All eyes are on Doha this weekend as the International Air Transport Association hosts it Annual General Meeting in capital Doha.
Delegates will be welcomed to one of the most rapidly developing tourism destinations anywhere on earth, with billions of dollars presently pouring into the hospitality sector there.
One man more than any other, H.E. Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority, has been responsible for guiding this process.
Here Breaking Travel News takes a look at the man behind the emergence of Doha, and Qatar, as a world class tourism destination.
Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi
In his role as chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi is charged with planning, regulating, developing and promoting a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar.
During his tenure in the role he has scored some notable successes, not least securing the FIFA World Cup for the destination in 2022.
His project management and international business background serve QTA well as it embarks on rolling out the new Tourism Sector Strategy for the State of Qatar.
The Strategy sets out an ambitious roadmap for the state’s tourism sector, positioning Qatar as ‘a world class hub with deep cultural roots’.
Under the plan country will seek to grow its place on the world tourism map and allow people from around the world to recognise and appreciate what it has to offer via its unique culture and heritage.
At the launch of the strategy earlier this year, Mohammed Al Mohannadi explained Qatar hoped to have the tourism industry contribute a total of 5.1 per cent to GDP by 2030, up from 2.6 per cent today.
Under the plan, the government will invest US$40-45 billion in infrastructure in the country.
An early success came when Qatar was recognised as the World’s Leading Business Travel Destination in 2013 by the World Travel Awards.
In 2012, 1.2 million visitors made their way to Qatar, mainly from KSA and the other GCC countries.
Mohammed Al Mohannadi explained: “Our target is to attract seven million visitors to Qatar from all over the world by 2030.”
Towards achieving this goal, QTA has already set up satellite offices in London and Paris, with eight more international offices set to open in the near future in key outbound markets.
Issa Mohammed Al Mohannadi spoke to Breaking Travel News at the recent Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai
Prior to taking up the post of chairman in May 2012, HE Al Mohannadi was the founder and chief executive of Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation and one of the world’s most exciting and progressive real estate companies promoting sustainability in architecture and heritage preservation in Qatar.
Msheireb Properties is a real estate company and a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation.
The company was established as a commercial venture to support the Foundation’s aims and the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Msheireb Properties’ mission is to change the way people think about urban living and improve their overall quality of life, through innovations that encourage social interaction, respect for culture, and greater care for the environment.
The organisation spent three years researching Qatari architecture and numerous approaches to urban planning all over the world with the most respected experts in the industry – in order to realise an architectural language rooted in the best of the past that may be preserved for and by future generations.
The company’s name, Msheireb, means ‘a place to drink water’ and is the historical name of the downtown area of Doha.
The company’s corporate identity depicts the mouth of a stone well, a feature of traditional Gulf societies, and its distinct ink effect evokes classical Arabic calligraphy.
HE Mr Al Mohannadi has received numerous recognitions for his contribution to Qatar’s rapidly growing business community, including the title of ‘Property Development CEO of the Year’ at the seventh Middle East CEO of the Year Awards organised by the Middle East Institute of Excellence in 2010.
In addition to his chairmanship of QTA, HE Mr Al Mohannadi occupies a number of distinguished posts within public and private organisations in Qatar.
He is the founder and chairperson of the Qatar Green Building Council, which actively promotes sustainability in the local construction industry as it works towards formal membership in the World Green Building Council.
Qatar Green Building Council fosters an environment, ideal for the establishment, communication and efficient application of green building practices, thus transforming Qatar’s construction landscape.
He was previously a prominent figure at Ras Laffan LNG Company - RasGas - where he drove key initiatives such as the Ras Laffan Helium Project train 1 and train 2 in France, and train 3 expansion in Japan, the LNG Venture Terminal Business Group and the RasGas Capital Projects Department.
He also chaired RasGas Operation Group Qatarization Committee.
He is the vice chair to the Doha Film Institute and a board member of Qatar Airways, Barwa Real Estate Group, and Qatari Diyar.
He is also a member of the board of trustee of Qatar Academy Al Khor.
HE Mr Al Mohannadi has a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, as well as specialised training certificates in project management from George Washington University, Washington D.C., Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and Kellogg Business School.
Want to know more about visiting Qatar? Head over to the Qatari Tourism Authority website to find out more.
Many of the exciting hotels in Doha can also now be seen on Virtual-Doha, an exciting showcase of some of the best properties in the city.
Read the full Breaking Travel News interview with Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi here.