Top 25 Headlines: From ATM 2013.



1 Hilton Worldwide plans first dual branded property in KSA

Signing with Mawten Hospitality brings two new hotels to Riyadh

The single-site development for Hilton Garden Inn Riyadh Financial District, KSA and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Riyadh - Financial District, KSA will be located in an area of the north of Riyadh, close to King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD).

Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide Middle East & Africa said that the new signing with Mawten Hospitality signified "Hilton Worldwide's intent to become the pre-eminent hospitality provider in Saudi Arabia."

"We are bringing two of the leading global hospitality brands to a location which is destined to become a sophisticated, bustling metropolis within two years," he added.

Currently under construction, King Abdullah Financial District will be home to many leading international banks, financial institutions and legal firms as well as the site of the headquarters of the Capital Market Authority and Tadawul, the KSA stock exchange.

The 260-room Hilton Garden Inn development and the 110 serviced apartments of DoubleTree Suites by Hilton will share a host of business facilities including a large, multi-purpose function room, eight meeting rooms and four boardrooms.

Hilton Worldwide's KSA pipeline makes up almost one third of the company's total development programme for Middle East & Africa, currently the largest in the region at 59 properties.

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2 First Days Inn hotel opens in Saudi Arabia

First hotel in 10-property deal between Wyndham and Riyada opens

The Wyndham Hotel Group has announced the launch of the Days Hotel Olaya in Riyadh, KSA.

The 56-room hotel is the first of 10 Days Inn hotels planned in the country as part of a development agreement between Riyada International Hotels and Resorts and the Wyndham Hotel Group.

Wyndham Hotel Group president and chief executive officer Eric Danziger said: "We are fully committed to growing our presence in the Gulf and the opportunity within KSA in particular is considerable."

Days Inn is one of the largest brands within Wyndham Hotel Group's portfolio, with the brand comprising more than 1820 properties worldwide. Existing Days Inn hotels in the Middle East include two hotels in Jordan and one in Bahrain.

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3 Abidos takes over Corp Executive Hotel in Dubai

UAE hotel brand's second Dubai property to be situated in Al Barsha

Abidos Hotels announced its second Dubai hotel with the opening of Abidos Hotel Apartments - Al Barsha.

Owned by Al Shafar General Contracting, the deluxe hotel was formerly known as Corp Executive Hotel Apartment - Al Barsha and operated by Hospitality Management Holdings.

Abidos VP Mina Habib said: "Abidos Hotel Apartment - Al Barsha is an outstanding product that has performed consistently well over the last three years with exceptional financial results and a very high reputation among both local and international travellers," he continued.

Featuring a total of 143 fully-furnished one and two bedroom apartments, the property is aimed at both corporate and leisure long or short stay guests.

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4 Ritz-Carlton to open two hotels in Morocco

Rabat urban resort and Marrakech hotel to open in December 2014 and Q3 2016 respectively

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company unveiled plans to open an urban resort in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, as well as a Marrakech hotel located in the Jenan Amar Polo Fields.

The Rabat resort will feature 100 luxury guest rooms, 15 one-bedroom suites and five two-bedroom suite villas with the opening scheduled for December, 2014.

The fortress style Ritz-Carlton Marrakech will feature 60 hotel suites and 20 hotel villas of two, three and five bedrooms, bars and restaurants and a luxury spa.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company president and COO Herve Humler said: "The unique location of the resort, with stunning views on the High Atlas Mountains, will offer our guests an incredibly attractive destination to explore."

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5 Wyndham announces first namesake UAE property in Dubai

Dubai Marina property expected to come online within the next three years

Wyndham Hotel Group has signed an agreement with Sigma III Limited, a subsidiary of the First Group, to manage the first Wyndham Hotels and Resorts branded property in the UAE.

The 33-storey building in Dubai Marina will feature 497 guest rooms including 251 suites.

Other amenities at the hotel will include 6800 ft[sup.2] of F&B outlets, meeting and conference facilities as well as a spa, gym and outdoor pool.

Rui Barros, senior vice president and managing director Europe, Middle East and Africa, of the Wyndham Hotel Group, said: "We are very excited to be bringing our namesake Wyndham Hotels and Resorts brand to Dubai, following its successful introduction to the region through the spectacular Wyndham Grand Regency Doha. I have no doubt that Wyndham Dubai Marina will be another superb addition to the brand, which we are already growing in key cities throughout the Middle East."

Wyndham Hotel and Resorts in Dubai Marina is expected to open within the next three years.

