Archive for the ‘the places I would like to go’ Category

Langham Hospitality Group Enters The Middle East With The Langham Brand In …   no comments

Posted at 1:28 pm in the places I would like to go

Two milestone “firsts” for the company: Luxury property on Palm Jumeirah will be the Group’s first in the region, and the first resort in the global portfolio.

Langham Hospitality Group announced today an agreement with DAS Real Estate to manage The
Langham resort in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Located on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah and
scheduled to open in 2015, this 323-room resort marks double landmark “firsts” for the Hong Kong-
based hotel company: it is the group’s first foray into the Middle East and the first resort in its global

With the interiors designed by the Aedas Limited, The Langham, Palm
Jumeirah, Dubai
will showcase tasteful furnishings reflective of the brand’s heritage as one of
the premier grand hotels in Europe. With a prime waterfront location directly facing the Arabian Gulf
and the impressive Dubai Marina skyline, all the rooms and suites will have expansive outdoor terraces
and sea-front views that will take full advantage of the emirate’s year-round sunny climes. Catering to
couples and large families, the resort will have 53 well-appointed one- and two-bedroom suites that
range from 63 to 236 square meters; 22 of them will feature individual plunge pools.

Designed to become one of the city’s social centres for dining, The Langham will offer guests a wide
variety of innovative restaurants and bars, most of them with al fresco waterside dining. Headlining the
culinary options will be Palm Court, an elegant lounge modeled after its namesake at The Langham,
London – the first grand hotel to serve the traditional afternoon tea in 1865.

Other dining
experiences include a Japanese restaurant, a waterfront seafood outlet, a niche breakfast room, an
Arabic and Italian fusion café, an all-day restaurant featuring international buffet and a la carte
selections, a beach restaurant and a juice bar that offers light snacks and refreshments. The hotel will
also feature a Club Lounge offering complimentary food and beverage presentations throughout the
day and dedicated concierge service.

Setting a new standard for leisure travellers, The
Langham, Palm Jumeirah will feature one of the region’s largest hotel recreation facility covering
almost 4,000 square meters over two floors.

For an unrivalled retreat of relaxation, the
group’s signature award-winning Chuan Spa will showcase a remarkable 26 treatment rooms as well as
therapies based on the sound principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM.) The expansive fitness
centre features a free form pool, exercise studio, and a full range of strength- and cardio-training
equipment. Catering to family holiday makers is a 445-square meter Kids Club with a fun slide, play
zone and themed party area.

A distinctive feature of The Langham, Palm Jumeirah is the
dedicated Travellers Lounge which will provide all the facilities and comforts for early arrival or late
departure flyers. Designed as a sanctuary and an extension of the luxury resort experience, guests are
welcome to take full advantage of the well-stocked library, entertainment selections, light dining
service, business centre and shower/change rooms with the compliments of the resort.

Adding to the mystique, The Langham signature pink roses will be specially grown at the resort with the
assistance of a refrigerated irrigation system. Native palms, fruit trees and water features will provide
an oasis of serenity for guests and local visitors.

“We are very much looking forward to
introducing The Langham’s rich heritage and impeccable service values to Dubai,” said Robert Warman,
chief executive officer of Langham Hospitality Group. “The trifecta of this hotel’s spectacular location on
the iconic Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s winning bid to host the World Expo in 2020, and The Langham’s
beautiful design aesthetics, make it the perfect time to debut our first resort in this dynamic

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Written by enfoquec on April 16th, 2014

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Timeline: Al-Aqsa mosque   no comments

Posted at 12:53 pm in the places I would like to go

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Written by enfoquec on April 14th, 2014

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UNESCO to send mission to assess Jerusalem   no comments

Posted at 12:27 pm in the places I would like to go

An expert mission is to be sent to the Old City of Jerusalem to evaluate its state of preservation and submit a report along with recommendations to the World Heritage Committee to be held in Doha in June, a United Nations resolution passed yesterday said.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s Executive Board passed the resolution by an overwhelming majority; only the US voted against it during the Executive Board’s meeting in Paris.

