New Desert Pursuits!
Leisure Trio Debut
Sport Gets Mega In Al Ain
Mangroves Get The Team Effect
Issue 19 • April 2014
5 Team Building With A Difference
9 Two New Ayla Hotels For Al Ain
12 Sir Bani Yas Gets Wild
14 Connectivity Boost From Etihad
16 State-Of-The-Art Stadium For Al Ain
20 Leisure Destinations Trio Debut
24 Cover Story: Show-Stoppers From
Qasr Al Sarab
29 Red Bull Air Race Flies Back
32 We Turn Up Our F&B Heat
Barbara Saunders Editor • May Mohr Deputy Editor
Saeed Jumoh Photo Editor
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Please contact us with any feedback, news updates or article ideas via email email@example.com
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Copyright Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
Dear industry partners,
has also come in
for some worthy
This edition of Seyaha is packed with news of destinations within our destination, upcoming
hotels and more visitor activities.
I’m pleased to report that our Access Abu Dhabi trade engagement programme running in
partnership with our national airline, Etihad Airways, is proving successful and that we are now
expanding it to five more markets – meaning it will touch 10 markets across four continents in all.
Proposals are now coming in from China, France, Italy, Brazil and the USA.
In the year since we launched Access Abu Dhabi, the programme has progressed 38 destination
co-marketing initiatives, 10 destination familiarisation trips for travel agents and completed
successful partner engagement missions in our initial target markets. We have seen strong results,
particularly from Germany and the UK, with a significant increase in the length of guest stay
emerging through packages sold by its travel and tour operator partners. The team is now looking at
tailoring a version to address the specific needs of the GCC market and we’ll bring you news of this
The destination has also come in for some worthy accolades this year. Sir Bani Yas Island has
been named by the UK’s The Guardian newspaper as one of the Top 40 destinations for 2014 while
Lonely Planet has ranked the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara as among the world’s most
extraordinary hotels. And plaudits also go to The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, which,
within a single month, was declared the ‘Best New Business Hotel in the World’ by the USA’s
Business Traveler magazine and then listed among the Top New 50 hotels in the World by Condé
Nast Traveller Russia. My congratulations to all involved.
The year looks promising for us all.
Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority
So the message
then is, play to our
Who would have thought that Sir Mick Jagger would be the one to pass on to all of us some sound
tourism promotion advice? I’m not sure the iconic rocker knew he was doing that when he told the
packed crowds at the Abu Dhabi opener of The Rolling Stones ‘14 On Fire’ tour that he and his band
mates had opted to tour Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Hospital during their stay in the UAE capital – but that’s
what he did. Indirectly he told us to play to our unique strengths. Perhaps they opted for the tour
knowing that none of the other destinations could offer anything like it. So the message then is, play
to our strengths.
And that’s just what the recent formation of an industry development committee (IDC) specifically
for our heritage heartland of Al Ain promises to do in its endeavours to bring refreshed tourism
impetus to the Oasis City.
The coming together of private and public sector stakeholders is focusing hearts and minds on
what is a mutually beneficial outcome – that of building the destination’s proposition, enhancing its
promotion and positioning with a focus on families, sporting and adventure activities, heritage and
Improved access to Al Ain – home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites – is also high on
the agenda. The committee has been working to identify the challenges facing the destination and to
brainstorm solutions and there’s a palpable determination to jointly make things happen.
It’s all great news for Al Ain, which coincidently was named among the 100 Places To Visit Before
Your Die in the first book of its type. We’ll keep you up-to-date with all the IDC’s outcomes and developments
and hope they’ll encourage you all to take a keen look at this wonderful city – which has
considerable strengths for us all to play to!
Thank you Sir Mick.
Go! Team Kayak!
Sea Hawk Water Sports, the company which offers daily kayaking tours through
Abu Dhabi’s Eastern mangroves, has moved into the team building arena with a
range of exciting waterborne product.
p for grabs are races through the
mangrove channels and tug-of-war in
kayaks. Yet perhaps the most intriguing
team builder is water-ball – a game where
players are in kayaks, but not allowed to
paddle, have to catch a ball from a fellow
player and pass it on within 10 seconds. A ‘goal’ is
scored, only when a team member manages to strike
the guide’s kayak with the ball.
“It’s tremendous for building team spirit and is
great fun at the same time,” said Ghassan Al Hashemi,
General Manager, Sea Hawk Water Sports, who
operates the tours from the pier at Eastern Mangroves
Hotel & Spa by Anantara.
Team building, which begins with a 15 minute safety
instruction session, can be for groups of 60 with 50
people in double kayaks and 10 in singles. Charges for
groups of up to 20 are AED110 (US $30) per person.
Sea Hawk operates daily guided tours through
the Eastern mangroves, departing from the Eastern
Mangroves Resort & Spa by Anantara at 7am, 11am and
3pm and covering 5.5 kilometres.
“Kayaking through the mangrove channels is easier
Sea Hawk brings
to the Eastern
than kayaking at sea and we check sea conditions
early each morning to decide whether the tours can
go ahead,” explained Ghassan. “Each tour begins with
safety instruction and includes a stop for refreshments
of water and fruit salad – so the tours usually take
about two hours in all.”
Kayakers can opt for single or double kayaks and
one guide is provided for every eight guests. Charges
are AED150 (US $41) for kayakers above 12 years of age
and AED130 (US $35) for those below 12 years.
Sea Hawk also rents out kayaks to those who can
prove they have previous experience of the sport. Rental
charges are AED100 (US $27) for a single kayak for
three hours and AED150 (US $41) for a double kayak.
