Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri has been Director General of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) since 2013. He is a member of the Executive Council of Dubai, a member of the Board of Directors of the Investment Corporation of Dubai and also the Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA).
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), is the government authority responsible for continuously furthering Dubai's position as a leading global tourism destination and business hub. In his capacity, Almarri is accountable for the planning, oversight, and delivery of Dubai’s vision and aspirational targets for the sector. His mandate also includes a strategic focus on driving sustainable tourism – contributing to the economic development of the emirate of Dubai and ensuring that tourism as a sector with all related adjacencies are effectively growing their contribution to Dubai’s GDP.
Almarri’s responsibilities span both leisure and business aspects of the city’s value proposition. As such his role entails enhancing Dubai’s positioning as the preferred international hub for the global business community to network from, establish and expand their presence in, and service the broad range of markets across EMEASA. To facilitate delivery, he is equally responsible for forging collaborations and partnerships across the industry ecosystem globally, and Dubai government, private and public sector stakeholders.
Helal Almarri also heads up the DWTCA, which encompasses the UAE's leading event venue and the largest event and exhibition centre in the whole region. He is responsible for developing the centre’s strategic and development plans that aim to position Dubai as a leading global MICE destination. In his capacity, Almarri is mandated to manage various sides of the business including exhibitions and conferences; real estate; and hospitality – all collectively driving towards the company’s growth strategy in line with Dubai's vision to create a global platform for business tourism, as mandated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Almarri also serves as a member of the Supreme Committee of the Expo 2020 and board member at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Emaar Malls PJSC and Taaleem PJSC. Helal Almarri holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the London Business School (LBS). Almarri is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and previously worked at consulting firms, McKinsey and KPMG.
His Excellency Eng. Essa Al Hajj Al Maidoor is the Director General of Dubai Developments (formerly known as Dubai International Real Estate), the leading high-end and integrated real estate projects in the United Arab Emirates. Through his position, he plays a strategic role providing creative solutions, innovative products that fundamentally change the real estate landscape. His vision and creativity is an essential element for the growth of the real estate development sector in the country.
His Excellency obtained a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from Utah State University in the United States of America, and held a position of President of the Society of Engineers in United Arab Emirates until 2016. His Excellency Eng. Essa Hajj Al-Maidoor is also a member of Maktoum Charity.
Through his journey as Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, he has established a huge revolutionary development in the healthcare sector within the emirate. His diligent, dedicated work and ambitious vision played a major and prominent role in the opening of 3 hospitals and 40 healthcare centers in Dubai, strengthening and increase the collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Prior to his engagement with Dubai Health Authority, His Excellency held the position of Deputy Director General of Dubai Municipality, and the position of Assistant Director General for the Engineering and Planning Sector in Dubai Municipality.
His digital transformation strategy is set to enhance the customer journey and experience, accelerate a productive movement, change the concepts of traditional culture by introducing active leadership by empowering people and the community.
In recognition of his exceptional leadership, dedication and commitment to innovation and the development of the economic ecosystem of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, His Excellency Eng. Essa Al-Haj Al-Maidoor received an honorary doctorate award from Middlesex University in Dubai.
Louis is in charge of the growth of Accor’s portfolio in the Middle East covering UAE, KSA and Lebanon. Louis is also in charge of all lifestyle projects in the Middle East & Africa introducing newly acquired brands to the region.
Louis has diverse experience within the hospitality industry having served on the property owner side as well as the hotel operator side. He began his career in operations with Starwood Hotel and Resorts in California before moving back to the region to work in asset management for both Saudi Bin Ladin Group in Jeddah and Majid Al Futtaim in Dubai. Louis was also engaged with consultancy firm HVS as part of their Consulting and Valuations practice in Dubai.
Since November 2014, Louis joined the development team of Accor Middle East, where he contributed along with the team to record signing years.
Louis graduated from Sagesse University’s Faculty of Hospitality Management with an academic certification of École hôtelière de Lausanne with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management. He also holds a certification in Real Estate Investment and Asset Management from Cornell University.
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.
Hassan Ahdab is the President of Hotels Operations for Dur Hospitality, a leading Saudi grown hospitality company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At present, he oversees operations, aligns the company’s overall vision to the growth of the Hotel’s portfolio across the Kingdom and manages 9 operating hotels and 5 hotels currently under development.
Beginning his career in 1979, Hassan Ahdab now possesses over 30 years of rich experience in hospitality and has thereby been recognized as a stalwart and one of the most progressive and energetic leaders in the industry.
Prior to his current role, Hassan Ahdab held several significant positions in the finance and operations sectors including CEO at Retaj Hospitality Group – Doha, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa & Indian Ocean Operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Managing Director on assignment in Seychelles, General Manager for Le Meridien Libreville - Gabon, Complex Manager of Le Méridien l’Habitation and Le Domaine de Longvilliers - Saint Martin, as well as Area General Manager of Le Méridien Hotels in the Caribbean & French West Indies.
Complimenting his multi-faceted skills of hotel operations and management, Hassan Ahdab holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics, Commerce & Accounts Management from Damascus University, and also received the CEHMI (Geneva) honorary title – Executive Doctor for International Relations.
He also holds the 21st rank in the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 List 2019, and has been a continued participant and speaker at renowned industry events such as the Saudi Arabia Hospitality Investment Conference (SHIC) and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC).
Additionally, Dur’s Hotel Operations arm has earned a range of accolades over the years from awarding bodies such as World Travel Awards, Haute Grandeur and HORECA, for its properties operating under its subsidiary brand Makarem Hotels, and those operating under partnership with Marriott International and Intercontinental Hotel Group.
Plug and Play ADGM (MENA)
Babak has 10+ years of experience working in technology, construction, financial services and education sectors in the UK and UAE. He is currently a Co-founder/Director at Plug and Play ADGM where he engages with private and public sector entities to support them in meeting their digital innovation KPIs through innovation education; culture transformation; and start-up/scale-up interactions. He has supported the successful launch of two open innovation platforms in Berlin (for Energy & Sustainability) and Paris (for Smart Cities).
His previous experience in the tech domain includes playing a key role in the launch and growth of a high impact tech incubator, start-up and social enterprise in London.
Babak has moved back to the UAE to support and develop Plug and Play's existing and future partnerships in the MENA region. Babak and his team are proud to be part of the building of the UAE and MENA tech ecosystem with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) by building bridges between corporations, government entities, startups and investors. The Plug and Play MENA team hope to develop the infrastructure to attract, nurture and retain the best entrepreneurial and tech talent in the UAE through our Open Innovation Platform and Services. Babak is extremely motivated to see Abu Dhabi and the UAE unlock its potential as a hub of technology and innovation.
Ministry of Tourism
Currently the General Manager of Tourism Investment at the Ministry of Tourism.
Ministry of Investment Saudi Arabia
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.
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.
Abdulsalam is a leading global entrepreneurship expert named as “Unstoppable Force of Nature” by Leaders Magazine. His mission in life focuses on unlocking human potential and investing in human potential.
He has been advising several educational institutions, private and governmental organizations in creating impactful initiatives that support entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs.
Additionally he works closely with community builders to create active and vibrant communities that improve quality of life.
In his work he applies Design Thinking, Innovation, and innovative ways to create change, seed the growth mindset, develop the right skillset, and equip the entrepreneurs with the right toolset to achieve their goals and succeed.
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.
Fitness Trainer of F1 Champions
Mark Arnall worked in F1 for 24 years as Fitness Trainer and Physio working with two World Champion drivers, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen. During this period Mark has worked for McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Alfa Romeo.
A certified event producer at TISOH Las Vegas with accomplished trainings at MGM Grand and Caesars Palace
Has been attending CES for the past 5 years seeking and adopting new innovations and modern tools to increasing consumer's attention and transforming the guest experience in retails, physical and virtual events
Based at Hilton’s MEA Regional Office in Dubai, Emma Banks is responsible for F&B strategy and development across EMEA, supporting Hilton’s trading and future pipeline of hotels.
Emma was appointed Vice President, F&B Strategy & Development, EMEA, Hilton in February 2019.
Emma has a wealth of experience in the Food & Beverage sector. Prior to her role at Hilton, she was at Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JRG) - the dedicated restaurant division of the UAE based Jumeirah Group. Emma started her JRG career as Operations Director in 2013, progressing to Managing Director in 2018.
Her earlier career included operations and business development roles in the UK and the Middle East.
Emma holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Leeds University.