Palestine and Jordan were able to issue several resolutions through the Executive Board and the World Heritage Committee demanding Israel halt all illegal violations against the holy city. They have also called for Israel to stop accusing those concerned with preserving the city’s heritage “of politicising the work of UNESCO and other international organisations”.


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Written by enfoquec on April 12th, 2014

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US Pair Can’t Leave Qatar Amid Appeal   no comments

Posted at 11:56 am in the places I would like to go

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Written by enfoquec on April 10th, 2014

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Kerry under fire over Mideast peace process   no comments

Posted at 10:48 am in the places I would like to go

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have hit another snag, prompting Washington to reassess whether to continue brokering talks marred by what a White House spokesman called “unhelpful actions” by both conflict parties. US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday (08.04.2014). Late last week,
Kerry had stated it was time for a “reality check” – that there was a limit to US efforts if the parties themselves were unwilling to move forward, Kerry said during a visit to Morocco.

This tentative failure “has damaged Kerry’s reputation because it shows that he misread the situation,” said Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the conservative, Washington-based Heritage Foundation. Kerry overestimated the prospects for a successful negotiation and also devoted an immense amount of time to this issue while neglecting other, more pressing topics, Phillips told DW.

Reality check for Kerry?

eight months of shuttle diplomacy, more than a dozen trips to the region and countless rounds of evening negotiations, Kerry decided to pull the emergency brake and announced to carry out a “reality check” regarding the peace process. But first and foremost, it might turn into a reality check for Kerry himself, writes the “New York Times.”

And this could be uncomfortable for Kerry, who – according to Republican Senator John McCain – chooses to ignore reality. Kerry has not just been criticized by the opposition; off the record, criticism has also been voiced by politicians in the Obama administration.

Netanyahu has threatened to punish Palestinians for submitting requests to join international treaties

Meanwhile, Obama publicly supported his secretary of state, saying, “I have nothing but admiration for how John [Kerry] has handled this.” While that kind of backing might help him at home, it won’t restore his prestige and authority abroad. Obama largely left handling the Mideast peace process to Kerry and has only tried within the last month to up pressure on Abbas and Netanyahu toward reaching an agreement.

Matthew Duss of the Center for American Progress says it has been a problem that the US wasn’t allowed to publicly talk about its successes along the way due to confidentiality. Contrary to Phillips, he regards Kerry’s role as mainly positive.

“The way Secretary Kerry was managing this process was very good. I think the security assessment that was done by General Allen in particular was a very smart move, addressing upfront one of Israel’s biggest concerns, which is the security arrangement that would come after the end of the occupation,” he told DW.

That opened up a time slot for a possible agreement early this year.

According to Duss, Kerry’s main failure was “that he did underestimate the lack of trust that exists between the parties right now.”

Abbas’ dwindling power

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had been considerably weakened from the start of the talks, since he was isolated in his own government and amongst the leadership of the Palestinians. And although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel was ready to continue talks, experts widely expressed doubts that he was serious about negotiations.

Their skepticism was indeed justified, Duss said, pointing to Israel’s decision last week – contrary to prior agreement –
not to release another group of Palestinian prisoners. In turn, that move pushed Abbas to sign a series of global treaties and agreements on behalf of the State of Palestine. Officially accepting such documents would be equivalent to recognizing Palestinian statehood – a prospect the US and Israel would be unlikely to accept.

Abbas decided to sign treaties on behalf of the State of Palestine, thus angering Israel

According to Phillips, Kerry failed to sufficiently account for the fact that the Abbas administration doesn’t rule the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

“And as long as Hamas is there, it can torpedo any agreement that the Palestinian authority makes overnight with another round of rocket terrorism. And that greatly reduces Israel’s willingness to make concessions,” he said.

