BTN interview: Shahab Shayan, senior manager, international operations, Dubai Tourism | Focus

first_img– Advertisement – OlderRevelton Suites have once again won the World Travel Awards “On top of that, we are trying to make sure safeguards for residents and for visitors coming to the destination are being met. “There are frameworks from the World Travel & Tourism Council, called Safe Travels, as well as the Dubai Assured programme, both of which are being adhered to across the emirate. “All customer touchpoints, across hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls have seen the regulations enforced – all public spots.“Checks are carried out on a bi-weekly basis; we send inspectors in to make sure all necessary protocols are being implemented.”This was due to be a banner year for Dubai, with the emirate hoping to welcome 20 million international guests for the first time.While the figure will not now be achieved, a domestic boom has made up for some of the short-fall, with plans in place to ensure growth returns in 2021.Shayan explains: “We have seen a big domestic boom in tourism since we reopened in July. “We had around 750 hotels open in Dubai pre-pandemic, in February this year, and we currently have around 600 open. “There has been some international visitation, and we are looking at a positive feeling moving forward.“At this stage we are not able to put a figure on how many guests we will welcome this year, with hotels opening and closing, it has been a more complex situation than normal.“However, we hope to have some numbers out by the end of the year.”While the market looks likely to remain subdued in the short-term, investment has continued to flow into the emirate, suggesting confidence in a long-term return. Sofitel Dubai the Obelisk recently became the latest in a long line of hotels to open this year, while properties set to come onto the market in coming months will allow the emirate to reach previously untapped segments. Shayan continues: “There are new properties opening, which does show the strength of the industry here in Dubai. “We have the Sofitel Dubai the Obelisk which has recently opened, while there is also the Rove La Mer Beach. “The latter is an affordable hotel, aimed at families who want to be right next to the beach, but do not want to pay Palm Jumeirah prices – really for those in the know. “There is also the Riu Dubai, a four-star beach resort, the first of its type here in Dubai – with around 400-keys. “These are all very exciting openings and show our strength in the long term.”Of course, there would be little point opening new rooms if travellers were unable to get to the emirate. Flag-carrier Emirates has been instrumental in the success of Dubai as a tourism destination over the past three decades, and there has been no change this year.“Emirates remains one of our key strategic partners and they really have been since the emergence of Dubai on the world hospitality map,” says Shayan. “They have done a fantastic job throughout the pandemic, initially by providing insurance for travellers, which has now been extended until the end of the year.“They have also gone back to two thirds of their network, and they are now flying to over 90 destinations. “Emirates has also given residents who want to come back to Dubai a chance to do so, and this has been getting some very positive feedback.”The carrier most recently returned to a series of European cities, while it has also been at the forefront of Covid-19 testing. Over the summer months, when demand is traditionally low, even without a global pandemic raging, Dubai has also worked to develop new markets.New types of visa are now on offer, both to those looking to ‘work-from-home’ in Dubai, or considering somewhere to retire.Both are part of a wider plan to grow the emirate in new directions, explains Shayan: “As a destination we always need to look at how we can evolve, looking at different angles of how we can introduce different people to what is on offer here.“There is a big belief at Dubai Tourism that this is a city for all, and we try to showcase that through products we have, as well as through the initiatives we launch.”He adds: “The two new visas are an example of that. “The retirement visa is pretty straightforward, it is aimed at people who have been to Dubai before, who have spent some time here and are looking for a destination which has sun, sea and sand. “They know their retirement funds are doing well, there is no complicated paperwork, and it is an easy step forward. “Secondly, I think the work visa is one of most exciting things we have done during the pandemic. “In this new day-and-age, with people working from home, what better place to work from than by the pool here in Dubai?“We have the perfect eco-system to support this market, and we have had major success in terms of enquiries on this – people asking how they can make the move.