Eng. Abdullah Alissa is the Chief Executive Officer of Assila Investments, a diversified investment holding company with multibillion dollar interests across many industries including banking, food, hospitality, manufacturing and real estate. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Riyad Bank and Dur Hospitality. Additionally, he sits on the Board of various multinational companies including Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily). Mr. Alissa was previously the President of Saudi Construction Company, a leading construction company at the time within Saudi Arabia. Moreover, he was Chairman of Arabian Cement Company and Chairman of National Medical Care Company. Mr. Alissa brings more than 35 years of experience in leadership, corporate governance and strategy, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, restructuring and transformations, and financial management.
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH)
Fahd Hamidaddin is Chief of investment, strategy & tourism marketing officer for the Saudi Committee for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
Previously to SCTH, Fahd was the Chief Commercial Office at King Abdullah Economic City with responsibility for the company’s Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Sustainable with responsibility for the company’s Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Sustainable Development groups since 2012. Fahd is responsible for narrating the “KAEC Story” to investors, shareholders and other external entities. He also leads the city’s customer experience, investments promotion and city activation.
Fahd has been lauded for his success in implementing a number of measures to increase market share and contemporize the iconic KAEC brand driving sales to exceed targets for three consecutive years. Under Fahd’s leadership, KAEC has strengthened its strategic partnership with key media outlets to help promote KAEC as a destination of choice for residential and business clients alike.
Previously to KAEC, Fahd was the Chief of Marketing and competitiveness initiatives at SAGIA where he was responsible for SAGIA’s overall marketing strategy. There, Fahd won 5 International awards for best communication and advertising campaigns, and online marketing strategy. Fahd was instrumental in the redesign, funding, and led 3 economic competitiveness indexes: The 100 fastest growing Saudi companies; the responsible competitiveness company index; and the most competitive youth. For five years, Fahd led Global Competitiveness Forum, the largest gathering of international leaders from government, businesses and thought leaders in Saudi Arabia.
Prior to SAGIA, Fahd worked for Proctor and Gamble where he was responsible for all consumer promotions of all P&G Brands, and for managing service partners, and strategic alliances, including above-the-line (ATL), below-the-line (BTL), and direct marketing agencies.
Al Hokair Group
Sami Al Hokair is one of Saudi Arabia’s young and dynamic businessmen who combines traditional values with an appreciation of the 21st century business acumen. Being the third son of Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair as well as the Managing Director of Al Hokair Group, Sami oversees the overall operation of the Group, mainly the chain of hotels and entertainment centres, the largest in the Middle East. Sami also plays a key role for the Group’s internal and external investment and development affairs. He holds various designations such as Chairman of Strategic Catering Company Ltd., which owns a majority stake in Saudi Arabian Airlines Catering which he is also designated as a Board Member; Vice Chairman of Sahara Kingdom General Trading and Contracting and WLL- UAE, Committee Member of Council of Tourism Development in the Eastern and Central Provinces of the Kingdom and Board Member of Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Company and of various organizations such as the Saudi Food Bank and Eastern Orphans Organization.
His incomparable insight in hospitality has led to the establishment of the first Hospitality Institute in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Shaped by his expertise and influence, he has positioned the company at the forefront of the hospitality and entertainment industries in the Middle East.
A recipient of the CEO Middle East Award for “Best CEO in the Hospitality Sector in the Kingdom” for 2013, Sami, born and raised in Riyadh is a 50 year old Saudi National and a father of four. He holds a Degree in Administrative Sciences from King Saud University Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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.
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.
FAS Hotels, FAS Real Estate, Fawaz Alhokair Group
Mr. Turki bin Mansour Alhokair is the Chief Executive Officer of Fez Real Estate Development, one of the largest real estate development companies in the region. He has over 15 years of experience in various fields ranging from corporate banking, private banking, wealth management, investment and modern development of real estate projects.
Mr. Turki Alhokair is a member of the Board of Directors of several companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA)
Accomplished Saudi national executive with more than 13 years of experience in hospitality transactions advisory, travel and tourism. In addition to strategic planning, business and product development.
A persuasive and persistent leader with a proven track record in achieving positive business and organizational results. The ability of planning, managing, directing and controlling processes and activities to building and preparing the vision, mission and general strategic direction of organizations, in addition to a sound financial background are Majed’s main strengths.
Boudl Hotels & Resorts
CEO | Restaurants & Cafes Association | Jan 2018 - Current
CEO | Mukatafa Consulting | Oct - Current
CHRO | Americana | May - Sep 2017
V.P. People & Shared Services | McDonald’s - RICC | 2008 - 2017
Entrepreneur | Multi Business | 2003 - Current
V.P. Marketing & Business Development | NAFA | 1993 - 2001
Forbes Travel Guide
A luxury hospitality career spanning more than three decades has led Forbes Travel Guide CEO Filip Boyen everywhere from Bora Bora to Moscow to Peru.
Before joining Forbes Travel Guide in 2018, Boyen served as CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, where he oversaw a portfolio of more than 520 exceptional independent hotels in 80 countries.
Prior to that post, the Belgium native spent 18 years with Orient-Express, the famed precursor to the Belmond brand. First joining the hospitality company as general manager of Bora Bora Lagoon Resort in Tahiti, he rose through the ranks to become executive vice president and chief operating officer of Orient-Express. In between, his various roles included Group Vice President Operations; Regional Vice President, Africa, Australia & Latin America; and Managing Director, Hotels & Trains.
Boyen began his hospitality career as a commis chef and stayed in the food and beverage side of the business for 10 years, working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium, France and England. He even did a stint under French master chef Joël Robuchon.
His extensive background in food and beverage, experience managing complex operations—including trains and ships—and luxury hospitality expertise all harmoniously combine at Forbes Travel Guide.
“It’s a dream job to be at Forbes Travel Guide,” the London-based Boyen said. “Quality has always been a passion of mine. We obviously verify luxury, but we also support people who have a passion for service. We train them and make them better.”
Pascal Gauvin is Managing Director, India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA), responsible for driving the growth and strength of IHG and its hotels across the region.
Pascal’s previous role was Chief Operating Officer, IMEA, leading the operations and performance of more than 124 hotels as well as overseeing the strategic development of IHG’s plans, including the 74 hotels in the region’s development pipeline. Key to his role is maintaining and fostering relations with existing and new hotel owners.
Pascal has a wealth of expertise in the hospitality business, starting his career in the Food & Beverage department. Pascal held several managerial positions at Accor and Hilton Hotels before joining IHG in 1993 as a Food and Beverage Manager at InterContinental Paris. He has been with IHG for more than 25 years, and has held a number of senior managerial positions in Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Africa, Lebanon, Qatar and UAE.
A strong believer in the principles of ‘leadership by example’ as well as ‘empowerment’, he spends at least 50 percent of his time in the field to ensure that day-to-day operations and relations are in line with IHG’s standards.
Pascal is a father of two and his favourite family getaway is Nice in France. Despite Pascal’s very busy schedule, he finds time to practice golf.
Diriyah Gate Development Authority
Gerard J.Inzerillo is a celebrated visionary recognized for his trademark innovation and his extensive network of global contacts in tourism, hospitality, entertainment, business and governmental affairs, cultivated during his 50 year career.
Inzerillo developed and operated some of the world’s most famous and successful lifestyle brands in tourism
and entertainment. In June 2018, he was appointed by HRH The Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be the first CEO of the newly created Diriyah Gate Development Authority. The
authority will turn the UNESCO site of the first Saudi state into one of the world's great gathering places.
As CEO of Forbes Travel Guide from 2014 to 2018, he was successful in the globalization from the company’s
North American origins to more than 100 countries worldwide. The Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award is the
Olympic gold medal of hospitality.
Previously , his leadership led to the conceptual success of breakout brands such as Atlantis, One&Only Resorts,
Ian Schrager Hotels, Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels.
Inzerillo was president/CEO of IMG Artists, the leader in artist management, performing arts and lifestyle
events planning from 2012 to 2014. He directed global strategies for music, events, festivals, government
consulting and artist and facility management businesses.
From 1991 to 2011, Inzerillo was president of Kerzner Entertainment Group, where he raised the profile of its
properties in South Africa, the Bahamas, Dubai, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, the Maldives, as well as
conceptualized and positioned the start up of its One&Only brand and Atlantis.
And from 1991 to 1996, Inzerillo served as COO of Sun City, the South African resort by Sol Kerzner . In 1987,
he was the founding president/CEO of Morgans Hotel Group. There, he conceptualized and opened Morgans ,
Royalton and Paramount in New York; the Delano in Miami Beach; and Mondrian in L.A.
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.
