WHEN built by 2012, the 112-storey Qatar Exhibition Centre will be the world’s ninth tallest building.
The tower, being built in the Al-Dafna area in front of Doha Sheraton, will be an iconic structure for the country, said Ahmed Abdullah al-Nuaimi, chairman of Qatar Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, while making a presentation on Qatar’s progress towards becoming a leisure and business hub.
The tower, besides offices, restaurants and a hotel, will have 50,000sq m of exhibition space.
Another convention centre, capable of seating 2,500 in its auditorium and another 500 in a theatre, is also coming up at the Education City to meet the rising demand for conference space.
Noting that “we are building for the future”, al-Nuaimi said the effort was to develop Qatar as an upscale destination in a sustainable way.
Unlike Dubai, which had successfully developed leisure tourism, Doha will be trying to boost business tourism and leisure as an add-on. With the right kind of facilities, he said, delegates will spend an extra night after their conferences.
When they come for a second time, they will bring their spouses. After that, they could choose Qatar as a short-stay stop-over on their way to other destinations like the Far East.
The Tourism Authority is hoping for a 20% increase in tourism arrivals annually, he added.
QTEA, which is trying to be a bridge between the past and the future, expects to have visitors related to business, leisure, health and education. Projects worth $17bn are either under way or will be taken up in the next five years in the tourism sector alone.
Major new developments include the New Doha International Airport, capable of handling 15mn passengers annually, the Pearl and Lusail, including an entertainment city. Hotel capacity is also being expanded. This will increase by 400% to have 25,000 hotel rooms or luxury apartments by 2011.
The most impressive investments have been on the Qatar Islamic Museum and the renovation of Souq Waqif. Qatar National Museum and other museums are also being renovated and a new Cultural Village is coming up. A new building is being built for Qatar National Library, the official said.
Al-Nuaimi observed that the New York Times had recently chosen Qatar as a top destination in 2009.
The Doha Exhibition Centre this year will host 25 exhibitions and these will bring in thousands of visitors to the country. “We have a very positive view of the future,” al-Nuaimi added.
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