“This is a nice alternative to people who might have travelled to Dubai, who can now spend some time here longer-term.” As attention turns to next year, and a possible Covid-19 vaccine brings hope to the global hospitality market, Dubai is well placed to return to growth. The rescheduled Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a focal point for the year, while there is optimism Covid-19 regulations might eventually be relaxed. Shayan continues: “Expo 2020 Dubai will now take place in October next year, running into March 2022. “There are a lot of fantastic people working on the project and they are looking into how best we can showcase the experience of an event of this kind in the post-pandemic world.“I think, with the expo itself, it is really meant to be an event for all.“A lot of people initially thought it was for a business market, but this is not the case – it is very much aimed at the public, offering a chance to come and learn. “The team, right now, are examining how they can come back stronger, to reassure everybody things are going to be managed well.”In closing, Shayan says Dubai is now once again very much open for business: “Dubai is really open for all, and with the different protocols and measures we have put in place we are very confident we are ready to welcome people safely. “The message is very much that we are ready.”More InformationDubai is considered the Middle East’s Leading Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards. Find out more about visiting on the official website. Combined, these measures have allowed the city to curtail the growth of the pandemic, and led to the return of something like normal life. As Shahab Shayan, senior manager for international operations at Dubai Tourism, tells Breaking Travel News: “We reopened on July 7th, and since then we have made sure there are strict guidelines and protocols in place, and that they are followed. “We have used the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, which are essentially to test, test and test – so far, we have carried out around 14 million tests here in the United Arab Emirates. – Advertisement –center_img With an economy dependent on international tourism, it was no surprise to see Dubai reopen its doors to travellers in July. The commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates counts on the sector for over ten per cent of gross domestic product, or upward of US$30 billion, each year.- Advertisement – However, what was not inevitable, was the success the emirate has welcomed over the following months.A strict testing regime at Dubai International Airport sees all guests checked for Covid-19 on arrival, limiting imported cases.At the same time, comprehensive protocols govern the day-to-day actions of both residents and guests across the emirate.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Don’t be duped: Trump, Republicans want to raise your taxes

first_imgAt some point, the government will need to pay its bills, through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.Virtually any future deficit-reduction plan — except for a repeal of the Trump tax plan — would hurt most families more than his plan helps them.This chain of events has happened before.The Reagan and Bush tax cuts may have at first seemed to help the middle class and poor.But the deficits led to later cuts in education, medical research, transportation and anti-poverty programs that almost surely erased the benefits of a modest tax cut.Already, today’s congressional leaders are talking about sizable cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.Trump and his allies are feverishly trying to claim their plan really would benefit the middle class. Last week, a precursor bill barely passed the House, receiving 20 no votes from Republicans, many worried about the tax increases.Republican leaders certainly have a path to passing a tax bill, because nothing unites modern Republicans the way a tax cut does.But the opposition to the recent health care bills also started as an underdog and managed to prevail, by relentlessly talking about the bills’ effects.When enough Americans understood the truth, enough members of Congress felt pressure to vote no.The same could happen on taxes. It is starting to.Recent polls suggest the plan’s approval rating is only about 30 percent.To understand the Trump tax increases, you should first acknowledge the most admirable feature of his plan. It doesn’t aspire to be merely a tax cut. Trump’s plan would not actually cut taxes for many middle-class families. It would raise them.These families are in the minority, yes. But there are a lot of them.About 17 percent of households earning between $50,000 and $150,000 would see their taxes rise immediately, according to the only rigorous analysis so far, by the Tax Policy Center.Among households earning between $150,000 and $250,000, the share is about 35 percent.These numbers would grow over time, for reasons I’ll explain.Ultimately, the plan would be likely to hurt the finances of the vast majority of Americans.No wonder it is starting to look politically vulnerable. It aspires to be tax reform — both cuts and increases. Some deductions shrink, while rates fall, in the name