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Emirates Invests in the Blue Mountains

Emirates, the Dubai-based international
airline, will invest Dhs 142 million (approx. US $38.8 million) to build a
luxury conservation resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains - its first such
hospitality development outside of U.A.E HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates, and the Hon
Sandra Nori MP, New South Wales’ Minister for Tourism, today announced the
resort’s development plans at a media conference in Sydney. Using the same philosophy as Emirates’ acclaimed “Al Maha” desert resort and
reserve in Dubai, the new conservation project will be one of Australia’s
most environmentally sympathetic developments, and will provide
world-leading hospitality facilities and services to guests.

The project is located in the Wolgan Valley of the Blue Mountains, where
3,600 acres of freehold land will be incorporated into a conservancy
reserve. The site is currently farmland that borders the Gardens of Stone
National Park, in an area where there are many threats to wildlife and
conservation. Guest facilities will occupy less than two per cent of the
total land.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “We want to take this beautiful, but sadly distressed
rural farming site and turn it into a sanctuary to further showcase
Australia to the world.”


He added: “Emirates’ plan is to protect this site and enhance its
environmental values, starting with the removal of invasive plants and feral
fauna that has placed pressure on indigenous wildlife. Working closely with
environmental and government agencies, we even hope to reintroduce some
threatened species to this conservancy. We want this project to gain the
same recognition for Australia that we have received for Al Maha and the
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai.”



The resort is expected to have all final government approvals in place in
the next few months with opening planned for 2007. NSW Minister for Tourism Ms Nori said the Blue Mountains resort would be a
welcome addition to nature-based tourism and a major draw card for
international visitors.


She said: “Few global cities can boast a pristine, World-Heritage listed
attraction like the Blue Mountains, on their door-step, just over an hour
from the centre of Sydney.  This conservation resort will show there’s no
place in the world like Sydney. She added: “The resort will also generate jobs - from environmental guides
to hotel staff. And of course, local businesses in the region also stand to


Emirates has already engaged in hundreds of hours of consultations with
government and community organisations in Australia to ensure the project
will meet and exceed standards for environment protection and quality
hospitality.  It will also become a corporate member of The Australian
Wildlife Conservancy, whose expertise is well known in the conservation
area. Along with National Parks & Wildlife Service and local conservation
groups, their knowledge and experience will be invaluable during the
creation of the Wolgan Valley project. Local Wolgan Valley species already identified as under pressure that will
be encouraged to expand within the sanctuary include koalas, spotted-tailed
quolls, yellow-bellied gliders and brush-tailed rock wallabies.


Emirates is not new to the hospitality industry. It owns, manages and
operates the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, a conservation-based resort set in
a 225 square kilometre nature reserve. Winner of National Geographic’s World
Legacy Award 2004, and judged ‘The Best Resort in Africa/Middle East 2002’
by Condé Nast, Al Maha offers 40 ultra luxurious suites in the heart of the


In May this year, Emirates announced that it will build a new 5-star, Dhs
800 million (US $218 million) luxury hotel in Dubai.  The 70-storey, 350
metres high building will be among the world’s five tallest hotels, and also
one of the largest in the U.A.E. Emirates also owns the 218-room Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, situated
on a superb stretch of the private Al Aqah Beach, in the picturesque emirate
of Fujairah. The resort is particularly popular as a family holiday