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TRAVEL &

HOSPITALITY

AWARDS

MIDDLE

EAST

2


TEAM

CEO

Dennis Mayhew

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Katherine Lozell

ART DIRECTOR

Marcs Bacera

DIRECTOR OF SALES

Stanley Lucas

AWARDS DIRECTOR

Brian Anson

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Zoe Watkins

SENIOR WRITERS

Tasmai Dave

Jacqui Irvine

Joseph Wilton

SENIOR DESIGNERS

Antoine Jackson

Dave Chen

AWARDS MANAGERS

Adam Cole

Joseph Malabanan

Zach Ford

Peter Clement

RESEARCH MANAGERS

Costin Marcel

Sarah Patel

CONTIBUTING WRITERS

Tracy Morgan

Kim Feldmann de Britto

Joseph Malabanan

Aisha Ahmed

Contents

Criteria 6

Dubai 10

How to get in | Dubai 12

Dubai International Hotel 14

The Neighborhoods of Dubai 16

Lade Mauve - Melissah Russo 24

Sisters Beauty Lounge 26

Metro Central Hotel Apartments27

Holiday inn Al Barsha Dubai 28

The Desert | Dubai 32

The One to Watch | Erbil, Iraq 34

Erbil International Hotel 36

24 Hours in Kuwait 38

Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa 42

Qatar – A Rising Star 44

Bahrain Top 5 48

Birds Kingdom52

The Beautiful City | Medina, Saudi Arabia 54

Bosphorus Hotel 56

An Ancient Retreat | Nizwa, Oman 58

Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel 60

3 4


CRITERIA

Excellence in Service is an important category, as customer

service can often be responsible for having guests return

year after year. We look for the hotels and tour operators

that go out of their way to please their guests, those that

provide a personal level of service and take the time to

get to know each visitor so that they might anticipate their

every need. This can be something as simple as a 24-hour

concierge desk, a hotel manager who offers a personal

greeting or a tour guide who is happy to create bespoke

private tours – but whatever it is, we are always pleased

when we encounter staff that have been trained in the art

of customer satisfaction.

SERVICES

It is no question that style and design plays a big part in

selecting our awards shortlist. A guest will form an opinion

about a hotel as soon as they arrive so it is important

to us that all our winners make those first impressions

count. We’re certainly not partial to a particular period of

architecture – but whether we’re judging a gothic castle or

an environmentally friendly lodge, the criteria remains the

same. We consider factors such as architectural features,

use of materials, creation of spaces, décor and the overall

feel. We love it when we find a hotel that tells a story

though its design and construction, or offers a design that

is sympathetic to the natural surroundings of its location.

STYLE & DESIGN

Knowledge of the local area is essential for any

organization, be it a hotel or a tour operator. The quality

of services takes a great hit when the quality of this

element is not up to the mark. Quite a few of our winners

in this category are because they have displayed excellent

knowledge about the surrounding areas. The criteria for a

hotel is slightly lenient compared to a tour operator, as the

latter is expected to have thorough knowledge of the area

in order to provide good services.

Image by: Leo Manjarrez

LOCAL KNOWLEGE

5 6


FACILITIES

Award-winning guest rooms come in all shapes and sizes,

but they all have one thing in common – a home-awayfrom-home

feel. The comfort of the facilities on offer are

of vital importance; we look for luxurious linens, stylish

bathrooms and a coordinated colour scheme that work

together to create a cohesive sense of relaxation. Additional

touches, such as complimentary toiletries, free wi-fi or tea

and coffee making facilities are always a bonus in making

us feel welcome. We’re always impressed to find hotel

rooms that embrace technology and offer amenities like

tablets or smart thermostat systems, but this does not

always necessarily trump the traditional – four poster beds,

ornate fireplaces or antique furniture can add a touch of

decadence to a hotel stay.

LOCATION

Location is one of the most important factors, but also one of

the most subjective, as the ‘ideal’ is very much determined

by the type of visitor and the type of hotel itself. However,

there a few factors we take into consideration when

determining the winners of location-based awards. The

first is convenience; that is, hotels that are easy to travel

to. Many of our winners in this category are in convenient

locations, such as adjacent to airports, close to beaches or

found in the heart of easy-to-navigate cities. We are always

impressed when hotels go the extra mile to take the hassle

out of traveling and offer such additional services as airport

shuttles or car hire services. However, we’re always excited

to come across a hotel that is, to use a familiar phrase, offthe-beaten-track.

A hotel that can offer something a little

different, in terms of natural surroundings, can make the

difference between a good holiday and an incredible one.

In today’s modern age, a hotel or tour operator cannot rely

on word of mouth to get their message out into the world.

As social media has become a vital part of everyday life,

we like to see companies that go the extra mile to engage

with their guests, both past and future. Attractive and

informative websites and engaging and honest content

and what we look for when judging a company’s use of

marketing; how well they display their services, how upto-date

their content is, how well they get their brand

message across, and, most importantly, how well their

marketing can tempt us to go and see what they have to

offer for ourselves.

What better way is there to know about an organization

than by getting first hand reviews? Customers are the best

judges of any service out there as they are the ones who

experience them and can assess whether they were up to

the mark or not. Considering reviews from hundreds of

customers gives us a fair idea about the general pros and

cons of any organization and also gives us valuable inputs

for the other criteria as well.

MARKETING

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Diversity is one important aspect that needs to be taken

into consideration when in the travel and hospitality

industry. It is essential to have staff that has varying diversity

to ensure that the organization can properly connect with

their guests. Diversity is taken into account in terms of

gender, nationality as well as languages spoken among

other factors. Not only do we take the diversity of the staff

into account but even that of the facilities and services

offered; a hotel or tour operator providing a better range

of services is preferred over those that do not.