The Red Sea Development Company
Anton Bawab is the Executive Director Hospitality for The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) , a closed joint stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. He oversees the hospitality operations, design and technical services and hotel and commercial partnerships for a new international luxury tourism destination set along the Red Sea as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. He is responsible for all aspects of planning, implementing, and managing the hospitality and hotel operations related activities of the TRSDC.
Anton is a seasoned hospitality executive with extensive experience in corporate structuring and strategy, hotel operations, and hotel development in Europe and the Middle East. Prior to joining TRSDC, Anton served as Regional President of Viceroy Hotel Group where he led the growth and operations of Viceroy Hotel Group’s outside the Americas, establishing the regional office in Abu Dhabi, and signing multiple long-term hotel management agreements for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Prior to joining Viceroy's leadership team, he spent four years with Mubadala's Real Estate & Hospitality team [or division?] where he led the effort to acquire, restructure, recapitalize and turnaround KOR Hotel Group, which was later rebranded to Viceroy Hotels Group. Anton worked on the structuring and negotiation of several of Mubadala’s real estate and hospitality investments in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Anton started his career in the industry as a SixSigma Black Belt with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. He then moved to lead Starwood’s online marketing and revenue team in Northern Italy before moving to the OTA side to grow UniTravel Srl from a regional Italian OTA firm to a recognizable name and brand with operations across Europe.
Anton holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in International Hospitality Management from the Swiss Hotel Management School, Les Roches in Switzerland, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom.
Managing Director, Beaufort Global
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.
Sunflower is a JV between Seung and Bhatia families.
This partnership, now in its second generation, started with TIC LLC, a business established by the Bhatia family in 1974 in Dubai, trading timber products in Middle East and India which are produced in Indonesia by Korindo Group, a business owned by the Seung family. Korindo Group have extensive forestry, real estate and manufacturing businesses across the Middle and Far East regions.
Inspired by the enduring nature of their existing partnership, the families’ foray into hospitality was based on the notion of hotels essentially being venues for bringing people together. The choice of Dubai as the location for their maiden Hotel venture was influenced both by Dubai’s position as the leading trading hub of the region, as well as by the City’s ambition to position itself as one of the leading tourist destinations of the world.
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.
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.
Willem Both is Executive Vice President of IT for Kerzner International, based in their Global headquarters in Dubai. Willem is responsible for all IT aspects for the company.
Willem Both is a life-long hospitality professional who started off washing dishes in a Dutch pancake restaurant at the age of 13 to get a feel for the industry, and then never left it. After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Hotel Administration from Hotelschool, The Hague, the Netherlands, Willem settled living in the USA in 1995 moving from Marriott to Dusit to Hilton and then Sheraton ITT/Starwood. He slowly switched from running Front Office operations to Information Technology, then evolving from hotel IT to corporate IT project management, moving to Singapore in 2008 where he was promoted several times to eventually take on the position as Vice President of IT for Starwood Asia Pacific, covering hotels from China to Australia, India to Samoa. Following the Marriott merger in 2016, Willem left Starwood after 19 years and he and his family moved to Dubai to take on his current position as EVP and Global head of IT for Kerzner International.
When not absorbed by work, Willem stays somewhat in shape by running but much prefers playing quarter-field football with his friends, building treehouses and pizza ovens or cooking messy but tasty breakfasts with his two young kids for his Argentinean wife.
With a combination of specialist capabilities in Hotel Investment and Development, Feasibility Studies, and Architecture, Charbel has provided significant value and contribution to a number of Ròya’s projects both regionally and internationally.
Having gained his primary experience in Canada and Lebanon prior to moving to the UAE in 2004, Charbel has since acquired diverse exposure in markets including the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Kingdome of Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Kingdom, Spain, France, ,Islamabad, Maldives, Seychelles and eastern European countries.
At Ròya, Charbel is responsible for the management of new or existing hospitality projects, in which he manages different disciplines and teams of specialists. Charbel undertakes several roles within Roya’s different divisions.
Key strengths and core capabilities include:
With Charbel’s diverse range of capabilities, he has successfully managed and executed projects that require versatile expertise. Charbel since his tenure at Roya has successfully led and completed several projects in different roles; amongst these he led the development of multiple hotels for inception to completion.
Majid Al Futtaim Properties
Khalifa Bin Braik is the Managing Director of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, leading the business unit’s growth strategy across the entire portfolio of existing assets and new developments. Mr. Bin Braik is responsible for portfolio performance and expansion in alignment with Majid Al Futtaim’s vision of developing integrated lifestyle destinations.
Mr. Bin Braik has over 15 years of Real Estate and Hospitality leadership experience in various organisations. Starting his career with Dubai Holding, he joined Majid Al Futtaim - Properties in 2014 from Sharjah Holding as a Director in the Shopping Malls Business Unit and soon after was appointed as Head of Asset Management for the Hotels Business Unit. In his last role, Khalifa was responsible for optimising the operating and financial performance of the entire portfolio of Majid Al Futtaim Hotels, as well as building robust relationships with our international hotel partners.
Mr. Bin Braik Holds a Masters in financial economics from Boston University and a B.Sc. in Economics from Northeastern University.
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.
Troon International Division
Mark Chapleski has more than 30 years of experience in the golf industry, but has been in and around golf his entire life. Prior to joining Troon, Mark enjoyed a successful collegiate golf career at Miami University and then briefly played professional golf in various parts of the world before settling into the business of golf. He has worked at several top private and resort properties including the ultra-exclusive Vintage Club in Palm Desert, the Marriott Desert Springs Resort, Ko Olina Golf Club in Hawaii, and The Phoenix Country Club in Miyazaki, Japan.
Mark joined the Troon team in late 1999 and moved to Tokyo Japan in mid-2000 to act as Director of Operations for Troon in Asia. In his 4 years in Japan, along with management of several high profile clubs, Troon completed due diligence of over 200 golf courses for various investment banks and assisted Goldman Sachs in the creation of a new golf brand in Japan, Accordia Golf. He was appointed as Area Managing Director in 2004 and promoted to Vice President for Troon Middle East in 2008, Senior Vice-President of Troon ME/Asia Pacific in 2015 and President of Troon International in 2017. Troon ME/Asia Pacific headquarters are located in Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE.
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.
Plug and Play
Lio Chen is Managing Director of the Travel and Hospitality Center of Innovation at Plug and Play. Based in Silicon Valley, Chen is responsible for managing and growing the overall travel ecosystem for Plug and Play, connecting emerging tech startups with established travel and hospitality corporations.
In the past 10+ years, Chen devoted his career to B2B SaaS companies in the hospitality industry. He joined Nor1 as one of the founding members and later co-founded LodgIQ. Chen’s extensive experience entails leading customer success and growth, delivering sales support & professional services as well as overseeing business operations with a special focus on strategic initiatives and product engineering. Chen holds a M.S. in Hospitality Management from Purdue University.
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.
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.
Director of Roar Interior Design
Richard is a journalist and broadcaster. He’s best known as host of The Business Breakfast – a daily radio show heard across the UAE on Dubai Eye 103.8FM. In total he has two decades experience reporting for the likes of Reuters, The Economist, The Financial Times and Bloomberg, in Dubai and London.
Richard is also a director of of Roar, an award-winning interior design firm based in Dubai Design District, which he owns with his architect wife, Pallavi. They live in Dubai with their two sons and two pugs.
Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa
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 46 hotels with over 15000 keys and 32 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.
James Donald is Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Accor based in Dubai. He has over 10 years’ experience in the hospitality sector and is a regular speaker at international conferences on hotel management.
In addition to Dubai, James has also lived in London and Shanghai where he has advised on all manner of hotel-related agreements throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He has also acted as an adviser to various tech start-ups. In his last role prior to Accor, he led the legal and risk function throughout India, the Middle East and Africa for another global hospitality operator.
James earned his first degree in economics and finance in 2003, before qualifying as a solicitor of England and Wales in 2008 with a global law firm in London. He is a dad to twin boys.
Co-founder of Harmony Sustainability Tourism
To say that Leo brings exceptional acumen to TLC & Harmony would be an understatement. His experience spans 30 years of managing clinicians and developing health services in the public, voluntary and private sector. He has worked strategically in the improvement of health, wellbeing, and safety nationally and internationally. From General Practitioner Coordinator with the Maudsley NHS Trust to Head of Drug and Crime Reduction in the Government Office for London; as Business Manager for counter- terrorism in the UK Home Office HQ Strategy and International Directorate, to Group Director of Business Development and Communications for the Social Interest Group, Leo’s innovative and strategic approach, has founded new health approaches, transformed sustainability paradigms, and led government operations and national delivery.
