an Arabic/English website dedicated to the promotion of the country.

Announced at Arabian Travel Market by Dubai-based regional representative office, Atlantis Holidays, the new website is an extension of its existing travel and tourism magazine, Azerbaijan Gem of the Caucasus.

The OurAzerbaijan.com website details natural and historic tourist attractions including route maps and travel guides as well as information on accommodation, sightseeing spots, eco-tourism destinations and picnic spots.

According to Atlantis Holidays, it will enable potential travelers to discover the unspoiled beauty of the country, known as the Gem of the Caucasus as well as introducing Azeri culture, hospitality and traditions to a new audience.

“We know how incredible a destination can look in a magazine and online, and that, for many aspiring travelers, it is what may inspire a booking for their next holiday,” said CEO Rashid Al Noori.

Announced today (Monday, May 6) at Arabian Travel Market 2013, Shaza Hotels has signed a project for a new property in the Qatari capital, scheduled to open in spring 2016.

The 180-room hotel will be located in the cultural district close to the Souq Wafiq and Musuem of Islamic Art, and will feature the country’s first hotel art gallery integrated in to the lobby – it will also include a membership-only business club with restaurant, private meeting rooms, exclusive suites, cigar lounge and library plus three other restaurants, two ballrooms, media centre and signature Shalimar lounge.

In addition, there will be a deluxe Shaza Hammam & Spa plus a Kids’ Club that is expected to be the first of its kind in the region, based on the philosophy of the three “Es” -Entertainment, Exploration and Education for younger guests.

The Shaza Doha will complement Shaza’s existing portfolio of nine hotel projects in operation or under development that includes the Shaza Al Madina, Shaza Cairo Nile, Shaza Doha, Shaza Fez, Shaza Al Rawdatain Karbala Residences, Shaza Marrakech, Shaza Salalah and Shaza Sarajevo.

According to president and CEO Simon Coombs, Shaza aims to increases its portfolio across the region with projects in Amman, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Muscat and Riyadh, among others, “Our vision is to create a unique brand for the region that celebrates its diverse cultures, while still delivering international standards of luxury.”

A range of summer packages has been launched at by Jumeirah at Etihad Towers at Arabian Travel Market, targeting the GCC market with tailor-made incentives and accommodation.

The “Elegance & Exhilaration Summer Package” provides GCC residents with a 10 percent discount on rooms at the Abu Dhabi property, including breakfast, as well as free access to the UAE capital’s tallest visitor attraction – the Observation Deck at 300 which overlooks the corniche and Arabian Gulf.

Additionally, the “Elegance & Exhilaration Summer Package” includes a complimentary shuttle service to and from the new Yas Waterworld on Yas Island as well as to Ferrari World.

Other offers from the hotel include a free head and neck massage for guests booking at signature massage at the Talise spa, and all promotions will be valid between June 1 and September 15, excluding the Holy Month of Ramadan.

For the first time, Arabic speakers will be able to make Hertz car rental reservations in their preferred language following the introduction of a dedicated language function across its regional websites.

Announcing the development at a briefing session during Arabian Travel Market, VP of Sales & Marketing Elyes Mrad said the Arabic option will be initially made available from June 1 on local Hertz website domains in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.

She said, following the establishment of a regional corporate office in 2010, Hertz had embarked on a three-year plan to become the regional leader in the Middle East, and, following the roll-out of domestic Hertz website domains – most recently in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey – online bookings had jumped by 40 percent.

In the last year, Hertz has also appointed dedicated GSAs in Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, and is the process of introducing 24/7 Arabic and English customer call centers, currently operational in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait and to be introduced to other markets in the coming year.

Mrad said the Middle East region had huge growth potential for Hertz outbound car rentals, with customers typically reserving larger, premium cars and booking for longer than average periods. “Middle East customers per transaction are worth six times more than an average Hertz customer,” he said.

Scoring a success at the regional World Travel Awards on the eve of Arabian Travel Market, Oman Air has walked away with the award for the Middle East’s Leading Airline Economy Class.

Picking up the award which was presented at a ceremony at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai, Oman Air CEO Wayne Pearce said the airline was honored to have won the award in such a highly competitive category.

“When Oman Air unveiled its new Airbus A330 Economy, Business and First Class cabins, we ensured that each cabin, including economy, offered fantastic comfort, space and in-flight entertainment, with audio video on demand and live satellite TV. These levels of comfort and amenity were mirrored aboard our fleet of Embraer E175 regional jets and are perfectly complemented by our medium-haul Boeing B737 economy class service.”

The airline’s latest success follows the introduction of a new A330 business class seat, named as the World’s Best at the Skytrax 2012 World Airline Awards.

Its fleet consists of four Airbus A330-200s, three Airbus A330-300s, 17 Boeing 737-700s/800s, four Embraer E175s and two ATR 42s, and it will take delivery of six new Boeing 737s in 2014 as well as six
Boeing 787s Dreamliners, scheduled for delivery starting in 2015.

A first time exhibitor at Arabian Travel Market, Mandarin Oriental has announced a new Arabic experiential website – mandarinoriental.ae – that it claims will provide striking photography, right to left navigation, useful content and ease of booking combined with “Best Rate Promise.”

The site also offers guests the opportunity to personalize their stay through the creation of an integrated guest profile, where guest preferences can be shared across all hotels in the group.

The online booking process has been enhanced too, with the ability to view and compare rooms and rates as well as the promise that rates offered online are the best available anywhere – if a better price can be found, guests will be offered a further 10 percent reduction.

Other features available online will be insider concierge tips, the group’s online magazine, Destination MO, plus social media connectivity.

Currently the Arabic website features 16 hotels of the group’s hotels and the full portfolio will be available to view online by the end of June 2013.

Rolling out an aggressive expansion strategy at Arabian Travel Market today (Monday, May 6), Abidos Hotels’ vice president Mina Habib unveiled plans for a portfolio of at least 20 hotels by 2017.

Abidos Hotels recently entered into a management contract with Al Shafar General Contracting to operate Abidos Hotel Apartment – Al Barsha – Dubai, located within walking distance of the Mall of the Emirates.

The group only announced its first property in December 2012 with the launch of Abidos Hotel Apartment – Dubailand, and following massive interest from the travel trade, expects to sign up four to five projects before the end of the year including a 900-unit property in Dubailand that is currently under negotiation.

“The region’s hotel industry has shown amazing recovery over the last two years and looks extremely buoyant. It is the right time to capitalize on the tremendous demand for quality hotels in not just UAE but across the Middle East. We have the necessary resources and network to expand and grow our portfolio and are eager to be a top player in the local hospitality sector,” said Habib.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.