16 - 18 September 2018
Dubai World Trade Centre (Halls 1 - 8)
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The Middle East Hospitality Leadership Forum

18 - 20 September 2017 - Dubai World Trade Centre


Why Attend?


A central new feature of this year’s Hotel Show, The Hospitality Leadership Forum is a series of spontaneous and forthright panel discussions on the key strategic opportunities and challenges shaping the regional sector at this time of accelerated expansion and change.

Each day will consist of a series of panel discussions addressing a specific issue of concern and featuring at least 3 senior industry experts on each panel.

Each panellist will have 5 minutes at the start of each discussion to introduce themselves and their basic position on the parent topic. The discussion will then open out amongst the whole panel, guided by an informed and independent moderator and conclude with questions from the audience.

The talks will take place within a purpose-built conference theatre in one of the main exhibition halls, and will be free to attend for all visitors to the event and are expected to be standing room-only, so we advise you to plan your visit and arrive early.


                 AGENDA DAY 1                                                             AGENDA DAY 2                                                   AGENDA DAY 3                 



  2017 Speakers


Issam Kazim
CEO, Dubai Corporation
for Tourism and
Commerce Marketing

Ramzy Abdul-Majeed
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Whissle Hospitality Group (OKKU)


David Allan
Cluster General Manager
Radisson Blu Hotels Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views


Stephanie Aboujaoude
Area Director of Marketing
Rezidor Hotel Group

Puneet Baijal
General Manager
Roda Al Bustan

Moses Barnabas
General Manager
XVA Art Hotel & Café


Karim Bizid
General Manager
The Oberoi Dubai


Oytun Calapover
Country Head, UAE

Rochelle Castillejos
Director of Revenue
Distribution & Optimization
Gulf Hotels Group

Richard Collins
General Manager
The Ritz-Carlton JBR

Andy Cuthbert
General Manager
Jumeirah Mina'a Salam


Paula de Keijzer
Senior Director of Market Management MEA and Greece & Turkey


Pierre Delfau
General Manager
Southern Sun 
Abu Dhabi Hotel

Francis Desjardins
General Manager
Fairmont Ajman


Fabrice Ducry
General Manager
Sofitel Dubai Downtown

Sanne Emborg
General Manager
Lapita Hotel & Resort

Graeme Erens
Genius Loci

David Faull
Cluster General Manager
Centro Barsha & Burjuman Arjaan by Rotana

Joey Ghazal
Owner & Founder
The MAINE Oyster
Bar & Grill

Nicola Hochgruber
General Manager


Philip Jones
General Manager
Movenpick Hotel
Jumeirah Beach


Rafik Kamel
General Manager
Holiday Inn Downtown

Michelle Karam
Travel Junkie Diary

Khamis Kazzaz
Owner's Representative
Al Hamad Group of Companies


Martin Kubler

Conor Lawler
SVP Finance
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

Mark Lee
General Manager
Media One Hotel  


Kamran Malik
Group General Manager
Al Ansari Hospitality

Deepak Manocha
General Manager
Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf


Mahesh Mansharamani
General Manager
Al Khoory Executive Hotel

Vishal Mehra
General Manager
Hyatt Place Dubai/Al Rigga


Guzman Muela
General Manager
Time Oak Hotel & Suites

Stephen Meredith
General Manager
Business Bay Dubai


Philippe Montaubin
Cluster General Manager
Ibis – Novotel and Aparthotel
Adagio Premium Dubai Al Barsha

Sejal Patel
Lead Designer

Andreas Plum
General Manager
Aloft Al Ain


Rupprecht Queitsch

Alexander Schneider
General Manager
Nikki Beach Resort
& Spa Dubai


Russel Sharpe
COO - Hospitality Division
Landmark Group

Carlo Stragiotto
General Manager
Four Seasons Hotel 


Markus Susilo
Crowe Horwath

Maria Tullberg
General Manager
Radisson Blu Hotel
Dubai Deira Creek

Joost Vermeulen
Regional Manager Hotels

Laurent A Voivenel
SVP, Operations
& Development, MEA & India
Swiss-Belhotel International


David Wilson
General Manager
The Waldorf Astoria
Spa Dubai

Philip Wooller
Area Director, MEA
STR Global

 2017 Agenda


Day 1: Monday 18th

12:30 - 12:40 Opening remarks from the Moderator

  • Rupprecht Queitsch, CEO, INHOCO Group

12:40 - 13:10  Hospitality & Tourism Market Development: The Government Perspective

  • Issam Kazim, CEO, DTCM


13:10 - 13:50 Building Genuine Brand Identity.

How the most distinctive operators identify, anticipate, embody and communicate the key values and programmes that attract and build loyalty amongst their target clientele

  • Alexander Schneider, General Manager, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa
  • Graeme Erens, CEO, Genius Loci
  • Karim Bizid, General Manager, The Oberoi Dubai

13:50 - 14:30 F&B Strategy

Can a hotelier ever create as compelling an F&B proposition as a restauranteur? Calculating the most effective route to attract the right type of guests into your property

  • Francis Desjardins, General Manager, Fairmont Ajman
  • Joey Ghazal, Founder & Managing Partner, The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill
  • Ramzy Abdul-Majeed, Co-Founder, Whissle /OKKU
  • Stephen Meredith, General Manager, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay

14:30 - 15:10 Recruitment & Training

Engaged talent with initiative and personality is becoming increasingly vital, but much harder to source
what routes are the smartest hospitality operators taking to find, train and retain great staff?

