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Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Sultan wins AHIC Leadership Award

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Sultan wins AHIC Leadership Award

One of the key players in developing Abu Dhabi as a world-class tourism destination has been announced as the winner of the AHIC 2010 Leadership Award.

Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Tourism Development & Investment Company, will receive the award at the 6th Annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), 1-3 May 2010 in Dubai.

He was confirmed as the winner by the AHIC Advisory Board, which comprises over 40 of the most influential names in Middle East hospitality, in recognition of his vital role in developing Abu Dhabi.

“This recognition really belongs to the tourism industry of Abu Dhabi which works with a collaborative approach towards achieving our aims,” Sheikh Sultan said. “It has particular value to us coming, as it does, from leading stakeholders in the hospitality sector.”

Sheikh Sultan took up the role as chairman at the launch of ADTA in 2004, leading the organisation from the very start in its efforts to develop and promote the emirate’s tourism industry.


During this period, Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry has experienced a phenomenal period of sustained growth, and has been accompanied by the upgrading of its product offering, accommodation inventory and first-class travel links.

Last year’s improvement included ADAC introducing a hotel and hotel apartment classification system, which led to a number of accommodation upgrades. It also stepped up its training of tourist guides, introduced a whole host of new events for the destination, and expanded its marketing outreach with the opening of overseas offices in Italy.

(Above: Sheikh Sultan’s efforts have been recognised by the World Travel Awards. Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards, presents the travel industry Oscar to Sheikh Sultan.)

These efforts were rewarded at the World Travel Awards 2009 Middle East Ceremony last May where Abu Dhabi picked up an incredible 10 awards, including “Middle East’s Leading Destination Marketing Campaign”.

The year continued with yet more success as Abu Dhabi played host to the Formula One at the purpose-built Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi. The event not only served as a demonstration of the emirate’s ability to host a world-class event, but also raised the bar of excellence in sports tourism, and the accompanying development of tourism facilities.

ADAC’s key role in bring Formula One to Abu Dhabi was a major deciding factor in it being voted “World’s Leading Tourist Board” at the World Travel Awards 2009 Grand Final in London, beating off stiff competition from the likes of India Tourism, Visit Britain, Tourism Australia, New York and Jamaica Tourism Board. 

(Above: Fans enjoy the inaugural Abu Dhabi Formula One)

Despite 2009 being remembered globally as one of the toughest years in tourism history, Abu Dhabi managed to buck the trend by achieving a 2 percent rise in hotel guest numbers. Guest stays in the final quarter grew by 16 percent year-on year.

Domestic tourism helped underpin Abu Dhabi’s performance accounting for 42 percent of hotel guests – 650,585 in all – a rise of 26 percent on the previous year.

A driver in the continuing growth has been the expansion and upgrade of Abu Dhabi’s hotel infrastructure. In his role as TDIC Chairman, Sheikh Sultan has also overseen the development of a number of flagship hotel properties, both TDIC-owned and other joint venture projects including the Shangri-la Qary’at Al Beri, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara and The Desert Islands Resort & Spa managed by Anantara.

(Right: the incredible Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi)

ADTA is now targeting 1.65 million hotel guests for 2010 – a 10 percent rise on last year – driven largely by the leisure tourism.

Recent accommodation additions to supply have created a more competitive and better-value environment for business travellers and a more fertile ground for the next big phase in expanding our leisure tourism offering.

More rooms are due to join Abu Dhabi’s accommodation stock in 2010.  The emirate is currently hosting the launch of the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Course and next month will see the launch of the Yas Links golf course. By the end of this year Abu Dhabi will also see the opening of the huge Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park – the world’s largest indoor theme park.

(Left: Abu Dhabi offers the very best of the old and new Arabia)

Sheikh Sultan will be presented with the AHIC 2010 Leadership Award at the 6th Annual AHIC, being held on 1 – 3 May 2010 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events which co-organises AHIC, commented: “The outlook is very exciting for the emirate’s tourism plans, and Sheikh Sultan’s continuing achievements in driving these forward are outstanding. The ongoing investment in the hotel industry and the development of the Abu Dhabi brand has meant that the emirate’s global recognition as a tourism destination rose significantly in 2009, and this momentum will be maintained in 2010. For these reasons, Sheikh Sultan was a clear choice for the AHIC 2010 Leadership Award.”