of simplifying the tax code.But after this promising start, the plan commits its cardinal sin.It places the highest priority on huge tax cuts for the very wealthy.They get lower rates and get to keep cherished tax breaks, like the “carried interest” loophole.Herbert Hoover’s Republican Party wanted to put a chicken in every pot. Donald Trump’s wants to put a yacht at every private dock.Having lavished so much money on the wealthy, the tax package — or at least the vague framework that the administration has released — doesn’t have much remaining to spend on middle class and poor families.For them, the package is a mix of pluses and minuses. Their latest talking point is the notion that corporate tax cuts will create an indirect windfall for workers.Funny, though, how the wealthy get most of the direct benefits, while everyone else has to hope for indirect ones somehow to materialize.The main lesson of this year’s health care battle was the political power of facts.They don’t always win the day, but it’s better to have them as an ally than an enemy.Right now, facts are the biggest problem for Trump’s tax plan.David Leonhardt is New York Times columnist writing from a liberal progressive perspective. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes Many face a lower tax rate, but some face a higher one, and many families lose deductions. The combination creates a lot of losers.Reduced deductions for children, for example, hurt large families, notes NYU’s Lily Batchelder.And the deduction for state and local taxes — also a target for cuts — now benefits 30 percent of households nationwide.It was the main reason for last week’s House defections, and the tensions over it haven’t been resolved.Then there are the long-term problems I mentioned earlier.First, Trump’s plan takes a skimpy approach to inflation adjustments, which will push many families into higher tax brackets over time.Second, the plan would radically increase the federal deficit, and when it comes to the deficit, what goes up must eventually come down. Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe old formula for passing a big tax cut for the rich was simple: Package it with a modest tax cut for the middle class — and talk endlessly about the middle-class part.President Donald Trump and Congress are following the formula in some ways.Their plan would deliver an average tax cut of $700,000 to the nation’s 175,000 richest families. That’s enough for each to buy a new 50-foot yacht, annually.Meanwhile, Trump and other Republican leaders keep repeating “middle class,” “middle class,” “middle class.”Yet there is also a major difference between the current plan and George W. Bush’s tax cut or Ronald Reagan’s.last_img read more

Extra-time: Exeter 0 Brentford 0

first_imgExeter 0 Brentford 0Brentford dominated the second half but were unable to find a way through as their EFL Cup first-round clash went to extra-time.There was an injury concern for the Bees early on when Alan McCormack limped off, to be replaced by Ryan Woods.The game was largely devoid of goalmouth action until late in the first half, when Philipp Hofmann headed a corner wide of the far post and Josh Clarke drew a comfortable save from Exeter keeper Bobby Olejnik.Woods went closest to breaking the deadlock on 64 minutes as he fired just past the post, while at the other end Exeter substitute David Wheeler volleyed over and Ollie Watkins’ shot from 25 yards was saved by Jack Bonham in the Bees goal.The hosts named 15-year-old Ethan Ampadu, son of former Leyton Orient man Kwame, in their starting line-up, and the Grecians’ youngest-ever player looked very composed.But Brentford made most of the running as the game went on and Emmanuel Ledesma, making his competitive debut after signing on non-contract terms earlier in the day, saw a free-kick saved by Olejnik, while Sam Saunders shot into the side netting.However, despite five minutes of second-half stoppage time, neither side could find a winner, forcing extra-time.Brentford: Bonham; Holldack, Dean, Egan, Field; Yennaris, McCormack (Woods 12); Clarke, Saunders, Ledesma; Hofmann (Hogan 76). Subs: Bentley, Elder, Cole, Kerschbaumer, Shaibu.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

YSR Reddy charged with nepotism as party members favoured

first_imgYS ReddyThree gone, two to go, and most of what Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has to show by way of performance gravitates towards damning controversies and scurrilous cover-ups. On May 14, to commemorate the completion of three years in office, the chief minister has convened a rally in Hyderabad where he,YS ReddyThree gone, two to go, and most of what Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has to show by way of performance gravitates towards damning controversies and scurrilous cover-ups. On May 14, to commemorate the completion of three years in office, the chief minister has convened a rally in Hyderabad where he and his ministers will take a fresh oath to work harder towards fulfilling the promises made during the Assembly