Sharjah Investment and Development Authority - Shurooq
His Excellence (HE) Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, the Executive Chairman of Shurooq, is considered one of the key leaders in Sharjah’s tourism industry growth. He was the CEO of Shurooq from 2009 until mid-2018, which he then became the Executive Chairman under an Emiri decree by HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah.
Al Sarkal has been integral to the success of the Authority since its inception in 2009, and has played an exemplary role in realising the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, of establishing the organisation as the driving force behind the transformation of Sharjah as a key investment, tourism, and business destination in the region.
Steered by Al Sarkal’s creativity and drive, guided by the emirate’s traditions, and inspired by innovation, Shurooq has adopted world-class standards in providing the necessary services, intellectual property and infrastructural facilities to attract investors from the UAE, the Middle East, and beyond. His role as the CEO of Al Qasba Development Authority, in establishing Al Qasba as a prominent tourist destination, paved the way for the establishment and subsequent success of Shurooq.
After 9 years of genuine leadership, and an effective driver of change across Shurooq and Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, issued the Emiri Decree No 30 of 2018 promoting Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, from CEO to the Executive Chairman of Shurooq, on May 20th 2018.
AL HABTOOR GROUP LLC
Sanjeev Agarwala is the Group Chief Operating Officer of Al Habtoor Group (AHG).
He is a member of the Group Executive Committee and board member of AHG’s Hospitality, Real Estate, Education, Car leasing and Audit divisions.
Managing a multibillion-dollar real estate portfolio comprising 2,000 luxury lifestyle residential units in the UAE — and over 700,000 sq ft of commercial and retail space in the emirates and abroad — Mr Agarwala is responsible for structuring Al Habtoor Real Estate and all its operational aspects including sales, leasing and facility management. He also oversees AHG’s investment and acquisitions in real estate and hospitality.
Among his key achievements is the record-breaking transition of four hotels under the Habtoor Hospitality portfolio, from Marriott International management to Hilton, devised and guided by him.
In 2016, Mr Agarwala was Chief Strategy Officer at Meraas Holding. Joining Meraas as Vice-President of Funding and Investments in 2014, he looked after funding for mega projects such as Dubai Parks, Blue Waters, La Mer, Al Seef, and Bvlgari Hotel. He was instrumental in leading the IPO and Rights Issue of Dubai Parks, and in various other syndicated loans and raising of private equity.
Prior to that, Mr Agarwala held executive positions such as Group CFO, and Director of Strategy & Business Development for 17 years at Al Habtoor Group, besides key positions in Habtoor Hospitality. He started his career at ITC Limited in India and later worked for Sarova Hotels in Kenya.
An industry veteran with over 30 years of experience, Mr Agarwala’s core strengths include fund raising in equity and debt capital markets, private equity, investments, derivatives, as well as mergers and acquisitions. He has a proven track record of leveraging his financial and accounting skills to develop and implement business strategies successfully.
His excellent relationships with local, regional and international commercial and investment banks provide a value-add.
Mr Agarwala holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India. He is a Fellow Chartered Accountant in India, Certified Public Accountant in the United States, a public speaker and erstwhile faculty member at Becker CPA in Dubai Knowledge Village.
From capturing the financial services market to introducing world class brands to India & UAE and making a mark in the hospitality sector worldwide, young entrepreneur Adeeb Ahamed is a man of many achievements.
He has gone on to successfully establish LuLu Financial Group as one of the world’s leading financial services organization with more than 200 branches across the globe. He also leads various other ventures including the organized retail wing Tablez and hospitality investment firm - Twenty14 Holdings, which has under it some of the most prestigious hotels around the world including the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London, UK, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian in Scotland, Sheraton Oman in Muscat, The Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay Dubai in UAE, and Port Muziris- A tribute portfolio hotel in Kochi, and others. Adeeb‘s growing influence as an engaging business leader has also earned him a position on the senior advisory board of the South Asia Regional Stewardship Board (RSB) at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
A visionary leader, an insightful entrepreneur and a socially responsible philanthropist, Adeeb is a leading global Indian business leader in the industries he has ventured into.
An experienced architect and urban planning expert, who has worked in senior leadership roles in government, Abdullah Rashed Jasem Al-Abdooli is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Marjan, the developer of Al Marjan Island, a master-planned mixed-use mega-development in Ras Al Khaimah, the United Arab Emirates.
Abdullah drives the development, operations and expansion plans of Al Marjan Island, which features world-class residential, commercial, hospitality, retail and leisure attractions, and serves as an economic catalyst and driver of real estate and inward investments to Ras Al Khaimah.
Abdullah is responsible for multiple stakeholder engagement, including with government entities, and leverages his expertise in urban planning and architecture to establish Al Marjan Island as a signature development that adds to the pride of the nation. He also focuses on ensuring optimal resource use efficiency and in driving the project management schedule to achieve higher levels of productivity.
Drawing on his competencies in real estate development and urban master-planning, Abdullah also serves as the Board Member of RAK Dredging.
Earlier, he was Director – Town Planning and Survey Administration and Director of Project Management at RAK Municipality. He has also been a Board Member of the RAK International Airport Authority and RAK Sewerage Authority.
Abdullah holds a Masters in Regional & Urban Planning from the Paris Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, and graduated from the American University of Sharjah.
Taiba Holding Company
In 2011 Mr. Sohail joined ARAC as Director of Finance for the Medinah properties which include Taiba Tower, Al Majeedi and Arac Inn. He spent two years in that position developing programs and standards to enhance accuracy in reporting. After that, He was promoted to Corporate Director of Finance, providing guidance and leadership to all ARAC properties as well as participating in the new openings.
Following his success with ARAC, Mr. Sohail Joined Taiba Holding Company (The prime real estate company in Madinah) in 2015 as Director of Investment and Development, monitoring and supervising Taiba's current and new investment portfolios including existing and new hotels developments in Madinah and other KSA major cities.
Mr. Sohail holds a Bachelor Degree in Accounting from Multimedia University in Cyberjaya – Malaysia.
Al Fardan Investments Ltd.
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.
Abu Dhabi National Hotels PJSC
With more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Khalid had the opportunity to manage various hotels under well-reputed international hotel chains in different countries.
Khalid has had exposure to different business models, resorts, city hotels and mix used development.
