Arab hotel meet confirms lineup

The finalised Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) programme has confirmed over 120 top speakers from around the globe. The conference theme, Oasis or Mirage—The future of hotel investment in the Middle East, will see delegates and industry experts reflect and debate on the huge investment and project initiatives in Arabia - as well as their authenticity and sustainability.

The second AHIC sets the stage on the eve of the Arabian Travel Market as tourism and development leaders gather at the Madinat Jumeirah for what is expected to be another sold out event, April 29 - May 1, 2006.

Under the guidance of Jonathan Worsley, managing director of International Hospitality Services, the groundbreaking conference picks up the pace once again to include new features and panel discussions with the hottest issues up for debate including island destination development, environmental challenges and exploring the potential of Arabian brands in a competitive global arena.

Worsley said: “Following the success of last year’s event, we’ve gathered industry decision makers to pursue vital topics in the progression of tourism and development in Arabia. 

“We have headline speakers including HE Jakaya Kiwete, the president of Tanzania, Donald J. Trump Jr. of The Trump Organisation and HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, who will offer solid perspectives for consideration and debate in this vital investment market.”


One of the most newsworthy panel discussions is one with a green theme - Middle East - heading for an environmental trap?” The session will be moderated by Jonathan Tourtellot, director of the National Geographic Centre, and speakers will include: Lyndall de Marco, executive director of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum; Ed Fuller from Marriott International; Dr Imad Haffar from Nakheel; Mahmud Janmohamed, managing director of Serena Hotels & Tourism Promotion Services; Cathy Kopp from Accor; and Jon Williams from HSBC Holdings plc.

Financing continues to be a major focus for the Middle East, and is the subject of a panel discussion on debt and mezzanine finance, moderated by Yousef Al-Essa, general manager of Bahrain-based Addax Investment Bank. He is joined by Sami Al Bader from Investors Bank, Istithmar’s Peter Jodlowski, Stephen Rothel from Gulf Finance House, and the World Bank Group’s Nabil Fawaz.

This year, the conference has dedicated a workshop to Islamic finance in the hospitality sector. The workshop will be led by Georges Bekhazi of Shaza Hotels, Husam Hourani of Al Tamimi & Company, Ashruff Jamall of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Dr Reinhard Klarmann of Sarwat A Shahid Law Firm, and TRI Hospitality Consulting’s Gavin Samson.

Brands - both old and new - will be represented at the forum, with a number of new names expected to premiere at the event, including Armani Hotels & Resorts, Missoni Hotels, Shaza Hotels and Centro.

Finally, the keynote speech on the second day of the event will come from The Great White Shark himself, former golf champion Greg Norman.

Alongside more workshops, AHIC’s organisers have also introduced two new conference concepts, MoneyTalklive and Studiolive.  MoneyTalklive is a forum for delegates to meet bankers and financiers.  According to Worsley, the conference focus has always been geared towards investment and now the mechanisms are in place to fast track these opportunities at the conference.

Worsley said: “With Studiolive, we will recreate a TV studio area at the event, so our media partners can broadcast live, and delegates and partners can ensure their message reaches the widest possible audience. Our advisory board of 40 industry leaders have been working to put together another headline-winning event.”

The conference will debate issues as diverse as economic and industry trends, investment opportunities, finance issues, construction and design, sustainable development, condos and management contracts. 

The organisers have created an outstanding social programme for 2006, according to Worsley.  Delegates and speakers will experience a traditional Arabian welcome at Mina A’Salam on the eve of the conference, before moving to a reception and dinner at the brand new Kempinski Mall of the Emirates after the first day - complete with ski competition on the indoor slope.  Following on from last year’s reception at The World, the conference will close with a spectacular party on The Palm at Jebel Ali.

Worsley said:  “With tourism being the key driver in economic diversification for the Middle East, AHIC is an informative networking event that should not be missed by any serious player with interest in the region.”

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Airline, has confirmed his patronage of the second Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.

The 2005 Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, held as a precursor to the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, was sold out with 525 delegates from the Middle East and around the world, and underlined the strong growth rate in the regional hotel sector.

Platinum sponsors at the 2006 event are: GuestInvest; Kingdom Hotel Investments; Nakheel Hotels & Resorts and Rezidor SAS Hospitality. 

Gold sponsors are: Accor; ALDhiyafa Holdings Company; Arabian Travel Market; Armani Hotels & Resorts; Cendant Vacation Network Group; Deloitte; Emirates; Euro RSCG Furness; Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; Government of Tanzania; Gulf Air; Hamilton Hotel Partners; Hilton International; HVS International; IFA Hotels & Resorts; Integra TV; InterContinental Hotels & Resorts; Interval International; Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels; Jumeirah; Kempinski; Marriott International; Morgan Stanley; Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts; Port Ghalib Egypt; Rotana Hotels; RSP Group; Shaza Hotels; Sidley Austin; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; TRI Hospitality Consulting Middle East and Turks & Caicos.

Media sponsors are: AME Info, CNBC Arabia, Global Hospitality Resources, Hotelier; HOTELS, Sleeper and TTN.

Supporters are: Dubai Convention Bureau, Emirates Academy of Hospitality; International Hotel & Restaurant Association; International Business Leaders Forum, Villeroy & Boch; the World Travel & Tourism Council and WOW Travels.

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference will run from April 29 - May 1, 2006 on the eve of Arabian Travel Market. The conference is organised by Jonathan Worsley, Managing Director of International Hospitality Services and MEED, the Middle East business information group.  Details of AHIC can be found on

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