Al Baker highlights growth of tourism and aviation sectors

Qatar’s aviation and tourism sectors will help propel Qatar into one of the leading destinations in the world, said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  May 26, 2005

Qatar’s aviation and tourism sectors will help propel Qatar into one of the leading destinations in the world, said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker. Addressing a distinguished gathering in London at the 3rd Annual Finance and Investment in Qatar, Al Baker highlighted the importance of the hospitality sector in an economy which is promoting diversification. Key figures from political and business circles in Qatar and Britain gathered in the British capital for the two-day conference, held to promote investment opportunities in the Arabian Gulf State. The conference was opened by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, who also delivered the keynote address. Al Baker, speaking also as chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, said Qatar was experiencing an economic boom, predominantly driven by the energy sector. With the Qatari government actively encouraging diversification by creating an economy based on non-reliance on oil and gas, the investment opportunities, he said, were immense. In his presentation, ‘Driving the Economic Growth of Qatar’, Al Baker spoke of extremely attractive employment and investment options for companies and individuals. He said the tourism sector, comprising hotels, the national airline and the country’s new airport, helped stimulate opportunities. Qatar Tourism Authority is actively working towards establishing Qatar as one of the world’s quality destinations for leisure, business, education and sport. Over the past 12 months, Qatar hosted more than 80 major sporting events, conferences and exhibitions. With events such as the G77 Conference next month and Doha Asian Games 2006, for which the national airline Qatar Airways is an official partner, Al Baker said the country’s position was being elevated in the global arena. Last year’s US$15bn masterplan, which focused on the creation of new hotels and tourist attractions, was designed to develop a tourism base to double the number of tourists from 700,000 in 2004 to 1.4m by 2010. The number of hotel rooms will double over the next two years from the current level of 3,700 to 7,400 with key development projects already underway. Al Baker highlighted some examples, including the Al Sharq Village Resort being developed by Qatar National Hotels, as well as other initiatives such as Pearl Island – the man-made residential and leisure complex off the Doha shoreline. Al Baker was adamant that the airline’s growth could not be viewed in isolation, hence the need for a new international airport to cater for Qatar Airways’ growth. Construction work on the US$5.5bn New Doha International Airport began in January and is scheduled for completion in three phases beginning in 2009. Al Baker said the new airport will initially be able to handle 12 million passengers a year, rising to 50 million once fully developed in 2015 to clearly position Qatar as a global hub and world-class aviation centre linking East and West.

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