Sunday, June 18, 2017

Work in full swing at Aldar's master-planned community

UAE-based Aldar Properties said work is moving at a steady pace in its master-planned community on Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, with a 2.4-km canal now open and construction of the Vida Hotels and Resorts set to start this year.

The newly-opened canal is flowing adjacent to 35 plots within Aldar’s master-planned community, bringing waterside views, promenades, seating and areas for exercise and socialising to the island’s steadily growing population as well as visitors from other parts of the city, said the developer in a statement.

A focus on lifestyle-driven amenities and residential development projects is propelling Aldar’s master-planned community on Reem Island towards being one of the most attractive destinations in the UAE Capital, it added.
 
Further adding to the modern lifestyle on Reem Island, the beach near the head of the canal is expected to become home to many community events following the success of Aldar’s inaugural Reem Weekend, said the Emirati developer.

Over 5,000 visitors enjoyed a weekend that included organic food vendors and food trucks, street performances, live art, sports and children’s activities, as well as a pop-up market.
 
Reinventing the park experience in Abu Dhabi, Reem Central Park is set to become a focal point for the city when it opens to the public in 2018. The park will feature a mosque with a capacity of 2,000 worshippers set beside a tranquil reflective pool, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, a retail centre, a skate park, play areas, and interactive water features.

Reem Central Park’s attractions and amenities will also lead to a natural waterfront, including a 4-km-long promenade that will feature edutainment opportunities on the area’s natural reserves and plant life.

Commenting on the development, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chief executive of Aldar Properties, said: "Our master-planned community on Reem Island is developing at a rapid pace, spurred on by modern lifestyle and community focused amenities such as the canal, Reem Central Park, Vida Hotel and Residences, exciting event spaces, and of course our mid-market residential projects Meera and The Bridges."

"In addition to being incredibly attractive for owner occupiers, Reem Island continues to capture the attention of investor audiences, with well over 60 per cent of the plots in our masterplan currently in various stages of design and construction, and the balance earmarked for future development opportunities by us as well as third parties," he added.

Aldar said construction is under way with streetscaping complete and the coastalscape nearing completion, with hard and soft landscaping and infrastructure expected to commence in July.
 
The successful sell out of The Bridges has been supported by the diverse buyer base, including younger purchasers eager to make their first property investment, as well as buyers who are brand new customers for Aldar.

With homes ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, and complemented by a range of amenities set within a landscaped environment, The Bridges will set a new benchmark for mid-market homes in the UAE upon its completion in early 2020, it stated.

Meera, Aldar’s first mid-market development on Reem Island, is making good progress with the structure now at the 16th floor out of 26.
 
On the Vida Hotels and Resorts project, Al Mubarak said the construction is scheduled to start this year and is due for completion in 2020.

Vida will operate a 262-key hotel and 192 serviced apartments. These will be accompanied by Aldar’s 329 marina residences within the development, which will add to the 5,000 homes already within its leased residential portfolio, he noted.
 
Aldar’s Shams Boutik is home to Reem Island’s only Nando’s, Starbucks and Johnny Rockets outlets, as well as leading supermarket Waitrose and children’s activity centre Action Zone. A Burjeel Day Care Centre will open in Shams Boutik in August this year, he added.-TradeArabia News Service



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Cleartrip launches Arabic-language website

Cleartrip, a leading mobile and online travel company in the Middle East, has officially launched an Arabic-language website to support its GCC market expansion efforts and provide users in the region with localized browsing and booking capability.

The new website includes content and promotions relevant for Arabic-speaking audiences, and comes with a host of useful features, tools and functionality designed to allow travelers to easily make and manage reservations. Users are also able to avail exciting offers and benefits when booking on the Cleartrip website or its mobile application.

Cleartrip is experiencing increased traffic on its website from mobile devices, with traffic driven by smartphones and tablets growing 30 per cent during the first week of Ramadan, and the launch of a dedicated website in Arabic language is expected to further accelerate bookings.

Innovations in payments security, along with the launch of new government initiatives in the UAE and the proliferation of e-commerce startups, are driving increased consumer trust in online payments. This in turn is further expanding the market opportunity for Cleartrip. Currently, 86 per cent of Cleartrip bookings in the UAE are by credit card and 14 per cent are by debit card.

