The annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2011 will be addressing the impact on the hotel investment industry of the ongoing political change across the Mena region.
While the region reported increases in all three key performance measurements during January 2011, compared with January 2010, according to data compiled by STR Global, the unrest which has spread from Tunisia and Egypt through to Libya and a number of other countries has significantly impacted the short term outlook for the industry.
The organisers of AHIC 2011 have dedicated a number of the panels of this year’s conference programme to addressing the impact of these issues on the industry. Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global, will participate in a panel session titled ‘Shifting Gears, But Where Are We Going?’, focusing on how the short-term uncertainty will impact the near-term investment climate as well as tourist numbers in key markets across the Mena region.
Randall commented: “We understand that each country faces very different circumstances and outlooks, both politically and economically. A stable political environment is critical for the hotel industry and tourism in general.
“Our industry has the ability to stimulate local economies by creating jobs and attracting visitors and investors. We hope that new governments will support our sector by providing transparency and investment opportunities that will encourage the industry to grow.”
Another panel discussion will focus on the challenges being faced in markets previously seen as key emerging locations such as Libya, as well as other areas in the region. The session will be hosted by Karim El Asmar, managing partner of Hodema, as moderator with panelists Bart Carnahan, senior vice president acquisitions and development of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Guy Crawford, CEO of Jumeirah Group, Hawazen Esber, CEO of Bena Properties and Selim El Zyr, president and CEO of Rotana.
Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events which co-organises AHIC, commented: “With events moving rapidly, we have had to be nimble and now include speakers from Egypt and other countries to address investment concerns. What is vital is allowing the industry’s most experienced operators, investors and commentators a platform to voice their concerns and facilitate debate on the investment landscape and prospects.”
Elsewhere on the programme, a session titled ‘Focus on Morocco’ will take the format of a ‘Hard Talk’ interview on the strategy behind the multi-billion dollar plan to double tourist receipts uncovering the opportunities for hotel investors and why this is so essential for the economy of the Kingdom of Morocco. Yassir Zenagui, Minister of Tourism and Handicraft, will be in discussion with Jalil Mekouar, managing director Middle East and Africa, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.
The conference will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, chairman of Dubai Airports and chairman and CEO of Emirates Airlines, who will be receiving the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ this year at AHIC. Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group, will be presented with the ‘Leadership Award’ and Nasser Al Nowais, chairman of Rotana, will receive the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.
The event runs from April 30 to May 2 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE and receptions will be held on Saturday, April 30, at the new Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the
Palm Jumeirah, and at the recently opened Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, hosted by Seven Tides, on Sunday, May 1.
AHIC is organised by Bench Events and MEED and is expected to attract more than 600 industry leaders from 40-plus countries, including many of the most influential names within the Middle East’s hotel investment community as both speakers and attendees.