“The trips through the mangroves are a superb way
There’s Too Many
Cooks In The Desert
to get in touch with our nature,” explained 44-yearold
Ghassan who’s a trained geoscientist who took
up kayaking as a hobby and turned it into a business.
“We see birds, particularly of the heron species and
Egyptian goose, dolphins and fish and sometimes get
a rate glimpse of a fox. It’s quiet and calm and a super
way to keep fit and toned, and spend quality family
Escape the meeting room and head
to the emirate’s Al Khatem desert
for adventurous team building, with
two, exciting Arabian Nights Village
activities: ‘Quick Shelter’ and ‘Desert
The village - one of the emirate’s leading residential
desert products, and the only one with ‘glamping’
accommodation, with air-conditioned tents adorned
with traditional sadu weave work - which offers lots of
desert activities for the whole family, including camelrides,
desert quad-biking, 4x4 dune bashing, sandboarding
and traditional henna skin decorations, has
expanded its product offering with a couple of teambuilding
activities for corporate guests.
Their ‘Quick Shelter’ activity challenges teams to
erect tents in the desert sand in the shortest period of
time. All within the confines of the Village and with the
necessary components provided.
“It’s a light introduction to desert survival skills and
touches on traditional Emirati life, as the participants
learn how to quickly make shade from the hot desert
sun,” said Randa Darwich, Group Sales Manager,
Arabian Nights Village.
The activity suits groups of as many as 30 persons,
with a maximum of five groups of six people each, and
is priced at AED 450 (USD 125) per person including
desert activities, lunch and transportation to-and-from
‘Desert Chef’, on the other hand, challenges more
gastronomically adventurous teams to make the most
delicious culinary creations, using basic ingredients
such as fresh vegetables and breads. Lessons are to be
learnt about team-work when there’s ‘too many cooks
in the kitchen’, and the Village’s own Head Chef judges
the dishes based on taste and presentation.
Groups of as many as 40 persons can participate in
this activity, in a maximum of four teams of 10 persons
each, and is priced at AED 450 (US$ 125) per person
including desert activities, lunch and transportation
to-and-from their accommodation.
“The uptake since we launched the activities last
October has been fantastic!” said Randa. “The activities
are popular with both Emiratis and expatriates, and
we’ve already hosted teams from as diverse fields as
local Abu Dhabi energy companies to multi-national
entertainment groups in Dubai.
“A typical full-day programme starts with team
building exercises in the early afternoon followed
by lunch. The participants can then choose from
our traditional and desert adventure activities. As
the sun sets on the horizon, dinner is served under
the stars with accompanying Arabian style evening
entertainment including a traditional Oud player.”
Half-day team building programmes start in the
afternoon with traditional and desert adventure
activities, followed by team-building and dinner.
The team building activities all take place outdoors
in the Village’s authentic traditional Arabian
“We see the participants enjoying coming together,
and solving problems hands-on, as a team. It’s a
chance for them to do something out of the ordinary,
and outside of their normal environment. They’re
used to trainings conducted in meeting rooms – but
here they’re outside, in fresh air with beautiful desert
“They get to know each other in new ways, and have
to communicate with each other in ways they may
not be used to – so it’s definitely a great environment
to allow them to step out of their comfort zone for a
little while in a safe and supportive setting,” explained
Randa. “And from the feedback we’ve received, this
definitely proves beneficial in improving team work and
A new adventure challenge will soon be added to the
team building activities: a desert treasure hunt in the
dunes surrounding the village. “Exercises will provide
Arabian Nights Village
clues guiding the teams safely back to the village. This
will be slightly more physically challenging, and the
teams will learn more desert survival skills and the
secrets to Bedouin life,” explained Randa.
Arabian Nights Village is just over an hour’s drive
from Abu Dhabi, with beautiful views of the expansive
desert and the odd camel herds grazing on desert
vegetation along the way. Return transportation is
provided from Khalifa Park in luxurious buses or SUVs,
depending on group size.
The boutique German cruise operator Phoenix Reisen is to have a two ship
presence in Abu Dhabi for the October-April 2014/2015 season.
he company’s MS Albatros will join its
Amadea in the emirate following the recent
maiden arrival of Phoenix Reisen vessels
into the UAE capital.
“This greatly underpins our cruise
industry ambitions which are now being
advanced via a highly pro-active local stakeholder
campaign and a wider regional co-operative initiative
to ensure the region is rightly positioned as a credible
and appealing winter cruise destination,” explained
Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director, Tourism,
TCA Abu Dhabi.
“We are nurturing a growing number of relationships
with independent cruise tour operators and smaller
cruise charter operations, as well as furthering our
existing healthy relationships with the world’s leading
Carrying fewer than 1,500 mostly German guests,
passengers on board the luxury vessels can choose
from five full and half-day Abu Dhabi shore excursions
when they arrive next season. Many of the excursions
will play to the emirate’s cultural strengths, according
to Agata Eibel, cruise manager for shore-based tour
operator Rida International Tours.
“We have developed a range of excursions that
contrast Abu Dhabi’s modern metropolis with the
emirate’s cultural past, and have found that tours to Al
Ain’s World Heritage attractions and the Sheikh Zayed
Grand Mosque are proving just as popular as high tea
at Emirates Palace or our thrill-seeker’s tours of desert
dunes or the exhilarating Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.”
Established for over 40 years, Phoenix Reisen is a
German-based travel agency that has operated a cruise
ship fleet since 1988.
In a bid to woo more operators to the UAE capital,
TCA Abu Dhabi – in partnership with Abu Dhabi Ports
Company – is planning a permanent cruise terminal
facility at Mina Zayed, and the region’s first desert
island beach stop-over for cruise liners off the coast
of Abu Dhabi’s Al Gharbia (Western Region). Both are
scheduled to open for the 2015/16 season.
