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Fri 1 Feb 2008 03:37 PM

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Bush’s visit impacts F&B industry

Dubai ground to a halt on January 14 as road closures due to the state visit of President George W. Bush caused havoc for the emirate.

Dubai ground to a halt on January 14 as road closures due to the state visit of President George W. Bush caused havoc for the emirate.

Authorities called a last minute public holiday late Sunday night advising residents to stay at home to limit the amount of traffic on the roads.

Sheikh Zayed Road, Sheikh Rashid Road, Sheikh Khalifa Road, Al Khail Road and many of the internal roads in Bur Dubai were all shut to traffic as well as Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Maktoum Bridge and Shindagha Tunnel.

The various road closures caused mayhem for hotels and restaurants as deliveries were postponed, guests were stranded and events and conferences were cancelled, according to a number of industry professionals.

"The disruption caused by the Bush visit was actually greater [than that caused by the rain] as the road closures meant that the town was effectively cut in two," commented Shaun Parsons, executive assistant manager - food and beverage, Mina Seyahi Complex.

"Getting our staff in from Al Quoz where the accommodation is was a real problem because Al Quoz was effectively cut off," he added.

The two-day IMES Consulting Beverage Conference held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road was reduced to one day as delegates were unable to attend the event due to road disruptions.

"It was difficult because people who were going to come for the one day couldn't come due to the disruptions," commented IMES managing director David Edwards.

"It's been so disruptive; we had one speaker who flew in Monday to present at the conference but had to leave last night so he literally flew in and flew out again," he added.

Other hotels had to cancel events, as the Dubai Hilton Creek postponed its Pen and Fork cookery contest until the end of January.

While Caterer contacted several other hospitality outlets, most refused to comment on the issue, however.

"The impact was severe as no-one was able to reach the restaurants and cafés, but the visit was beneficial to the UAE and that is what's important," said one industry insider who asked not to be named.

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