Qatar occupied 4 advanced positions in the list of the most powerful travel and tourism leaders in the Middle East for the year 2023, which was issued by Forbes International and included 100 leaders in the region. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group, ranked second on the list.
Mr. Nasser Matar Al-Kuwari, CEO of Katara Hospitality, ranked 22nd, and Mr. Tariq Mahmoud Al-Sayed, CEO and Managing Director of Al-Rayyan Tourism Investment Company, ranked 25th, and Mr. Badr Muhammad Al-Meer, Chief Operations Officer at Hamad International Airport, ranked 31st.
Forbes International said: The travel and tourism sector mainly contributes to the economic growth and development taking place in the Middle East region, which has become the focus of the world’s attention in recent years, especially with the emergence of Dubai on the global tourism map, and the increasing investments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Abu Dhabi in the sector.
The region has also become a global sports destination, with Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the UAE has staged martial arts fights (UFC). Last year, Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup and in 2027 it will also host the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time in the Middle East.
Tourism leaders in Qatar
Forbes reviewed the Qatari leaders included in the list, and they are Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive Officer
Qatar Airways Group She said: Al-Baker has been CEO of Qatar Airways Group since 1997. In 2019, he was appointed Secretary-General of the National Tourism Council of Qatar, which became (Qatar Tourism) in 2021 in February 2023.
She added: Qatar Airways and Airbus reached an amicable settlement over the legal dispute between them regarding the corrosion of the surfaces of Airbus A350 aircraft, and the suspension of operations of those aircraft.
Last March, Al-Baker announced that Qatar Airways will add more than 655 weekly flights in the summer of 2023. The company travels to more than 160 global destinations, has 210 passenger aircraft, and 31 cargo aircraft. The group announced revenues of $14.3 billion and assets of $41.4 billion for the fiscal year ending in March 2022.
She also spoke about Mr. Nasser Matar Al-Kuwari, CEO of Katara Hospitality, where Al-Kuwari assumed the position of CEO of Katara Hospitality in January 2023. The company owns and operates 42 hotels within its portfolio, including hotels in Qatar, Egypt, Morocco, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Singapore. Thailand and America, and aims to expand its portfolio to 60 hotels by 2030. Al-Kuwari has more than 25 years of experience in various leadership positions in many sectors. Previously, he was CEO of Msheireb Properties and CEO of Estad Engineering Consultancy and Project Management.
As for Eng. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operations Officer at Hamad International Airport, he supervises operations at Hamad International Airport. In 2022, the airport witnessed an increase in passenger traffic on an annual basis by 101.9%, as it welcomed more than 35.5 million passengers, and also witnessed an increase in total aircraft movement by 28.2% compared to 2021. Today, the airport serves more than 170 global destinations, and has A capacity of about 5,600 passengers per hour. The airport has also invested in the latest artificial intelligence tools to support complete digital transformation, such as robots and blockchain technology.
The list included Mr. Tariq Mahmoud Al Sayed, CEO and Managing Director of Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company, who has held his position since 2017. The company opened 4 hotels in Qatar to serve the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, adding more than 3,150 hotel rooms. The company’s hotels hosted national teams: Portugal, Wales, South Korea and Ghana during the World Cup. The company’s current portfolio exceeds $5 billion, and includes many residential and commercial properties, and more than 35 hotels in the Middle East, North Africa, America and Europe, with a total of 9,900 rooms. Al-Sayed previously worked for Al-Faisal Holding, the parent company of Al-Rayyan Tourism Investment Company.
Tourism is recovering
Forbes says that the tourism sector globally recovered 63% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, according to the UNWTO report. While the number of visitors to the Middle East region increased to 83% compared to before the pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council expects this market to become the fastest growing in Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, at a rate of 11% annually over the next decade.
The contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the gross domestic product of the Middle East region increased by 46.9% in 2022, compared to 2021, by $107 billion. While airlines in the Middle East saw a 157.4% increase in passenger traffic in 2022, with capacity increasing by 73.8% compared to 2021, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The 2023 list of “Most Powerful Travel and Tourism Leaders in the Middle East” includes the most influential leaders in the region. Hospitality, hotels and resort companies dominate with 59 participations, followed by airlines and airports with 31 participations. The list of the year also includes 8 posts from the tourism authorities.
While the leaders classified in the list of the year come from 33 nationalities, with the Emiratis leading with 16 participation, followed by the Saudis with 12 participation, while 10 leaders belong to the British nationality.
Forbes added: To prepare the list, we selected leaders who work in the travel and tourism sector, including airlines, hotels, destination operators and tourism development agencies. The leaders residing in the Middle East were classified according to a number of criteria, the most important of which are: • The size of the company’s business, including the number of hotels, rooms, passengers, visitors, revenues, investment and asset values, fleet size, and others • Company ownership and assets • Positions held by the leader • Professional experience • Strong business leader influence • Other achievements.
Package of plans and programs
Qatar Tourism had announced a package of plans and programs for the year 2023, as part of its strategy aimed at strengthening Qatar’s position as a leading global tourist destination by attracting 6 million visitors annually and raising the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to 12 percent in 2030.
The recent selection of Doha as the capital of Arab tourism for the year 2023 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism is an additional step in consolidating its position as an attractive tourist destination. During the past few years, Qatar has witnessed a huge construction renaissance by establishing a solid infrastructure of roads, railways, airports, ports and service networks from Electricity, water and communications, after its economy was dependent in the past on pearl diving in its simple beginnings, as it emerged from the heart of the desert the most luxurious international hotels, tall towers and shopping centers, down to beach clubs, museums, amusement parks and many prominent tourist attractions, not only that, but Qatar plans to Increasing domestic spending in tourist destinations by 3 to 4 times, attracting more domestic investments, and having a multiplier effect on the growth of the national economy.
Qatar aims to triple the number of its visitors by 2030, making it the fastest growing destination in the region, and hosting the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 represents a fundamental turning point for the country by announcing its readiness and as an official launch on the global tourism map, and therefore the World Cup carries a double strategic value that will appear. More results in the medium and long term.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, in which the country welcomed 1.4 million visitors from around the world, is part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to transform Qatar into a global community and provide a higher standard of living by increasing the size of the economy. The tournament has a reason to attract about 40 million tourists in the coming years, which constitutes a quantum leap in the country’s tourism process.
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