100 smartest people in the UAE
Tue 26 Sep 2017 12:04 AM
Haitham Mattar

Company: RAK Tourism Development Authority

Designation: CEO

Country: Lebanon/US

Country of residence: Lebanon

Haitham Mattar’s top goal is to attract 1 million tourists to Ras Al Khaimah, a quieter emirate at the far north of the UAE. The emirate has stunning beauty and a landscape unknown to the rest of the country. It boasts some of the most popular resorts in the GCC. But Mattar’s key hurdle is overcoming the perception that RAK is not convenient, particularly for visitors from further afield.

But in the two-and-a-half years since moving to RAK, he has created a high performing team that is set to beat its target of 900,000 visitors this year. In the first half of 2017, hotels reported a 10 percent year-on-year increase in guests. Average hotel occupancy rose 4.7 percent to 72.7 percent.

Mattar has been clever in harnessing the emirate’s unique opportunities for outdoor activities, including developing the UAE’s tallest peak, Jebel Jais, to include a viewing deck and event area. Official cycling and hiking routes across the emirate are also being developed.