Before joining Abu Dhabi National Hotels, Khalid spent 5 years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was the Managing Director of Al Hokair Group, where he played a key role in the group’s successful IPO.
Prior to that, Khalid worked as General Manager for Accor & Banyan Tree.
Khalid a 54 yr old Finnish citizen of Moroccan origin, holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Strathclyde University, United Kingdom.
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.
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.
Chief Information Officer MEA and Global Strategic Programs, Accor; President, HTNG
Floor was appointed Chief Information Officer MEA and Global Accor Strategic Programs in November 2018 when, after a prolonged period of substantial growth, Accor established a consolidated IT function in the region. Floor and his senior team are responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day delivery of IT services and solutions for all Accor brands in Africa and the Middle East, and for the technical integration of brands headquartered in the region. Floor is also responsible for global strategic IT programs for the Accor Group.
Prior to joining Accor, Floor was CIO for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for five years. In this role, he was responsible for IT strategy, program development and implementation across the wider Mövenpick Group. Taking on the position during a period of substantial challenge, he successfully led the IT function through the changes required to update legacy systems to meet the demands of a rapidly developing hospitality market. This included steering the organization through the adoption of Cloud services, and establishing Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts as global pioneers in hospitality Cloud technology.
With nearly two decades of multinational experience in the luxury hospitality industry, Floor has a substantial background in IT strategy development and execution, business analysis and application development. He prioritizes team leadership and performance management as fundamental to delivering on the ambitious demands of the industry. He started his IT career in Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts in Belgium before moving to Dubai as Director of IT for The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. He then took up the position of VP Business Solutions for Jumeirah Group, a post he held for nine years.
Floor holds a Bachelors degree in Hotel Administration from Hotelschool, The Hague, the Netherlands and an MBA degree from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA.
Accor IT MEA is responsible for the day- to-day delivery of IT services and solutions for all Accor brands in Africa and the Middle East as well as for the integration of newly acquired brands. Its role is to create a consistent and positive impact on the business success of all Accor brands through the delivery of effective and innovative technology solutions. Accor IT MEA has six business priorities that support the global strategic direction during this period of transformation, with five areas of expertise – Customer Service Management, Digital Transformation, Brand Integration, New Developments and Shared Services.
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.
Ewan Cameron leads Westmont Hospitality’s Operations and Development in Africa.
Ewan has previously held senior roles with IHG, African Sun and Lonrho Hotels;
- VP Franchise Operations, EMEA, InterContinental Hotels Group
- Head of Development Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group
- Managing Director (Non Zimbabwe) African Sun Hotels
- CEO Lonrho Hotels
CG Corp Global & CG Hospitality Holdings
Mr. Rahul Chaudhary is the Managing Director of CG Corp | Global & CG Hospitality Holdings which is a multinational conglomerate with an exceptional legacy of 140 years and 4 generations. Spread over 30 countries and with a work force of over 10,000, it is the Himalayan Republic of Nepal's first and only company listed on the Forbes list of Billionaires since 2015 valued in excess US$2.5 Billion comprising over 90 companies that produces world class products and brands.
CG Corp | Global’s notable areas of interests are FMCG, Hospitality, Telecom, Finance, Banking, Electronic and Home appliances, Cement, Real estate, Education, and Energy to name a few. CG is also the brain behind the famous Wai Wai brand of noodles.
Rahul heads CG Hospitality Holdings, the hospitality wing of CG Corp | Global. His forte lies in forging strategic alliances in established as well as emerging markets, which assists in the growth and development of the company. CG Hospitality has a proud history of successful joint ventures in the hospitality sector with esteemed partners and owns some of the most iconic assets globally with some of the leading hospitality brands over two decades such as Taj, Jetwing, Radisson, The Farm and its own brands The Fern, Summit and Zinc. CG Hospitality’s portfolio comprises of over 135 hotels & resorts in 12 countries and 95+ destinations with over 6000 keys. By 2025, the portfolio is expected to grow to over 200 hotels and 10,000 keys.
Karim Cheltout is the Regional Vice President Lodging Development for Marriott International in Africa. He oversees all developments of new hotels and conversions across Marriott’s portfolio of brands throughout the African continent.
Cheltout has over 18 years of experience in hotel real estate development, finance and investments. In his current role, Cheltout is focusing on growing Marriott International's footprint across the African continent, with emphasis on the region's fastest-growing hotel and travel markets. Cheltout joined Marriott International in 2010 as Vice president of Development for Africa.
Prior to joining Marriott International, Cheltout was a Director at Istithmar. In his role he was responsible for origination and acquisitions of hotel and leisure opportunities globally. Prior to that, Cheltout was with Ernst & Young Transactions Real Estate Advisory in the MENA office. Cheltout started his career in hotel operations and consulting. He has advised many hospitality companies, investors and lenders on M&A transactions, strategy and development opportunities within Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Cheltout holds a Masters in Hospitality Administration from the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, in Switzerland.
The Indian Hotels Company Limited
Mr. Puneet Chhatwal joined IHCL as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in November, 2017. He is a global professional with over three decades of leadership experience at highly-acclaimed hotel groups in Europe and North America.
Under his leadership, IHCL has embarked on a journey of re-imagination, unveiling its five year business strategy - Aspiration 2022 with a vision to become South Asia’s most iconic and profitable hospitality company. In line with the strategy, the company is on its path to deliver sustainable profitable growth through margin enhancement, scaling of hotels portfolio and refresh of its brandscape and offerings.
Prior to this, Mr. Chhatwal was the Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Executive Board of Steigenberger Hotels AG – Deutsche Hospitality. He was also the Chief Development Officer of The Rezidor Hotel Group – Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Mr. Chhatwal is a graduate of both Delhi University and Institute of Hotel Management, Delhi. He has completed an MBA in Hospitality from ESSEC, Paris and an Advanced Management Program from INSEAD.
Mr. Chhatwal has won awards including the prestigious Carlson Fellowship and was rated as one of Europe’s 20 extraordinary minds in Sales, Marketing and Technology - HSMAI European Awards 2014. He was also the First Alumni included in the ESSEC-IMHI Hall of Honor 2014.
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.
With more than 15 years of experience with leading international practices in the UK and the Middle East, David has a proven record of creating, presenting and developing an international level of design work. His experience spans the commercial, hospitality, residential and retail sectors, and includes the design of large stadia and sporting facilities. In these projects, he has also played a key leadership and business development role with both local and international clients.
