Leave it to Dubai to ring in 2013 right. The city’s magnificent New Year’s Eve fireworks display illuminated the world’s tallest building, the iconic Burj Khalifa skyscraper, stretching more than 2,716 feet into the city sky. Sparks flew from the base all the way to the spire of the building as the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra performed in perfect synchronicity. It’s a spectacle fit for ushering in a new year.
Today’s video was filmed at the beach outside the world-famous Burj Al Arab and Madinet Jumeriah hotels, where an annual summer sea turtle release happened late last week. As part of the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, Jumeirah – the hotel group who owns the Burj Al Arab along with several other luxury hotels in Dubai – has an aquarium team that works with the Wildlife Protection Office and local veterinarians to save and release turtles. Since 2004, more than 554 sea turtles have been rehabilitated and released thanks to the project, which is the only one of its kind in Dubai.
This year, the sea turtle celebration was open to the public for the first time. For the send off, 100 critically endangered turtles were each assigned to a child – mostly competition winners, pupils from local schools and even some hotel guests. The children helped release the turtles while the rest of the onlookers watched the turtles make their way into the Arabian Gulf. Six turtles (including two hawksbill sea turtles, two green sea turtles, and two loggerhead sea turtles) were tagged with satellite devices that monitor their whereabouts. Anyone can log on to the project’s Facebook page to see periodic posts about how far the turtles have traveled.
The video above is from last year’s release, but two additional photos from 2012 are included after the jump.
[Video and photos courtesy Jumeirah]
The rise of Gulf state carriers continues to impress. These airlines, which have defined themselves in part as hub-and-spoke carriers linking Europe (and the eastern coast of North America) to Asia, have developed exciting route maps over the last several years with a particularly strong reach into the Arabian Peninsula and India.
While other airlines have recently attempted to develop their hub airports for intercontinental hub-and-spoke connections as well – Finnair‘s recasting of Helsinki as a northern Europe-Asia hub is one example – the Gulf carriers really stand out in global terms.
The Gulf state carriers’ key consumer product is a luxury flight with premium class service and a truly over-the-top experience on all three airlines. On Emirates, first class passengers are treated to private suites. Etihad’s Diamond First Class features flatbeds, personal mini-bars, and anytime dining, while Qatar Airways’ First Class offers turndown service with an amenity kit including products by Prada. With perks like these, it is clear that these carriers are establishing new standards for premium class service.
Even in coach, however, these airlines are delivering a decent product. I experienced the Qatar Airways economy treatment on a recent mid-haul journey from London, via Doha, and back. There was more legroom than in standard coach and the ongoing parade of meals and snacks was, if not exactly delicious, then without question, a cut above average airplane food.
Route maps, however, provide the most interesting dimension of the rise of the Gulf state carriers. While there is quite a bit of overlap between airlines, each airline covers some original territory. Let’s look at where these airlines fly.Etihad flies from Chicago, New York, and (as of March 31) Washington, D.C., to Abu Dhabi. Etihad also flies direct routes between most major European hubs and Abu Dhabi, in addition to a few surprising ports of call (Minsk, anyone?). In addition to eight destinations in India, Etihad’s more popular Asian destinations from Abu Dhabi include Bangkok, Colombo, the Maldives, and Seychelles.
Qatar Airways links Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C., to Doha. The airline flies to 31 destinations in Europe (including 2012 launches), 12 destinations in India, four in Pakistan, and four in China. Other destinations of note include Zanzibar, Ho Chi Minh City, and Denpasar.
Emirates boasts the best links to the US of all with direct connections from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and New York to Dubai. Of these, Seattle and Dallas are new routes. The former begins on March 1 and the latter route kicked off on February 2. Emirates’ reach is particularly remarkable. The airline flies to 28 destinations in Europe, 15 destinations in sub-Saharan Africa, 10 destinations in India, and four in Australia; all but a handful of these routes are direct.
With beefed up links to major US airports, premium services to lure business and moneyed travelers, and route maps that show no sign of contracting, the Gulf state carriers look set to be important long-haul standbys for some time to come.
[Image: Flickr | jmmcdgll]
Ready to see a beautiful video that will brighten your afternoon? Then check out this gorgeous video featuring the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Projectors, 44 to count, came together form a combined brightness of 840,000 lumens. The images from these projectors covered a 600 foot wide and 351 foot high surface on the building. Mostly floral patterns were projected alongside filigree-type designs, creating a stunning imagery any visitors undoubtedly enjoyed. Were you lucky enough to see this display first-hand? Please tell us about it in the comments if so.