The travel and tourism industry experienced a revival in 2021, following one of the worst years the sector has ever seen. As countries and people continue to emerge from the cloud of the pandemic, their increasing desire to reconnect with the world is expected to become the driving force of growth in travel throughout 2022.
Though the industry has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, its recovery so far has been significant. For example, Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport welcomed 122% more passengers in 2021 than it did in 2020. And the hotel sector is also poised for growth, with Marriott International expected to open around 25 new properties in the region this year.
Some new trends have also had an impact. Working remotely has today become commonplace for many employees, with big tech companies like Twitter, Meta, and Amazon leading the way. This means that hospitality venues are being used as make-shift offices for travelers, as well as residents seeking a change in their working environment. On the financial side, most travel companies are now favoring an asset-light approach. The separation between the management of operations and real-estate assets now allows hospitality companies to focus on their core business.
This month we release our first ranking of the Middle East’s Top 50 Travel & Tourism Leaders. The U.A.E. dominates, with 24 leaders featured based in the emirates, followed by 11 in Saudi Arabia, and four in Egypt. The hotels and hospitality sector is the most dominant with 26 entries, followed by aviation with 17, and tourism with seven entries.
For this ranking, we included leaders that span across the entire travel ecosystem, including aviation, hotels, and destinations. All individuals had to be based in the Middle East. We ranked them based on:
• Size of the business, including revenue, values of investments, and asset value.
• Ownership of assets.
• Designation of the business leader.
• Experience of the business leader.
• Degree of influence of the business leader.
• Other achievements of the business leader.