According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector are expected to rise by over 27%. Despite the sector coming to a near standstill in 2020, it is now recovering with a heightened focus on consumer-centricity. The hospitality sector is making considerable efforts toward elevating people’s experiences and making sure that their travel journey is personalized by engaging in customer-centered practices.
Forbes Middle East in partnership with Rotana Hotels & Resorts will gather hospitality & tourism leaders to discuss the innovative strategies being put forth by the sector to boost & promote tourism in the region. Join us as the leaders will provide their industry-leading insights on the recent developments & advancements that are being made to transform the hospitality sector in the Middle East.
Regional Director of the Middle East
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
Basma Al-Maydan is a founding member of the Middle East region of the Programme and Budget Committee of the organization's Executive Board. During the General Assembly (22) of the organization in China, she was selected to be Vice-Chair of the specialized committee for the preparation of the final draft of the UNWTO Framework Convention, on the first United Nations International Tourism Charter. Al-Mayman believes in the power of learning and development and building a big one of her work in this six-part cod art, so she has taken the trend. In addition, Al-Mayman, in cooperation with the World Tourism Organization, contributed to the conduct of national tourism studies. Forbes magazine ranked the Middle East, Basma Abdulaziz Al-Mayman, the regional director for the Middle East at the World Tourism Organization, ranked 13th among the most powerful 100 Arab women in 2020 and the only one from the tourism sector in the region to register as the first Gulf official in the organization and the first woman in this position in this history in this prestigious ranking, and is for itself the position of the international organization.
President and CEO
Guy Hutchinson is President & CEO of Rotana, one of the leading hotel management companies in the region with hotels across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Turkey. Hutchinson is responsible for developing and executing the strategic direction of Rotana and devising and implementing short- and long-term strategies to help the company realize its expansion plans. In addition, he provides executive oversight of all aspects of Rotana’s day-to-day operations. Hutchinson was promoted to the current role in January 2020 after serving a year as Acting CEO of the company. Under his leadership, Rotana has entrenched its preeminent position in the industry with its keen focus on sustaining revenue growth, expanding market presence in the region and globally, enhancing product offering and strengthening commercial efforts and partnerships. Hutchinson was instrumental in the opening of new properties in 2019, including Bosmal Arjaan by Rotana in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo and Johari Rotana in Tanzania’s key commercial city of Dar es Salaam, which marked Rotana’s first foray into the Southeast Europe and East Africa markets. This is in addition to taking over management of Iraq’s famed Babylon Hotel, now named the Babylon Rotana Baghdad, and the signing of an agreement to operate the iconic Palmeraie Resorts in Morocco’s major economic center Marrakech. The introduction of a franchise model and a subsequent signing of five franchise agreements, as well as the adoption of innovative technologies to enhance guest convenience and comfort have been other key achievements of Rotana during Hutchinson’s tenure. The company also implemented a new Central Reservations System (CRS) to improve technical, functional and service support as well as improved performance and offerings. Spearheading the company’s expansion, Hutchinson led the launch of 28 new hotels across 13 markets and oversaw the opening of new Global Sales offices in Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, and Istanbul to drive business from these key markets. Hutchinson joined Rotana as Chief Operating Officer in January 2014, bringing with him extensive experience in the hospitality industry from markets as diverse as Japan, Australia, China, and India, in addition to a previous stint in the Middle East. The international hotelier’s career is notable for its creative leadership and his success in change management, repositioning, and building high performing teams. During his tenure as COO, Hutchinson has played an active role in strengthening Rotana’s leadership credentials in global markets, driving the company’s quality standards and financial performance and ensuring the scalability of its business model with a view to creating shareholder value. The roll-out and implementation of ‘Ideas’, Rotana’s revenue management system, across all hotels are among many highlights of his contributions to the company.
Hala Matar Choufany
HVS Middle East, Africa and South Asia
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 conferences 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.
Group Chief Executive Officer
Etihad Aviation Group
Tony Douglas joined Etihad Aviation Group as Group Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. He has nearly 20 years of international leadership experience in transportation, infrastructure, and government sectors. He joins Etihad Aviation Group from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, where he served as CEO of the Defence Equipment and Support department, responsible for procuring and supporting all the equipment and services for the British Armed Forces, managing a budget of US $20 billion a year. Previously, he held senior leadership positions in the UAE, most notably as CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company and Abu Dhabi Ports Company, where he was responsible for the successful delivery of Khalifa Port. In the UK, he held senior positions with airport operator British Airports Authority (BAA), and Chief Operating Officer and Group Chief Executive designate of Laing O’Rourke. His roles under BAA included Managing Director of Heathrow Terminal 5 project, Group Supply Chain Director, Group Technical Director, and CEO of Heathrow Airport. Tony holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Lancaster in the UK.
Senior Presenter / Producer
Forbes Middle East
Ramia is a Senior Producer and Presenter at Forbes Middle East, as well as a Moderator with a long history of hosting a variety of public and private sector events. At Forbes, Ramia hosts the Daily Brief, an online twice daily show focusing on breaking business news. She also conducts interviews with international business and world leaders. From its launch in 2007 until 2021, Ramia led the Emirates News broadcast on Dubai One TV as the Presenter and News Bulletin Editor. Previous to her role at Emirates News, from 2002 to 2007, Ramia presented and produced the program Business Arabia, which aired internationally on CNBC. Ramia has interviewed several world leaders including General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, Mohammed Khatami, President of Iran, Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany and Jimmy Carter, US President. She is a moderator at major events including the World Government Summit in Dubai, the Middle East Investment Forum, and the Forbes 30/50 Summit, to name a few. Ramia holds a MA in Global Diplomacy-International Relations from the University of London, SOAS, as well as a BA in Communications from the University of Winnipeg and an associate degree in Journalism from Red River College.
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Forbes Middle East is a licensee of Forbes Media and extends the Forbes brand of journalism across the Arab world. Forbes Middle East’s distinctive editorial style attracts a readership of Arab leaders, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, government officials and investors united by a belief in the spirit of free enterprise and entrepreneurial values.Across the region, Forbes Middle East sets the pace for preemptive business journalism. By uncovering trends and anticipating opportunities in the regional marketplace, each monthly issue brings top executives the information critical to their success – in both Arabic and English language editions. The magazine researches and publishes original rankings, based on methodologies set by Forbes Media.
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