Sheikh Mohammed emphasizes the role of tourism in Dubai’s economic growth.

DUBAI: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, today visited One&Only One Za’abeel, the first vertical urban resort in Dubai.

During the visit, His Highness highlighted the pivotal role of the tourism sector in Dubai’s economic expansion. He noted the significant growth of the sector in recent years, driven by an increasing number of visitors. Strong partnerships between public and private sectors have been key to Dubai’s success in delivering exceptional tourism services and facilities, he said.

Dubai is shaping a bright future brimming with new possibilities, with initiatives and projects that are opening new horizons of growth, excellence and innovation, His Highness noted. The emirate has charted a unique path for sustainable development with a strong focus on creating an exceptional environment for investors worldwide to harness the vast opportunities emerging from the emirate’s rise as a leading global business and tourist destination. Dubai is expanding its world-class infrastructure to realise the vast growth promise of its various sectors, including tourism. His Highness stated that these efforts are accelerating efforts to achieve the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to make the city one of the world’s top three urban economies.

Accompanying His Highness Sheikh Mohammed during the visit were H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Managing Director, Investment Corporation of Dubai.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was briefed about One&Only One Za’abeel, the first vertical urban resort in Dubai developed by Kerzner International. The latest addition to Dubai’s hospitality offerings features 229 opulent hotel rooms and suites distributed across 15 floors, as well as diverse services and an array of exceptional dining options crafted by a distinguished team of world-class chefs. The resort also has sports facilities and an infinity pool, the longest in Dubai, stretching 120 metres and soaring 100 metres above ground level.

The opening of the urban resort in early January comes at a time when the emirate’s tourism industry is experiencing significant growth, providing visitors with a wide range of choices. Recent statistics from the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai reveal that by the end of November 2023, the city had a total of 149,680 hotel rooms in 820 establishments. This marks a significant rise from the 145,000 hotel rooms in 794 establishments recorded at the end of November 2022.

Source: Zawya.

Kenya’s Passport 6th Strongest In Africa.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – Kenyan passport holders can travel to 76 countries globally visa-free, a new data shows, indicating its growing prominence worldwide.

The latest data compiled by the Henley Passport Index also ranks the country’s passport at number 67 globally, together with Malawi.

The Seychelles passport is the most powerful on the continent at number 26, followed by Mauritius (30), South Africa (53), Namibia, and Lesotho at 65, as well as Eswatini (66).

The strongest passports include those of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain, whose citizens can travel to 194 countries globally without the need to apply for visas.

Source: Capital Fm

Dubai crowned the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for the third consecutive year.

Dubai has secured the top spot as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Destinations Awards 2024 for the third consecutive year, making it the first city to achieve this remarkable milestone in succession. The recognition comes as the city marks the first anniversary of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, underscoring the success of the visionary strategy launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The ambitious agenda aims to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure, and the best city to visit, live and work in.

Dubai’s top international ranking was announced by TripadvisorⓇ, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, in its Travellers’ Choice Awards for 2024: Best of the Best Destinations. These back-to-back accolades for Dubai assume even more significance because the winners are exclusively chosen based on the reviews of millions of global travellers as part of Tripadvisor’s community. The awards look at the quality and quantity of Tripadvisor reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and experiences in each destination over a period of 12 months between 1 October, 2022 through 30 September 2023.

Commenting on the occasion, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, Dubai’s consistent global accomplishments, especially in the economic sector, stand as a clear testament to the emirate’s progress in translating the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum into tangible successes and realising the ambitious goals outlined in the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, which aims to position Dubai among the top three global economic cities within the next decade.

“Dubai has earned the prestigious title of the No.1 global destination in the 2024 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for the third consecutive time, establishing the emirate as the first city worldwide to achieve such recognition. This accomplishment underscores our success and reflects the outcomes of our developmental efforts in this crucial economic sector. Our strategic goal is to prioritise visitor happiness and satisfaction, and we pledge to continue our efforts in ongoing development, supported by a strong partnership with the private sector. Committed to maintaining and surpassing these achievements, we look forward to even greater successes in the future,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

Sheikh Hamdan also commended Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism for its efforts in promoting Dubai’s tourism potential and introducing a range of options to meet visitors’ aspirations. He acknowledged the city’s commitment to providing excellent services, tourism facilities, and world-class infrastructure. His Highness also expressed appreciation for all the sectors and government entities that played a crucial role in Dubai achieving this milestone.

