Travel Unpacked: Abu Dhabi park wins global award and Bahrain to host major tourism event

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

Adrenark Adventure indoor park has won an award for the world's best family entertainment centre. Victor Besa / The National
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A new visitor centre opens in Dubai, while an old house is reopened to the public in Sharjah and a park in Abu Dhabi is honoured with a prestigious global award.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, a major gastronomy tourism event is headed to the region.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

Bahrain to host Middle East’s first major gastronomy tourism event

The World Tourism Organisation has selected Bahrain to host the ninth UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism next year, the world’s largest event of its kind. This will be the first time it comes to the Middle East.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the eighth annual forum, which took place from Thursday to Saturday in San Sebastian, Spain.

It aims to promote the exchange of expertise in tourism and gastronomy, including identifying good practices and promoting food experiences as a main factor in destination development.

“As this region experiences rapid development in tourism, we are thrilled to showcase Bahrain's rich heritage and the unique spirit of sharing embedded in its gastronomy – a driver of inclusive tourism development,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of UNWTO.

Nasser Qaedi, chief executive of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, added: “This prominent event will serve as an ideal platform to offer the best innovative solutions to elevate gastronomy tourism, highlighting the kingdom’s outstanding gourmet and culinary experience based on its rich legacy, intersection of civilisations and cultures, local cuisine diversity and its fame for diverse tastes, which will positively support tourism product diversity and increase inbound tourism influx.”

Amanjena helps in Morocco’s tourism sector recovery

As Morocco continues to recover after a devastating earthquake and its aftershocks destroyed several rural villages around Marrakesh, Amanjena is offering new experiences to attract tourists.

The resort, which is just outside Marrakesh, has a number of updates for the autumn travel season, including eight new pool pavilions, an offer for one free night when booking three or more until March 31, and the introduction of three-night well-being and golf retreats.

Guests also have the opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Brahim family in their home in the Atlas Mountains, where they can enjoy a home-cooked Berber meal. Sidi Brahim and his son, Said, will take visitors on a walking tour through the village of L’Arbaa Tighdouine.

All proceeds go directly to the family, to help support their loved ones and neighbours who were affected by the earthquake.

New visitor centre opens at Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

An immersive introduction to the UAE’s indigenous flora and fauna awaits at Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve’s new visitor centre, which opened in time for World Animal Day on Wednesday. The centre will also educate visitors on the reserve – the UAE’s first national park – and its work to conserve its ecosystem.

It is split into five areas. This includes the reception hall, where photography highlights Arabian Oryx in their natural habitat, alongside an interactive kiosk where visitors can explore a map of the reserve. Then there's a cultural hall, which showcases the reserve’s milestones.

Elsewhere, the AV hall, or “mini cinema”, screens a short feature film on the reserve, while the habitat hall is where 3D-printed models, holographic displays and interactive exhibits introduce people to the local area’s flora and fauna.

Finally, the nocturnal hall features a dome display using the latest technology to offer viewers an immersive introduction to the nocturnal wildlife of Dubai.

Walk-in visitors can enter the centre for Dh35 for adults and Dh25 for children.

Abu Dhabi park named best family entertainment centre in the world

Adrenark Adventure has been named the Best Family Entertainment Centre in the World at this year’s Park World Excellence Awards.

The park, which features 20 interactive activities for children and adults, is located in Abu Dhabi’s waterfront destination, Al Qana.

The awards, which have been running since 2018, nominate the best parks around the world.

This year’s ceremony took place at the end of last month in Austria. It was also announced at the event that Adrenark will introduce a new inflatable park later this year.

“The awards this year have showcased and featured amazing attractions and experiences from across the world including Walt Disney properties and some of the UK’s biggest tourist destinations,” said Fouad Mashal, chief executive of Al Barakah International Investment, developer and operator of Al Qana.

“The nominations for both Adrenark and Pixoul Gaming really cement Abu Dhabi’s unstoppable innovation in entertainment for families, and to win with Adrenark, puts us right on the map as the world's best.”

Austria to introduce luxurious new sleeper trains

An Austrian railway operator has unveiled new sleeper trains that will raise the benchmark for luxury in rail travel, which is making a comeback as more travellers seek eco-friendly transportation options.

The 33 new trains by state-owned OeBB, which has 20 rail routes across Europe, feature more privacy and facilities, including two-person compartments with en suite toilets and a shower. There are also single-person cabins for solo travellers.

The first could enter service in December and will connect Vienna and Innsbruck to the German city of Hamburg.

The rest will be rolled out until 2028 and introduced on other routes through Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The operator, whose sleeper trains have all been powered by renewable energy since 2018, is also reintroducing its Berlin to Paris night train service on December 11, nine years after it was cancelled.

Kalba’s Bait Sheikh Saeed bin Hamad Al Qasimi reopens to the public

Bait Sheikh Saeed bin Hamad Al Qasimi, an 1899 house that served as a centre of governance and residence of the late Sheikh’s family, has reopened to the public in Kalba, Sharjah.

The museum is located opposite Kalba’s fort and provides visitors with an insight into Emirati life in pre-oil times, and tracks the region’s history through a collection of preserved relics. This includes a Sahili khanjar (traditional coastal dagger) with leather scabbard cover decorated with silver and gold wires, plus a matchlock gun known as Um-Fateela adorned with sheet silver. There are also several traditional household items, from copper coffee pots to a decorated wooden cradle suspended from the ceiling to protect children from insects.

“Rejuvenating the house's role as a cultural and heritage centre demonstrates Sharjah Museums Authority's unwavering commitment to heighten public consciousness about the emirate's rich historical and cultural tapestry,” said Aisha Rashid Deemas, the director general of Sharjah Museums Authority.

“With its diverse exhibits, the house gifts visitors with precious glimpses into the lifestyle and practices of its bygone era, thereby preserving and honouring our collective heritage for future generations to appreciate.”

Updated: October 09, 2023, 10:09 AM