Qureshi and Bopanna Win Stockholm Open

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

France Tennis French Open

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi  won the Stockholm Open men’s doubles tennis title with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares here on Sunday.

It was the top-seeded India-Pakistan pair’s second ATP World Tour title of the season following their victory at the Gerry Weber Open in June and their third title overall as a team. Bopanna and Qureshi are ranked seventh overall in the ATP men’s doubles team rankings, and they added 250 points after their win, thus improving their chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour. There are three remaining spots in the eight team field of the season finale to be held in London next month.

“It feels great to have won our second title of the year and this is the best way to keep ourselves in contention for a berth in London,”announced Bopanna.“Bopanna and Qureshi were the better players from the first to the last ball today. They initiated quite early in the game and Melo/Soares couldn’t quite hang with the pace,” said Tournament Director Thomas Johansson.

After the match Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi thanked his partner and the support of the Pakistanis in the audience.“We hope to come back next year and win the title again,” said Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi after the match. Qureshi and Bopanna are next scheduled to play in the Valencia Open 500 in Austria.

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Dubai Hotels Aim to Pick Up Pilgrim Trade During Ramadan

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The National

Atlantis_Hotel_in_Dubai

Atlantis Hotel in Dubai.

Hoteliers in Dubai are trying to tempt pilgrims to stop over in the emirate on their way to Saudi Arabia to make up for an expected slump in business next month during Ramadan.

The GCC is usually the most important market for Dubai hotels during the summer months, a low season for the industry as many Europeans are put off by the soaring temperatures.

This year, Ramadan takes place throughout August. Most GCC nationals prefer to spend the holy month at home.

The dual impact of Ramadan falling during the slowest month in the year has prompted hoteliers to launch “pilgrim packages” as they seek out alternative markets. Ramadan is a peak time for umrah trips to Saudi Arabia. About 4 million pilgrims travelled to Saudi Arabia for umrah throughout last year.

“We are trying to link the stopover for many of the Muslims who are travelling from India, Pakistan, Iran, and they go for umrah in Saudi Arabia,” said Habib Khan, the general manager of the Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa in Dubai. He said the packages were likely to include iftars and suhoors.

Indonesia and Malaysia were other potential markets for this business, he said, adding that the pilgrims could be persuaded to stop over either on the way to Saudi Arabia or on their way back.

“That’s an opportunity to give them a special offer and reach out to them,” Mr Khan said. “If they get a good offer, they will stop over and stay for two or three nights.”

The Ramada hotel in the Downtown Burj Khalifa area is also trying to attract pilgrims, aiming to draw stopover business from the large Muslim communities in South Africa and the UK.

“They have to transit via Dubai,” said Wael El Behi, the executive assistant manager at Ramada Downtown Dubai. “This is another market which can generate a good proportion of business. There is another factor to consider, which is the inventory in town.

“The room inventory is increasing. We have to be tactical in our approach to win new business. Our expectations for the month of July, because of the Dubai Summer Surprises, will be 85 to 87 percent occupancy, while for the month of Ramadan our target is a maximum of 60 percent occupancy.”

Mr El Behi said the room rates could more than halve next month compared with their present rates.

An influx of tourists from the GCC, in particular Saudi Arabia, has helped hotels in Dubai to achieve high occupancy levels in the past few months.

Beach hotels in Dubai benefited from an 11 percent increase in revenue per available room, a key industry indicator, during the first four months of the year, according to the property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle. Occupancy levels across Dubai reached 81 percent, compared with 77 percent in the same period last year.

Dubai hotels will also be targeting their home market, with packages for UAE residents to attract guests from neighbouring emirates.

Tourists from China could also help to counteract the expected decline next month.

“The Chinese market will come because of the low prices,” Mr Khan said. “My hotel has seen a threefold increase in the months of May and June.”

He said that Chinese tourists made up 15 percent of all guests at the hotel during that period.

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