BTN ITB 2014 focus: H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, president, Orient Travel

BTN ITB 2014 focus: H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, president, Orient Travel

A seasoned and experienced management stalwart, H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Khalid Al Qasimi is a member of ruling family of Sharjah and has served in various prestigious positions in the UAE government. As president of Orient Travel he has been a pioneer in the overall development of the travel industry in the region. A pillar of strength for Orient Travel, he here sits down with Phil Blizzard of Breaking Travel News to discuss the past, present and future of tourism in the UAE.

Breaking Travel News: Let’s start with the two major accolades which you won in 2013. What does it mean to you and your organisation to have won titles for Dubai’s Leading Travel Management Company and UAE’s Leading Travel Management Company at the World Travel Awards?

H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi: It means a lot. The two awards we won in 2013 mean a lot to us. The World Travel Awards are a reputable organisation, recognised everywhere. Secondly it is an endorsement and reconfirmation of our service.

The first one is important because we have really evolved as a travel management company in Dubai and because of our extensive network across the country; we are definitely a top TMC of the UAE.

BTN: A good end to 2013, then, for Orient Travel and a significant time for both Dubai and the UAE, with the destination winning the right to host Expo 2020. What do you feel this major event will do for the travel tourism sector in the UAE and also for Orient Travel?

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H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi: Winning the EXPO 2020 is indeed a great achievement for a new country like UAE. It clearly shows that Dubai is there on the world map as a great emerging destination. We feel that in due course there will be a lot of investment in the region which will definitely give a great impetus to the travel and tourism sector in the UAE.

As we have a strong presence in the UAE, we should also benefit with this growth.

BTN: What will be the main goals of Orient Travel during the lead up to and during the Expo event?

H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi:  Consolidate and strengthen our growth.

BTN: Moving now from that look into future, let’s reflect back to the beginning of Orient Travel, when did you start and what did you offer at that time?

H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi: Looking back, it’s more than three decades since I got involved with the company. I came back from the USA after completing my education and was entrusted with the responsibility of leading Orient Travel.

At that time we were a relatively small organisation based in Sharjah, but to our good fortune we have a very strong and professional management team which has worked very hard along with our employees to make this organisation one of the largest travel management companies in the region.

Today, Orient Travel has 25 offices and ten implant offices in the UAE.

BTN: How have you evolved since then, and what were some of your keys moments along the way?

H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi: We have certainly evolved as a leading organisation especially because our growth has been organic and we have been one of the fastest growing organisations of the last decade.

There have been many key moments in our journey. For example, setting up our first office in Dubai, the World Travel Awards titles in 2010 and again in 2013, and finally our recent partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Breaking Travel News: Finally, Orient Travel is very much an Arab family business, is it likely to stay this way, or will you at sometime decide to go ‘public’. What are your views on this?

H.E. Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi:  Orient Travel was established by my late father Sheikh Khalid Bin Sultan Al Qasimi who was the first head of the Department of Civil Aviation, Sharjah and was also the pioneer who established the first flying school in the UAE.

After he passed away, the baton was passed on and the company has been managed by my brothers and myself. I have been heading this organisation for the last 30 years or so and we have a lot of emotions and sentiments attached to this business. At this point, it is a family organisation and we are unable to predict the future course because that will depend on a number of factors.

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