Hotel summit charts Arabia’s future

Donald Trump, the president of Tanzania and the head of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority are just some of the 120 speakers set to address this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.“Oasis or Mirage” is the theme of the event at Madinat Jumeirah. One that will see hoteliers, finance and property experts focus on the meteoric rise of the Arabian hospitality sector and pinpoint which developments are authentic and sustainable.

Even the Prince of Wales is getting in on the act, with a video introduction for one of the panel discussions on sustainable environmental policies, while Ed Fuller, president of Marriott International offers the hotel sector’s side of the story.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Airline, has also confirmed his patronage of the event.

The rise of new destinations, such as Abu Dhabi, and revitalised ones such as Egypt will be debated, as will the potential for economy brands in the region and whether it is time to embrace the budget traveller.

According to Chris Moloney, regional chief operating officer for InterContinental Hotels Group, there is a huge gap in the market for branded budget hotels that, he believes, are essential to maintaining visitor growth during the next ten years in the Gulf.


“At InterContinental, we have traced the rise and profile of inbound tourists and noted the growth in the mid-scale segment in the GCC as well as a boom in pan-Arab tourism - this made us realise that it was viable for us to introduce Express by Holiday Inn to the Middle East to provide quality service with value for money.”

Chairman of easyGroup, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who will also be speaking at the event, already has plans to launch his budget $20-a-night hotel concept in the region. Starting in Dubai he plans to slash the cost of accommodation in the emirate.

There will also be a discussion on emerging island destinations, involving branding and investment. The panel includes the general manager of Nakheel’s The World development, Hamza Mustafa along with the Chief Minister of the Turks & Caicos and the tourism ministers of the Maldives and Barbados, moderating the group will be Robert Riley, CEO of Armani Hotels & Resorts.
Financing continues to be a major focus for the Middle East, and is the subject of a panel discussion on debt and mezzanine finance. There is also one dedicated to Islamic finance.

The event will address the hottest issues, including environmental challenges and exploring the potential of Arabian brands.

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