Previously employed by internationally acclaimed studios Hopkins Architects and Glenn Howells Architects (GHA), David was engaged in numerous projects including the London 2012 Olympics as well as the Dubai World Trade Centre and Meraas’ Engineers’ Office Headquarters. At SSH, he is working on various projects within the Dubai Creek Harbour development, the Al Marjan Island development and the Burj Square master development.
As well as holding a Bachelor of Arts with Honours Degree in Architecture and a Post-graduate Diploma in Architecture, David is a Chartered Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Millennium Hotels & Resorts
A seasoned hospitality professional, with over three decades of Operational and Senior Leadership experience, Kevork was appointed as Chief Operating Officer for Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa in March 2017. He was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and Africa in August 2019 to continue his vision towards evolving the Millennium brand and lead it to reach new heights of success.
Under his strategic leadership, the company witnessed rapid growth with closer to doubling its portfolio since he took over, that resulted in leading the company to become one of the fastest-growing hotel management companies in the region.
He oversees the company’s divisions and its operations across the Middle East and Africa where Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa operates over 40 hotels with over 14000 keys and 35 hotels in the pipeline.
Kevork has a focused vision on ‘people development’ and has successfully launched a comprehensive four-tier national development programme centring the career advancement of fresh graduates, executives and leaders. Before joining Millennium Hotels & Resorts in the Middle East and Africa, Kevork held the position of Vice President Asset Management at Tetra Hospitality Investment LLC, the holding company for the Lakhraim Business Group’s hospitality sector where he overlooked the performance of the Tetra-owned hotels along with all future developments and acquisitions. He is also a member of the Bethlehem University Tourism Institute (BUTI), Board of Directors.
As SVP of Guest Services at Accor, Ian is the head of customer strategy and responsible for the broad functions of customer acquisition, engagement & experience, loyalty and global partnerships. As part of his role, Ian is heavily involved in the transformation of Accor into a Customer Centric organization using loyalty and partnerships as a catalyst for augmented hospitality.
Ian has extensive global management experience with large multinational organizations and an extensive track record managing multi-cultural teams at senior levels in travel & hospitality, aviation, consulting, retail and media organizations across three continents.
Ian holds an MBA from Queen’s University in Canada and a PhD in Marketing from Cranfield University in the UK. He speaks frequently at loyalty, analytics and customer engagement events worldwide
Sherif has been with LinkedIn MENA for 5 years now, and over the past couple of years he has played a pivotal role in setting up the Real Estate vertical within the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. During this time, he partnered with many Real Estate developers to help them identify regional & international investors and raise awareness in many new markets.
As Head of Hotels & Hospitality, Amr has overall responsibility for the strategic direction and growth of JLL’s hotel business in the Middle East and North Africa. Amr is also an integral part of the Global Hotel Desk Team and is currently involved in a wide range of hotel advisory and hotel investment sale instructions for single assets and portfolio transactions, with a focus on cross-border investment activities primarily from the Middle East. In addition, Amr also provides hotel investment services to private and institutional investors across the Middle East region.
Amr has 12 years’ experience within the hospitality industry. He has been involved in numerous assignments including Market and Financial Feasibility Studies, Operator Search and Selection, Strategic Development Advice and Investment Sale Instructions.
Amr also worked in JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Team and Northern European Investment Sales Team based in London, UK, where he was heavily involved in sale mandates for a number of single, trophy and portfolio assets across the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.
Thomas Emanuel is a Director at STR. He is based in London, and leads a team focused on driving business with Industry Partners.
He has spent his entire career in the hotel industry, beginning in 2000 with Miki Travel, before joining Hyatt Hotel & Resorts, where he gained experience in corporate sales at both the worldwide sales office and at property level. Thomas then led the corporate sales function for Hazlitt’s Hotels, a group of independent boutique hotels in London.
In 2006, Thomas joined the Deloitte HotelBenchmark team, where he was responsible for creating and leading the department’s business development function. He held this role until the formation of STR in March 2008, and had since focused on overseeing STR’s rapid expansion outside North America. Throughout his time with STR, Thomas has gained a wealth of experience working with hotels, investors, developers, consultants, banks, governments, destination management companies and many others.
Thomas has been a guest lecturer at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, and been invited and participated in the OECD's high level meetings on tourism policies.
Travelling extensively, Thomas has worked in over 45 countries across 6 continents and regularly speaks at major hospitality conferences around the world. He is also frequently interviewed for his insights on the hotel industry by news outlets including CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, as well as various tourism and hospitality publications.
A genuine adventure-seeker, Luca’s passion lies in experiential travel, which heightens travelers’ environmental awareness, immerses travelers into the local culture and communities, and crafts perspective-altering and life-changing journeys. In 2010, Luca founded Luxury Frontiers after identifying the growing consumer demand for experiential travel as well as environmentally and socially responsible tourism.
Having worked with Aman, Four Seasons, One&Only, Six Senses and Belmond among others, Luxury Frontiers is a leading international expert in the design and development of high-end adventure eco-lodges, resorts and camps. Luxury Frontiers designs experiential lodging concepts and operational programming, allowing its clients to quickly and efficiently increase returns from underperforming land and boost the public profiles of their properties.
Prior to forming Luxury Frontiers, Luca was owner of LLPI, an international advisory and management company servicing developers and investors in luxury mixed-use hotels and resorts, and he was an equity Partner with Strategic Hotels and Resorts. Luca earned his engineering degree from Pavia University, Italy and was subsequently an architect for the Icehotel project in Sweden.
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.
Wayne has spent over 12 years in the hospitality real estate space and has completed assignments across 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. As Senior Vice President of the JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group in Sub-Saharan Africa, Wayne leads JLL’s Strategic Advisory services to local, regional and global clients across the region. His broad range of experience includes hospitality and mixed-use feasibility studies, hotel management company and asset valuations, buy-side advisory for hotels and hospitality platforms, market entry strategies, operator selection and management contract negotiation.
Wayne completed an undergraduate degree in Tourism Development at the University of Johannesburg, before completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) at Wits Business School and an MSc Property Studies at the University of Cape Town.
