Welcome To Dubai! Have a Nice Day… And a Nicer Stay!

In a bid to provide the ultimate customer service and hospitality experience for tourists visiting Dubai, Dubai’s Airport Authority, Dubai Police and Dubai’s Taxi Corporation have come together, launching a 2 week long campaign, ‘Welcome to Dubai, greeting visitors entering the Emirates with a big warm welcome.

‘Welcome to Dubai’ was launched December 29th at Dubai’s International Airport consisting of a team of trained hospitality and customer service staff to greet and assist visitors  on arrival with queries, lost luggage, city tours and taxi service information.

The initiative also aims to warn tourists about illegal taxi services operating in Dubai through brochures containing information on the legitimate types of taxi services available along with listings of airport taxi fares.  The aim is to prevent tourists from being overcharged and protect them from possible fraud and criminal activity.

The brochures, 50,000 printed out so far in both English and Arabic, additionally contain advice on issues such as ‘lost luggage at the airport,’ along with contact information for emergency services in the city

The Dubai Taxi Corporation has additionally trained 10 taxi drivers to be unofficial tour guides as part of the initiative with focus on talking about and directing visitors to Dubai’s major sightseeing attractions and mainstream events.

Illegal taxi services, lost luggage and a harrowed customer service experience on arrival at busy airports are common problems faced by airports globally.  ‘Welcome to Dubai,’ with its proactive approach to addressing these issues in addition to its ‘warm welcome initiative,’ lays the base for a customer satisfaction experience that other countries with similar issues can surely benefit from.

Visa Delays & Hassles Out The Window, Emiratis to Travel Visa Free To the EU

Starting next year, citizens of the U.A.E will be granted visa free entries to all 28 countries of the European Union.

The Schengen visa free waiver, set to take effect for the UAE by mid-2014 will be an invaluable Customer Service & Comfort measure for the Emirati people.  Delays and hassles at EU state embassies and consulates will no longer be a cause of stress and headache.

Beginning with Britain, not an EU member, taking the initiative in granting Emiratis visa free travel to the UK, for up to a 6 month visit, the vote for a Schengen visa waiver was unanimously approved by the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Friday Nov 13th.  Final approval by the European Parliament will take place in January 2014 making the UAE the first Arab country, 2nd in the Middle East and the 3rd in Islamic states to receive the EU visa waiver.

The move came forward after continuous efforts by UAE foreign policy diplomats backed by UAE’s Foreign Minister of H.H Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahya, pressing for equal treatment of Emirati citizens by the 34 countries that  enjoy ‘visa free status’ or ‘on arrival visas’ to the UAE, calling on them to do the same.

The Schengen visa waiver program will boost bilateral relations, cultural exchange, trade and tourism between the UAE and EU states. With a current travel frequency of 500 weekly flights between the 2 regions, the number of airline trips is significantly set to increase as will trade.  It’s a well- known fact that European countries are popular choices for Emirati shopping sprees and holiday getaways while the UAE is the famed entertainment and shopping capital of the world.  With trade between the 2 regions currently at a €500 billion pound tipping point, the trade figures are significantly set to rise.

Increased tourism and trade will encourage healthy cultural exchange as well as improved hospitality and customer services across all industry domains. Quality customer service will play key in boosting bilateral relations between the two regions.

Middle East Based Airlines Make Their Mark as the Global Leaders of Air Travel

Looks like Middle East based airlines are on a roll. Winning one global award after another, Emirates, Qatar Airways and now Etihad have become the world’s best choice for the ultimate air travel experience.

For the fifth consecutive year, Abu Dhabi based Etihad has won the ‘Leading Airline of the World’ award at the 20th World Travel Awards held in Doha Qatar on Nov 30th 2013.  It won 2 additional awards for ‘World’s Best First Class’ and ‘World’s Best Cabin Crew’.

Dubai based Emirates also scooped up 2 awards for ‘World’s leading airline lounge (Dubai),’ and ‘World’s Leading Airline Rewards Program.’

By the same token, ‘The World Airline Awards,’ hosted by Skytrax in Paris earlier this June ranked Emirates as the ‘World’s Best Airline 2013,’ with Qatar Airways in 2nd place. Qatar Airways was chosen ‘World’s Best Airline’ by Skytrax twice consecutively for 2011 and 2012 while Etihad airlines retained ‘Best First Class’ for the 4th consecutive year.

This string of awards by both global airline ranking systems share one common element the research, ratings, reviews behind the awards and the awards themselves establish the fact that all three Middle East based airlines have taken customer service to a whole new level by setting new benchmarks in customer comfort and luxury travel. The ratings by Skytrax were based on the reviews of 681 airlines and 725 airports and polled by 18 million travelers worldwide while ‘World Travel Awards’ conduct an annual global campaign with online research and assessment systems in place.

GCC Common Currency Set to Launch End of December 2013

The GCC States of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are introducing the long awaited GCC common currency at the end of December this year.

The monetary unit, informally named the ‘Khaleeji’ will be pegged to the US Dollar and will unify the GCC countries on several platforms.

The GCC monetary unit is a part of a long term GCC initiative that includes free trade and visa free travel to neighboring GCC countries for GCC citizens and permanent residents.

With the visa free travel already in place, the GCC states are now ready to strengthen the GCC union further with the launch of the Khaleeji.

The Khaleeji will be the 2nd commonwealth currency to be launched in the world after the Euro. Unlike the Eurozone, the countries of the GCC Union share similar trade practices, political infrastructure, religion and language, serving as a stronger and more stable platform to launch and circulate the currency.

So what are the benefits of the Khaleeji for the ordinary GCC resident? Having one currency instead of several will cut down costs involved in money exchange services. Customers won’t have to worry about buying currency at higher and selling at lower prices or about money changer fees, providing them with more liquid cash with which to shop while travelling to other GCC states.

The ‘Khaleeji’ will also provide more price transparency for consumers and for businesses alike as with one common currency, customers will be able to compare prices of identical or similar products in other GCC States while businesses will be able to better determine and analyze pricing strategies and rates of their competitors in neighboring GCC states.

Virgin Galactic To Revolutionize Commercial Air Travel

Air Travel will soon be taking on a new face. A milestone in customer experience and comfort is soon to be achieved with the launch of Virgin Galactic’s new space travel program, set to launch its first space flight in December this year.

A Richard Branson venture, co-owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar investments, Virgin Galactic aims to launch its first space flight at the end of December this year.  For a round trip ticket to space and back at a cost of DHS 367,000 customers will now be able to see their home planet out of the window from a shuttle in space, a day’s trip and back.

Aabar investments has bought about $280 million, a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic, in return acquiring exclusive regional rights to launch Virgin’s scientific research and tourism space flights from Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E capital itself, turning it into a global space hub.

SXC (Space Expedition Corporation) plans to use this project as a test phase for their long-term goals of commercial travel around the world via space.

“Our aim is to be able to get our customers to anywhere in the world in two hours, But this is still 10 to 15 years away.”

A new era of customer experience and comfort is on the horizon with drastically reduced travel time, passenger comfort will be taken to new levels. Return trips to far corners of the world will now be possible within a day. Now how about that!