Ayla Plans Two
Ayla Hotels and Resorts is gearing up to open two new signature, alcohol-free
properties in Al Ain.
First up is the four-star Bawadi Ayla, which is
coming up next to the city’s popular Bawadi Mall. The
hotel will have over 90 rooms and suites furnished in
traditional Arabian style but with a modern twist and is
due to open in Q2.
“With the hotel being surrounded by a traditional
souq, the old camel market and Jebel Hafeet heights,
yet have all the facilities of one of the city’s busiest
shopping destinations, it’s perfect for a shopping break
with a touch of culture and relaxation,” said Mohamed
Soussan, the group’s General Manager.
The hotel is only 10 minutes from Al Ain centre,
close to the Oman border and less than half an hour
from Al Ain Airport. Abu Dhabi is only a 90 minute
drive away and Dubai is just a 50 minute drive away.
Al Bawadi Ayla’s rooms come in Standard, Deluxe or
Suite options with smoking and non-smoking versions
available and all the latest in-room facilities, including
a kitchenette in the suites.
Food and beverage options include the all-daydining
Bawadi Restaurant open for breakfast, lunch
and dinner and the Tamra Café/Lobby Lounge – an
upmarket tea lounge with a traditional Arabian touch.
The hotel will have 345 square metres of meeting
space to accommodate up to 100 guests, a roof-top,
open-air swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, massage treatment
rooms and a ‘Pulse’ health club.
In Q3, Ayla will open the five-star Grand Ayla Hotel
in the centre of Al Ain within walking distance of Al Ain
“This property will have it all,” said Soussan
“spacious, comfortable rooms, fully equipped and
serviced apartments, fine dining choices, a rejuvenating
spa and business meetings facilities.”
Grand Ayla will have fully furnished and serviced
one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom
apartments, five f&b outlets, a state-of-the-art health
club and spa centre, a rooftop swimming pool and hitech
Dining options will include the stylish Al Falaj
Restaurant serving authentic Emirati cuisine with a
modern twist, the Tamra Café/Lobby Lounge and the 5
Continents International Buffet room.
As with Bawadi Ayla, this property will also have
345 square metres of conference and events space
for up to 100 guests. Recreation facilities include the
Spa Centre and ‘Pulse’ Health Club complete with an
outdoor swimming pool with wet facilities, kids’ pool,
massage rooms, Jacuzzi, steam and sauna and a gym.
Congratulations to The Ritz-Carlton Abu
Dhabi, Grand Canal, which recently celebrated
its first anniversary with highly coveted
accolades from two leading travel publications.
The five-star luxury resort received the ‘Best
New Business Hotel in the World’ honour by
Business Traveler magazine in its 25th edition
of Best in Business Travel Awards and is listed
among the Top New 50 hotels in the World by
Condé Nast Traveller Russia.
Set within landscaped gardens with its own
private beach, the resort has 447 luxurious
guest rooms and suites, 85 private one and
two-bedroom villas, 10 restaurants and lounges,
a state-of-the-art health club and one of the
region’s largest outdoor swimming pools.
Sands Hotel, one of downtown Abu Dhabi city’s
most well-known landmarks, has just entered phase II
of its full-scale renovation.
All guest rooms are now being renovated at the
4-star hotel, which is managed by Danat
Hotels & Resorts with work due for
completion by the end of the year.
The hotel’s first renovation phase,
completed last year saw an overhaul of
all public areas, lobby, elevators, the allday
dining restaurant La Piazza and the
Harvesters Pub, followed by Chequers bar
and restaurant, in addition to its Night Core
“The renovations are on-track and
include the installation of the latest
technology. The room layouts are
contemporary to produce elegant,
comfortable guest rooms and deliver a
fresh, upgraded feel. We’ve worked hard
not to lose the identity which our loyal
customers have come to regard as home,”
said Khaled Khedr, the hotel’s Director of
Sales & Marketing.
For business meetings and other special events,
Sands Hotel has 140 square metres of event space
including banquet facilities. The hotel’s Al Bateen
Hall can seat 80 guests and is equipped with the latest
audiovisual technologies, while there are adaptable
smaller rooms for board meetings or events for groups
of 20 to 40.
Danat Hotels & Resorts’ vision for Sands Hotel is to
be a modern 4-star hotel that offers 5-star services and
facilities at convenient prices.
Sunsets Get Wild
on Sir Bani Yas
The Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara on Sir Bani Yas Island is offering
guests another truly unique product – the Sunset Wildlife Experience which
includes a rustic BBQ.
The three-and-a-half hour experience begins with
an escorted 4x4 Sunset Drive through the Arabian
Wildlife Park where guests can spot, and learn, from an
experienced guide, about the free roaming animals and
herds before heading off for the social BBQ.
The experience begins at 4.30pm with the Wildlife
Park Drive, stopping at a viewing point an hour later
to take in the magnificent island sunset. With the
sun down, guests then head off for a Wadi (dried up
river bed) area to be met by the chef who serves up an
expansive BBQ in a unique setting before returning to
their hotel at around 8pm.
Booking is required one day in advance and the
experience requires a minimum of six guests and can
handle up to 30 at one time. Prices are AED825(US
$225) per adult and AED400 (US $109) per child and
are subject to 10% service charge and 6% tourism fee.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Introducing ‘Romance At The Towers’
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has launched a package
specifically for couples with featured highlights
including private settings, gourmet delicacies and
spectacular views of Abu Dhabi’s night skyline, the
Corniche and Arabian Gulf.
