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Dubai to close all eating outlets for two weeks; drive thru, deliveries to continue

Restaurants and cafes at hotels and hotel apartments serving their guests have been exempt

The ruling does not apply to restaurants and cafes at hotels and hotel apartments serving their guests (picture for illustrative purposes only). 

Dubai is to close all eating establishments, including restaurants, cafes, cafeterias coffee shops, for two weeks.

“In line with precautionary measures announced by MOHAP [Ministry of Health and Prevention] and NCEMA [National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority], Dubai Municipality announces the closure of all restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, coffee shops and all establishments offering food services in shopping centers/malls, and all locations in Dubai and halted all their activities for 2 weeks starting from 23rd March 2020,” it was announced in a statement on Monday.

However, the ruling does not apply to restaurants and cafes at hotels and hotel apartments serving their guests.

Drive thru, food delivery and food transportation services will continue, the statement added.

In a statement issued by the state news agency WAM, it was announced on Monday that the UAE has decided to close all commercial centres, and shopping malls along with fish, meat and vegetables markets for a period of at least two weeks.

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Abu Dhabi orders tour operators to halt services in new tourism blow

Special teams of inspectors will ensure the ban on activities for all sea cruises, desert camps, safaris is being enforced

DCT- Abu Dhabi has instructed all tour operators to immediately suspend services and activities for all sea cruises, desert camps, safaris and floating restaurants.

Abu Dhabi on Thursday ordered the suspension of all tourism tour activities in the emirate in the latest coronavirus-related blow to the industry.

In line with recommended preventative measures for Covid-19, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT- Abu Dhabi) has instructed all tour operators to immediately suspend services and activities for all sea cruises, desert camps, safaris and floating restaurants.

“The suspension of activities and services comes into force with immediate effect and will be in place until further notice,” said a statement from the DCT Abu Dhabi.

It added that special teams of inspectors will ensure the ban is being enforced to guarantee the health and safety of all residents, visitors and employees.

“All operators are expected to comply with the ban, with penalties to be issued to any entities not adhering to the new rule,” said the statement, which was carried by state news agency WAM.

Previously, DCT Abu Dhabi announced the closure of cultural sites including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Qasr Al Hosn, Culture Foundation, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort and Qasr Al Muwaiji.

Qasr Al Watan Tour, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi were also be affected by the closure order which was effective from last Sunday.

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Hyatt unveils plan to open Makkah luxury hotel in 2025

Hyatt Hotels Corporation signs a management agreement with Umm Alqura for the construction of a Grand Hyatt branded hotel in the holy city of Makkah

Located close to the Grand Mosque, the 756-room property will be an integral component of the King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) mixed-use urban development project.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced that an affiliate has entered into a management agreement with Umm Alqura for the construction of a Grand Hyatt branded hotel in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

Located close to the Grand Mosque, the 756-room property will be an integral component of the King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) mixed-use urban development project, a statement said.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of Hyatt’s prime focus areas within the Middle East,” said Ludwig Bouldoukian, regional vice president of development, Middle East and North Africa for Hyatt.

“The country’s significant strides to boost tourism complements our own commitment to creating a pipeline in markets that matter most.”

Slated to open in January 2025, Grand Hyatt Makkah will be the first Grand Hyatt hotel in Makkah and the second Grand Hyatt hotel in Saudi Arabia, joining Grand Hyatt Al Khobar which is slated to open later this year.

“Grand Hyatt Makkah represents a prestigious addition to the King Abdul Aziz Road project, which will contribute to our goal of better serving the needs of visitors and residents in Makkah,” said Yasser Abuateek, CEO of Umm Alqura for Development and Construction.

The kingdom aims to attract more than 30 million tourists annually by 2030.

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UAE's Rotana inks deal to operate iconic Marrakech resort

Palmeraie Rotana Resort consists of the five-star Hotel du Golf Rotana, the Golf Club Rotana and the Palmeraie Palace

UAE-based Rotana has signed a management agreement to operate the iconic Palmeraie Resort in Morocco’s major economic centre Marrakech.

UAE-based Rotana has signed a management agreement to operate the iconic Palmeraie Resort in Morocco’s major economic centre Marrakech, under its new name, Palmeraie Rotana Resort.

