BLOG

In conversation with Abu Dhabi

by Laura Gelder | 18 January 2017

Abu Dhabi had a good year in 2016 – a two per cent increase in UK arrivals (its third biggest market) and the chance to showcase to the country’s top trade and media when it hosted the ABTA Travel Convention in November – the first time the event was held in the Middle East. Selling Travel meets Nabeel Al Zarouni, UK Country Manager of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, and asks: what next?

What will you be focusing on in 2017 and further ahead?
We will continue to develop Abu Dhabi as a cultural tourism destination. Visitors can explore Arabian traditions through the museums and World Heritage Sites of Al Ain, and through attractions like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – which came second this year in TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s top 25 landmarks, beating the likes of the Taj Mahal.

We also want to ensure that the regions of Al Ain and Al Gharbia are promoted alongside Abu Dhabi City. Both have a huge amount to offer. The ‘Oasis City’ of Al Ain is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, home to museums, forts and World Heritage Sites, not to mention a world-class kayaking and rafting facility in Wadi Adventure, and wildlife attractions like the Al Ain Zoo and Al Ain Camel Market.

Al Gharbia offers desert adventures among the giant, shifting dunes of the Empty Quarter, and the wildlife attractions of Sir Bani Yas Island, which is home to more than 13,000 free-roaming animals, including cheetahs, giraffes and endangered Arabian oryx.

And we’ll continue to develop our year-round line-up of world-class events. These range in scope from sporting occasions like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November to our classical concert season, Abu Dhabi Classics.

Are you planning any UK initiatives for the coming year?
We’ll most likely repeat our roadshow events in Manchester and Edinburgh, as they always prove popular with agents. We will continue our focus on agent training, touring the country to visit agents and tour operators, and continue to run fam trips with tour operators and consortiums. We plan to have joint marketing partnerships in place with between 15 and 25 tour operators.

Last November we launched a new global destination campaign aimed at encouraging travellers to experience Abu Dhabi’s ‘extraordinary stories’. Developed over an eight-month period and shot across 40 locations throughout the emirate, the campaign includes breathtaking imagery, promotional videos and TV commercials designed to run across networks, digital channels and in-flight entertainment systems. We sought to capture the cultural authenticity and great breadth of attractions that Abu Dhabi has to offer and have no doubt the campaign will inspire many more travellers to come to the emirate.

How do you plan to develop the cruise sector off the back of the new cruise terminal opening?
Cruise  is a rapidly growing and hugely important sector within our tourism industry. The development of Sir Bani Yas Island is a major step in the evolution of cruising in Abu Dhabi, allowing cruise lines to schedule two Abu Dhabi stops in their itineraries, and giving guests the opportunity to experience both the excitement of our capital city, and the beauty of our natural offshore islands. We are aiming to receive 500,000 cruise visitors by 2020.

What new product can agents look forward to in Abu Dhabi, in 2017 and beyond?

There is a lot to be excited about in the not-too-distant future. The hotly anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi will open next year on Saadiyat Island. Its permanent collection will comprise more than 600 pieces of art, displayed across 23 state-of-the-art galleries. Drawn from civilisations from all around the world, the works will tell the story of shared human experience from ancient times to the present day. The permanent collection will be complemented by approximately 300 masterpieces on loan from key French institutions, including works by da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

Further down the line, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is to open on Yas Island in 2018. Bringing together characters from both DC Comics and Warner Bros. cartoons, the park is expected to increase visitor numbers to Yas Island from 25 million in 2015 to 30 million in 2018.

We also have plans to open two new mega malls. Al Maryah Central will feature the first international Macy’s department store, and Abu Dhabi’s first Bloomingdale’s. The second shopping mall, on Reem Island, will boast the world’s largest indoor snow park. Both are scheduled to open in 2018.

Upcoming hotel openings include the 428-room Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl, which is under construction opposite Emirates Palace, and the towering open archway of the Fairmont Marina Resort & Residences, which will be a sight to behold when it opens on the Abu Dhabi breakwater next year.

Abu Dhabi Airport’s new Midfield Terminal Building is also due to open in 2017. Dedicated to Etihad Airways and its partner airlines, the terminal will be the largest in Abu Dhabi, housing 65 aircraft gates, 28,000 square metres of retail and dining space, eight airline lounges, and a three-star transit hotel with 163 rooms.