It is of prime importance that an organization has thorough

industry knowledge. Without knowing the nit-bits of the

in , it is difficult to flourish and provide services which are

a class apart. Before any organization ventures into the

industry, it is essential that they know how the industry

is moving and how they should make changes to their

methodologies in order to remain relevant and also be a

top-performing organization.

DIVERSITY

INDUSTRY

KNOWLEDGE

7 8


DUBAI

Image by: Aakash Singhal

9 10


HOW TO GET IN | DUBAI

For a long time, Dubai was nothing more than a small settlement on the shores of the

Arabian Gulf, supported by fishing and precious stone trading. Nowadays, the city

stands as a lodestar of modernity, with its bold architecture, artificial islands, and luxury

hotels creating a contemporary mystique that draws travelers from across the globe.

As a gateway of travel in the Middle East, Dubai is easily accessible either by land, air,

or water.

Dubai International Airport is located north of the city and is the main hub for visiting

the UAE. It is one of the most modern and best equipped operating airports in the

world and offers easy access to the city’s major hotel regions. The airport is located near

the old part of Dubai, only 8 km from the historical center. There reliable taxi and Uber

services to reach the city, but the most economical option is the subway.

Port Rashid is the main link between the

city and the Persian Gulf, accessible by

boat from anywhere in the world. Since

ferries are unusual in this region, coming

on a cruise ship or charter yacht is the best

option to Dubai by sea.

Due to Dubai’s location, land access is more

popular if coming from other emirates. The

E11 connects the city to the capital Abu

Dhabi at a distance of about 140 kilometers,

which can be covered in 1 hour by a fourlane

coastal highway. This road also extends

to other cities and regions, such as Qatar or

the southernmost emirates.

11 12


United Arab Emirates

DUBAI

INTERNATIONAL

HOTEL

Airport Hotel of the Year

We understand that whether you’re a

solo traveller, a honeymooning couple, a

loving family, busy professional, or a firsttime

traveller, you need a restful oasis and

someone to take care of you and help

you transit in style. We are your special

someone at the airport.

Come to DIH and experience what it feels

like to be pampered. Experience speed

and ease in an environment that will

captivate you. Your happiness and comfort

is our privilege at DIH.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai – United Arab Emirates

Tel +9714 224 4000 ♦ dubaiintlhotels.com/

Dubai International Hotel (DIH)

is conveniently located within

the Airport at Terminal 3. Experience

our World-Class Hospitality, bringing

Dubai to your doorstep. Since we

understand the demands on your

time, our comprehensive effort is to

bring you the Best Dubai experience,

without even leaving the Airport.

From our Luxurious Lounges, our

personalised Meet and Greet

services, our super special Ahlan

service to our spectacular Dining

options, Spa indulgences and Stateof-the-Art

Conference Centers, there

is no desire left unfulfilled.

Dubai Begins Here

13 14


THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF DUBAI

Dubai, a haven of luxury, is located in a desert area of the United Arab Emirates. The

region mixes the simplicity of the old religious customs with the grandiosity of intricate

skyscrapers, considered as the most modern in the world. Among the city’s attractions

are the old Bastakia neighborhood; the Deira bazaars; the boat-shaped Burj al Arab

Hotel; the Palms Islands artificial complex; and the tallest building in the world, Burj

Dubai, with almost 800 meters in height.

There are various neighborhoods in Dubai, each with their own personality and price

range. Since the city is renowned as a luxury travel destination, the most popular

regions usually have higher prices for lodging. At the same time, they are the closest

to the main attractions, which comes in handy for those who prefer to be well located,

even if that means paying a little more. Alternatively, one can choose to stay near a

subway station, as the Dubai subway caters for most of the tourist attractions, thus

making it easier to get around.

DEIRA

The area of Deira, together with Bur Dubai, can be seen as the historical part of the

city. Only a 20min drive from the airport, this neighborhood has a “double personality”,

converging tradition with modernity in a subtle way. The seaside area, near the curve

of Dubai Creek, is more traditional and commercial, where old markets – like the Gold

Souk and the Spice Souk – are located. This is not the most sought after area among

tourists (mainly due to its lower-quality lodging options) but is still worth visiting.

Alternatively, the region near the Deira City Center – the business and modern side

of the neighborhood – offers an array of good and affordable accommodation, as

well as top hotels like Park Hyatt Dubai. Because of its proximity to the airport, the

neighborhood can be a good alternative for those who have little time in the city.

15 16


BUR DUBAI

On the southern banks of the Dubai Creek, connected by bridges to north and south,

is the area known as Bur Dubai. Much like its counterpart Deira, Bur Dubai is a popular

neighborhood among locals and an important commercial center. Some tourist

attractions – like the Dubai Museum, different palaces of sheikhs, and several Arab

markets (souks) – are located in this area. It also has a plethora of three to four-star

hotels, such as the Majestic Tower and the Four Point. Bur Dubai is not far from the

most famous part of the city but the rates here are cheaper than in the modern area,

which makes it a great option for those who have a medium-sized budget and wish to

be closer to the main attractions.

DOWNTOWN DUBAI

If you do decide to stay in Downtown Dubai, make sure you are ready to stretch your

budget. This is a region known for having the most expensive square meters in the world

– and hotel rates are not far behind. On the other hand, when staying in this area there

is a great chance your room will have a view of the almighty Burj Khalifa. You will also be

close to Dubai Mall – the must-see shopping mall in Dubai. The neighborhood slogan,

“the center of the now,” says it all: Downtown is where things are happening. Although

the region is known for luxury, it also has small hotels like The Palace Downtown, The

Address Downtown & The Address Dubai Mall. Boulevard Sheikh Mohammed bin

Rashid, which crosses the neighborhood, is an example of sophistication and charm,

full of restaurants, cafes and people from all over the world. If the price is not an issue,

this is definitely one of the best areas to stay in Dubai.