Louvre Hotels Group
A recognized stalwart of the Middle East hospitality industry, Amine Moukarzel was the driving force behind the launch of some of the most successful hotels in the region, including the Crowne Plaza hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Amine Moukarzel decided it was time to create his own regionally inspired hospitality projects and to establish a company called Flamingo Hospitality Management Company which was born in 1998 with three employees, and today the company operates throughout the Middle East & North Africa region, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan with more than 60 hotels.
Amine is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including Hotelier Middle East (ranked as Top 9) and Hotelier Express Middle East ranked as Top 6 in 2017. He is a veteran lecturer, speaker in major universities, trade shows, conferences, symposium, latest speaker at the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) in Barcelona as well as a speaker in Georgia in the Hotel Management Conference.
Amine is an advisory board member of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. He is the Vice President of Mediterranean Hotels and Restaurant Association (MHRA) and the Vice President - Middle East of International Hotels and Restaurant Association (IHRA) which is affiliated with UNWTO. He is also a board member of Al Hokair Group of Tourism and Development in addition to his position as the President of Louvre Hotels Group/Golden Tulip MENA and Flamingo Hospitality Management. Also he is the board member of the Lebanese American University.
Mark Willis holds an MBA in International Business from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and hascompleted a number of senior management programs at Cornell University, New York.
Previous to his appointment, he was the President for the Asia region with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, a
very dynamic area with a robust expansion strategy to open 30 properties by 2020.
With a career spanning over 30 years with leading hospitality companies, including IHG and Sun
International, a large portion of his professional life was spent with the Radisson Hotel Group (formerly
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group), where he held a number of senior leadership positions, including Senior Vice
President Middle East, Africa & Turkey. It was in this role that Mark oversaw all brands within a portfolio
of 85 hotels with over 80 hotels in the development pipeline.
Marks brings with him a wealth of operational experience alongside an intuitive knowledge of the Middle
East and Africa, a region that he has worked in for over 12 years.
He joined the Group Executive Committee in September 2018, when the Group finalized the acquisition of
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.
Chris is leading our F&B team that is responsible for strategy development and execution across the food and beverage space; including outlet concepting, beverage, culinary, and driving R&B revenue.
A graduate of the Curinne School of Culinary Arts in Perth Australia, Chris was accredited as a Master Chef in London and was recognized as a member of the World Master Chef Society due to his culinary talents and food styling techniques.
Chris has worked in the hospitality industry for 30 years, the majority of that being with Marriott. He joined the MEA team in July 2017 from our Marriott Corporate HQ team in Bethesda Maryland where he was the Vice President of Experience Design as a member of our Insight, Strategy & Innovation team, having been certified as an Experience Designer by Pine and Gilmore. The Marriott ISI team leads change within our industry by developing disruptive thinking across brands, disciplines and continents, & Chris’s role within that team focused on Food & Beverage and concept design. Chris’s previous roles with Marriott include: Senior Director of Project Development and Concept Design for Asia Pacific, Regional Director of Operations Asia Pacific, Director of Food & Beverage, JW Marriott Hong Kong and Executive Chef JW Marriott Hong Kong. In his early career as a chef, he trained under Michelin accredited restaurants across Europe. Christian has been recognized for his culinary talents as Marriott International’s Chef of the Year during his tenure at the JW Marriott Hong Kong.
During his time at Marriott HQ, Christian had the incredible opportunity to participate and play an active role across a number of significant brand development and positioning projects including:
• AC Hotels Design Strategy – Christian was a key member of the AC Hotels Design Strategy team that worked to evolve the design strategy for the brand; developing key design pillars and guest experience proof points and ensuring their pull through in order to support growth and owner interest in the AC Hotels brand.
• Wanderlust Renaissance Design Strategy Initiative –an initiative where Christian worked with a small, cross-disciplinary team to author a design strategy focused on delivering more original, discovery-driven design and set of guest experience outcomes to further differentiate the Renaissance Hotels brand.
• Marriott Hotels Brand Reinvention (Red Domino) – developed concepts, platforms and live in-market prototypes to inspire new thinking for the Marriott brand and company. This project developed broader thinking around space design, customers’ experiences, F&B strategy and profitable business models.
Chris’s broad career experiences, exposure to varied cultures and culinary experiences, and his innovation training and thinking are of tremendous benefit to our continent and team. He has relocated to Dubai along with his wife Jini and son Harnule.
Sarah Al Sudairy, a young and talented Saudi Chef, is a television Anchor/Host, with her latest and soon to be premiered cookery show for the Middle East, ‘Yalla Notbkh’ with National Geographic Kids, Abu Dhabi.
She is a proud Alumni of the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), Dubai, and brings extensive hands-on experience from some of the biggest Food Events in the region such as Taste of Dubai, Taste of Abu Dhabi and GulfHost, working alongside some of the biggest names in the industry such as Gary Rhodes, Eric Lanlard and Mohammed Orfali, to name a few.
Being a graduate in Computer science her earlier career involved working with the Arab Administrative Development Organization (ARADO) for the League of Arab States as a Software Engineer which she let go of to pursue her passion for Baking. After four years of a career in computer programming, she decided to do a Certificate Course in Baking & Patisserie at The German National Bakers Academy (Akademie Deutsches Backerhandwerk Weinheim), Germany, which led to her higher studies in culinary arts at the ICCA Dubai.
The Red Sea Development Company
Raed Albasseet is the Corporate Head for Environment & Sustainability at The Red Sea Development Company, he joined the company as an Environmental Director in May of 2018. Raed’s responsibilities include ensuring the Environmental compliance of all Red Sea Project activities and assure sustainability performance of the company to best international practices. Raed has worked in wide variety of professional capacitates as prior to joining the Red Sea Development company, Raed worked at the Environmental Protection Department of Saudi Aramco as an International Environmental Polices and regulatory lead. His focus was on Environmental & sustainability Private partnerships and public-private partnerships in addition to international environmental conventions, such as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainability Development Goals.
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.
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA)
Mazin currently leads investment attraction and development for the innovation and entrepreneurship sector at SAGIA, specializing in venture investment development. Key focus of his work is the continuous attraction of startups and VCs to support the development of the tech startup ecosystem in the Kingdom. Mazin is also leading the attraction of the SoftBank Vision Fund portfolio companies into the Saudi market. He also is a board member of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) in Saudi Arabia.
Zadk Culinary Academy
Ms. Shereen the Chief Executive Officer at Zadk Culinary Academy. She joined Zadk at 2019, bringing more than 23 years of management and leadership in the industry and management experience to her role with the company. She is currently a member of the Executive Committee of National Committee for Entrepreneurship since 2017 to date as well as the Executive Committee of Businesswomen in the Eastern Province – Chamber of Commerce since 2018.
Previously, Ms. Shereen served as a Vice President of Al Khaleej Training & Education Center, where she focused on Development, innovation, improved operation efficiency, and execution led to significant company growth.
Ms. Shereen earned an MBA in 2009 from Gulf University, Bahrain. In 2004, she got her Bachelor degree in Business Administration in Marketing. She was also awarded Forbes Award for (Leaders Inspiring a Kingdom in the Business World) – 2013-2014
Mohammed Alawi is a strategy think tank and a much renowned Saudi figure with over 30 years of experience in various new developments and the existing retail properties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed chairs the Shopping Malls Committee at the JCCI, and also a Member of the Promotions and Events Committee JCCI and National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh.
At the GCC regional level, he is an active member and part of the Executive Board of Directors at the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres in Dubai since 2000, and also held the position of President during the period from 2007 till 2009.
In 2013, Mohammed was nominated and elected as Board Trustee at the International Council of Centres in 2014 with a seat in New York, to become the first Saudi Arab member representing the Middle East.
A seasoned real estate development strategist with over 20+ years of experience in roles influencing the development of residential, commercial and industrial products. Hospitality expertise acquired over a decade in aligning infrastructure for upscale and midscale industry projects with gross development value exceeding USD530 million and utilizing various financing projects including REITs and closed-ended funds. Mishary has held C-level executive roles for over 10 years in companies from different verticals including real estate development, property management, hospitality development, construction management and manufacturing.
LinkedIn Saudi Arabia
Reem heads LinkedIn’s operations in KSA. Since joining the company in 2016, Reem’s main responsibility has been to connect and work with the highest levels of government and private executives to make meaningful impact and drive revenue and business growth. Her role now sees her working closely with the various public and private sector stakeholders to tackle pressing issues such as employment and national strategies.
Reem started her career in Dubai with Eye of Dubai then moved to Saudi to lead the marketing and communications with Eye of Riyadh company.
Reem speaks three languages and has over ten years of experience in various multinational corporations such as Ernst & Young, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and Dur Hospitality where she led the rebranding plan. Hailing from Saudi Arabia, she has a wealth of international experience in organizing and marketing global events across the US, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, an example being leading the participation of the Middle East & North Africa in the Global Entrepreneur Awards at Monte Carlo.
