Interview: Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti
What plans are in place to enhance cultural offerings following on what has been achieved so far?
KHALID BIN IBRAHIM AL SULAITI: There are several projects under way that will meet their scheduled deadlines. We will inaugurate the Falcons Museum in the second quarter of 2016, and the Katara Plaza will be inaugurated in the third quarter of 2017. The Katara Plaza covers 38,000 sq metres and will be a distinctive open-air and air-conditioned commercial plaza that blends classical architecture with Qatari traditional heritage.
We are also preparing a unique cultural project that will house eight floating cottages to host a series of restaurants that offer a high level of privacy and cater to new cuisines. According to construction schedules, the launch of the southern expansion project will take place in the first quarter of 2019, the third phase of the Katara Hills project will be in the third quarter of 2021 and the fourth phase of the Katara Gate project will be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2021.
In brief, we are involved in launching several new cultural and commercial projects where construction work is progressing to meet deadlines without any delay. These new projects will also add value to the tourism industry and investment climate.
How have the changing demographics of the country altered visitors to cultural sites?
AL SULAITI: First, we are a public cultural foundation seeking to offer all sorts of cultural services to local and multinational audiences. Our focus is to plan activities that appeal to all categories of the community, taking into consideration their age, social background and intellectual interests. We pay a lot of attention to children, given the growing size of this demographic in the country, and work constantly to offer activities that promote learning and entertainment. Katara has succeeded in gaining the trust of families and the community as a preferred destination. The increasing number of visitors speaks for itself and the growing number of audiences attending shows and activities are also a clear indication of the role we play. We have also become a premier choice for businesses and establishments to hold their conferences, forums and seminars.
In line with the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, what measures are being pursued to enhance both cultural and heritage offerings?
AL SULAITI: Katara is one of the leading tourism destinations in Qatar and a key component of government strategy. The architectural designs, the various activities and shows offered, the diverse array of local and international restaurants, and the cultural shows and exhibitions appeal to all tastes. Building on this reputation, we seek to influence and enrich the cultural scene at both regional and global levels through further supporting culture and human art, celebrating national identity and reviving our heritage. Opening up to global cultures is our message and featuring the civilised image of Qatar is our strategy.
In light of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, how can Qatar develop as an international tourism destination while also preserving its cultural identity?
AL SULAITI: As a cultural hub, sports is within the interests of Katara. These interests are in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 to build healthy bodies and minds of the youth to achieve progress and development. We at Katara continue to launch awareness campaigns promoting the importance of sports and fitness. Visitors can enjoy watching their favourite sports and teams playing live at several platforms across the cultural village. Our future projects will further empower us to play a larger role in the sporting field. We are now readying to host visitors from around the world who will come to Qatar to enjoy the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and a plan is being set to bring culture and sports under one umbrella here.
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