Located in the heart of the famous palm oasis in Marrakech, Palmeraie Rotana Resort consists of the 315-room five-star Hôtel du Golf Rotana, the Golf Club Rotana with 11 exclusive suites and the 314-key Palmeraie Palace, for which a full refurbishment is currently being planned.

Palmeraie Rotana Resort also offers a conference centre, which can host up to 3,000 delegates, and 13 restaurants, in addition to a fitness centre and Zen the Spa at Rotana.

It also includes an 18-hole championship golf course designed by famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO, Rotana, said: “At Rotana, we continue to pursue market expansion and sustainable growth by extending our brand presence to new geographies. With this exceptional opportunity in Morocco, we have reached a new milestone in our journey to transform the region’s hospitality industry.”

Morocco’s tourism sector in 2019 recorded 13 million tourist arrivals, up 5.2 percent on the previous year. As the top tourist destination in the country, Marrakech received nearly 3 million tourists and recorded more than 8 million overnight stays last year.

Hutchinson added: “We will immediately deliver upgrades for the Hôtel du Golf Rotana, the Golf Club Rotana and other key components within the development. The Palmeraie Palace will remain unbranded until it undergoes a full renovation, which is currently in the early stages of planning.

“Our absolute focus however will be on improving the quality of operations, enhancing the product offerings and delivering a level of performance across the complex that will continue to enhance the fine reputation of this outstanding resort.”

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Why the sky's the limit for Saudi's Red Sea tourism mega project

Red Sea Development Company seeks to become the largest certified Dark Sky Reserve in the world

John Pagano, CEO, The Red Sea Development Company.

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind one of the world’s most ambitious tourism initiatives in Saudi Arabia, has announced plans to become the largest certified Dark Sky Reserve in the world.

It is seeking an accreditation that recognises areas with an exceptional quality of starry nights and a commitment to protecting the nocturnal environment.

TRSDC has awarded a contract to Cundall, an international consultancy providing engineering, design and sustainable solutions, to develop a lighting strategy that would provide enough lighting for safe movement around the site, while meeting the stringent International Dark Sky criteria.

“We are proud to announce our intention to become the first full-scale destination in the Middle East to pursue this unique accreditation, intended to safeguard the natural environment and allow guests to marvel at the beauty of the night sky,” said John Pagano, CEO, The Red Sea Development Company.

“Over the centuries, explorers, trade caravans and pilgrims have used the night sky to navigate across our region. Dark Sky accreditation will allow our visitors to enjoy the same stunning night-time panoramas that guided and inspired those historical travelers. We are proud to become part of a worldwide movement dedicated to restoring mankind’s intimate relationship with the stars.”

According to a study for Science Advances, it is estimated that the Milky Way is no longer fully visible to one-third of humanity — including 60 percent of Europeans and 80 percent of Americans.

Artificial light from cities has created a permanent “skyglow” at night, obscuring our view of the stars.

TRSDC said it recognises the threat of light pollution and the impact it has on the environment and resident species like the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

“The night sky at the site is already at a very high level of quality and beautiful to experience, full of interesting textures and powerful contrasts. Away from city lights, the splash of the Milky Way is spellbinding, stretching from one horizon to the other,” said Andrew Bissell, director of Light4, Cundall.

He said Cundall will work with the engineering and development teams at The Red Sea Development Company over a six-month period to review the existing project design and advise on possible measures to reduce light pollution.

This month, the team will record the baseline condition, surveying the existing lighting equipment and installation details on all existing assets including building-mounted general lighting, feature lighting, landscape lighting and street lighting.

A Lighting Management Plan will be produced which will describe improvement works throughout the existing lighting at the destination and inform the lighting design for each of the new assets, including hotels, the airport and residential properties. An application will then be made to achieve dark sky reserve status for the entire destination.

Once accredited, The Red Sea Project will join more than 100 locations around the world that have won dark sky certification.

TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project will be developed over 28,000 sq km of pristine land on Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 islands. The destination also features mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes and ancient cultural and heritage sites. It will include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and re-use.

Activity for the first phase of development, which focuses on enabling the infrastructure to support future work, is well underway.

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India suspends all tourist visas over coronavirus

India’s visa suspension begins March 13 at 4pm UAE time at the port of departure

All travellers, including Indian nationals, “arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days,” the statement read.