Go back

Other blogs

Magic in the making

From Disney's Magic Kingdom to Universal's Wirarding World of Harry Potter, The Global Group's annual conference presented plenty of Christmas magic in Orlando 

by Jessica Pook | 05 December 2018

Seasonal discounted deals

The pre-Christmas discount season is upon us. We round up some of the possible Black Friday deals you could be getting for your clients to make their travel cheaper.

by Laura Gelder | 21 November 2018

Destination news from WTM 2018

As the biggest travel show of the year comes to a close, here’s a round-up of some of the top travel news, hot off the stands at Excel.

by Jessica Pook | 08 November 2018

How to vote for the best in travel

Voting is open for the Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards and only you can choose – but how? We look at how to identify the cream of the crop in travel, with the help of some cat and dog pictures…

by Laura Gelder | 13 September 2018

Puffins, potato peel and echoes of the past in Guernsey

Julie Baxter finds herself stranded in the rocky Channel Isles, closer to France than England, partly stuck in the past and captivated by the sea with its beautiful bays and history of savage shipwrecks.

by Julie Baxter | 12 July 2018

Street touring Soweto

From colourful streetlife to tracing Nelson Mandela’s steps, a stop in Johannesburg leaves a lasting impression on Jessica Pook as her South Africa journey concludes

by Jessica Pook | 31 May 2018

Let loose in Limpopo

Jessica Pook continues along the Panorama Route in South Africa to Limpopo where she encounters a troop of baboons and embraces the local cuisine

by Jessica Pook | 10 May 2018

Peeking through God’s window in Mpumalanga

Jessica Pook travels the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, South Africa, and is instantly captivated by 'the place where the sun rises'

by Jessica Pook | 02 May 2018

A world of fast food

Benjamin Coren turns his back on haute cuisine and takes a look at some of the more localised offerings available at the fast food outlets of the world...

by Ben Coren | 05 April 2018

Travelling with intolerances

Louis Hepworth hasn't let being Coeliac curtail his wanderlust and neither should anyone, but having a few tips up your sleeve for clients travelling with intolerances will be sure to impress...

by Louis Hepworth | 01 March 2018

Talking travel trends with Kuoni

Jessica Pook attended the launch of luxury operator Kuoni's latest Worldwide Trends Report and introduces her top picks from its 2018/19 travel forecast here.

by Jessica Pook | 22 February 2018

Stress-free in Costa Rica

Julie Baxter finds she can’t escape the vivid colours, smooth flavours and wild sounds of this biodiverse paradise, even when she’s on the massage table.

by Julie Baxter | 31 January 2018

Myth and magical realism on the Nile

Laura Gelder finds herself floating somewhere between myth and magic on a luxurious Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor with Abercrombie & Kent.

by Laura Gelder | 25 January 2018

Captivating Cairo

Underneath a thick layer of dust, Laura Gelder uncovers the Egyptian capital’s gleaming treasures – including taking a privileged peek at Tutankhamun’s golden flip-flops!

by Laura Gelder | 18 January 2018

Floating through France

A river cruise up the Seine with Shearings transports Jessica Pook bewtween  Rouen and Paris and reavels the medieval streets once stomped by Richard the Lionheart and Joan of Arc.

by Jessica Pook | 21 December 2017

10 different ways to experience Las Vegas

Las Vegas is, to many, a small slice of liberal heaven right in the middle of the desert. But beyond the always-open casinos and late-night bars and nightclubs, there is another side to the city.

by Ben Coren | 06 December 2017

Destination news from WTM 2017

The UK’s biggest B2B travel show has closed its doors until 2018 but don’t worry if you missed out, here’s our first quick-read news round-up from some of the destination stands we stopped at.

by Laura Gelder | 09 November 2017

First timer in Tokyo

Selling Travel’s  Jessica Pook, jets off to the VTJM Awards in Tokyo and quickly finds herself caught up in the bright lights of the big city. 

by Jessica Pook | 04 October 2017

A fast-track around Africa

Selling Travel’s new Editorial Assistant, Jessica Pook, catches up with African specialist DMC Kamageo for an update on destinations and product covering Uganda, Botswana, Malawi and more.