The repeated acknowledgement of Dubai as the world’s favourite destination is a testament to the city’s vibrant and diverse offerings, supported by world-class infrastructure, exceptional service at all touchpoints, and continuous collaboration between the government and private sectors. Combining homegrown talent, entrepreneurship and concepts with international investment and partnerships, Dubai’s unique proposition has seen tourism become a vital contributor to overall economic growth, accounting for over 10% of the city’s GDP.

His Excellency, Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), commented: “Dubai’s unprecedented achievement of being named the No. 1 top global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Destinations Awards 2024 for the third successive year has only been possible thanks to the outstanding efforts of stakeholders and partners across the tourism sector, and their strong response to the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. One year into the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, and with the city striving to consolidate its status as a top global destination for business and tourism, the award acknowledges the efficacy of our efforts so far, while also further raising the bar for what we can collectively achieve.

“In an increasingly competitive international tourism ecosystem, Dubai’s consistent leadership in global metrics has been built on robust, ever-evolving infrastructure, a commitment to providing best-in-class services, and effective marketing and outreach that has seen the city identify, reach and satisfy a diverse range of travellers from around the world. Supported by our stakeholders, we will continue to take an agile approach to further elevate Dubai as a destination and meet our ambitious targets.”

The top Tripadvisor award is the latest addition to a series of global accolades bestowed on Dubai, further validating the city’s appeal as a multifaceted destination. In 2023, Dubai was ranked the No.1 city in the world to relocate to, in a report by financial services provider Remitly, and was ranked the best city in the world for remote workers by property consultancy Savills in their top 20 list of the 2023 Executive Nomad Index.

Additionally, Dubai was named the world’s No. 2 city destination in Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023 and also ranked one of the top 10 cities in the Global Power City Index, in a report issued by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies in Japan. The UAE was also named the second safest country in the world in 2023, according to findings revealed by Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide. This recognition has further strengthened Dubai’s attractiveness as a top global liveability hub that provides a unique lifestyle, underpinned by high safety and security standards that allow travellers to visit the city with peace of mind.

His Excellency, Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “This landmark achievement embodies the incredible spirit of collaboration between Dubai’s public and private stakeholders that has led to countless memorable experiences for our guests. Global travellers in search of a safe, secure, and easily accessible destination have embraced Dubai’s diverse attractions catering to various segments, including families, thrill-seekers, business visitors, and cultural explorers. They acknowledge the city for its distinctive experiences that are exclusive to Dubai.

“We are honoured by the continued appreciation and encouragement of our international visitors, with their reviews and ratings providing ample testimony for their cherished memories that inspire others to explore the exceptional offerings of our destination. As consumer demands and trends further evolve, and aided by the feedback we receive through Tripadvisor and other digital platforms, as well as directly from tourists within the city itself, we will continue to work with our stakeholders to maintain the highest standards across city’s offerings and services, and ensure visitors have an unrivalled experience in Dubai.”

Dubai’s exceptional quality of life, initiatives facilitating easy entry, robust air connectivity, and globally acclaimed culinary scene collectively establish it as the preferred destination for visitors. Dubai’s efforts to stay at the forefront of global tourism involve constant regulatory, infrastructure, and travel initiatives that play a pivotal role in further accelerating tourism momentum. In October 2023, Dubai and Real Madrid announced a landmark global partnership in October to further elevate awareness of the city internationally in line with the D33 Agenda to position Dubai as one of the top three global cities.

According to the latest data published by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, Dubai welcomed 15.37 million international overnight visitors between January and November 2023, a 20% increase over the same period in 2022.

 Source:  Media Office.

Kenya features in Times’ 52 places to visit in 2024.

Kenya is among 52 places in the world to travel in 2024, according to latest New York Times annual travel list.

The paper’s experts have compiled this year’s list of destinations with sustainable travel and cultural events in mind as many regions realize slow but steady recovery from Covid-19 pandemic which hit international tourist arrivals hard.

The world renowned Tsavo National Park in Taita Taveta County has made it to the list as a favourite for would-be tourists. Africa has four key spots identified by the report in Madagascar, Morocco and Egypt as both captivating and alluring for tourists.

“From supporting local recovery in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Morocco and celebrating Africa’s most successful elephant rehabilitation programme at the Tsavo National Park, Kenya, to exploring textiles and contemporary art in Madagascar and Hurghada’s abundant marine ecosystem, The Times has travel ideas for every type of traveller,” reads an excerpt of the report.

In Kenya, the elephant population has grown by 21 per cent since 2014, to a total of 36,280. Almost half live in Tsavo, home to Africa’s most successful elephant rehabilitation programme, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

The remarkable story of Tsavo has encouraged conservation projects abound, plus eco-lodges which have thereby contributed to the economic mainstay of the communities around through employment with tourists relishing the unique ecosystem.

