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Interview with: Mohammed Abdulla Abdul Jalil Al Fahim. General Manager of Products and Services Division in Al Fahim Group.

Saturday, 24 September 2011 09:46 

 1. Can you please give us a brief of yourself?

Being a part of the family, I am greatly interested in the array of businesses the group has embarked since the 1950s. Specifically, travel and tourism has been a part of the family’s establishment since 1966 making travel and hospitality an appealing industry to me while growing up.
Although I worked in a different sector where I was the Executive Coordinator for International Relations at the Securities & Commodities Authority in Abu Dhabi, I witnessed our family business prosper and realized I wished to venture into a new challenge where I have the opportunity to explore Abu Dhabi as well as promote it to the rest of the world. I would play an important role in pushing the business forward; and so, the most sensible path to take was to be a part of the country’s growth.
2. Safar Travel & Tourism received many awards. Can you tell us more about it?
We thank customers for their valued trust in our consultants and using our services, as well as local connections. Receiving Abu Dhabi’s Leading Travel Agency Award and the Middle East’s Leading Business Travel Award is hugely prestigious. They portray our long lasting relationships with various global institutions. I am honored with this recognition and would like to thank my team as well for their efforts and hard work.
Besides raising our performance bar higher, these awards benchmark organizations and cultivate an attitude of hospitality and professionalism within the agency and the country as a whole. As a country, we haven’t only become a business hub for any world-wide conferences and such, but also a growing cultural destination; and, Safar Travel & Tourism is proud to contribute to this advancement

 3. As Safar Travel is one of the leading travel agencies in Abu Dhabi, is there any plan to expand in other places?

Currently, we have locations in each of the emirate’s main districts: Corniche Road (main city), Al Ain and Mussafah. We are looking into establishing a new branch within Abu Dhabi, but matters are still under discussion.

4. What kind of challenges are you facing in the current political situation in the Middle East region?
Thankfully, the political situations aren’t an issue for us. The obstacles we are facing are currency fluctuation and high fuel costs of aircrafts. The cost of a ticket is higher than before making it less attractive to travel. This is in addition to natural disasters which have a massive impact on travel; earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, etc.
For example, Japan is an attractive tourist destination, especially during cherry blossom (also known as sakura) season in April. Unfortunately, due to the devastating tsunami and earthquake that occurred, obviously it’s no longer seen as a holiday destination. Additionally, Thailand used to be one of the most popular destinations; but, due to the increase in the Thai Bhatt, the number of passengers has slightly decreased.
On a more positive note, Safar Travel is overcoming these hindrances by promoting alternative destinations which aren’t far from the Middle East. There is Athens, Greece – a beautiful and highly cultural city; Maldives is another admired yet romantic getaway, as well as Mauritius, and many other countries nearby.
Moreover, as a result of the codeshare agreement between Etihad Airways and our agents –Middle East Airlines – there is a lot more flexibility in traveling to Lebanon and booking your tickets. Many residents feel comfortable traveling to Lebanon considering it their second home since it merges two different cultures together: Arab and European.
5. How do you describe the travel and tourism market in 2011 compared to previous years?
Since June of this year, when Cathay Pacific Airways launched a new direct route from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong – an undiscovered city for many of the residents in Abu Dhabi – we’ve witnessed a gradual increase in customers requesting for family holiday packages. Hong Kong is the perfect diversion for any family! There’s Disneyland and amazing theme parks for a family vacation, yet also has an enriching history.
In general, there has been a high influx of travelers across neighboring countries. For instance, Nasair is one of the airlines that has witnessed an increase in passengers due to its new direct route from Abu Dhabi Jeddah and also because many Muslims like to travel to Mecca during Ramadan. Further north of this region, we have Emiratis’ favorite destination, Switzerland. With the airline upgrading its aircraft by providing passengers with a more luxurious feel to the trip, the seven-hour flight feels so much shorter than before encouraging more frequent flights within the year.

Overall, in 2011 we are hopeful to see an increase in performance compared to 2009. We remain optimistic as there are many advantages which outweigh the issues at hand. On one side, competition is fierce with more hotels opening, an increase in natural disasters, currency fluctuations and high aviation charges due to taxes, petrol and added services. In addition to that, we are able to offer travelers more choices whether it’s for outbound or inbound adventures. Safar Holidays has been very active during this period mainly because of our attractively priced packages and destinations. Our holidays division works endlessly to provide our clients with the most attractive accommodation arrangements to suit their holiday, whether its room upgrades or any additional services by the hotel.




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