“As the Middle East traveller becomes more discerning and tech-savvy and as the travel booking landscape shifts toward a more digital focus, the demand for in-language information and booking capability is on the rise,” said Stuart Crighton, founder and CEO of Cleartrip. “Cleartrip has emerged as a travel platform of choice for consumers across much of the Arabic-speaking world. We have grown by over 45 per cent year-on-year and Arabic speakers represent our fastest growing segment, their numbers increasing by triple digits. Bringing a dedicated Arabic website into our product mix will strengthen our value proposition among digital-first Arab customers and ensure our service offerings match the needs of this sizeable and growing audience.”

“At Cleartrip, we are committed to making travel simple and hassle-free by offering a powerful, technology-driven booking platform that is easy to navigate and rich in content. The launch of the Arabic website is yet another important step toward achieving our goal of providing users in the GCC region with a seamless browsing and booking experience that evolves along with their needs,” Crighton added.

The Middle East’s online travel market is forecast to almost double in value in the two-year period between 2016 and 2018, rising from US$18 billion to $35 billion by 2018. According to a joint study conducted by Travelport and Phocuswright, online travel bookings, which accounted for 25 per cent of all bookings in the Middle East in 2016, will rise to 36 per cent by the end of 2017. - TradeArabia News Service
 



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Bechtel names Saudi country manager

Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), has appointed Abdulrahman Al Ghabban as the new country manager in Saudi Arabia to drive its operations in the kingdom.

Al Ghabban joined Bechtel in 2013 as business development manager for the power business unit. In 2015, he was appointed deputy country manager for Saudi Arabia in addition to continuing his business development role.

Prior to joining Bechtel, he worked for more than ten years in both the public and the private sectors in Saudi Arabia, said the company in a statement.

Al Ghabban’s new leadership role reaffirms Bechtel’s strong commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia reach its “2030 Vision” through the appointment of local nationals for critical positions at the company’s various projects in the kingdom, it stated.

Welcoming the appointment, David Welch, the president for International and Government Affairs, Bechtel, said: "We are very proud of our decision to appoint the first Saudi national as country manager for Bechtel in the Kingdom."

"Bechtel has hired and trained hundreds if not thousands of Saudis over the past several decades because we realize that the strategic objectives of the Kingdom’s economic vision hinges on investing in local talent," stated Welch.

Saudi citizens comprise the highest percentage of local nationals employed by Bechtel world-wide, he added.   

On his new role, Al Ghabban said: “I am honoured to be the first Saudi national to hold the position as country manager for one of the most respected engineering companies in the world. Bechtel has a strong footprint in Saudi Arabia and I look forward to helping advance my country’s economic development with all the support that Bechtel can provide.”

Bechtel has been working in Saudi Arabia for over 70 years developing megaprojects from oil and gas facilities to airports and critical infrastructure projects.

Earlier this year, it was awarded a contract to set up and operate the National Project Management Organization in the Riyadh, said the company statement .

Bechtel is also currently working on Lines 1 and 2 of the Riyadh Metro Project and recently launched a graduate training program to train and hire up to 75 students from the Riyadh College of Technology, it added.-TradeArabia News Service



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New summer routes with flydubai

For the first time, flydubai will launch three seasonal routes in addition to its popular summer destinations for passengers from Dubai and across the region.

Batumi in Georgia, Qabala in Azerbaijan and Tivat in Montenegro will operate from June to September 2017, offering popular seaside resorts, beautiful mountain vistas and mild climates.

Flydubai will be the first carrier to offer direct flights from the UAE to Qabala and Tivat, and the first from Dubai to Batumi. UAE nationals and residents entering Batumi and Tivat will receive a visa on arrival, and GCC residents entering Batumi will receive a visa on arrival.

“Everyone looks forward to their summer holidays and with a wide range of destinations to choose from, flydubai remains committed to providing passengers with more choices and opportunities to travel,” said Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at flydubai. “There is strong demand for affordable and off-the-beaten track holiday destinations and we look forward to offering our passengers a variety of unique and exciting options,” he added.

In addition to its seasonal offerings, flydubai offers passengers a variety of popular leisure destinations that reflects the diversity of its network. For those seeking a city break, flydubai offers passengers the chance to explore a range of cities rich in culture, heritage and activities such as Baku, Bratislava, Istanbul, Prague, Sarajevo, Tbilisi and Yerevan. UAE Nationals and Indian Nationals with a UAE residence visa visiting Yerevan are eligible to receive a Visa on Arrival.  

“The decision to launch our summer seasonal routes is a direct response to customer feedback,” said Jeyhun Efendi, senior vice president Commercial (UAE, EU, ME, CIS) at flydubai. “With facilitated visa requirements for the residents of the UAE and GCC, it’s a great opportunity for our passengers to enjoy these hidden gems and experience what they have to offer.”

