Our annual Advisory Board meeting is an essential component of the programming for AHIC, and we are very grateful for the input of all members. Every year, the discussion is different and this debate was dominated by a clear focus on the costs of development versus the reality of returns. There was a thirst for knowledge around issues such as risk adjustment and returns, supply and security, facilitation of foreign investment, ownership models and even exit strategies for distressed assets.
Accor Middle East
Louis Abi Abboud has diverse experience within the hospitality industry, having served on the property owner side as well as the hotel operator side.
He began his career in hotel operations with Starwood Hotel and Resorts at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in California where he held management positions for a couple of years, before moving to the owner side by joining Saudi Bin Ladin Group in Jeddah, as part of their Asset Management team overseeing a 4000+ keys portfolio of hotels in Makkah. Louis later joined international consultancy firm HVS part of their Consulting and Valuations practice in Dubai. He then moved to Asset Management & Business Planning at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, to work as a part of the team overseeing eleven internationally branded properties in addition to several new hotel developments across the region.
Since November 2014, Louis joined the development team of AccorHotels Middle East, where he contributed to three record signing years, allowing AccorHotels to be the number one hotel operator in the region in terms of signings in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Louis graduated from Sagesse University’s Faculty of Hospitality Management with an academic certification and École hôtelière de Lausanne with a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management. He also holds a certification in Real Estate Investment and Asset Management from Cornell University.
With his wealth of Hospitality and Tourism experience, strategic vision, in depth local and market knowledge, strong relationships and the right credentials, Hassan today leads, drives and supports the operations and growth of Dur Hospitality, a KSA based leading Hotels and Real Estate Group, established 40 years ago. Dur Hospitality is a Hotels Owner, Operator with Makarem Brand and Franchisor of Hotels with highly reputed International Operators including IHG and Marriott International.
Taiba Holding Company
In 2011 Mr. Sohail joined ARAC as Director of Finance for the Medinah properties which include Taiba Tower, Al Majeedi and Arac Inn. He spent two years in that position developing programs and standards to enhance accuracy in reporting. After that, He was promoted to Corporate Director of Finance, providing guidance and leadership to all ARAC properties as well as participating in the new openings.
Following his success with ARAC, Mr. Sohail Joined Taiba Holding Company (The prime real estate company in Madinah) in 2015 as Director of Investment and Development, monitoring and supervising Taiba's current and new investment portfolios including existing and new hotels developments in Madinah and other KSA major cities.
Mr. Sohail holds a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from Multimedia University in Cyberjaya – Malaysia.
Muhammad is a holder of Master of Science in Project Management and a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from KFUPM, Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Certification in Strategic Hospitality Management from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA; and an Alumni of the Entrepreneurs Development Executive Training, University of California at San Diego, California, USA.
He started his career in 1991 where he joined Al Yammamh Project / ZFA for the Royal Saudi Air Forces . then in 1992 he moved to The Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) as Capital Project Planner for the Western Region. In 1998 Muhammad joined the Saudi Economic and Development Company (SEDCO) where he was the Vice President for Tourism and Hotels and the VP for Direct Investments. In 2003, he joined Tamlik Real Estate Development and Investment company, where he was the Director of Development and General secretary of The Board of Directors. Muhammad Founded Riyada Hotels Company in 2005 which became the master hotel developer of Wyndham Worldwide in Saudi Arabia. In 2018, Muhammad was appointed as the CEO of Hospitality in AIMS Holding.
He is currently the vice chairman of the board of the Saudi Association for Tourist Accommodation Facilities, a member of Real Estate and Hotels Committees of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and previously the Vice President of the national real estate committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers. Muhammad is actively involved in many conferences and ongoing professional development. He also plays different voluntary roles in promoting entrepreneurship, small businesses start-ups, and helping youth to enter different business arenas.
Dr. Mohammad Al-Jared is seasoned Saudi senior executive with over 30 years’ experience in academia, government and private enterprise roles.
He has spearheaded some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent property innovations in recent years, including Jeddah’s The Headquarters Business Park, a structure that generates its own power; and which uses excess energy to heat and cool its water supply. He contributed to the development of the Makkah Municipality’s building codes and by-laws, as well as participated in the holy city’s committees for HSE and structural plans among others.
Dr. Al-Jared spent over a decade educating generations of young Saudis at King Abdulaziz University, culminating in his chairmanship of the Department of Architecture until 2003. He then led the real estate activities of among the Kingdom’s largest private conglomerates, supervising design and construction of major developments valued at several billion riyals, including shopping centers like the Red Sea Mall, mixed-use, hotel and business towers and other assets across millions of square meters in seven cities. His experience includes master planning, having contributed to a number of residential communities and signature projects such as Madinah’s Knowledge Economic City, as well as his earlier work in Makkah.
Dr. Al Jared is a ex member of the United States Green Building Council; and is committed to ensuring projects in his care adhere to global environmental principles. Dr. Al-Jared holds a Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan.
Ismail AlKamal is a Director for AlKamal International in Saudi Arabia, a company with 25 years of experience and over 40 executed 4 & 5 star hospitality projects in the Kingdom. He is currently responsible for business and strategy development within the company and leads the company’s most challenging hospitality projects. He is most famous for leading the design and build effort for Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC’s) first phase of Penthouses and Villas in Makkah that were urgently executed in less than 8 weeks and sold in 2 days for over 200 Million US Dollars. He also led the fit-out and FF&E installation efforts for Hilton Suites and Marriott, the first two hotels in JODC’s 26 branded hotel mega project. Before that, he was in charge of the Fit-out, FF&E, IT, Multimedia & Visual effects work for Saudi Arabia’s first aquarium in Jeddah. Ismail has a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering from Aleppo University in Syria, a Master’s Degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and is an Advanced Study Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA. He is also a prominent author for a number of conference and journal publications in engineering.
