Despite its ‘apparent’ political isolation in the Gulf Region has once again proven the least to say inefficient, with one of the world’s most influential women, HRH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, mother of the Emir and former First Lady, leading a State visit to the U.S. less than ran almost in parallel with her son Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani meeting French President Macron in Paris and less than 3 months from his meeting with President Trump at the White House.
With a population of 2,5 million inhabitants, Qatar has been sensibly building a reputation beyond its control of the world’s biggest gas resources, establishing itself as a major investor and innovator in higher education and medicine as well as a sports authority hosting a good number of prestigious finals of tennis, golf and equestrian competitions – which will culminate with hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Already Qatar’s national soccer team won Asian Cup Final in February this year. Qatar also inaugurated one of the world’s largest and most spectacular museums dedicated to its history and the history of the Middle East. It already has one of the world’s finest art museums with collections such as jewellery that exceed 1 billion euros.
HRH Sheikha Moza has already taken in 2019 several State visits advocating her strategic involvement in major projects aimed at providing more millions of disadvantage youth with education as a means to prevent extremism and poverty. She has partnered with some of the world’s leading authorities such as the United Nations. On her current visit to the U.S. she has officially met the President of the World Bank and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss her projects in education but also the role it plays during times of conflict. At the Georgetown University she has led a panel specifically on this topic. On the final part of her visit, she will be present at a U.N. Assembly in New York.
The efforts of the country’s leadership are obviously geared towards making sure the FIFA Cup runs smoothly, having had to deal with huge international criticisms not only about award process by FIFA but also about practicals such as the extreme heat and lack of infrastructure. Qatar has so far completed most of the stadiums, including a state-of-the-art metro which adds to one of the world’s top airports, home to Qatar Airways, which ranks among the top 10 global airlines in terms of fleet, destinations and reach.
Last year, the opening of the Jean-Nouvel designed Qatar National Museum coincided with the first edition of Fashion Trust Arabia, an initiative to award prizes in the form of financial support for the most designers of the entire Middle East region. The event was also attended CEOs of major international luxury brands such as Moncler, Rimowa / Loro Piana, Oscar de la Renta, Chopard, Valentino. Despite what might have been perceived as a sign of Qatar pursuing its already existing investment in luxury fashion, it is very unlikely the country will acquire any new international brands, instead rumours intensifying that it might sell its most prized asset, the house of Valentino.
While Doha has added an impressive Mandarin Oriental Hotel and a similarly high calibre Park Hyatt is soon to open, the country has been adding budget and upscale accommodations and even the national airline, Qatar Airways which used to always position itself as a premium airline (for many years its slogan was ‘World’s Five Star’ airline) has not shifted gears, promoting itself exclusively through its newly improved economy class.
For several years, Qatar used to be investing strategically in prized international luxury hotel assets around the world, its three entities Katara, ARTIC, Qatari Diar and Constellation together owning over 120 luxury hotels in over 20 countries. With the new strategic focus shift, investments in luxury hospitality have almost halted, rumours such as the acquisition of The Ritz in Paris being firmly denied.
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