Reem started her career in the fields of marketing and communications, where she honed her skills in strategy planning and business development. She was awarded the MENA Female Role Model award for her stellar contributions to the business and her role in developing young talent.
Reem earned her Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Dubai. She is an avid chess player and is a member of the animal rights community.
Arwa Alhoraibi, a young Saudi entrepreneur, marketing guru and food lover, who began her career as a Business Development manager of many international brands such as Marble Slab creamery, Great American Cookies and Delifrances.
Her real passion for food and community led her to create one of top dinning destination in the area. Inspired by her many travels to explore regional street food, she decided to take the challenge to break the authentic Middle Eastern cuisines rules and present it differently. in 2018 Meez ,an entertaining fusion middle eastern street eatery, was born. Focusing on delivering the best experience and building a better community led Meez to become a great concept in record time.
Today Arwa is aiming to introduce new outstanding homegrown concepts that contribute to the local community.
Muhammad Ali Syed is the founder and CEO of Mingora Consult - a MENA based restaurant performance company.
Ali is former Head of Marketing for Fortune 250 Restaurant Brands such as KFC and Pizza Hut at Yum! MENA (Revenue: $1Bn), Long John Silver’s at Yum! US ($800MM) and for Wendy’s Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions ($250MM.) Previously, Ali worked in brand management positions at Unilever and Shell.
He is a leading voice in MENA’s restaurant industry and an influential speaker at industry forums. Ali is well connected to most c-suite leaders in the region including franchisees, franchisors, retail groups, and private equities. Since its formation in 2014, his company Mingora has formed successful partnerships in the GCC with global companies in key disciplines that impact the restaurant industry – market intelligence, consumer insights, management advisory and franchising.
Mingora’s two research products in partnership with US-based The NPD Group - CREST and SalesTrack - have brought much needed data and discipline into restaurant decision making in the GCC. Currently 30+ companies and 40+ brands across UAE and KSA are benefiting from these services.
Ali has won numerous citations including the CEO Award, Long John Silver’s President’s Award, and Pizza Hut CMO Award in his career.
Saudi Event Management & Marketing Company- SEMARK Group
Swiss Hospitality Academy
Founder & Chief Executive Officer at SEA Ventures, a well-established business accelerator and incubator in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
He is a former Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship at Dar Al-Hekma University and Effat University.
Founded and co- founded ASD Holding Company, Global Business Development Consultancy, SEA Ventures, CITY hub, SEA Academy, and Swiss Hospitality Academy.
Abdulsalam is a serial entrepreneur who founded multiple local and global businesses in the United States, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia. Abdulsalam has a wide range of experience in consulting and training business. Abdulsalam worked part-time as a professor of practice at Dar Al-Hekma University and Effat University teaching Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Innovation, and Leadership. Also, he consults for a wide number of organizations and educational institutes in Saudi Arabia to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
By the end of 2018, Abdulsalam participated as a mentor in Seed Stars which was powered by Misk foundation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to enable entrepreneurs from all kinds. By the beginning of 2019, Abdulsalam delivered a hospitality entrepreneurship program at Cezar Ritz Colleges in (different City), Switzerland. Recently, he participated in Startupbootcamp as an investor at its Fintech track demo day in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Abdulsalam is passionate about developing an entrepreneurial mindset for potential entrepreneurs and supporting entrepreneurs to start new ventures besides introducing them to more opportunities. His training experience focuses on Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. Additionally, he has a worldwide experience in training in the United States of America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In 2018, he initiated SEED Boot Camp, Serial Entrepreneurs Enabling and Development Boot Camp, which aims to broaden the participants’ views and involve them in an interactive learning experience where they come up with business ideas that can be applied in real life. Currently he is building a global entrepreneurship bridge between the Switzerland and Saudi Arabia to scale business globally.
Abdulsalam attended Babson College where he earned his SEE certificate. Also, he earned a Strategic Business Management certificate from Harvard University in addition to other executive education programs. He has a degree in Business Administration from Boise State University.
Abdulaziz Almosa is the Head of Real Estate investments at Riyad Capital, a leading Saudi Investment Bank in real estate advisory, development, and fund management.
Abdulaziz is also the fund manager of Riyad REIT, the first Real Estate Traded Fund in Saudi Stock Exchange“Tadawul”, and one of the only REITs with a strong focus on hospitality. He is an adviser and executive member in several hotel management & investment companies overseeing the operation and development of around 7,000 keys through more than 60 internationally & locally branded hotels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Alsaadawi, popularly known as Chef Khorafa (meaning Chef Amazing), is a Social Media Mogul on Food Assessment in Jeddah City with a noteworthy following. He is originally an Aircraft System Engineer by profession and has worked as Manager - Airbus Planning and Engineering with the Saudi Airlines.
He was one of the first to create an Outreach Group in food on Facebook in Saudi Arabia over 10 years back and is focused on helping and supporting F&B start-ups and businesses with new ideas and strategies.
He has also established a consultancy for Restaurants, a partner in Lombok Chain of Restaurants and is professionally trained in culinary arts at the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), Dubai.
With an extensive experience of running a private business in catering for over a period of six years and a drive to constantly strive for more, Hanadi decided to take her passion to the next level and joined the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), Dubai to get professional training in culinary arts, and obtained a double Diploma in Cookery and Patisserie. This is where she honed her skills to build a strong foundation for her career in culinary.
Passionate for cooking from a young age and constantly pursuing her dreams, Hanadi at present works as a Professional Chef at the Marriot Hotel, Riyadh, representing the new Saudi Arabia and is also a dynamic member of the Saudi Arabian Chef’s Association (SACA).
A dedicated hotelier, Ignace started his 30-year career immediately after graduating in Hotel Management with Honors from HTI in Bruges (1990).
Following the classical management development path, he began as Manager of F&B with IHG (1990) then quickly rose through various roles to General Manager of Accor Hotel Group in Brussels (2000) prior to moving to Dubai to head up the opening of the Accor Group Middle East Cluster at the Dubai World Trade Centre in 2002.
Since then, his work in top regional leadership roles across MEA and Asia with global five-star operators (IHG, Accor-Sofitel, Wyndham) as well as major hospitality development groups (Abu Dhabi National Hotels and DWTC) has given him an atypical career path with proven expertise in financial performance management, quality improvement management and restructuring.
His experience as a strategic, operational, financial and business development specialist in often challenging environments has been focused on maximizing business growth, optimizing company profits as well as shareholder returns.
Joining Ròya in 2019, he describes himself as a pragmatic. Pro-active, results driven multi-cultural leader who develops strong teams that can deliver solid performance and customer driven results.
The Red Sea Development Company
Anton serves as the Executive Director of Hospitality at TRSDC. In his current role, Anton oversees the commercial and operational aspects of the hotel and support assets being developed. Prior to joining TRSDC, Anton served as Regional President of Viceroy Hotel Group where he led the operations and the growth of Viceroy Hotel Group in the Middle East and European markets. He has over two decades in the industry. Prior to Viceroy's executive management team, he spent four years with Mubadala's Real Estate & Hospitality team. Anton started his career in the industry as a SixSigma Black Belt with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Anton holds a Bachelor of Sciences (Hons) degree in International Hospitality Management from the Swiss Hotel Management School, Les Roches in Switzerland, and a Master's of Business Administration degree from the Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom
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.
OYO Hotels & Homes KSA
Completed master degree of management at King Saud University, began his career journey as financial analyst at SABIC one of the worlds largest companies for seven years.
Built his profession in the business market by developing strategic growth in the financial sector for large corporations such as Saudi Telecom Company the largest telecommunications company in Middle East, for seventeen years he achieved to held high positions
In the meantime, Mr Badr had the ambition to enter the hospitality industry and successfully achieved to lead one of the hospitality group using his passion to do things that others think are impossible he always encourage the spirit of teamwork which he believes to great achievements.
As a Director of Development Olivier is responsible for the expansion of Six Senses in the Middle-East and Africa. He joined Six Senses after having worked for renowned consulting and hotel companies such as Starwood, PwC, and Horwath HTL, gaining valuable international experiences, and releasing publications on upcoming wellness developments. Olivier holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. He is convinced that the future of successful hospitality is based on personification of each projects and is passionate with his mission that is to expand Six Senses into new and exciting locations, creating destinations unto themselves.
A change agent by design, Donald holds over 20 years of international experience as a strategic and performance focused executive gained by mastering challenging roles across the full spectrum of the development industry including developer, government, contractor and consultant. Clients benefit from his comprehensive expertise, unique business acumen, and hands-on leadership approach, which has been proven to enhance innovation and productivity among design teams, create win-win strategies for all stakeholders, and ensure the delivery of successful developments.