Michael Ellis joined Jumeirah Group as Chief Culinary Officer in 2018. Michael oversees the F&B operations at all Jumeirah hotels and resorts and leads the culinary teams across the entire range of restaurants and dining outlets, from signature and fine dining to family and more casual dining experiences.
Michael joined Jumeirah from Michelin Restaurant and Hotel Guides where he was Global Director for Europe, Asia and the Americas. Michael has a long international and distinguished career in culinary as well as a deep passion for food and the dining experience. He has spent his lifetime championing amazing food with absolute dedication, his knowledge is unparalleled and he is a true gastronomic encyclopedia.
An advocate for the restaurant industry and an American native with a global workplace, Michael has an unmatched understanding of destination restaurants. Michael’s role is to focus on developing new restaurant concepts, attracting and upskilling culinary talent, and enhancing existing restaurants to industry-leading levels.
The appointment of Michael as Jumeirah’s Chief Culinary Officer was an important milestone in José Silva’s strategy to refresh and elevate Jumeirah’s restaurant offerings throughout its luxury portfolio, and a first step in delivering his vision to put dining as a core pillar of the Jumeirah experience, and its strongest market differentiator.
Michael has an MBA from INSEAD in France.
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.
JLL Hotels & Hospitality
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 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 13 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 & 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.
Berkeley Capital Group
Lissa Engle is Founder and Managing Director of Berkeley Capital Group ['BCG'] an agile, innovative, turnkey partner on hotel-led investments and developments. BCG partners with global investors on projects over £100m in value across the UK and Europe as turnkey partner as well as asset manager where development and/or financing expertise is key.
BCG selects only a handful of developments per year based on creating greatest impact and is currently developing with partners the first London city-centre Hyatt Place due to open in 2021 and will soon announce the opportunity to purchase turnkey the first Kimpton hotel in Portugal and the first MY Locanda by Cheval Collection in Europe.
Lissa has advised on circa £5bn of real estate and has 20 years of investment and development experience. She is Chair of GRI’s Hospitality Committee connecting C-Suite real estate and infrastructure leaders from around the world, Chair of the Steering Committee for UK’s landmark Hotel Financing Report and on the Advisory Board of AHC. She is also Member of Forbes Business Council.
As knowledge share and collaboration are fundamental to BCG, Lissa is host to BCG Talks, a podcast series which includes ‘Leadership Series’ interviewing global leaders in hospitality and ‘Hotel Performance’ providing insight from Hotstats and market leaders. She is also Founder and CEO of Women in Hotels [‘WiH’], a global not-for-profit organisation to mentor, inspire, support and empower women cross segment in the hospitality industry creating a best-in-class community of future leaders and current C-Suite executives driving for parity.
Lissa received her MBA from INSEAD and BA from Dartmouth College, studying also at Oxford and University of Munich as German-American Federation scholar. She speaks French, German and Italian and previously worked in Strategy Consulting and Private Equity.
JLL Hotels & Hospitality
Currently holding the position of Head of Investment Sales Asia Pacific and based in JLL’s Singapore office, Nihat oversees a team of 16 investment professionals based out of Singapore, Bangkok, HK, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City with a focus on the investment and divestment needs of hotel investors and owners across the Asia Pacific region.
A JLL career professional, Nihat has been with the firm’s Hotels & Hospitality Group since 2002 when he began his early career as an Analyst in the company’s London headquarters. Based in Singapore since 2007 and with 18 years of experience selling hotels, Nihat has conducted USD 8 billion in hotel transactions to date across Europe, Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Since joining the Asia team, Nihat has been engaged in a broad range of transaction mandates for Asian and Middle Eastern clients across the region with an active involvement in cross-border regional investment opportunities and overseeing sales mandates in China, Hong Kong, the Indian Ocean, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.
Amongst others Nihat’s successes include:
- USD 1.5 billion of sales across Japan including the sale in 2019 of the iconic Westin Tokyo
- USD 1.39 billion of transactions across the Indian Ocean including Cheval Blanc Maldives for a global record of USD 4.7 million per key, the Banyan Tree Seychelles and Movenpick Mauritius;
- USD 1.5 billion of sales in Greater China including the InterContinental Hong Kong and Four Seasons Pudong
- USD 1.6 billion of sales in Singapore including the Andaz Singapore and Oakwood Downtown in 2019
Additionally Nihat also focuses on the flow of Asian capital into Europe and the US. In his role, Nihat has led the marketing of numerous trophy hotel investment opportunities to Asian capital, including sale of the Marriott Champs Elysees at a record Euro 1.7 million per key to a Hong Kong listed Chinese company.
A graduate of the University of Surrey, Nihat holds a first class BSc (Hons) in Hotel and Catering Management. He is a registered Real Estate Salesperson with Singapore’s Council for Estate Agencies.
“Stuart Etherington is a seasoned hotelier, hotel developer, and certified HAMA Asset Manager who values dedication, service and excellence. As a seasoned hotel veteran, Stuart brings unique perspectives gained from his global hospitality experience, operational expertise and development mentality. Using real-world examples, Stuart’s enthusiasm and positive approach to life sheds light on how proactive management relationships are irreplaceable in today’s modern hotel industry and how they positively impact our industry.
Stuart learned the value of dedication at an early age growing up in South East England, as part of an entertainment and hospitality family. Stuart’s dedication, hard work, and determination to succeed in the hotel world inspired him to earn recognition amongst his peers which lead to an accomplished career as a hotel manager, then developer and finally asset manager.
Stuart knows that excellence is a journey, not simply a destination. This perspective inspired him to teach, develop, inspire, and mentor hundreds of future hotel leaders, within hotels and corporate organizations. He brings this dedication to his work within his business partnerships as they strive to collaborate, empower their teams and achieve greater success.”
Jumeirah Al Naseem and Head Chef of Sal
Chef Marco Garfagnini joined Jumeirah in July 2018 as Executive Chef – Jumeirah Al Naseem. Today, as Jumeirah continues its drive to elevate its restaurant experiences worldwide, Chef Marco leads the Al Naseem culinary team and has taken a new responsibility as the Head Chef of SAL – a striking new destination at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah serving sea-inspired Southern European dishes. Chef Marco works closely with Michael Ellis, Chief Culinary Officer, and José Silva, CEO, to support the Group’s restaurant and dining development across the portfolio.
Chef Marco Garfagnini was born in Tuscany. An Italian who was destined to cook, he cultivated his passion for cooking in his family kitchen in Carrara before then continuing his skill abroad; in Paris, London, and New York. Bringing decades of experience in the world’s top kitchens to Jumeirah, Chef Marco’s passion lies in the art of creating great dining experiences that offer simple, harmonious cuisines - cooking from the heart.
Under his leadership in Jumeirah, he helped drive the successful Jumeirah Beach Hotel relaunch opening. In this role as the Executive Chef for Jumeirah Al Naseem, he leads a team of +150 chefs and stewards and is responsible for seven restaurants – The Palmery, Rockfish, Summersalt, Kalsa, Ambar, Al Mandhar, and Sugarmash. He also manages the banquet operations and private dining. His priority is to create unique offerings, making Jumeirah Al Naseem not only the place to stay but also a leading hotel in its culinary offerings.
Prior to his time in Jumeirah, Chef Marco had a remarkable journey, full of prestigious accolades in the culinary world. In 1999, at an age of just 25, he opened his own restaurant Ristorante Ninan is Carrara, and was awarded his first Michelin star 1999. In 2011, Chef Marco led the way for ll Lago at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva to receive its first Michelin star. And in 2015, he was the Corporate Executive Chef at Chateau de Noirieux Relais & Chateaux in Briollay, France and was awarded the first Michelin star for the hotel. In 2016, before taking his role with Jumeirah, Chef Marco joined Pierre Gagnaire as Executive Chef de Cuisine for all his restaurants, including the iconic Courchevel property, Les Airelles. His restaurants were recognised by Michelin Guide with two stars.
Chef Marco was also named Young Italian Chef of the Year by renowned Italian Gambero Rosso guide. And was recognised a finalist for the Best Chef in Italy award.