SHEIK ZAYED ROAD

Do you know that avenue that often appears in the postcards of Dubai with the super

modern and beautiful office buildings? That is the Sheik Zayed Road, the main avenue

of the city. Essentially, the road cuts through the city, but the section close to Bur Dubai

is the hub of business. Here are important places like the Dubai Convention Center

and the DIFC (the city’s financial center), as well as the Trade Center exhibition center

where some of the largest regional fairs take place. The Sheik Zayed road also features

various four to five start business hotels which, together with the great central location

and access to subway stations, create enough reasons for visitors to stay in the area.

17 18


AL BARSHA

The neighborhood of Al Barsha is one

of the most inhabited and busiest

residential areas of the city, featuring

a series of restaurants, shops, and

entertainment options. If one of the

objectives of your trip is to shop, the

region of Al Barsha is a great alternative.

Here is located the must-see Mall of the

Emirates – a representation of Dubai’s

consumer appeal and one of the most

emblematic shopping malls in Dubai,

famous for the ski slope inside the mall.

There are several options for those who

want to stay close to the mall: from a

wide range of 3 to 4-star hotels, through

5-star options, as well as many of Dubai

cheapest, high-quality accommodation.

On top of affordable prices, the

proximity to the beach (Jumeirah Beach)

and pleasant Al Barsha Pond Park, make

this an excellent neighborhood to stay.

JUMEIRAH

Jumeirah Beach is the address of several

landmarks in the city: the iconic Burj Al Arab (the

world’s first 7-star hotel and third tallest)t, as well

as the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, and Wild Wadi

Water Park entertainment complex. Also in this

neighborhood is The Beach – one of the newest

malls in Dubai, with a family-friendly atmosphere.

Aside from the beach, there are several the

options of what to do in the neighborhood,

such as cinemas, picnics, restaurants, shopping,

children playgrounds, and outdoor exercise

facilities. If one of the priorities of your trip is to

enjoy the beach this is a great area to stay and

explore. It is also the perfect location for anyone

traveling to Dubai with children. However, due

to its location, Jumeirah tends to be one of the

priciest alternatives.

19 20


PALM JUMEIRAH

A trip to Dubai is not complete before visiting

the Palm Jumeirah – a palm-shaped artificial

archipelago known for its high-end (and

expensive) hotels and resorts. This is surely one

of Dubai’s most recognizable brand images

and probably its main tourist attraction, but

unless you are looking for luxury resorts with

private beaches, it may not be the best place

to find accommodation. The ring island, which

envelops the “branches” of the palm tree, is

accessible by subway and ferry. As a fun daytrip,

you can visit the Aquaventure Waterpark

and explore its zip lines, slides, and kid-friendly

pools. Interestingly, the Palm Jumeirah is a

popular choice between party seekers as well

as families, with the luxurious Atlantis being

a resort hotel ideal for families with children.

The islands’ romantic air also make it a popular

choice among honeymooners.

DUBAI MARINA

Dubai Marina is widely known for its vibrancy and

a great selection of four and five-star hotels. The

highlight of this area is The Walk – a wooden walkway

around a man-made canal and a well-arranged

marina for luxury yachts from around the world.

The public beach has an extremely well-maintained

infrastructure, which makes this neighborhood ideal

for both tourists and locals. Usually, Westerners love

to stay in this area of the city, due to its similarities

with the United States or Europe. Dubai Marina is a

relatively new neighborhood, opened in 2008, and

has that super modern architecture characteristic of

Dubai. It is one of the best neighborhoods to stay

in Dubai, given the easy access to the metro; the

beautiful urban surroundings; leisure and shopping

options; proximity to the beach; and the quality of

the hotels. And for those who want to complement

the trip to Dubai with a night out, this is the right

place.

21 22


LADE MAUVE

MELISSAH RUSSO

Tel +971 50 465 3359 ♦ facebook.com/byladymauve

The collection seems to have very local and somewhat

urban feel. what was your inspiration behind it all?

Growing up with creative parents has definitely had a huge

influence on me, also living in Dubai and traveling the

world has given me the confidence to believe in myself

and trust all the decisions I have made when sourcing and

designing for our collections. I grew up doing dancing for

15 years, and have always been a creative person. I usually

get inspired while traveling to remote places, and looking

at my favorite artists artwork. 2 of them are Vali Myers and

Frida Kahlo. 2 years ago, we launched a collection called

VALI after her, the whole collection was focused on her and

her lifestyle.

Q&A

Tell us a little about yourself

Back in 2006 I went for an interview

for Emirates airline in Melbourne, after

receiving the great news of passing all

the stages of the interview, I packed

up my life there and moved to Dubai

at the young age of 23 years old, to

start a new adventure. After exploring

the world for 4 years, I took the plunge

and decided to set up Lady Mauve, as I

knew there was a gap in the market for

unique accessories. Working for myself

was something that I always dreamed

of, since I was a young girl. I’ve always

had an entrepreneurial spirit and drive

to want work for myself, even in high

school I used to make and decorate

T-shirts with my best friend, and sell

them through family and friends.

What made you decide to

set up shop in Dubai of all

places?

I noticed that there was a

gap in the market back in

2010, so decided to start

selling all my handmade

products there in Dubai.

Another market called

Ripe started in 2012, so

we moved across to that

market, as it allowed us to

not only sell handmade

products, which allowed

us to grow. We love

attending it so much that

we have been with them

every weekend since.

What are some of the most popular

individual pieces or sets in your

collection?