Abu Dhabi National Hotels PJSC
With more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Khalid had the opportunity to manage various hotels under well-reputed international hotel chains in different countries.
Khalid has had exposure to different business models, resorts, city hotels and mix used development.
Before joining Abu Dhabi National Hotels, Khalid spent 5 years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was the Managing Director of Al Hokair Group, where he played a key role in the group’s successful IPO.
Prior to that, Khalid worked as General Manager for Accor & Banyan Tree.
Khalid a 54 yr old Finnish citizen of Moroccan origin, holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Strathclyde University, United Kingdom.
An international hotelier with over 30 years’ experience, Mohamed Awadalla has worked with some of the leading global hospitality companies including Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Hilton International, Rotana Hotels and now at TIME Hotels Management L.L.C where he was one of the founding members.
After completing his studies at the German Academic Institute for Hotel Management in 1985, Awadalla began his career with the well-known Swiss hotel group, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, in the Egyptian city of Luxor. He then joined Hilton International in Luxor and was subsequently tasked with running the travel trade division out of the Area Sales Office in Cairo, with the responsibility of 12 properties.
In 1996 Awadalla relocated to the UAE, and returned to operations, joining the Hilton Corniche Residence team in Abu Dhabi as Rooms Division Manager. Recognising the Emirates’ burgeoning potential in the hospitality sector in 2000 he was appointed Director of Business Development for the Al Ain Hilton Hotel, where he spent two years driving the brand’s business strategies.
Following his successful tenure with Hilton International, Awadalla was headhunted by UAE-headquartered Rotana Hotels and joined the Al Maha Rotana, Abu Dhabi, as General Manager in 2004. His reputation for operational excellence then saw him take on the role as opening General Manager for the new five-star Al Manshar Rotana in Kuwait City, where he quickly established brand presence, setting new standards of hospitality within the local market.
Being one of the founders of TIME Hotels Management in 2007, Awadalla started as the Area Vice President. In 2012 he moved to the position of CEO with overall responsibility for the company’s Ten Hotels, Hotel Apartments and Residence with a remit to spearhead the future development and drive the commercial success of TIME’s rapidly expanding portfolio of Middle East and Northern Africa based properties.
SBK Holding Hospitality Committee
Luca Bandecchi leads Topaz Consultancy, an Asset Management Company that provides comprehensive services in the Tourism and Hospitality industry including Food & Beverage and is part of SBK Holding LLC, the Holding Company of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates, SBK Holding has a range of companies that serve a broad cross-section of industries not only in the Gulf region but also globally. Luca Bandecchi also covers the role of Vice Chairman of the SBK Hospitality Committee who is responsible for the four Hotels in the UAE that are operated by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts under Management Agreement.
Previously Bandecchi has leaded the creation of the Paramount Hotels & Resorts brand, which was launched in April 2012 on behalf of an international group of investors. His primary role was to head up the translation of the brand form the movie industry into hospitality, ensuring full integration and success in all concerned areas and define the operational strategy and development approach to guarantee success in the launch of the brand.
Bandecchi has covered senior positions to develop hospitality brands for other international companies like Salvatore Ferragamo and Giorgio Armani in Europe and the Middle East.
Born and educated in Italy, Bandecchi graduated from International School of Business Sciences in Florence, then studied Hotel Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, USA.
Beaufort Global Partners LLC
Beaufort Global Partners LLC is a private boutique Investment, Asset Management & Development Firm specializing in hospitality real estate and public market ownership with a focus on hotels, commercial buildings, residential projects, and industrial complexes. The firm is based in Dubai, UAE
René Beil, Managing Director of Beaufort Global Partners LLC, brings a seasoned history in hospitality management, operations, finance, investments, asset management and business development to the group. He has led business development and growth initiatives on multiple continents as prime driver of investments, asset management, and new business development for Sovereign Wealth Funds, Government, Public & Private Companies, Royal Families, High Net-Worth Individuals as well as Family Offices.
He has a proven track record in organization building, discrete off market Private Negotiations & Transactions, Business Development to Asset Management from Boston to Buenos Aires, London to Paris through Dubai to Singapore as well as Hong Kong, accompanied by a comprehensive network of personal relationships at senior principal levels in, Government, Commerce and Finance.
Beil is of German nationality, was born in Singapore and raised in South East Asia, Bali, Manila and Hong Kong, He spent his adolescence in Europe, The Hague, Geneva, Brussels and Paris where he pursued a successful hotel career with InterContinental Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Subsequently, he ventured to the United States of America, Boston, in the pursuit of academic achievements
From Boston University, Beil holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, complemented by a Minor in Marketing and a Master’s degree in Finance and Economics. He is today a member of the Advisory Board to Boston University School of Hospitality
In his past appointment as Vice President Asset Management of Dubai Investment Group, Beil’s responsibilities included the asset management of the international hotel and real estate asset portfolio of Dubai Holding, which incorporated but not limited to the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and other international real estate assets. Furthermore, he was mandated to seek investments, develop & grow markets in South America and cultivate business relationships between Middle East and LATAM.
Beil is currently leading the formation as one of the founding members of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association MEA (HAMA MEA) which is being launched during AHIC 2014. He is fluent in English, French, German, Dutch and proficient in Spanish.