Aldar Properties PSJC
Giuliano Gasparini is Senior Vice-President at Aldar Properties PSJC being directly involved in the asset management of the entire hotel and leisure portfolio of the firm. Prior to that he covered several executive positions in hospitality-specialized consulting firms having been Head of Consulting at PKF in Dubai, Senior Vice-President of JLL Hotels in Madrid and Senior Associate at HVS in Madrid amongst others. Giuliano Gasparini is one of the Chairmans of HAMA MEA (Hotel Asset Management Association) and a full-time professor at both Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) and IE Business School in Madrid. He holds affiliation at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), Counsellor of Real Estate (CRE) and Institute of Hospitality (FIH).
Giuliano has spoken at many regional and local conference on hotel investment and asset management topics and published articles both on line and on Hotelier Middle East regarding hospitality markets in Europe and Middle East as well as Asset Management best practices.
Giuliano graduated in Economics at Bocconi University in Italy and hold two master degrees in Urban Economics and in Tourism Economics by Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Nederland’s and Bocconi University in Italy respectively; as well as a post-graduate certificate on Hotel Asset Management from Cornell University (USA).
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.
With more than 25 years’ experience in hospitality management, Neil George is an independent advisor, strategic advisor to the Rosewood Hotel Group and a partner at Aleph Hospitality.
A distinguished hospitality professional, Neil is the ex head of development, MEA at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, overseeing the growth of all 10 Starwood brands across the Middle East and Africa. During his 10-year tenure with Starwood, he was also a member of the Global Development Leadership team and the Starwood EAME Portfolio Management Committee, responsible for more than 250 hotels. Prior to this, Neil was an advisor to major investors, financial institutions and other global hospitality players during his time with Deloitte and Arthur Andersen in London. He also has five years of hands-on hotel and restaurant operations experience.
Neil holds a Masters’ degree in hospitality from Cornell University, New York and has lived and worked on four continents and with well over 130 hotel markets worldwide.
Dubai Eye 103.8
Robbie has been finding any excuse to talk golf on Dubai’s airwaves for the best part of a decade now. One half of Off Script Extra Time’s sports presenting team on Dubai Eye 103.8, he is also the former editor of Golf Digest Middle East. In recent years he has been the official starter at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and hosted the prizegiving presentation at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
RAK Hospitality Holding LLC
Alison has over 25 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 in 2012 from PwC London to help establish and develop PwC’s Middle East Hospitality and Leisure practice into a leader in its field. Alison joined RAK Hospitality Holding in 2016 as CFO overseeing the Groups Finance and Treasury functions. In 2019 Alison was promoted to CEO responsible for both the Groups established businesses covering Hotel ownership, Hospitality Logistics, and Asset Management and Advisory Services; as well as the newly formed RAK Leisure subsidiary with a focus on developing F&B and Leisure activities across Ras Al Khaimah, and in particular on Jebel Jais Mountain.
Following a successful 25-year career in the hospitality business, Bani Haddad founded Aleph Hospitality in 2015 to provide hotel owners in the Middle East and Africa with a customised, results-driven alternative to traditional hotel management models.
A visionary leader, acclaimed speaker and widely respected hotelier, Bani successfully developed, launched and managed several major international hotel brands prior to making the bold move to set up Aleph Hospitality.
From site selection, fundraising and construction at Hospitality Management Services and pre- and post-opening operations at Starwood and Disneyland Resort Paris, to strategic growth and development as Regional Vice President Middle East & Africa for Wyndham Hotel Group, Bani has first-hand experience in virtually every aspect of hotel management.
Under Bani’s leadership, Aleph Hospitality has developed a portfolio of nine hotels in less than four years. Following successful growth in Africa, and the demand for alternative hotel management models rapidly gaining momentum, the company has now turned its focus to the Middle East.
Bani holds an MBA from IMHI, a joint programme established by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and ESSEC. Originally from Lebanon, Bani has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 2005.
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.
IFA Hotels & Resorts
An individual with extensive experience in hospitality and hotel development across three continents in 10 countries, including 15 years in the Middle East and 6 years in Japan. A commercial and strategic background in senior management roles over the last 30 years dealing with both multi branded hotels and Owner relations. Major strengths include implementation of change, leading multi-cultural teams and management of complex multi-million dollar projects and mixed use operating portfolios.
IFA Residential Services (Dubai, U.A.E.)
IFA Residential Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly listed IFA Hotels & Resorts. Established in 2010, its’ role is to encompass and lead, on a worldwide scale, IFA Hotel & Resorts’ operational and in-development asset portfolio which covers hotels, hotel condominiums, residential and commercial units, golf courses, beach clubs, game reserve, retail and food and beverage ventures. Brands under management include Fairmont, Movenpick, Marriott/Starwood, sbe, and the IFA wholly owned Yotel Hotel Company, currently in expansion worldwide as well as the recently launched JV of Bespoke Hospitality, MEA Holiday Homes and Property Service business.
Vice President, Client Advisory-Hospitality
Leading the professional coordination between instigating and aligning a team of experienced hospitality operator and asset manager resources to ensure the maximization of Operators’ financial performance across a mixed use and worldwide portfolio with a value of over $2 billion.
A leader in Information Technology with extensive hospitality industry experience that spans across Europe, Middle East and Africa and ranging from luxury to the select service segments. Able to leverage 25+ years of hospitality technology and infrastructure expertise to drive business objectives and internal & external customer satisfaction results. Strong experience in management at the global and enterprise levels with the ability to provide strategic and tactical direction and support to executive and IT senior leadership. Expertise in IT strategy development, identification and adoption of new technology solutions for evolving business needs, and strong IT organization design skills. Strong experience in hotel group acquisitions and IT integrations, overseeing new build hotel infrastructure design & deployment, preparation and management of corporate administrative budgets, IT security & risk management, and technology life cycle management. Excellent interpersonal skills; able to communicate and collaborate effectively with individuals at all levels of the organization.
Responsible for formulating the strategic direction, implementation, and management of all technology solutions and support for 300 operating and pipeline hotels across MEA; represented by 45,000 rooms and 280 above and on-property IT associates. Oversight of the continent’s information technology infrastructure including on-property operations, security & compliance, shared service centers, customer facing technologies, new opening development, and above property office support. Member of Marriott International’s Information Technology Senior Leadership team that guides the company’s global IT strategy, initiatives, brand standards, and regulatory and compliance efforts.
Waleid holds over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He started his career with Marriott International in 1997 as Director of Hotel Technology for The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, before taking on the role of Area Systems Manager for The Ritz-Carlton portfolio across the Middle East.
Omar Issa is the Director of Strategy at Dur Hospitality, a leading Saudi grown hospitality company. At present, he oversees the continuous articulation and execution of Dur’s expansion strategy within KSA, and directly manages key strategic initiatives.
Omar comes from a management consulting background, where prior to joining Dur he worked as a strategy consultant with a boutique consulting firm based in Jordan, and had served clients through various strategic engagements across the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on hospitality and real estate sectors.
Complimenting his multi-faceted skills of hotel operations management, Omar holds a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Jordan, and is a certified project manager by the Project Management Institute.
Rudi Jagersbacher was appointed Non-Executive Chairman, Middle East, Africa & Turkey for Hilton in January 2020. Prior to this he was President – Middle East, Africa & Turkey for Hilton, a role he held since 2011.
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 Claridge’s in London Mayfair 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.
Al Mahara Restaurant
Zoltan is an experienced real estate investment professional with over 20 years of industry experience covering multiple managerial and leadership positions across geographies.
With a primary background in hotel investments and asset management, Zoltan has extensive experience with a range of real estate asset classes like office, residential and mixed-use.
He began his career in philanthropic organisations, then continued with KPMG, where he worked for a decade in the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism team for the Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Previous to joining Omran, where he heads up the asset management and hospitality functions, Zoltan worked at the sovereign wealth fund of Oman (SGRF) where he was responsible for the direct hospitality portfolio and real estate funds.
Zoltan, an engineer by trade, studied social sciences and acquired an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management, Cleveland, Ohio, specializing in Finance. He is a certified asset manager from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
Miral Asset Management
Kiran with MRICS qualification has nearly 30 year’s experience in the field of Real Estate Development & Asset Management with major international property developers and related service providers.
Responsible for the Profit & Loss various developmental projects and operating assets in accordance with the Strategic, Development and Asset Management Plans. Lead, direct and manage the planning and execution of the organization’s Development and Asset Management activities.
Development & Asset Management of diverse business environments namely Theme Parks, Museums, Arena, Mixed Use, Hospitality & Leisure, F & B, Retail, Residential, Marinas, Master Planned Communities, etc.
