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Tourism sector visionaries discuss building a ‘destination of choice’ with the UAE’s young entrepreneurial community at SEF 2024

Tourism sector visionaries discuss building a ‘destination of choice’ with the UAE’s young entrepreneurial community at SEF 2024

Timeless cities with a strong recall is a culmination of multilayered factors and multifaceted efforts; experts said as they lead inspiring talks and engaging fireside chats at the SEF Community Zone

Sharjah, February 03, 2024

His Excellency Khaled Jassim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), delivered an inspiring talk on the first day of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2024 (SEF), recounting the progress Sharjah has made through the vision and efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in becoming a global destination for business, tourism, and entrepreneurship, as well as efforts made to be a sustainable and future-ready emirate.

In a speech titled ‘Building a Timeless City’, held on the Community Stage within the festival’s bustling ‘Community Zone’, the speech highlighted the integral role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Al Midfa revealed that they are in fact the backbone of economies and reiterated the UAE’s standing as a hub of innovation and excellence, citing the tourism sector’s important contribution of over 20% to the non-oil GDP.

Dispelling the misconception of limited opportunities, Al Midfa mentioned that the modern era offers an abundance of possibilities, albeit with changed tools and practices. Technology and innovation, he stressed, have been instrumental in creating countless opportunities for growth, investment, and prosperity. Al Midfa attributed these advancements to the visionary approach of the Sharjah Ruler, where people are at the core of every initiative.

He also emphasised that Sharjah’s success is not only measured by its economic growth but also by its ability to preserve its cultural heritage and promote sustainable development, becoming a global destination for business and tourism. He noted that the strategies employed by the UAE to maintain its position as the largest travel market in the region, with the thriving hospitality sector, top-tier airlines, and ambitious tourism strategies, have established it as a destination of choice for global travellers, aiming to host 40 million guests in the next seven years.

Al Midfa stated, “Sharjah is an emirate that has always been forward-thinking, and we are committed to building an innovative city that will continue to thrive for generations to come. We are proud of the progress we have made so far, but we know that there is still much work to be done. We will remain committed to promoting sustainable development and tourism, preserving our cultural heritage, and creating an environment that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship and investment.”

Fireside Chat: Crafting a narrative in the global tourism industry

A fireside chat titled ‘Destination of Choice: Crafting Our Narrative in the Global Tourism Industry’ took place featuring Joe Hattab, Documentary Filmmaker & YouTuber with over 12 million subscribers, Muatasam Al-Aulaqi, Cofounder of Oman-headquartered adventure travel company ‘Nomuhub’, and Moderated by Iman Ben Chaibeh, Director of Community Engagement at Sheraa.

Hattab shared his journey from a backpacker documenting travels in 2016 to a filmmaker creating in-depth documentaries. Sharing his advice with the audience, he said, “It is important to adapt to the changing times and keep ahead of technology and trends to ensure the highest quality and interesting content. Although technology shouldn’t keep anybody back, it is possible to make quality content these days just with your mobile phone. The most important thing is storytelling and creating a human bond.”

Muatasam Al-Aulaqi, in turn, shared his personal discovery through travel, stating, “There is so much to learn and observe from the world and travelling. I discovered many different cultures but also discovered a lot about myself”.

Talking about his start-up, NomoHub, he stressed that social impact and creating a sustainable enterprise was a high priority for him, citing his company’s commitment to giving back to the community, with over 10% of profits supporting charities, supporting over 2000 schools around the world educating tens-of-thousands of students.

Discussing his journey through establishing his business, he said, “Even though I would use all my money travelling in my youth, I realised that it was a good investment in expanding my horizons and later led to me starting my company where I could use all the experience I had gained. Starting my business was a natural progression to following my passion, things are much more achievable, and it’s easier to dedicate yourself if you love what you do.”


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