Leader’s passion inspires AHIC audience

The who’s who’s of the hotel investment industry gathered in Dubai yesterday as the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference kicked into full force.His Excellency Mohamed Ali Alabbar scoops Leadership Award for transforming Arabian hospitality industry

Over 1,000 of the most influential movers and shakers in the industry sparked debate, inspired ideas and swapped business cards at what is proving the busiest and most successful AHIC in its four-year history.

Highlight of the day was the Patron of AHIC, His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, presenting the AHIC 2008 Leadership Award to Mohamed Ali Alabbar.

As Chairman of Emaar Properties, Mr. Alabbar is recognised as one of the leading figures in the hospitality industry who has helped transform the Middle East into a lifestyle-tourism destination.

Speaking exclusively to Breaking Travel News, Official Daily Newspaper of AHIC, Mr. Alabbar said: “It is amazing to be appreciated. I hope this award will inspire other people to do good work too.”


He also chose the weekend to unveil a new luxury hotel brand, The Address Hotels & Resorts, which will roll out later this year with the opening of flagship hotels in Downtown Burj Dubai and Dubai Marina.

Whilst the fall-out of the U.S. subprime market has dominated discussions throughout the conference, Mr. Alabbar had a more phlegmatic take: “The credit crisis has been caused by banks forgetting what banking is all about, opening their vaults and letting people take what they want. The secret however is to balance their profit and losses like a little Chinese shop where people don’t like borrowing.”

“Running a public company the size of Emaar is not easy,” he added. “But if you’re really passionate about what you do, have the right people and good leadership, then nothing is impossible.

“In Dubai, under the leadership of Sheik Mohammed, we are in the business of truly dreaming - but also daring and doing it. We are blessed to be given this chance and also being born at the right place at the right time.”

The theme of the conference, the ripple effect of the hotel investment in the Middle East, also took centre stage in an inspiringly hard-hitting speech by Philip Lader, U.S. Ambassador and Chairman of WPP Group. He explored how the rise of the Middle East and Asia will replace America in the global market place.

“We’re going back to the future. In 1870, China and India generated around 49% of world GDP. They are now heading for the same share in 2025. Muslims globally represent 20% of the world’s population and by 2030 will total 30%. These circles too will have a considerable impact on the region’s own ever increasing circle.”

“The question to ask is ‘Are we as prepared for it as we may think?’” he added.

With minds buzzing from a day of thought-provoking talks, delegates headed across town for some R&R at the The Palace, Old Town. Day Three promises to be equally stimulating with branding in a global market and sustainability set to take centre stage.