Duss said Obama is wise by taking Kerry out of the line of fire for now and putting experienced diplomats on the case. That buys time to rethink their role and increases pressure on players in the region. It seems clear that Netanyahu is very concerned about the consequences of failure, Duss said.

Against ‘artificial deadlines’

Israelis and Palestinians have increased the frequency of their meetings again in an attempt to save the peace talks and extend the deadline, which will expire in three weeks time. Phillips, however, warns about imposing a new deadline.

“It would be a mistake to set artificial deadlines for reaching an agreement, even on a framework agreement,” he said in regards to Kerry’s announcement to finalize negotiations by the end of April. “Time and time again, the US has pushed prematurely for final settlement, going back to Clinton at second Camp David, the Bush administration at Indianapolis talks, and then Obama in the first term and then Kerry in the second term,” he said, adding, “I just don’t think conditions on the ground are right for a peace settlement.”

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Written by enfoquec on April 8th, 2014

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The UAE: A Thriving Japanese Car Market   no comments

Posted at 9:33 am in the places I would like to go

The Japanese automotive industry is one of the most prominent in the world.

Japan is currently the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer in the world with an annual production of 9.9 million vehicles in 2012. Six out of ten of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers have their bases in the island nation.

Brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Mazda are synonymous with safety and quality. Likewise,Yamaha and Kawasaki remain the bywords of durability and endurance. The ‘green’ car industry is also ruled by Japanese car–makers Toyota (which includes the highly acclaimed Prius) and Honda (includes the Civic and Insight hybrids). Nissan is also aggressively pursuing a plan to push green car sales.

Japanese car–makers have faced a string of tough challenges over the past few years: starting with the 2008 financial crisis, followed by the yen strengthening to a record high against the dollar – a move that undermines the price competitiveness of vehicles built in Japan and is threatening companies to move production overseas.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan and severe floods in Thailand disrupted the parts supply chain and led to months of production stoppages and constrained the supply of vehicles followed by recalls of millions of vehicles due to safety glitches.

In spite of these setbacks, Japan’s auto industry is starting to see potential big improvements in its business environment.

The yen recently weakened to a 28-month low against the dollar as the newly established government vowed to tackle the yen’s strength. The Nikkei subindex for the auto sector has surged more than 26 per cent since mid –November, outstripping a 20 percent rise on the benchmark Nikkei during the same period.


According to a report by Dubai Customs, Japan is the UAE’s top automobile trading partner, accounting for 25 per cent of foreign trade valued at Dh 8 billion for the first half of 2013.

Japanese brands traditionally regarded as more reliable than their European and US counterparts–are the country’s best one sellers.

Car giant Toyota announced a strong growth of 31 per cent in sales across the Middle East in 2012.The Japanese auto giant delivered 660,285 vehicles, making 2012 a record year in the region for the Toyota and Lexus brands. Globally, sales of Toyota and Lexus cars totalled 8.72 million units, an increase of 23 per cent compared to 2011.

Across the GCC region alone, Toyota sold 624,400 vehicles in 2012.

Similarly, 2012 was acknowledged as the best year ever for sales for Nissan Middle East for its Nissan Patrol flagship vehicle.

More than 14,000 Nissan Patrols were sold in the Middle East in 2012 representing a 66 per cent increase in sales and giving Nissan Patrol a record market share of 22 per cent in the Gulf market.

The Nissan Patrol is Nissan’s flagship SUV model and enjoys a rich heritage and passionate following in the Middle East that dates back to the 1950s. The iconic vehicle notched another historic milestone by setting a Guinness World Record – ‘heaviest object pulled by any production vehicle’.

An unmodified production of Nissan Patrol hauled a 170.9-tonne cargo plane, inclusive of the weight of the plane, cargo and fuel, for over 50 meters at the Sharjah International Airport.


The auto parts trade in the Dubai has grown over 27 per cent in the last four years, according to a Dubai Customs report.