Dr. Martin Berlin leads the Real Estate, Hospitality and Leisure Practice in the Middle East and also serves as the Global Deals Real Estate Leader. Recently, he has worked on projects assisting property development companies in strategy, feasibility and market entry studies and supporting other real estate companies in operational projects like customer reviews or growth projects, advising Hospitality companies on their regional strategy and selected project feasibility and supporting Leisure & Entertainment government authorities and companies in expanding their regional project portfolio. Further, he is consulting Construction Contractors and Architectural & Engineering companies in their corporate strategy development. Martin is also actively involved in the Global Deal Origination initiative that has the objective to present customised deal opportunities to a targeted list of global investors (e.g. SWFs, Pension Funds and PE).
Martin brings over 12 years of experience working in senior strategy and operational positions at real estate development companies in the Middle East while he was with Dubai Holding between 2001 and 2013. While his core functional expertise is in strategy and growth projects, he also gained significant operational experience in business development, deal making, marketing and operations. With his experience in McKinsey & Company, he combines a consulting advisor perspective with a operational expertise that he acquired working for Procter & Gamble and Dubai Holding.
Before joining PwC in 2013, Martin was the Chief Strategy Officer of Dubai Properties Group where he was responsible for the turn around and restructuring of Dubai Holding’s property development and management business, optimizing revenue opportunities for the developer while streamlining OPEX. Martin has is also experience in the Healthcare and Leisure & Entertainment sectors. He has served as the VP of Strategy & Business Development at Dubailand Parks & Resorts (BU of Dubai Holding) where he led IP licensing negotiations with Universal Studios, Six Flags, Marvel, and Dreamworks. His healthcare experience is focused on the pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals industry and the development of Dubai Healthcare City, a large development focusing on the delivery of the entire healthcare value chain. Before his positions with Dubai Holding he was with McKinsey & Company for 6 years and with Procter & Gamble for 3 years.
A.A. Al Moosa Enterprises LLC
Anil Bhardwaj, a Chartered Accountant by profession, is a director with A.A. Almoosa Enterprises LLC, Dubai (The Arenco Group) for several years. The Group is a diversified conglomerate with interests in real estate, hotels, manufacturing, services and trade. As one of the largest landlords of Dubai it has, inter alia, several hotel and hotel apartment ownerships, with the hotels being managed by internationally renowned operators. The Group pioneered the hotel apartment concept in Dubai almost 30 years ago. Anil sits on the board of various group companies, including that which regularly interacts with the hotel operators and their management.
Majid Al Futtaim Properties
Khalifa Bin Braik is the Managing Director of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, leading the business unit’s growth strategy across the entire portfolio of existing assets and new developments. Mr. Bin Braik is responsible for portfolio performance and expansion in alignment with Majid Al Futtaim’s vision of developing integrated lifestyle destinations.
Mr. Bin Braik has over 15 years of Real Estate and Hospitality leadership experience in various organisations. Starting his career with Dubai Holding, he joined Majid Al Futtaim - Properties in 2014 from Sharjah Holding as a Director in the Shopping Malls Business Unit and soon after was appointed as Head of Asset Management for the Hotels Business Unit. In his last role, Khalifa was responsible for optimising the operating and financial performance of the entire portfolio of Majid Al Futtaim Hotels, as well as building robust relationships with our international hotel partners.
Mr. Bin Braik Holds a Masters in financial economics from Boston University and a B.Sc. in Economics from Northeastern University.
Michael is an Architect who has more than 25 years’ experience working on projects in Europe and the Middle East. Since his arrival in UAE 2010, Michael has applied his extensive experience in the delivery of major projects in Europe to the Middle East environment.
Throughout his career, as a talented organiser and team-builder, he has continually applied his management skills to the wider business, leading to him gradually taking senior management roles in the businesses he has joined and significantly contributed to business growth.
Michael founded SSH’s Dubai office in 2015 and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of business development, client management, is responsible in bidding, negotiation and management of all contracts. Aided by his fluency in German and English, and his profound understanding of the construction market in the Gulf region, he provides a key interface with our Middle Eastern clients, who can draw on this considerable experience.
Michael graduated from Dublin’s University College with a Bachelor of Architecture Degree and is a member in Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI).
Millennium Hotels & Resorts
A seasoned hospitality professional, with over three decades of Operational and Senior Leadership experience, Kevork was appointed as Chief Operating Officer for Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa in March 2017. He was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and Africa in August 2019 to continue his vision towards evolving the Millennium brand and lead it to reach new heights of success.
Under his strategic leadership, the company witnessed rapid growth with closer to doubling its portfolio since he took over, that resulted in leading the company to become one of the fastest-growing hotel management companies in the region.
He oversees the company’s divisions and its operations across the Middle East and Africa where Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa operates over 40 hotels with over 14000 keys and 35 hotels in the pipeline.
Kevork has a focused vision on ‘people development’ and has successfully launched a comprehensive four-tier national development programme centring the career advancement of fresh graduates, executives and leaders. Before joining Millennium Hotels & Resorts in the Middle East and Africa, Kevork held the position of Vice President Asset Management at Tetra Hospitality Investment LLC, the holding company for the Lakhraim Business Group’s hospitality sector where he overlooked the performance of the Tetra-owned hotels along with all future developments and acquisitions. He is also a member of the Bethlehem University Tourism Institute (BUTI), Board of Directors
Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investments
Ossama El Batran, CEO of Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investments, a group that invests, develops and operates various hospitality and real estate projects in Jeddah. Assets owned by the group include the iconic Jameel Square, Mövenpick Hotel Tahlia, Solo Residence, Hadya Stores and Dyar Hadya residence. Ossama has an extensive experience in operations, investments, asset management, consulting and entrepreneurship. He is a veteran of McKinsey & Company where he consulted both the private and public sectors. Ossama held top management and board positions in a wide variety of companies in investments, asset management, health care, education, technology and digital media. He is ivy league educated with a bachelor degree from Brown University, RI, USA. He holds a MPhil in Development Studies from University of Cambridge, UK.