International tourists

With important components therein like orphanages and clinics, the animals being protected in that enclosure have found a home worthy of note with international organisations engaging in partnerships to rehabilitate and do away with poaching. This in turn is attracting buzzing interest from local and international tourists to come and have a date with the over 40,000 animals total on location.

In 2024, the Trust plans to open the first lodge next to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, dedicated to saving the critically endangered black rhino. In an effort to support “rhino activities” in the Tsavo West NP rhino areas, Tsavo Trust has partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service by establishing a unique “Rhino Viewing Platform” at one of the main waterholes within the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. The aim being to offer visitors a rare and exclusive opportunity to view rhino close up with the backdrop of the prehistoric-looking Ngulia cliffs.

Morocco that recently suffered a strong damaging earth tremor that killed 3,000 persons, had some eye-catching attraction sites too, according to the report. “Places like Ourika Valley is considered dreamy as it sits just facing the majestic Atlas Mountain,” it says.

The place offers a variety of activities that tourists can love like fresh cuisine, hiking and horseback riding and it is near the centuries old Marrakesh City. In Madagascar, there are more than tourism aspects in play which offer wildlife viewing and wildlife exploration.

However, now the vibe in Antananarivo is all about Art as the scene explodes with the Capital City housing a magnificent Museum known as La Fondation H that opened its doors to the public last year in April.

The contemporary art space was created to showcase Malagasy talents. One of the star production legends Madam Zo has a dedicated area where her pieces of textiles, basketry and fabrics from Madagascar stand tall, the Times report adds.

Source: PD.

Dubai Calendar kicks off 2024 with an eclectic line up of activities across the entire city.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai Calendar, the official listing platform for events in the city, is providing Dubai residents and tourists with a plethora of things to do to kickstart 2024, across live music, entertainment, community, and sports.

Key events in January include the ever-popular Quoz Arts Festival, the annual Dubai Desert Classic, Michael McIntyre’s comedy performance and a much-anticipated return to the Emirates from superstar, Ed Sheeran.

Here are Dubai Calendar’s top picks of upcoming and ongoing events this January:


Dubai Shopping Festival will continue until 14 January, providing retail lovers with an array of deals, fun and surprises across malls and shopping destinations in Dubai.

The much-loved Quoz Arts Fest will make its return delighting creative enthusiasts at Alserkal Avenue from 27-28 January marking its 11th edition. Packed with curated workshops, exhibitions, and live musical performances – Quoz Arts Fest has all ages covered with an array of activities targeted at children, as well as four-legged friends with the event billed as dog-friendly.

Celebrate the world of literature at the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the region’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. Set to take place from 31 January to 6 February at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City, book lovers of all ages can connect with their favourite authors, partake in literary debates, and join engaging workshops.


Dubai Marathon 2024, one of the region’s biggest annual athletic events, will take place on 7 January offering a run with a view as participants pass landmarks including Madinat Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab. With two options depending on skill level between 42km, 10km or a family-friendly 4km, participants are encouraged to sign up in advance for the landmark event.

Golf fans unite as the legendary World No. 2, Rory Mcllory, is set to showcase his skills on the greens at Dubai Creek Resort from 11-14 January for Dubai Invitational. With more than 60 professionals playing with 60 amateur golfers to win incredible prizes, spectators should keep their eyes peeled for other top players, business leaders and celebrities.

The Sevens Stadium is gearing up to host the HSBC Sevens Challenger Series from 12-14 January, welcoming rugby players from across the globe to compete to win a spot in the coveted HSBC SVNS Series.

Rory Mcllroy will make his second Dubai based golfing appearance for 2024 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, where he makes his bid to become the first four-time winner of the event. A packed line up with World Top 20 players including Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrell Hatton among other stars, the series will run alongside a host of family-friendly activities as well as an array of food trucks at the prestigious Majlis Course in Emirates Golf Club.

The 21 January is ideal for those looking to tick off a bucket list style run with the Burj2Burj which marks its inaugural edition and welcomes runners to race the 21.1km from Burj Al Arab to Burj Khalifa.

The inaugural Dubai Challenge Cup 2024 will see Wuhan Three Towns, Al-Ahli Saudi, Zamalek, and Raja Club Athletic compete in ‘The Challenge of Champions’ event at Al Maktoum Stadium from 26-28 January. The hotly anticipated football event will see stars including Roberto Firmino, Allan Saint-Maximin, Ahmed Abou El Fotouhm Shikabala and play in the tournament.

Hankook 24H, the grueling endurance race and the second largest 24-hour race grid in the world, will see petrolheads gather at Dubai Autodrome from 27-28 January. With a packed bill of international drivers, the event will see premium brands including Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz compete to take the coveted chequered flag.


