If your Gulfstream's just too slow, fear not – the supersonic private jet is coming

For the ultra-wealthy, a Gulfstream 650 or a Bombardier 6000 is fine but, given the choice, most would jump at the chance of their own supersonic luxury jet that could whisk them from Abu Dhabi to London in under four hours, or cut the flight time from Dubai to Singapore by about 2 hours.

And that is exactly what they will be offered once the plane maker Aerion, backed by the Texas billionaire Robert Bass, irons out an engine snag.

The selection of an engine supplier for the plane, a sort of private Concorde, which Mr Bass once said would occur in the first half of this year, is now expected to come in 2017, said Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the Nevada-based company.

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Aerion is “making good progress”, Mr Miller said in Orlando, Florida. “We’re taking the time to get to the best decision for all parties.”

Carrying eight to 12 passengers, the AS2 has an intercontinental-capable range of 4,750 nautical miles at supersonic speed, saving three hours across the Atlantic versus subsonic aircraft and more than six hours on longer transpacific routes.

The three-engine jet is due to make its first flight in 2021 and enter service in 2023.

Falling short of the engine goal underscores the difficulty of Aerion’s challenge. The aircraft, known as the AS2, would be the first supersonic civilian plane since Concorde flights were halted in 2003. Aerion’s efforts gained momentum when Airbus agreed in 2014 to help to design and produce the plane, and a fractional-jet ownership company last year ordered 20.

Aerion has considered two dozen engines from various manufacturers, including for civil and military aircraft. The choice is narrowing to a derivative of a civil aircraft power plant that’s already in use, Miller said. He declined to say with whom Aerion is holding discussions.

Supersonic travel is not allowed over the United States and many other countries because of disruption from sonic booms, which occur when a craft exceeds the speed of sound. Aerion plans to operate the jet just below supersonic levels over land and increase velocity over the ocean to Mach 1.5, a speed of some 1,600kph at 35,000 feet.

Of course, to satisfy the demands of the business jetset, the company has spared no expense on the interior.

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The initial fleet purchaser Flexjet, the fractional aircraft operator that announced an order for 20 AS2s last year, said it was not privy to the engine negotiations.

“We have examined Aerion’s technology and the AS2’s remarkable performance capabilities, and see them as potential game-changers for business travel. Aerion and Airbus are moving forward impressively with the AS2’s development,” said Kenneth Ricci, the principal of Flexjet owner Directional Aviation.

In December, Aerion appointed Axon Aviation as its exclusive authorised sales representative for Russia.

Axon Aviation, based in Mayfair, London, specialises in transactions involving the very upper end of business jet aircraft.

“Axon Aviation and its partners Kurosh Tehranchian and Niki Rokni have a stellar track record in representing buyers and sellers of the largest business jets. They have earned the confidence of principals and aircraft operators in the Russian Federation,” said Ernie Edwards, Aerion’s chief commercial officer.

Axon said the faster-than-the-speed-of-sound jet would be well received in Russia.

“From Moscow, Axon’s clients can fly nonstop to Seattle, Singapore, Tokyo and Johannesburg, combining high subsonic portions over land and supersonic segments over water,” noted Mr Rokni, who serves as the Axon head of sales. “To cover these vast distances and save hours doing so is pure genius. It creates precious time for the more important things in life and business.”

Mr Tehranchian added: “Our customers are constantly in motion. Aerion calculates that the AS2 can save them up to 17 12-hour work days a year – and that is based on average subsonic aircraft utilisation. Many of our clients fly much more than the average flight department. They will find the AS2 an indispensable mode of travel.”

Mr Ricci said he hoped Aerion would announce an engine choice soon. According to an industry adage, time kills deals.

“The longer these things take to come to fruition the less likely they become,” Mr Ricci said. “We’re hoping they move along.”

chnelson@thenational.ae

with Bloomberg

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UAE off-road robot could deliver a Dh2 million windfall for Masdar Institute

Masdar Institute researchers are hoping a new robot will deliver a cool Dh2 million to the science facility in a few months time.

