Long a key figure in the development of Abu Dhabi as a world beating tourism destination, the reputation of HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan has started to spread across the borders of the United Arab Emirates with his appointment to the Expo 2020 Preparatory Committee.
The event will be held in Dubai for six months in the summer of 2020 under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, calling in the expertise of Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan to bolster the development of the project.
The Preparatory Committee will develop the strategies needed for hosting the world’s biggest exhibition, while also carrying out an evaluation of the tourism and infrastructure developments needed to host the event. At the same time, the Committee will determine the emirate’s technical, security and economic requirements ahead of the largest ever World Expo.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will receive regular reports from the Committee on preparations to insure the success of the exhibition.
But this appointment is just the latest for Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, who is also head of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
Following the merger of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage, and the Tourism Development & Investment Company’s Cultural Department in 2012, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan has guided the organisation during its formative years.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan
Born in 1970 in Al Ain, the heritage city of Abu Dhabi emirate and the capital of its Eastern Region, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan gained his bachelors degree in architectural engineering from the UAE University.
His next step was to complete the Global Master of Arts Program with an MA in International Affairs at the Fletcher School, part of the world renowned Tufts University, in Boston, USA.
HE Sheikh Sultan is a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, and also holds the role of chairman with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development & Investment Company, an organisation established to develop the tourism authority’s real estate assets.
More recently the name has been the driving force behind the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island and plans for the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan’s efforts in evolving Abu Dhabi into a global cultural destination have been recognised by the American Federation of Arts, which honoured him with its Cultural Leadership Award, and by the French Republic, which made him a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, in recognition of his significant contribution to the enrichment of French and international cultural inheritance.
The World Travel Awards, the prestigious international programme designed to recognise excellent in the tourism sector, also recognised Abu Dhabi as the Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board and World’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination in 2013 following the work of HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan.
HE Sheikh Sultan was also awarded the 2010 Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Leadership award after the AHIC Advisory Board, which comprises over 40 of the most influential names in the Middle East’s hospitality industry voted to recognise his vital role in developing Abu Dhabi as one of the region’s leading tourism and cultural destinations.
In his role as chairman of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, he oversaw the organisation’s successful bid for the purchase of the international events venue ExCel London, while he also serves on the board of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency and is a member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi Emirate.
He is also managing director of the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy.
HE Sheikh Sultan is a strong supporter of environmental stewardship and sustainable development – values which are reflected in all of the organisations falling under his chairmanship.
His firm interest in architecture for human development and sustainability is also reflected in his role as patron of the Middle East Council of the Urban Land Institute – the international, non-profit research and educational organisation catering to professionals in land use and real estate development.
Abu Dhabi Vision 2030
Looking to the future, HE Sheikh Sultan is also a driving force in the development of Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030, which outlines the foundations for a socially cohesive and economically sustainable community that preserves the Emirate’s unique cultural heritage.
The second five-year stage of the plan, which was launched in early 2013, is focused on a drive for economic diversification in eight key sectors: cultural tourism, aviation, manufacturing, media, health care, petrochemical, financial services and renewable energy.
It follows the 2008-2013 plan, a blueprint put together on the back of a five-year year bull run in oil markets that, for a while, showed few signs of softening.
But after the US credit crunch in 2008 lit the touch paper on a global crisis, sending oil prices tumbling, and freezing credit markets, many assumptions and projections had to be revisited.
Prices have since rebounded but the shock served as a reminder of the fragility of the global economy and, with it, the region’s fortunes.
The result has been a change of short-term priorities to “accommodate the changing realities on the ground” explained Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, national security advisor and vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, at the launch.