Selim specializes in hotel development & asset management for standalone, mixed use and portfolio level hotel projects, and is a specialist in hotel management agreements, hotel operator search & selection, and market financial studies.
Selim’s extensive knowledge of hotel operations allows him to enhance hotel profitability and drive asset value by carrying out strategic operational and financial reviews. . Currently he is responsible for overseeing the hospitality function at Deyaar PJSC for their pipeline of upcoming hotels.
Selim has worked in the tourism and hotel industry for the past 23 years at an international level. The early part of his career has included experience in tour and hotel operations, finance, F&B and Human Resources.
Having worked for leading organizations in hotel asset development, management, hotel operators, and developers, Selim is an all rounded hotel real estate professional.
Maad International Co.
An accomplished real estate and hospitality specialist with over 25 years of managerial experience in operations and development spanning four continents and encompassing the industry’s various facets, including opportunity identification, product definition, asset management and the oversight of several hotel openings with residential and commercial components.
Abdellah is Chief Hospitality Officer at Maad International Co. a development conglomerate that’s preparing to deliver the largest hospitality complex in Makkah with 21 towers and almost 11,000 rooms in close vicinity to the Holy Haram.
Before his current role, Abdellah was CEO at Abjar International Hotels, a subsidiary of Almulla Group of companies, that owns and operates a dozen managed and franchised hotels in Dubai under renowned global brands. Prior to that he held several senior positions globally with investment funds and major hotel chains such as Hyatt, Four Seasons, Jumeirah and Kempinski.
The First Group
Mariano Faz is Head of TFG Asset Management in Dubai. www.tfgassetmanagement.com. He is responsible for the asset management of the company’s Hospitality and Real Estate portfolio which comprises over 3,000 units in the UAE and an additional 3,000 hotel units under development. During his tenure, Mariano has guided the strategic planning efforts to achieve investment objectives on behalf of owners. He provides leadership to the asset management team and ensures that the hotels are managed to the best of their capacity.
Mariano is an active HAMA (Hotel Asset Management Association) member and also is part of the HSMAI (Hotels Sales & Marketing Association International) Advisory Board. Mariano brings over sixteen years of expertise within the hospitality sector, where he has held a number of management, finance and operational roles. He has successfully negotiated multiple hotel management contracts, coordinated pre-openings and possesses in-depth knowledge of hotel industry trends. Before joining TFG Asset Management, Mariano served as the SVP of JLL Hotels in Dubai where he focused on investment and advisory. Prior to that, he worked for Ilunion hotels as a Chief Operating Officer for three years and Barcelo hotels in Europe where he successfully managed to expand the brand through management contracts and lease contracts.
Mariano is a Spanish national and holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University International of Catalonia, Spain and a Master in Finance from EADA, Barcelona. Mariano is a regular speaker at prominent Hospitality Conferences in the Middle East. He also collaborates in multiple hotel sector publications related to Hotel Asset Management topics.
The Red Sea Development Company
Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, Rabih Feghali is a third-generation hotelier. A graduate of the Les Roches Hotel School in Switzerland and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, he spent the first decade of his career in New York City working at properties such as The New York Palace, The Plaza and the Westin. Rabih then returned to the Middle East assuming the role of general manager at a boutique hotel in Abu Dhabi and director of hospitality development at a financial institution in Beirut.
Rabih spent 6 years at hospitality consulting powerhouse – Ròya International, before joining The Red Sea Development Company as part of the team responsible for delivering the ambitious sustainable tourism initiative on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast.
RAK Hospitality Holding LLC
Alison has over 20 years of experience working with the hospitality industry; extensively travelled, she has worked in over 30 countries covering Europe, United States and Middle East/Africa. She has lived and worked in the Middle east for the past 4 years.
Alison comes form a strong financial background, with a BSc in Economics and an ACA Chartered Accountancy Qualification. She started her career with Andersen in the UK and US, moving to PwC in 2001.
Alison moved to the Middle East from PwC in London to help establish and develop PwC’s Middle East Hospitality and Leisure practice into a leader in its field. Her roles were initially as Middle East Hotels Lead, and ultimately as the Middle East Real Estate, Hospitality and Leisure Leader.
Zoltan is an experienced real estate investment professional with over 20 years of industry experience covering multiple managerial and leadership positions across geographies.
With a primary background in hotel investments and asset management, Zoltan has extensive experience with a range of real estate asset classes like office, residential and mixed-use.
He began his career in philanthropic organisations, then continued with KPMG, where he worked for a decade in the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism team for the Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Previous to joining Omran, where he heads up the asset management and hospitality functions, Zoltan worked at the sovereign wealth fund of Oman (SGRF) where he was responsible for the direct hospitality portfolio and real estate funds.
Zoltan, an engineer by trade, studied social sciences and acquired an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management, Cleveland, Ohio, specializing in Finance. He is a certified asset manager from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
Based in Hilton’s MEA Regional Office, Dubai – Khneisser is charged with spearheading the growth of the Hilton portfolio across MENA & Turkey.