Notable developments are Palm Jumeirah, Gate District on Shams, Mohamed Bin Rashid City D1, Warner Brother Theme Park & Hotel, World Trade Center, Yas Marina, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, Yas Bay Hilton Resorts, Qasr Al Wattan, etc.
The award-winning CEO of Kerten Hospitality, Marloes Knippenberg, has established the organization as a disruptive, dynamic international hospitality group dedicated to the management of mixed-use developments in key global destinations.
Her journey in the hospitality field started with Hilton where Marloes held senior operational and commercial management positions for over a decade. At the helm of Kerten Hospitality, which she developed and launched with the backing of Kerten, Ireland-based investment vehicle, Marloes has grown the organization’s operational and pipeline portfolio from one brand in one country to 12 aspirational lifestyle-driven concepts in 35+ development projects across 3 continents.
Known for her mentorship empowering the next generation of hoteliers, the topic of sustainability within the larger context of ecosystem’s build and the creation of “authentic” experiences in “’Cities of the Future” developments, Marloes continuously pioneers the role of innovation across the whole value chain of investors, owners, academia and the hospitality leadership. Empowerment of female hospitality leaders within WiH Group has been her latest commitment.
She sits on the Vice Chair role of GRI’s Hospitality Club connecting C-Suite real estate and Infrastructure leaders from around the world. In addition, Marloes serves on the Advisory Boards of flagship events like IHIDC – Vienna, AHIC - UAE, HITEC - Dubai, IHIF - Berlin and is frequently invited to contribute Though Leadership to industry forums: ITHIC - Italy, SHIC - Saudi Arabia, HOST – London and The Retail Summit, Dubai. She has been a mentor for students in hospitality schools and was recently on the jury panel of the GENIO Innovation Summit by Hotelschool The Hague.
Marloes has been listed in the Hotelier Middle East Power List 2019 ranking the region’s most influential industry professionals. Most recently, she was listed in Hotelier Middle East 25 'women in hospitality power list' is a result of those women who are making waves in the industry. She is the Winner of CEO Today’s 2020 Business Women of the Year recognition in hospitality.
Board Member, Dubai Restaurant Group
Kunal is a passionate leader, having a long track record of successful management across a variety of business industries. Utilizing his knowledge and comprehension of vast managing directorship experience, Kunal ensures clear objectives and expectations are delivered and maintained throughout.
Having studied in Dubai, London and California, Kunal has been in UAE since 3 decades. Apart from having a notable interest in managing large scale industrial and commercial real estate portfolios, he has a serious passion for food.
The Palmon Group was established in 1974 in Mumbai, India as a shirt-maker and later moved its operations to Dubai in 1985 being one of the first companies to setup a garment manufacturing unit in Jafza, Dubai.
Kunal’s journey in Palmon Group started in 2002 where he was responsible for upcoming warehouse construction projects and started as a site supervisor in the real estate division, from there he grew his experience in multiple roles such as Project Management, Administration, Procurement understanding the various aspects of the division. He was promoted to General Manager of the Real Estate division in the year 2005.
In addition to his above duties as General Manager, in 2005 he was given additional responsibilities as Managing Director to manage a newly formed division called Secure Plus in Security and Facilities Management which he scaled to over 500 employees and successfully divested 75% of this division to a larger FM conglomerate.
In 2006 he was tasked to oversee and lead two other group divisions Huget Design which focused on Interior Design & Fitout and Palmonade which was the exclusive distributor of German Kitchen brand called SieMatic. Under his leadership both companies grew strength to strength doing large scale projects such as Burj Khalifa, Al Barrari, Jumeirah Golf Estates and design and fitout prestigious brands such as Panasonic, Sanyo, Nokia. In 2012 he was promoted to the Managing Director overseeing all group portfolio companies.
In 2018 Kunal conceptualized and led the charge to create Manrre the region’s first industrial and logistics Real Estate Investment Trust based in DIFC, Dubai International Financial Center. Manrre’s low risk strategy involves investing in income-producing industrial warehouses, logistics and commercial real estate. Primary focus in Dubai and the UAE. The REIT aims to IPO in 2021.
Kunal currently leads the group as Managing Partner having served successfully in various positions for 17 years. His extensive knowledge in diverse industries is a testament to his dedication, hard work and eye for quality.
Stepping into the hospitality industry, Kunal is most notably the Founder & CEO of his privately held company Create Hospitality and has curated several concepts most notably of which is El Sur.
With an innate passion for great food and impeccable customer service, as well as an in-depth understanding of market dynamics and a strong business acumen, Kunal has always felt there has been a gap in the market for a quality food at the right price point. Kunal has spent extensive time in LA where he enjoyed Spanish and contemporary cuisines, in 2013 this led him to create El Sur a Contemporary Spanish Restaurant at the Westin Mina Seyahi. As a result, it was nominated for Best Newcomer by Time Out, it subsequently was included in the Ahlan 100 Top Bars and Restaurants. In 2015 it won the Highly commended award by Timeout and also the Best Modern European Restaurant Award by What’s On. Successfully operating the restaurant for over 5 years, in 2018 he divested El Sur to Westin Mina Seyahi.
Kunal is also the Founder & CEO of Pret To Go, a brand of organic and healthy cafes he launched in 2014 with his wife Rania Lahori. Pret To Go has 6 locations in prime business zones within Dubai, DIFC, Emaar Square, Jafza, Marina, Adnoc HQ. Pret To Go provides wholesome and handcrafted food for busy professionals without the luxury of time. For him it's not enough to strive to be the best grab & go destination for organic and natural food, he wants to inspire a healthier generation. He is also committed to giving back to the community by donating food to blue-collar workers at the end of every evening.
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.
Associate Global Wellness Research Director, TLC
László is the Associate Global Wellness Research Director of TLC and CEO of Health Tourism Worldwide. He has been working in the field of travel and health for 25+ years. László is an experience engineer, strategist and trainer, and wellbeing intelligence expert. He has gained experiences in the private as well as in public sector environments both in medical and wellness tourism. László is one of the very few people in the world who has been active in every aspect and domain of health tourism. He is an economist and art & design manager, and holds master degrees and a PhD, and is a Certified Management Consultant. László has been lecturing and running tailor-made trainings, mentoring and masterclasses in over 40 countries all around the world. He has been actively involved both in industry as well as academic arenas and authored numerous industry reports and specialist books and publications. He was the project lead on the path making report for UNWTO & ETC titled Exploring Health Tourism, as well as a pioneering study for Global Spa Summit titled Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where do spas fit? László is a hot spring and wellness enthusiast and holds a Shinrin Yoku/Forest Bathing Diploma!
Cyril was born in Durban, South Africa, has over 25 years real estate banking and finance industry experience. During his career Cyril has arranged and structured real estate finance in South Africa, numerous African Countries, and UAE. Cyril has financed deals in the hospitality, commercial (retail shopping centres and offices) and residential housing sectors.
Cyril joined ADCB Investment Banking Group in 2007 and has played a leading role in advising, structuring, arranging and providing syndicated loan finance for leading UAE Property Investors and Developers such as, Investment Corporation of Dubai, Atlantis Dubai, Dubai Holdings, Jumeirah Group, Meraas Developments, Aldar Properties, Gulf Related and numerous HNW Private Investors from UAE.
Prior to joining ADCB he was General Manager ABSA Commercial Property Finance and Director Head of Commercial Property Finance for Barclays Bank Plc, Africa and Middle East, based in Johannesburg, where he arranged and structured all aspects of real estate finance, including property development finance and lease discounting structured finance.
Cyril has a B Com from the University of Natal, South Africa and has completed the Leadership Program from GIBS South Africa. Cyril has given numerous workshops and talks on real estate financing and structured finance.
An avid reader, he enjoys travel, meeting new people, spending time outdoors, theatre, gastronomy and photography.
General Manager Absa Commercial Property Finance - Johannesburg Director - Head of Property Finance Barclays Africa and Middle East, Barclays Bank Plc Property Finance Product Manager – Citibank N.A. Johannesburg Regional Manager – Commercial Property Finance – RMB / FirstRand Bank Durban
Board Member, Dubai Restaurant Group
With over 38 years in the hospitality world across Australia, Asia, & the Middle East in various senior management roles, I have launched & operated some of the world’s best Hotels, Resorts, Spas & Lifestyle Food & Beverage Concepts.
Naim’s career has exposed him to some of the best properties around the world and he has been fortunate to partake & orchestrate several amazing openings & operations.
