Thanks to their geographical position, and historical and cultural richness, Middle East countries are attracting both tourists and investors.

In 2023, the Middle East’s visitor numbers surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with a 22% increase in international tourist arrivals compared to 2019, according to UN Tourism. Saudi Arabia saw the number of international visitors to the kingdom grow by 56% in 2023 compared to 2019. It also hit a new record in international tourist receipts, with inbound spending reaching over USD37 bn in 2023. Dubai attracted USD17.15 mn international visitors, Egypt received USD14.9 mn tourists, and Qatar received USD4 mn.

In the recently released Forbes list of the Middle East’s Top 100 Travel & Tourism Leaders 2024, Qatar’s leading businessmen and their companies were featured among some of the region’s top leaders in the travel and tourism industry. The UAE-based dominates with 54 entries, followed by Saudi Arabia with 19 entries, Egypt with nine, Jordan and Oman with four each, and Qatar with three.


Number 4: Badr Mohammed Al Meer (Qatar Airways Group)

Al Meer became the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Qatar Airways Group in November 2023 after being the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hamad International Airport (HIA) for over 10 years. As of March 2024, Qatar Airways flew to over 170 destinations. In 2023, HIA, which is part of Qatar Airways Group, received over 45.9 mn passengers and served 52 airlines. Al Meer is also on the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association and a member of the executive committee of the Arab Air Carriers Organization.


Number 14: Nasser Matar AlKawari (Katara Hospitality)

AlKawari was appointed CEO of Katara Hospitality in January 2023. Katara Hospitality was first established in 1970 when the government of Qatar established Qatar National Hotels Limited to manage the Sheraton Gulf Hotel, which is now the Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha. Today, the company owns, develops, and operates 42 properties that are in operation or under development in Qatar and globally. Its hotels include Mövenpick Hotel Doha; The Ritz-Carlton, Doha;  Katara Towers; Lusail Marina District; The Peninsula Paris; and Raffles Singapore. AlKawari has more than 25 years of industry experience. He was previously CEO of Msheireb Properties and Astad Engineering Consultancy and Project Management.


Number 26: Tarek El Sayed (Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company ARTIC)

Hailing from Egypt, El Sayed has been at the helm of ARTIC since 2017, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Al Faisal Holding. ARTIC has expanded across Europe, the US and MENA, and built a diversified portfolio of over 35 hotels, including The St Regis Bal Harbour in Miami, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence, The St Regis Washington DC, Aleph Rome Hotel a Curio Collection, and JW Hotel Istanbul Bosphorus. In January 2023, ARTIC opened the JW Marriott Hotel Berlin in Germany with 505 rooms. It also introduced the first branded residences in New Cairo, Egypt: JW Marriott Residences and The Ritz Carlton Residences. Before joining ARTIC, El Sayed worked with Arthur Andersen in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He was also the Group Chief Financial Officer for Al Faisal Holding Company between 2001–10.

The list also includes the leaders of successful hotel brands in Qatar such as Sandeep Walia of Marriott International (17), Guy Hutchinson of Hilton (28), Haitham Mattar of IHG Hotels & Resorts (29), Panos Loupasis of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (54),  Javier Águila of Hyatt (59), Tim Cordon of Radisson Hotel Group (60), Philip Barnes of Rotana (63), Bani Haddad of Aleph Hospitality (66), Prateek Kumar of Dusit Hotels and Resorts (67), and Simon Leigh of Premier Inn – MENA (93) and more.

To see the full list, visit forbesmiddleeast.com/lists/travel-and-tourism-leaders-2024


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