Over the years the collections have

grown. Initially it used to be all my

own work, which I used to hand

make, but as the years have gone

on we have grown. Now I travel to

Bali and work with a team of silver

smiths who make our bohemian

style silver rings. They would have

to be our most popular pieces

trending now. Our tribal necklaces

are also popular pieces too, as they

are very versatile and you can wear

them with any outfit.

Where would one go to buy your

pieces, are they available online?

During the summer season Lady

Mauve is available every Sat at

Times Square Centre from 9-5pm

and during the winter it is available

every Fri at Zabeel Park 9-4pm, with

Ripe market, and soon to be online.

Are there any places you’d

recommend for travellers to visit?

specifically, those that reflect brand

and style of lady mauve.

Areas like Satwa, Deira and Bur

Dubai have a soulful feel to them,

and you could spend hours walking

throughout the streets. I would

highly recommend trying Ostadi

Special Kebab in Bur Dubai for

incredible Iranian Kebab. This family

run business have been serving

delicious kebabs since the 70’s.

Best place to grab a coffee & why?

My favorite coffee place would have

to be Boston lane coffee, located

in the Courtyard in Al Quoz. It’s a

beautiful spot with the best coffee

in town.

What is the best “off the beaten

path” attraction?

My favourite place to go to in Dubai

is Global Village. Global village

is opened every winter and has

sections of different countries, that

sell their native products from food,

clothing and home wears.

What would you say is the best way

to get around Dubai?

Taxis are super affordable in Dubai,

and they are definitely the best way

to get around the town.

23 24


United Arab Emirates

SISTERS BEAUTY

LOUNGE

Award for Excellence in Service

UAE

METRO

CENTRAL HOTEL

APARTMENTS

Apartments of the Year

The Dubai Mall, Financial Center Rd, Dubai, UAE ♦ Tel +97143398500

sistersbeautylounge.com

Barsha Heights (Tecom), Dubai ♦ Tel +971 435 4200 ♦

auris-hotels.com/en/auris-metro-central-hotel-apartments

Utterly efficient...

boldly feminine

Launched back in 2003 in the Village Mall of Dubai with a commitment to provide the

finest beauty services to women, Sisters Beauty Lounge has seven branches across

the city today. This place not only brings out your inner beauty but also serves as a tranquil

oasis for unwinding from dreary days. The lighting and plush furnishings of each branch

are carefully selected to ensure that as soon as you enter this place, all your worries are

left out and you can be at ease and get pampered by their experienced staff. Whether

you’re looking for hair services, manicure, waxing or even semi-permanent make-up, they

do it all with great finesse to give you your desired look. Trusted by thousands of loyal

customers, this beauty lounge has gone on to become the go-to place for many residents

of Dubai, the credit for which, without doubt, goes to their extraordinary service.

If you’re visiting Dubai and want a homely apartment all to yourself, you should choose

Auris Metro Central Hotel Apartments as your residence. Located in the Barsha

Heights, these apartments facilitate ease of access to the major landmarks of Dubai

thanks to their proximity to the Dubai Internet City Metro Station. You can choose to

stay in one of the 210 apartments here which are designed to provide the finest of urban

comforts for both short and long stays. Wish to cook something? The apartments come

with a fully-equipped kitchenette and boast of walk-in closets and give you breathtaking

views of the city. You could dive into the swimming pool which is located on the 14th

floor and get some splendid 360 degree views of the city too! They have all the services

covered for you and have a concierge to help you with getting to know the city better.

The hotel also features a restaurant.

25 26


UAE

HOLIDAY INN

AL BARSHA

DUBAI

Eco Friendly Hotel

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE ♦ Tel +971 4 323 4333 ♦ hialbarshadubai.com

Located on the

skyscraper-filled

Sheikh Zayed Road, close

to the Jumeirah Beach,

Holiday Inn Dubai – Al

Barsha boasts of 309

contemporary rooms

with high-speed internet

connectivity among other

amenities. You could

choose from a host of

accommodations with

dedicated smoking and

non-smoking floors,

as well as single and

interconnected rooms for

families, and an exclusive

club lounge.

State-of-the-art daylight

meeting rooms, a fullyequipped

gym with private

instructor, Spa and a rooftop

pool with spectacular views

of the Burj Al Arab along

with the finest cocktails

served from the rooftop bar

are some of the facilities

awaiting your arrival.

With fabulous award winning dining outlets, the Holiday Inn Dubai – Al Barsha features a

variety of Thai, Arabic, Continental and Indian cuisine with a choice of live entertainment.

Stay once at the Holiday Inn Dubai - Al Barsha, and you will make it your destination in

Dubai always.

27 28


Roxana Jaffer,

CEO - Holiday Inn Dubai –

Al Barsha

Born in Kenya, Roxana Jaffer began her

education and career in London where she

went on to become a seasoned professional

and entrepreneurial powerhouse. She

serves as the CEO Sovereign Hotels and is

currently head of of the Holiday Inn Dubai

- Al Barsha; an award winning hotel she has

steered successfully towards becoming

a competitive force in the hospitality

forefront of Dubai.

Her journey in Dubai began by managing

and supervising the construction and

commission of two properties - no easy

task. Unfazed by hard work Roxana’s desire,

commitment, adaptability and leadership

soon began to yield positive results, with

properties under her management were in

full bloom and competing with the best in

Dubai.

As if managing a property in Dubai wasn’t

enough Roxana’s thirst to continuously

improve saw her complete an MBA in

Leadership at the University of Liverpool.

Which culminated in her widely quoted

dissertation “Servant Leadership: A must

for the 21st Century Global Leader”.

After complete her MBA Roxana, like any

other confident leader, went about putting

her theory of “Servant -Leadership”

into practice. This in turn has led to over

300 fully engaged, committed and loyal

employees. All managed by individuals

adhering to the philosophy of “Servent-

Leader”, that is to lead with integrity,

respect & love.