Tunes DXB celebrates local and regional talent at key destinations across Dubai including Al Khawaneej Walk, Al Seef, Box Park, Bluewaters, Dubai Festival City Mall, Last Exit Al Khawaneej and DxBike, located next to Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City and more from 5-14 January. Inclusive of rock, pop and Bollywood – Tunes DXB has events for all music tastes.

Cinephiles can rejoice at the Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival held by Dubai Culture for its third edition from 12-21 January at Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve. The 10-day film event will provide a platform for works from regional and local directors, as well as an array of family-friendly activities.

Kids hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite PAW Patrol characters can head to Festival Bay at Dubai Festival City Mall for PAW Patrol Fest from 12-28 January for a show inspired by the popular series.

Enjoy a captivating performance from Arabic hitmaker, Majed Al Mohandis who will be performing at Coca-Cola Arena on 12 January with his setlist set to include crowd favourites such as Ana Wayyak, Ensaa and Eateni Waqtan.

Following a sold-out tour across the world, Michael McIntyre, the brilliant British comic is set to have audiences roaring at Coca Cola Arena on 13 January. Expected to sell out, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.

K-pop music continues to take over the world with their latest event in Dubai set to bring music lovers together for the night at Coca-Cola Arena for KPOP OVERDOSE. Electrifying performances can be expected from a trio of superstars – Chanyeol, Xiumin and Chen on 14 January.

Ed Sheeran, the English singer, songwriter is gearing up to make his return to Dubai for two nights at The Sevens Stadium as part of his ‘+ – = ÷ x’ Mathematics Tour. With the second night of his show sold out already, fans can still purchase tickets for his performance on 19 January.

Take a nostalgic trip back to the 90s with Saudi Arabian icon, Khalid Abdelrahman on 19 January for an electrifying night of Arabic classics including Ahat, Sarihini and Tedhkar at the Coca-Cola Arena.

Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi is set to blow audiences away with performances at Dubai Opera from 19-21 January. With the legendary pianist selling out of the venue four times, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Billed as the one of the world’s most beloved children’s stories, Le Petit Prince will ensue at Dubai Opera from 25-28 January. Based around a pilot who meets a young boy from another planet, the performance is packed with music and dance in stunning staging.

Marvel Universe is a phenomenon that has popularity across the entire globe – fans are set to come together for a one-of-a-kind show at Coca-Cola Arena from 25 January – 4 February. Expect favourite characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider Man and more who will transport guests to another dimension with an immersive video projection, and special effects.

Head to Bla Bla Dubai to enjoy live performances from pop rock group, OneRepublic, on 25 January as part of their Artificial Paradise world tour. Fans can expect top songs including Counting Stars, Apologise and I Lived as part of the set.

Enjoy the cooler climes in January and head to Expo City for Break The Block, a union of incredible musicians including a DJ set by Nightmares on Wax, Shadi Megallaa and more on 26 January.

Dubai Calendar allows residents and tourists to discover upcoming events and purchase tickets quickly and securely through Dubai Calendar’s website and the mobile application’s purchasing platform. For more information about all events taking place across Dubai, please visit:

About Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET)

With the ultimate vision of making Dubai the world’s leading commercial centre, investment hub and tourism destination, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) is mandated to support the Government in positioning the emirate as a major hub for global economy and tourism, and in boosting the city’s economic and tourism competitiveness indicators, in line with the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, which aims to double the size of the emirate’s economy and consolidate its position among the top three global cities over the next decade.

Under this remit, DET is driving efforts to further enhance Dubai’s diversified, innovative service-based economy to attract top global talent, deliver a world-class business environment and accelerate productivity growth. Additionally, DET is supporting Dubai’s vision to become the world’s best city to live and work in by promoting its diverse destination proposition, unique lifestyle and outstanding quality of life, overall.

DET is the principal authority for planning, supervising, developing and marketing Dubai’s business and tourism sectors. It is also responsible for licensing and classifying all types of businesses, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents. The DET portfolio includes Dubai Economic Development Corporation (DEDC), Dubai Business Licence Corporation (DBLC), Dubai Corporation for Consumer Protection and Fair Trade (DCCPFT), Dubai SME, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) and Dubai College of Tourism (DCT).

Source: Zawya.  

Hatta beckons travelers from around the world with experiences that combine culture, adventure and eco-tourism

Hatta, Dubai’s captivating mountain town, has been rising in global and regional profile over the last few years as a prominent travel destination. Often referred to as the ‘Highlands of Dubai’, Hatta has transformed into one of the Middle East’s most enchanting cultural, entertainment and adventure tourism hubs offering a unique mix of thrilling outdoor activities, rich historical narratives, and breathtaking natural scenery.

