United Arab Emirates
For his constant efforts in keeping Abu Dhabi in the global spotlight, and his unreserved commitment to developing the emirate’s tourism sector, whether this be in terms of sustainable tourism or Emiratisation initiatives, Al Muhairi, director general of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Authority (ADTA) is fully deserving of second place on this year’s Power 50 list.
While the huge influx of new hotel properties into the market this year has meant for some challenging times in the hotel sector, it’s thanks to the continuous innovation by the ADTA, led by Al Muhairi, that guests to the emirate keep on flooding in. Abu Dhabi has already beaten its target to increase guest stays by 10% to 1.65 million in 2010 – and has seen double-digit monthly growth since the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November.
Following the launch of Ferrari World last month – the world’s biggest indoor theme park – the future for tourism to Abu Dhabi looks even brighter. The new attraction will no doubt help in Al Muhairi’s next goal, which is to increase the average length of stay of hotel guests from 2.6 to three nights.
Also top of the agenda is Emiratisation. Al Muhairi launched the ‘Abu Dhabi Ambassador Programme’ aimed at training up UAE nationals to become the “welcoming face of Abu Dhabi”. This year 67 nationals graduated from the programme and Al Muhairi has big ambitions that the programme will expand as time goes on.
Meanwhile Al Muhairi is busy reaching out to new markets for Abu Dhabi. Last month he opened an ADTA visitor centre in Moscow – the first tourism board ever to do so. As well as increasing visitor numbers, Al Muhairi has been actively driving the promotion of sustainable tourism. ADTA is backing the first ever World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi conference, introducing Green Hotel Building Guidelines into its hotel classification system, and has become only the second tourism board in the world to achieve the Global Reporting Initiative (B grade) for sustainability.