“Global

Inspirational

Leadership Award 2015”

for Outstanding Leadership

at the

“WOMEN LEADERSHIP

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS,

2015”

Her social entrepreneurship led her to

the formation of a Non Government

Organization, abcF - “Advent in Building

Human Capital”. The NGO delivers a

specially formulated educational program

– “English for Hospitality Professionals”

to build human capital, presently running

programmes in India, Pakistan, and Dubai

with plans to take it to Tanzania. Graduates

certified through the nearly free learning

being accorded by specially trained tutors

are given an opportunity for employment

in the hospitality industry, both locally and

in the Middle East.

She is a regular panellist or a presenter

at seminars and empowerment summits.

Amidst all the hustle and bustle, she does

not forget that a human being also needs

spiritual sustenance and regular meditation

is an integral part of her life.

Outside of the hotel industry Roxana

has managed the advent in building

human capital (abcF), a non government

organisation designed to deliver specially

formulated Education programmes, to

India, Pakistan, Dubai and soon Tanzania.

Roxana is an avid bridge player, music

lover, teacher and a student of meditation.

In today’s, high powers and increasingly

competitive corporate world Roxana is

indeed a study in exceptionalism.

29 30


THE DESERT | DUBAI

Dubai is surprising in many ways; not only for

being one of the fastest growing cities in the world

but also for the incredible mega projects that

consequently make it as the business capital of the

UAE. Yet, another side of Dubai, the desert, is often

overlooked.

As a part of the Arabian Desert, the Dubai Desert

attracts travelers in search of picturesque landscapes

and venturesome experiences. To catch a glimpse

of the orange dunes at sunset is really a wonderful

feeling, and can be an interesting way of contrasting

the dynamic urban area.

There are several ways to visit the desert, with the

most common being to go on a 4x4 Safari. Most

tour companies follow similar itineraries, where

passengers leave the city at around 4 pm and

begin to traverse the dunes in the late afternoon.

After sunset, groups reach Bedouin camps, where

it is possible to go on camel rides, try sandboarding,

or experience traditional activities such as

haymaking. Before dinner is served, locals organize

performances of belly dancing and choreographies

with fire and swords. In addition to the regular

itineraries, there are alternatives to spend the night

in the desert to see the sunrise or have a romantic

dinner in the dunes.

For those looking for a more exclusive experience,

the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the ideal

place to look into. This area of the desert is richer in

life (popular for species like the Arabian oryx) and

the grandiosity of its dunes. Within the reserve, one

can stay at one the resorts in the midst of the dunes,

which aside from accommodation offer various day

tours that allow an even closer look into the desert.

31 32


THE ONE TO WATCH | ERBIL, IRAQ

Erbil is the ancient Arbel, an important

Assyrian political and religious center

that is considered as one of the oldest

continuously inhabited settlements on the

planet. Nowadays, the city is the fourth

largest in Iraq and is also the capital of Iraqi

Kurdistan, an autonomous region located in

the north of the country.

As its most important landmark, the citadel

of Erbil sits on the top of an imposing hill,

with the continuous wall formed by the

facades of nineteenth-century houses giving

it the visual impression of an unattainable

fortress that overlooks the city of Erbil. The

citadel has a street layout dating back to

the Ottoman period of the city and which,

together with other traits, has afforded it a

World Heritage Site title.

Outside the citadel, a series of parks,

century-old minarets, and a very active

bazaar – as full of life as any bazaar in the

Middle East – dot the landscape. Along

the bazaar’s streets one can find everything

from household, to children’s clothes, and

local tobacco. On top of that, the genuine

and widespread sense of welcome floats in

the air: everyone wants to know where you

are from, what you think of Iraq and, above

all, about Kurdistan. As you explore the rest

of the city, make sure to visit on of the many

tea houses, wander around the abandoned

Arab quarter (Kurds are a distinct ethnic

group), or simply sink into the bustling life

of Erbil’s main square, where locals meet

and socialize.

33 34


Iraq

ERBIL

INTERNATIONAL

HOTEL

Hotel of the Year

30 Meter street, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq ♦ Tel +07502 600 600 ♦ erbilinthotel.com

When you’re visiting the

great city of Erbil in Iraq

for business meetings, you have

got to stay at Erbil International

Hotel. Known best as the very first

business hotel in Erbil, this hotel

gives you the vibe of a beautiful

huge home. You can choose from

167 different guest rooms and

suites according to your taste of

luxury. The contemporary design

and plush furnishings will spoil

you with their comforts.

The hotel boasts of three

swimming pools - two open air

and one indoor. Right by the

outdoor pools, a special pool

bar is present too so that you can

have your favorite cocktails right

there. You could also relax on the

day beds alongside the pools.

For your gastronomic indulgence,

four restaurants serve traditional,

Italian, Indian and Chinese

cuisines. The Loft is a great place

to have meetings over drinks

while enjoying the views of open

sky in fresh air.

If you’re looking to unwind, you should head over to Balance and Harmony

Fitness Club in the hotel. This place is an oasis for relaxation with a spa

consisting of 5 treatment rooms where you can get treated at the hands of

the most experienced masseuses in town. Apart from the spa, the fitness

club features a relaxation area, sauna and steam bath, a fully equipped gym

and a special pool for kids!

You can conduct your very own private event or wedding here in one of

the 2 ballrooms that have a capacity of up to 600 people! For corporates,

the hotel serves as a great venue for holding meetings with 2 conference

rooms and a VIP meeting room! This just goes on to prove the fact that it is

no regular business hotel but a lot more than that.

35 36


24 HOURS IN KUWAIT

Tucked away in West Asia between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Kuwait is an ultra-modern

nation and one of the largest producers of oil in the world. When visiting Kuwait, there

are loads of historic and modern places that you can visit to discover the country

further. If you’re in the country for just 24 hours, mentioned below are the places that

you must cover.