Dubai’s auto spare parts foreign trade was valued at Dhs7 billion in 2012, an increase of Dhs8 billion as compared to Dhs29 billion in 2009. The auto spare parts market continued to rise, reaching Dhs32 billion in 2010 and Dhs36 billion in 2011, most of which is made up from export and re-export activities, taking up the major share of foreign trade.

Japan is deemed to be Dubai`s top trade partner in spare parts and accessories, claiming 28 per cent of the imports market share with a value of Dhs6.1 billion.

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Written by enfoquec on April 6th, 2014

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5 free things in Tel Aviv, from beaches to boulevards to strolls in the park   no comments

Posted at 8:53 am in the places I would like to go

TEL AVIV, Israel — As a city regularly ranked the most expensive in the Middle East, you are going to have a hard time enjoying Tel Aviv’s plethora of hopping clubs, swanky bars and mouthwatering restaurants without making a major dent in your wallet. But if you are ready to pack a lunch, use your legs and lose yourself in the seaside city’s urban vibe, you’ll find there is still plenty to take in without shelling out a shekel.


A dozen municipal beaches stretch out along 14 kilometers (9 miles) of coast, offering ample space for relaxing in the soft sand and dipping in the warm Mediterranean waters. Access is free of charge and some offer extra amenities such as beach volleyball courts and outdoor exercise equipment. You can also observe and partake in Israel’s unofficial national sport of matkot, or beach paddleball. The pros come out to the Hilton Beach early Saturday mornings, where the fast-paced sound of balls smacking echoes along the promenade. Later, tourists are also welcome to join public sessions of Israeli folk dancing.


Tel Aviv’s founders envisioned a “garden city” in which small roads lead into green enclaves nestled inside a bustling urban landscape. Visitors get a sense of this unique design thanks to the wide tree-lined walkways and bike paths that split the six boulevards of the city (Rothschild, Chen, Nordau, Ben-Gurion, Ben-Zion and Yerushalayim).

Along trendy Rothschild, you’ll get a glimpse of “The White City” — a collection of some 4,000 boxy, Bauhaus-style buildings that earned Tel Aviv UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. On Ben-Gurion, the home of the boulevard’s namesake (and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion) can be toured free of charge. As the epicenter of a social protest movement that swept the country against its high cost of living, Tel Aviv has seen street kiosks pop up in recent years that offer discounted coffee during the day and “drink points” at night with affordable alcohol that can (legally) be consumed openly on the streets of Tel Aviv.


Tel Aviv’s primary open space sits along the Yarkon River and offers a perfect place for a jog, a stroll or a picnic. Renting kayaks will cost money, but you can lazily lounge along the riverbank as long as you want or visit a free mini-petting zoo. Those in the mood for more adventure can try scaling the outdoor climbing walls or join a pickup soccer or basketball game.


The biblical Mediterranean port city of Jaffa is part of the joint Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality. It offers a gateway into the city’s origins, with synagogues, churches, mosques and clock towers from the Ottoman era open to visitors. In Old Jaffa, walk down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, pop into pottery stores or just grab a seat to stare at the glistening waters below. A renovated port area with myriad restaurants and coffee shops offers a pleasant place to walk by the sea, where rickety fishermen’s ships still dock. Cool off from the blazing heat at the port’s new indoor market. Now quite gentrified, there are also chic neighborhoods, galleries and a bohemian flea market to explore.


Long before Tel Aviv became a city in 1909, the first Jewish neighborhood to emerge from Jaffa was Neve Tzedek. Hebrew for Oasis of Justice, today it is literally a Soho-like enclave, lined with upscale designer stores and shops and galleries, but it also maintains its original feel of a quaint village. Explore the main Shabazi Street, but also the smaller passageways that house boutiques and trendy coffee shops. The neighborhood’s flagship Suzanne Dellal Center offers pricey dance performances, but only a short walk away you can find the renovated Hatachana, Tel Aviv’s old railway station where live music can be enjoyed while observing outdoor art exhibits.

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Written by enfoquec on April 4th, 2014

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