‘Romance at the Towers’ is a bespoke, aspirational
package designed to deliver an evening full of romantic
magic and theatre, a special Scott’s Terrace dinner and
accommodation, exclusively for couples. It includes
a six course set menu paired with the finest vintages
on the hotel’s Scott’s Terrace which offers sweeping
seascapes, special flower arrangements and a harpist or
violinist providing entertainment. The package includes
a couple’s spa treatment, a stay in a Club Suite and an
exclusive beach setting for morning breakfast served
by a private butler. ‘Romance at the Towers’ costs
AED30,000 (US $8,167) plus 10% service charge and 6%
Sir Bani Yas Island has been selected
among the world’s Top 40 Holiday Hotspots
for 2014 in The Guardian, one of the UK’s
leading newspapers, making it the only Gulf
destination to be featured on the list.
Royal Jet: the
New Royal Jet Base
Royal Jet, the Abu Dhabi-based luxury flight services company, will complete
the first phase of its new home at Al Bateen Executive Airport, the region’s only
dedicated executive airport, in the last quarter of 2015.
Touching Down From
Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, has
launched a new service from Medina making it the
airline’s fourth Saudi destination following Dammam,
Riyadh and Jeddah.
Flights have a weekly capacity of 1,904 seats,
including 16 Pearl Business Class and 120 Coral
Economy Class seats.
Etihad now operates 50 weekly flights from Saudi
More Airlift From India
Following the launch of services from Jaipur in April,
Etihad will, this June, increase its daily service from
Kochi to double-daily, upscale to double-daily from
Bangalore and Chennai from July and from Hyderabad
October. The airline now flies from 10 Indian
destinations to Abu Dhabi International.
Double Daily Dublin
Starting from July 15, Etihad will also step up its
service from Dublin from 10 weekly to double daily. The
new frequency from the Irish capital raises the airline’s
weekly seat capacity to 8,988 and is operated by a
Boeing 777-300 ER.
From Russia With Love
Etihad Airways will increase its service from Moscow
from daily to double daily from June 1 and to triple
daily from October 1 this year.
Following a codeshare agreement with S7 Airlines,
Etihad’s flight schedule will also see a connectivity
boost from the Russian cities of Kazan, Krasnodar,
Saint Petersburg and Samara.
he new base will accommodate
aircraft and maintenance facilities,
Medevac operations and Royal Jet’s
administration headquarters. The project
will complement the airline’s fixed-base
operator premises at Abu Dhabi International
and is part of a gradual transition of its principal
operating base to the city-central Al Bateen
The first phase will see Royal Jet build a 4,500
square metre hangar and a 5,000 square metre
facility which will include offices, workshops,
spares storage and a training centre.
“This new base is a reflection of the consistent
and continuous upward growth that the private
jet industry has experienced in the last few years.”
said Shane O’Hare, Royal Jet’s President and CEO.
Airberlin Doubles Up
Airberlin, which is 29 per cent-owned by
Etihad Airways, will introduce a second daily
flight from Berlin to Abu Dhabi International from
The German carrier and the UAE’s national
airline have also expanded their codeshare
agreement to India allowing passengers travelling
from six Indian destinations to stopover in Abu
Dhabi on their way to/from Berlin.
Airberlin’s Berlin-Abu Dhabi route is the only
direct flight from Germany’s capital city to the
A Destination With
A Heart Of Sport
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, the mixed-use project with a state-of-the-art football
stadium at its cornerstone, has been unveiled in the oasis city of Al Ain and is set
to become a leading tourism, leisure and sports destination.
In addition to the recently-completed 500,000
square metre stadium, the project will include a
residential community with 700 units surrounded by
green spaces, two office buildings of 20,000 square
metres, sports facilities, family entertainment zones,
over 50 restaurants, cafes and shops and a four-star
hotel due to open in 2016.
The development has been planned to promote a
healthy lifestyle in all its areas and will include a public
courtyard, stylish promenades interlinked by pedestrian
walkways, a family sports and entertainment space for
all ages, sports activity zones, a healthy living quarter
and a dedicated pool and gymnasium - the biggest of its
kind in Abu Dhabi emirate.
Cars are not allowed in the Plaza and the space
around the stadium is designed with cycling, jogging
and walking tracks.
A collection of restaurants and cafés will be adjacent
to the hotel and will be connected to other areas in the
development via a pedestrian path.
Home to Al Ain Football Club, the 25,000-seat,
45,000sqm, 50 metre high Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
has 10 private corporate and three luxury suites with a
capacity to seat up to 700 people and a dedicated area
Design of the exterior façade is inspired by a palm
tree trunk while the outer shell is made with 600
individually mounted fabric panels with independently
controlled LED lights allowing creative colour displays.
The stadium has 3,000 premium seats, one of the
world’s highest ratios, and all spectators can enjoy an
unprecedented viewing experience close to the action
on the three-tiered seats at a close-up auxiliary area.
The venue’s roof is engineered to provide spectator
The car park holds over 3,000 vehicles and 25 buses.
The stadium in numbers:
• 50 seats for people with special needs
• 40 square-metre giant stadium screen
• 60 media seats
• 4 changing rooms
• 500 staff members
Meeting and Event Facilities
While the stadium is a sports venue, it will double
as an ultra-modern meeting and events facility for
the corporate and entertainment segments. The
stadium has 10 suites that can be easily converted into
meeting rooms, four 60 square metre lounges able to
accommodate 100-150 conference guests and indoor
and outdoor exhibition areas.