1. KUWAIT TOWERS (3 HOURS)

The iconic Kuwait towers are twin towers that

rise up to a height of 187 meters. They have

huge tanks for storing water in them but one

of the towers has a revolving viewing sphere.

From here, you can see Kuwait city spread out

in front of you. It also has high-rise restaurants

that offer fine dining experiences with the city

view. From here, you can head over to the

Liberation Tower.

2. LIBERATION TOWER

(1 HOUR)

While this tower is not open for public, you

definitely can view it from the outside. It rises

to a height of 372 meters and was built to

symbolize the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq.

It is also the second tallest building in the city.

3 AL HAMRA TOWER

(2 HOURS)

If you’re in Kuwait City, you simply cannot

miss out on the towering building, Al Hamra

Tower. Rising up to a height of 413 meters,

this is tallest building in the country and is

an architectural marvel for its construction

and design. They also have a sprawling mall

complex right at the base of the tower.

4. GRAND MOSQUE (3 HOURS)

The Grand Mosque of Kuwait City is spread out across an area of 45,000 square meters

and has a prayer hall that can hold up to 11,000 people! You can visit the mosque with

guided tours and witness its beauty. The best part about the guided tours is that they are

free of cost and give you in-depth details about the mosque. This is one place that you

should visit to know the heritage of the country.

37 38


5. KUWAIT NATIONAL MUSEUM (2 HOURS)

The Kuwait National Museum brings you face to face with the past of Kuwait with ancient

artefacts. Built in 1983, this museum has 5 complexes and you can see archeological

pots and a dhow here along with a planetarium. From here, the Green Island is a great

place to head to for relaxing.

6. GREEN ISLAND (3 HOURS)

The Green Island is an artificially built island off the coast of Kuwait City and is the first

one in Arabian Gulf. You can find a swimming pool and a vast expanse of garden with

beaches all around the island. You could visit the tourist tower or enjoy some of the

attractions there like a train ride and soap football.

7. SOUQ AL MUBARAKEYA (3 HOURS)

If you’re looking for a place that is bustling with activity, you should head over to the

Souq Al Mubarakeya. It is one of the oldest souqs in the country and you can find

all traditional things here like Persian silk carpets, perfumes, spices, dates, traditional

clothes and what not! As a tourist, this is a place that you simply cannot miss when

visiting Kuwait.

If you can squeeze in some time to relax, do check out Al Shaheed Park where you

can laze around in the lush environs of the garden or can explore the museums and

the botanical gardens. They also have restaurants where you can satiate your hunger

pangs.

There’s so much to do in Kuwait that a day is indeed not sufficient enough to cover

it. However, you can definitely get a glimpse of this country in a day and carry back

truckloads of memories with you.

39 40


Kuwait

JUMEIRAH

MESSILAH BEACH

HOTEL & SPA

Hotel & Spa of Year

Al Ta’awun Street, Kuwait ♦ Tel +965 2226 9600 ♦ jumeirah.com

Moreover, the hotel houses the most

prestigious spa in Kuwait - Talise Spa.

This is the place where you can get

some soothing treatments done in one

of the 19 treatment rooms and suites.

You could also get exclusive therapies

done here like Hammam, together as a

Jumeirah Group is well-known in the

United Arab Emirates for its luxurious

hotels around the country. Jumeirah

Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa is this

group’s first venture outside UAE in Safat,

Kuwait. Built on the spot of the original

Messilah Hotel, which opened in 1974, this

hotel lives up to the historical value of the

place. Designed with various aspects of

Arabic architecture to reflect the heritage

of the area, this hotel also lives up to its

name, which means a low-lying area where

waters merge before flowing into sea, and

has water flowing throughout as streams,

channels and fountains.

With 407 luxuriously furnished rooms and

suites to choose from, you will definitely

be spoilt for choice when choosing to stay

here. You can get some splendid views of

the beach, which is located right next to

the hotel, hotel gardens and Arabian Gulf

from your rooms. If you’re looking for a

larger than life experience, you can stay at

the three-bedroom villas, which come with

private pools and access to private beach

as well!

group. Alternatively, you could go to the

Himalayan Salt Room, which is one of a

kind treatment room in the Middle East,

where you can get treated with the purest

natural salt on Earth!

The hotel also features 3 restaurants and

cafes each where you can indulge in a wide

variety of culinary preparations. Moreover,

you can relax while sipping tea in the Tea

Lounge too. For an all round experience,

the hotel also features a tennis court, two

swimming pools, and special clubs for

children.

41 42


QATAR – A RISING STAR

Qatar is connected to the rest of Asia by

just one land border with Saudi Arabia.

Slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,

this country has witnessed spectacular

growth in the past few years. Being one

of the highest oil producers in the world,

Qatar has modernized to become one of

the most modern countries in the world.

With the announcement of the World

Cup and the easing up of visa norms

with visa on arrival facility for citizens of

over 80 countries, tourism has started

picking up in the country and so have its

attractions.

To witness the historic past of the country,

you can visit the ancient outdoor market,

Souq Waqif with its numerous alleys with

shops selling traditional fabrics, spices,

food, and souvenirs. You could also

take a peek into the Islamic art at the

Museum of Islamic Art, where there are

art displays that are up to 1400 years old.

For those who appreciate modern art,

the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern

Art is the perfect destination. It has

thousands of works by Arab artists up for

display and frequently hosts events and

exhibitions.

You could also visit the National Museum

of Qatar, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al

Thani Museum, Doha Fort, The Pearl

Monument and the Barzan Towers.

To see the modern side of Qatar, you

can visit the upscale island, The Pearl,

which is an artificial man-made island off

43 44


the coast of Doha. With a spectacular

waterfront and loads of activities, this

place is a must-visit destination.