elections. Christened Rededication Day, it comes across as yet another superfluous, signature-style posturing to set right in the next 24 months all the wrongs of the last three years.Aggressive and gritty, Reddy for now is concentrating on fending off charges of nepotism. Friends, relatives and Congress activists have been pampered with large stretches of prime land at throw away prices to later sell these and pocket rich dividends, it has been alleged. Even as these rumours gain credence, fresh allegations have surfaced implicating the Government of pressuring the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority to change the alignment and contour of the Outer Ring Road skirting the city. The motive, according to the whispers doing the rounds, is to again allow enterprising Congress supporters purchase land flanking the radial road from unlettered farmers and other gullible sellers for a pittance only to make handsome profits later. The Government, too, has acquired land from the farmers at prices far below the market rates.NO ACTION TAKENRecommendations by judicial inquiry commissions initiated by the Reddy Government have largely failed to elicit any action.A. GOPAL RAO COMMISSION September 2004advertisementInvestigated the motive behind the murders in Anantapur over a period of 15 years. Scope widened to include the murder of ex-TDP minister Paritala Ravindra. Submitted report in March 2006. Ravindra’s murder, it concluded, was a fallout of personal enmity and non-political acrimony. No action taken.VAMAN RAO COMMISSION October 2004Probed allegations pertaining to academic and administrative affairs of the Andhra University and the role of its then vice-chancellor Y.C. Simhadri. Submitted report in March 2005. Endorsed the vice-chancellor’s decision to suspend four employees but the Government chose to reinstate them. Admonished the university’s Executive Council members, but none resigned.A. VENKATARAMI REDDY COMMISSION June 2005Looked into the entire gamut of temple land allotments since 1995. Submitted report in May 2006. No action taken on the report that confirmed sale of temple plots and wilful encroachment on temple land. Three deputy commissioners, one assistant commissioner and eight executive officers were suspended. One of the deputy commissioners has retired while the other two were reinstated under the directives of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.T.H.B. CHALAPATHY COMMISSION October 2005Around 10 months after it was initiated to probe alleged irregularities in the selection of BHC Agro (India) as consultants for the Kuppam drip and sprinkler irrigation project, allegations of misappropriation in payment of consultancy charge to the company emerged. Questions were raised as to whether the company possessed the requisite technology, knowledge and capability. Also under the scanner were the pros and cons of importing heavy duty machinery from Israel at a huge cost and whether it was being put to proper use. Justice Chalapathy, on a token salary of a rupee a month, is to present his report by April 30.Still smarting from the rap from farmers that cost him his chair after nine years in power, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has seized this opportunity to strengthen his ties with the sector. Notching up the pitch of the campaign, the TDP in September last year had forced Reddy to agree to judicial inquiries into the mounting allegations.But he is yet to act on that promise, inexplicably delaying appointment of the requisite retired high court judges. Instead, the chief minister has tactfully shifted focus to the controversial allotment of government land worth Rs 1,000 crore to the US-based sports event management group, IMG Bharata Academy, during the TDP rule. The land was allegedly sold for Rs 50,000 an acre. As intended, the move has temporarily dislodged Naidu from his high pedestal.On the sidelines, Eenadu, the largest circulated Telugu daily, is at the receiving end of Reddy’s wily countermoves delivered oh-so-subtly. Strident in its criticism of the ruling party, its rather shrill campaign was initially brushed aside by Reddy as a right enjoyed by the media in a democracy. The indulgence was short-lived. The indignation singed its owner and Chief Editor Ramoji Rao. V. Arun Kumar, a Congress MP and staunch Reddy loyalist, picked up the gauntlet and wielded the Right to Information Act to ferret out details of how Rao had accumulated huge sums in different financial entities, including a certain Margadarsi Financiers incorporated as an Hindu Undivided Family concern. Stunned, Rao tried to stall any detailed inquiry by seeking court intervention but failed to prevent investigators from collecting its books to pore over its accounts. “All this is a convoluted attempt to attack the freedom of the press and stifle democratic rights,” says Naidu. Unfazed, Reddy argues that “being a newspaper owner does not give Ramoji Rao the right to commit any irregularities”.advertisementWork in ProgressAs for the allegations against his Government and those