Shivani DDPPL

VFS Global hosts iConnect innovation workshop in Dubai

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The world’s largest outsourcing and technology services, VFS Global specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, conducted the 4th global edition of its annual innovation workshop ‘iConnect’ for the outsourced government services industry in Dubai. The event brought together 129 delegates from 55 countries to discuss the most significant technology trends and cutting-edge solutions offered by VFS Global in visa, consular and citizen services. The delegates were predominantly senior officials from the central government ministries and from various embassies and consulates in the UAE. At the workshop, governments and private stakeholders discussed the importance of cyber-security in in the context of the recent escalation in cyber-attacks worldwide. Guest speakers, domain experts and global leaders in cyber security, highlighted potential risks and discussed measures to mitigate the risks. The speakers at iConnect spoke about how customers today wanted easy access to information and convenient service fulfillment. The growing relevance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform customer experience was also a topic of discussion, with technology now making inroads into various sectors from assisting in travel across airlines to enhancing the customer experience.

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Royal opening of Emirates Flight Training Academy

HH image for Emirates Academy opening

Emirates Flight Training Academy, the state-of-the-art facility for training initio pilots was officially inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during the Dubai Airshow. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group said, “The Emirates Flight Training Academy is designed to be one of the most advanced flight training facilities not just in the Middle East region, but in the entire world. This is the only academy in the world that provides complete integration of flight training, ground school, accommodation and recreation under one roof. Students will not only get the best training but will be able to enjoy comfortable living standards while undergoing training.” Located in Dubai South, the academy has been established by Emirates to qualify UAE nationals and international students. The Academy will combine cutting-edge learning technologies and a modern fleet of training aircraft to train cadets with no previous knowledge of flying.

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flyadeal on a great start in two months

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Saudi Arabia’s new low-fare airline flyadeal has received a welcome market response since the start of services, with load factors reaching more than 82 per cent. flyadeal currently operates on three routes from Jeddah to Riyadh, Dammam and Qassim. Having commenced operations on September 23, Jeddah-Riyadh was the first city pair, beginning as a double-daily service, quickly growing to five-times-daily. Dammam and Qassim began this month, with Jeddah-Dammam increasing to double daily later this month. flyadeal currently has a fleet of three aircraft, with an additional five to be delivered. All are brand new A320 aircraft in a single-class configuration of 186 seats. Con Korfiatis, CEO, flyadeal, said, “flyadeal has received a very warm welcome from our passengers so far and we are grateful for their support. We look forward to continue serving our loyal guests as we move into the next phase of expansion in the coming months.”

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Air Arabia leases six new Airbus A321neo at Dubai Airshow

Air Arabia leases six new Airbus A321neo LR aircraft to serve longer range routes

Air Arabia signed a lease agreement for six Airbus A321neo Long Range aircraft with the Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation. These additional aircraft will join Air Arabia’s fleet starting 2019 and will help the airline better serve its existing network. The agreement was signed between Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia and Alex Khatibi, Executive Vice President, Air Lease Corporation on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow. Air Arabia’s new A321neo LR aircraft will feature 215 seats per aircraft while maintaining Air Arabia’s industry leading seat pitch that customers currently enjoy. Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia commented, “We continue to witness growth in passenger traffic across our hubs and remain focused on our business model to provide affordable fare and value for money to passengers.” The new A321neo LR will join Air Arabia’s existing fleet of 50 A320 aircraft that serve over 133 routes from five hubs in the UAE (Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah), Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.

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Etihad marks opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi with A380 fly-by

ETIHAD AIRWAYS A380 LOUVRE ABU DHABI FLY-BY LOW RES

Hundreds of visitors from around the world, attending the official public opening celebrations of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, were treated to a low-level fly-by of the Jean Nouvel-designed museum by one of Etihad Airways’ flagship Airbus A380 aircraft. Sporting the airline’s ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery, the aircraft chosen for the display also features Louvre Abu Dhabi’s official logo on each of its four engines, to promote the opening of the institution. Two specially equipped helicopters were also positioned above the capital to capture air-to-air filming of the aircraft as it flew over the museum. Peter Baumgartner, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, said, “Echoing the sentiments from the signing of our landmark partnership agreement with Louvre Abu Dhabi last month, Etihad Airways is honoured to play its part at the inauguration of this universal institution. We, as the UAE’s national airline, are poised to play our part in bringing millions of guests to our home to experience this modern wonder of art first-hand.”