As a dynamic architect with a high calibre career across Asia and the Middle East, Donald has been involved in the development and delivery of diverse project types such as integrated business plans, master plans, luxury hotels, residential communities, mixed-use developments, commercial complexes, high rises and urban installations. This solid understanding of various project requirements allows him to identify potential challenges and guide cross-functional teams to meet and exceed client expectations.
Stefan is Group Strategy Director at Keane (www.keanebrands.com) providing the lead on strategic F&B consulting and masterplanning for Keane’s studios In London, Dubai, Bangkok and Miami. He was previously F&B Senior Director at Marriott for Middle East & Africa based in Dubai; with over 1200 F&B venues and $1 billion + revenue.
Stefan has over 300 F&B concepts to his name, extensive experience in the Kingdom and brought brands such as Buddha B, Hakkasan, Pierre Gagnaire and Embassy to the ME. His previous positions include 10 years as founder/CEO of TRIBE: one of the most successful F&B strategy houses in the Middle East with extensive work on malls such as Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall.
He has also worked with IHG in SE Asia, Hilton (Europe) and E&Y Consulting. He is a regular speaker on industry trends, a Visiting Professor at Emirates Academy and was voted no4 in the Middle East on the Restaurant Franchise Power list for Caterer/Hotelier magazine recently.
Stirling Hospitality Advisors
Donald is the Managing Director of Stirling Hospitality Advisors with 20 years of experience in asset management, development and hospitality advisory services, primarily within the Middle East.
Donald has held multiple roles across the industry including Hotel Manager, Asset Manager, Director of Development and Director of Rooms for Jumeirah Group and Operations Analyst, Revenue Manager, Director of Rooms and Director of Food and Beverage for InterContinental Hotels and Resorts.
Donald is the Industry Chair for the Hotel Asset Management Association and has a BSc from Aberdeen University.
CEO of Livit (www.livit.design), worlds largest restaurant design company, focusing on improving brand's performance through guest experience design, active in 40 countries over 5 continents, developing a new restaurant every 8h somewhere in the world. - Founder of Fast Fine Restaurant Group. A disruptive restaurant chain and an innovation lab for extraordinary guest experiences. www.v.restaurant& www.1889.pizza
- Partner of The Passionality Group. (www.passionalitygroup.com) Passionality cultivates concepts responsibly and profitably by providing specialized and relevant business expertise through advisory or consulting services and – where applicable – seed investments in exchange for compelling returns on invested capital. He is board member in various Scandinavian companies and advisor to several international private equity funds. Benjamin holds two Master of Architecture degrees and is considered a international expert in the area of Hospitality design and technology, being lecturer at Conferences, Events and Masters. He is also member of the American Institute of Architects and Registered Architect in Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain, Luxemburg and Sweden.
When not travelling, he lives in Sweden with his wife, two teenage kids and a white shepard.
Oliviero Cassini brings almost 20 years of regional and international real estate and hospitality experience to the AMAALA team, having held Senior Consultancy, Asset Management, Development Management and Private Equity roles across the European, Middle Eastern and Asian real estate sector.
Prior to joining AMAALA, Oliviero was the General Manager of the Pragma Group, where he oversaw the group’s real estate and hospitality assets, including Roberto Cavalli restaurants, clubs and hotels and the development of a mixed use hotel and entertainment development in Dubai.
Previously, Oliviero served as an advisor to the CEO of a prominent GCC development company, working on a mixed use 35 square kilometer new city development. Oliviero was also the Vice President at a leading Private Equity firm in the MENASA region.
Prior to moving to the GCC region, Oliviero worked in London for Economics Research Associates, a boutique market research, tourism development and feasibility studies consultancy firm, conducting studies in over 25 different countries, for a variety of clients including financial institutions, private developers and government entities.
An Italian National, Oliviero has lived in a multitude of countries including Algeria, Cuba, USA, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, UAE and now Saudi Arabia.
Before becoming a successful entrepreneur, Tommaso Chiabra graduated with a degree in Communication & Public Relations from IULM in Milan, Italy. His first taste of entrepreneurial success came as the Founder of Royal Yacht – a market leader in the global yachting business with eight offices in six different countries. As an investor, Tommaso focuses on socially impactful businesses and has been an early investor in companies such as Beyond Meat and Deep Green Mining.
A creative, versatile and highly driven businessman, he is also a founder of Neat Meat, the mother company of Neat Burger. After opening its first outlet in the UK, the plant-based, sustainable burger chain is already moving forward with ambitious plans, as Tommaso and his partners, Lewis Hamilton and Cream Holdings, aim to make Neat Burger the leading global brand for plant-based fast food.
Tommaso sits on the board of public listed company Mene Inc. and collaborates with a variety of leading tech companies, while also serving as Fundraising Chairman for UNICEF Events. His role has enabled him to travel with UNICEF, supporting numerous projects in disadvantaged countries and raising more than $10 million through his charitable efforts.
Lynn Chouman is an experienced journalist and media professional. She is currently a News Editor at LinkedIn, providing members with news and views that help them build future-proof careers and navigate a dynamic professional landscape. Lynn moderates panels with key decision makers and experts, discussing different business topics that include Artificial Intelligence, Technology and Development. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Lynn was a business news anchor at Al Arabiya News Channel. Lynn brings experience in economic policy and development, having previously worked at the World Bank office in Beirut. She obtained a degree in Economics from the American University of Beirut.
Ahmed Darwish, digital marketing specialist and founder of The Foodies KSA blog and The Foodies inc Communication & Marketing Agency. Took his experience in digital marketing combines with his passion for travel & food to create The Foodies: an open mic initiative where anyone passionate about food can present his content to thousands of viewers. With the brand name gaining trust and loyalty, and finding a need in the market for proper communication in F&B, he created “The Foodies inc” agency to serve this need.
Maroun leads the Project & Development Services team in KSA and Bahrain. He has a superb record of managing complex projects in challenging environments. Maroun manages client and stakeholder expectations while overseeing the delivery of the project objectives. From his extensive international experience, he brings a hands-on, dynamic approach while encouraging honest lines of communication and full collaboration between the project team and the client.
Helen is the Regional Director at Keane (www.keanebrands.com) for the Middle East Africa & Asia.
Helen has successfully run the region from Dubai for 11 years supported by studios in London, Bangkok & Florida. She has established Keane as one of the leading providers of restaurant & leisure experiences in the region ranging from design to strategy. This culminated in recent awards for both Gold on 27 at Burj al Arab and Besh Turkish Kitchen at the Sheraton Mall of Emirates.
Key clients include long relationships with Jumeirah Group, MAF, Emirates Leisure Retail, Vox Cinemas, Raffles, Costa and Pret and is now actively engaged on the al Widyan project with al Akaria.
Zekirija Elezi joined DUR Hospitality in 2015 in the capacity of Corporate Director, Hotel Operations handling the Operations of various brands; Makarem, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Marriott.
Previously, Zekirija was part of IHG - InterContinental Hotels Group from 2005 holding various roles in different brands while in Qatar and Kuwait. During his last role with IHG, he was part of the opening of Crowne Plaza Doha – The Business Park while he was also responsible to drive Guest Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvement for IHG hotels in Qatar that includes the InterContinental Doha - The City, InterContinental West Bay and Crowne Plaza Doha – The Business Park.
Prior to that, Zekirija led the Operations and Revenue Management team at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Kuwait from May 2010 to August 2012. His career started in his early age back in his hometown, Macedonia in the field of Sales and Marketing in the year 2000. The Hospitality industry for Zekirija is a passion and not a job.
The Social Group
Basma is a modern day dynamic Chef, entrepreneur restaurateur and Social Media Influencer. A seasoned Saudi consultant in the F&B and hospitality sector.
She is the founder and COO of the social group that Owens and runs The Social Kitchen “restaurant “ The Social Space “ a venue that hosts and runs events“ The Social Group Consulting and launching the Social Bakery Q1 of 2020...
As a seasoned chef she launched her first restaurant in 2018, The Social Kitchen. Following the success of The Social Kitchen, Basma launched her second original F&B concept, The Social Bakery
With over 15 years experience in the F&B and hospitality sector she was selected by the Saudi Season to be the F&B director for Jeddah season 2019 & 2020. A government sponsored food & entertainment initiative festival in the costal town of Jeddah.
As F&B director for Jeddah season Basma set up, coordinated, and launched over 157 local and 14 international F&B concepts for the 41 day event. Including international brands such as Nobu, Zuma, Gaia, Coya, Joel Roboshon and Scallini She continues to work and Develop New concepts in the F&B and hospitality Sector , for special events & popups and also permanent ones.