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6 Swiss-Belhotel International signs flagship Bahrain property

Miami Property Co. chairman sees great potential in Bahrain

Swiss-Belhotel International has signed a management agreement with Miami Property Co. to operate its first Bahrain hotel property.

Miami Property Co. chairman, Essa Bokhowa said: "As the 2013 Arab Capital of Tourism we are already seeing new opportunities take shape, buoyed by multi-billion dollar infrastructure development and a growing calendar of world-class, including Formula One, events."

Swiss-Belhotel International's chairman and president, Gavin Faull said the partnership with Miami Property Company is "one of a shared goal to maximise the untapped potential within Bahrain's mid-level hospitality sector".

"The Swiss-Belhotel Seef marks our entry into the Kingdom and, with its prime location in the new CBD, sets an example of the country's bright tourism future," he added.

Scheduled to open for business in the first quarter of 2014, the Swiss-Belhotel Seef is situated in the heart of the new business district and offers 149 guestrooms and suites.

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7 Shaza Hotels announces first opening in Doha

180-room Shaza Doha will partner with celebrity chefs worldwide

Shaza Hotels' regional expansion is set to continue with its first hotel in Doha, Qatar which is due to open spring 2016.

The 180-room and suite hotel will have three dining venues, the signature Shaza Hammam and Spa, a kids' club, and the country's first art gallery integrated into a hotel lobby.

President and CEO of Shaza Hotels Simon Coombs said: "We are very excited to announce the signing of Shaza Doha. Doha is keen to develop and showcase the region's art and heritage."

Shaza Hotels is planning to increase its hotel portfolio across the Middle East region with

upcoming projects in Amman, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Muscat and Riyadh among others.

"Our vision is to create a unique brand for the region that celebrates its many diverse cultures, whilst still delivering international standards of luxury. We will continue to selectively engage with owners and developers who share this vision, and who desire to create innovative hotels that express the local culture with a lasting personality," added Coombs.

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8 Saudi's Frontel reveals ambitious expansion plan

Company launches mid-market 'Eco' brand and plans for growth in UAE, Iran and Pakistan

Saudi Arabia's Frontel for Hospitality Inc is looking to grow its portfolio beyond the Kingdom's borders with a strategic development plan for the Middle East and Pakistan.

The company has already recently renovated the five-star Western Alharithia Hotel in Madina and is set to open its first Frontel-branded property, the 1350-key Frontel Village Hotel in the same city, to be followed by a second 660-room, two 10-storey tower Frontel Hotel Al Baiya Madina property, slated to open 2015.

Frontel is also eyeing the burgeoning mid-market sector and will launch its first three-star property in Jeddah, 2016 with the opening of a Frontel Business hotel under the branding 'Frontel Eco'.

In addition the company is reportedly close to signing three properties in Pakistan, either as the branded operator or on a franchise basis, two of which are in Karachi.

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9 Luxury Collection to debut in Lebanon in 2015

Lebanese mountain resort Grand Hills Hotel & Spa to join Starwood Hotels & Resorts Luxury Collection by 2015

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide revealed that Grand Hills Hotel & Spa in Broumana - an upscale mountain resort town near Beirut, Lebanon - will join its iconic Luxury Collection portfolio in 2015.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts' SVP, acquisitions & development EAME, Bart Carnahan, said: "The addition of Grand Hills to The Luxury Collection brand portfolio underlines our commitment to providing global explorers with authentic travel experiences and exceptional service."

Originally opened in 2000, Grand Hills was designed in a typical Lebanese mountain resort style.

Under Starwood's Luxury Collection brand, the resort will feature 115 rooms and 53 suites, as well as three restaurants and two bars. Leisure facilities at the resort will include three indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, fitness centre, a retail gallery as well as extensive events and conference facilities including two ballrooms.

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10 Rixos Hotels to open multiple Egyptian properties

Projects to span across Egypt including the capital, Cairo

Rixos Hotels has announced multiple new hotel properties planned for Egypt as the Turkish hotelier looks to expand its reach in the country.

The company will open in Cairo as well as in Sharm El Sheikh with a property consisting of three resorts, one boutique hotel and 80 villas - a total of 2576 rooms.

Rixos Hotels chairman Fettah Tamince said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to expand further "in one of the world's most recognised and desired travel destinations".

"We are still finalising a number of projects and they all promise to offer spectacular services for all of those seeking to explore or revisit Egypt enjoying the Rixos art of hospitality," he added.