Under Khneisser’s leadership, Hilton’s Middle Eastern development has enjoyed year-on-year, organic growth and markets he oversees contribute over 50% of Hilton’s total pipeline in EMEA. Carlos Khneisser started his career in the hospitality industry in 1998, gaining broad experience across the sector, before focusing on finance and asset management positions over a nine-year period.
Khneisser joined Hilton in 2009, overseeing the company’s growth within the Middle East & North Africa region that now features more than 140 hotels trading or under development under eight brands. In 2016 he began overseeing Hilton’s development operations in Turkey.
He graduated in 1996 with a BA Business Administration and Finance from Notre Dame University, Lebanon and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
A native of Lebanon, Khneisser is fluent in Arabic, English and French.
Abjar Hotels International LLC
The Chief Executive Officer of Kerten Hospitality, Marloes Knippenberg, has an innovative mindset that has established the organization as a disruptive, dynamic international hospitality group dedicated to the management of mixed-use developments in key global destinations.
Her journey in the hospitality field started with Hilton where Marloes held senior operational and commercial management positions for over a decade. At the helm of Kerten Hospitality, which she developed and launched with the backing of Kerten, Ireland-based investment vehicle, Marloes has grown the organization’s operational and pipeline portfolio from one brand in one country to 10 aspirational lifestyle-driven concepts in 35 development projects across 3 continents.
Marloes continuously pioneers the role of innovation across the larger ecosystem with the aim to establish an industry platform where technology, hospitality and sustainability coexist and evolve for the benefit of consumers, investors and businesses.
She is on Advisory Board of flagship events like IHIDC – Vienna, AHIC - UAE, HITEC - Dubai, IHIF - Berlin and is frequently invited to contribute Though Leadership to industry forums: ITHIC - Italy, SHIC - Saudi Arabia, HOST – London and The Retail Summit, Dubai.
Marloes has been listed in the Hotelier Middle East Power List 2019 ranking the region’s most influential industry professionals.
Christophe Landais (64), MBA, offers more than 30 years of experience at Senior Executive Management levels in the hospitality sector combining personal leadership with business acumen and entrepreneurship to develop performance culture.
Passion for winning with 3 keys for success: vision, leadership and teamwork. Dynamic leader with proven expertise to lead the company development ensuring sustainable revenue growth.
Possesses in depth regional hospitality market knowledge, country specific cultural and economic challenges awareness to effectively manage a territory spanning across the GCC countries (KSA, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar), Egypt and Iran.
Leverages on a robust hospitality operational background and cross-functional expertise (Development, Finance, Legal, HR, Marketing & distribution, Media) to successfully achieve goals.
Recognised relationship builder and ambassador together with sound listening and communication skills to foster continuous stakeholders’ engagement.
World Travel & Tourism Council
Gerald Lawless started his career with Forte Hotels which culminated in him setting up and growing Forte’s operations in the Middle East.
After a 23-year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah in 1997 and helped establish it as one of the premier luxury hotel brands in the world. Taking on the challenge of launching Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, after the successful introduction of Jumeirah Beach Hotel to an eager travelling public, Mr. Lawless went on to become President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jumeirah Group.
At the beginning of 2016, having served for 18 years at the helm of the Jumeirah Group, Mr. Lawless assumed a new leadership position responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding, the Group’s parent company. He has now retired from this role and continues to reside in Dubai.
He was the Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council from April 2016 - April 2018, and is now WTTC Ambassador.
Mr. Lawless is a Graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management by the Johnson & Wales University, State of Rhode Island, USA; an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the National University of Ireland, Galway; and an Honorary Doctorate by the Middlesex University Dubai. He is a member of the Global Future Council on the Future of Mobility of the World Economic Forum; a fellow member of the Institute of Hospitality; and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.
Recipient of the 2017 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
As Regional Vice President Development for Middle East & Africa at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Panos Loupasis is responsible for leading the company’s growth strategy and execution in the region.
Joining the company as Senior Director of Development for Middle East & Africa in 2011, his remit further expanded in November 2015 to steer Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ growth strategy in the Middle East & Africa region.
Prior to joining Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, he has held various development and asset management positions, including roles at the Rezidor Hotel Group and AccorHotels. He was also instrumental in the introduction of the Holiday Inn Express brand in the GCC. Panos has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, also including operational roles in properties in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Panos is a native Greek and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the Aristotelian University in Greece and an MBA in International Hospitality Management from IMHI, a programme established by Cornell University in the US.
He is based in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ Dubai office.
Christopher Lund oversees the Hotels consultancy division of Colliers International in the Middle East and North Africa. Over the past decade, the Hotels team has worked on more than 800 projects in the region, providing advisory services to hotel developers, investors, operators, governments, law firms and banks. Christopher specializes in development consultancy and strategic asset management, ranging from standalone hotels to large-scale destinations, as well as hotel company strategies, condo-hotel investment models and negotiating complex hotel management agreements. His operational and asset management experience allows him to have a 360-degree view and hands-on approach when providing actionable advice to enhance hotel profitability. Christopher holds an MSc in Real Estate Investment and Finance from Henley Business School, with other degrees and certificates from New York University, Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.
Ali has been in the Middle East since 2011 and has been primarily working on hospitality development projects throughout the MENA region. In this time he has worked with developers, investors and governmental institutions on feasibility studies, concept definition, pricing strategies and optimum site use for both large-scale multi-use projects and stand-alone assets. Ali has worked with major hotel operators to develop market entry strategies for new markets, and has also helped developers successfully select operators for hospitality assets across the region.