by Jessica Pook | 06 September 2017

Vietnam: Hoi An to the Mekong Delta

Nina Farrimond heads south, taking in ancient Hoi An, the lively beach resort of Nha Trang, bustling 24/7 Ho Chi Minh and the meandering Mekong Delta on an Intrepid tour.

by Nina Farrimond | 31 August 2017

Vietnam: Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hue

UK passport holders don’t have to pay a penny to enter Vietnam until June 2018, but that’s not the only reason to visit this fascinating country, says Nina Farrimond.In the first of two blogs, she explores Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hue.

by Nina Farrimond | 24 August 2017

Brussels beyond the bureaucrats

Look behind the headlines and beyond the suited bureaucrats associated with the European capital and you’ll find a city which is surprisingly off-beat and reassuringly inclusive, says Hannah Wallis.

by Hannah Wallis | 16 August 2017

Bright lights, no city

Enter a whimsical world of shimmering lights and mythical landscapes with Maria Martinez-Ugartechea, as she searches for Aurora Borealis amongst Iceland's waterfalls, lagoons and glaciers.

by Maria Martinez-Ugartechea | 26 July 2017

The City of Angels' wild side

A trip to cosmopolitan Los Angeles reveals a city with a surprisingly wild side. Sheena Adesilu explores beaches, shopping malls and mountains in urban California.

by Sheena Adesilu | 24 July 2017

Walking with elephants

Amelia Glean packs her trunk and swaps the nightclubs and neon of Bangkok for a Magical Elephant Mahout Training Course in the jungles of north Thailand.

by Amelia Glean | 13 July 2017

Ain't no mountain green enough

Scaling an active volcano isn't everyone's idea of fun but Lombok’s Mount Rinjani provided James Gray with a lofty challenge as well as pause for thought on adventure tourism’s environmental impact.

by James Gray | 05 July 2017

Sydney's endless summer

Cities aren’t always the best place to be on a hot day but Ellie Smith discovers that Sydney is made for sunshine. If you're looking for some cool ideas for summery Sydney then read on.

by Ellie Smith | 28 June 2017

A pilgrim's (slow) progress

Jessica Pook tramps a well-worn route up one of Ireland’s most celebrated mountains and discovers you should always be prepared for the weather, and lows as well as highs.

by Jessica Pook | 21 June 2017

Checking in with Airbnb

Ben Coren tries out Airbnb for the first time on a trip to Birmingham and discovers it's not as bad as he thought. Find out why he thinks all travel professionals should experience it - just once.

by Ben Coren | 07 June 2017

Dusseldorf on a shoestring

Been to Berlin? Had enough of Hamburg? Carly Hacon explores one of Germany's lesser-known cities, Dusseldorf, and shares five fun things you can do for under five Euros!

by Carly Hacon | 01 June 2017

A budget-busting 24 hours in Dublin

The fair city of Dublin is known for its musical pubs, heavy-drinking locals and literary legends. The Irish capital can be a tourist trap and the Pound to Euro exchange rate isn’t great at the moment but here’s how to enjoy yourself, even if your bucket list has a budget.

by Carly Hacon | 24 May 2017

Terminally dissatisfied

Ben Coren muses on the ‘hipsterisation’ of his favourite airport terminal and recalls a simpler time when you could browse for CDs and eat a normal burger before your flight.

by Ben Coren | 18 May 2017

Opposite ends of Japan

High-rise, high-octane Tokyo and subtropical Okinawa are oceans apart in every way but Laura Gelder finds the two a perfect example of Japan’s split personality

by Laura Gelder | 03 May 2017

The Palm Beaches' 10 hottest openings

The Palm Beaches in Florida has been a hot holiday destination since the late 1800s, but in 2017 this retro-cool vacation spot has been ramping up its offerings with some exciting new openings!

by Laura Gelder | 27 April 2017

Looking for culture in the everyday

Laura Gelder examines why it’s the little things which delight when it comes to cultural exploration. Why book a city tour when you can visit the loo or supermarket for nothing?

by Laura Gelder | 09 March 2017

The world is a book...