The stadium itself is equipped with 100 speakers
offering state-of-the-art acoustics which makes it ideal
for concerts, cultural events, performances and special
On the cards
Plans are underway to launch guided visits of
the stadium. Lasting up to 30 minutes, the tour
will take visitors behind-the-scenes covering the
players’ changing rooms, the exclusive Chairman’s
box and the stadium’s memorabilia shop.
Stay at the Stadium
Adding more convenience to the action, the project
will have a four-star hotel Aloft Al Ain.
To be completed in 2016, the 172 room property will
have two presidential suites featuring high ceilings,
oversized windows, an ultra-comfortable platform bed
and large walk-in showers.
It will be the second Aloft hotel in the UAE -
following Aloft Abu Dhabi’s 2009 launch in the UAE
capital- and the first Starwood hotel to open in Al Ain.
Designed to accommodate business and leisure
travellers seeking a trendy modern hotel experience,
Aloft Al Ain will bring an urban-influenced concept
with a social guest experience.
Aloft Al Ain will also feature the brand’s signature
XYZ lounge, a public space where guests can read the
paper, work, play a game of pool or enjoy refreshments
Guests can re-energise at the The Re:charge fitness
centre while the unique Re:fuel by Aloft will introduce
a convenient 24 hours deli option, with a choice of
sweet, savoury meals, healthy snacks and drinks. The
hotel will also have an all-day dining restaurant, a cigar
lounge and two meeting spaces equipped with the
latest generation of audio-visual technology.
UBER, the San Francisco–based technology
company with a presence in over 80 cities globally, has
launched its operations in Abu Dhabi. The applicationbased
service allows smart phone users to
book private luxury car pick-ups at the tap
of a button and in a cash-free transaction.
Users can download the free UBER app
on any Apple or Android-powered smart
phone, enter their name, email, mobile
number and credit card details to start
using the service.
Upon requesting the car, UBER will
allow users to see on the screen a map
with the driver’s estimated time of arrival,
details for easier identification and realtime
location tracking. Once the drop-off
is completed, the trip cost will be deducted
from the passengers’ registered account
and they will be emailed a detailed receipt
of their journey.
UBER is offering Seyaha readers up to
To benefit from the offer, follow these easy steps:
1. Go to uber.com/app on your smart phone to download the app and sign-up.
2. Enter the promo code “SEYAHA2014” and get a free first ride up to AED80.
3. Select your pick-up location in the Uber app and your private driver will arrive
AED.80 off their first Abu Dhabi ride. To benefit from
the offer, follow these easy steps.
*Offer is valid only for users in Abu Dhabi
EU Travellers Welcome
Travel to Abu Dhabi for all EU citizens has now
become easier! The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has
now exempted citizens of Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia,
Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia,
Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria from
requiring a pre-entry visa.
All EU passport holders will now receive visas on
arrival in the UAE.
Yas Mall, Yas Island’s upcoming mega retail
destination, is set to open this year to coincide
with the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Grand Prix on November 23.
Spanning 235,000 square metres, the mall –
the biggest in Abu Dhabi - will have 400 stores
and a 20 screen cinema.
Recently Abu Dhabi’s dining and shopping scene has seen an increasing
number of world-class offerings emerge in ‘boutique clusters’ around the
capital city with diverse wellness, dining and retail products spread beyond
conventional mall and hotel venues.
Cases in point are The Eastern Mangroves Promenade, a serene urban
getaway, the luxury setting of The Collection - Saadiyat Island’s first dedicated
retail and f&b destination - and The Venetian Village, which brings an eclectic
mix of traditional and stylish dining concepts to the emirate.
THE newly-launched Eastern Mangroves
Promenade is the emirate’s latest dining
and retail destination with 11 restaurants
overlooking the Arabian Gulf and a serene
mangrove forest, as well as wellness, beauty
and leisure components.
Complementing the adjacent five-star Eastern
Mangroves Hotel and Spa by Anantara and apartments
and serviced suites by Jannah, the Promenade’s
design is inspired by a souk-type avenue, with an
open colonnade providing shaded outdoor pedestrian
“The Eastern Mangroves Promenade is peaceful,
sophisticated and picturesque – the perfect place to
unwind, relax and enjoy uninterrupted views over
the stunning mangroves. It’s also the first open air
retail and leisure destination of its kind in Abu Dhabi
set in close proximity to the city centre,” said Angus
Woodhead, Director of Retail Development at Tourism
Development & Investment Company, the project’s
Covering more than 3,500 square metres, the
destination’s outlet portfolio currently includes Flooka
seafood restaurant; Café Blanc, a modern Lebanese
café; Carluccio’s, the famous Italian restaurant by
Chef Antonio Carluccio; Peppermill Indian restaurant;
The Nail Spa beauty salon; Marquee hair salon and
Waitrose supermarket. Soon-to-open outlets include
Johnny Rockets burger outlet, Starbucks coffee shop
and Boa Steakhouse, the trendy US restaurant and
There’s parking for 370 vehicles and a valet parking
service. Visitors who arrive in style by boat can dock at
the Promenade’s 30-berth marina, which is managed
by Belevari Marine, and can accommodate house boats
and yachts ranging from eight to 33 metres in length.
Over on Saadiyat Island, The Collection is a new
luxury retail and dining destination adjoining The
St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort making it an upscale
urban getaway at one of Abu Dhabi’s most prestigious
With the picturesque Saadiyat Beach as its
backdrop, The Collection’s architecture is inspired by
Mediterranean villages, with their terraces, courtyards
and piazzas and has a 6,000 square metres of leasable
space. It’s the island’s first retail complex with 26 highend
shops and f&b outlets.
