General Travel News
Irhal Travelers’ Choice – Amman and the United States most popular
Where do a million Arabs want to go this summer? There was no cajoling. No persuasion. No incentives. We gave them the option to choose. They clicked. And now we have the score. Pure. Unbiased numbers.
But first something about our users. 1,050,464 unique users visited Irhal.com in 2014. More than 80% of them are Arabs. 36% are from Saudi Arabia. 64% of them live in the GCC-Levant. 18% of the visitors are not from the MENA region. All are looking for travel inspiration.
So, where do these people want to go this summer? Short haul destinations and cities that are a few hours’ drive away are the most popular. Amman, Jordan, is the No.1 destination on Irhal. Bahrain, Beirut, Dubai and Doha make the top 5. Istanbul comes in at No.6 while Paris is No.7. Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Athens ring in the top 10.
The ranking of countries is slightly different. The United States comes in as the No.1 destination where Arabs wish to go in 2015. Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE and Beirut make up the top 5. Surprisingly, Iran is No.6 followed by Spain, Germany and Saudi Arabia. France comes in at No.10.
Egypt is conspicuous by its absence from the list of top 25 destinations. With improvements in the political situation this could change by the end of the year. Malaysia and Indonesia seem to have lost their popularity while South Korea is in the top 20.
These results reflect the travel aspirations of 1 million Arabs. Will they actually go to these countries on a holiday? Perhaps. Can they be influenced? Yes.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 03:18
Arabian Travel Market starts in Dubai
The 22nd annual gathering of travel trade professionals begins in Dubai today. More than 400 exhibitors including 64 country pavilions will be trying to network with the expected 23,000 travel agents, tour operators and other travel trade professionals to send tourists in their direction.
In an age when technology has overtaken physical contacts and old world across-the-table meetings, the travel trade in the Middle East continues to rely on old fashioned tour operators and travel agencies to connect travelers with destinations. But times are changing. Online travel agencies are mushrooming and travelers are increasingly getting inspiration from the internet. However, a sizeable number of actual bookings continue to take place through tour operators who put together attractive deals.
Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism is hoping to push family tourism centre stage. "Dubai is not just for 5-star hotels and expensive holidays. We want to encourage those who stay in 3-star hotels to come to the city. However, we want them to get the same superlative treatment that Dubai is famous for." Islamic or Halal Tourism is gaining grounds and is now a $140 billion industry, focusing on family tourism is expected to attract many Muslim tourists to Dubai, particularly the Muslim diaspora living in North America and Europe. Dubai wants to retain its attraction as a destination for global tourists while maintaining the cultural norms expected from the region.
Seminars on travel technology are also part of this year's ATM Dubai and a number of online travel companies are exhibiting at the show. The editorial team from Irhal will be doing the rounds and networking with airlines, hotels and tourism boards.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 10:38
Emirates launches its app for the Apple Watch
Emirates, a global connector of people and places, announced the launch of its Apple Watch app, making it the first airline in the Middle East and African region to offer an app for the Apple Watch. Emirates’ customers from around the globe will be able to enjoy the smart features and sleek interface of the Emirates app for Apple Watch, designed to complement the Emirates iPhone app.
"In today’s connected world, mobile technology plays an increasingly important role in the overall travel experience of our passengers. The Apple Watch platform allows us to connect with travellers on a more personal level by providing real time information throughout their journey," commented Alex Knigge, Senior Vice President, Digital at Emirates. "Our team developed the Emirates app for Apple Watch with modern travellers in mind, making sure this wearable technology delivers key information, with a simple glance at their wrist."
The Emirates app for Apple Watch is an extension of the Emirates iPhone app; it was designed as a companion for travellers, delivering dynamic and context-specific data such as live flight status updates.
Customers with an Apple Watch and the Emirates app installed on their iPhone will benefit from the following key features:
-Review list of upcoming trips
-Access to real time flight information, including terminal, gate number, flight status, baggage collection details, etc.
-Timely notifications in case of changes like gate number or baggage belt
-Compatibility with Apple Passbook
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 04:40
Celebrate ’Shakespeare Day’ in Stratford-upon-Avon
Are ye an Ol’ English lover? Fan of William Shakespeare? Well, you are in for a treat.