Basma was selected by the Saudi Ministry of Culture to head the of Saudi culinary initiative. A program that aims to introduce local Saudi cuisine to the world. This appointment was made directly from the minister in recognition of Basma's extensive expertise and talent in the F&B sector.
Her approach to Saudi cuisine is very simple. To respect and maintain the authenticity of her Saudi dishes and family recipes ,them layering them with modern culinary techniques and flavors. this translated in her modern Saudi approach to Saudi food , how and when we eat it.
Its relatable to Saudi’s and exciting to guests from other cultures.
Driven by her curiosity to explore, she invites you on a journey through time and food, a journey that will stimulates all your senses, that takes you back in time, from the beginning, when it all started in her mother’s Kitchen, and bringing you back to Her Saudi today. With all its potential, possibilities.
Its a its modern approach to society while respecting her rich cultural heritage.
Schneider Electric Saudi Arabia
Vice President End Users & Segments @ Schneider Electric Saudi Arabia
-Vice President for Industry Business Unit @ Schneider Electric KSA.
-Petrochemical Accounts Executive @ Baker Hughes KSA
-Country Sales Leader @ GE KSA & Bahrain
Graduated as Applied Mechanical Engineer from KFUPM in 1997.
Started as a Gas Turbine Field Engineer in SEC then GE. Held deferent roles since then in Operation, Maintenance & Sales.
Chadi Farhat is focused on sbe’s hotel portfolio expansion, overseeing the operations of current and future hotels as well as strengthening owner relationships in the Middle East and Europe.
Prior to this role, Chadi was the Chief Commercial Officer at Morgans Hotel Group (MHG), where he continued on in the role after the company was acquired by sbe in late 2016. As CCO, he was responsible for guiding and supporting all the revenue processes globally and leading the strategy for driving profitable revenue growth through e-Commerce and revenue management. At the same time, as Interim Chief Operating Officer, Chadi was responsible for the general operation and financial performance of MHG. Chadi oversaw the company’s operations, food and beverage, sales, revenue management, eCommerce and digital marketing teams. Chadi also served as Chief Revenue Officer, where he integrated and aligned the functions of revenue management, sales, e-Commerce and Digital Marketing into a succinct distribution platform that has helped drive a cohesive strategy for the company and positioned MHG for future growth.
Prior to MHG, Chadi was the Global Director of eCommerce Revenue Management at Marriott International, where he was responsible for developing and implementing pricing and revenue management strategies focused on optimizing revenue through Marriott's electronic distribution channels (Marriott.com, OTAs, GDSs). He has held multiple positions at Marriott, including Director of Revenue Analysis for the NYC Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels.
Chadi earned his MBA from Johns Hopkins University and his BA in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Notre Dame University in Beirut, Lebanon. Chadi is a frequent guest lecturer at New York University’s Center for Hospitality Industry Studies and Cornell University as well as a guest speaker at various Revenue Management and Distribution conferences.
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.
Paul Gardiner is the CEO of Mantis Collection (internationally), a hotel group made up of eco-lodges and hotels located on all seven continents. His career began as a game ranger in South Africa in 1994 on his father’s wildlife reserve called Shamwari. Today his responsibility with his team based out of the UK is to grow the Mantis brand beyond just Africa. They have opportunities in the Middle East, Cuba, China, Montenegro, the Swiss Alps, the South of France and the UK that they’re currently exploring. With the world going crazy for glamping and eco experiences they’re well placed to capitalize on the opportunity considering they already have experience in developing, operating and marketing these products so successfully throughout Africa for over 25 years. In recent years Paul has also struck up a relationship with the television personality and adventurer, Bear Grylls. Mantis Media is the creative arm of Mantis Collection and they’re responsible for taking what Bear does so well on television and bringing it to life for kids, adults, corporates etc. Essentially they’re responsible for all Bear’s location based entertainment. They recently partnered with Merlin Entertainments to develop a $22m Bear Grylls Adventure Park in the UK.
Mantis has recently partnered with Accor Hotels, together they have a 50/50 JV. The JV allows Mantis amazing distribution via their new “big brother” and it gives Accor a stronghold in Sub Saharan Africa where Mantis are particularly strong – so it’s a win win for both. Together the JV has already launched the Conservation Community Fund Africa (CCFA) This grant-giving Foundation is registered in South Africa as a non-profit company and has uniquely brought together three internationally admired wildlife conservation organisations as its Founding members: Wilderness Foundation Africa, Tusk Trust and African Parks. The Mantis Accor partnerships intentions are two fold, the one is to further grow and develop the Mantis brand across Africa, and the second is to take the unique Mantis eco lodge DNA model to other amazing parts of the world.
Although Paul is UK based he spends a third of the year in South Africa – he and his father are the driving force behind a new pioneering initiative which they’re launching at their game reserve in South Africa which will see the creation of the first ever Eco Lodge Innovation Hub. Paul has also launched his very own media platform to help spread the word of the amazing work that people from all walks of life are involved in, within the world of conservation and eco-tourism.
Shada Hospitality Co.
The second generation family running Shada Hospitality co. since 2011 as the Chief Executive Officer. With extensive exposure to financial industry and business management, Mrs. Reem was able to lead the company towards new achievements and business opportunities.
She has worked in the banking sector with Banque Saudi Fransi.
Today, Shada Hospitality has a proven track record, market share and solid growth plan focusing on the local hospitality industry.
Reem Garash has a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from Dar Alhekmah college and a masters in business administration from McColl School, NC.
Swiss Hospitality Company
Salman Gasim is a Hotelier, Entrepreneur, and Educator; he carries an extensive professional experience gained over the years from international corporations in Geneva, Paris, Montreux, Vancouver, and Jeddah.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in the art of hospitality management and events from the University of Derby in England. He also holds a higher diploma in hospitality and events management and a diploma in hotel operations management from the Swiss Hotel Management School in Montreux, Switzerland.
He has been the chief executive officer at the Swiss Hospitality Company (SHC) since 2014, a Jeddah-based firm that is built around Swiss hospitality standards, combined with Saudi cultural values. As the CEO of a dynamic hospitality firm in Saudi, his mission is to contribute to the development of the tourism and hospitality industry and bringing it to a whole new level.
Giuliano Gasparini is Senior Vice-President at Aldar Properties PSJC heading the asset management division of the hotel and leisure portfolio of the firm. Prior to that he covered several executive positions in hospitality-specialized consulting firms across Europe and Middle-East having been Head of Consulting at PKF Hotelexperts in Dubai, Senior Vice-President of JLL Hotels in Madrid, Senior Associate at HVS in Madrid and senior consultant in CBRE Hotels in Rome amongst others.
Giuliano Gasparini is one of the Chairmans of HAMA Middle-East (Hotel Asset Management Association) and a full-time professor at Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, Dubai Real Estate Institute and IE Business School in Madrid as well as visiting professors in major leading institutions worldwide. He holds affiliation at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), Counsellor of Real Estate (CRE) and Institute of Hospitality (FIH).
Giuliano graduated in Economics at Bocconi University in Italy and hold two master degrees in Urban Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Nederland’s) and in Tourism Economics (Bocconi University in Italy); as well as a post-graduate certificate on Hotel Asset Management from Cornell University (USA).
Giuliano occasional contributor on Hotelier Middles-Est as well as in other specialized magazines on hotel and real estate such as the RICS Journal, Expansion, etc.
Extreme Group & Extreme Hotels
Alistair Gosling is an award-winning entrepreneur and investor with over 25 years of experience spanning media, marketing, events and large-scale sport and leisure destination development.
Always armed with a ‘Can Do’ attitude, Alistair is the driving force behind The Extreme Sports Company and has overall responsibility for the strategic direction, critical decisions and overall management of business.
Initially focused on the fast-paced media sector, Alistair built a world leading TV distribution company, then in 1998, aged 27, he saw a gap in the market and had the vision for the EXTREME brand franchise and The Extreme Sports TV Channel. He partnered with UPC and Liberty Media, raised $35m and went onto to launch the brand in over 60 counties around the world.
Today backed by Kleinwort Hambros and Soc Gen banks Alistair is working alongside a brilliant team based between the Middle East and United Kingdom and is building EXTREME across destinations, hotels and resorts, media and marketing, events and licensing.
He is honoured and privileged to sit on the International advisory board of Qiddiya, the 334-square-km sports, entertainment and cultural phenomenon being developed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is a supporter of Medshr.net the award winning medical network that is helping save lives through peer to peer learning between doctors. Alistair is a passionate sailor, skier, pilot, dive master and alongside his wife Amber Nuttall the world-renowned marine conservationist is a significant supporter of several global marine conservation projects.
