Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

April 2020 | United Arab Emirates


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3

Day Two - Wednesday 10th April 2019

At-a-glance →

07:30 - 08:15

HAMA Networking Breakfast

08:00 - 08:45

Registration and Coffee in the Sponsors’ Showcase

08:30 - 09:15

Welcome remarks

Jonathan Worsley Chairman and Founder – Bench Events

Haitham Mattar 

Official opening by conference host and patron

His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

09:15 - 10:10

The world we live in and a review of global economic prospects and perspectives

Followed by views from the industry around the world; how is the socio-economic environment shaping their plans and impacting their business?


Stephen Sackur Presenter – HARDTalk


Christof H. Rühl Advisory Board – Crystol Energy


Ian Carter President, Global Development, Architecture, Design & Construction – Hilton

Raúl González Chief Executive Officer – Barceló

Suma Venkatesh Executive Vice President and Member of the Global Executive Committee – The Indian Hotels Company Ltd

10:10 - 10:40

Searching for sunshine, praying for performance and what about the future?

Robin Rossmann Managing Director – STR

Talal Yousif Director – HVS

10:40 - 10:50

AHIC Impact Awards

Hosted by:

Amine Moukarzel President, MENA Region – Louvre Hotels Group

Outstanding Leadership Award presented to:

His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

Arabian Young Leader Award presented to:

Sharihan Al Mashary General Manager – Manzil Downtown, Emaar

10:50 - 11:20

Morning refreshments and networking in sponsors’ showcase

11:20 - 12:00

Round Table in the Discussion Room - Blockchain for Beginners

Round Table

Jess Houlgrave Founder & Trustee – Foundation for Art and Blockchain

11:20 - 11:40

AHIC Leadership Talk - The trust crisis

John Blakey discusses the breakdown in purpose led leadership and the systematic decline around trust.  A workshop on “Leading by Example with the Nine Habits of Trust” will take place in the afternoon.

John Blakey Executive Coach and Founder – The Trusted Executive Foundation

11:40 - 12:20

Synchronised for success?

Three Owners and Three Operators sit down with Stephen Sackur, Presenter, HardTalk to discuss how they are Syncing for Success. Never in the history of the hotel industry have we seen such a rapid build-up of hotel rooms. How does the industry cope and what business models are evolving that will help retain and attract more owners and investors?

Stephen Sackur Presenter – HARDTalk


Olivier Harnisch Chief Executive Officer – Emaar Hospitality Group

Pascal Gauvin Managing Director - IMEA – IHG

Mark Willis Chief Executive Officer - MEA – Accor


Dr Badr Al Badr Chief Executive Officer – Dur Hospitality

Fardan Ali Al Fardan Senior Investment Advisor – Equitativa (Emirates REIT Manager)

Christophe Landais Chief Executive Officer – Action Hotels

Adjudicated by Kees Hartzuiker, Chief Executive Officer, Roya International

12:20 - 12:40

AHIC Leadership Talk - Sustainable investment tourism development for the future

Clients are increasingly conscious of the need for conservation and yet hungry for new, more personalised travel experiences, how can we foster a new, positive relationship between tourism and the environment AND provide a sustainable investment opportunity? 

Jay Rosen Head of Investment & Finance – The Red Sea Development Company

12:40 - 13:30

Round Table in the Discussion Room - Reflagging, de-flagging and re-positioning is it generally worth it and at what cost?

Round Table

Yannis Anagnostakis Chief Executive Officer – RAK Hospitality Holding LLC

Costas Verginis Regional Vice President Lodging Development - Middle East – Marriott International

12:40 - 13:10

The Edge of Wildness - Adventure tourism luxury concepts

Looking at the untapped potential of this market.  What are the key things that need to be in place to drive this segment? Where is the potential for investors? What are some success stories to learn from?

