Hakim helps Egypt swap pyramid selling for a new song

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Egyptian folk singer Hakim performs to a packed house in London. (AN photo)
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Egyptian fans watch folk singer Hakim perform to a packed house in London. (AN photo)
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Egyptian folk singer Hakim performs to a packed house in London. (AN photo)
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Egyptian folk singer Hakim was the first person from an Arabic speaking country to perform at a Nobel Peace Prize event. (AN photo)
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The renowned Egyptian singer Hakim will perform at Olympia Theater in Paris on September 23, to be the third Egyptian singer to sing on that prominent theatre. (AN photo)
Updated 23 September 2017
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Hakim helps Egypt swap pyramid selling for a new song

LONDON: Egyptian tourism chiefs have recruited folk singer Hakim to help promote the country’s battered holiday appeal across Europe.
With performances lined up in Paris, Marseilles and Barcelona following sell-out shows in Madrid and Lyon, the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority hopes the singer will help to raise the country’s profile.
Egypt may be best known for its ancient wonders, but the country now wants to appeal to Europe’s culture vultures as well as sun-seekers.
“Hakim still attracts a lot of younger Egyptians. He represents this dynamic, modern side to Egyptian culture,” said Amr El-Ezabi, director of the Egyptian Tourist Office for the UK and the Nordic countries.
“Egypt is very famous as a historic destination – it’s one of the strongest brands in this respect. What we need to build upon is the contemporary culture aspect of the brand as vivid, modern and attractive.
“We don’t only have the temples of the pharaoh; we were also the first country in the Middle East to have a Philharmonic orchestra and a ballet house. We have also been the biggest producers of cinema in the region since the beginning of the 20th century.
“These are things we need to remind people of,” he said.
The effect is cumulative, he continued, citing the impact of film industries like Hollywood and Bollywood on tourism in the US and India over time.
“We need to create more awareness among people here of our output in terms of music and the arts, and revive the image of Egypt as a cultural destination.”

Egypt’s tourism market has weathered a series of setbacks following several terror attacks in recent years, and authorities are keen to tap into new source markets.
A $22 million annual campaign budget has been allocated to promote Egypt across 26 different markets, including Latin America and southern Europe.
Prior to 2011, the UK and Italy, along with Russia, were Egypt’s biggest tourism markets, while today Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan top the list.
While 1.5 million Britons visited Egypt in 2010, the tally had dwindled to 231,000 last year.
Still, the country remains a popular choice according to Hollie Youlden, head of marketing at London-based travel company On the Go Tours.
“The UK remains one of our main territories for Egypt. The Brits love dry heat and the weather there is perfect in the winter.”
Last month, Egypt was the company’s top-selling destination, she said, and numbers have been healthy throughout the year. “We’ve been running tours to Egypt for 20 years now, and the only time we saw a decline was during the Arab Spring.
“Over the last few years, passenger numbers have been rising steadily and Egypt has become one of our best-selling destinations again, competing with the likes of Iceland and Vietnam.”
Tour operator Kuoni also reported rising interest in Egypt. “We have started to see an increase in inquiries for Egypt in our stores across the UK, and bookings for next year are up, particularly for Nile Cruises.
“Egypt has such strong appeal with its bucket-list monuments, and from the UK it can be reached in less than six hours,” a spokesperson for the company told Arab News.

Data released on Thursday by STR showed that occupancy levels in Egyptian hotels have seen a 12.9 percent increase in demand, with double-digit growth for all but one month of 2017.
Tourism revenues rose by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017, according to figures reported by Reuters, with 4.3 million tourists visiting the country during this period, marking a 54 percent increase on a year earlier — largely due to an increase in visitors from Germany and Ukraine.
Europeans made up 75 percent of these visitors.


Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

Luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers. (bulgarihotels.com)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Bulgari hotel: An Italian escape in Dubai

  • The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island
  • Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic

DUBAI: Bulgari, the venerated Italian design house, has just five hotels around the world. And even in Dubai — a city crammed with luxury hotels — the Bulgari Resort manages to seem exclusive. The “urban oasis” is currently the only hotel situated on the offshore Jumeira Bay island, offering guests some respite from the city’s often-hectic atmosphere, even though it is literally minutes away from the pulsing heart of Dubai.

Home to just 110 rooms, suites and villas, the sprawling low-rise property oozes Italian elegance with its minimalist aesthetic. Master architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel — who are responsible for all the Bulgari hotels worldwide — have used a neutral color palette and custom motifs, such as coral-inspired lacquered steel parapets and mashrabiya-patterned accents, to give the hotel a sense of place.

Here, luxury doesn’t shout its presence with bling or ostentatious features, instead it quietly whispers, with fine materials — from Italian marble to sumptuous silks, impeccable attention to detail, and touches including the signature fragrance that wafts around you from the second you enter.

The hotel is responsible for a couple of firsts for the brand, including its ‘Little Gems’ kids club — where children are entertained with bespoke activities such as cooking classes and treasure hunts while their parents enjoy some downtime — and the global debut of the Bulgari Marina & Yacht Club, which has its own pool and recreation facilities, signature seafood restaurant, and 50-berth harbor.

All rooms and suites feature a walk-in closet, spacious balconies, smooth one-touch button controls, and bathrooms with standalone tubs boasting enviable views — making for some excellent Insta-fodder. The signature trunk-style mini-bar is as funky as it is functional, and the trendy basket beach bags are perfect for stashing your souvenirs — including designer knick-knacks from on-site concept store La Galleria.

The one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas offer private pools and butler service, but you don’t want to miss the resort’s circular central pool, where luxury cabanas with oversized daybeds and on-call service invite you to lounge the day away. Just adjacent is the crescent-shaped private beach, with the gentle waters of the Arabian Gulf offering perfect swimming conditions, even if the tip of the seahorse-shaped island mars the view slightly.

Whether you opt for a beach-and-pool day or a Dubai-sightseeing trip, your evening should definitely be devoted to the quintessentially Italian aperitivo experience at Il Bar, where an oval-shaped chrome counter provides a social centerpiece, and an outdoor terrace offers marina views. The seriously chic Il Ristorante (by lauded Italian chef Niko Romito) is just next door, and shares the terrace. Its tiramisu is one of the best in town, as is the freshly baked rustic bread.

Offering a more pared-back dining experience are La Spiaggia, a beachside restaurant and bar, and Il Café, the Bulgari take on a casual all-day dining destination which still features jaw-dropping design, and, in line with the whole ‘nothing is too much trouble’ service ethos, serves breakfast all day.

That ethos extends to the spa too, where therapists provide the ultimate in pampering using top-shelf products, including La Mer, in a soothing nature-inspired space. The use of rare precious materials, including grey Vicenza stone and green onyx, infuse the environment with a subtle opulence.

A 25-meter indoor swimming pool with its own cabanas, extensive facilities (including a shower offering a “Caribbean thunderstorm” experience), and private hammam, plus an exclusive Lee Mullins training program at the state-of-the-art gym complete the impressive recreation facilities at the resort.

If you’re looking for a classy, authentic ‘slice-of-Italy’ experience in the Middle East, then the Bulgari Resort Dubai is where you should check in.