Based in Hilton’s MEA Regional Office in Dubai, Christian Gradnitzer is responsible for F&B operations and strategic future F&B development for Hilton in EMEA
Gradnitzer has a wealth of experience in Food & Beverage. He started his career as Chef Apprentice in his native Austria then moved on to Switzerland, gaining experience which prepared him for roles in London at The Dorchester Hotel and at Cunard Cruise Lines. He then joined the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, quickly progressing from Chef de Cuisine to Executive Sous Chef, where he supervised the operations of 175 chefs and 60 stewards.
In 2006, Gradnitzer took on an Executive Chef role at Jumeirah Essex House in New York, before returning to Dubai to serve as Executive Chef at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. He then became Resort Executive Chef for Madinat Jumeirah, managing restaurants across three hotels, catering requests and the Conference and Incentive culinary team.
In 2012 he was named Group Culinary Director for Jumeirah Group, where he established a dedicated Restaurant Group, managed operations and oversaw development of new F&B venues. In 2015, Gradnitzer moved to Istanbul to join D.ream Group, a global restaurant, entertainment and management group where held the position of Group Culinary Director. In 2017, Gradnitzer joined Hilton as Senior Director, F&B Operations, EMEA.
Former Group Marketing Director at Hamptons International real estate agency, Chris founded Graham Associates as a London-based consultancy specialising in the branding and marketing of international luxury residential real estate. Since 2005, Chris and his team have worked on numerous branding, marketing and lead generation campaigns for some of the world’s most renowned residential and resort developments.
A frequent commentator and international speaker on residential real estate, Chris is author of the widely acclaimed industry report, “Branded Residences: An Overview”. With 56-pages featuring expert insights, opinions and data from industry leaders across the globe, it is the most comprehensive study of the subject.
Elected a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has picked up several industry awards including the OPP Gold Award for Marketing; Best Development Marketing (x5), Best Property Website and Best Estate Agency Marketing at the International Property Awards, and twice a finalist in Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Excellence Awards (Digital Media and Hotels & Leisure categories).
Giles Hannah is the Residential Senior Director at AMAALA, a super luxury real estate project backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). Giles has over 15 years’ experience in mixed-use real estate and has led the sales effort for major branded residential and hotel developments including projects for Bulgari, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Rotana and Aman Resorts.
Giles has also led teams for international private client property investment and has guided ruling family members, government entities, family offices and select entertainment industry leaders with their property investments.
Previously Giles was with RAK Properties, a UAE government developer, as Chief Commercial Officer, and Dubai Holding where he held the position of Head of International Residential. He also oversaw Europe, Middle East and India for Christie’s where he managed teams in 30 affiliated offices in super prime property markets. Giles started his career with Savills in London where he focused on the ultra high net worth segment and handled the sales of super prime residential projects including One Hyde Park Residences of the Mandarin Oriental and The Lancasters.
Giles has won several international property industry awards and has been featured in major real estate publications for achieving record breaking pricing globally. Giles lives in Riyadh and London and enjoys travel, skiing and spending time with his three sons.
Public Investment Fund
Olivier Harnisch is Head of Hospitality for the Public Investment Fund, based in Riyadh and responsible for the development of the Fund’s Hospitality investments. Prior to that Olivier held the position of CEO at Emaar Hospitality in Dubai from 2016 until 2019. He began in the hospitality industry in 1986 in Nice, France. His career to date includes 14 years at Hilton where he was Vice President for Northern and Central Europe and 4 years as COO of the Radisson Hotel Group in Brussels. Olivier holds an MSc in Organisational Behaviour from the University of London, an MBA in International Finance from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a Degree in Hospitality Management from Berlin School of Hotel Administration. Having worked across the globe, Olivier is fluent in six languages, he is also a passionate airplane pilot.
Marriott International, Middle East & Africa
As Senior Director for Lodging Development, Shady looks after Marriott International’s development efforts in KSA, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Shady has over 14 years of hospitality experience in operations, advisory, ownership and development within the United States and MEA region.
Shady has worked across different departments in operations with leading Hotel Operators before moving on to the Hospitality Real Estate advisory side of the industry with JLL. During his tenure with JLL he worked on multiple assignments with owners across the region. Prior to joining Marriott International he was with Meraas Holding where he was the Head of Hospitality Planning & Feasibility.
Noelle joined Shaza Hotels in 2018 to boost the growth of the company in the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia, particularly in the experiential lodging segment. Her diverse background, unique set of skills and innovative mindset allowed her to be an instrumental part in driving Shaza’s new vision and strategic initiatives.
Prior to Shaza, Noelle was handling claims, risk management and arbitration cases for real estate projects in KSA, Kuwait and Lebanon. Her career started in architectural design and project management, where she managed construction sites with 400+ workers at a very young age. She also launched an online start-up to support young Arabs in resume-writing and job applications.
An architect by profession, Noelle holds an MBA from INSEAD, a certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Harvard University, and a Masters in Engineering Management from the American University of Beirut. Noelle is also part of the steering committee of the INSEAD Alumni Association in the UAE.
Equinox Hospitality Group
Abdullah Jamal is the Head of Business Development in Equinox Hospitality Group which own part of CHME (Choice Hotels Middle East). Choice Hotels is the second largest hotel chain in the world that carry Quality, Comfort, and Clarion branded hotels.
Abdullah is now leading the roll-out of Choice mid-market hotels in Saudi Arabia. The first batch comprises of 6 hotels in major cities i.e. Jeddah and Riyadh 3 hotels will be in operation in Q2 2020, while the next 3 are under design and construction with expected opening in Q4 2021. Abdullah is also working closely with governmental bodies in securing mid-market hotel developments within several mega-projects in the Kingdom.
Earlier, Abdullah was involved in developing Jabal Omar Development Project with focus in development management, and the setting up of joint-venture businesses with various service providers through concession and services agreements. He was also part of the team that closed out various financing syndications to fund the project.
Abdullah received the Real Estate Investment and Development executive education from Rice Business School in Houston, USA and obtained his BBA (Hons) in Business Entrepreneurship and Development from the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia.
Amir is Managing Director Middle East & North Africa where he is responsible for driving growth throughout this region for Hilton Worldwide’s suite of industry-leading brands.
Amir has previously held senior roles at HVS (Dubai & London offices), and has also spent several years working in managerial roles with UAE sovereign based entities where he focused on hotel and other forms of real estate development, and corporate finance.
Prior to joining Hilton Worldwide, Amir was Vice President Development for Movenpick Hotels & Resort where he led the development of the brand in the Middle East & Africa to achieve all-time record growth for the brand in the region.
Amir is a keen sportsman with a passion for combat and motor sports. He’s also known to pick up a tennis racquet and snowboard from time to time.
At home Amir is heavily outnumbered, where he is the only male among three precious girls.
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.
Eng. Majzoub is responsible for the Advisory, Markets, and General Operations of JLL’s business in Saudi Arabia and brings with him more than 20 years of hands-on Real Estate development and consultancy experience spanning Strategy, Pubalic Private Partnerships, Feasibility Studies, Highest and Best Use, Valuations, Research, and Capital Markets. His significant years of experience in the KSA have made him an expert and renowned figure in Real Estate (Hospitality, Retail, Residential, Office, Leisure/Entertainment) while he also has considerable experience in other sectors, such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare.
In his last role as Head of Real Estate at KPMG, he has built the KPMG Real Estate practice from scratch to become one of the biggest and leading specialized Real Estate advisory team in Saudi Arabia. Also during his tenure with KPMG, he took a lead role in publishing Public Real Estate Market reports, authoring multiple Real Estate thought leadership, and being main speaker in International Real Estate conferences.
Eng. Majzoub has not only advised on several large-scale, regional, multibillion-dollar Real Estate projects, but he has served as Head of the Investments Department at Emaar The Economic City, one of the largest and most ambitious real estate projects in the Middle East.
Eng. Majzoub received his BE in Civil Engineering from the American University of Beirut and was a CFA Level III candidate. He also completed highly respected executive training courses at Harvard Business School, London Business School and Amsterdam Institute of Finance.
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.
Alexis, leads the Foodservice MENA division. He is the Client contact in charge of F&B projects, collaborations with the wider JLL teams to produce accurate and informative F&B reviews.
In the Middle East, he has delivered projects including master planning the F&B strategy for NEOM, KSA and King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh, KSA, as well as undertaking a review of sales performance and operations at Rosewood, Abu Dhabi.
Alexis, trained Chef in Michelin Stared Restaurants, joined the JLL Foodservice Consulting EMEA team in January 2016. In September 2018, he relocated to Dubai to lead the Foodservice Consultancy MENA division.
His experience comes from almost a decade of foodservice operations and management, working in the kitchens and managing high end restaurants and hotels before developing and selling his own restaurant.
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.
Compass Project Consulting
Martin has managed the development of a number of retail and F&B projects in Australia, Singapore and China, before taking up a project management role in Dubai where he consulted to Nakheel Shopping Malls and later, Emirates Leisure Retail.