Guests attending an event to celebrate the news were; H.E. Sherif El Bedewy, the Consul General of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Dubai, Yussra and Nelly Karim, two of Egypt's iconic movie stars and an Egyptian business delegation.

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11 Anantara Doha Island Resort to launch in 2014

Minor Hotel Group has announced the opening of its first hotel in Qatar on an island resort off the Doha coast

The 141-room Anantara Doha Island Resort and Spa is set to open just off the coast of Doha in 2014.

The venture sees Minor Hotel Group partner with the Qatari owned company Al Rayyan Hospitality - the group behind Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels - for its first property in the country.

Located on a 13-hectare island, the new resort will be accessible by speedboat from Doha's downtown area and from The Pearl.

The 141 rooms are split into 96 guest rooms, 34 pool villas and 11 two- and three-bedroom over-water pool villas, while restaurants include contemporary Japanese and an Arabic beach club.

An off-shore reef is also being developed and the resort will be home to a reef conservation centre, giving guests the opportunity to plant their own coral and learn more about the underwater environment via a fully equipped diving centre.

MHG currently has five properties in operation across the UAE with a further three due to open later this year. In addition, 2014 will see the opening of the group's first hotel in neighbouring Oman.

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12 HMH set to open six new properties in the next two years

1300 rooms to be added to company's 3400 room portfolio

Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) is planning to launch six new properties in the next two years.

The group is also aiming to expand its business into newer markets, which will add 1300 rooms to its current portfolio by 2015.

HMH COO Friedrich Albrecht said the company's focus on customer satisfaction had led to "a high organic growth" in the region.

"With the addition of new properties, HMH is looking at a 15% growth in the properties under its management," he asserted.

"Our expansions come with the assurance of continued focus on customer satisfaction and

service offerings by HMH. Part of this focus is also the introduction of an active online reputation management tool launched in association with Olery Reputation to collect and assess guest experiences for all of our properties."

The properties set to launch include Coral Plaza in Muscat; Coral Hotel at Sports City, Dubai; Corp Noor Khartoum; Bada Oasis in the UAE; Ewa Nile Tower, Khartoum and Ewa Port in Sudan.

The Group currently has 25 properties under its current management portfolio, and over 3400 rooms under its management.

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13 RAK-BASED Bin Majid HOTELS & RESORTS unveils AED 150m expansion plan for UAE

New corporate identity and two new properties revealed

Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts announced an AED 150 million expansion plan including a new corporate identity, a newly-opened hotel in Abu Dhabi and two upcoming hotels - a hotel apartment in Abu Dhabi and one in Ras Al Khaimah.

Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts CEO Dalal Sdeddine said: "There's a big potential in this industry and we are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of visitors choosing the UAE as their preferred tourism destination. With the new properties and upcoming ones in the pipeline, we will soon be recognised as a leading hotel and leisure company in the UAE and the region."

The group's new properties consist of the 134 rooms and suites at Nehal Hotel, Abu Dhabi; The Tower Apartment in Abu Dhabi, which will comprise of 230 rooms and suites; and finally the 265-room Santorini hotel located on Marjan Island, the first man-made island project in RAK, which is due to open by the end of 2013.

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14 Banyan Tree eyes ME expansion as RAK revenue doubles

Bangkok-based luxury operator sets Gulf high on the agenda

Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts is eyeing further expansion in the Middle East as revenue increased by more than 50% in 2012, faster than all its other feeder markets including China.

Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts CEO Abid Butt said: "We are really encouraged by the increase in business from the Middle East and hope to build on this momentum. Total room nights grew by 65% and revenue increased by 53%."

Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts will expand its presence in the Middle East with the launch of Angsana Sifah in Oman in 2015. The resort will offer 200 suites and will be part of a development that includes villas, apartments, an 18-hole golf course and a marina.

Parent company Banyan Tree Holdings reported a 3% increase in total revenue and a 51% increase in operating profit in 2012 which it says was largely due to successful hotel investments.

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15 Jumeirah expands in Kuwait, Azerbaijain and Dubai

Hotels in Kuwait and Baku launched; construction to start on Madinat phase VI

As it opened the doors of its debut Kuwait hotel on May 7 2013, Jumeirah Group revealed that its property pipeline is lined up to accelerate expansion.

The company intends to launch its Azerbaijan property "very soon" and will start construction on Phase VI of its Madinat Jumeirah project in Dubai this summer, which will include a seven-storey hotel due to open by the end of 2015.

Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless confirmed that the group's Doha property is also "being discussed again."

Lawless also highlighted Makkah, Medina and Jeddah as key markets "to establish ourselves not only as a regional brand but an international brand."

Currently the group comprises 5006 rooms, suites and residences, with 12 projects under construction and 18 in the pipeline, which have signed agreements with construction but are yet to start.

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16 Katara Hospitality eyes 60 properties by 2030

Current portfolio comprises 6000 rooms operating or under development

Qatar-based hotel developer, owner and operator Katara Hospitality announced major steps forward in the 12 months since its rebrand and has its eye on 60 property openings by 2030.

Katara Hospitality CEO Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla said: "Our new brand was launched last year as a platform for growth. Our goal is to own 30 properties by 2016, with another 30 in place by 2030. Over the last twelve months, we have made important steps forward towards those targets."

Katara Hospitality recently completed the acquisition of Somerset West Bay Doha, the first of three properties to be acquired under an agreement with Barwa Real Estate.

"Today, Katara Hospitality is a company worth more than US $50 billion, with more than 6000 rooms operating or under development, across eleven international markets," added Al-Mulla.

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17 Starwood Hotels becomes first to sign up to Sabre Custom Offers

Programme enables more personalisation for all parties: hotels, travel agents and guests

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc has become the first hotel group to sign up to Sabre Travel's new Custom Offers programme, which launched at ATM.

Working on a trip-centric model, the Custom Offers programme allows the hotel supplier to identify a customer via his/her choices, allowing the hotelier to tailor the product and messaging accordingly through special rates, room upgrades and more.

Speaking exclusively to Hotelier Sabre Travel CEO Daniel Naoumovitch explained: "The hotel can determine how valuable the customer is to them and then present its rates and offers based on that customer's needs."

"However, a hotel group doesn't have to take it on for its entire portfolio, some will take it on just for their regional outlets. It really depends on what they feel suits them and their customer base," added Naoumovitch.

Naoumovitch also suggested that he was hopeful that Movenpick Hotels & Resorts would be the next group to come online.

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18 Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels adds another two properties to portfolio

Qatar-based hotelier announces Al Bidda and Al Jomrok in Doha

Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels plans to launch two five-star hotels in Doha's Souq Waqif.

Known as Al Bidda and Al Jomrok, the hotels will be part of a collection of boutique properties that includes Arumaila, Musheireb and Al Mirqab.

"Since we first introduced the boutique concept in this style and manner to Qatar, the success we have experienced is remarkable," said Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels group director of sales and marketing Abdo Kayali.

"Both Al Bidda and Al Jomrok, each a truly extraordinary development in its own right, will bring something new to the table and only further diversify our offering."

Kayali revealed the two new hotels would offer an Italian and a Lebanese restaurant. The aim of the hotels is to help "promote Doha as a destination," he added."We try to make it a little special. The aim is to promote Doha, not just our collection."

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19 Le Meridien Al Aqah commences US $6.8m renovation in Fujariah

Property to overhaul guest rooms within the next two years

Le Meridien Al Aqah in Fujairah announced plans to refurbish its existing rooms at a cost of US $6.8 million over the next two years.

The rooms will be redesigned to incorporate Le Meridien's new brand design concepts while maintaining local regional touches.

The Fujairah-based property recently completed an AED 10 million (US $2.7 million) refurbishment of its public spaces, including the hotel's entrance, the Al Aqah pool, and Views restaurant.

"We will continue to set the benchmark for hospitality on the East Coast," said GM Patrick Antaki. "An ambitious renovation programme will make way for a new, improved Le Meridien Al Aqah while staying true to the attributes that made us number one."

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20 Anjum Hotel MAKKAH to open doors in Q3 2013

US $1bn hotel to add 1743 rooms and suites to Saudi Arabia's holy city

Saudi Arabia-based Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company (ALJREIC) will inaugurate the Anjum Hotel in Makkah in Q3 of 2013.

The hotel, which is being constructed at a cost of SAR 4 billion (US $ 1 billion), will feature 1743 rooms and suites.

Targeted at religious travellers, the Anjum Hotel will launch in time for Ramadan and is within walking distance of the Masjid Al Haram with an exit and tunnel connected to the new King Abdullah gate.

"We are targeting occupancy of 65% in the first year at an average room rate of SAR 522 ($ 139)," Ahmed Sabry, general manager of the Anjum Hotel, told Hotelier Middle East.