  • Andy Cuthbert, General Manager, Mina A’Salam at Madinat Jumeirah & Chairman, Emirates Culinary Guild
  • Mahesh Mansharamani, General Manager, Al Khoory Executive Hotel
  • Mark Lee, General Manager, Media One

15:10 - 15:50 Sustainability

How Dubai-based hoteliers are anticipating and preparing for the government’s upcoming sustainability agenda

  • Martin Kubler, CEO, sps:affinity
  • Rafik Kamel, General Manager, Holiday Inn Downtown
  • TBC

15:50 - 16:30 Leadership Career Paths

F&B, Rooms or Sales & Marketing? What are the theoretical strengths and weaknesses of different paths to becoming a modern GM, and how do they reflect changes in the modern industry?

  • David Wilson, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
  • Maria Tullberg, General Manager, Radisson Blu Deira Creek
  • Philippe Montaubin, General Manager, Ibis, Novotel & Aparthotel Adagio Premium Dubai Al Barsha
  • Puneet Baijal, General Manager, Roda Al Bustan Hotel

16:30 Closing remarks from the moderator

Day 2: Tuesday 19th

12:20 - 12:30 Opening remarks from the Moderator

  • Rupprecht Queitsch, CEO, INHOCO Group

12:30 - 13:10 Market Positioning

How relevant are traditional star ratings as a guide of attractive service and product offerings in today’s marketplace, and can existing properties realistically adapt their business models to address other sections of the market?

  • Andreas Plum, General Manager, Aloft Al Ain
  • Carlo Stragiotto, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel DIFC
  • Moses Barnabas, General Manager, XVA Art Hotel


13:10 - 13:50 Senior Relationship Management

Successfully negotiating the delicate art of owner / management company / GM relationships: Lessons from the front line

  • David Allan, Cluster General Manager, Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront and Canal Views
  • Khamis Kazzaz, Owner Representative, Al Hamad Group Of Companies


13:50 - 14:30 The Mid-Market

Market disruption, market distortion or sustainable market correction? Re-examining the business case for the booming mid-market in Dubai and its ongoing effect on 4* & 5* operators

  • Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP, Operations & Development, MEA & India, Swiss-Belhotel International
  • Pierre Delfau, General Manager, Southern Sun Abu Dhabi
  • Russel Sharpe, COO – Hospitality Division, Landmark Group

14:30 - 15:10 Technology

Surveying the novel technologies and systems that are being successfully exploited to capture bookings, provide layered and sophisticated guest experiences, encourage social media approval and embed customer loyalty and referrals

  • Pawel Guminski, Dual Site General Manager, Premier Inn Dubai International Airport & Al Jaddaf
  • Richard Collins, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
  • Rochelle Castillejos, Director of Revenue Distribution & Optimization, Gulf Hotels Group
  • Paul Uglesic, General Manager, Park Inn By Radisson Dubai Motor City

15:10 - 15:50 Women in Leadership

How achieving better gender balance in hospitality leadership roles improves business outcomes

  • Nicola Hochgruber, General Manager, Accor Hotels
  • Stephanie Aboujaoude, Area Director of Marketing, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

15:50 - 16:30  Design & Layout

Understanding the psychological and behavioural influences of effective hotel design and layout on your guests, and the process, techniques and tricks that designers use to achieve them

  • Kamran Malik, Group General Manager, Al Ansari Hospitality
  • Sejal Patel, Lead Designer, Gensler
  • Justin Wells, Head of Lifestyle Interiors, Woods Bagot

Closing remarks from the moderator

Day 3: Wednesday 20th September

12:20 - 12:30 Opening remarks from the Moderator

  • Christopher Hewett, Associate Director, TRI Consulting

12:30 - 13:10 Online Influencers

Understanding the strategy and business models of major online industry sites / applications / influencers, and how savvy operators interpret and manage their influence on performance and profits

  • Joost Vermeulen, Regional Manager Hotels, MEA & India, Booking.com
  • Michelle Karam, Founder, Travel Junkie Diary
  • Paula de Keijzer, Senior Director of Market Management MEA and Greece & Turkey, Expedia, Inc.
  • Oytun Calapover, Country Head – UAE, Zomato

13:10 - 13:50 Marketing to New Demographics

Is the perceived shift towards younger, tech-oriented millennials supported by evidence, and what can we learn from international operators who are already capturing this demographic?

  • Deepak Manocha, General Manager, Marriott Hotel & Executive Apartments Al Jaddaf
  • Adib Moukheiber, General Manager, Zaya Nurai Island
  • TBC

13:50 - 14:30 The Changing Case for Outsourcing

Reassessing the case for outsourcing key hospitality services / functions in a tightening market: Can you really trim overheads whilst maintaining sufficient quality control?

  • David Faull, General Manager, Centro Barsha & Burjuman Arjaan by Rotana
  • Guzman Muela, General Manager, TIME Oak Hotel & Suites
  • Vishal Mehra, General Manager, Hyatt Place Al Rigga & Baniyas Square

14:30 - 15:10 VAT Scenario Planning

Clarifying key details of the imminent VAT laws: Timescales, structure and implementation


  • Conor Lawler, SVP - Finance, Atlantis The Palm
  • Markus Susilo, Partner, Crowe Horwath


15:10 - 15:50 Predictions for the Ongoing Development of Dubai’s Hospitality & Tourism Sector

A vision of the UAE hospitality landscape in 2021-2025

  • Marko Vucinic, SVP, Hotels & Hospitality, JLL
  • Philip Jones, General Manager, Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach
  • Philip Wooller, Area Director – MEA, STR Global

Closing remarks from the moderator & close of forum



*topic timings and order are subject to change


Emirates Culinary Guild
Pastificio di Martino
Sealed Air
Tagit RFID
Info Saloons