in his coterie of acquiring land at cheap rates, Reddy has ordered three separate judicial inquiries. “The Government has nothing to hide and has, therefore, agreed to the separate judicial inquiries. Further, if anyone is found guilty they will not be spared,” he asserted. Candid but hardly convincing, considering that of the six judicial commissions announced since Reddy took over as chief minister, only two have submitted their findings and recommendations, all of which have ever since been confined to paper.Of the three proposed inquiries, the first would probe allotment of 487.20 acres of government land in Reddy’s home district, Kadapa, to RaghuramCements, a company in which the chief minister’s son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy is a director. No sooner had the state Cabinet approved of the sale at Rs 1,00,000 an acre, as recommended by the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA), that rival parties kicked up a storm alleging that the Reddys were influencing the terms. The company retaliated by offering to consider buying the land in an auction rather than through direct sale, taking into account the prevailing market price of Rs 25,000 per acre for the best portions and the Government’s decision to fix the base price at Rs 50,000. The Government has accepted the proposal. Jaganmohan was appointed a director of Raghuram Cements-promoted initially by TDP Rajya Sabha member C. Ramachandraiah-on December 1 last year, not long after the Government sanctioned the lease of several acres of land for limestone quarrying to the company earlier in March. The ruling party gave the go-ahead after cancelling the previous lease to Gujarat Ambuja Cements as it had failed to set up the proposed factory more than five years after allotment of land on July 11, 2000 by the TDP ministry.Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan CampYet another judicial probe will be conducted into the alleged embezzlement of funds to the tune of Rs 40 crore doled out by the Centre for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Allotted for improving Government schools, the unutilised amount that had been returned to Hyderabad is believed to have been siphoned off by a former schoolteacher and advertising agency owner, Sarasa Devi, in connivance with a SSA staff member N. Subramaniam. To the Government’s chagrin, Devi tried to wriggle out on the pretext of her association with Suryapratap Reddy. Sureedu to close friends and associates, Suryapratap has been Reddy’s private gunman for more than three decades and is currently attached to the Chief Minister’s Office. This, despite the Department of Vigilance and Enforcement issuing as many as eight notices since 2001, cautioning the Government about siphoning of funds.Encroachment of 969 acres of Government land at Nadergul in the eastern suburbs of Hyderabad reportedly by Congress activists will be thefocus of the third inquiry. One of the accused is a close associate of the chief minister’s Public Affairs Adviser K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao. Reddy’s initial order for an inquiry into the ownership, possession and alienation of the land by the CCLA invited a roar from the TDP, forcing him to order a judicial probe.advertisementThe Government now has to identify and appoint the retired high court judges, frame the terms of reference and, perhaps, set a deadline for the reports. No doubt it is in the interests of the Congress and Reddy to get the inquiry reports out ahead of the polls and, if there is nothing damaging in the findings, to make them public. “The attitude of the TDP poses the main problem,” says Reddy. “It is finding it difficult to play the role of a responsible Opposition. If we do anything, they say it is corruption. If they do anything, they say it is development. Even if I cut my head and place it on the table for the sake of development, the TDP will say there is something fishy about it.” But neither Reddy’s protestations nor the findings of the inquiry commissions may bail out the ruling party already faced with the spectre of anti-incumbency in the next general elections. “If we return to power, we will probe, review and cancel all land deals entered into by the Congress Government. None of it was fair and were only intended to help Congress leaders and their relatives,” says Naidu.Undeterred, the chief minister is banking on project Jalayagnam to do the trick. “We have created an additional ayacut of 12 lakh acres for irrigation in three years compared to 10.59 acres during the nine years of TDP rule,” says Reddy. Agrees G.R.S. Rao, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy, Hyderabad: “He is trying to do in five years what normally takes 10 to 15 years. But he has not backed it with adequate political and administrative systems.” With water available for irrigation, the chief minister is optimistic of wooing a majority of the voters in the countryside. Now, if only the monsoon in this and the coming year shows munificence in keeping his hopes afloat.last_img read more