Along with his Partners, Martin co-founded multi-award-winning Compass Project Consulting in 2014. To date, the Team has successfully delivered over 150 F&B as well as hospitality projects throughout the region, representing respected owners, operators, designers and landlords to deliver memorable destinations.
With a growing Team of 65 Project, Planning and Cost Management professionals, across regional offices, Martin and his three Partners continuously maintain a keen eye on trends, opportunities, and challenges associated with the industry, ensuring an innovative hands-on insight is applied to each and every project.
Martin’s design awareness, client focus, commercial acumen and attention to detail fine-tunes his role at Compass, where he is responsible for Business Development of the company’s operations in the UAE & KSA, with a specific interest in the evolving F&B market in the Kingdom… which coincidently complements one of his favorite pastimes: exploring the effervescent foodie scene and appreciating talent within the F&B-sphere, with great clients, colleagues and friends.
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.
Louvre Hotels Group
Rami A. Moukarzel is the Vice President of Development & Acquisitions for Louvre Hotels Group in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).
A dynamic professional with a keen insight into the shifting regional hospitality marketplace, Rami has over 17 years of experience leading all aspects of hotel development and operations. He is responsible for overseeing business development and bringing people and resources together to support Louvre Hotels Group’s growth strategies in the region, in addition to directing the new modern branding initiatives the group aggressively takes on.
Rami began his career in 2002 and held several pre-opening, operational and F&B positions with leading hotel chains such as Hyatt, Jumeirah, Kempinski and Mövenpick. In 2008, Rami joined FRHI Hotels & Resorts as Manager - Development, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and progressed over the next 7 years to successive promotions to head up development and growth strategy of the group in the Middle East and Africa, holding the title of Vice President - Development.
The passionate hotelier joined Louvre Hotels Group in mid-2015 with the mandate to grow the group’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa and establish it as the leading mid and upscale hotel operator in the region for years to come.
Rami holds a Master of Science in Management from the UK and a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the Emirates Academy in Dubai and École hôtelière de Lausanne.
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.
Tom is the Global Head of the Hotels & Leisure Group at CMS, where he is a corporate partner based in London. As such, he specialises in mergers & acquisitions and in particular company and business acquisitions and joint ventures in the hotel sector, for clients such as Accor, BlackRock, Global Holdings, Oaktree Capital, Schroders and a number of private investors in Europe and Middle East. Tom has taken a leading role on a number of high-profile portfolio and major single asset transactions.
He also advises owners, investors, developers and banks extensively on hotel management and franchise agreements across most brands and operators, including Accor, easyHotel, Four Seasons, Hilton, IHG, Marriott/Starwood, Rosewood and many other brands. He has also advised a number of global and niche operators, such as Accor, citizenM, Corinthia and Cycas on their standard form management agreements.
He advises banks and other lenders on the corporate and management agreement aspects of hotel acquisition & development financings; refinancings; and restructurings of hotel portfolios.
Tom is a Leading Individual in Legal 500 and is top ranked by Chambers legal directory. He is a member of Global Hotel Network’s Investment Committee, the IHIF Advisory Board and Hospitality Channel’s Hospitality 250 list of leading individuals within the global industry. He is invited to speak regularly at hotel industry conferences and events across Europe and the Middle East.
In his position, Devret contributes to the growth of Accor portfolio in the Middle East, in particular introducing newly acquired brands to the region.
Prior to working for Accor, Devret held various positions in the industry such as a role with TRI Consulting working on feasibility studies, operator searches and strategic consulting on hospitality projects in the Middle East region. He also gained valuable experiences prior to that in other regions with SilverNeedle Hospitality in South Asia and with Marriott International’s European development team based out of Zurich.
Devret holds a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne.
Jennifer has been a member of the Bench Events team since November 2008. Originally from Australia, she has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney. Prior to joining Bench Events she spent two years as a project manager in London for a conference company. She is presently working from Dubai as project manager of the successful Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. Currently she is focusing on programme development and speaker acquisition in addition to overseeing AHIC’s operations.
Rico supports the development growth of Accor’s residential and extended stay portfolio in the Middle East and Africa, and furthermore supports analytical, financial modelling, and reporting initiatives for the global residential & extended stay team.
Rico joined Accor in 2016 as director of feasibility for the Middle East, whereafter Accor’s development team continued to report multiple record years of signings. Prior to working for Accor, Rico held various positions in the industry including as asset manager with Seven Tides Hospitality where he managed a portfolio of hotels valued in excess of AED1.5 billion. During this time he was co-founder and board member of the Middle East & Africa branch of the Hospitality Asset Manager’s Association, the world’s leading hotel asset management association. He held earlier appointments as associate at HVS Global Hospitality Services where he co-authored multiple publications and administered a diverse range of valuation, feasibility, management contract and strategic assignments, and prior to that held various management positions within Starwood and Rosewood.
Rico holds a bachelor of science degree in hospitality and business management from École hôtelière de Lausanne, in addition to certification in hotel real estate investment and asset management from Cornell University.
The NPD Group Inc.
Jochen Pinsker is the Senior Vice President Foodservice Europe of The NPD Group Inc., the leading foodservice market research company. He started as an Account Manager at NPD in Germany in 1998 where he was servicing the company's first clients in the country. His regional and functional responsibility grew over the years and as Director Foodservice Europe and later as Senior Vice President Foodservice Europe, he has been growing NPD’s foodservice business from two to six countries in Europe.
Nowadays, Jochen supports NPD’s clients and partners as Foodservice Industry Advisor and is also in charge of NPD’s future vision of the best track record in the industry.
Jochen has a Master degree in Sports-Management. Starting his career in managing professional sports organizations, he has been working in the Foodservice Market since 1996 with experience in Event Catering before joining the research business.
The NPD Group combines the core data of record for the Foodservice industry with industry expertise and business solutions to form deep and longstanding partnerships and give operators and manufacturers a winning advantage. Since 1997, the company has established CREST in Europe, the source for information on consumer purchases of prepared meals, snacks and beverages. Other tools include SalesTrack and SupplyTrack. NPD is running these services in Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Russia and outside of Europe in the US, Canada, Brazil, Korea, Japan, China, UAE and Australia. The industries most successful brands trust NPD to measure performance, predict future performance, improve marketing and product development, and advise on business and consumer trends and market opportunities. Their people are known for their experience, industry knowledge, and passion for the industries they serve and solutions they offer. They are sought after to interpret and anticipate consumer and retail trends.
International Center for Culinary Arts (ICCA Dubai)
Sunjeh Raja, Director & CEO of the ICCA Dubai, a world-class culinary training centre established in the year 2005.
He is a recipient of the several international awards & recognitions and has been consistently raising the standards of culinary training and food service across the region. Recognizing and taking opportunities as they arise, the centre has been able to leverage on many strategic partnerships with world majors – a direct result of Raja’s vision and leadership.
Raja specializes in concept, product, and business development with a strong foundation in the corporate and finance sectors, showing a flair for entrepreneurship since his early foray into the business world and has worked in a number of directorial positions across a range of sectors.
Caterer Middle East
Simon Ritchie is the editor of Caterer Middle East. A seasoned business and lifestyle journalist, Ritchie has worked across a number of publications and industries both in the UK, his home country, and abroad, before settling into F&B in Dubai.
Swiss Education Group
Swiss born Florent Rondez has more than 20 years of management experience in international hospitality management and education. As CEO of Swiss Education Group, Mr. Rondez is responsible for strategically positioning, promoting and enhancing Swiss Education Group as a world leader in hospitality education. Mr. Rondez is also responsible for the development of strategic relationships with Swiss and foreign government authorities supporting the local and international image of Switzerland. Furthermore, he has continuously launched unique collaborations with renowned brands including the Montreux Jazz Festival, , the Ritz Paris, Apple, Audemars Piguet and personalities like Stanislas Wawrinka (19th ATP ranked 2020).
Mr. Rondez joined Swiss Education Group in 2000 and has served a number of important positions that have contributed to the successful growth of Swiss Education Group. He has previous managerial experience in a number of industries in cities including Hong Kong, Macau and San Francisco.
As a graduate from Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne (EHL), Mr. Rondez is a certified American Lodging Educational Institute Instructor and is actively involved in several Swiss associations including but not limited to, Vice President of the Leysin Private Schools Association (ADEPL) and Vice President of the Swiss Hotel Schools Association (ASEH).
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.
My name is Ahmad Shaban Fernandez, a Jordanian Spanish Commercial professional with more than 15 years of experience within the hospitality industry.
In my current role, I’m in charge of the Commercial performance and teams of the 23 managed hotels by IHG within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with the execution of all projects the company has in the pipeline.