Nick van Marken Managing Director – van Marken Limited

In conversation with

Luca Franco Chief Executive Officer & Founder – Luxury Frontiers

Adrian Gardiner Chief Executive Officer – Mantis Collection

James McBride Partner & CEO – NIHI Hotels

13:10 - 13:30

Creating Impact Award

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry

Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi President – Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East & Africa

13:30 - 14:30

Lunch in the AHIC Village & Beach Bar

14:45 - 17:00

Breakout 1


Hosted by:

Richard Thompson Editorial Director – MEED

14:45 - 15:00

Designing data-driven human experiences


The future of guest-centric communication in the hospitality industry has fast evolved to data-driven connections to create ‘customised consumer experiences’ (CCX). How are you using your technology and data to drive revenue growth and transform your business?

Gaurav Sinha Founder & CEO – Insignia

15:00 - 15:15

Wellness, eco, agri and adventure tourism for the avocado generation


Focusing on fresh modern experiences for the millennial “Avocado Generation”.  What does this untapped opportunity in the GCC offer investors increasingly looking outside of key cities? How can investors, operators and destinations work to diversify and increase the tourism offering?

James Wrenn Senior Manager Hotels (MENA Region) – Colliers International

15:15 - 15:30

Creating more than hotel rooms - Looking at blended real estate solutions for living


Treating hotels as a real estate asset and making sure you are making best use of space for maximum ROI. Understanding the opportunity and need for mixed use developments for the future which tap into the needs of the millennial mindset.

Marloes Knippenberg Chief Executive Officer – Kerten Hospitality

15:30 - 15:45

Dubai 2020 – What is in store for the hotel industry based on previous mega events?


Looking at Milan Expo, London Olympics, World Cups and other Mega Events around the world to try and see what patterns can be determined.  What can data tell us about what is on the horizon in the lead up, during and post Expo 2020?

Sarah Duignan Director of Client Relationships – STR

15:45 - 16:15

Walking the catwalk with the fashion entrepreneurs - where should fashion brands look for growth?


Jennifer Fox – Bench Events Advisory Board Member


Valeriano Antonioli Chief Executive Officer – Lungarno Collection

Marc Dardenne Chief Operating Officer – Public Investment Fund – Amaala

Tony Kurz Chief Executive Officer, Director – Brandmark Collective

16:15 - 17:00

A deep dive into Saudi Arabia


Looking at the opportunities in the market.

Ali Manzoor Partner, Hospitality and Leisure – Knight Frank


Ahmed Bin Madhi Director of Asset Management – Rua Al Madinah Holding Company

Stephen Cheesebrough Executive Director, Business Development – Amaala

Gerard Byrne Managing Director – Archipelago Overseas

Shady Hassan Senior Director, Lodging Development – Marriott International, Middle East & Africa

14:30 - 17:30

Breakout 2


Hosted by:

Stephen Sackur Presenter – HARDTalk

14:30 - 15:15

Valuations in the Middle East


How big is the gap between expectations and reality? Where do the bankers and investors think the market is compared to the consultants?

Hala Matar Choufany President-Middle East, Africa and South Asia – HVS


Alain Debare Group Head of Real Estate Portfolios – Equitativa Group

Thomas K. Jacob Head of Strategy and Investor Relations – Mashreq

Alejandro Martin Senior Investment Banker – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

15:15 - 15:45

Investor perspective: Alternative structures for finance and sources of funding for hotels; how do you bring in capital to hotel investments?


Tea Ros Founder & Managing Director – Strategic Hotel Consulting

In Conversation with:

Cyril Piaia Associate Partner – Stratford & Russell

Augostino Sfeir Chief Investment Officer – United Real Estate Company (URC)

Patrick Smith Chief Operating Officer – IFA Real Estate Services

Shuja Zaidi Principal – Equinox Hospitality

15:45 - 16:15

Alternatives to the big boys – Meeting the changing needs of consumers and owners


Is it time for the rise of the smaller brands? As industry consolidation continues to see the large operators grow in size are smaller, regionally focused operators the alternative some owners have been looking for?