You can stay in the Aspire Tower, the

skyscraper hotel of Doha that rises to a

height of 300 meters and is the tallest

building in the country.

To delve deeper into the culture of Qatar,

you should visit the Katara Cultural

Village. This place has a huge waterfront

along with a museum, an amphitheater,

shops selling traditional goodies and

numerous eateries. Post the exploration,

you could laze around on the Katara

Beach that is located right next to it.

For shopping, you can head over to

the Villaggio Mall, that has an Italian

theme and also has an indoor canal with

gondolas. You can find some of the most

prominent international brands here and

could also go ice skating.

Apart from the older destinations, Qatar

is coming up with new tourist attractions,

especially for fans who are coming to

witness the FIFA World Cup!

For hosting the World Cup, numerous

stadiums are being erected or

refurbished. The Al Rayyan Stadium will

boast of 40,000 seats, which will provide

the perfect environment to host the

football matches. The other stadiums

in construction are the Al Bayt Stadium,

Khalifa International Stadium, Al

Wakrah Stadium, and Qatar Foundation

Stadium.

The Doha Metro phase 1 will be fully operational to

facilitate easy movement between the venues and will

be one of the most sophisticated rail systems in the

world. They are also setting up a completely new city -

Lusail City, which will spread across four islands and will

have loads of high rise buildings and leisurely activities.

It will also be home to one of the main stadiums for the

World Cup, Lusail Stadium.

To give a boost to the historic downtown area of Doha,

the Msheireb Downtown Doha project was launched. It

looks to become the world’s first sustainable downtown

area and will boast of leisurely facilities, museums,

cultural and entertainment venues apart from the retail

stores and hotels.

With Qatar National Vision 2030 in place, the tourism

industry is going to boom in the nation and you can

expect loads of other tourist attractions to open up

soon. Do visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup to see

it bubbling with energy at its best!

45 46


BAHRAIN TOP 5

The Bahrain Kingdom is a small archipelago consisting of 36 islands scattered across the

Arabian Gulf, bordering the coast of Saudi Arabia. As a major trade route in antiquity,

the country conceals more attractions than the traveler could think of. Manama, its

modern capital, full of skyscrapers and enormous constructions, is the destinations that

attract most visitors.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM

If you want to understand the importance, richness, and grandeur of the history of this

small territory, the national museum is a great place to start. This two-store building

has several spacious and luminous rooms in which crafts (such as jewels and fabrics)

are exhibited. Here, it is possible to have a glimpse of the culture of the pearls; the

traditional boats (dhow); magnificent archaeological vestiges of the site of Dilmun that

date back to the Bronze Age; as well as explanatory models of Bahraini architecture.

THE BAHRAIN FORT

Bahrain enjoys an ideal location on the route between the Middle East and Asia, and

for this reason has lived under the influence of many peoples, such as the Greeks,

Portuguese, and Persians. These occupants left many traces of their passage including

the building of forts. The most impressive is undoubtedly the fort of Bahrain: Qalaat al

Bahrain, dating back to 2300 BC it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

47 48


BIRDS KINGDOM

Situated on the shores of

Amwaj Islands, this unique park

houses various species of birds

from all around the world. It was

envisioned by Mr. Saud Kanoo

as a way to accommodate his

father’s private collection and

now works as a recreational

facility as well as an education

center. The site opened in 2014

and since then has hosted

different events, markets,

parties, and exhibitions. It is

a great place to relax while in

Bahrain and offers a series of

activities for children.

THE TREE OF LIFE

This ancient acacia lost in the desert to the southeast of Bahrain, about 2 km

from Djebal Dukhan (the Smoke Mountain), deserves to be the highlight of

the kingdom – both for its 137 meters high and the fact that its water supply

remains a mystery. According to the legend, this is the only vestige of the

mythical garden of Eden, which is another reason why so many visitors come

to admire this mere tree, enjoy its shade for a picnic, or touch its leaves and

make a wish.

THE AL FATEH MOSQUE

The immense mosque of Al Fateh

was built from different objects and

materials brought from all over the

world. It is adorned with 1000 lamps,

worked wood from India, thick creamcolored

carpets with arabesques,

a monumental chandelier from

Swarovsky (Austria), among other

things. With a height of 70 meters, it

opened in 1994 and can receive up

to 7000 people during the prayer. In

the middle of the building is a vault

that dominates the entire space,

considered the largest fiberglass vault

in the world.

49 50


Bahrain

BIRDS KINGDOM

Attraction of the Year

Al Aziza Birds Kingdom, Jood, Amwaj Islands, Bahrain ♦ Tel +973 1603 0597 ♦

birdskingdomamwaj.com

If you’re a person who loves birdwatching, Azizia Bird Kingdom is the perfect place

for you. This private bird sanctuary of Bahraini businessman Abdul Aziz Qasim Kanoo

houses more than 500 birds of over 70 different species, including critically endangered

species. From the brightly coloured macaws to the California quails, this place is a treat

for your eyes and ears with the melodious sounds of birds chirping around. Neatly tucked

away on the shores of Amwaj Islands, this place also provides a tranquil getaway from the

busy city life. It serves a dual purpose of being a recreational spot as well as a place that

educates people about these beautiful creatures. The facility boasts of a nursery, gift shop

as well as a cafe where you can relax after your visit. Your kids too will have a lot of fun on

the rides just outside the aviary. You can also choose to have a birthday party here or even

hire the venue for some private gatherings!

Image by: Dan Grinwis

51 52


THE BEAUTIFUL CITY |

MEDINA, SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia is known as the birthplace of Islam,

with the city of Mecca and its Grand Mosque

(Masjid Al-Haram) being the first bodies of

representation for the religion. Just north of

Mecca, lies Medina (literally meaning “the city”),

another important place in the history of Islam.

