Interview: Saad Bin Ali Al Kharji

What is being done to encourage increased private sector investment in tourism?

SAAD BIN ALI AL KHARJI: The focus is on positioning Qatar as a tourism destination by strengthening international partnerships, hosting diverse events and conferences, and fostering an attractive investment environment. To fulfil this, we have granted licences to business event organisers to establish offices, hosted high-profile events and facilitated induction trips for international specialists. These initiatives showcase the country’s facilities and services, encourage investment, and promote Qatar’s appeal among well-known tour operators and international travel agency networks.

Recent infrastructure advancements highlight the country’s investment appeal. Moreover, Qatar’s welcoming visa policies and advanced logistics create a comfortable environment for visiting investors. Qatar Tourism engages with the global investor community, and regularly participates in major regional and international travel fairs. On the domestic front, tourism professionals are benefitting from initiatives like the Service Excellence Academy, which helps develop a workforce tailored to the future of travel.

To what extent can the meetings, incentives, congresses, and exhibitions (MICE) segment play a role in supporting tourism growth?

AL KHARJI: In 2023 Qatar welcomed 4m visitors and the hotel occupancy rate reached 57.8%, illustrating its success in attracting local and international guests. Noteworthy events – including the Qatar Travel Mart, Geneva International Motor Show Qatar, Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, Expo 2023 Doha and the inaugural Web Summit Qatar – underscored the critical role of the MICE segment. The industry emphasises environmental management and sustainable development in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. Efforts are focused on enhancing the country’s tourism infrastructure, promoting sustainable development and fostering cultural exchange. Future events will contribute to Qatar’s goal of becoming one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the Middle East by 2030.

Where do you see opportunities to strengthen synergies between stakeholders to boost tourism?

AL KHARJI: Collaboration among stakeholders has fuelled the success of the industry. Public and private entities share a common vision aimed at economic diversification and they work together cohesively to achieve overarching national goals. A notable example of this synergy was evident during the successful delivery of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where alignment ensured a memorable experience for over 1m visitors.

Qatar Tourism actively engages with stakeholders to bolster tourism. For example, in November 2023 it signed agreements with Mowasalat to enhance the tourism experience for visitors arriving via cruises. Moreover, we collaborated with the Ministry of Interior to streamline visa processes. In addition, we collaborate with entities like Qatar Museums, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to launch events, ensure visitor safety, introduce new tours and products, and improve the visitor experience.

Which opportunities have emerged in the culture and heritage tourism segment?

AL KHARJI: Qatar is fast emerging as one of the most exciting global travel destinations. Its cultural richness helps attract both international and regional visitors. Despite the transformation in tourism over the past decade, Qatar has successfully retained its roots, heritage and culture. The result is a destination where visitors can immerse themselves in Middle Eastern history and Arab hospitality, while enjoying modern architecture and contemporary experiences in wellness, retail, dining and more. Beyond cultural spots like Souq Waqif and Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar hosts events annually that incorporate the country’s heritage.