Stephen Sackur Presenter – HARDTalk


Mohamed Awadalla Chief Executive Officer – Time Hotels

Thomas Grundner Vice President Sales & Marketing – JA Resorts & Hotels

Andrew Reitmaier Director – Corporate Development – Oakwood®

16:15 - 16:45

The Development Den Discussion: Speeding up the development process


How can investors and developers work to save time and money and deliver their projects on time and budget? In what ways can the operator, client, consultant, contractor relationship be leveraged to speed up hotel projects.

Ismail Al Kamal Director – AlKamal International

Ossama El Batran Chief Executive Officer – Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investments

Morgan Tuckness Head of Technical Services & Development - Global Hospitality – Drees & Sommer

16:45 - 17:30

SPACE - Construction & development with the future of the planet and your future bottom line at the forefront


Looking at sustainability both in terms of materials, and the method of construction.  As an investor why is it important to think about the long-term costs of your project from the outset? Who is leading the way in this field? What results are they seeing? Are there unconventional sources of funding available?   How are operators pushing this agenda through their standards for design and construction of new projects?

David Daniels Director of Architecture – SSH

In conversation with:

Aref Abouzahr Chief Executive Officer – ARK Energy

Andrea Di Gregorio Director, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration – RAK Municipality

Andrew Forte Vice President, Architecture, Design & Construction, MENA & Turkey – Hilton

Wessel Witthuhn Director of Development & Construction - Global Hospitality – Drees & Sommer

14:45 - 16:30

Leadership masterclass in the Discussion Room: Leading by example with the nine habits of trust


In order to protect your brand asset, leaders need to build a high trust culture and the most important factor in achieving this goal is through role modelling the 9 habits of trust.  Come to this workshop to build these habits into your own leadership style.

John Blakey Executive Coach and Founder – The Trusted Executive Foundation

17:00 - 18:30

Three minute pitch: New concept brands pitch to owners

New concept brands in the mid-market pitch to owners. 

Pitch Chair -Ali Manzoor

Judges -  Filippo Sona Rabih Feghali

Louis Abi Abboud
Vice President Development, Accor Middle East 

Hassan Ahdab
Hotel Operations President, Dur Hospitality

Goulam Amarsy
Chief Executive Office, Barceló Hotels & Resorts 

Aston Hotels
Gerard Byrne
Managing Director, Archipelago International

Dino Guiliano
Director International Corporate Development, Choice Hotels International

Marloes Knippenberg
Chief Executive Officer, Kerten Hospitality

Amir Lababedi
Managing Director Development, Hilton

Ramada Encore by Wyndham
Panos Loupasis 
Vice President Development,  Middle East, Eurasia & Africa, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

Saahil Lalit
Senior Director, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International

Radisson Red
Alban Mabille de Poncheville
Manager Business Development, Radisson Hotel Group

Rami Moukarzel
Vice President Development & Acquisitions MENA, Louvre Hotels Group

Mysk by Shaza
Chris Nader
Vice President Business Development, Shaza Hotels

Earth Hotels 
Raki Phillips
Chief Citizen, Earth Hotels

Andrew Reitmaier
Director - Corporate Development, Oakwood® 

Maya Ziadeh
Director of Development MEA, IHG

18:30 - 20:00

AHIC EVENING RECEPTION - Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert

Nestled in a scenic nature reserve, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is an enchanting desert resort amongst 500 hectares of a desert conservation area, inspired by the Bedouin culture.

This year's event theme is the "MILUX FARM." The décor will be elevated with bright yellows and seasonal fresh flowers, showcasing the Spring colors.

Fresh local produce and organic materials combined with the rustic farm landscape will enhance the atmosphere. The experience will be completed with bespoke dining galore including signature dishes from the iconic Farmhouse, live BBQ stations.