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Emirates enhances Nigeria service

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER

Emirates announced that it will reinstate its second daily service to Lagos and resume operations to Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, with four weekly flights from December 15. The added frequencies to Lagos will be operated with Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, offering eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 310 spacious seats in Economy Class. “As Nigeria is a key market for Emirates, we will add 11 weekly flights between Dubai and two major cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos. This highlights our commitment to providing travellers in Nigeria with not only the very latest in aircraft innovations but also increased connectivity,” said Orhan Abbas, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Africa. The added Lagos flight EK781 will depart Dubai every day at 03:55hrs and arrive in Lagos at 09:05hrs. The return flight EK782 will depart Lagos at 12:40hrs and arrive in Dubai at 22:55hrs.

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Malaysian visa centres opens in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

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The Embassy of Malaysia in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of Malaysia in Dubai launched two new One Stop Centres (OSC), providing Malaysia visa services in Abu Dhabi and Dubai from November 1. Both centres are managed by VFS Global in partnership with S5 Systems and Megan Gayabina. The Abu Dhabi centre is located at Shining Tower on Mubarak Bin Mohammed Street and the Dubai centre is located at Wafi Mall. An inauguration ceremony was held in Dubai on November 6 in the presence of Dato’ Yubazlan Bin Haji Yusof, Consul General of Malaysia in Dubai and Vinay Malhotra, COO – Middle East & South Asia, VFS Global, along with other senior officials. Dato’ Yubazlan Bin Haji Yusof, Consul General of Malaysia in Dubai, said, “Well coordinated models such as the OSC seeks to ensure consistency in the application to provide a streamlined and efficient visa service. The OSC also flexed its visa submission time to allow more applications to be submitted as part of the new customer friendly initiative.” Vinay Malhotra, COO – Middle East & South Asia, VFS Global, said, “It is an honour to launch two new OSCs that will provide travellers to Malaysia from the UAE’s professionally managed visa processing services.”

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Adventure tourism in RAK attracts millennials

1. RAKTDA - WTM 2017

The adventure tourism product portfolio of Ras Al Khaimah, now established as one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the Middle East, is shaping up as a millennials’ magnet. Addressing a panel debate in London on the travel patterns of affluent millennials, Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), said the emirate was hitting the mark with the much sought-after segment. “Ras Al Khaimah has what it takes when it comes to ticking millennial boxes,” said Mattar. “They want authenticity and the emirate has it in spades; they want meaningful, off-the-radar experiences and the ability to connect with culture, which again we excel in; and they have a desire to soak up natural sights, which is a key pillar of our offering.” Mattar revealed millennials are now a prime target for the emirate, which boasts of an ancient heritage and myriad landscapes from desert to stunning coastline, and the rocky crags of the Hajar mountains with its natural springs and the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais, now ranked as the emirate’s number one attraction.

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New brand identity for Citymax Hotels

Citymax Hotel Al Barsha

Citymax Hotels launched its new brand identity that is being rolled out in phases across the group’s portfolio of hotels. All operating hotels will be renovated to provide guests with a more contemporary experience while leveraging the brand value of Citymax Hotels. Russel Sharpe, COO, Citymax Hotels, stated, “Citymax Hotels is being revitalised through a series of marketing and product design improvements to meet our guests’ expectations and strengthen our market positioning. Everyone loves something extra- be it extra space, extra comfort, extra connectivity or extra value and that’s exactly what Citymax has to offer.” The first hotel to implement the new brand identity along with product enhancement is Citymax Hotel Al Barsha. The hotel has renovated its reception, lobby, corridors and guestrooms along with bathrooms on first, second and third floors with an imaginative design concept. Other facilities, including the dining outlets, will also be enhanced over the next few months.

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New aircraft for flydubai

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flydubai unveiled its brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8, the first of 76 ordered from Boeing, all of which will be delivered by 2023. Six of these will join the flydubai fleet by the end of 2017. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, flydubai, said, “This is another milestone in Dubai’s aviation success story. The efficiency and enhanced performance this aircraft promises is going to play an important role in the new chapter of flydubai’s growth strategy.” The new Boeing 737 MAX 8s will initially be deployed on the furthest points on flydubai’s network, including Bangkok, Prague, Yekaterinburg and Zanzibar. Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of show organisers, Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East, said, “The Dubai Airshow has always been the place for the industry to meet and do business, and to see new product launches and industry innovations. We are looking forward to what the rest of the week will bring.”

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