The institute is partnering the Swiss-based all-terrain vehicle (ATV) developer Sand-X Motors and the British technology development and engineering company QinetiQ to develop an unmanned rover system (URS) able to thrive in the UAE’s harsh desert environment.

The vehicle will be entered into the Dh1m UAE Drones for Good Award and the Dh1m UAE AI and Robotics for Good Award, the winners of which will be announced in February in Dubai.

As well as the potential of a tasty windfall, the collaboration has its eye on the developing market for so-called mobile robotics. The market intelligence company Transparency Market Research forecasts that the global mobile robotics market, valued US$6.24 billion in 2012, could grow at a CAGR of 12.6 per cent to 2019 and be worth approximately US$14.2bn by then.

The Masdar project will integrate Sand-X’s ATV technology with artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to develop a purpose-built ground vehicle to meet the UAE’s URS needs. The URS programme is expected to lead to the development of a UAE-manufactured unmanned tactical vehicle that will provide logistical solutions, such as route clearance and the provision of relief aid to the front lines and refugee camps safely and securely.

The venture was announced at the URS award kick-off meeting at the weekend, which was hosted by the Defense Services Marketing Council (DSMC). The development programme was conceived as part of Masdar Institute and DSMC’s partnering to achieve innovation in defence & aerospace (Paida) working group.

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“We believe that the URS program will ultimately lead to the development of disruptive technologies that will enable greater vehicle expeditionary mobility without sacrificing survivability,” said Steve Griffiths, the vice president for research and interim associate provost at the Masdar Institute. The collaboration builds on Masdar Institute’s ambition to develop strong platform capabilities in intelligent systems that are revolutionising multiple sectors.”

Some of the capabilities of the robot vehicle will include remote control, which will allow direct human input to drive the vehicle remotely; a “return home” capability, which enables the vehicle to return by fastest means to a fixed point without driver intervention; shuttle abilities, which allow the vehicle to move supplies between bases; and waypoint-follow, which enables the driver to send the vehicle ahead to the waypoint and then return to a preselected destination.

Sand-X will provide the land systems, including all current background intellectual property (IP) and hardware with data packages required by QinetiQ and Masdar Institute to integrate to the existing Sand-X T-ATV 1200 Tracked All-Terrain Vehicle.

QinetiQ was selected to be the chief industrial partner by Paida based on its extensive experience developing and manufacturing cutting-edge autonomous robotic military systems, such as the QinetiQ Raider II, which has capabilities that are achievable on the proposed URS ground vehicle.

“Development of novel autonomous systems that optimise military platforms for operations is a core capability within QinetiQ,” said Iain Farley, the managing director for international at QinetiQ. “We are confident that this collaborative project will build on our previous successes, and support the objectives of the autonomous ground URS programme.”

And the new robot may well deliver the joy of a Dh2m windfall, too.

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Dubai teams up with Danish football star for world's first green sports development

If you want to build the world’s first sustainable sports hub, it is a smart idea to turn to a sportsman with a glittering career behind him – especially if he lives close by.

A new facility in Dubai, designed to boost sport tourism to the emirate, has the international footballer Ebbe Sand at its heart. The Green Sports Hub by Ebbe Sand will be developed at Dubai’s Jumeirah Golf Estates, complete with a zipline, skateboard park, research centre, a hotel, F&B outlets and more.

As well as increasing tourism, the sports facility is meant to encourage local participation in sport across all age groups and is due for completion in late 2018. It will aim to be the premier destination for sports training and leisure in the emirate.

Sand, the Hub project founder who lives in Dubai, is a Danish former professional footballer who played for Denmark’s national football team at the 1998 and 2002 Fifa World Cup, as well as the 2000 and 2004 European Championships. At the 1998 World Cup, he scored the fastest-ever World Cup goal by a substitute – 16 seconds aftercoming on.

At club level he played as a striker for Brøndby in Denmark and FC Schalke 04 in Germany. He was the German Bundesliga top scorer in 2001, and he won the DFB-Pokal, or German Cup, in 2001 and 2002 with Schalke.