There are boutiques for gifts, watches, jewelry,
perfume, home accessories and eyewear from
brands including Al Manara International Jewellery,
Rivoli Arcade luxury gifts, Heritage Touch for home
accessories, Exquisite Antiques Gallery, Yas, The Royal
Name of Perfumes, Yateem Opticians, Beyond the
Beach resort wear store, Jeeves Begravia drycleaners,
Starblu resort wear, Health First pharmacy and
Restaurant options include the famous Los Angeles
celebrity hotspot Koi Restaurant & Lounge, AVASA: The
Indian Kitchen fine dining outlet, Caramel Restaurant &
Lounge, Shakespeare and Co café and restaurant, Abd
El Wahab Lebanese restaurant and Baskin Robbins ice
Other standout propositions include the DNA Health
– Medicine & Wellness Centre and the Salwa Zeidan
Gallery contemporary art space famous for its selection
of some of the region’s most prominent artists.
And there’s more to come:
The Collection will have its own nightlife destination
once the trendy boutique nightclub ‘People by Crystal’
opens later this year. Amro Ladies Salon, Aziz Salon
for men and Heritage for Henna salon will make sure
visitors look their best, while Tejori Gems will bring its
prominent diamond and gemstone jewellery designs to
The Collection is adjacent to The Residences at
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, a collection of 32
exclusive villas and 259 apartments and its shopping
precinct is connected to the resort’s luxurious hotel,
which features 377 rooms, fine-dining restaurants, a
beach club, and the Iridium Spa.
At the heart of the Venetian Village at The Ritz-
Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is AL-FANAR
restaurant and café, which brings Emirati flavours to
this new waterfront leisure destination.
Themed to provide fine dining in a nostalgic
ambiance of the Emirates in days gone by, the outlet
serves up authentic Emirati cuisine with fresh salads,
fish, seafood and meats.
Complete with barasti outdoor booths, mud brick
rooms and a mini souk, AL-FANAR, brings the past
bang into the present in its themed representation of an
old UAE neighbourhood.
The brainchild of Hashem Al Marzouqi, a
mechanical engineer-turned heritage theme designer,
AL-FANAR seats 320 for lunch and dinner and is set to
become a focal point of the Venetian Village.
Spanning across 20,000 square metres, the Italianthemed
village is set to open a diverse mix of dining
outlets in 2014 including Olives, serving Mediterranean
A traditional Emirati
welcome at Al Fanar.
cuisine by celebrity Chef Todd English; Inakaya, the
Japanese Robata fire-side grilling restaurant, Barfly the
famous restaurant and lounge concept by Raymond
Visan and Brasserie Flo, the world-famous French
brasserie founded by Chef Jean-Paul Bucher in Paris in
The Venetian Village is also home to The Ritz-
Carlton’s spa spanning 2,000 square metres of luxury
wellness and beauty therapies.
The Galleria’s multi-lingual team.
No Language Barriers
At The Galleria
The Galleria on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi’s newest
luxury retail precinct, has upped its customer service
credentials by appointing an internationally trained and
accredited team of Ambassadors to assist discerning
glamour seekers and gourmands as they shop and dine in
the capital’s new urban hub.
The Ambassadors, who can interact in over six
languages including Arabic, English, French, Russian,
Tagalog and Mandarin, can help customers find their
favourite designer store, recommend a restaurant from The
Galleria’s numerous contemporary F&B options, advise on
transport links, and much, much more.
The Ambassador team can be found on The Galleria’s
second floor, where customers can also pick up maps and
guides in English and Arabic.
The award-winning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by
Anantara, which lies amidst the towering dunes of the
Liwa Desert at the entrance to the famed Empty Quarter
(Rub Al Khali), now has more guest adventure activities
to make your clients’ stay truly memorable.
QASR AL SARAB – the Mirage Palace - recently
became the only Middle East hotel to offer guests
the unique ‘Fat Biking in the Desert’ experience.
With a fleet of 10 fat bikes – bicycles which
have 4.8 inch width tyres which can be deflated
to tackle the enormous dunes which surround the
resort – guests aged 14 and over can now cycle
the awe-inspiring dunes of the Empty Quarter –
the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass.
“Fat bikes actually came into being in the
1870s in Alaska when they were used as a means
of transport as their thick tyres could tackle the
snow,” explained Amer Braik, Anantara’s Area
Director of Environmental and Cultural Activities
“Fat biking on the dunes outside Qasr Al Sarab
is a great workout for anyone. In a session of
one and a half to two hours, guests can travel
between 7 to 10 kilometres amid some of the most
stunning scenery in Arabia. The tour is in the
company of a trained guide who can point out to
the bikers some of the intricacies of this desert –
such as animal tracks and indigenous fauna and
flora – enhancing this unique activity in a special
place to spend time and experience.”
Fat biking sessions at Qasr Al Sarab cost
AED175 (US $48)++per person.
Horse riding in
the sand dunes
Proving particularly popular at the hotel is
the twice-daily falconry and saluki show when
four falcons go through their paces ‘swooping’
for tempting prey and the saluki couple ‘Reesha’
(which means feather) and Raddad (which means
Defender) race for bait. Reesha, it seems, is the
faster of foot.
“The female of the Saluki species is faster,”
explained Amer. “The oldest breed of dog, Salukis
historically travelled throughout the Middle East
and Silk Route with caravans and nomadic tribes.
Known for their hunting prowess and being able
to achieve speeds of up to 75 kilometres an hour,
Salukis were integral to the survival of the local
Bedouin. Our falcon and saluki show is a form of
edutainment about traditional desert hunting.”
The falcon and saluki show is AED320 (US
$87)++ per person.
