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Sunday, 17 March 2013 13:47

Middle East Update

Written by  Lisa Loverro
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Dubai continues to grow, cruising takes off in Abu Dhabi, and Jordan anticipates new resorts. There’s a lot of news coming out of the region and despite the unrest in certain areas of the Middle East, the tourism industry continues to see increased visitors to this part of the world.

Bustling Dubai

I recently sat down with Hamad Mohammed Bin Mejren, the Executive Director of Business Tourism for Dubai to discuss their current and future tourism numbers. It seems as though there is a lot of encouraging news for this ever-growing Emirate. The year 2012 welcomed 7.2 million new hotel guest arrivals to Dubai, an increase of 9% over 2011 and over 9 million total hotel guests to Dubai through the 3rd quarter of 2012, an increase of 11% compared to the previous year.

Dubai’s international airport (DXB) saw a whopping 57 million people navigate through their sleek terminals. Hamad Mohammed Bin Mejren stated they expect this number to increase up to 98 million business and leisure travelers using DXB by the year 2020.

In hotel news, the JW Marriott Marquis ( opened in Dubai this year, becoming the tallest hotel in world at 1,164 feet in height. The Intercontinental Dubai Marina Hotel is set to open its doors by the end of 2013.

Some of the most exciting news to be announced was the plan for a new city within Dubai named after His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The new city, the “Mohammed Bin Rashid City,” will feature world-class leisure facilities focusing on family tourism including a park equipped to receive 35 million visitors and the largest family center for entertainment in the Middle East. Additionally, and in collaboration with Universal Studios, there will be over 100 hotel facilities to meet the needs of these visitors.

While there are many restaurants to report on, such as the new Shiba Asian restaurant at the Meydan Hotel, an exciting piece of news to share is the inclusion of a Dubai City Guide to the Zagat family of restaurant and nightlife book reviews. The Zagat 2013 Dubai City Guide is available throughout the United States and highly recommended for anyone traveling to the region.

For all the latest news on Dubai visit


Cruise into Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s cruise market has set sail! With the addition of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ fully revitalized Serenade of the Seas liner that recently made its Middle East debut, replacing Brilliance of the Seas, this sector of tourism seems to be thriving. Scheduled to make 17 stops in the UAE capital in its inaugural run from January 2013, Royal Caribbean International said Serenade of the Seas’ arrival “ups the game” in the market. Boasting a nine-story central atrium, 16 restaurants and outlets - seven of which are being newly developed - six pools and whirlpools, a ‘Vitality Spa’, rock climbing wall, daily cabaret shows, Serenade of the Seas will be manned by over 850 crew members.

The Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, which leans a record- breaking 18 degrees, opened this past year. It is strategically located within walking distance of the UAE capital’s embassy and government district.

One of the most highly anticipated hotel openings in Abu Dhabi occurred this past year as the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara ( became home to the newest Ananatara Spa. Featuring a Turkish Hammam, it houses the largest Hammam in the region. Set along the shores of Abu Dhabi’s protected mangrove reserves, the hotel and spa are situated 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, seven minutes from Al Bateen Airport and ten minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi. For more info on Abu Dhabi happenings, go to


Jordan Awaits

Celebrating the 200th year of the rediscovery of Petra, the mystical and biblical country of Jordan awaits significant hotel openings in the next few years. Among the first will be the Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa scheduled for a 4th quarter 2013 opening. The hotel will feature seven food and beverage outlets including three restaurants and four bars. Leisure facilities include a health club, spa, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a kids club. Next in line for scheduled openings is the Fairmont Amman in 2014. The hotel will be situated next to the Fifth Circle in the heart of Amman, less than 30 minutes from the airport, adjacent to the Embassy District. Further down the road, The St. Regis Amman, expects to be completed in 2015 and will offer a luxury resort and residence in the heart of Amman’s city center, business district and shopping areas with views of the most affluent district of the city, Abdoun. For more information visit

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