Part of Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Phase A, the 500,000 sq ft Hub development was officially launched last night. Hosted by the Jumeirah Golf Estates executive team, Sand was joined by Troels Lund Poulsen, the Danish minister for business and growth.

Expected to open in 2018, the Hub will include a state-of-the-art sports academy, climate lab, swimming pool, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, zip line, skateboard park, martial arts training centre, sports research facility, music & sports play area, sports physio & spa, as well as accessible sports medical facilities. It will be located adjacent to the entry of Jumeirah Golf Estates’ state-of-the-art Clubhouse.

The eco-friendly Hub is modelled on sustainability and is complete with solar power, waste management and water preservation and re-use systems, with its skateboard park designed to act as a reservoir to collect and direct any rainwater to the surrounding greens.

Designed to accommodate local and international sports fans, plans for the Hub also include a sustainable boutique hotel concept, meeting facilities and F&B outlets – with Sand now in talks with local and global operators and anchor tenants eager to lease the space.

“Jumeirah Golf Estates is already a thriving community of families and international visitors, and the launch of Green Sports Hub is a milestone development that cements Jumeirah Golf Estates’ status as the region’s leading residential golf community committed sustainability,” said Yousuf Kazim, the chief executive of Jumeirah Golf Estates. “Through the development of Green Sports Hub by Ebbe Sand, we are committed to supporting the UAE’s sporting stars and aspiring athletes, by providing them with a platform to excel at all levels.”

Sand, the project founder, said: “As a resident of Jumeirah Golf Estates, it is an honour to contribute towards the high-quality facilities that the community has become known for, whilst also providing a first-class framework for training and exercise. Through the Green Sports Hub, I look forward to bringing extensive and varied sporting facilities to Dubai, as well as to creating a vibrant and multi-functional sustainable attraction that is used as a social and educational resource among local and international visitors. The Green Sports Hub will be a community that inspires a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.”

Mr Poulsen pointed to the positive connection between healthy living and sustainability.

“It is a great pleasure to witness in person the incredibly fruitful collaboration between the Ebbe Sand Sports Academy and Jumeirah Golf Estates, which greatly emphasises the enormous potential that exists in creating a link between sustainability, healthy living and high-quality design. I believe this collaboration on designing and building the most sustainable sports complex to date is a great example of how Denmark – with knowledge and experience – and the UAE, with vision, ambitions and capacities, can profit from each other for the benefit of both business and society as a whole. I hope for similar collaborations to appear in the future and for Denmark help reach the strategic goals for the strategies and visions that Dubai has for a greener and more sustainable environment.”

And with a former football star of Sand’s quality onboard, realsing those goals is likely to be more than wishful thinking.

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Abu Dhabi Oil: Forget the 4×4 – now you can go 6×6 with Mercedes' amazing off-road lorry

Off-road vehicles have long been the muscle-car of choice in the UAE but now fans of the big beasts can go one better with a new lorry that promises to knock standard 4x4s into a cocked hat.

Emirates Motor Company (EMC), the Mercedes-Benz authorised distributor in Abu Dhabi and the flagship company of Al Fahim Group, and Daimler Commercial Vehicles Middle East are set to show the Mercedes-Benz Zetros, an off-road utility lorry for extreme operations, at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec). The exhibition will run at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from November 7 to 9.

The robust cab-behind-engine lorry with its ability to haul large and heavy equipment and supplies, will enable EMC to increase its market share in the heavy utility lorry segment. Boasting superior power, robustness and efficiency, the Zetros is available in two and three-axle variants (4×4 and 6×6), offering gross vehicle weight, or maximum operating weight, from 18 to 40 tonnes. The top-of-the-range 3643 AS 6×6 Tractor-head model exhibited at Adipec boasts an impressive gross combination weight – the maximum loaded weight of a lorry tractor plus the trailer or semitrailer designed for use with the tractor – of up to 116 tonnes.

