A new hotel facing the sea and Dubaiis first vegan-Friendly rooms are on the city skyline, while Sharjah launches its first direct flights to Giza.

We also take a look at how Riyadh metro is taking shape and why more and more Gulf travelers are heading to Germany.

Here’s a roundup of recent travel and tourism news, in case you missed it.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ Riyadh metro nears completion

The King Abdullah Financial District metro station in Riyadh, designed by a UK studio Zaha Hadid Architectsis nearing completion, the design publication said. The seaswhich observed its test trains in operation last week.

The 45,000 square meter station will open early next year and is built to serve the King Abdullah Financial District, one of many megaprojects being developed in Saudi Arabia.

It is one of the 85 stations planned for the Riyadh metro, which will begin receiving passengers next year, and will be one of the largest in the network.

The five-story building, spanning six platforms wrapped in a steel frame, was designed by the late Iraqi-British architect architect Zaha Hadid. His inspiration was drawn from mashrabiya screens and the patterns generated by desert winds.

New beachfront hotel to open in Dubai in November

Next month, the First Collection Waterfront will open in Dubai’s Business Bay, offering 327 rooms and suites, with balconies overlooking the Dubai Canal and skyline.

The four-star hotel is the local hotel brand’s third property, following another location in Business Bay and one in JVC.

Inside the hotel there is a Risen Cafe & Artisanal Bakery, as well as a restaurant serving international cuisine and a rooftop pool bar and lounge. It also has a pool, spa and gym, and the hotel will offer transportation for guests to and from Soluna Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah.

Gulf travelers head to Germany

Tourists from the Gulf prefer German destinations, according to the German National Tourist Office. The authority noted a 593 percent increase in traveler visits to the region in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2021, emphasizing the country’s post-pandemic recovery. It also noted a 40.9 percent increase over last year’s numbers.

The GCC is the third largest Asian outbound market for inbound tourism to Germany, said the tourism board, which has been promoting the country regionally as an ecologically conscious destination with both cultural and natural diversity.

“Both long-time travelers and first-time travelers are increasingly eager to explore all that Germany has to offer,” said Yamina Sofo, director of the German National Tourist Office.

Launch of the first vegan rooms in Dubai

NH Collection Dubai The Palm has launched vegan rooms, the first of its kind in the city. The move comes as part of the hotel’s sustainability ethos, which also includes an in-house water bottling plant, solar panels that generate hot water and the reuse of condensed water from air conditioning for irrigation purposes.

The new rooms are available starting this month and feature eco-friendly bedding, compostable toiletries, vegan snacks and toiletries that are not tested on animals and do not contain animal ingredients.

The hotel also offers plant-based dishes at its food and beverage outlets, which include a café, a pub, a rooftop pool bar and an international restaurant.

“Being the first hotel in Dubai with vegan rooms, we hope to raise awareness about the positive impact of vegan and sustainable options without compromising on comfort and luxury,” said the hotel’s general manager Manish Jha.

Earlier this year, the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental in Abu Dhabi also launched six dedicated vegan rooms.

New luxury properties planned for Switzerland

Three new properties from luxury hotel brand Ultima Collection will open. Swiss for the next two years. Ultima Quai Wilson will launch on the southwestern shore of Lake Geneva in April, offering a lakeside city escape. The property will feature five full-floor private apartments, ranging from three to six bedrooms, as well as a wellness area with a sauna, hammam and two treatment rooms.

Ultima Gstaad Promenade will open in June with a chalet spread over four floors, with eight suites, a separate guest house, a leisure area with a cinema and games room, as well as a spa, sauna, indoor pool and hammam.

After that, Ultima Cologny will open its doors in early 2025 with two lakeside villas with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking Lake Geneva. These feature a 14-metre outdoor swimming pool, a basement with entertainment and wellness facilities, including a gym.

Air Arabia launches non-stop flight to Giza

Passengers from Sharjah will soon be able to fly directly to Giza in Egyptthanks to Air Arabia’s new route to Sphinx International Airport.

Five weekly non-stop flights will begin from December 6, departing the United Arab Emirates at 7:55 p.m. and arriving in Giza at 10:10 p.m. local time. The return leg lands at 4.10 am at Sharjah airport, which recorded more than four million passengers in the third quarter of this year, an increase of 12 percent compared to the same period last year.

The route, which will be served by single-aisle Airbus A320 and A321 neo-LR aircraft, marks Air Arabia’s fourth destination in Egypt, after Cairo, Alexandria and Sohag.

Emirates expands in-flight meal reservation service

Emirates airline has launched an in-flight meal booking service on 92 routes worldwide, with 30 new destinations added last week, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Delhi, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur. This allows business class passengers to pre-select their main course between two weeks and one day before their flight by browsing the in-flight menu on the Emirates website or mobile app.

The service ensures travelers get their preferred meal option, but also helps reduce food waste, the airline said.

More than 10,000 pre-orders have been delivered on more than 3,000 flights and more than 600 requests are made daily. The most popular pre-booked dishes have been fried beef tenderloin with thyme juice, roasted new potato wedges and steamed asparagus, as well as grilled beef tenderloin with creamy wild mushroom sauce, Kenyan beans and gratin potatoes. Suffolk roast chicken with black garlic and potato fondant is also a frequent choice. A cheddar and chive omelet is the most popular for breakfast.

Updated: October 23, 2023 at 11:35 am