The hotel's services and amenities will include a dedicated guest centre to respond to guest requests, a Manasek desk to assist guests in their religious experience, Kids World for children between the ages of three and seven, and 26 elevators to address the heavy traffic expected during prayer times.

The Anjum Hotel is part of the first phase of the US $ 2.6 billion Jabal Al Ka'aba project in Makkah, which will add 7000 rooms.

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21 Hyatt eyes Saudi expansion

Hotels planned for Riyadh and Makkah; more to follow

Global hotelier Hyatt has announced major plans for expansion in the KSA, revealing two potential openings this year.

The first property in Riyadh - the 253-key Hyatt Regency Olaya - is set to open Q3 this year and will expand the company's footprint in the region, while a second planned property, Hyatt Regency Makkah, a 628-key property scheduled to launch within a year, is well placed to target increasing numbers of religious tourists.

"We are in consensus that markets like Riyadh and Jeddah and religious tourism are strong," Peter Penev director, acquisitions and development, revealed. "We feel those two properties will be good anchors creating a triangle between Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah for our travellers, not only internationally but in the local markets as well."

In addition, Hyatt has a four-star brand Hyatt Place plus a Hyatt House targeting the extended-stay market in the pipeline for Makkah. "Those are 200 keys each and I believe will open by 2015," Penev confirmed.

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22 IMG Worlds of Adventure unveiled at ATM

First phase of 1.5mn ft[sup.2] theme park to open in January 2014 and feature roller coasters and themed attractions

The IMG Worlds of Adventure is set to open in January 2014, Adam Alexander Page, vice president - marketing, told Hotelier.

The theme park, which will be located in Dubai's much-delayed City of Arabia development in Dubailand, will consist of four zones - the Marvel Universe, the Cartoon Network zone, the Lost Valley zone, and the IMG entertainment zone - and include a 12-screen cinema and external F&B and retail areas.

According to Page, construction is currently on track for the facility, which will consist of roller coasters, themed experiences and other attractions. "Rides, the themes, the attractions and different pieces that make up the park are in different parts of the world being made and finalised," he said.

The park is designed to attract around 20,000 visitors per day.

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23 Makarim strengthens hotel presence in Makkah

Sharaco hotel brand signs fifth property in Holy City

Makarim Hospitality Group, the hotel and resorts arm of Saudi Hotels & Resort Company (Sharaco), has signed an operation and management contract with Shorofat Alsafwa Company for a property in Makkah, anticipated to open Q3 2013.

The four-star 104-key room Makarim Shorofat Hotel brings Makarim Hospitality Group's tally in the Holy City to over 1400 rooms across five hotels. In total, the brand comprises more than 2000 hotel rooms overall in the KSA.

Commenting on the deal Dr. Badr said: "The number of clients served in Makarim Hotels has exceeded 2 million, and the growth in occupancy in 2012 reached 12%. This comes in line with the new strategy of the reorganisation of the company, which focuses on expansion in the field of management and operation."

Dr Badr also confirmed that a strong hotel presence in Makkah resulted in a growth of revenue for Makarim of 20% in 2012.

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24 UAE re-joins UNWTO after 26 years

Country to work on initiatives with tourism organisation

The UAE has re-joined UNWTO after a 26 year absence. UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, announced the news during the UNWTO & Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum on Tourism and Aviation.

"The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world in spite of facing countless challenges; much of this dynamism has been led by the strong political commitment awarded to tourism in the region and the vision that tourism is a key pillar of development in the Middle East of which the UAE is a perfect example," said Rifai.

"The UAE plays a central role not only in the development of tourism in the region but also in linking the Middle East with other regions and we expect that by working together we will enhance tourism within and to the Emirates as well as increase regional cooperation."

The UAE and UNWTO will work on several initiatives including the measurement of the economic impact of tourism.

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25 Sharjah develops integrated island project

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority has unveiled the plans for its latest project - Sir Bu Nuair Island

It will be the first integrated tourism project within the islands in the Emirate of Sharjah.

HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said the emirate was witnessing "impressive growth in its tourism sector".

Shurooq announced that the project will be developed at a cost of AED 0.5bn by the year 2017 with the aim of boosting Sharjah's travel and leisure sector with further tourist attractions and forms part of Shurooq's strategy to develop eco-tourism projects around Sharjah.

The project will include a luxury resort, hotel apartments and villas, a camping village, retail shops, a souk, an amphitheatre, a museum, a mosque, an education centre, a harbour and an airport.

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