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In-line 6-cylinder engines available for the Zetros range from a 7.2l version with 326hp up to the powerful 12l variant sporting 428hp.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz offers a tailor-made version of the Zetros developed by the in-house Mercedes-Benz Custom Tailored Trucks (CTT) division that can be delivered with a crew-cab providing seating capacity for up to 7 persons.

“We are delighted to introduce our customers in Abu Dhabi to the Mercedes-Benz Zetros during our participation at Adipe,” said Bilal Al Ribi, the EMC Daimler CV general manager. “Offering exceptional ride comfort and stability on the most extreme off-road terrains, the Zetros is ideally suited for tough applications and operations such as mining, oilfields and quarries.

“Given its outstanding high load-bearing capacity and ability to meet today’s extreme operating conditions, we are confident that the Zetros will soon become the preferred choice in the high-performance construction vehicles segment.”

A hallmark of the Zetros is its engine being situated behind the cab. The lorry sports robust planetary hub reduction axles – which help off road and are also good for moving heavy weights without twisting up parts – with high ground clearance and single or twin tyres.

There are up to four differential locks, and a two-stage transfer case, providing the foundation for outstanding capabilities in off-road terrain. Furthermore, a tyre pressure control system offers choices for on and off-road use, driving across sand, and a particularly low air pressure for extreme situations.

So if you fancy the ultimate in off-roading vehicles, why not check out the Zetros – it is sure to scare the living daylights out of other 4×4 drivers.

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BA's Boeing 777 splash down in Oman after first direct flight to Muscat from London

British Airways’ new direct flight between Oman and London touched down at Muscat International Airport on Monday morning as the carrier refocuses its route network including transatlantic operations.

The UK carrier, which first began flying to Oman in 1972, inaugurated the new service with a water cannon salute in the Omani capital upon arrival.

For passengers who previously flew between the two cities via Abu Dhabi, the flying time on the service has been cut to seven hours and 15 minutes, from the previous nine hours and 45 minutes’ journey. The service is operated by the airline’s Boeing 777, five times per week, featuring four cabins classes – first, club world BA’s business class, world traveller plus and world traveller – BA’s economy cabin.

“British Airways has successfully served the Omani market for more than four decades,” said Anjulika Dutton, BA’s commercial manager for the UAE, Oman, Egypt and Central Asia. “During this period, we have witnessed a strong growth in passengers travelling between these two regions, and anticipate that this new direct service will further enhance connectivity for business and leisure travellers between Oman and the UK.”

Departing Muscat International Airport at 10.55am, the flight lands at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at 2.55pm on the same day, with the return journey departing the British capital at 7.50pm and arriving in Muscat at 7.05am the following morning.

Meanwhile, British Airways is planning to rein in capacity on over-supplied North American routes while looking to open up some new destinations, including New Orleans, which it will serve from London Heathrow four times a week from March, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which will get three flights a week from London Gatwick starting in July. It is betting on a transatlantic boost from the weaker pound to help offset the negative impacts of the UK’s Brexit vote.

BA’s dollar bookings will be worth more following Sterling’s near 20 per cent decline against the US currency, while there is scope for higher fares as US carriers rein in capacity, Willie Walsh, chief executive officer of its parent company IAG, said at the weekend.

“With the reduction in capacity that we’re seeing our competitors take, I think that’s an indication of a more positive environment,” Mr Walsh said. “I’d expect that to continue through into 2017. It’s a margin opportunity.”

US operators could also lift the price of tickets sold in the UK to compensate for the lower value of their sterling sales, providing BA with further headroom to increase prices.

IAG reported a third-quarter operating profit of €1.21 billion (Dh4.86bn) and forecasting full-year figure of €2.5bn, both matching analyst estimates. That cuts the stock’s decline since the Brexit poll to 16 percent and values the business at £9.4bn (Dh42.02bn).

“The weak pound improves BA’s cost competitiveness as it particularly competes with dollar-based US carriers who have not seen the currency impact on their cost base but have seen the impact on their revenue base,” Walsh said, likening the carrier to “an exporter.”

