The Business Year

Karim Abou Gabal

Hotel Manager, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels

More than 34 nationalities can enter Qatar without a visa, which encourages tourism further still. Qatar is focused on developing tourism, and we want people to enjoy the development of the city, downtown, and the new Corniche. Our emphasis is more on heritage and values. What makes us unique is the combination of authentic collections in a modern mix; it is Qatari interior design. We are the first hotel operator in Qatar to own and manage such facilities at a very high standard. The whole philosophy is to be part of Souq Waqif, which in turn is a part of us. In our case, the individual hotel names, such as at Jasra or Najada, have historical significance. That, in itself, promotes international heritage. I think people really need to experience the journey from a totally different angle to what they are used to in the region. When you visit the city of Doha, you see the signature of the city. It stays faithful to its origins, which no longer easy to find in the region.

Carsten Fritz

General Manager, Sharq Village & Spa

The tourism sector here in Doha has experienced steady growth. When you consider the economic climate of Qatar, you note double-digit growth, which is expected to continue over the coming years. What we have seen is that more and more businesses or companies that had been present in the region—going mostly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi—are now being attracted to Qatar. The MICE sector will be a focus for Doha and Qatar, as well as our focus for the future. I always say there is no such thing as an over-saturated market if you have the right business model. Looking at our hotel, and especially the Ritz Carlton, we are not selling beds; we are not selling rooms and food in the restaurant. What the Ritz Carlton stands for is the experience. In combination with Qatar Airways and the Qatar Tourism Association, we have a strong presence here with our two hotels.

Hoss Vetry

Cluster General Manager, Hoss Vetry

If you take 2012 as a benchmark, it is fair to say that over the past 10 years Qatar has been a business-driven city. It was never perceived as a leisure or weekend destination. The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has done a fantastic job. We see a lot of activities in Doha now, and an increasing proportion of the guests in our hotel come for the weekend or as tourists. The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, in particular, has always been a MICE hotel. The new Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), opened in 2012, and the ballroom are unbelievable. Now we can hold citywide conferences. Our owners are investing in a massive three-year renovation project for the hotel, starting in late 2013. We are adding four additional food and beverage outlets as well as a convention center. There will be an extension of the spa and renovated rooms. The potential for growth in the country is so tremendous that this investment is necessary in the lead up to the World Cup.

Tareq Derbas

General Manager, St. Regis Hotel Doha

The exhibitions and conferences the government is bringing to Doha are supporting us tremendously. This hotel was based on the MICE business and the needs of corporate travelers. In 2012, the environmental conference was a major success with more than 20,000 delegates. More and more worldwide and regional conferences are coming to the country. In Doha, there was already the Sheraton and W, but we came in to add to the flavor of the hotel portfolio. We cater to all, but we are appreciated the most by the people who know our brand from elsewhere. We have 336 rooms, 70 suites, a ballroom, and a 4,000 sqm conference facility that can cater for 1,200 people. Our goal is to penetrate new feeder markets, and for this reason we employ Chinese, French, and English butlers.



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