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Le Meridien in Fujairah expects successful 2013
(Abdul Basit) / 13 May 2013 Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah expects 2013 will be another successful year with high occupancy rate and a double-digit growth over last year, according to general manager Patrick Antaki. The property is located on a 230 metres stretch of a pristine beach and fronted by the Indian Ocean with the breath-taking Hajar Mountains forming the backdrop. “The first quarter was ahead of last year. If rest of the year is going to be like Q1then it’s going to be a great year,” Antaki told Khaleej Times in an interview. Occupancy is almost full, he said, adding: “We closed March with around 90 per cent [occupancy]. We will probably look at 10 to 12 per cent better 2013 than last year.” Tourists’ arrival in Fujairah is increasing significantly every year. In 2012, the emirate hosted 1.2 million tourists, compared to 750,000 in 2011. At the moment, Fujairah has 2,800 hotel rooms, he said, adding that extra 1,000 rooms are going to open in the next 12 months. He mentioned that there is a lot to see in Fujairah as the emirate is home to most of the country’s heritage sites. In addition to that the hotel provides a lot of sea-related activities every day. “We also want to diversify the guests experience and that’s the reason the hotel is starting to set up excursion with helidubai and also planning seaplane facility from Dubai to Fujairah,” he explained. In December last year, the hotel celebrated its 10th anniversary and this year the hotel will undergo with the first phase of refurbishment. “We will spend Dh50 million on refurbishment, which will start from next month. We will do 100 rooms this year and remaining in next summer.” The hotel is also pending money to provide seamless connectivity of tablets and smartphones to TVs, so the guest can see photos and watch movies from their own devices, he informed. Antaki, who is also general manager of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, said it’s a luxury property and despite high rates it’s doing very well.
SKAI Holdings plans $1b hotel in Palm Jumeirah
Staff Report / 16 May 2013 SKAI Holdings, the Dubai-based real estate investment firm, on Wednesday announced its plans for a new $1 billion hotel and furnished residences project on the Palm Jumeirah that will be completed in the next three years. The development will be operated by Viceroy Hotel and Resorts, marking the company’s first venture into Dubai and its second in the UAE alongside sister property Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi. Located on ultimate beachfront property in one of the world’s most desirable destinations, the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah is owned by SKAI Holdings. Construction has begun, with completion and grand opening slated for the last quarter of 2016. Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah will offer its guests 481 large rooms and suites, and 221 signature Viceroy Residences all with breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea made possible by innovative architecture and design. The property’s attractive location is situated at the base trunk of The Palm Jumeirah archipelago, making it easily accessible from the mainland of Dubai. The location is ideal being only 12 minutes from Downtown Dubai — a key business and tourist destination in the heart of the city — and five minutes from Mall of the Emirates, another key tourist destination in Dubai. It is also five minutes away from other business and tourist attractions such as the Dubai Marina and Dubai Media City. Kabir Mulchandani, chief executive officer, SKAI Holdings, said: “Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah will offer the best of all worlds. It is a luxury urban beach resort in the heart of Dubai. It is a family retreat as well as an exciting entertainment destination and its exceptional banqueting and business facilities make it ideal for corporate use. The property will be everything for everyone.” Nadia Zaal, chief executive officer of Zaya Dubai, and driving force behind Al Barari and luxury development Nurai Island, commented on her company’s reputation for luxury, quality and style, “people want it all and with this project, we intend to deliver. With our previous projects we developed a reputation for unsurpassed quality and Viceroy will truly redefine the idea of an urban destination. It will combine a refined and luxurious environment, with all of the amenities that are vital to a property of this type.”