This is where Prophet Muhammad fled to after

being persecuted; also where he amassed a great

number of followers and spread his teachings to

the rest of the world.

As the most important landmark of Medina, the

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi mosque complex is located

in the very heart of the city. It was built in 622

and its first structure was erected near the house

of prophet Mohamed. The Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

is the second holiest place in Islam, the third

mosque built in history, and the second largest

in the world, after Al-Haram. At the time of its

construction, it also served as community center,

court-martial, and religious school; nowadays it is

an important destination for pilgrimage.

Although it has undergone many reforms, the basic plant of Al

Nabawi remained and inspired the architecture of several mosques

around the world. The original building was uncovered – the

mosque still retains many open areas, which today are covered

by these giant and beautiful parasols This gargantuan structure

is specifically beautiful at night, when its lights reflect on the

surrounding patterned marble floors, enhancing the beauty of the

intricate minarets that tower over the city. Regardless of faith or

nationality, the Al Nabawi is an incredible place to visit, both for its

historical and architectural significance.

53 54


Saudi Arabia

BOSPHORUS

HOTEL

The Award for Excellence in

Service

As Salam Rd, An Naqa, 42311 Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia ♦

booking.com/hotel/sa/bosphorus.en-gb.html

Located in the holy city of Medina, Bosphorus Hotel is the perfect place for all those going

to Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. Conveniently located at a short 4-minute walk from

the Prophet’s Mosque, this hotel boasts of 140 spacious and well-furnished rooms and suites

with modern Arabic and Turkish touches. Wish to make a coffee during your stay or even relax

and watch TV? They have those facilities as well. Even the holy Kaaba Mosque and Mount Sun

are just at 15 minutes distance!

Special care is taken to ensure that the guests feel at home during their stay here and for this,

the front desk is open 24x7 for assisting them. Fancy some Turkish cuisine? Head over to the

in-house restaurant that serves mouth-watering Turkish delights throughout the day. But more

than anything, what stands out for this hotel is its courteous staff which is ever ready to assist

their guests for anything and everything. So much is their commitment at making sure that you

have a great stay that right from the moment you enter the hotel and reach the reception desk

to the moment you leave post your stay, each and every person goes out of their way to give

you a satisfactory stay.

The plush and modern furnishings of the

rooms too do their bit at making your stay

comfortable. You can simply sink into the

plush beds and sofas of the rooms and

fall into a good night’s sleep after a day

of worship at the holy mosques around

in Medina. With thousands of happy

customers across the years, you can surely

trust them with your stay in Medina.

55 56


AN ANCIENT RETREAT | NIZWA, OMAN

When thinking of Oman, most people are reminded of historical Muscat, with its

Portuguese forts and shopping malls. However, just south of the port city lies an

influential place that not only used to be a center for Islamic learning but also the

country’s old capital: Nizwa.

Located in a large oasis, at the meeting point of major trade routes between north

and south, Nizwa has always been an important commercial hub. The landscapes of

the region are magnificent, with deep canyons sheltering ancient villages and terraced

crops. The city is easily accessible from Muscat by bus or car, in a 1,5-hour drive along

a highway that passes small villages surrounded by some of Oman’s highest mountains.

Nizwa’s fort, although it has been reformed, is still the city’s most important landmark.

It is distinguished by its XVII century construction, with various courtyards, wide towers,

and views that extend over the region and the palm groves with a close-up on the blue

dome of the mosque. Aside from visiting the fort, do not miss the camel market on

Friday mornings, where the locals go to buy animals and fodder; or the Nizwa souq,

famous for its fresh dates, Khanjar (curved dagger), gold, and silverware – considered

as the best jewelry in the country.

Around Nizwa, it is possible to go for a walk, bike or donkey ride through the mountains

of Jebel Akhdar; take a bath in the springs of Tanuf in the Al Hajar mountains; visit the

town of Jabrin and its impressive 17th century castle; or explore the fortified town of

Bahla and admire some of the region’s clearest skies.

57 58


Oman

GOLDEN TULIP

NIZWA HOTEL

Hotel and Restaurant of

the Year

Hai A Thurat 611, Nizwa, Oman ♦ Tel +968 25431616 ♦ goldentulipnizwa.com

The hotel features one all-day dining

restaurant, Birkat Al Mawz, where you can

enjoy a variety of international cuisines, all

under one roof. Apart from the restaurant,

there are two bars, which serve a fine selection

of cocktails and wines. Al Wasit Bar has live

band performances in the evenings while the Sports Bar has a billiards table and

darts for your entertainment. Moreover, the hotel has two cafes, one by the pool

and the other in the lobby. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, want to enjoy

some cocktails or a cup of coffee, these places make sure that you get the best of

everything. Additionally, the hotel has a Sheesha Corner too.

If you wish to conduct a meeting or a private event, the hotel will be more than

happy to assist you in it and create an unforgettable experience.

If you’re looking for a peaceful

getaway in Oman, Golden Tulip

Nizwa Hotel is a great option. Tucked

away in the Hajjar Mountain range

near Nizwa, this hotel provides you

all the luxuries in the midst of nature.

Set away from the cities, this place

has 120 rooms and suites which

give you some dramatic views of

the mountains around. All amenities

are made to ensure the utmost

comfort and you can relax here

and get pampered by their services

throughout your stay.

You can dive into the temperature

controlled outdoor swimming

pool and enjoy the views from the

water. If you wish to keep up with

your business, a 24-hour dedicated

business center is present in the

hotel with high-speed internet.

They have a special playground and

activities for children so that they can

have a gala time during their stay

too! You could also go to the health

club for keeping up with your fitness

routine or relax in the sauna.

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