I’m a Commercial strategist that has worked for several hospitality chains, and been based at several destinations within the ME region i.e. UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan.
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.
Alessandro is the Chief Operating Officer, a strong leader, great communicator and negotiator and an analytical mind capable of taking on the toughest challenges. Responsible for leading all global procurement efforts across global offices.
Implementing daily operations, aligned with the company’s strategies and policies. His individual role is to maintain control of diverse business operations. Driving supply analysis, drafting operational strategy, setting suppliers identification, sourcing execution (“tendering”), contract negotiation. Managing delivery process from planning to monitoring, purchase execution, until ongoing performance management and the overall improvement.
Alessandro is the company’s second-in-command and responsible for the efficiency of business. Collaborating with the CEO in setting and driving company's vision, operational strategy, and hiring decisions. Also he oversees company operations and employee productivity, building a highly inclusive culture ensuring team members thrive and other organizational outcomes are met.
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
Tjalling joined Winnow in December 2017 and is responsible for Winnow's Business Development in the Middle East and Africa.
Prior to joining Winnow, Tjalling worked at Apple in London, working on customer experience improvement projects. Before Apple, Tjalling worked in product and business development at food-startup HelloFresh in Amsterdam as well as part-time work in (Michelin starred) restaurants. By combining his two passions, Hospitality and Tech, Tjalling now helps Winnow grow it's presence in the region, building relationships with large hotel chains and caterers.
Tjalling holds a Bsc. Business Administration and Management from the Hotelschool The Hague, The Netherlands.
van Marken Limited
Following a career in professional services spanning nearly 30 years, Nick is currently acting as senior adviser to several hospitality investors. Until recently he was Global Head of Hospitality Advisory Services with Deloitte, where he served as a partner for 20 years and was based in London and the Gulf. In this role, he served a wide spectrum of clients, including private family/HNWI’s; PE, SWF, institutional, RE; and corporates, and encompassing owners, investors, lenders and operators. The range of services provided included commercial strategy and development advice; M&A/transaction services; operational/profit improvement reviews; capital-raising/IPOs; assurance; tax advice and restructuring.
Nick spent the early part of his career in hotel operations in Africa and Europe, working with Holiday Inn, Sun International, Gleneagles and Meridien. He has subsequently consulted in over 80 countries and 250 markets. He is a sought-after speaker and was the organiser and chairman of the highly-regarded European Hotel Investment Conference (EHIC), in London. Nick served on the board of global industry data provider STR from 2011 to 2017, and is a member of the advisory board of Bench Events.
Proud to be from amongst the early generations of computer engineers, Tomy spans over 27 years of professional experience in the fields of Data Research, Business Development, Communications, Technology and training. Even during the 80s, he worked on Speech processing and Inter language translators. Tomy is an avid follower of Cognitive technologies and its induction into real world scenarios. He has been qualified in Mass communication and Psychology in addition to his computer engineering graduate-ship.
Tomy is the founder director of Times World, which, in 13 years, is now one of the leading data management, research and digital transformation companies in the region. With multiple development and support centers, the company serves their regional and global names – both private and government. Times team handles a bundle of solutions to the hospitality industry with solutions ranging from Data Management, Application conceptualization, development to AI induction. Times World is long-standing partner for Marriott International and serves a wide portfolio of digital services to hundreds of their hotels.
As Director of Development for Darden International – parent company to restaurant brands: Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Yard House, Capital Grille and Eddie V’s - Rebecca Viani handles the franchise expansion and development for EMEA and Southeast Asia. With over 15 years in the industry, she started her career in Latin America, where she led her company to acquire a master franchise license for a U.S. snack brand. After successful introduction and implementation of this new product into the market, she moved from the franchisee side to the franchisor side, taking a corporate position with multi-brand franchisor, United Franchise Group, out of Florida, USA. Eventually becoming Vice President of Operations, Rebecca played a key role in the growth and international development of one of their brands, as they expanded from 30 U.S. locations to 110 locations in nine countries, over 4 years. Her love for international business then took her to Dubai, UAE, where she became Head of Franchising for restaurant group, Awj Investments, tasked with developing and expanding their franchise department, while leading the global expansion of their brands. Since joining Darden in 2018, Rebecca continues to focus her efforts on the growth of the Darden brands internationally. She is a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE), with a passion for helping and educating others in the industry. Her career contributions include speaking engagements at industry events such as the Global Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Restaurant Investment Forum and Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, with written contributions including publications such as Franchising World, Franchise Update and other online platforms.
As General Counsel, David is responsible for all legal matters for the company’s operations globally.
Prior to joining the Jumeirah Group, David was Global Head of Legal for Movenpick Hotels & Resorts. At Movenpick, David led the transformation of the Legal function and a growth in management agreement signings to an average of 25 per year. David was previously in private practice with law firms in London and Dubai and specialised in real estate, construction and the hotel & leisure sector for transactions for both owner and operator clients.
At Jumeirah Group, David is responsible for all legal hospitality matters for Jumeirah and the wider group. This includes acting for various related companies with hospitality assets in the Middle East region and globally.
David holds an LLB in Law and European Law from the University of Nottingham and a diploma from the University of Parma, where David learned Italian while studying law.
Originally from Northern Ireland, David now lives in Dubai with his wife Kate and children, Alex and Emily.
Georgie Woollams is the Managing Director of Katch International and Co-Founder of IAManagement, with more than 16 years of invaluable international experience. Georgie coordinates a wide range of digital and traditional communications services, spanning public relations, social media, creative design and branding, digital marketing, conceptual development, sponsorship management, and celebrity bookings.
The PR, marketing and communications specialist has extensive experience in the Saudi Arabian market, with a diverse portfolio of brands across a variety of industries. She has overseen numerous successful projects in the region and played a key role in aligning Live Nation with the General Entertainment Authority to bring Iluminate to Jeddah for Saudi Arabia’s first-ever non-traditional live entertainment show. Additionally, Katch recently handled the PR, social media and integrated communications for BTS’ historic live show at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, as the global pop sensations became the first foreign musical act to perform in Saudi Arabia. Georgie has also led communications for Middle East Film & Comic Con, Insomnia Gaming Festival, and many more campaigns in the Kingdom.
Milestones in Georgie’s career include handling the global PR, project management and integrated communications for Lewis Hamilton’s recently launched Neat Burger, the world’s first plant-based sustainable burger chain. She was responsible for naming contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant Clé Dubai, launching Cavalli Caffè in Beirut and aligning Tom Wolfe with the brand. Other significant highlights include launching Cirque Le Soir in Dubai and Shanghai, as well as playing an integral role in supporting the establishment of Barclays Wealth in Moscow at Moscow Fashion Week and being involved in all aspects of the Hema Kaul fashion label, from conception of the brand through to helping showcase her collection at London Fashion Week.
Always on the lookout for the next big thing, Georgie spearheaded the launch of Katch Disruption, an extension of the digital arm of the agency that offers advanced marketing technology. Geotargeting, advertising geofencing, creative interactive ads and intent-based marketing are areas that are focused on to increase traffic on clients’ social media channels – successfully disrupting each target market in the process. Disruption, to Georgie, is all about breaking the mould and innovating, while generating personalised content, tingling the senses aesthetically and cashing in on real-time opportunities.
With her extensive know-how and insights when it comes to the GCC, MENA and international markets, Georgie continuously endeavours to evolve the scope of Katch International’s operations to ensure the agency stays at the forefront of market servicing by localising its offering for each market it enters.
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.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman & CEO of Bench Events, is one of the founders and organisers of multiple leading international conferences for the hotel investment industry, including the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) now in its 15 year; the 10th annual Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) and the 3rd annual Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference (SHIC). Bench Events entered the Latin America market in 2016 partnering with SAHIC on their South American and Latin Amerian events. Jonathan also branched out into aviation and F&B, through AviaDev inaugurated in 2016, and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) now in its sixth year.
In 1997, Jonathan co-founded the annual International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, a conference he subsequently organised for 19 years, which today attracts over 2,000 delegates. Earlier in his career, he worked for real estate consultants CBRE & Hotel Partners, hotel advisors PKF and hotel operator Forte & Holiday Inns.
Until recently, Jonathan was a board director and founder of STR Global, a global benchmarking company with over 60,000 participating hotels following the merger of The Bench, STR and Deloitte’s Hotel Benchmark. He sits on the board of Hotel Swaps, which allows participating members to swap unused hotel rooms with other members around the globe and is an investor in TripTease, the tech start-up that enables hotels to increase direct sales and aims to defeat rate disparity.
Jonathan sits on the Advisory Board for Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and is a Trustee of Future Talent, a charity that provides financial support to gifted young musicians in need of financial assistance to pursue their dreams and talent.