Along with city breaks, the summer season is the ideal time to escape to the beach. Flydubai’s flights to Bangkok, Colombo, Maldives and Zanzibar give passengers the chance to experience some of the best beaches and tropical hotspots in the world.

“With the variety of destinations available for passengers, there has never been a better time to explore the flydubai network this summer,” said Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president Commercial (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa) at flydubai. “We continue to offer flexible options for travel, especially for the 62 previously underserved markets we operate to. Along with our product offerings in the air and on the ground, we look forward to more passengers discovering what flydubai has to offer.”

Flydubai continues to enhance its product offerings for passengers. Fourty-eight out of flydubai’s 58 aircraft are now equipped with wi-fi and Live TV services, providing passengers with greater connectivity throughout their journey. Flydubai’s Business Class continues to offer passengers a personlised travel experience with increased comfort and added convenience. Open, flydubai’s new rewards programme, has been well received across the region since its launch in October 2016 and has been designed to make earning and spending reward points simple and straightforward.

Flydubai’s seasonal routes

Batumi, Georgia
Flydubai will operate three weekly flights between Dubai and Batumi from June 22 to September 30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’, Batumi is the second largest city in Georgia, located in the country's southwest region. Batumi is a popular tourist destination known for its bustling seaside resorts during the summer that are lined with restaurants, cafés, dancing fountains and its popular Ferris Wheel. The historical part of the city is spread between its famous seaport and the Boulevard, which features numerous historical buildings that represent the architectural forms of Asia and Europe.

Qabala, Azerbaijan
Flydubai will operate two weekly flights between Dubai and Qabala from June 29 to September 17 on Thursdays and Sundays.

Qabala, also known as Gabala, is the capital of the Qabala District, known for its rich history and is one of the most beautiful regions of Azerbaijan. Qabala is considered a popular tourist destination due to its mild climate, chestnut forests, excellent wildlife and recreational resorts.

Tivat, Montenegro
Flydubai will operate two weekly flights between Dubai and Tivat from June 23 to September 25 on Mondays and Fridays.

Tivat is located in the central part of Kotor Bay, a Unesco World Heritage site, and is renowned for its pleasant climate and natural beauty. Along with its beautiful beaches and numerous cafés and restaurants, Tivat has everything you need for your summer holiday and is conveniently located a short drive away from Dubrovnik in Croatia and Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. - TradeArabia News Service



from Travel Tourism Hospitality

Gulf Hotels Groups welcomes new deputy CEO

The Gulf Hotels Group, a leading hospitality chain in Bahrain, has appointed Ron Peters as deputy chief executive officer.

He joined GHG in August 2006 as general manager of Gulf Brands International, and has since then led its strategic transformation into one of the most successful beverages businesses in the Kingdom.

A seasoned professional, Peters has over 20 years’ experience in the UK and Middle East covering the hospitality, leisure, and food and beverages retail sectors. His successful track record has embraced strategic, business and operational development at a senior executive level, including new concepts and brand management.

Congratulating Peters on his appointment, Garfield Jones, chief executive officer of Gulf Hotels Group, said: “This is a well-deserved promotion for Ron, who has been instrumental in the significant growth of Gulf Brands International during the past 11 years. His focused approach to driving business will greatly benefit GHG in achieving its ambitious strategic expansion plans.

"Ron will continue to oversee the Gulf Brands International division in addition to coordinating the efforts of the GHG executive management team and spearheading the expansion of the restaurant division” he added.

Commenting on his appointment, Peters said: “This is a great honour, and I value highly the trust and confidence placed in me by the Board of Directors and the CEO. I relish the challenge of being closely involved in the Group’s ongoing strategic evolution, and further strengthening its reputation as a pioneering and highly-respected player in the regional hospitality sector.” - TradeArabia News Service
 



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Oman to launch new e-visa system

On June 19, Oman will officially launch a new e-visa system, said a report.

Under the auspices of Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) will launch the new service, said a report in Times of Oman.

An ROP official said: “We have been trying and testing every bit of the e-visa for more than 12 months.

“We are going to introduce it gradually. Once we are sure and have confidence in the security of the system and once the test is confirmed, we will start.

“The fees will be the same and if there is an addition it will be announced earlier.”



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Mena sees biggest lumber imports fall in 2016


The biggest declines in lumber imports globally from 2015 to 2016 were seen in the Mena region, where demand for lumber fell in all the major markets, including Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, a report said.

