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Middle East gets first online travel booking service

With its new travel channel, MSN Arabia launched the first online airline, hotel, car and holiday booking service in the Middle East.

With its new travel channel, MSN Arabia launched the first online airline, hotel, car and holiday booking service in the Middle East.

The online travel agent enables travelers to track down the competitive deals that are on offer in nine Gulf countries. Sponsored by the Emirates Group, which is exclusively responsible for its management and content, the company says the site provides a complete travel agent service with the "anywhere, any time" convenience of the global Internet, with the personalised features of MSN Arabia. As a launch promotion, the first users of the site will be entered into a draw for two free tickets to Cyprus.

Subscribers in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE will be able to surf the Net, compare prices and purchase flights, hotels, car hire and holidays worldwide from a selection of airlines, hotels and car hire companies.

Travel Channel subscribers will be able to book rooms in more than 47,500 hotels, cars from 37 firms and flights on 500-plus airlines. This is in addition to booking and tracking freight via Emirates SkyCargo's Sky Chain and looking up destination and city guides for more than 40 countries. Additional services include regional flight and visa information; currency conversions.

The Travel Channel's booking technology is based on the 'easy reservation' system developed by Galileo Emirates, the global distribution system used most widely by the Middle East agents.

Simon Lewis, Emirates' E-Ventures Group Manager, said: "We are giving users the widest possible choice by bringing in travel partners from every market. We have launched the site in less than five months, and it will now expand rapidly as more and more people subscribe."

Khaled Bichara, President and CEO of LinkDotNet, an independent Internet and Web service provider in the Middle East, and the technology partner behind MSN Arabia said "MSN Arabia was set up to provide the Arab world with personalized anywhere, any time services over the Web. The MSN Arabia Travel Channel is a great new service, giving our subscribers a really powerful way to save time and money, while taking advantage of 'Internet convenience',"

In due course, Travel Channel will also develop Arabic content for specific parts of the service and will be extended to all Arabic-speaking countries in the region, and to Arab expatriates outside it.

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