Al Tamimi & Company
Tara Marlow heads the Real Estate and Hotels & Leisure practices at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East. With over 20 years’ experience (including 15 years in the Middle East region), she is recognised for her specialism in all aspects of hospitality, real estate and development related matters. Tara is regularly published in hotel industry and legal journals and is a speaker at hotel industry and real estate development seminars and conferences throughout the Middle East region.
Bringing her combined hotel industry and real estate development skills and experience, she provides solution orientated advice to owners, operators, property developers, financial institutions and investors on all areas of commercial real estate and development. She has worked on some of the region’s highest profile transactions, mixed-used and resort developments and joint ventures, as well as advising and representing her clients on numerous hotel and serviced apartment management agreements, including rental pool structuring. Tara is well respected by her peers and clients for her ability to negotiate her way through complex management contracts whilst maintaining a grasp of the bigger picture and commercial parameters.
Tara qualified as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 2000, working with a well-known international law firm before moving to the Middle East in 2004 to join Al Tamimi & Company. In the Middle East, she also had the opportunity to gain valuable hotel industry experience in her role as Vice President, Legal within the hotel development and asset management arm of a large Dubai based development company, advising on the acquisition, development, operation and asset management of a hotel portfolio spread across the MENA region comprising approximately 3,500 operational rooms, together with a number of hotel projects at various stages of development.
Hala Matar Choufany is the President for HVS Middle East, Africa & South Asia and Managing Partner of HVS Dubai.
Hala is an experienced Managing Partner and Hospitality Advisor with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. Skilled in Contract Negotiation, Feasibility Studies, Development Recommendation, Valuation, Asset Management, and Strategic Advisory; she has advised on more than 2,500 hospitality and mixed-use projects in the last 15 years across Europe, MEA and Asia. Hala has in-depth expertise in regional hotel markets and a broad exposure to international markets and maintains excellent contacts with developers, owners, operators, investment institutions and government entities. Hala speaks frequently at investment coneferences on a range of topics including asset valuation, management issues and women leadership.
Hala completed Executive Education at Harvard Business School. She also holds an MBA in Finance and Strategy from IMHI (Essec- Cornell) University, Paris, France and a BA in Hospitality Management from Notre Dame University, Lebanon. Hala is fluent in English, French and Arabic.
Hala is a board member of Harvard Business School club of the GCC and is a mum of three. Born in Beirut, Hala lived and worked in a number of cities across Europe, Asia and Middle East.
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage
Haitham Mattar was CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority from 2015 - 2019, where he successfully repositioned Ras Al Khaimah to become one of the fastest growing destinations in the world, exceeding the target of one million visitors in the first three years and winning a number of global travel awards and personal accolades.
With more than 25 years of experience in global destination and hospitality management and marketing, Mattar has also held senior roles with leading global brands including Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Hilton Worldwide.
Mattar’s cross-continent experience and valuable global insights allowed him to effectively lead Ras Al Khaimah’s destination growth strategy, through capturing existing and emerging source market movements and international tourism trends. He was also instrumental in the concept and delivery of globally recognized tourism demand generators in the emirate including Jebel Jais Flight: the world’s longest zipline and the region’s first Via Ferrata.
In 2017, Mattar was elected as Vice Chair of the UNWTO Board of Affiliate Members as well as being appointed as a member of the steering committee for the UNWTO 2017 International Year for Sustainable Development in Tourism. Mattar was also named a full-time advisory board member of the Global Thinkers Forum (GTF) in 2018, and an Advisory Board Member of Al Marjan Development. Mattar is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economy and was appointed in 2018 as a member of the Arabian Travel Market Advisory Board by Reed Travel Exhibitions. In August 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority joined WTTC as a member, being represented by Mattar.
Named ‘Tourism Promotion CEO of the Year’ at the Global CEO Excellence Awards, Mattar was featured in the Arabian Business ‘most powerful Arabs’ list, in addition to being named ‘Leisure and Tourism CEO of the Year’ at the prestigious CEO Middle East Awards and ‘Business Leader of the Year’ at the Hozpitality Excellence Awards in 2018.
A Lebanese-born American citizen and Arabic speaker, Mattar holds a Bachelors degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida, USA, and a MBA in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, UK.
MMAC Design Associates
With 30 years of experience in interior design, Mr. Merieau has honed his skills from the foundations of interior craftsmanship rising to the ranks of senior management. After an early education in hotel administration, he obtained a degree in Interior Design in 1989 and later qualified as Interior Architect in Geneva, Switzerland. Christian Merieau relocated in Dubai 2005 as Managing Director for well know international design firm. After nearly 20 years with this firm designing projects for international hotel operators, he launched in 2013 MMAC Design Associates, an Award winning interior design consultancy agency based in Dubai, specialized in mid-scale & luxury hospitality design. Mr. Merieau was listed on several occasion as one of the most influential designer in the Middle East by Commercial Interior Design magazine and is a regular speaker at international design & hospitality conferences.
Radisson Hotel Group
Elie is responsible for driving expansion opportunities and leading Radisson Hotel Group’s strategic growth and hotel portfolio in the Middle East as well as parts of southern Europe. His responsibility is to grow the Group’s regional portfolio to over 100 hotels and 20,000 rooms by 2020 across each of Radisson Hotel Group’s core brands: Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Inn by Radisson, Radisson RED and Radisson Collection.
