Last week in travel: Visitors to Dubai can buy alcohol for the first time

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Qatar Airways kicks off its first-ever service to Botswana, while UK airspace needs significant modernizing, and Australia opens underwater art museum on Great Barrier Reef

Visiting Dubai might soon be much less dry. For the first time ever, tourists are allowed to purchase their own alcohol outside licensed hotels, restaurants, and clubs.

“Each visitor will be issued guidelines to responsible drinking in Dubai" — Frankris / Shutterstock Last week in travel: Visitors to Dubai can buy alcohol for the first time“Each visitor will be issued guidelines to responsible drinking in Dubai” — Frankris / Shutterstock

Holidaymakers may obtain a 30-day license issued to them for free. Then they can fill out mandatory forms and purchase liquor from the outlets of Mercantile & Marketing International, the sales and marketing subsidiary of Emirates Group.

There are 17 designated outlets of MMI in Dubai which are authorized to be a retailer of alcohol. 

Holidaymakers wanting to gain permission should visit any MMI store with an original passport and a complete and signed form.

However, despite the relaxation of the restriction, MMI urges visitors to avoid excessive behavior: “Each visitor will be issued guidelines to responsible drinking in Dubai.

“Please ensure that you read this to ensure you are respectful of the country, its rules and its people that you are visiting.”

Qatar Airways will become the first Middle Eastern airline to start regular service to Botswana

The carrier is planning to start three-times-weekly service via Johannesburg on 27 October 2019. It is the first Middle Eastern carrier to fly to Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana.

The flights are scheduled for Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and will be operated by Airbus A350-900. The plane will have 36 seats in business class and 247 in economy class.

As of now, there are no nonstop flights to the country from the UK. “We are excited to be launching three-weekly flights to Gaborone, another highly sought after destination in Africa,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Botswana is a landlocked country of about two million people just above South Africa. It is becoming a popular tourist destination, especially for its safari holidays. It’s also known for its Chobe National Park with large herds of elephants and Okavango Delta, which has been made a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

American startup to improve travel in the middle seat with a revolutionary design 

Let’s be honest. Traveling in the middle seat is no win. The aisle has special legroom, while the window seat has a view. What does the middle one offer? 

But the overall middle seat experience might change soon. A Colorado-based startup Molon Labe has decided to improve it with a new revolutionary approach. 

Recently, the startup has introduced an S1 Space Seat design that gives the middle seat passenger more comfort. The middle seat is slightly lower and pushed back by a few centimeters meaning that the passenger has more space. 

In addition, the design incorporates special two-level armrests so that each passenger can enjoy resting both their arms simultaneously. 

The new design has been approved by the FAA and an undisclosed US airline will be putting them on 50 planes by the end of 2020. 

Underwater art museum to open on Great Barrier Reef

Australia has plans to make a new underwater museum in its Great Barrier Reef marine park. It will aim to raise awareness about the endangered ecosystem and to rehabilitate parts of the park. 

The Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) will feature partially and fully submerged sculptures and installations. The museum was created by British environmentalist and sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.

The artwork will be spread across several locations along the Queensland coast, including the John Brewer Reef, and Magnetic Island, Palm Island and Townsville.

The first section of the museum — Ocean Siren in Townsville — is set to open in December 2019. It will feature a sculpture of an indigenous girl which will change color based on the warming data from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The solar-powered sculpture will be exposed at low tide and during low tide it will be hidden underwater.

“Part of creating an underwater museum is about changing our value systems – thinking about the sea floor as something sacred, something that we should be protecting and not taking for granted,” deCaires Taylor said.

UK airspace needs significant modernizing to accommodate to rapid growth of air travel

The government wants to "deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys and more capacity — 1000 Words / Shutterstock Last week in travel: Visitors to Dubai can buy alcohol for the first timeThe government wants to “deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys and more capacity — 1000 Words / Shutterstock

By 2030, there could be 50 times as many flight delays as today according to the National Air Traffic Services (NATS). The warning was made following the UK flight statistics from 5 July, which saw 8,863 in and out flights within 24 hours.  And the numbers are not expected to be decreasing.

The UK handles some 2.6 million flights per year. By 2030, the number could go up to 3.25m.

Modernizing the UK airspace would involve redrawing flightpaths “in a coordinated way”. According to the government website, the objective is “to deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys and more capacity for the benefit of those who use and are affected by UK airspace”.

The UK airspace hasn’t been improved or modernized much since the 1950s, even though the demand for air traffic is steadily rising.

“Without modernizing the airspace, the government’s own forecasts show the UK could experience 50 times as many delays as we do today by 2030, with one in three flights delayed by more than 30 minutes,” said NATS.

By Jana Brnáková and Ondřej Koraba