Covering a wide spectrum of positions within senior leadership, including the role of Managing Director for both Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and The Anantara Group respectively. During his time with these exclusive properties, Naim was instrumental in nurturing sound relationships with owners, securing the best possible locations, negotiating and formalizing contractual agreements, and appointing teams to infuse and reflect the ethos of the brands.
Being based in the ME over the past 20 years, Naim has witnessed tremendous industry growth, gained a deep cultural understanding & has been endorsed by principals & organizations alike.
In 2010, Naim established “Gates Hospitality” a homegrown Hospitality Company representing handpicked Concepts catering for the affluent life-stylers.
Gates Hospitality, the owning company of well-known homegrown brands such as; Ultra Brasserie, the internationally acclaimed concept; Reform Social & Grill Dubai, Folly by Nick & Scott, as well as Publique, Dubai's premier "Apres Ski chalet", Bistro Des Arts, Six Senses Zighy Bay, Red Farm London at Covent Garden London, and Stokehouse at Trump International Golf Course, DAMAC Hills, Dubai.
Kenneth is responsible for the management, growth and profitability of Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA), IHG’s most diverse operating region. Based in London, Kenneth manages a portfolio of more hotels in some of the world’s most exciting destinations, in both mature and emerging markets.
Kenneth was previously IHG’s CEO for Greater China, a role he held from 2013 to 2017. Kenneth led the accelerated growth and performance of the entire region during this period as well as a number of milestone projects. These included the continued expansion of IHG’s brands and the launch of the Holiday Inn Express® Franchise Plus model, key to IHG’s future scaled growth in the Chinese market.
Kenneth has extensive experience across sales, marketing strategy, business development and operations. In addition to 12 years living and working in China, Kenneth’s career includes experience in Asia, the UK, France and South Africa.
Prior to joining IHG in 2013, Kenneth worked for 20 years at Diageo, one of the UK's leading branded companies. His senior management positions included serving as Managing Director of Diageo Greater China, where he helped to build the company’s presence and led the landmark deal to acquire ShuiJingFang, a leading manufacturer of China’s national drink, and one of the first foreign acquisitions of a Chinese listed company.
In 2017, Kenneth received the Shanghai Magnolia Gold Award for expatriates for his outstanding contribution to the city's social and economic development, having previously been awarded the Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award in 2009. Kenneth received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Bristol in the UK and speaks fluent French.
Cedar Capital Partners
Ramsey Mankarious is Chief Executive of Cedar Capital Partners, a specialist hotel investment firm. Cedar has acquired hotels with a value in excess of $4 billion including the Savoy Hotel London, Four Seasons Geneva and the Mandarin Oriental Prague. Cedar has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Prior to founding Cedar, Mr. Mankarious was Executive VP of Acquisitions and Development for Kingdom Holding, a major investor in the tourism industry with sizeable holdings in both hotel real estate and management companies (Four Seasons, Fairmont and Mövenpick).
Mr. Mankarious was previously Associate Director at HVS International in their London and NY offices where he performed hotel valuations and feasibility studies in over 30 countries.
Mr. Mankarious received his MA in Property Valuation and Law from City University in London and his BA in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Michigan State University in the U.S.
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.
With over twenty five years experience in the golf industry, currently Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Golf which owns and manages Dubai’s leading golf clubs, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and Jumeirah Golf Estates. Dubai Golf has been at the forefront of developing golf in the Gulf region, in particular promoting Dubai as a golfing destination and annually hosting prestigious European Tour events with the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega Dubai Moonlight Ladies Classic.
Previous career experience in the UK include managerial roles at the Jack Nicklaus designed London Golf Club, Woodbury Park Golf and Country Club for former Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell and Marriott Tudor Park Golf and Country Club.
Chris graduated from Loughborough University and Nottingham Trent University where he successfully achieved an MSC in Recreation Management and a BSC in Sport Science.
In 2010 Chris became the first person in the Gulf region to successfully pass the CCM examination through CMAE and has since achieved re-certification in 2015. Dubai Golf hosted the first MDP1 course in the region last year and will host both MDP1 and MDP2 courses in May 2017, providing aspiring managers with invaluable educational opportunities.
Chris has run both the London and New York marathons, as well as many half marathons and 10km races, and continues to play squash, ski, run and bike in an attempt to keep fit! Chris is married to Clare and has two daughters Gracie and Jodie.
Jalil Mekouar is the Founder & CEO of inHovate (www.inHovate.com) – the hospitality industry’s first and only Intelligent Business Transformation System that empowers operators, owners/investors and their advisors/asset managers to realize transformative results & maximize asset value.
A visionary global leader and entrepreneur, Jalil Mekouar has 30 years of international investment, finance, operations and asset management leadership experience in hospitality, real estate, wellness, and technology. His career spans over 35 countries in 6 continents with the world’s largest hotel operators, investors, developers, advisors and asset managers, in senior roles such as CEO, President, COO, MD, etc.
In addition to excellence in hospitality and technology, Jalil Mekouar is also passionate about wellness and sustainability. 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/people).
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 Artificial Intelligence for Business from MIT, Fund & Asset Management, Real Estate Finance, Board Director Certification for Public Listed Companies, etc., Jalil Mekouar is also a member of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and other reputed international professional associations.
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.
Spa Connectors & Hall of Wellness Awards
Founder & Managing Director, Spa Connectors, Global
Executive Producer, Professional Beauty GCC
Judge, Professional Beauty GCC Awards
Producer, World Spa & Wellness Convention, Global
Judge, World Spa & Wellness Awards
Judge, Asia Spa
Judge, Destination Deluxe Awards
Kathryn Moore has been a leading expert in the global spa industry for 15 years with extensive knowledge of all aspects of spa business. Her successes include negotiating complex commercial arrangements, conception and implementation of operating frameworks, standards and training programmes.
Recognised for creativity and ‘out the box’ thinking when developing bespoke, high end spa and wellness concepts for a broad spectrum of clients, Kathryn is a highly sought-after collaborator in the market today.
During her time with MSpa, overseeing more than 60 spas for Minor Hotels, Kathryn identified noticeable gaps in the industry. Her solution was to form Spa Connectors in 2015, offering exclusive training programmes as well as recruitment solutions and business consultancy.
In only a short time, Spa Connectors has developed a reputation for delivering innovative, personalised solutions to address the client’s needs, ensuring longevity and high performance for every spa business associated with Spa Connectors.
Ritz Banc Group
Since January 2020 Mr. Nahas holds the position of Partner and Managing Director of RBG Holding. He is also an advisor and Investment Committee Member of the State Properties General Authority of Saudi Arabia as well as a board member of MASIC Logistics and Al Romaih Industrial Commercial Group.
From July 2012 until December 2019, Mr. Nahas headed the real estate investment division of Mohammed Al Subeaei Investment Company (MASIC) and manages the local and international real estate business of the MASIC. Mr. Nahas was also a member of the investment committee of MASIC and held Board positions in MASIC Logistics and Al Fhadli Company (a JV with Aramco), both subsidiaries of MASIC that he helped incubate.
Before joining MASIC, Mr. Nahas headed Shuaa Capital Saudi Arabia’s real estate division where he managed the real estate funds and the day to day operations of the real estate division. Mr. Nahas also acted as CEO for Al Oula International. In 2010 Mr. Nahas worked as the advisor of the BOD of Amer Group in Egypt and managed its IPO process and the eventual listing on the Cairo Stock Exchange. Mr. Nahas also worked as an expert advisor with Booz & Co (current Strategy &).
Mr. Nahas joined Al Oula International after holding the position of Investment Banking Director in charge of the Real Estate sector in the MENA region at HSBC Bank Middle East. During his tenure with HSBC, Mr. Nahas led the IPO of Drake & Scull and worked on many private placements and cross border transactions. Prior to HSBC, Mr. Nahas worked at the National Investor in Abu Dhabi, Bank Audi in Lebanon, and other leading institutions. His diverse experience extends to more than 25 years of consulting, corporate investment, and investment banking across Canada and the MENA region in the real estate, finance, industrial and manufacturing sectors. His portfolio of achievements includes leading many IPOs, most notably Tamweel and Kingdom Hotel and Investments, setting up real estate development and equity funds, structuring many debt transactions in conventional and Islamic finance, and successfully accomplishing many private placements and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Nahas executed more than USD 2.5 Billions of transaction and Managed assets worth more then USD 1.5Billion.
A Lebanese/Canadian national, Mr. Nahas holds a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in engineering with a specialty in industrial management from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He also completed an executive education program at Stanford University in negotiation strategies and in finance at Harvard University.