The falcon and
EVENTS & EXHIBITION
Also new at the resort is horse riding in the
desert – with accompanied tours of around
an hour – leaving from the resort’s stables on
beautiful ‘retired’ endurance horses and Arabian
The tours, at 7am, 9am,2pm or 4pm, cover the
undulating small dunes and desert plain in the
basin outside the resort and give riders, whether
experienced or just starting out, the chance to
take in the breathtaking scenery while exercising.
Costs for horse riding are AED395 (US $108) ++
And get ready to put the wind in your clients’
hair with Desert Land Sailing in the expansive
Liwa Desert - the gentle Arabian winds are perfect
for this adventurous activity. Guests can choose
to sail as a group or race against each other
across the desert. The activity runs daily at 2pm –
prevailing winds permitting. It costs AED280 (US
$76)++ per adult for one hour with anyone from
eight to 65 years qualifying. Safety helmets are
These latest desert activities join Qasr al
Sarab’s long-established offering of desert walks,
tours to the nearby Liwa Oasis, dawn yoga amid
the dunes, camel trekking, desert drives and
Red Bull Air Race
To Stop Again!
The Red Bull Air Race World
Championship, which earlier this year
opened its season in Abu Dhabi city
for a seventh time, will return to UAE
capital skies for the 2015 and 2016
“Abu Dhabi’s selection as a fixture in the two coming
seasons underlines the UAE capital’s position as one
of the world’s premier sports locations and reflects the
success of previous races held in the emirate,” said Erich
Wolf, CEO of Red Bull Air Race GmbH.
The race is a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi’s ever
growing events calendar which now spans the cultural,
sporting, heritage, arts and entertainment scenes.
It brings heightened impetus to a very active Q1 for
the emirate and delivers a remarkable opportunity
to showcase the beauty and accessibility of the UAE
capital’s magnificent Corniche.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship, the
world’s fastest motorsports series, features 12 of
the world’s best race pilots in a pure motor-sport
competition that combines speed, precision and skill.
Pilots navigate a low-level aerial track made up of airfilled
pylons 25 metres high at speeds of up to 370 km/h
in what is the most thrilling motor sports competition
in the sky.
EVENTS & EXHIBITION
EVENTS & EXHIBITION
ADIHEX a cultural event with activities for all.
Save The Date!
Gourmet Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi International Hunting and
Equestrian Exhibition returns in its 12th edition this
year from 10-13 September at the Abu Dhabi National
Open daily from 11am-10pm, the show is one of the
region’s best places to experience Abu Dhabi’s cultural
heritage. Your clients will be able to watch Ayala dance
performances, have their pictures taken with falcons
and salukis, have henna designs applied and learn
about traditional Emirati weaving methods.
A Fair Share of Art
For art enthusiasts, Abu Dhabi Art returns to the
Saadiyat Cultural District from 5-8 November 2014,
with fascinating displays of modern and contemporary
art pieces from the world’s best galleries.
Start Your Engines!
The Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand
Prix returns in its sixth edition to Abu Dhabi’s Yas
Marina Circuit on November 23 this year with four days
of adrenaline-filled celebrations.
Gourmet Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s annual fine
dining festival, will return in its seventh edition
from February 3-18, 2015 with a star-studded cast of
Michelin-star chefs and special guests.
On the menu are culinary master classes, industry
insights from hospitality experts and gourmet dinners
hosted by a range of the UAE capital’s top hospitality
“The venue’s atmosphere is refined yet homely
and approachable; it’s a place where diners can enjoy
a refined meal with partners, friends, family and
“All our restaurants are home-grown and company
owned which gives us full control of quality standards
and consistency,” added Tomazos, whose company
includes The Meat Co, TRIBES, Eatgreek Kouzina and
Ribs and Rumps restaurants under its portfolio.
Sustaining quality is of the utmost importance
to Tomazos who’s currently planning to take the
successful Bentley Bistro concept to the UK.
“The Abu Dhabi restaurant is our flagship outlet and
we are planning to open this concept in London as well
as to bring one of our brands Eatgreek to Abu Dhabi, it
serves authentic casual Greek food with a twist.”
Bentley Bistro is open daily for breakfast, lunch and
dinner from 9am-2am. Breakfast is served from opening
time till noon.
Johnny Tomazos, CEO of
An Abu Dhabi home-grown, all-day-dining outlet is the among the latest f&b
offerings to take root at Al Maryah Island’s luxury The Galleria Mall. The fully
licensed Bentley Bistro & Bar brings a touch of French-inspired cuisine to the
luxury shop-and-dine destination.
Seyaha sat down with Johnny Tomazos, CEO of
Foodfund International, which is behind Bentley Bistro,
to get the full story.
“We developed this concept for the Abu Dhabi
market and we knew we wanted a
place set in a prestigious location
and The Galleria fits perfectly,”
said Tomazos, the South African
restaurateur of Greek origins
who’s maintaining his father’s
entrepreneurial legacy in the
“We created a place where the
ambiance evolves throughout the
day from breakfast to lunch and eases
into the evening to become more
dynamic at night when our full-time
resident DJ spins live tunes.
“It’s like visiting a new place
depending on what time of day you
This mood evolution relies
on music choice and lighting
techniques and is also reflected in the
restaurant’s menu where breakfast
options are plentiful and daily lunch specials are handwritten
on a wide blackboard on top of the kitchen’s
Bentley’s menu is rich and varied and the cuisine is
European with a distinctive French touch; specialties
include Bouillabaise seafood stew, duck confit, lamb
shank pie, Mediterranean razor clams with Sicilian
sauce and steak.