The area is one of the key highlights of the latest edition of the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign, launched by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), in collaboration with the country’s creative community and a range of stakeholders, including Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

As Hatta undergoes a transformation, driven by Dubai’s visionary development plan, it beckons travellers from around the world, promising an array of experiences. Whether seeking an adrenaline-pumping mountain biking adventure, a reflective stroll through historical sites, or a tranquil moment by a scenic lake, Hatta is a must-visit for anyone seeking distinctive experiences and memories that last a lifetime. With its unique blend of activities, events and attractions, Hatta has rapidly emerged as a ‘bucket list’ destination for global travellers.

His Excellency Helal Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “Hatta’s rise as a premier eco-tourism, adventure sports and cultural destination reflects Dubai’s commitment to creating unique experiences for both domestic and global travellers. Under the Dubai leadership’s visionary strategy, Hatta’s evolution as a destination, which forms part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, has added a unique new dimension to Dubai’s rich array of attractions. Hatta is a testament to our commitment to sustainable, responsible, and diverse tourism, and our resolve to foster destinations that are not only exceptional but also deeply rooted in environmental consciousness and community development.”

Adventure tourism hub

Located 130 km south east of Dubai, the journey to Hatta is a visual feast, transitioning from an enchanting desertscape to stunning mountain scenery. Hatta’s landscapes are also an adventure enthusiast’s dream. In the heart of the mountains, Hatta Wadi Hub stands as a magnet for thrill-seekers. This adventure haven offers a range of activities including cycling, mountain biking, ziplining, horseback riding and paragliding.

Wadi Hub’s recently opened Aerial Adventure Park is an exhilarating attraction accessible to visitors of all ages and physical abilities. The new park boasts activities like high ropes course, free fall, giant swing, 45 degree zip, bag drop and zip line belay, and the heart-pounding “Leap of Faith’.

For cycling enthusiasts, the Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre offers an extensive network of trails, covering over 50 kilometres and catering to all skill levels. The trails wind through hills, wadis and farmlands, marked clearly for self-guided exploration. Open year-round, these exciting trails offer exhilarating bike rides amidst scenic settings.

Hatta’s topography is also a hiker’s paradise. From the sandy valleys to the rugged foothills of the Hajar Mountains, the area offers varied terrains. The Hatta Dam area, a popular hiking spot, provides stunning vistas and potential wildlife encounters, including the elusive Arabian sand cat. The Hatta Wadi Hub also serves as a gateway to various hiking experiences.

Hatta is a sanctuary for endangered species like the Arabian tahr. Hikers can explore the natural habitat of these rare animals, contributing to the awareness and conservation of the region’s wildlife. Swan Lake, known for its diverse birdlife, is an idyllic location for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

In addition, the vast Hatta Lake offers opportunities for water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. Visitors can rent kayaks or paddle boats from kiosks for a relaxing ride across its clear waters, where they have a chance to encounter the lake’s natural inhabitants including fish and birds. They can also venture into unseen areas through curved passageways hidden behind the mountains.

Art, culture and heritage

The Hatta Heritage Village draws tourists eager to experience the UAE’s rich past. This meticulously restored village, dating back to the third century BC, stands as one of the oldest in the country. It features authentically reconstructed stone houses, ancient water wells, watchtowers, and a traditional majlis. Visitors can explore a remarkable collection of old photographs that vividly depict traditional life in Hatta, alongside a dedicated area for basket-weaving and a museum space displaying historic tools and weapons. Adjacent to the village, the Al Sharia Palm Tree Farm showcases the ancient falaj irrigation system, a marvel of traditional engineering.

Another historical attraction is the Hatta Fort, built in 1896, one of the most significant architectural monuments in the UAE. This structure, which originally served as both a residence and defence stronghold, features a spacious internal courtyard and a 11-metre-high watchtower. The building, which was restored in 1995, is made of mountain stones and mud bricks, while the ceiling is constructed using palm fronds, trunks and mud.

As part of the second phase of Hatta’s development plan, Dubai seeks to nominate the region’s archaeological sites, including the ancient falaj irrigation system and the Hatta tombs from the Bronze and Iron Ages, for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Hatta tombs are some of the most impressive evidence of the prehistoric past of the region. Human remains found in some of the tombs prove that they were reused over the millennia as late as the Middle Islamic times.

