Keynote speech from His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah: “Youth and education are central to Ras Al Khaimah’s growth. For centuries Ras Al Khaimah has been a crossroads for humanity, trade and business – tourism is now part of that story.”
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE – Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) today hosted the inaugural Young Global Leaders Debate at the Al Hamra Convention Centre.
The one-day event featured an opening speech from HH Sheikh Saud, who regaled the audience with heartwarming stories of Ras Al Khaimah’s past and compelling visions of the emirate’s education-inspired future as an international destination that celebrates its rich history and heritage. “For centuries Ras Al Khaimah has been a crossroads for humanity, trade and business – tourism is now part of that story,” said HH Sheikh Saud.
HH Sheikh Saud’s inspirational address was followed by a short poem delivered by young Emirati poet Muznah Sultan Al Amri, which drew huge applause from more than 250 guests. The poem was followed by a one-on-one panel with His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Saud Al Qasimi – Chairman of Al Marjan Island, Chairman of the Board of Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics PSC, Vice-Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah Investment and Development Office.
Other highlights included a keynote address by the UK’s noted author and speaker Paul Sloane, who is globally-renowned for his expertise in lateral thinking and innovation. The Debate also featured three probing panel discussions examining leadership, youth and entrepreneurship; peace integration and opportunity, as well as sustainability, science, new media and education.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA, said: “The event brought together the region’s young leaders to address some of the most pressing challenges facing societies today and in the future. The programme’s three panel discussions included dynamic and insightful debate featuring local, regional and international advocates of innovative thinking across a range of topics from globalisation, energy, transportation, women’s empowerment, social entrepreneurship and CSR.”
RAKTDA supported the event to reflect HH Sheikh Saud’s prioritisation of youth progression and education as a vital component of Ras Al Khaimah’s development and the emirate’s ability to host local, regional and international meetings.
Ras Al Khaimah’s short-term business tourism drive is to focus on the emirate’s meetings, incentives, conferencing and events (MICE) potential with this month’s hosting of the inaugural Young Global Leaders Debate seen as a springboard to building sustainable MICE credentials.
“Our short-term focus on the meetings, incentives, conferencing and events sectors of business tourism is aimed at complementing our increasingly successful leisure sector by realising the potential to grow mid-week and off-season hotel occupancy. We are also drawing up a dynamic events calendar which we anticipate will consistently expand in months to come,” added Mattar.
Ras Al Khaimah, which currently has 5,000 rooms across 42 hotels, expects to boost inventory by 2019 with an additional 12 hotels providing an extra 3,500 rooms, including the 250-room Anantara Mina Al Arab due to open in 2018 and a 300-room Marriott resort expected to come online in 2019.
The 2.7 million square metre Al Marjan Island, a man-made archipelago of four islands, is among the emirate’s major tourism projects and is expected to boast 20 hotels by 2025. MICE sector growth is projected to be a key contributor in RAKTDA’s target of hosting one million tourists by the end of 2018.