Radisson Hospitality AB; Chairman, Global Steering Committee, Radisson Hotel Group
Federico J. González is the President and CEO of Radisson Hospitality AB (publ). Federico serves as the chairman of the Global Steering Committee of Radisson Hotel Group, made up of equal representation from Radisson Hospitality AB and Radisson Hospitality, Inc. The Global Steering Committee, under Federico’s leadership, provides guidance and strategic counsel to both management teams and boards, fosters a deeper level of collaboration & communication, and ensures alignment on important matters such as partnership & global growth.
Federico has extensive global executive leadership experience in the hospitality, leisure and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors. Prior to joining Radisson Hospitality AB, he was Chief Executive Officer of NH Hotel Group – where he led a major turnaround of the company – and as Deputy General Manager of Disneyland Paris.
He previously spent 16 years in senior management positions at Procter & Gamble in Brussels, Madrid and Stockholm before becoming the company’s Country Head of Portugal in 2000.
A respected marketer and hotelier, González has written three books: Living and Working Abroad; How to Live and Work with Portuguese; and How to succeed in doing business the Swedish way.
As a global leader, Federico’s personal mission is to motivate and energize large organizations to be more ambitious – in profitability, purpose and people – through respect for diversity of thoughts, culture, gender, experience and beliefs. González majored in Economics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and received a Masters of International Trade and Finance from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Interstate Hotels & Resorts
Aaron Greenman is Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ Executive Vice President of Acquisitions & Development – International, responsible for growing the portfolio of managed hotels for the entire International region. Aaron joined Interstate in fall 2007 as Head of Development in India, in addition to his responsibilities as COO with the company’s joint venture partner there. In 2010, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for EMEA, working closely with his colleagues to build on the company’s platform in this region, and more recently to Executive Vice President of Acquisitions & Development – International.
Prior to joining Interstate, Aaron was Managing Director for AFEX Group in Nairobi, Kenya, responsible for a company with 600 employees with operations throughout East Africa. Earlier in his career, Aaron was a Senior Manager at Ernst and Young LLP’s real estate advisory services practice, based in Boston, New York and Miami.
RAK Hospitality Holding LLC
Alison has over 20 years of experience working with the hospitality industry; extensively travelled, she has worked in over 30 countries covering Europe, United States and Middle East/Africa.
Alison comes from a strong financial background, with a BSc in Economics and an ACA Chartered Accountancy Qualification. She started her career with Andersen in the UK and US, moving to PwC in 2001.
Alison moved to the Middle East from PwC in London to help establish and develop PwC’s Middle East Hospitality and Leisure practice into a leader in its field. Her roles were initially as Middle East Hotels Lead, and ultimately as the Middle East Real Estate, Hospitality and Leisure Leader.
Alison joined RAK Hospitality Holding as CFO overseeing the Finance and Treasury functions of the group as well the Finance & Business Support cluster whilst also supporting the advisory arm of the group, RAK Hospitality Asset Management LLC.
Alison was promoted to CEO effective 1st of August 2019.
Mark Hamilton is a Digital Transformation specialist in the Real Estate Industry currently Head of JLL's Digital Solutions Team in Middle East and Africa. With over 10 years experience, he is committed to deriving maximum value through out the real estate life cycle via the utilization of new technologies, data management and workflows.
Mark also led as the international representative to Stanford University for two fortune 500 companies in relation to Virtual Design and Construction and the Digital Cities Summit. He has been exposed to a variety of high profile and complex projects such as the New York City World Trade Center Redevelopment Program and various record breaking Theme Park Development projects through out the Middle East.
Mark led one of the largest asset digitization projects in the world, which included 3D Scanning and Modelling of over 33 Million Square Feet in Riyadh, KSA. Mark implemented the contracting, team building, management and delivery of the 3D LiDAR Scanning and BIM Production – as well as overall digital delivery strategy. Mark also provided key digital delivery strategies and management to high profile developers and agencies throughout the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
His direct project experience prior to his digital lead role includes:
• Procurement and Digital Delivery Strategy to Emaar
• BIM and Ride Vendor Procurement Strategy input on Sea World Abu Dhabi for
• Project manager role with Miral on the 700M AED Ferrari World Phase 2
• Program management role on the $16 Billion World Trade Center
Redevelopment project in New York City USA
-King Abdullah Financial District Digital Solutions – Asset Digitization Phase 1 (approximately 3 Million SQM)
-Emaar various Leisure and Entertainment Developments, Dubai, UAE
-SeaWorld Abu Dhabi , Abu Dhabi, UAE
-Building Information Modelling Data Capture Market Research – Stanford University
-Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE), Palo Alto, California
-Ferrari World Abu Dhabi BIM Consultancy Services Expansion, Abu Dhabi, UAE
-One World Trade Center, New York City, USA
-9/11 Memorial Museum at World Trade Center, New York City, USA
-Transportation Hub at World Trade Center, New York City, USA
-Water Infrastructure Engineering New Jersey, USA
-International Water Infrastructure Research, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Overseeing all aspects of Ròya International, Kees leads an interdisciplinary team of 60 consultants and specialists. Directling the group from the Dubai base, Kees also takes an active role in shaping the three key practice areas - development advisory, asset management, and hospitality services.
Recognized as a leading hotelier, Kees brings with him global expertise and experience gained from senior roles in three continents. Initially working in Europe, his career took him to the Middle East North Africa regions and then to Asia-Pacific.
A significant chapter in Kees’s career was his tenure with Hilton International, where, amongst many responsibilities, he drove all Food & Beverage development across the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions. As Vice President Asia, he led the company’s operations during its fast-paced, multi-brand growth in the region including key development markets such as China and the Indian subcontinent.
Prior to taking up the role in Ròya, he served as CEO of Rixos Hotels, orchestrating the transition of the chain from regional to international, shaping its strategy, structure and management tools.
Thanks to Kees’s diverse experience, comprehensive and broad insight at both unit and corporate level, he adds invaluable knowledge and direction to Ròya's services.
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.
Ali is Director of Strategic Investments at Select Group, a multi-disciplinary development and investment company headquartered out of Dubai. Established in 2002 and with a portfolio spanning 20 million ft² and 10,500 homes (over 7,000 of which have been delivered), it is one of the leading privately-owned real estate developers in the region.
His focus is to identify and negotiate opportunities that capitalize on the core competencies and execution capabilities of the Group and provide the potential to obtain superior risk-adjusted returns.
