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
Director of Architecture – SSH
With more than 15 years of experience with leading international practices in the UK and the Middle East, David has a proven record of creating, presenting and developing an international level of design work. His experience spans the commercial, hospitality, residential and retail sectors, and includes the design of large stadia and sporting facilities. In these projects, he has also played a key leadership and business development role with both local and international clients.
Previously employed by internationally acclaimed studios Hopkins Architects and Glenn Howells Architects (GHA), David was engaged in numerous projects including the London 2012 Olympics as well as the Dubai World Trade Centre and Meraas’ Engineers’ Office Headquarters. At SSH, he is working on various projects within the Dubai Creek Harbour development, the Al Marjan Island development and the Burj Square master development.
As well as holding a Bachelor of Arts with Honours Degree in Architecture and a Post-graduate Diploma in Architecture, David is a Chartered Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
In conversation with:
Aref Abouzahr Chief Executive Officer – ARK Energy
Chief Executive Officer – ARK Energy
Aref is an Energy, Water, and Utilities expert with 20 years of North American, EU and GCC in management consulting, OEM, operations management, new business setup and stakeholder management within the conventional and renewable energysector, Demand Side Management and Energy Efficiency.
He is the founder and managing director of TAQATI, the dedicated Program Management Office mandated by Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to implement the Demand Side Management Strategy of Dubai and attain its energy efficiency targets. In his nearly 2 decades in the sector, Aref assumed key executive management and senior advisory roles within the public and private sectors at General Electric (Power and Water), Ernst and Young (Advisory Utilities and Infrastructure), A.T Kearney, ITT (Water and Wastewater), Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (TAQATI), and currently as Chief Executive Officer of ARK & Associates a Specialized Energy Efficiency Advisory.
Andrea Di Gregorio Director, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration – RAK Municipality
Andrea Di Gregorio
Director, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration – RAK Municipality
Andrea Di Gregorio is the Director of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, with the mandate to support the development of the Emirate towards lower energy intensity and a higher share of renewables in the generation mix.
He has more than 15 years of experience in the energy sector in Europe and the Middle East, where he worked for oil & gas majors and leading utilities in the fields of strategy, operations improvement and energy efficiency.
Prior to joining Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, Andrea Di Gregorio supported the activation of the Dubai Demand Side Management strategy as a PMO Director at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, UAE, and as a Director of Strategy and Continuous Improvement at TAQATI, UAE. Previously, he worked as a strategy consultant at Booz & Company and Oliver Wyman, and as a Business Unit Director at Bertelsmann.
He holds a MSc. summa cum laude in Mechanical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano and an MBA from SDA Bocconi, Milan.
Andrew Forte Vice President, Architecture, Design & Construction, MENA & Turkey – Hilton
Vice President, Architecture, Design & Construction, MENA & Turkey – Hilton
Andrew Forte has been responsible for overseeing asset improvement and project activity for the company’s growing hotel portfolio since 2012. This included the design and construction of properties in Hilton’s development pipeline, currently the most active in the region.
Heading an 18-strong team of Project Directors and Designers, Forte joined Hilton’s MEA operation following an extensive 14-year career with the company in UK and Continental Europe. Forte’s experience covers all technical aspects of the hospitality property sector and he has also been key in helping Hilton to develop increasingly sustainable energy management and alternative energy systems.
During his time in MENAT he has supported the launch of LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s luxury collection brand, the roll out of the upper upscale Curio Collection by Hilton, as well as the midscale Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton brands to the region. He has also pioneered innovative construction techniques custom designed for developing markets.
A proficient public speaker, Forte speaks fluent English, Maltese and Italian. He is based at the company’s MEA area office in Dubai.
Wessel Witthuhn Director of Development & Construction - Global Hospitality – Drees & Sommer
Director of Development & Construction - Global Hospitality – Drees & Sommer
Wessel has extensive knowledge and experience in construction and development industries within Dubai, the Middle East, South Africa, various African Countries and certain Indian Ocean Countries. He has held directorship positions with Grinaker South Africa and various other companies, including listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. As General Manager of Grinaker Infrastructure Development in Johannesburg his role included negotiating with Parliamentary Ministers on many Public Private Partnership initiatives, including toll roads, airport privatizations and infrastructure development. He lectured at the University of Cape Town's Postgraduate programme, held the position of General Manager for the prestigious Al Rostamani Group in Dubai and held the position of President for IFA Hotels & Resorts Africa and Indian Ocean, and the Chief Operating Officer for Emerald Palace Group in Dubai.
Wessel’s extensive experience includes all facets of development, from concept to completion, including strategic planning, developing strategies and objectives for all new projects. His strengths lie with the ability to recognize potential development within countries, contract negotiation, value engineering on all aspects of a project, golf course design knowledge, resort master planning and managing the various assets held by the company - including internal hotel operations and the management of hotel and resort assets.
Wessel’s focus within Global Property Corporation has been consulting and managing the Project and Development Management process for various prominent firms within the MENA region. This process includes Design Development, Construction Management & Project Management Services. Wessel has successfully managed these projects by offering a fully comprehensive Development Management process, which is customized to suit the requirements of each individual client. This process offers strategic guidance and full management of the entire development process – as such, GPC offered a professional, fully comprehensive and effective management solution for Project and Development services.
During his development advisory consultancy role with Knight Frank, Wessel focused on projects within the MENA region, relating to hotels, retail, residential and commercial. The role encompassed master planning, market and financial feasibility studies, highest and best use scenarios, and other strategic guidance related to development and project management.
Wessel’s key responsibility with Drees & Sommer will be to lead and assist the hospitality team, thus extending the Drees & Sommer Hospitality services within these development and construction disciplines. This role encompasses all project feasibility, design & development co-ordination from concept to completion, strategic planning, budgets, project delivery and all client contractual advisory recommendations.