“Our Head Chef is the skilled and very passionate
Marwan Albouhamidi, a finalist on the second season
of the Arabian ‘Top Chef’ TV show; he makes sure our
food is creatively prepared with freshly sourced produce
of the highest quality,” explained Tomazos.
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining areas
which can accommodate 200 guests and an indoor
bar space for 80 people. The design uses curved style
seating to give the wide rectangular space a more
Adding to the venue’s charm is rustic wooden
flooring which Tomazos had shipped in from a school in
Westminster in the UK.
“The school wanted to change its design and the
wood was in a good condition so we said why not? It
adds to the character of the restaurant which blends old
design with new using an eclectic array of elements.
Executive Chef Gavin Gleeson
Chef Gavin Gleeson has joined the Monte-Carlo
Beach Club, Saadiyat as Executive Chef. The Irish man,
who worked at two Michelin starred restaurants in
London and Dublin and was Executive Chef at Marco
Pierre White’s Wheelers in Dubai, will oversee the
club’s fine dining restaurant, Le Deck as well as Sea
Lounge and Bubbles Bar.
With Gleeson at the helm, Le Deck has introduced
a new business lunch menu featuring dishes including
chicken parfait with onion marmalade and toasted
brioche, saffron risotto, and Tagliatelle Ragu alla
Chef Gavin is planning to include locally grown
organic produce to Le Deck’s menu and will set up the
beach club’s own organic garden.
This bespoke product from Jumeirah at Etihad
Towers is a novel way for guests to experience the best
of the hotel’s award-winning restaurants within a single
The evening begins with aperitifs on Scott’s terrace
above the Arabian Gulf and continues with dining
experiences at its Li Beirut, Tori No Su and Brasserie
Angelique restaurants taking in the cuisine of the
Levant, Japan and France respectively, before heading
to the inspirational fine dining restaurant ‘Quest’ for
dessert. The evening rounds off at the popular Ray’s
Bar for digestifs. Epicurean Escapes costs AED850 (US
$231) per person or AED1,250 (US $340) per couple
with all prices subject to 10% service charge and 6%
Li Beirut (top)
and Quest (left).
Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
What A Convene-ient Destination!
Intelligent pricing and exciting venues are increasingly raising Abu Dhabi’s
credentials as a leading business tourism destination.
The emirate’s competitive room rates, growing hotel
stock and diverse meetings and incentives offering
are attracting major associations and business event
With Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau bidding for, and
securing, international and regional business events,
the emirate is working towards being listed among the
International Congress and Convention Association’s
(ICCA) annual rankings of the busiest association
Abu Dhabi is eyeing a Top 50 slot in the rankings by
2018 – having last year been named among the top 100
busiest global meetings destinations.
Secured business will so far see the following events
take place in Abu Dhabi:
March: World Congress Health or Tobacco, from 17-
21 March with 3000 people expected in Abu Dhabi.
April/May: Asia Pacific Cardiology and the World
Congress of Echocardiography and Allied Techniques,
from 29 April-2 May with 3000 people expected.
April: Ecocity World Summit will be held at the Abu
Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 9-11 April with
2000 people expected.
October: WAZA 70th Conference of World
Association of Zoos and Aquariums will be held in Al
Ain and 500 people are expected.
Gastro 2016 - 2000 people. The event promises
to be the Arab World’s largest ever Gastroenterology
& Hepatology Meeting and will be jointly held with
the Emirates Gastroenterology & Hepatology Annual
WorldSkills 2017 –A first for the Arabian Gulf, the
event will be held at ADNEC and bring around 7000
Watch this space for more exciting announcements
in upcoming issues.
Food For Thought
The 12th GLOBALG.A.P. SUMMIT will debut in
the Middle East at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Jumeirah
at Etihad Towers hotel from October 27-29, 2014.
The conference will see 500 industry leaders
and delegates tackle key issues related to food
safety, sustainability, social responsibility,
harmonisation of standards and future challenges
facing food production, supply and service
Where You Can Find Your
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority Partners
Here’s where you’ll find the contact details of our local and international offices. Please remember
that Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s normal business hours in the UAE are from 8am to
4pm, Sunday to Thursday.
PO Box 94000
Abu Dhabi UAE
tel: +971 2 444 0444
fax: +971 2 444 0400
Level 15, 338 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
tel: +61 2 82685533
fax: +61 2 9268 0243
18th Floor, Unit 18-08, East Tower
of Twin Towers, No. B12
Chaoyang District, Beijing
tel: +86 10 85326366
16 Rue Ballu
75 009 Paris, France
tel: + 33 1 5325 0352
fax: +33 1 5325 1112
60313 Frankfurt, Germany
tel: +49 69 299 253 920
fax: +49 69 299 253 920
Our Toll free number in the UAE
International toll free number is
+971 2 666 4442
Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street
PO Box 59333, Al Ain, UAE
tel: +971 3 764 2000
fax: +971 3 764 456
M-2, Mezzanine Floor
18, Barakhamba Road
New Delhi – 110001, India
tel: +91 11 23737348
fax: +91 11 23350270
Via Pietrasanta 14
20141 Milan, Italy
tel: +39 02 573 78315
fax: +39 02 57378572
29, Serebryanicheskaya Emb.
8th Floor, Business Center
Silver City 109028, Moscow, Russia
tel: +7 495 937 5950
fax: +7 495 937 5951
Boungainvillea Center, Malik Road
PO Box 116117
tel: +966 56767 9941
UK & Ireland
No 1. Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LY, UK
tel: +44 207 201 6400
fax: +44 207 210 6426
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
tel: +1 212 338 0101
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