US carriers including Delta Air Lines, United Continental and Southwest Airlines have started to increase ticket prices on domestic and international routes in a bid to reverse more than 18 months of depressed fares across the industry as growth outpaced demand. BA operates its trans-Atlantic business as an antitrust immune joint venture with American Airlines, Finnair and sister company Iberia, which means that the four share revenue and are allowed to coordinate prices and timetables.

chnelson@thenational.ae

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Thousands of UAE consumers get compensation for exploding Galaxy Note 7s

Samsung compensated 16,500 Galaxy Note 7 owners across the UAE in the first 10 days of its replacement and compensation programme following a spate of explosions of the device around the globe that was blamed on its batteries.

Sources told Aletihad, the Arabic-language sister newspaper of The National, that the programme over that period covered 55 per cent of all Note 7 phones sold in this country since August 9, a total of some 30,000 phones.

Samsung said it is committed to replacing Note 7s and/or compensating owners whether the phones were bought within the UAE or not.

On October 19, Samsung announced the launch of the programme, and also said it would stop production of the model worldwide.

The sources pointed out that 60 per cent of customers availing of the programme had chosen to replace the Note 7 with the Galaxy S7 Edge, securing compensation of about Dh650. The 40 per cent of customers who rejected any replacement received a full refund.

The exact cause of the battery malfunction is still under investigation, Samsung said.

The company cannot launch its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, without resolving the Note 7 mystery first.

“What is important is clearly investigating the cause,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities. “It cannot develop a new product on top of the imperfect platform of the Galaxy Note 7, which had all of Samsung’s latest technologies.”

Samsung said it expects the Note 7 fiasco to cost it at least US$5.3 billion through early next year.

But despite the exploding batteries debacle, the South Korean company maintained its lead in the global smartphone market in the third quarter.

It had a 20 per cent market share in the quarter, well ahead of number two vendor Apple, according to reports last week from IDC and Strategy Analytics.

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Thousands of UAE residents get compensation for exploding Galaxy Note 7s

Samsung compensated 16,500 Galaxy Note 7 owners across the UAE in the first 10 days of its replacement and compensation programme following a spate of explosions of the device around the globe that was blamed on its batteries.

Sources told Aletihad, the Arabic-language sister newspaper of The National, that the programme over that period covered 55 per cent of all Note 7 phones sold in this country since August 9, a total of some 30,000 phones.

Samsung said it is committed to replacing Note 7s and/or compensating owners whether the phones were bought within the UAE or not.

On October 19, Samsung announced the launch of the programme, and also said it would stop production of the model worldwide.

The sources pointed out that 60 per cent of customers availing of the programme had chosen to replace the Note 7 with the Galaxy S7 Edge, securing compensation of about Dh650. The 40 per cent of customers who rejected any replacement received a full refund.

The exact cause of the battery malfunction is still under investigation, Samsung said.

The company cannot launch its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, without resolving the Note 7 mystery first.

“What is important is clearly investigating the cause,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities. “It cannot develop a new product on top of the imperfect platform of the Galaxy Note 7, which had all of Samsung’s latest technologies.”

Samsung said it expects the Note 7 fiasco to cost it at least US$5.3 billion through early next year.

But despite the exploding batteries debacle, the South Korean company maintained its lead in the global smartphone market in the third quarter.

It had a 20 per cent market share in the quarter, well ahead of number two vendor Apple, according to reports last week from IDC and Strategy Analytics.

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Visitors to Dubai splash far more cash than tourists in other global city hotspots

Visitors to Dubai are “by far” the biggest spenders among tourists to international cities including London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, according to new research by Savills.

Overseas travellers to the emirate spend almost twice the average of 12 cities surveyed by Savills. “The research shows the highest spending visitors, by far, are Dubai’s,” said David Godchaux, the chief executive of Core Savills.

“Overseas visitors, who had an overnight stay in the emirate, spent an estimated US$4.7 billion in restaurants and cafes in Dubai [last year]. In terms of spending on retail, this figure reaches $9.7bn. This dwarfs the total amounts spent in the 11 other global cities measured.”

The emirate also topped the list of overnight visitors from outside the host country with 15.2 million last year, ahead of Singapore at 12.1 million.

