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UAE set to become a world leader in hospitality industry: Sheikha Lubna

posted on 24/11/2005: 619 views

Istanbul - 11th meeting of Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (COMCEC) began here yesterday with delegations from 51 countries taking part. The UAE's delegation to the meetings is being led by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy and Planning.

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, said in the meeting's keynote speech that Islamic countries should strengthen political and economic cooperation among them. He noted that Islamic countries, who constitute 22 percent of the world's population, contribute only 6 percent in the world's annual tourism income, estimated at 615 billion US dollars.

In her speech, Sheikha Lubna said that according to recent statistics, the number of tourists throughout the world reached 460 million during the first seven months of this year, a 5.9 percent increase, compared with the same period of last year. She highlighted UAE's successful experience in the field of tourism, saying the country was able to attract business, leisure and shopping tourists.

"I am sure that with the factors of sun and sands, islands and beaches, the UAE will become a premier tourist destination," Sheikha Lubna said. She underlined Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's target of wooing an annual size of three million tourists into the emirate by 2015.

"These are not just ambitions. In the first half of 2005, the hotel occupancy rates hit the 95 percent mark. Work is underway to build new hotels to cope with the rising demand and establish more attractions such as shopping malls, museums and golf courses." She lamented lack of cooperation in tourism sectors among Islamic countries.

"I am very sorry to that there is little or none intra-Islamic states tourism because strategies and plans focus on targeting western markets," Sheikh Lubna said.

She also said that Islamic countries need to improve their capabilities to promote their potentials, saying that hospitality "is more of a service-driven industry. We should focus more on the needs of tourism and tourists as long as they do not conflict with our values and traditions. We should treat the tourist with respect from the moment he or she applies for a visa until his leaves." "We Muslims represent only 20 percent of the world's population but we own five of the Seven Wonders of the World. We should make best use that advantage," Sheikha Lubna said. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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