Through this approach, the Group has deployed substantial proprietary capital via on and off market transactions in the UK, Germany, and the UAE into strategies ranging from forward purchases and forward funding to ground-up development and complex multi-stage joint ventures across the residential, commercial and hospitality sectors.
Ali Hoyt is Senior Director of Consulting and Analytics for STR (STR, Inc.). STR provides clients from multiple market sectors with premium, global data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights. STR was acquired in October 2019 by CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP), the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces.
As Senior Director of Consulting and Analytics for STR, Ali leads a consulting team focused on providing custom data solutions to clients using STR’s extensive database. Projects range from comp set selection and optimization to customized data-infused dashboards in Excel or Tableau software. She assists with new subscription-based report and product development. In 2016, Ali was awarded the Lori Raleigh Award for Emerging Excellence in Hospitality Consulting from the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC). She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and meetings. Ali earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Rudi Jagersbacher was appointed President – Middle East, Africa & Turkey for Hilton in January 2011. He is responsible for all matters across the Middle East, Africa & Turkey where Hilton operates more than 130 hotels and is developing a further 150.
A seasoned hotel management executive, Jagersbacher has extensive experience in various senior roles in EMEA and a solid track record in positively growing the portfolio of Hilton brands and successfully developing stakeholder relations. His earlier career included serving as General Manager of the Langham Hilton and the London Hilton on Park Lane after a brief departure from Hilton as the Assistant General Manager of the Claridges, London and Assistant Manager of the Savoy Hotel, London.
A graduate of Hotel School in Austria, Jagersbacher started his career with Hilton International in 1974. Jagersbacher holds the Decoration of Merit in Gold (Goldenes Verdienstzeichen), one of the fifteen classes of national honours for services to the Republic conferred by the Austrian government for his services to hospitality.
Jagersbacher was also recognised as the region’s most influential hotelier for three years running, ranking number one in the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Alexis Janoray is heading development for AccorHotels in Africa since June 2018. He was previously the VP responsible for Sub Saharan Africa since 2016.
Before joining AccorHotels, Alexis was a banker for more than ten years specializing in structured and acquisition financing.
His last position was with Proparco, the French private sector development bank, where he originated, structured and closed numerous transactions in Africa and in the hospitality sector in particular.
Alexis is a graduate from Paris Dauphine University and holds a master in corporate finance from EM Lyon business School.
Hamza Khan, 26, is the co-founder of Letswork, the UAE’s largest community of co-working spaces. He is a qualified lawyer, having received his law degree from the London School of Economics and having previously worked for Clifford Chance LLP. In October 2017, Hamza was selected for the E25 entrepreneurship program at EMAAR. Three months later, Hamza launched Letswork with his co-founder, Omar Al Mheiri. Letswork operates a unique, asset-light model by partnering with venues across the country to offer affordable, flexible and inspiring workspaces to freelancers, SMEs and corporates.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Sanjive Khosla has been at Expo 2020 since 2017 and is responsible for understanding where the visitors to Expo are going to come from, informing what they would like to experience at Expo, how to market Expo to them and finally how to sell tickets to them in order to get them to visit Expo again and again.
In addition, he is responsible for raising commercial sponsorship and managing the ongoing relationships with these sponsors and developing the onsite and offsite Retail operations of Expo.
Prior to joining Expo, he was Senior Vice President for Strategy at Dubai Holding since 2009. He was responsible for the Strategy Function and the Corporate Governance Framework of Dubai Holding. He was also involved in leading the transformation of Dubai Holding into an Investment Holding Company.
Lourie Kruger joined RF Capital in August 2018 as Chief Investment Officer MEA. RF Capital is an asset management boutique focussed on real assets globally, bringing an experienced team with a proven track record, providing investors with institutional deal sourcing capabilities and proven delivery strategies.
Prior to RF Capital Lourie was CFO of Kingdom Hotel Investments, responsible for overseeing all the corporate finance activities of the company, including the M&A initiatives, treasury and capital structure programmes.
Mr Kruger has over 18 years banking, real estate and hospitality experience across 35 countries ranging from Asia and the Middle East to Africa and Europe. Prior to joining KHI, he built a career with Standard Bank in South Africa where he was co-founder of the African Real Estate team, a unit responsible for all the banks’ activities across Africa (excl. South Africa) in the commercial property arena.
Mr Kruger holds various professional qualifications as well as degrees in Computer Science, Monetary Economics and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the London Business School. He is also a member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. Mr Kruger is a South African national.
Action Hotels Company
Christophe Landais, MBA, born in 1955 in France, joined the Accor group in 2000 as Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer heading Accor in the Middle East.
Under his leadership, Accor Middle East embarked on a regional strategy to develop its hotel brands throughout the region. For over 16 years, Christophe spearheaded the development and overall operations of an extensive portfolio of Accor brands ranging from economy lodging to luxury properties in the Gulf region.
With over 35 years of experience in International hospitality management together with recognised business acumen, organisational skills and hotel specific asset management, operational and development expertise, Christophe has established Accor Middle East as one of the most respected and successful leading hospitality groups in the region.
Christophe is now Chief Executive Officer for Action Hotels Company (AHC) founded in 2005 by H.E. Sheikh Mubarak A. M. Al-Sabah with the vision to become a leading owner, developer, and manager of branded economy and midscale hotels in the Middle East and Australia. The success of each of AHC’s hotels is the result of the careful execution of a focused plan to develop high quality assets in locations which have the potential for capital growth, coupled with extensive local market knowledge and management expertise.
Christophe also serves as Non-Executive Director at Swiss Integrated Energy Technology AG; a start-up focussed on developing smart cooling products centred on energy efficient adiabatic based technology. Additionally, he supports as Non-Executive Director the Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation which innovative project lead by Prof Claire MOUNIER-VEHIER encompasses 3 complementary and distinctive intertwined objectives covering medical researches, information & education, and prevention & treatment.
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.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Dimitris Manikis was appointed President and Managing Director for EMEA in April 2018. In his role, he is responsible for the development of all of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ brands in the EMEA region as well as maximising the performance of all new and existing franchise and managed hotels. He focuses on driving the strategic objectives of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts including quality and technology solutions as well as loyalty, sales and marketing.