India on Wednesday suspended all tourist visas until April 15 and said it would quarantine travellers arriving from seven virus-hit countries as it attempts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The move comes as the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, and as countries worldwide scramble to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

India’s visa suspension begins March 13 at 4pm UAE time at the port of departure, the government’s Press Information Bureau said.

Diplomatic visas and visas for international organisations, employment and projects are exempt.

While the majority of COVID-19 cases have been in China — which shares a border with India — the number of new infections has steadied there. Hotspots however have emerged in Italy, Iran and Spain.

All travellers, including Indian nationals, “arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days,” the statement read.

The number of COVID-19 cases in India – which has a population of 1.3 billion – has doubled to 60 in the past four days, increasing public fear and the government’s state of alert.

Many of the cases have been blamed on Indians who have travelled or worked in badly hit countries in Europe and the Middle East.

The visa decision was reached following a meeting of ministers led by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the statement read.

The government also “strongly advised” Indians against non-essential foreign travel, warning that they can be subjected “to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.”

Visa-free travel granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders — some three million people, not nationals but from ethnic Indian families living abroad  — was put on hold until April 15.

And land border traffic will be funnelled through “designated check points with robust screening facilities.”

Foreign nationals who plan to travel to India “for compelling reasons” can contact their nearest Indian mission, the statement said.

Visa suspensions

Separately, India’s Bureau of Immigration said that all visas and e-visas granted to French, German and Spanish nationals before Wednesday “and who have not yet entered India stand suspended with immediate effect.”

And Italian, Iranian, South Korean and Japanese nationals who have visas issued before March 3 “who have not yet entered India remain suspended.”

Visas granted to Chinese nationals before February 5 also continue to be suspended, the statement read.

Foreigners already in India with valid visas are unaffected by the new requirements.

After the visa announcement, national carrier Air India said it was temporarily suspending flight services to Rome, Milan and Seoul, the Press Trust of India reported.

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Emaar stops taking bookings at three Dubai hotels

Emaar Hospitality has decided to ‘temporarily refocus on a selected number of assets’

Vida Emirates Hills

Emaar Hospitality will stop taking bookings at three hotels in Dubai for more than five months as it temporarily “refocuses” on certain assets amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, according to the company.

In a statement, an Emaar spokesperson said that “following the recent global impact on the travel industry drawing us into a state of force majeure, Emaar Hospitality Group has taken the decision to temporarily refocus on a selected number of assets”.

It is understood that the hotels are Address Fountain Views, Vida Creek Harbour and Vida Emirates Hills.

The decision will come into force on March 15 and last until August 31, the document said.

Restaurants, gyms and pools at the three locations will remain open, while guests will be rebooked at other Emaar properties in Dubai.

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Saudi Arabia restricts entry for Emirati, Kuwaiti, Bahraini visitors

Gulf kingdom says Gulf visitors can only enter country via airports in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in new measures aimed at preventing spread of coronavirus

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it has put new preventive measures in place in its fight against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) by temporarily restricting the entry of Emirati, Kuwaiti and Bahraini nationals into the country.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, citizens from those Gulf countries will only be permitted entry through the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam.

Entry through land ports between the kingdom and the three countries will be confined to commercial trucks only, it added.

An official source at the Ministry of Interior stated that the decision is part of efforts to stop the spread and eliminate the virus.

Saudi Arabia has so far reported just five cases while the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain have reported 45, 58 and 60 respectively.

The move came as the number of cases from the new coronavirus topped 100,000 worldwide as official data Saturday showed a significant hit to Chinese exports after the deadly outbreak brought much of the country to a halt.

The World Health Organisation called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” as a wave of countries reported their first cases of the disease — which has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 92 nations and territories.

Separately, Saudi Arabia announced the opening of the Mataf –  area for circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba – for non-Umrah performers starting from Saturday.

Sheikh Dr Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al Sudais, general president of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque Affairs, said the decision came following a royal order by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

This follows a major cleaning and sterilisation operation inside and outside the Grand Mosque.

Al Sudais also stressed the need to adhere to precautionary procedures and cooperate with Grand Mosque workers to maintain public safety.

An eerie emptiness enveloped the sacred Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, where attendance at Friday prayers was hit by measures to protect against the virus.

An imam said during his sermon he hoped for an end to the epidemic and backed a decision by Saudi Arabia’s government to halt the year-round umrah pilgrimage.

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