The Oscars of the travel industry awarded to Middle East winners


DUBAI – The industry’s elite – including CEOs of leading travel companies, government ministers, and tourist board chiefs – attended the glittering gala event of the World Travel Awards for the Middle East at the Armani Hotel in Dubai.

Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Raffles, and Royal Caribbean were among the names to emerge victorious on May 2, 2011 at the ceremony, which was headlined by Lebanese pop sensation, Elissa.

The Armani Hotel Dubai offered guests the opportunity to sample the ultimate in hospitality lifestyle, amid the magnificent setting of Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Hailed as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry,” World Travel Awards is acknowledged across the globe as the ultimate travel accolade and celebrates those brands that are pushing the boundaries of industry excellence. More than 462 organizations across the Middle East, spanning more than 125 categories, entered the competition.

Etihad Airways was one of the big stars on the night, walking off with an impressive four awards, including the blue riband category “Middle East’s Leading Airline,” as well as “Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class,, “Middle East’s Leading Airline Inflight Entertainment,” and “Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff.”

Meanwhile, Dubai’s miraculous rebound coupled with its insatiable eye for invention led to the emirate being voted “Middle East’s Leading Destination,” as well as “Middle East’s Leading Meetings and Conference Destination.” Abu Dhabi’s continuing rise to tourism stardom was rewarded, too, as it took home a host of top honors, including “Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board” and “Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award.”

On an individual level, HRH Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud was honored as “Travel Personality of the Year” for the Middle East for his contribution to the global hospitality sector, which includes backing what is set to become the tallest building in the world, the mile-high Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.

Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards said: “The Middle East was the perfect region to mark the start of the World Travel Awards 2011 Grand Tour, setting the bar for the rest of the world to raise the standards of excellence in travel and tourism.”

Voting is still underway for Europe, Africa and Indian Ocean, Asia and Australasia, and The Americas. Regional events will take place later this year in Antalya, Turkey; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; Bangkok, Thailand; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Grand Final will follow at the end of the year.

For the full list of Middle East winners, go to: .