Larger-than-life public art

In an unexpected fusion of tradition and modernity, the mountains in Hatta enclose an extraordinary piece of public art. A massive inclined mural, drawn on the outer wall of the Hatta Dam, features portraits of the UAE’s founding fathers, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Another iconic feature of the area is its massive ‘Hatta’ sign, perched atop one of its highest peaks. Visible from numerous locations around Hatta, this landmark has letters that stand 60 metres tall. Guinness World Records recently awarded the sign the title of ‘Tallest Landmark Sign’. For those seeking an adventurous journey, a 30-minute trek from Hatta Wadi Hub leads to this remarkable sign. As night falls, the sign transforms, illuminating the night sky, creating a captivating spectacle.

Local products

The new Hatta Souq provides a place where visitors can explore products of local farmers and residents. Built with largely manmade construction materials, the Souq houses shops selling locally-grown produce, home-grown cafes and restaurants, and spaces for food carts. Spanning 146,000 square feet, and a built area of over 43,000 square feet, the Souq encompasses seven shops, six indoor and seven outdoor kiosks, 42 sales platforms, a large store, eight food carts, a children’s playground and green spaces.

Visitors to Hatta also have the opportunity to gain insights into the region’s beekeeping traditions at the Hatta Honeybee Garden. This educational and interactive experience also allows visitors to learn about the importance of bees in our ecosystem. Engaging activities like beeswax candlemaking and beehive frame-building offer a hands-on approach to understanding these unique insects.

Family-friendly destination

Hatta is also one of the UAE’s most family-friendly destinations. Hatta Hill Park, set against the backdrop of the Hajar mountains, is a perfect spot for family outings, offering picnic areas, sports fields, and a tower with panoramic views. The Hatta Dam, with its stunning mountainous surroundings, is another highlight for families seeking a quiet outing. Here, one can also engage in activities like kayaking, amidst nature’s tranquil grandeur.

Hatta offers a range of options for outdoor camping. Visitors can pitch up a tent and sleep under the stars at the dedicated Hatta Campsite. There are also many options available for luxurious, mountainside camping and ‘glamping’ experiences. Also available are farmhouse rentals catering to larger groups, offering pools and barbecue areas.

As part of Brand Dubai’s collaboration with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) for the latest #DestinationsDubai winter campaign, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of DET, is working closely to conduct family-friendly events and activities in Hatta.

This includes organising various activities at the inaugural edition of the Hatta Festival, a vibrant celebration of culture, sports and family entertainment being held until 31 December. Organised by Brand Dubai, in partnership with the Supreme Committee Overseeing Hatta Development, the festival is the centerpiece of the third edition of the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign, and includes spectacular lighting displays across Hatta Fort, a recreation of the illuminating lights of the Champs-Elysées, and fireworks displays above the Hatta sign every weekend throughout the festival.

Featuring diverse activities and attractions for families and children of all ages at the newly-developed Leem Lake in Hatta and the Hatta Wadi Hub, the Hatta Festival showcases the uniqueness of the region and its recent development as an eco-friendly destination. The festival also aims to promote Hatta’s cultural, historical and natural treasures, and encourage visitors to enjoy its unique landscapes and recreational activities.

Evolving tourism offering

Named as one of the ’50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the World’ by Condé Nast Traveler in May this year, Hatta is undergoing further transformative developments, which are set to add to its destination appeal. Phase II of the Hatta development plan is set to significantly enhance the region’s appeal, encompassing a total of 22 diverse projects and initiatives. A key goal of the second phase is to transform Hatta Beach into a year-round tourist destination, catering to both residents and visitors. With a wide range of recreational facilities, services, and activities, the waterfront is expected to significantly increase tourist inflows to the area.

Another major highlight of the second phase is the construction of the Hatta Sustainable Waterfalls near the Hatta Dam. Complementing this, a 5.4 km cable car will transport visitors from the dam to Umm Al Nusour, the highest peak in Dubai, offering spectacular views. Furthermore, the plan includes the development of eco-friendly hotels and health resorts with urban designs that harmonise with the natural surroundings of Hatta.

Source: Emirates 247

Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism Partners with JioTV For A New Travel Show “Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai

Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism (DET) has announced an exciting partnership with JioTV to launch a unique 4-episode travel show titled “Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai.” In this unique show, global superstar Anil Kapoor plays himself as he embarks on a hilarious and adventurous journey through the stunning city of Dubai along with actor Maniesh Paul.

More than just a travel show; “Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai” is a story of rediscovery, bonding, and the magic of serendipity. As Kapoor and Paul traverse through the alluring landscapes and vibrant cultural tapestry of Dubai, their (on-screen) personas reflect their real-life charm and wit, delivering an authentic and engaging experience to Indian viewers. The show is set to offer a rich blend of comedy, adventure, and heartfelt moments, presenting Dubai in a unique light that’s never been seen before. It not only serves as a testament to Dubai’s enchanting allure as a global travel destination but also celebrates its rich cultural mosaic and dynamic spirit in a way that resonates with Indian audiences.