Emirates and JetBlue widen codesharing
Issac John / 16 May 2013 Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, and JetBlue Airways, New York’s hometown airline, announced on Wednesday a move to expand their current partnership to include bilateral code-sharing. The expansion is pending regulatory approval and subject to receipt of foreign government operating authority, both carriers announced. Emirates’ move to boost ties with JetBlue was close on the heels of a decision by the New Zealand Minister for Transport to approve the Dubai-based carrier’s partnership with Qantas. Under the new agreement with JetBlue, the US carrier would place its “B6” airline code on all flights currently operated by Emirates between the US and Dubai International Airport, as well as between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Milan. The expansion move is the latest step in a three-year partnership between JetBlue and Emirates. Emirates started placing its code on select JetBlue-operated flights in April 2012, expanding an interline agreement that dates back to 2010. Current codeshare routes offered by Emirates on JetBlue-operated flights cover 28 destinations including Boston, Chicago, Orlando and Puerto Rico. Since March this year, Emirates also began placing its code on additional JetBlue routes, including Bridgetown, Barbados, Cancun, Mexico, Montego Bay, Jamaica and Santo Domingo, Santiago and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. “Through the existing agreement, customers enjoy the convenience of a single combined ticket for Emirates and JetBlue-operated flights, plus other benefits including one-stop check-in and baggage transfer,” the airlines said in a statement. Members of Skywards, the Emirates reward programme, can earn miles on JetBlue-operated flights and also redeem miles for flights to any of JetBlue’s 77 destinations throughout the Americas. Similarly, members of JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty programme can earn points for Emirates-operated flights worldwide. “As Emirates continues to expand its presence in the US market, our partnership offering with JetBlue provides customers with convenient connections from its extensive network to our seven US gateways, including our twice daily A380 service non-stop from JFK to Dubai,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ executive vice-president of passenger sales worldwide. Offering a boost to tourism and more convenience for inbound travellers, the codeshare also gives Emirates’ customers a new choice of destinations with the benefit of a single combined ticket, according to Antinori. “Putting our code on another airline is a significant milestone for JetBlue; we’re proud to do it with Emirates, a fantastic partner for JetBlue over the past years,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s chief commercial officer. Passengers travelling in first class and business class on Emirates-operated flights, as well as Skywards Platinum and Gold members, have access to the Emirates Lounge at JFK. Premium passengers, including Gold and Platinum Skywards members, will also have access to lounges at the other Emirates gateways, including the dedicated Emirates’ lounge in San Francisco. Welcoming the decision by New Zealand to approve Emirate-Qantas tie-up, the two allies said their partnership would provide New Zealand customers with stronger links to Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the UK, as well as frequent flyer benefits and world-class travel experiences. Qantas and Emirates applied for authorisation of the partnership in September 2012 under the Civil Aviation Act. President of Emirates Tim Clark, said the game-changing partnership would bring together two of the world’s best airlines and offers some of the highest quality travel experiences.
HSBC set to cut 14,000 more jobs
Issac John / 16 May 2013 HSBC Holdings, Europe’s largest bank, said on Wednesday that it would further cut its global headcount by 14,000 to as low as 240,000 by 2016 in a bid to save an additional $3 billion. Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of HSBC, said the bank had already achieved annual cost savings of $4 billion since he took the helm in 2011 when the lender’s global workforce stood close to 300,000. HSBC has cut 34,000 full-time jobs since 2010 and at the end of last year the bank employed 261,000 staff. This is expected to fall to 254,000 as part of the on-going cuts. Over the next three years, the bank aims to further reduce the headcount to 240,000. The impact of the culling on the bank’s Middle East workforce is not clear yet as HSBC spokespeople declined to make any comments. According to available data, HSBC has close to 9,000-strong workforce in Mena region. In 2011, as part of similar worldwide cut, the bank laid off 360 of its employees in the region. HSBC Middle East, the bank’s regional arm, reported profits before tax of $524 million for the first quarter 2013 as the bank’s global business profits before tax surged to $8.4 billion. In line with cost cuts, HSBC has sold off 52 businesses, helping it reduce its risk weighted assets by about $95 billion. These sales have also resulted in gains of $8 billion for the bank. Last year, the bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the US department of justice and paid a record £1.2 billion fine for money-laundering offences and set aside €1.77 billion for compensation payments after the mis-selling of financial products in Britain. “We will continue to exert tight cost discipline whilst streamlining processes and procedures. This enables us to invest in growth and global standards,” said Gulliver. “You’re getting cost cuts as a means of sustaining performance and that’s not a great sign,” said Simon Maughan, an analyst at Olivetree Securities Ltd in London. “What HSBC is showing you is that there is very little growth in the banking industry for years to come.” The shares were little changed at 746.9 pence at 10:42 a.m. in London. HSBC has gained 15 per cent this year in London trading. While HSBC has met its original cost savings target, it hasn’t met its goal to reduce costs as a percentage of revenue because income hasn’t grown, Gulliver said. The bank said it would seek to reduce costs to about 55 percent of revenue in 2014-2016. That compares with a target of 48 per cent to 52 per cent for the previous three-year period. It plans to eliminate $2 billion to $3 billion of costs. The additional job cuts will be global and not focused on any particular area of the business, Gulliver said.