Global softwood lumber prices trended upward in early 2017 with prices in North America hitting a 13-year high, Chinese import prices increasing 13 per cent in 18 months and Japanese prices moving modestly higher in the first quarter of 2017, added the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Globally traded softwood lumber reached an all-time high in 2016, said Wood Resources International in its quarterly report.

WRI estimates that 118 million cu m of lumber was traded last year, or 10 percent more than in 2015. Imports to the US account for about one-third of globally traded lumber and have almost doubled in five years. China accounted for about 17 per cent of import volumes in 2016, followed by the UK, Japan and Germany.
 

Lumber markets – North America
 
Lumber production in North America in 2016 was up six percent from the previous year, reaching its highest level since 2007. The biggest rises in production occurred in the US South and Eastern Canada, while the increases in western Canada and the western US were more modest.
 
Prices for lumber in the US have jumped during the first four months of the year to hit a 13-year high in April. Many of the commonly traded grades surged in price by more than 20 per cent from April of 2016.
 
Lumber markets – Northern Europe
 
Sweden exported 12.9 million m3 of softwood lumber in 2016, which was the highest volume exported since 2006. The increase from 2015 was a modest 1.5 per cent, with shipments to Denmark, Japan, China and France rising the most.
 
Domestic lumber prices in both Finland and Sweden continue to be close to their lowest levels in ten years in US dollar terms, as reported in the Wood Resource Quarterly.
 
Lumber markets – China
 
Prices for imported softwood lumber to China have been in a steady upward trend during 2016 and 2017 with the average import price in March 2017 being 13 per cent higher than 18 months earlier. The biggest change in pricing over the past two year has been that prices for Russian lumber are no longer substantially cheaper than those for lumber from other supplying regions, but instead are rather close to the average import price.
 
Lumber market – Japan
 
Total housing starts were up 3.2 per cent in Japan in the 1Q/17 as compared to the same quarter in 2016, and the economic outlook for the coming year is slightly more optimistic than that for last year.
 
Prices for domestic and imported lumber have remained practically unchanged for almost a year in Yen terms. With the Yen strengthening against the US dollar during the first four months of 2017, lumber prices have increased so far this year in US dollar terms.
 
Lumber market – Russia
 
After a substantial decline in softwood lumber export prices during 2014 and 2015, Russian lumber prices have trended upward for most of 2016 and early 2017. Average export prices in March 2017 were 12 per cent higher than in the same month last year, and prices for wood going to China have gone up even faster over the same time-period.
 
Export volumes to China in the 1Q/17 were unchanged from the previous quarter, holding steady at the second highest level on record.
 
Global lumber, sawlog and pulpwood market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, which was established in 1988 and has subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, wood chip, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. – TradeArabia News Service



from Construction Realestate

Airbus to showcase major A380 upgrade at Paris Airshow

Airbus is making big changes to its A380 superjumbo with a new wingtip design that promises to improve fuel efficiency, a report said.

The latest modifications, part of efforts to boost slow sales of the world's largest aircraft, will be announced at this week's Paris Airshow, said a report in Reuters.

The roughly three-metre-high wingtip, which is raised at the edges, would reduce fuel consumption by approximately 2 per cent.

The A380 has suffered a shortfall of sales as airlines switch to slightly smaller models with two engines, which are easier to fill and cheaper to maintain.

Airbus last week revised down its forecast for the A380 category by 6 per cent to 1,184 aircraft, though at 4 per cent of total deliveries this remains more optimistic than Boeing - which has seen production fall, even for the Boeing 747-8.

Boeing looks set to revise down or even scrap its 20-year forecast for such 'very large aircraft' in a survey next week, the report said.
 



from Travel Tourism Hospitality

High-speed Saudi rail on track for year-end launch

The Haramain Express Train, which will connect the Saudi cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah’s airport and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, was tested successfully and the project is now on track for completion by year-end, said a report.

The high-speed rail ran a successful trip from King Abdullah City in Rabigh to Madinah at speeds of up to 300 km per hour, reported Arab News, citing the acting head of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO).

Rumaih bin Mohammed Al Rumaih, who is also the chairman of the Public Transport Authority, said the electric railway will be 450- km-long. 

Trains will run between Makkah and Madinah in two hours, and are projected to serve 60 million passengers annually, he added.



from Construction Realestate

Easyjet gets its first Airbus A320neo

British low-cost carrier easyJet has received its first A320neo, which is also the airline’s 300th A320 Family aircraft, at a ceremony in Toulouse, France.