Dimitris Manikis has a long-standing career and deep knowledge of the hospitality industry. Prior to joining Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, he spent over 27 years with RCI, the worldwide leader in vacation exchange, across a number of senior roles, and most recently served as Vice President of Business Development for EMEA. Earlier in his career, he also held a number key positions in the region as Managing Director of RCI Greece and RCI South Africa.
A Greek national, Dimitris was born in Athens and holds a Bachelor degree in Tourism and Administration from the University of Patras in Greece, and an MSc Postgraduate degree in Tourism Marketing from the University of Surrey. His passion for people and work ethic comes from his father, who built up a grocery retail business in Athens where Dimitris learned the value of high customer service, positive outlook and hard work as being the foundations of success in both business and life.
He is based in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ London office.
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.
Mind Body Building
Stephen has been practising yoga for over 20 years. His yoga story has taken him around the world and into many styles and schools with an interest in the philosophy of yoga too. He is equally focused on relaxation techniques and mind/body connection. He did his teacher training with the shamanic school of yoga in the rainforests of Costa Rica and is further qualified with the yoga nidra network. He describes yoga nidra as the single most important contribution to yoga in the 21st century. He teaches classes in central London and also delivers workshops around the world. He has worked with google, international law and accountancy firms and is a regular speaker at conferences on sleep, welltech and healthy buildings and writes often for the wellness press.
Al Tamimi & Company
Tara Marlow heads the Real Estate and Hotels & Leisure practices at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East. With over 20 years’ experience (including 15 years in the Middle East region), she is recognised for her specialism in all aspects of hospitality, real estate and development related matters. Tara is regularly published in hotel industry and legal journals and is a speaker at hotel industry and real estate development seminars and conferences throughout the Middle East region.
Bringing her combined hotel industry and real estate development skills and experience, she provides solution orientated advice to owners, operators, property developers, financial institutions and investors on all areas of commercial real estate and development. She has worked on some of the region’s highest profile transactions, mixed-used and resort developments and joint ventures, as well as advising and representing her clients on numerous hotel and serviced apartment management agreements, including rental pool structuring. Tara is well respected by her peers and clients for her ability to negotiate her way through complex management contracts whilst maintaining a grasp of the bigger picture and commercial parameters.
Tara qualified as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 2000, working with a well-known international law firm before moving to the Middle East in 2004 to join Al Tamimi & Company. In the Middle East, she also had the opportunity to gain valuable hotel industry experience in her role as Vice President, Legal within the hotel development and asset management arm of a large Dubai based development company, advising on the acquisition, development, operation and asset management of a hotel portfolio spread across the MENA region comprising approximately 3,500 operational rooms, together with a number of hotel projects at various stages of development.
Henry Mason is an experienced and sought-after keynote speaker and author of Trend-Driven Innovation. In the past 5 years, Henry has given over 100 keynote presentations in more than 30 countries, speaking alongside thought leaders (from Seth Godin to Steven Johnson), ground-breaking entrepreneurs (from Robin Chase to Eric Schmidt), global figures (from Kofi Annan to Muhammad Yunus) and many, many more. Henry was included in GQ's Most Connected Men in Britain list in 2016.
Jalil Mekouar is a visionary global leader and entrepreneur with 30 years of international investment, finance and asset management experience in hospitality, real estate, wellness, and technology spanning over 35 countries in 6 continents with the world’s largest hotel operators, investors, developers, advisors and asset managers. He is currently the Founder & CEO of inHovate Solutions, a technology venture that is set to disrupt and revolutionize the hospitality industry! Stay tuned for that…
Jalil Mekouar was most recently the CEO - Hotels for Majid Al Futtaim, a leading international retail, real estate, hospitality and leisure conglomerate with over US$ 16B of assets, and he sits on various Advisory Boards including Delos - a New York based global wellness, real estate and technology pioneer - alongside Deepak Chopra, Leonardo DiCaprio and other inspiring celebrities and illustrious thought leaders who have a major influence on the sustainability and well-being of our planet and its inhabitants ( https://delos.com/company/peop... ).
As a respected thought leader and a trusted hospitality, real estate and wellness advisor to a variety of investors, developers and operators, he has developed a vast global network of relationships, successfully established partnerships, businesses and JVs internationally, and is frequently invited to speak at international conferences around the world.
In addition to his MBA from Cornell University and his various certifications in Fund & Asset Management, Real Estate Finance, Board Director Certification for Public Listed Companies, etc. Jalil Mekouar is passionate about wellness and technology and, as an avid learner, he has also pursued certifications in Artificial Intelligence from MIT, as well as Data Science Coding, while working on his WELL-AP Accreditation by the International WELL Building Institute. He also served as an Ambassador to the Global Wellness Institute and the Global Wellness Day, and is amember of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and other international professional associations.
MMAC Design Associates
With 30 years of experience in interior design, Mr. Merieau has honed his skills from the foundations of interior craftsmanship rising to the ranks of senior management. After an early education in hotel administration, he obtained a degree in Interior Design in 1989 and later qualified as Interior Architect in Geneva, Switzerland. Christian Merieau relocated in Dubai 2005 as Managing Director for well know international design firm. After nearly 20 years with this firm designing projects for international hotel operators, he launched in 2013 MMAC Design Associates, an Award winning interior design consultancy agency based in Dubai, specialized in mid-scale & luxury hospitality design. Mr. Merieau was listed on several occasion as one of the most influential designer in the Middle East by Commercial Interior Design magazine and is a regular speaker at international design & hospitality conferences.
Cyrus Mewawalla is a highly respected equity analyst from the investment banking sector. He has studied the technology, media and telecom (TMT) sector for the last 25 years. Cyrus leads the development of GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem, a single integrated platform for looking at all themes impacting all companies across all sectors. Cyrus is a regular commentator on tech themes on CNBC, Bloomberg and the BBC.
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.
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.
He has over 18 years of globally diverse career in real estate and hospitality strategy, investment, & asset management in major developed markets in the Americas & Europe & the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Caribbean & Indian Ocean.
He has been on the operator and ownerships sides of the business, through successful tenures with prestigious firms including Gencom Group, Miral Asset Management, Lehman Brothers, Kingdom Hotels Investment, PKF Consulting, Istithmar World, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, InterContinental Hotels & Hilton.
With core expertise in asset management, he is well experienced in all facets of the real estate investment cycle including portfolio and single asset transactions (acquisition and dispositions), debt and equity funding, management contracts, design and development, workouts, operations and stakeholder management.