A Lebanese national, Elie has 15 years’ experience in development and asset management with international hospitality consultants, as well as a global hotel operator. Elie was formerly part of the HVS team based in London and in Dubai, where his focus was on conducting feasibility studies, valuations, ROI analyses and strategic advice. He joined Radisson Hotel Group in 2010 as Development Manager quickly rising to his current VP role within the organisation. His ability to forge enduring cross-cultural relationships has proven to be a key attribute in a career that has included mandates for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Elie’s strengths lie in his ability to execute strategic agreements for new-build and conversion opportunities while forging strong relationships with new and existing owners. He is adept at assessing market conditions and gathering intelligence, turning opportunities into business.
Elie has an MBA in International Hospitality Management specialising in Hotel Real Estate and Finance from the renowned IMHI – ESSEC Business School in Paris and a BA in Hospitality Management & Tourism from Notre Dame University in Lebanon.
A passionate hotelier, Elie began his career 20 years ago in hotel operations immersing himself in all facets of hotel management before specialising in hotel real estate, finance and development.
Chris Nader is Shaza Hotels’ Vice President, in charge of the group’s global development. He has seen the birth of the company and was involved in setting up the brand’s identity and positioning, establishing its values and philosophy, as well as creating signature guest experiences. With such in depth understanding of the brand, he naturally developed into a key player of the company’s growth strategy, signing management agreements for hotels and resorts in the Middle-East, South-East Asia, and Europe. He was also instrumental in the creation of Shaza’s new upscale brand “Mysk by Shaza” which he has developed in Oman, Kuwait, KSA, UAE and Indonesia. Based in Dubai, Chris’ role is to double the group’s portfolio in the next few years. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of Shaza Hotels.
Chris had an early start into the hospitality industry, working as a child at his family’s yacht club in Beirut. He then held several positions in food and beverage in some of the trendiest beach clubs and restaurants in Lebanon. Most recently, he was the Vice President – Development Middle East and Africa for Kempinski hotels, a position he occupied from 2014 to 2018 alongside his position at Shaza. Chris holds an MBA from the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut.
Amit is an asset manager with 18+yrs. of experience in asset management, private equity & operations. He is the Vice President of HAMA MEA , a Mentor at iN5 Dubai and on the executive board of the Cornell University Alumni association for GCC.
He leads the development of the hospitality division at WASL and part of the asset management team there. Prior to this he was the Managing Director of HighPoint providing Asset management & Investment advisory within the hospitality, PE & RE space within UAE, KSA & Europe as well Executive Manager for a family office in Bahrain where he managed as owner’s representative assets globally with international top tier operators.
He is an alumnus from the IHMCTAN, Mumbai School of hotel management as well from Cornell NY where he specialized in asset & revenue management with a post-grad in business administration from NMIMS, Mumbai. He holds a CHA license from AHLEI.
EMAAR Hospitality Group
A veteran global hospitality professional with over 17 years of experience, Chris Newman is Chief Operating Officer at Emaar Hospitality Group. He is mandated with driving the strategic growth of the organisation through new ventures, expansion, and partnerships, and achieving the highest standards of operational efficiency across all touch-points.
Chris is responsible for the strategic operations of all three hotel brands of Emaar Hospitality Group including The Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts and the Rove Hotels together with Emaar Hospitality Group’s Leisure Clubs and Lifestyle Dining Division. He will also drive the growth of the company to new markets in line with the strategic vision of Emaar Properties, the holding company of Emaar Hospitality Group.
With proven skills in visionary and macro thinking, strategy development, commercial & relationship management, and people, processes & talent management, Chris has previously worked on large-scale hospitality projects for leading international brands in several global markets including Egypt, Nigeria, The Gambia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Guyana in South America, West Indies, Bahamas, Greece, London and Switzerland.
Over the years, he has created a sustainable operations model for greenfield ventures, including pre-opening support, as well as developed operational protocols to maximise revenue and profitability for established projects. He has also championed a number of corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Chris holds a Higher National Diploma in Hotel, Catering & Institutional Management from the Westminster School of Catering, London, and a Certification in Hotel Real Estate Investments & Asset Management from Cornell University, New York. He holds a number of industry certificates in Group Training Techniques, Managing Sales Platforms, Management Communication Skills and High Performance Financial Management for Hotels, among others.
Chris is fluent in English and French. He is interested in scuba diving, kite surfing, yoga, saxophone and motorbikes, and is a competitive triathlete and cyclist.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority (RAKTDA)
Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) since June 2019, brings a wealth of industry experience to aid the continued growth of Ras Al Khaimah as one of the fastest growing destinations in the world.
Phillips joins RAKTDA from the Dubai based International Hospitality Consulting Group INHOCO, where he was Senior Partner and Senior Vice President of Development, responsible for hotel project pipelines exceeding $5 billion in assets. He is also the co-founder and CEO of SugarMoo Desserts, Dubai’s first online dessert delivery bakery and co-founder of Earth Hotels, a sustainable, tech-forward and design centric hotel concept.
Phillips, an American national and a fluent Arabic speaker, has a great understanding of the region having worked in the Middle East since 2005 and specifically in the UAE since 2007. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and an MBA in Organizational Management.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai
After his recent tenure as General Manager Taj Dubai, Ranjit Phillipose has taken over the reins as General Manager of the soon to open Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai. As an Area Director, he will be responsible for Taj Dubai and Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai and he will also coordinate the development of Taj Deira Waterfront Dubai and Taj Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
An Indian-born British national, Ranjit started his journey in 1993 with the iconic Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris in Chennai (India). Through his career, Ranjit has a proven record of success at leading, providing the vision, strategies and leadership required to translate conceptual business models into specific growth strategies, expand market share, increase revenues and improve PBT.
