Tourism industry to contribute $44 billion to GCC economies in 2012
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in GCC countries is expected to reach $44bn in 2012, up 27% from 2009, the peak of the financial crisis in the Gulf, Oman Daily Observer has reported. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have all embarked on aggressive hotel and transport development programs as they seek to diversify their economies away from oil and boost revenues from the tourism sector, the report said. The direct contribution of travel and tourism to Saudi Arabia's GDP is expected to reach $14.9bn, or 2.9% in 2012, up from $10.4bn in 2009, or 2.7%, while in Qatar the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Gulf country's GDP is expected to reach $1.1bn in 2012, compared with $800m in 2009, the report said.
Source: AME Info
Lebanon investment authority gives incentives to $208 million hotel
The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) has handed out a 10-year incentive package to a $208m five-star hotel in the country, The Daily Star has reported. Under the incentive package, the hotel will be exempted from paying income tax for the next 10 years, and construction fees will be cut by 50%. The luxury hotel, to be located in Downtown Beirut, will have 153 rooms, 62 suites and 35 furnished apartments. "This new hotel will be giving another boost to the tourism sector in Lebanon," said chairman of IDAL, Nabil Itani. IDAL will consider offer incentives packages to more than $1bn worth of projects this year, Itani noted.
Source: The Daily Star
New projects to promote Dubai's art scene
The ruler of Dubai has announced that a new opera house and modern art museum will be built in the emirate near the world's tallest building as part of an effort to boost Dubai's standing as a cultural hub. The new 'Dubai Modern Art Museum & Opera House District', which will be located on Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai, is being billed as the UAE's newest arts and cultural nerve-center, according to a statement issued by state news agency WAM. In addition to being home to Dubai's first dedicated opera house, a modern art museum and several new galleries, the new district will host two new 'art hotels,' an array of leisure components and several residential apartments and design studios. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said the new district will further strengthen the UAE's emerging role as the cultural hub of the region. "The cultural accomplishments of a nation define its character and individuality," he said. "Having demonstrated our credentials in hosting world-class cultural events, UAE has established itself as a thriving destination for culture and the arts. We will continue to strengthen the infrastructure framework for promoting cultural initiatives, through projects such as the 'Dubai Modern Art Museum & Opera House District.' This will not only encourage our talented local artists but also facilitate global cultural exchange." The design of the new district, which is still being finalized, will include a mix of components that focus on the cultural and creative side of Dubai, the statement said. These will include plazas, high streets, shaded colonnades, courtyards, sikkas, alleyways, waterfront promenades and parks in close proximity. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said: "[The new district] will be Dubai's definitive entertainment destination that stimulates creativity, supports the arts sector, and also offers visitors their choice of hospitality and leisure. The focus of 'Dubai Modern Art Museum & Opera House District' is to stimulate the city's cultural and artistic milieu through an Opera House, modern art museum, galleries and design studios - in short, the entire infrastructure for arts and culture to thrive." Work on the district will commence shortly, the statement added. No completion date was given.
Dubai's Arqaam plans luxury Croatian resort
Dubai investment firm Arqaam Capital is reportedly planning to build a luxury hotel on the historic island of Hvar in Dalmatia, Croatia. According to Croatian daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, Arqaam plans to build the five-star hotel with villas in the next year. The hotel project will have a capacity of up to 200 rooms and cost about 100m euros. The paper said Arqaam purchased 16 acres of land in the Brizenica area for the hotel project which is expected to be managed by Kerzner International which also operates the Atlantis in Dubai. It said the project was initially delayed due to the global economic crisis and the lack of proper infrastructure in the Kabal peninsula. As part of the deal, the UAE investors are set to finance the construction of a bypass, the paper added. The hotel opening is expected to create between 250 and 300 new jobs on the island. The resort will reflect Hvar architectural history, and will be built so that minimal impact is made on the natural environment. In January, Arqaam Capital agreed to buy El Rashad Securities Brokerage from Al Rashad Holding to access Egypt’s market as the Dubai-based investment bank seeks to benefit from a possible recovery in the North Africa nation. The agreement will include El Rashad’s business, operations and brokerage license, Arqaam Capital said in a statement, without providing financial details.
Source: Arabian Business