After completing the tenure with Gencom earlier this year, Ahmer formed the RHA Capital, with offices in US and Canada. The firm advises in investment and asset management in the hospitality and real estate sector across the globe.
Ahmer holds an MBA in Investment from the Washington State University; a BA in Hotel Management from Austria; and post graduate certificate in Real Estate from Cornell University. He is also a Certified Hotel Asset Manager Designee.
Amit is an asset manager with 18+yrs. of experience in asset management, private equity & operations. He is the Vice President of HAMA MEA , a Mentor at iN5 Dubai and on the executive board of the Cornell University Alumni association for GCC.
He leads the development of the hospitality division at WASL and part of the asset management team there. Prior to this he was the Managing Director of HighPoint providing Asset management & Investment advisory within the hospitality, PE & RE space within UAE, KSA & Europe as well Executive Manager for a family office in Bahrain where he managed as owner’s representative assets globally with international top tier operators.
He is an alumnus from the IHMCTAN, Mumbai School of hotel management as well from Cornell NY where he specialized in asset & revenue management with a post-grad in business administration from NMIMS, Mumbai. He holds a CHA license from AHLEI.
The Red Sea Development Company
John Pagano brings over 35 years of international experience delivering large-scale, multi-billion-dollar developments to The Red Sea Project – a unique luxury destination being created on 28,000 square kilometers of pristine landscape in Saudi Arabia, embracing nature, culture and adventure and setting new standards in sustainable development.
John formerly served as Managing Director, Development, of the Canary Wharf Group in London and President of Baha Mar Development Company Ltd (BMDC). His areas of expertise include site acquisition, master planning, project structuring, financing and asset management.
During his 23 years at Canary Wharf – the landmark development which hosts the UK headquarters for multiple global financial, professional and business services – John held numerous senior leadership positions and created the group’s delivery organisation, a major contributor to its success. In addition, he established Canary Wharf’s residential business and secured planning permission for over 4,000 new apartments, currently under construction.
As President of luxury hospitality and residential development company BMDC, in the Bahamas, John spent four and a half years overseeing the master planning and financing of a $3.5 billion luxury destination resort. It now welcomes thousands of guests each week to its four new hotels, convention centre and the Jack Nicklaus signature championship golf course.
Prior to joining The Red Sea Development Company, John established his own international strategic advisory company, Old Fort Capital Investments Ltd, to provide advice on large-scale real estate developments. John holds a BASc in Engineering from the University of Toronto.
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.
Zain Qureshi is a Managing Director in the Corporate and Investment Banking Group at Mashreq and Head of Real Estate Finance and Advisory. He established the bank’s real estate practice in 2006, which has since grown to encompass debt products, a leading trust management business, buy and sell-side advisory activities, strategic advice, restructuring and capital raising. Zain also heads the Investment and Agency Services and the Corporate Restructuring Portfolio.
Prior to joining Mashreq, Zain held senior positions at Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, where he spent significant time working on the leverage finance side based out of London.
Su Ramanathan is the Director of Destination Marketing at Expo 2020 Dubai UAE. As a former Director at VisitBritain (British Tourist Authority), Su brings a wealth of destination development and marketing experience to Expo 2020 where she is responsible for driving visitation through global business promotional strategy and marketing campaigns focusing on travel verticals.
Su has over 12 years of experience in destination development and the tourism sector with VisitBritain and honed her expertise in various international locations including London, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Her last role at VisitBritain was Director of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa where she focused on strategic market development, partnerships with key airlines and travel entities, activation of brand partnerships, collaborative projects with diplomatic and government entities and pioneering marketing campaigns including celebrity and brand ambassadors programme in over 15 markets. Prior to VisitBritain, Su has had brief stints in banking, engineering and construction and held senior roles in the private tertiary education sector.
Su has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and a Masters in Information Management. She was recognised as one of the top 50 outstanding public sector staff in the UK BAME Public Sector List 2017 alongside the Mayor of London, Ministers, academicians and other public sector leaders. She is also a recipient of the EU-ASEAN (Asia Europe Institute) scholarship.
In 1998 when the hospitality industry in MEA was just beginning, Ahmed pursued a vision that led to the formation of one of the most recognized hospitality advisory firms in the MEA region.
Before branching into his own ventures, and driven by a passion for the hospitality industry, Ahmed had a highly successful, 25-year long career journey across all the various fields in hotel management, including the running of multiple properties on behalf of global hotel chains such as InterContinental and Le Meridien.
Ahmed’s dynamic approach and deep experience led him to identify the need for transferring his valuable knowledge and independent industry guidance to investors developing their own hospitality portfolio.
His involvement was an instant success in all key areas. Shaping investor visions, transforming them into highly regarded, often landmark hotels and mixed-use developments, Ahmed is an industry champion of efficient hospitality designs.
His guiding principle: Deliver a quality project with significant cost-savings and maximum long-term return on investment on every client assignment. This commitment has led to the group’s exceptional reputation and rapid expansion in the MEA region and internationally.
As a result of Ròya’s achievements, Ahmed and the Ròya team have served as key advisors to prominent government institutions on some of the region’s most iconic master plans, such as Dubai Media City, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Reem Island and Saadiyat Island.
Ahmed is a strong and passionate advocate for the development of young Emirati and GCC talent to join the field.
Radisson Hotel Group
Based in Dubai, Ramsay is responsible for leading the Group’s strategic growth across the Middle East, Turkey & Africa. He recently expanded his leadership as the new Head of Development for Africa, demonstrating a strong focus and commitment across the African Continent.
Reporting directly to the Chief Development Officer, Ramsay brings a level of knowledge, skills and experience, which are critical to Radisson Hotel Group’s expansion plans.
Tasked with increasing the company’s regional hotel portfolio and footprint, Ramsay is known as an expert deal-maker, leading transactions from sourcing through to execution.
He is proficient in legal contract negotiations, due diligence and financial analysis and oversees the underwriting, strategic planning, investment analysis and asset management activities for all type of deal structuring, including conversions and take overs, financial commitments, franchise and straight management agreements.
A Belgian national, he is fluent in multiple languages and with a multi-cultural background. Ramsay holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA specialized in Hotel Real Estate Finance and Asset Management from the ESSEC Business School (IMHI) in Paris.