Jumeriah Hotels & Resorts
Strategic Hotel Consulting
Tea is the Founder and Managing Director of Strategic Hotel Consulting, an international management consulting firm specialising in hotel investments. Tea is based in Switzerland and has 15 years of consulting experience within Europe, Middle East and Asia. She has advised a number of prominent owners, developers and investors.
Prior to establishing Strategic Hotel Consulting in 2009, Tea worked in Asia with Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels and in the Middle East with TRI Hospitality Consulting.
She is a Member and a Board Member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC), the leading source for global hospitality expertise.
Tea has comprehensive operational background, having worked with the Four Seasons, Rosewood and Starwood hotel companies in positions covering F&B, rooms division, sales and marketing, yield management and Six Sigma process improvement and management. She is a graduate from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
The Red Sea Development Company
Jay Rosen is the CFO for The Red Sea Development Company, a closed joint stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. He oversees finance, investment, and asset management for a new international luxury tourism destination set along the Red Sea as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. He is responsible for driving long-term strategic value by planning, implementing, managing, and controlling all financial and investment related activities of the Company.
Jay is an accomplished real estate investment and finance executive with broad experience in acquisitions, development, asset management, corporate finance, capital raising, and strategic planning. Over the course of his career he has participated in over $5.5 billion in real estate investments including large, integrated resort developments, single asset and portfolio acquisitions, and corporate mergers and acquisitions. Jay has extensive experience in hospitality and mixed-use assets in addition to residential, retail, gaming, and office investments in North America, the Caribbean, and Middle East.
Jay holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration where he concentrated on real estate finance.
Al Marjan Island
George Saad is sales and marketing for Al Marjan Island. George, a 25-year in real estate industry veteran, directs all marketing and sales strategies, Before joining Al Marjan Island, he held executive-level positions with Tecom Investment, and Emirates Airline. George holds a Master in Business Admiration from Manchester Business School
Ajlan & Bros Holding Group
Insignia Worldwide and Quillon Hospitality
Gaurav founded Insignia in 2003, and stands as the visionary mastermind behind the world’s first brand enrichment company, specializing in travel and destination creation. As a creative protagonist, Gaurav has accumulated a formidable portfolio of achievements that has solidified his status as an internationally recognized leader in his field.
Based in Dubai for the past 22 years and previous to launching Insignia, Gaurav spent a decade in advertising at Lowe. He then took on the illustrious role of Head of Marketing for Hilton Worldwide in the Arabian Gulf between 1998 and 2002.
In 2014 Gaurav was noted as Indian Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Middle East Magazine and has enjoyed a variety of accolades such as being listed at #47 in Arabian Business Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Indians in the GCC. As much a philanthropist as an entrepreneur, Gaurav believes strongly in giving back and in 2009 set up Harmony House, a day shelter for the underprivileged in India with his wife Lucy Bruce.
Drees & Sommer
Filippo Sona is one of the most recognized names in the global hospitality consultancy community having carried out work in more than 28 countries for the past 25 years. From UK to Europe, Middle East, Africa and USA he has carried out more than 735 hospitality projects ranging from market & financial feasibilities, valuations, operator selection, project management and strategic asset management. Currently is Managing Director-Global Hospitality at Drees and Sommer, a global firm specializing in consultancy, asset management and construction management. Filippo understanding of management agreements has been an invaluable skill to global law firms as an expert witness and advisor in commercial negotiations. Filippo is a regular speaker at international hotel investment conferences and writers for many international hospitality publications. Filippo is an associate member of RICS and holds an MBA from Oxford Brooks University and an Honours Degree in Hospitality Management from the University of West London.
Richard Thompson is the Editorial Director of MEED. He is responsible for the content of MEED Magazine, MEED.com, MEED Projects & MEED Insights. A keen student of Middle East political and economic affairs, Richard regularly writes and contributes articles to the wider media, including Financial Times and the BBC. He is also a regular speaker on Middle East economy. Richard joined MEED as Managing Editor in February 2003. During his time at MEED, he has covered many areas of the Middle East economy including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. He was named MEED editor in April 2007 and become Editorial Director in February 2010. He has a Masters degree in International Relations, and a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with Management Law. Prior to becoming a journalist he worked in the UK construction industry for Atkins and for Laing O’Rourke
The First Group
Costas is a hospitality professional with 20+ years experience in the hospitality industry. Costas has served the hospitality industry in various capacities, namely hotel operations, hospitality education, hospitality consultancy and since January 2013 hotel development.
Costas started his education in a traditional Swiss Hotel School, followed by Master and Doctoral degrees in the UK. His PhD thesis is in the area of real estate finance and specifically on hotel feasibilities and valuations.
Costas held various operational roles in hotels in Switzerland, Cyprus and the UK, and taught hospitality related courses in the UK, Greece and the UAE.
Between 2006 and 2012 Costas led Deloitte’s hospitality and real estate Middle East consulting team, and in this capacity he has advised many developers and hotel owners across the Middle East in areas of strategic growth, business planning, growth strategy, asset management, hotel operator selection, feasibility studies, and market trend analysis.
Since January 2013, Costas joined the Marriott International lodging development team, with focus on the markets of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Based in Dubai, Philip leads STR’s business development and client relations for the Middle East and Africa region. He spent two decades in hospitality, and his career has spanned several senior positions in hotel operations and management, sales, marketing and revenue management for a variety of hotel companies. Philip joined The Bench in 2006 and transferred to the STR team in 2008.