Dr. Taleb Rifai made the African Tourism Board a better place in the world

Dr. Taleb Rifai made the African Tourism Board a better place in the world

“Whatever our business in life may be, let us always remember that our core business is, and will always be, to make this world a better place.” The person who said these words – and is a mentor for many in the travel and tourism industry – is now also part of the African Tourism Board (ATB).

Dr. Taleb Rifai, the former UNWTO Secretary-General is now officially a board member and honorary patron of the African Tourism Board leadership team. Where Africa becomes ONE tourism destination of choice in the world was the dream behind this initiative when it was started by ICTP Chairman Juergen Steinmetz at World Travel Market in London in November of 2018.

The official launch during WTM Capetown in April was a milestone for the African Tourism Board when an all-African team came in to shape and structure this new NGO.  The new format, the new logo, the new chapter, and the new team are expected to be officially introduced and launched next week.

Today, during the World Tourism Conference in Johannesburg, the former UNWTO Secretary-General officially became a board member and honorary patron. This was concluded in a meeting yesterday with ATB CEO Doris Woerfel and ATB Chairman Cuthbert Ncube.

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Founder and outgoing Chairman Juergen Steinmetz said: “Dr. Taleb Rifai joining us is not only an honor but an endorsement for our organization. The wealth of knowledge and connections Dr. Rifai brings to the table will bring the final launch to a new level. Thank you, Taleb, for your support from our very humble beginning. I remember very well Dr. Rifai’s final remarks at UNWTO – Make this world a better place.”

Dr. Taleb Rifai, Doris Woerfel and Cuthbert Ncube

Incoming Chairman Cuthbert Ncube said: “To us at ATB,  the giant awakening for our continent is real – even more so in the tourism industry where Africa is the most resourced, the most endowed continent when we consider natural, historical, and cultural resources. Africa has all that is needed in terms of attractions. It is the strategic human input, the value addition that is needed to take the continent to the next level. The ATB has decided to be a strategic participant in pivoting the continent to its position of a giant among the other continental destinations of the world.

“It is a privilege to welcome  Dr. Taleb Rifai who is joining ATB as a Board Member and Honorary Patron bringing vast experience.”

Dr. Taleb Rifai (born 1949) is a Jordanian economist who was the Secretary-General of the  United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)  based in Madrid, Spain, until December 31, 2017, having held the post since being unanimously elected in 2010.

Dr. Taleb Rifai was elected as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization at the General Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan, held in October 2009 at which time he began his 4-year term on January 1, 2010.

He assumed the functions of Secretary-General ad interim of the World Tourism Organization from March 1, 2009 and served as Deputy Secretary-General from February 2006 to February 2009.

Mr. Rifai has an extensive background in international and national public service, the private sector, and academia. Prior to joining UNWTO, he was the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Mr. Rifai has also served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan – Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Minister of Information, and Minister of Tourism and Antiquity.

As CEO of Jordan’s Cement Company, Mr. Rifai successfully led the first large-scale privatization and restructuring scheme in Jordan during the mid-1990s.

Other positions he has held include Director of the Economic Mission to Washington DC and Director General of the Investment Promotion Corporation of Jordan. Until 1993, Mr. Rifai was involved in research, teaching, and practicing architecture and urban design in Jordan and the USA.

He has a Ph.D. in Urban Design and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, an M.A. in Engineering and Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, and a BS.c. in Architectural Engineering from the University of Cairo in Egypt.