JA Resorts & Hotels
2019 has been marked as the year of change for JA Resorts & Hotels, with transformation including a forward-thinking brand refresh, an all-new food and beverage portfolio and significant international expansion across the Indian Ocean and Asia. The individual appointed to lead this charge is Australian hospitality veteran, Anthony Ross.
Growing up in buzzing, multicultural Melbourne, Ross fostered a love of hospitality, travelling and farm-to-table food. He fondly remembers his Grandfather’s motel in Victoria, where as a child he would sneak into the walk-in fridge and mischievously play with the switchboard when he got the chance. At age 18, he embarked upon a Bachelor for Business in Catering & Hotel Management from Victoria University and simultaneously completed practical training in both Melbourne and Washington DC.
His illustrious career spans more than 30 years to date and began with the title of Director of Operations at the Pan Pacific Hotel on the Gold Coast of Australia, where he spent 5 years before transferring to Kuala Lumpur as Resident Manager for the same brand. Ross then moved to Singapore with Pan Pacific as Assistant Director of Operations for a 7-year stint. In 1996, he took on another role in Kuala Lumpur before moving back to Melbourne and on to Hong Kong in 1999, where he became Group Operations Manager for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. In 2004, Ross made the decision to buy his own property, and developed a luxury lodge named Azur in Queenstown, New Zealand. From 2007 until 2013 he worked with Swire Hotels and opened the award-winning Opposite House in Beijing, subsequently becoming Area General Manager, China for the group.
In 2014, he was appointed as Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa for Preferred Hotel & Resorts based in Hong Kong, overseeing a portfolio of 120 hotels, before heading to Jakarta as CEO of Aryaduta Hotel Group for a further 2 years.
Joining JA Resorts & Hotels in January 2018 as the group’s new CEO, Ross leads a team of more than 2000 associates across Dubai, Seychelles and the Maldives. A legacy UAE brand, JA Resorts & Hotels was born in 1981 and has a widely recognised reputation for excellence, in the management and operation of award-winning resorts and hotels. Taking its name from the original Jebel Ali (JA) Beach hotel, JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio now features 8 distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean, each dedicated to curating unique experiences and creating unforgettable memories.
Tropical escapes include JA Manafaru, the idyllic luxury island resort in pristine, lagoon-ringed Haa Alifu Atoll, at the northern tip of the Maldives and JA Enchanted Island Resort, an ultra-luxurious hideaway of 10 exquisite villas on a private island, in the middle of the protected Saint Anne Marine Park.
Within the UAE, the portfolio offers five-star JA Ocean View Hotel, as well as the deluxe hotel apartments of JA Oasis Beach Tower, both located along ‘The Walk’ in Jumeirah Beach Residence. Other attractive options include the acclaimed JA The Resort - Dubai’s largest experience resort, with 1 million square metres of thrilling activities and 3 unique hotels offering 795 suites and rooms between them– JA Beach Hotel, the all-suite JA Palm Tree Court and JA Lakeview Hotel, a stunning new Golf Course adjacent property due to open on September 1st, 2019. The recently renovated JA Hatta Fort Hotel completes the portfolio as Dubai’s only mountain resort, a secluded getaway amidst the stunning Hajar Mountains landscape.
Ross’ vision for JA Resorts & Hotels includes a focus on driving global expansion, highlighting corporate social responsibility and maintaining a brand promise of unique experiences and unforgettable memories. A big fan of Australian Rules football and cricket, Ross spends his free time as an avid sports spectator, cyclist, and golf enthusiast, in addition to spending time with his wife Jo and 2 sons, Sam and Nick.
Robin Rossmann is Managing Director of STR, leading its operations across the Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Central and South America regions. Robin is focused on continuing to improve the way STR provides the hotel industry with robust and insightful performance benchmarking that enables stakeholders to make better decisions. Prior to STR, Robin was a Senior Director in Deloitte’s Global Hospitality Advisory Team in London. During his 13 years with Deloitte, he advised leading hotel brands, operators, investors and lenders in most major global markets. His wide range of experience includes advising on hotel strategy, business planning, investment appraisal, market reviews, financial and commercial due diligence, IPOs, debt advisory, valuation, financial assurance, controls improvement and risk management.
Al Rajhi Investments
An accomplished and meticulous professional with 25 years of proven success record in various aspects of the Hospitality and Tourism industries including Hotel management, Asset Management, development and operations. A strategic thinker with a strong work ethic, clear direction and resourcefulness. His consulting experience includes over 78 major projects with a value of approximately USD 18.2 Billion. His consultancy role includes advisory to new developments, hotel groups, hotel owners, airlines and Tourism Authorities.
Turab holds a master’s degree in hospitality management with a major in Hotel development & 2nd Major in Asset Management from the New York University and bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management from Swiss University. He has also attended Cornell University school of Hotel Administration in Hospitality development, Financial management and Hospitality & Marketing related programs.
He has been working in various continents including Europe, North America, USA and the Middle East holding senior Hospitality advisory and management positions and worked for a number of years with well established hospitality development groups and hotel groups where he has been exposed to some of finest hospitality projects including flagship hotels i.e Miami, Dubai, Paris, Doha, Riyadh, London, Washington and New York city.
Ali heads up digital marketing strategy, brand management and content distribution across Bench Events. Working closely with event directors, he plays a key role in developing marketing systems and infrastructure while deploying new digital campaigns for key products across priority markets.
With over 12 years' experience in international B2B marketing, Ali has delivered high ROI marketing for several categories of events including: trade shows, leadership conferences, investment forums and professional training. Passionate about working in teams - he has recruited, trained and managed more than 35 marketing managers and executives in his career.
Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts
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
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.
Matthew Weihs is Managing Director of Bench Events. Within this role he focuses on the development of new business opportunities and sales for Bench Events and partners, whilst also supporting the direction of the business and providing commercial support for new product launches.
With over 15 years experience in B2B conferencing with Guardian News and Media, IQPC and now Bench Events his main responsibilities have been to manage the sales across the portfolio, deliver the projects to the high standards our customers expect and to find new development opportunities for the business. In 2012 he successfully founded and launched the African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) and in 2013 he launched the Morocco Tourism Investment Forum (MTIF) - an invitation only event for the industry. 2014 will see the launch of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF), the latest addition to the Bench Events hotel investment conference portfolio.
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.