Visitors add an average of 3 per cent to a city’s population every night, posing significant opportunities for hotel, leisure and retail operators, according to Savills.

Its 12 Cities report found that about 901 million domestic and overseas visitors were attracted to the cities examined during 2015, spending a total of 1.05 billion nights in hotels or other accommodation. In some cases, such as New York, London and Dubai, the visitor populations hosted were the equivalent of another city in themselves. Dubai’s average overnight visitor numbers per day, for example, is equal to the population of Aswan, the report found.

The split between domestic and overseas visitors varies widely between cities. Domestic visitors in Dubai do not register at all as a percentage in the report, while Moscow topped out at 89 per cent from domestic sources, says Savills. Average accommodation costs per stay range from $173 per person in Shanghai to $553 in Dubai.

“In Paris and Dubai, visitors swell the population by over 10 per cent, creating demand for guest accommodation,” said Mr Godchaux. Visitors to Dubai, he added “spend nearly twice the average of our 12 cities”.

“It is also notable that the biggest visitor cities are also the most expensive for living and workspace,” Mr Godchaux said.

George Nicholas, global head of hotels at Savills, said the growth of tourism worldwide is leading to a shortage of rooms in many cities which, in turn, has shifted the focus of investors’ attraction to hotel assets.

“As global tourism continues to rise demand for bed space in many city markets is now outstripping supply,” he said.

“For example, Tokyo has had an influx of tourists from China following the relaxation of visa requirements and the city now has a chronic shortage of rooms, while in London the fall in the value of the Sterling is attracting visitors who previously thought the UK’s capital too expensive.

“The net result of this is that we’re seeing a shift in where investor appetite for hotel assets and platforms stems from, with Asian capital in particular coming to the fore in Europe over the past 12 months.

“The three transactions to have concluded in London post the EU referendum have all gone to Asian domiciled money, while China Life has just invested nearly $2 billion into a select service portfolio of hotels in the United States alongside Starwood Capital. We continue to receive significant interest from Asian investors, particularly those from China and Hong Kong, for hotels in London and across Europe’s gateway cities.”

It is not just the market for hotels and hotel land upon which international visitors have an impact, said Yolande Barnes, the director of Savills World Research.

Across nine top global cities including Dubai, New York, London and Paris, “annual food and beverage spend by international visitors totals at least $21bn a year and shopping accounts for $38bn,” Ms Barnes said.

“Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are significantly impacted by these revenue inflows so ensuring that there is enough space to accommodate visitors is therefore not just imperative for the hotels sector, but also for the wider city economy.”

The 12 Cities report covered Dubai, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Shanghai, Sydney, Honk Kong, Mumbai, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro.

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Dubai tourists splash far more cash than visitors to other global city hotspots

Visitors to Dubai are “by far” the biggest spenders among tourists to international cities including London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, according to new research by Core Savills.

Overseas travellers to the emirate spend almost twice the average of 12 cities surveyed by Savills. “The research shows the highest spending visitors, by far, are Dubai’s,” said David Godchaux, the chief executive of Core Savills.

“Overseas visitors, who had an overnight stay in the emirate, spent an estimated US$4.7 billion in restaurants and cafes in Dubai [last year]. In terms of spending on retail, this figure reaches $9.7bn. This dwarfs the total amounts spent in the 11 other global cities measured.”

The emirate also topped the list of overnight visitors from outside the host country with 15.2 million last year, ahead of Singapore at 12.1 million.

Visitors add an average of 3 per cent to a city’s population every night, posing significant opportunities for hotel, leisure and retail operators, according to Savills.

Its 12 Cities report found that about 901 million domestic and overseas visitors were attracted to the cities examined during 2015, spending a total of 1.05 billion nights in hotels or other accommodation. In some cases, such as New York, London and Dubai, the visitor populations hosted were the equivalent of another city in themselves. Dubai’s average overnight visitor numbers per day, for example, is equal to the population of Aswan, the report found.