Every year Stratford-upon-Avon celebrates Shakespeare’s birthday on the weekend closest to it, bringing together performers, artists, the local community and ambassadors from around the world in a vibrant celebration of the life and works of William Shakespeare.
This Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26, remember the legacy of William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, by visiting his hometown and celebrating his 451st birthday. Here’s a quick guide to what’s happening:
Saturday 25 April:
At 10:30am join the Shakespeare Birthday Parade with Shakespeare’s enormous, 3 metre-wide, horse-drawn cake proudly paraded through town with the icing design inspired by the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, concluding with the flag unfurling ceremony. At 12:00pm have lunch at the Avonbank Gardens as part of the Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon. Continue on to the Waterside at 12:30pm for some of Stratford College’s catering and carpentry staff and students’ Shakespeare-inspired birthday cupcakes. At 1:00PM you can join the crowd and visit the grave of William Shakespeare. For families with children under 5, you can join the Knights & Nymphs toddler party at Hall’s Croft Gardens from 1:00 - 2:00pm.
Sunday 26 April:
At 9:00am take part in the Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon, starting in Church Street and finishing in the recreation ground. At 11:00am through to 4:00pm visit Shakespeare’s schoolroom in Shakespeare’s King
Edward VI School. At 4:00pm conclude birthday celebrations at ‘The Birthday Bash’, held at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The commemorative two day event has taken place since 1824, wherein the town’s streets overflow with music, pageantry and drama. Do not miss the festivities taking place at the five Shakespeare houses this weekend!
Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 08:29
The world’s most powerful passports
It is always a good idea to own a passport from a country that is on good diplomatic terms with its peers, for it allows easy travel across borders.
Financial firm Arton Capital, which specializes in helping wealthy individuals obtain multiple citizenships, sometimes through immigrant investor programs, has put together a ranking of the world's most powerful passports. The ranking shows which passports give holders the most global mobility, based on how many countries can be visited without a visa, or by getting one upon arrival.
Developed countries with advanced economies fare the best. Tied for first place are U.S. and U.K. passports, which give holders access to 147 countries.
Passports from the world's most populous country, China, offer quick access to 74 countries. Indian passport holders aren't so lucky, with 59 easy destinations. A Russian passport provides 98 country options.
Here are the top-ranked passports, followed by the number of countries they offer access to:
1. United States, United Kingdom (147)
2. France, South Korea, Germany (145)
3. Italy, Sweden (144)
4. Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands (143)
5. Switzerland (142)
6. Spain, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal (141)
7. Canada, Greece, Austria, Malaysia (140)
8. New Zealand (139)
9. Australia, Hungary, Czech Republic (138)
10. Poland, Slovakia (137)
And the bottom-ranked passports:
76. Congo (Dem. Rep.), Yemen, Central African Republic, Kosovo (41)
77. Equatorial Guinea, Bhutan, Comoros, Burundi (40)
78. Somalia, Eritrea (39)
79. Afghanistan, Djibouti, Iraq, Ethiopia, Nepal (38)
80. South Sudan, Solomon Islands, Palestinian Territories, Sao Tome and Principe, Myanmar (28)
Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2015 16:05
Upscale Japanese restaurant Nobu to open in Qatar
The internationally-renowned Japanese restaurant Nobu is set to open its Doha branch on Friday, April 17, at the Four Seasons, Doha.
This will be the second outlet of the upmarket chain in the Gulf, following Nobu in Dubai, which opened at the Atlantis The Palm Jumeirah in 2008. The Qatar branch will be the 32nd restaurant for the global brand, which was started by Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa when he opened his first Nobu restaurant in New York’s trendy Tribeca district with Hollywood actor Robert De Niro in 1993.
Nobu Doha is situated in a purpose-built, three-story building on the edge of the hotel marina. It was designed by New York-based architecture firm Rockwell Group to evoke a pearl theme, in reference to Qatar’s pearl-diving heritage.
At 2,415 square metres (26,000 square feet), it is the largest Nobu restaurant in the world, featuring breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and a luxurious 192-seat interior dining area, two exclusive private dining rooms, a 10-seat sushi counter and a rooftop lounge that seats 82 both indoors and out. The menu highlights Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature new-style Japanese fare and also showcases entirely new dishes created with the region’s local ingredients, including fresh orange-spotted trevally and black-streaked monocle bream caught in the Arabian Gulf. It promises to inspire and elevate the city’s culinary scene.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2015 15:04
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