UAE’s GDP to top $395b this year
Construction, real estate and services sectors seen driving growth, econony minister says • By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) will touch $395 billion (Dh1.45 trillion) this year, before growing further to $410 billion next year, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said in his keynote address on Tuesday at the 6th Annual Arabian World Construction Summit in the capital. Al Mansouri said the country’s GDP has grown more than 200 times since 1971 — from $1.77 billion to $360 billion in 2012. “Today, the UAE is a major contributor to the growth of the Middle East region. An IIF [Institute for International Finance] report shows that the UAE economy accounted for more than a quarter of the GCC’s GDP of $1.482 trillion in 2012,” the economy minister said. “It is a matter of great satisfaction that the UAE construction industry is on the growth path once again after recovering from the slowdown experienced during the global financial crisis. We are extremely optimistic that this vital sector will show sustainable growth in the coming years.” Quoting a Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry study, Al Mansouri said the contribution of the construction sector as a percentage of GDP topped 10.3 per cent in 2011 and is projected to reach 11.1 per cent in 2015 and 11.5 per cent by 2021. Al Mansouri said huge spending on public projects in Abu Dhabi and the constant growth in the services sector in Dubai will enhance economic growth, especially amid the recovery being experienced in the construction and real estate sectors. The UAE’s policy of economic diversification, focused on high-tech industry, logistics, ports, tourism, financial services, health, education and media, has created immense opportunities for the construction industry, he added. “There are major possibilities before us as we increasingly focus on private sector-led economic expansion,” Al Mansouri said, adding that the UAE’s ability to attract large overseas investments, notably in the construction industry, has also raised the country’s status as a source of funding for the global economy. He said major projects such as the Mohammad Bin Rashid City in Dubai and major infrastructure projects in Abu Dhabi will create a new momentum in the nation’s construction sector and take it through a phenomenal phase of growth in the coming years. “We are also hopeful about winning the bid to host World Expo 2020 which, I am sure, will be a game-changer for the construction industry,” Al Mansouri added.
Dubai Q1 trade hits Dh326b
Issac John / 15 May 2013 Dubai’s non-oil trade hit Dh325.5 billion in the first quarter, up 16 per cent from Dh280 billion recorded in the same 2012 period, according to Dubai Customs. Ahmed Butti Ahmed, director-general of Dubai Customs, said on Tuesday the growth — despite a setback in trade with Iran, Dubai’s traditional re-export stronghold — would sustain the momentum amid an upturn in property sector. “The main thing now is that growth in real estate started picking up. With real estate developments there are many sectors that also start picking up,” Ahmed was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the opening of 2013 World Customs Organisation, or WCO, IT Conference and Exhibition. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the three-day event in the presence of General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Interior Minister; Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of the Dubai Ruler’s Court; and Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General of the WCO. In 2012, driven by a big surge in exports, Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade jumped 13 per cent to Dh1.235 trillion compared with Dh1.089 trillion in 2011. Dubai’s exports recorded a 47 per cent surge in value to reach Dh163 billion, imports rose 12 per cent to Dh737 billion and re-exports grew five per cent to Dh334 billion in 2012. The customs chief said a lot of investors were investing in real business as they get a better return on their money. Non-oil business activity in the UAE, the world’s No. 3 crude exporter, has been holding up well in recent months. But growth in new export orders dropped sharply in April, a purchasing managers survey showed this month. In his keynote speech, Shaikh Saif said the UAE was committed to the facilitation of cross-border trade and enhancing communication between various stakeholders to elevate the trading sector. “The UAE is proud to host this landmark forum that aims to increase international cooperation and coordination, which are crucial imperatives if we are to advance global trade and tourism,” he said. He said the adoption of communications technology is the key enabler for every customs departments to achieve its goals of trade facilitation and security. “The UAE’s success as a hub for global trade and tourism is also a testimony to the implementation of an effective customs strategy matched by effective solutions,” said Shaikh Saif. More than 1,000 local, regional and international dignitaries, including specialists in customs, security technologies and information technology from more than 100 countries are taking part in the event. Welcoming the gathering, Ahmed said the conference would prove favourable for the vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences from around the world for setting up a new global system for coordinated border management. “It is vital that we take international collaboration in this area to a new level, which speaks to the objectives of the WCO and serves the interests of the international community at the same time.” Mikuriya said the theme of the conference was very appropriate as connectivity at borders was integral to the vision and mission of the WCO. “It is aligned to the organisation’s 2013 slogan, ‘Borders divide, customs connect’. Such an effective network of connectivity between trading countries can be accomplished through positive engagement that will enhance trust and understanding between all stakeholders. Moreover, the adoption of new and innovative techniques is also a major facilitator towards greater cross-border coordination and cooperation,” said Mikuriya. “We are united by a common goal, which is to increase cooperation. This will, in turn, stimulate the global supply chain and help improve the security of all our borders. The outcomes will benefit the world economy by promoting commercial development, competiveness and employment. Implementation of the ‘single-window’ concept at borders, in particular, can greatly enhance collaboration between several stakeholders who work together at the borders — customs authorities, government organisations, trading entities and service providers.” The conference sessions will feature more than 70 speakers. Organised by Dubai Customs, the event features three panel discussions, three lectures and three specialised technical seminars. Discussions will focus on ways to facilitate legitimate trade to protect the security of borders, ports and customs coordination between countries. Related topics such as customs inspection, control systems, technical solutions and customs partner activities in trade, transport and logistics supply services will also be examined. — email@example.com — With inputs from Reuters
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