Showcasing culture ‘key to attracting tourists’
February 19 2016 11:25 PM
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Traditional shops at Souq Waqif. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

Showcasing Qatari culture and traditions will not only help preserve the country’s heritage but also play a key role in attracting more tourists, Qatari businessman Farhan al-Sayed has told Gulf Times.
“Qatar has already established itself as brand in a range of sectors, including the hospitality and aviation industry,” he pointed out. As a business destination, Doha has been well-known in the corporate segment, which accounts for more than 60% of the hotel demand, according to a recent study.
Al-Sayed emphasised that growth in the influx of corporate activities to Doha was enhanced by Qatar Airways expanding its international routes from Qatar.
“Qatar Airways has transformed the country into a popular brand where people can do business and bring their investments to Qatar … also, major Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) tourism activities are being hosted in Qatar, attracting many Gulf nationals here; many vehicles from Saudi [Arabia] are seen along the roads during the weekends,” he said.
Al-Sayed feels that the arrival of more tourists will also encourage more Qatari entrepreneurs to open businesses that cater to foreign visitors as well.
“Novelty and souvenir shops, as well as restaurants run by Qatari entrepreneurs in the souqs, will benefit from more tourism activities. Souq Waqif and Souq Al Wakrah are beautiful destinations, and considered among the best in the Arab world,” al-Sayed explained.
He also said many tourists flock to the Museum of Islamic Art and similar locations to learn about Qatar’s “rich and historic” past: “It is happening as we speak … the museum, including other destinations like Katara, are fitting venues to impart to tourists about the country’s rich and historic past.”
Aside from museums and souqs, al-Sayed said traditional activities like the Hudud Al Saluki and the Hudud Al Tahaddi challenges are “unique” events that also encourage tourist arrival, while helping preserve and
promote Qatari heritage.
“Qatar has destinations that are unique to this country such as the Sealine beach and sand dunes, which are the best in the world. These locations in the Mesaieed area are home to age-old events like falconry competitions and dog races during the annual International Falcons and Hunting Festival,” he said.
Al-Sayed said salukis, or Arabian greyhounds, compete in a 2km race, while the Hudud Al Tahaddi challenge is a falconry competition that gathers many Qatari participants and tourists during the event.
Organisers of the event said the goal of the annual festival “is to continue to legacy of our ancestors … the importance of this festival for Qatari people is illustrated through the significant turnout of visitors…”
Al-Sayed added that other traditions and practices such as camel and horse riding, and camping along the sand dunes are activities “that encourage Qataris to go back to our roots, and these events will fascinate many tourists.”



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