At the heart of “Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai” is its unwavering commitment to authenticity. The show transcends the typical confines of a travel show, steering away from standard formats to embrace a more genuine path to storytelling, where Kapoor and Paul are guided by their insatiable curiosity and passion for adventure, towards a city that they have known and loved for decades. Their reactions, from laughter to awe, unfold naturally as they witness the hidden gems, subcultures, and authentic experiences as they explore the streets of Dubai. The passion driving the duo through their journey further builds a profound connection with their narrative. “Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai” is more than a show; it’s a genuine portrayal of travel, where the spirit of Dubai comes alive in its most authentic form.

“Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai” heralds a new era in travel storytelling, one that extends beyond the traditional methods of showcasing a destination. It dives deep into the rich tapestry of experiences and emotions that truly resonate with Indian audiences. In choosing to collaborate with JioTV, we recognized a shared vision for innovation and a unique approach to storytelling that aligns perfectly with our goals of acquainting the lesser-known sides of Dubai to an audience that resonates with the destination.

JioTV’s commitment to quality content, unmatched distribution scale & audience engagement across India makes them an ideal partner for bringing this vision to life. Dubai, through the eyes of Kapoor and Paul, transforms into a character itself, full of stories waiting to be discovered – thereby making the wonders of Dubai accessible to all.

Superstar & Actor Anil Kapoor, reflecting on his experience, said, “Working on ‘Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai’ has been a journey of rediscovery, both incredible city of Dubai and within me. More than a project, it was a journey of the heart. Whenever I have explored Dubai, I have not only just encountered stories; I discovered pieces of myself in every corner. There’s a raw and real quality to this experience, so different from the scripted roles I’m used to. It’s about forming genuine connections, embracing laughter, and the unexpected surprises along the way. This show particularly has allowed me to see Dubai with a sense of wonder and authenticity. JioTV, serving as a robust and expansive platform, is the perfect powerhouse for presenting this authentic journey to our viewers at a grand scale. My hope is that it will inspire our audience to appreciate the beauty of Dubai and the magic inherent in the real-life adventures that I shared with Maniesh.”

Actor Maniesh Paul further added his unique flair, “’Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai’ was an adventure like no other, blending my love for traveling with the uncharted wonders of Dubai. Each day was a new adventure in this magnificent city uncovering a new sense of wonder and joy. ‘Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai’ brought out an authentic joy and spontaneity that was refreshingly real. The streets of Dubai aren’t just backdrops; they’re alive with stories and unexpected turns, much like my own journey that I shared with AK. This show has been a revelation, showing me the power of impromptu moments and the genuine connections that come from shared laughter and experiences. JioTV has played an indispensable role in bringing this exhilarating journey to the screens, making it a grand experience for our viewers. I hope our audience finds as much joy and surprise in watching this travel show as I did in creating it.”

The show culminates in a captivating finale featuring a special guest appearance by the talented Emirati soul singer Arqam Al Abri whose musical artistry adds a distinctive and enriching dimension to the last episode, beautifully echoing Dubai’s rich and diverse artistic landscape.

Produced by Stars “n” Stripes and directed by Satyajit Kadam, who has a notable advertising career and accolades like the Cannes Lion and Spikes Asia, ‘Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai’, also features the visual finesse of acclaimed cinematographer Satchit Paulose, known for his work on “Pathaan” and “Fighter”.

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind journey. “Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai” is more than just a show; it’s an immersive experience, an innovation, a heartwarming journey, streaming exclusively on JioTV, starting this weekend.

Source: India Education Diary

Tourism sector vital pillar of Dubai’s economy: Crown Prince

According to a social media post by Dubai Media Office on Friday, the crown prince said: “The tourism sector is a vital pillar of Dubai’s economy and is playing a key role in achieving the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33.”

The briefing, attended by more than 1,200 industry professionals, revealed Dubai’s tourism sector continued to post record growth, reiterating an earlier report that showed it welcomed 13.9 million visitors from January to October 2023, up from 11.4 million during the same period last year.

As per the report, Pakistan was number ten in the rankings of countries from where the most visitors came into Dubai between Jan and Oct – some 286,000. India was in top place (1.9 million), followed by UK (954,000), Saudi Arabia (930,000), Russia (917,000) and Oman (860,000).

The briefing this week also highlighted that Dubai’s hotel occupancy of 76% remains among the highest in the world.