...and those who do not travel read only a page. On the 20th anniversary of World Book Night, Laura Gelder looks at how literature can inspire and inform travellers.

by Laura Gelder | 01 March 2017

We all need a little paradise

As the sixth series of BBC One’s Death in Paradise comes to a close tonight, Laura Gelder muses on why murder and sunshine are a winning combination for the winter blues.

by Laura Gelder | 23 February 2017

Canberra: from brunch to bush walking

Give Canberra chance, says Laura Gelder! Even Australians don’t stick up for their capital but this city that has the best of brunch and the bush – what more could you want?

by Laura Gelder | 16 February 2017

Child’s play in Cambodia

Julie Baxter explains why getting ripped off will be the most enduring and endearing memory from her trip to the steamy jungles of Southeast Asia and how tourism is a life force for Cambodia.

by Julie Baxter | 25 January 2017

In conversation with Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi's profile had risen steadily over the last few years and 2016 saw some notable achievments. We quiz Nabeel Al Zarouni from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority on what agents can expect in 2017.

by Laura Gelder | 18 January 2017

Starting in Saskatchewan

Famous for farming and being flat, Saskatchewan wasn’t the obvious first-stop for a first-timer to Canada, but Laura Gelder soon discovers there is more to the prairies than meets the eye.

by Laura Gelder | 04 January 2017

The jungle city

Panama is Central America’s glitzy high-rise hub and has long lured tax-avoiding millionaires, but did you know it has an old town to rival Havana and a jungle on its doorstep?

by Laura Gelder | 21 December 2016

A taste of the Oriental Express

Julie Baxter savours the flavours of Asia onboard the Eastern & Oriental Express, travelling from Bangkok to Singapore. Warning: do not read if you’re hungry!

by Julie Baxter | 14 December 2016

Why authenticity is fake

A word used all-to-often in travel marketing, what exactly does authentic mean in the context of a destination? Can you tell what is and isn’t? Does it matter?

by Laura Gelder | 07 December 2016

On board Thai Airways

Julie Baxter enjoys her time onboard Thai Airways Economy Class on her way to Thailand, weird seeing as she doesn't like to fly.

by Julie Baxter | 24 November 2016

Captivated in Carcassonne

Julie Baxter walks the medieval ramparts of this beautiful hilltop city in Languedoc, southern France, searching for the romantic knights and tortured witches of her imagination and finding much more than she bargained for.

by Julie Baxter | 26 October 2016

It's a personality thing

At this year’s ABTA Travel Convention there was lots of chat about traveller personalities and how defining them can help you sell better. Laura Gelder asks: are we segmenting or just stereotyping?

by Laura Gelder | 19 October 2016

Five reasons to get training

Travel Uni and Equator Learning have merged to create a ‘mega-platform’ for travel training with over 80 courses. Find out the benefits of training and just what's on offer.

by Laura Gelder | 12 October 2016

Oman – from zero to hero

Missed our Selling Travel Dialogue on Oman? Never fear because we summed it up here. Read on to find out what the sultanate can offer your clients and how you can harness new flight routes from Oman Air.

by Ben Coren | 05 October 2016

Currywurst and Cold War in Berlin

Fuelled by apfelstrudel, bratwurst and beer, Julie Baxter checks out the German capital’s suave and eclectic mix of historic monuments and creative spirit and traces the shadows of a turbulent past.

by Julie Baxter | 27 September 2016

A Caribbean city in Colombia

Elegantly crumbling, grandly colonial, colourfully Caribbean and quintessentially Colombian, Cartagena was the face that launched Colombia into mainstream tourism. Discover why it's so irresistible.

by Laura Gelder | 21 September 2016

An ice time in Alaska

Fishing can be a chilly pastime at the best of times, but what about when it's through a hole in the ice? Our intrepid editor tries his hand at ice fishing in Alaska's Mat-Su Valley near Anchorage.

by Steve Hartridge | 09 September 2016

The best of Bond

Do you love James Bond films for their exotic locations as much as the action man himself? We certainly do! Here's a list of our favourite locations, ranging from iconic cities to ingenious baddie lairs.

by Laura Gelder | 08 September 2016

Rendez-Vous Canada

Travel trend spotters constantly talk about authenic experiences but when it comes to Canada, how many travellers have First Nation culture on their itinerary? Find out why they should and how to find it.

by Julie Baxter | 01 September 2016

Don't miss out

We’d like to make sure you know when we've added fresh content here, including the latest features, blogs and reviews, product news you can really use and our pick of the best trade incentives and events out there. Sign up to Selling Travel Weekly and we can keep you up to date on the industry and inspired to sell more travel.