Mohamed is a serial entrepreneur who has previously founded an award-winning company recognized consistently as a top 100SME and top innovator by Dubai government. His passion for entrepreneurship and hospitality has seen him jump at the chance to join the founding team at Fundok.
Mohamed has worked on some of the region’s highest profile infrastructure, real estate and construction projects. He led his business to numerous industry awards and became involved with the region’s highest reputed entrepreneurship and SME development initiatives and programs. As a business advisor and mentor, he has worked with companies operating across a wide industry spectrum, from online retail and F&B to construction products and building technologies.
With an MBA from the London Business School and an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from the American University in Cairo alongside several professional certifications such the sustainability centric LEED AP and quality management, Mohamed’s foundations in technical knowledge coupled with a strong industry background and a far-reaching network are unparalleled.
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.
Nicki Page, born in Wales, with her formative career spent in London and Cardiff arrived in the Middle East in 1989 with a marketing and public relations background from her previous employment in Saatchi and Saatchi, plus Marriott Hotels and Resorts. With her distinct and thoroughly Celtic approach she was able to engage and establish influential networks with the leads and foremost decision makers across Arab, South & South East Asian and African nations - being a key strategic negotiator in establishing the success of world leading tourism and luxury destinations including: Jordan, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya Maldives and the UAE. She has significant awareness of how to promote luxury health and Wellness resorts worldwide, and deep insight into the role women have, in influencing health, wellness, and travel decisions, for themselves, families and nation. As an established presence and trusted business presence in the Middle East she has established a network and client list of Ruling families, CEO’s and companies “to die for”..
“The Art & Science of understanding Wellness, and its marketing, is a position, that we believe is critically important to tourism, as we transform ourselves and the industry to adjust to new paradigms, that demand we take account of health & Wellness expectancies, and Sustainability requirements, for People Planet and Place” Nicki Page, TLC Health Travel 2020
Compass Project Consulting
Hamed is an accomplished project delivery professional having spent over a decade honing his skills within the construction, fit-out & FM sectors. Hamed has a keen interest in building solid front-ends of major projects, with his advisor, feasibility knowledge and design management skills being just a few of his greatest strengths, particularly within the luxurious intricacies of the hospitality world. When Hamed’s not saving projects, he’s pretty good at playing DJ at the Compass office!
Tim is driven by the art of architecture. As Chairman of OBMI and leader of the Island Living Studio, he is instrumental in developing OBMI’s approach to design. He continually reinforces the need for a rigorous analysis of the cultural and environmental influences of a site, paired with the economic drivers for the project, for a truly sustainable design.
He is equally at ease providing design solutions for clients, whether if it’s envisioning a remote Caribbean island retreat, a mixed-use master plan in Africa, or the design for a royal palace in the Middle East.
Tim prides himself on a tradition of empowering effective teamwork, understanding the critical importance of a vision backed by discipline and process, and champions leveraging the diverse skill sets of the whole team, ensuring that clients across the world benefit from the passion and dedication synonymous with an OBMI-designed project.
JLL Hotels & Hospitality
Gilda Perez-Alvarado is the Chief Executive Officer of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, Americas, where she is responsible for investment sales, debt and equity placement, strategic advisory and asset management. Additionally, Gilda leads the group’s Global Hotel Desk, a specialized team of cross-border investment sales professionals based in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe. Previously, Gilda served as a Managing Director, focused on full-service investment sales throughout the United States and globally.
In the past 24 months, Gilda has utilized her global experience to coordinate the sale of several high-profile assets including the Plaza Hotel in New York, Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, St. Regis San Francisco, InterContinental Porto, Waldorf Astoria Edinburg, Four Seasons Toronto, and the Silverbirch hotel portfolio in Canada, among others.
Gilda also serves as a member of JLL’s Global Capital Markets Advisory Group and on the Global Advisory Board of Qiddiya, a PIF-funded giga project in Saudi Arabia. In January 2016, she became the recipient of the Jack A. Shaffer Financial Advisor of the year award at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit.
Prior to re-joining the team in New York in 2010, Gilda was based in Madrid as Head of Hotel Debt Advisory Spain and Portugal, where she was responsible for working with financial institutions for hotel asset receiverships and workouts, as well as supporting the executive team in Spain and London in international capital markets. Prior to Madrid, Gilda was based in London and was responsible for luxury hotel transactions in the United Kingdom, Benelux and Scandinavia, where her primary project was the sale of the world famous Turnberry Resort in Scotland on behalf of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Prior to her experience in London, Gilda was based in the New York and Miami offices of JLL, beginning in 2004. There, she advised in single asset and portfolio hotel transactions, financings, advisory assignments and asset management projects in the U.S., Caribbean and North Atlantic.
Prior to joining JLL, Gilda worked for the Hospitality and Leisure advisory practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Miami for more than two years, where her area of expertise was valuations and market and feasibility studies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gilda received her Masters in Business Administration degree from Instituto de Empresa (IE Business School) in Madrid, Spain in 2010. In 2002, Gilda received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York, where she graduated with Honors and served as Degree Marshall for her graduating class. Her specialization was in hotel real estate finance. Gilda has also attended Executive Education Courses on Competitive Strategy and Leadership at INSEAD and Stanford School of Business, respectively.
Jennifer has been a member of the Bench 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 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.
David Phillips is the co-founder and President of Jurny, a hospitality tech company offering SaaS-based management solutions designed to accommodate the evolving needs and expectations of the modern traveler. David has over 10 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. In his early 20s, he was responsible for building global brands that amassed tens of millions in sales and entered negotiations for major entertainment production deals. David has been responsible for over $75 million in licensed consumer product sales over the course of his career.David co-founded GuestWiser, now Jurny, with Luca Zambello in 2017. The duo bootstrapped the company prior to raising more than $4.9M in funding to build technology and develop a complex infrastructure designed to remotely operate thousands of professionally run short-term units with minimal staff. The company now operates in five markets managing the highest reviewed and revenue-generating units in the industry year-over-year.
PGA European Tour
As Head of Middle East for the European Tour, Tom is responsible for the development of the men’s professional golf tour across the region.
The Middle East is home to six European Tour events, including the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the biggest first prize in tournament golf and the finale to the year-long Race to Dubai. The region is also home to some of the Tour’s most committed partners.
Based in Dubai since 2019, Tom previously lived in Asia for 14 years where roles included CEO of the Hong Kong Golf Association and the Faldo Series, Director of Faldo Design and Consultant for the Mission Hills Group. In total, he has spent more than 20 years in the golf and leisure industry, working with national golf federations and international sports organisations in more than 40 countries worldwide.
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 Market Strategy & Sales 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.
Sun Hospitality Group
Hotelier, mentor, project leader and design enthusiast, coupled with 35 years of hospitality experience has led me too an exciting chapter at Sun Hospitality Group (SHG) part of Sun Group. The creation of SHG focuses on business tourism and development of Sun Group and the continuation of sustainable growth being the key for the company.
With more than 30 years in South East Asia I have been at the forefront of the hospitality in emerging markets and it has become my specialty and the challenges it brings, this has driven me to innovate and bring a new definition to the phrase “think outside the box”
Talent search is a key area and the mentoring on future Hoteliers is a top priority. I believe the creation of SHG has allowed the team and I to put all this in practice and make a difference to Vietnam’s evolution in the field.
Actively involved into numerous industry organisations including the International Wine & Food Society. Others professional affiliations include Confrèrie de La Chaîne des Rotisseurs and Commanderie de Bordeaux.
Also invited to contribute in the book “EQ & Leadership in Asia” on using emotional intelligence to lead and inspire people, written by Sebastien Henry, and has also been a guest speaker at several webinar and other hospitality events around the region.
Quote: In Life we do things, some we wish we had never done, some we wish we could replay a million times. But they all make us who we are, and in the end, they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them, we wouldn’t be the person we are. So just live. Make mistakes, have wonderful memories. But never ever second guess who you are, where you have been and most importantly where it is you are going….
Eric founded Greenview in 2008, an international consultancy helping organizations catalyze innovation and best practice through strategy, programs, data management, benchmarking, and reporting. Greenview’s clients include most of the largest hotel companies as well as hotel owners and developers, event organizers, cruise lines, DMOs, OTAs and industry organizations including the WTTC and UNWTO. With 20 years of hands-on experience, Eric is a frequent speaker, convener, and researcher on the topic of sustainability. Prior to founding Greenview, Eric specialized in the operations and development of nature-based lodges, theme parks and attractions in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Brazil. Eric earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and a Master of Science degree in Tourism & Travel Management from New York University. His notable industry work includes launching the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index, Green Lodging Trends Report, Destination Water Risk Index, and Hotel Owners for Tomorrow Coalition. Eric is a member of the UFI Committee on Sustainable Development and the International Standards Working Group of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. He has held a research fellowship at the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research and been an adjunct instructor at New York University.