“Dubai’s robust partnerships with leading travel and hospitality companies are key to fostering the growth of this crucial sector, both on a local and global scale,” said Sheikh Hamdan.

“Hospitality is an integral part of the Emirati cultural fabric, a value deeply embedded in our ethos,” he said, adding that “Dubai remains dedicated to enhancing the infrastructure and services and making the strategic investments needed to provide an exceptional experience for visitors from across the world.”

Earlier this year, Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, had said the city’s multifaceted appeal caters to travelers of all preferences and means.

“Dubai provides mid-range hotels that match the service and amenities of many prominent full-service hotels around the globe, further enhancing the destination’s appeal for those in search of value for money during their stay, without compromising on the quality of the overall experience,” he had told Khaleej Times.

Source: Business Recorder

Less than one week to go for the second edition of Skift Global Forum East and annual Dubai Tourism Summit

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: — The countdown is on to the second edition of Skift Global Forum East (SGFE). The leading travel conference of Skift, and the annual Dubai Tourism Summit organized by Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), will be held at Atlantis the Royal from 12-14 December 2023. The three-part event will also feature DET’s bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ for industry stakeholders.

The Skift Global Forum East, the MENA extension of the renowned Skift Global Forum, promises to deliver incisive and inspiring insights into the future of the travel industry, exploring key innovations in marketing, strategy, and technology. The Dubai Tourism Summit, the world-class thought leadership program launched by DET during the inaugural Skift Global Forum East last year, is a networking platform for industry stakeholders to share their ideas, strategies, and best practices. The ‘City Briefing’ event brings together DET’s stakeholders and partners from across the aviation, travel, hospitality, and retail sectors to discuss the latest developments and future outlook for the industry.

Skift Global Forum East 2023 is set to attract an influential assembly of travel and tourism leaders, including CEOs, change makers, thought leaders and innovators from renowned influencers in global travel including Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, Dubai Airports, Google, Global Hotel Alliance, Accor, Emirates, Emaar Hospitality Group and more.

Key discussion topics will include the future of travel, air capacity challenges, the post-pandemic Chinese travelers, filmmaking to market destinations and how AI is shaping the future of travel, with a particular focus on the dynamic Middle East region. The Forum will also enable pertinent conversations around global consumer shifts, how destinations can build capacity and expand hospitality, the future of demographics, sustainability, and macroeconomic trends impacting the industry.

The forum kicks off with an opening night reception on 12 December 2023 at Cloud 22, Atlantis the Royal, providing attendees with an evening of networking and hospitality, allowing them to connect with like-minded industry leaders.

Source: Zawya

Dubai launches reef project to boost marine life, eco-tourism, and fishermen’s livelihoods.

Dubai has launched a coral reef project for marine restoration that will increase sea life eight-fold, improve the sustainability of fishermen’s livelihoods, and attract eco-tourism.

The Dubai Reef project, which was announced at Cop28 on Friday, will span 600 square kilometers of the emirate’s waters, with the design of the coral reefs exceeding 400,000 cubic metres in total volume, Helal Al Marri, director-general of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, said during a session at the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum.

The project will operate on a public-private partnership model where the government has contributed 10 per cent of the investment and has secured commitments for more than 50 per cent of the funding, Mr. Al Marri said.

“We worked with the best minds to look at coral reef restoration and how to rebuild the coral environment and ensure it makes a difference,” he said.

“What we would hope is that this successful model makes it very bankable for other communities around the world.”

The project is part of Dubai’s efforts to increase fish stocks, support sustainable fishing and help boost food security, according to a statement by the Dubai Media Office on Friday.

Dubai Reef will also help to reduce carbon emissions and increase marine biodiversity. The reefs have an estimated capacity to capture more than seven million tonnes of carbon annually.

The project is also aligned with the UAE’s goals to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The Dubai Reef project will be led by the Department of Economy and Tourism and founding partner the Regulatory Committee on Fishing of Living Aquatic Resources in Dubai, in co-operation with Dubai Chambers, the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and Nakheel.

“The project will contribute to achieving food security and supporting the sustainability of the fishing industry in Dubai,” Major General Ahmed Mohammed bin Thani, chairman of the Regulatory Committee on Fishing of Living Aquatic Resources in Dubai, said.

“It will also contribute to facilitating fishing operations by providing an environment that attracts fish and marine life, thus reducing the operational costs associated with commercial fishing. The project will also contribute to increasing the quantities and abundance of commercial fish.”

The project is set to unfold in four phases starting in 2024, according to the Dubai Media Office statement.

It will begin in the first quarter and is scheduled for completion within four years, it said.

The project will help create jobs, increase the appeal of recreational water activities, and foster sustainable food sources, it said.

Source: The National News