The split between domestic and overseas visitors varies widely between cities. Domestic visitors in Dubai do not register at all as a percentage in the report, while Moscow topped out at 89 per cent from domestic sources, says Savills. Average accommodation costs per stay range from $173 per person in Shanghai to $553 in Dubai.

“In Paris and Dubai, visitors swell the population by over 10 per cent, creating demand for guest accommodation,” said Mr Godchaux. Visitors to Dubai, he added “spend nearly twice the average of our 12 cities”.

“It is also notable that the biggest visitor cities are also the most expensive for living and workspace,” Mr Godchaux said.

George Nicholas, global head of hotels at Savills, said the growth of tourism worldwide is leading to a shortage of rooms in many cities which, in turn, has shifted the focus of investors’ attraction to hotel assets.

“As global tourism continues to rise demand for bed space in many city markets is now outstripping supply,” he said.

“For example, Tokyo has had an influx of tourists from China following the relaxation of visa requirements and the city now has a chronic shortage of rooms, while in London the fall in the value of the Sterling is attracting visitors who previously thought the UK’s capital too expensive.

“The net result of this is that we’re seeing a shift in where investor appetite for hotel assets and platforms stems from, with Asian capital in particular coming to the fore in Europe over the past 12 months.

“The three transactions to have concluded in London post the EU referendum have all gone to Asian domiciled money, while China Life has just invested nearly $2 billion into a select service portfolio of hotels in the United States alongside Starwood Capital. We continue to receive significant interest from Asian investors, particularly those from China and Hong Kong, for hotels in London and across Europe’s gateway cities.”

It is not just the market for hotels and hotel land upon which international visitors have an impact, said Yolande Barnes, the director of Savills World Research.

Across nine top global cities including Dubai, New York, London and Paris, “annual food and beverage spend by international visitors totals at least $21bn a year and shopping accounts for $38bn,” Ms Barnes said.

“Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are significantly impacted by these revenue inflows so ensuring that there is enough space to accommodate visitors is therefore not just imperative for the hotels sector, but also for the wider city economy.”

The 12 Cities report covered Dubai, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Shanghai, Sydney, Honk Kong, Mumbai, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro.

chnelson@thenational.ae

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New Emirates A380 Doha route set to boost trade between UAE and Qatar

Emirates will upgrade one of its nine daily flights between Dubai and Doha to an Airbus A380 from 1 December.

The increase in capacity between Dubai and Doha will help to strengthen trade between the UAE and Qatar, the airline said. The UAE is Qatar’s fifth-largest trading partner with bilateral trade volumes reaching more than US$7 billion in 2015. This is expected to grow as more investment opportunities open up in the next few years as Dubai sets to host Expo 2020, in addition to Doha hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2022.

Emirates currently has 85 A380s in service and 57 pending delivery, more than any other airline globally.

The carrier recently boosted its services to Doha with two additional flights, taking its total to nine daily services and making the Qatari capital the most served destination in the airline’s network.

Demand has been steadily increasing between Dubai and Doha, with more than 700,000 passengers carried since January of this year alone. Once launched, Doha will be Emirates’ 45th destination for the flagship super jumbo. Doha will also become the world’s shortest scheduled A380 flight, flying a distance of 379 kilometres each way.

The upgrade to the A380 will provide Emirates the increased ability to serve growing demand for travel out of Doha. The deployment of the A380 operation was made possible through the support of the Qatari Authorities.

The Emirates A380 will be deployed as EK 841, which will depart Dubai at 07.45hrs arriving in Doha at 08.05hrs. The return flight, EK 842 will depart Doha at 09.50hrs arriving in Dubai at 12.00hrs. The timing of the A380 service will provide business and leisure travellers connections of under four hours to some of the most popular onwards destinations serviced by the Emirates’ aircraft including; New York, London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Manchester, Dusseldorf, Milan, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam.

The A380 deployed to Doha will be set in a three-class configuration, with 429 seats in economy on the main deck, 76 flat-bed seats in business and 14 first-class private suites on the upper deck, enabling Emirates to serve increased premium demand to and from Doha.

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