Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, has officially opened the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018.
The event, taking place at the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah until April 19th, welcomed over 800 leading hospitality figures from across the Middle East to the northern most of the United Arab Emirates.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi said: “Ras al Khaimah is truly honoured to have you here.
“In a relatively short period of time we have changed from a quiet place, an agricultural place, where a formal education was hard to come by, to become a thriving emirate.
“Our economy is diversifying: our people, industry and infrastructure are on an incredible journey.”
Pointing to the growth of the hospitality sector across the Middle East, he continued: “I see the growth of others as a means for us to develop, an opportunity for us to learn and make progress.
“The incredible vision of Saudi Arabia, for example, will show the true image of the Arabs: as thinkers, developers and achievers.
Ras al Khaimah will be a major part of the booming future of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi said, pointing out the economy had been growing by five to seven per cent per annum in recent years.
“Every day our job is simple,” he said, “to look at every measure we can take to make Ras al Khaimah a better place for investors and for our people.”
Tourism has grown to become one of Ras Al Khaimah’s most important economic sectors in recent years and is now considered a key engine for growth and job creation.
The segment currently accounts for five per cent of the gross domestic product in Ras al Khaimah, while manufacturing accounts for around 30 per cent.
Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi outlined a plan to double the size of the tourism sector by 2025.
To accommodate the potential growth in visitors, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is providing potential investors with a range of innovative opportunities to develop stand-out properties across the emirate during AHIC 2018.
Haitham Mattar, chief executive of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, addresses AHIC 2018
Haitham Mattar, chief executive of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “There was a misconception about Ras al Khaimah as a destination, that we are only a beach resort.
“But Ras al Khaimah has so much more to offer than that.
“We are home to the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates, some fabulous mountainous terrain and those great beaches.
“We have been diversifying our markets, our product, and this makes a real difference.
“New hotel brands have made their way here, and we now have 5,500 rooms in operation, and a further 5,000 in the pipeline, from top brands including InterContinental Hotel Group and Anantara.”
He added: “We have launched some ambitious targets, not least to attract one million visitors in 2018, rising to three million annually by 2025.
“I can assure you, we are well on the way to meeting these targets.”
Mattar pointed out that demand is not the issue for Ras al Khaimah, with room supply more of a concern.
Ras al Khaimah must triple its room supply by 2025, he pointed out.
“There are not many places left in the world that have beach front property at prices you can see in Ras al Khaimah,” he pointed out to investors.
His sentiments were echoed by Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and co-founder of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, who said: “Our goal for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference has remained the same - to establish and grow relationships among dealmakers and senior leadership teams driving the hospitality industry forward.
“The networking, collaboration and meaningful knowledge shared have led our growing community to keep AHIC as a fixed part of their annual business calendar.”
The Middle East has a total of 350,000 hotel rooms, Worsley pointed out, in comparison to more than five million in the Americas.
“We need plenty more Dubai-style success stories,” he added.
The event is taking place in a custom-made complex built on the shoreline of the Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah.
In attendance at AHIC 2018 was Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates Group, who has been a long-term supporter of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.
Arabian Hotel Investment Conference
Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, now in its 14th year, is the annual gathering for the Middle East’s hospitality investment community organised by global hotel investment event organiser Bench Events in partnership with Meed Events.
AHIC creates a knowledge and networking platform for global and regional investors of all backgrounds, offering essential insights to investing in hotels, showcasing regional and international hospitality investment opportunities and facilitating direct connections with hospitality industry stakeholders.
AHIC 2018 will be held in a purpose-built AHIC Village on the beach of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, until April 19th in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
Find out more on the official website.