The aircraft, powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, is configured in a comfortable 186 seat layout. To mark the occasion and to distinguish the NEO fleet, the aircraft has a specially designed NEO logo on the fuselage. easyJet’s NEO fleet will be based out of London Luton Airport and operate its first commercial flights in June to Amsterdam, Madrid and Edinburgh.

From its first A320 Family delivery in 2003, easyJet has grown to operate Europe’s largest A320 Family fleet and is also Europe’s largest customer for the NEO. Environmentally, the NEO has significant benefits with a 15 percent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions rising to 20 percent by 2020. The noise footprint is also reduced by 50 percent.

In May 2017, easyJet upsized orders for 30 A320neo with 186 seats to the larger capacity A321neo with 235 seats for growth at slot constrained airports. – TradeArabia News Service



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Turkey to start building first nuke plant in 2018

The Turkish subsidiary of Russia’s nuclear energy company Rusatom plans to launch its project to build the first nuclear power plant in Turkey next year, Russian news agency Tass reported, citing a statement from the Rosatom State Nuclear Corporation.

Russia and Turkey signed an inter-governmental agreement in 2010 on cooperation in the construction and operation of Turkey’s first NPP. The $20 billion Akkuyu NPP project stipulates building four power units with VVER-1200 reactors and a total capacity of 4,800 MW in the southern Turkish province of Mersin. The plant is estimated to meet around 6-7 per cent of Turkey's electricity demand.

The project is carried out by Akkuyu Nuclear Co., a subsidiary of Rosatom Energy International, which was granted a 49-year-long electricity generation license from the Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) on Thursday.

"After carefully reviewing the bid, the EPDK managing council decided to give the green light to the bid and issued a power generation license to Akkuyu Nuclear Co, valid until June 15, 2066 (49 years)," Rosatom said in a statement.

Akkuyu Nuclear also expects to obtain permissions from the Ministry of Forest and Water Management, the Ministry of Finance and the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) this summer. Those permissions will enable Akkuyu Nuclear to start the construction of auxiliary facilities and other sections of the nuclear power plant not directly related to nuclear power generation.

Main construction works, however, are expected to begin in March 2018, after Rosatom receives the main license.

"In line with the intergovernmental agreement, the first unit is to be put on stream no later than 7 years after the Turkish side issues all required permissions," Rosatom said.



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Emirates Park Zoo and Resort unveils special Eid offer

Emirates Park Zoo and Resort, a first of its kind establishment in the UAE with an adjoined private zoo, has unveiled its unique room package for the Eid Al Fitr offering visitors a lifetime experience with a well-matched blend of true Arabian hospitality and the comfort of nature for the holidays

The resort’s 27 family chalets serve as a sanctuare of comfort and casual luxury, featuring spacious living areas, state of the art facilities and amenities, and a magnificent view overlooking the Giraffe Park. The room rates start at Dh419 ($114) onwards.

Guests staying in these chalets have the first-hand opportunity to interact with animals and participate in feeding sessions from the lanai area.

"Emirates Park Zoo and Resort welcomes guests to a one of a kind family experience for the upcoming Eid Al Fitr. Adults and children alike can enjoy the wide array of activities that we have prepared for the joyous occasion," said Ibrahim Salim, the general manager at Emirates Park Resort.

"Gather your family and friends for a luxuriant holiday to explore and interact with the different species of wildlife within a few steps from your room," remarked Salim.

"Enjoy a vibrant experience upon staying in the resort’s 56 well-appointed s which offers sophisticated decor, marbled bathrooms, and the dazzling pool area which includes the kid’s pool and slides, waterfalls and pool bar right outside your doorstep," he noted.

"What’s more, get to know more than 1,800 species of wildlife in a fun-filled zoo tour led by an expert educator. Take part in exciting zoo activities such as entertaining educational shows and presentations, animal encounters including giraffe, zebra, and elephant feeding, and petting farm animals," he added.

Located on the Abu Dhabi - Dubai highway, 30 minutes away from Abu Dhabi and only two minutes from Formula F1 assembly point. the resort zoo houses a Giraffe Park, Snake Alley, Bonnet Water Tank and a Mandrill Monkey House that is backed by the leading Parking Operator of the Middle East, Zone Parking Solutions.

A star attraction of the establishment, the Elephant Enclosure, is sponsored by product powerhouse Abu Dhabi Coop.

Emirates Park Zoo and Resort houses seven cafes and a recent refurbished restaurant that offers a wide array of dishes, cooked to perfection. The rooms are air conditioned with a private balcony that offers a spectacular view.-TradeArabia News Service



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