Strategic Hotel Consulting
Tea is the Founder and Managing Director of Strategic Hotel Consulting, an international management consulting firm specialising in hotel investments. Tea is based in Switzerland and has 15 years of consulting experience within Europe, Middle East and Asia. She has advised a number of prominent owners, developers and investors.
Prior to establishing Strategic Hotel Consulting in 2009, Tea worked in Asia with Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels and in the Middle East with TRI Hospitality Consulting.
She is a Member and a Board Member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC), the leading source for global hospitality expertise.
Tea has comprehensive operational background, having worked with the Four Seasons, Rosewood and Starwood hotel companies in positions covering F&B, rooms division, sales and marketing, yield management and Six Sigma process improvement and management. She is a graduate from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
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.
Daniella Russell Harper DRG / TCL
Daniella wanted to grow up to be a tall, blonde beauty therapist after she her babysitter return from beauty college looking exactly that….amazing!
Over 40 years ago, Daniella went to Champneys college to train as a beauty therapist and came back with fantastic knowledge, a passion for her industry but certainly no taller or anywhere near blonde!
It was the start of a love affair of her profession and, since then, Daniella has travelled the world through her work, experiencing Spa and Wellness in every aspect……and there are a lot of aspects in this industry.
Daniella has opened some of the world’s most recognised Destination Spa & Wellness Resorts and Day Spas, Hair and Beauty Salons, Aesthetic Medi Spa Clinics and Fitness Clubs.
As a recognised spa and wellness industry pioneer, innovator and expert with over 40 years in the industry, she advises and consult across the sector - from conceptual development, retail and distribution, to operational management, strategic planning and beyond.
JLL Hotels & Hospitality
Patrick J. Saade is the Senior Managing Director of EMEA Hotels & Hospitality Capital Markets in London, focusing on disposal assignments throughout Europe. He is responsible for the management of successful hotel and portfolio sales campaigns and leads a team of 14 Transaction experts in 5 countries.
Key skills and experience
Patrick joined the Investment Sales team of JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group in 2010 and has worked on a number of high profile single asset and portfolio transactions in key European cities, totaling in excess of $6 billion including the Marriott Champs Elysees, Hilton Berlin, InterContinental Porto, Simply Portfolio France, Sofitel Budapest, Fletcher Portfolio Netherlands, Hilton Prague, Silken Diagonal Barcelona, InterContinental Le Grand in Paris, the Ritz in Madrid, the Bristol Hotel and Jan III Sobieski in Warsaw.
Education and affiliations
Patrick holds an MBA degree from the ESSEC Business School in Paris, and a Diploma in Management from the European Management Centre in Paris. Patrick is proficient in written and spoken English, French and Arabic.
Cedric Sala has been working for Schneider Electric for 15 years in various position related to Energy management system and Building solutions. Cedric is now based out of Dubai and in charge of hotel segment for MEA region, working to help operators and owners to increase operational efficiency and enhance guest experience in their properties.
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.
Sanjay is the Head of IT for Jumeirah Group with experience and passion for driving business transformation, change and outcomes with innovation and technology. He brings over 20 years of experience gained within Emirates Airline where he held a variety of positions across the Information Technology environment. He has a very extensive experience in leading broader Digital Transformative initiatives encompassing a wealth of innovation to both the customer journey as well as the organizational infrastructure.
Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts
José Silva joined Jumeirah as Chief Executive Officer in March 2018. He has a wealth of experience with more than 35 years’ experience in the international luxury hospitality sector, including 27 years with Four Seasons. Silva is renowned for the repositioning of some of the best hotels in the world including the iconic Four Seasons George V Paris. As Regional Vice President, he successfully led the most prestigious portfolio of the Four Seasons Collection elevating both product and guest experiences to the highest level. José was awarded ‘Hotelier of the Year’ by Virtuoso, the leading luxury travel agencies network and, during his tenure, the Four Seasons George V was awarded 5 Michelin stars, still the most Michelin starred Palace in Europe and Americas.
As CEO, José is responsible for growing the group’s luxury portfolio through a dynamic international expansion while building on Jumeirah’s extraordinary success over the past two decades, driving the company to a new era in luxury. Born in Portugal, raised in Montreal up to 35-years old, José thinks global, always with a tactical and local approach.
Al Hokair Group
Clive is currently Managing Director – Hotels Division, Al Hokair Group. He was previously Director of Operations for Coral Sea Hotels in Papua New Guinea. He has held General Management positions with IHG, Millennium Hotels, Divan Hotels, Autograph Collection by Marriott and Absheron Hotel Group.
Whilst with Absheron Hotel Group he opened four hotels in Azerbaijan and previously one in Iraq for the Divan Group. Clive has over 30 years’ experience within the hospitality industry starting his career in the UK after finishing his Hotel Management studies. He then spent most of his career overseas within the Middle East and Africa, initially as hotel manager at the InterContinental Jeddah.
David has worked in the hospitality and retail industry in the USA, EMEA and South Asia as a brand builder, creator, operator, franchisee, franchisor for some of the world’s best known and respected brands including Hard Rock Cafe, Armani Caffe, Almaz by Momo, Caffè Nero, Magnolia Bakery, Serendipity 3, Bloomingdales, Mercedes Benz (Russia).
In addition to his role as partner with Global business development company he is also a Director with the British Business Group Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Associate Partner with Harrison Design, a global brand design and advisory studio, Partner with the Henka Institute experts in transformational coaching and a proud co-founder of MERA the Middle East Restaurant Association and an equally proud member of GRIF’s Advisory Board .
David also moderates, speaks, writes, advises and mentors across the hospitality and services sectors, globally from Dubai.
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
InterContinental Hotels Group
Matthew has successfully led IHG's strategic growth and development across the Middle East & Africa region over the past three years, resulting in a period of unparalleled growth for the Group and the largest development pipeline in a decade, including the signings of the largest Crowne Plaza and voco hotels in world.
Prior to moving to the Middle East Matthew headed development for IHG in Australasia & Japan, which again saw a sharp upturn in IHG signings and openings and the renewal of several strategic portfolio’s for the group including the Mulpha portfolio, a collection of 3 iconic InterContinental hotels. Prior to his time with IHG Matthew held the role of General Manager, Development Pacific for Accor Hotels. Prior to this Matthew has worked for several leading companies specializing in development, planning, and acquisition.
Matthew holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Urban Planning and Development from the University of Sydney.
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.
HSBC Bank Plc
Simon Williams is HSBC’s Chief Economist for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Simon joined HSBC in 2006 as chief economist for MENA in Dubai, returning to London in 2014 to lead the bank’s economics research on the CEEMEA region. He has 20 years' experience as a country analyst and emerging market economist.
Accor Hotels Middle East & Africa
Mark Willis holds an MBA in International Business from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and has completed 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 14 years.
He joined the Group Executive Committee in September 2018, when the Group finalized the acquisition of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, and he is responsible for a portfolio of more than 430 hotels in operation and development.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman & CEO of Bench, 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 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.
JLL Hotels & Hospitality
Mark sits on JLL’s Global Capital Markets Board which oversees a business that transacts more than $1.2 billion of real estate every working day across the globe. He leads JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group which transacts in excess of $10 billion of hospitality real estate annually and finances more than $5 billion. Mark also oversees Valuation Advisory for the firm.
Key skills and experience
As Global Sector Lead of the Hotels and Hospitality Group of JLL, Mark leads a team of more than 300 hotel experts in 20 countries, his expertise – and that of JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group – spans the hospitality spectrum.
In recent years, Mark has been central to numerous corporate and hotel portfolio transactions, including advising the InterContinental Hotels Group on some $4 billion worth of their successful divestment of hotel real estate. He is also driven by a focus on midcap M&A and portfolio sales and recaps across the globe.
From luxury single assets and large portfolios to select service and budget hotels and resorts, Mark’s team delivers a broad range of services to leading industry players: corporate strategy, restructuring and transaction advice, equity and debt financing advice, project development and contract management, operating contract negotiation and asset management, to name just a few.
The increase in hybridization among asset classes that include hospitality has led Mark to take a deep interest in the emerging Operating Real Estate sector.
Education and affiliations
Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.