Six people leading the development of the region’s hospitality sector: Selim el-Zyr, Charlie Langlais, Gerald Lawless, Andrew Clough, Amine Moukarzel and Kurt Ritter
Position President and chief executive officer, Rotana Group
Biography Selim el-Zyr is the president and chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Rotana Group. El-Zyr began his career as a chief steward at the Waldorf Hotel in New York. He later worked for 12 years with Hilton in Germany, Spain, Egypt, Canada and the UAE. During this time, he was appointed as regional director for the US-based hotelier. In 1982, El-Zyr left the hospitality industry to establish a fast-food chain in Lebanon. He subsequently moved to the UAE to become vice-president for Abu Dhabi National Hotels. In 1992, El-Zyr co-founded Rotana, the first Middle Eastern hotel management company. The first Rotana hotel to open was the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi in 1993. El-Zyr graduated from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland in 1970, before undertaking postgraduate studies at Cornell and Columbia universities in the US.
Contact Tel: (+971) 2 644 4412
Position Chief operating officer, Accor Middle East
Biography Charlie Langlais joined France-based Accor Group in 1983 after graduating from the Hotel School in Bordeaux, France. His first posting was at the Mercure Paris Montmartre in the French capital. In 1987, he moved to Toronto, where he led the team responsible for opening the second Novotel in Canada. From 1989 to 1995, Langlais worked as general manager at several Accor hotels in Canada and the US. In 1996, he became director of sales and marketing for Novotel North America. The following year, Langlais moved to London to take up the position of director of business for Accor Business and Leisure Hotels UK. In 2002, he was appointed managing director for Novotel and Mercure Hotels in the UK and Ireland. In 2006, he became managing director for Mercure, Novotel and Pullman hotels in Germany. Langais took up his current position in September 2009.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 377 2501
Position Executive chairman, Jumeirah Group
Biography Gerald Lawless joined Dubai-headquartered Jumeirah Group in 1997 after 23 years with the UK-based Forte Hotels Group. After opening the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai in 1997, Lawless was involved with launching the emirate’s seven-star Burj al-Arab hotel. In 2007, Lawless was appointed executive chairman of the Jumeirah Group. Lawless is a graduate of the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. He also has an honorary degree of business administration in hospitality management from the Johnson & Wales University in the US. He is a member of the executive committee of the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council and a member of the UK’s Institute of Hospitality. Lawless is also the chairman for the board of governors for Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai. The Jumeirah Group currently manages 11 hotels in Dubai, London and New York.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 366 5000
Position Senior vice-president development, Middle East & Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide
Biography Andrew Clough is the senior vice-president for development in the Middle East & Asia Pacific for the Hilton Worldwide Group. Clough joined the US-based hotelier in 1997 as vice-president of finance, looking after its Australasia operations. In this role, Clough was involved with the redevelopment of the Hilton Sydney, which is the hotelier’s largest single site real-estate development. In 2002, Clough became head of the sales and marketing team in Australasia. Since 2004, he has been responsible for leading Hilton’s hotel development team in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Hilton, Clough worked at US accountancy firm Arthur Andersen. Clough is a chartered accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in business. He also has a master’s in business administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management in Sydney.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 365 4886
Position Senior vice-president and managing director, Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns & Resorts, Middle East & North Africa
Biography Amine Moukarzel is the president of Flamingo Hotel Management Company and senior vice-president and managing director for the Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns & Resorts Group in the Middle East and North Africa. Moukarzel graduated in 1975 with a degree in hospitality management. He later went on to study at the Holiday Inn University in Memphis and Cornell University in New York. After graduating, he held a series of positions with hotel management firms in the Middle East. In 1996, Moukarzel received a doctorate from the Kennedy Western California University in the US. In 1998, he formed the Flamingo Hotel Management Company, which is involved with operating and franchising various hotel brands, including the Golden Tulip Hotels. The Golden Tulip group operates 47 hotels in the Middle East and North Africa.
Contact Tel: (+971) 6 554 0303
Position President and chief executive officer, Rezidor Hotel Group
Biography Kurt Ritter is the president and chief executive of Brussels-headquartered Rezidor Hotel Group. After graduating from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland, Ritter worked as assistant general manager at Hotel Bellevue Palace in Bern. In 1970-76, Ritter worked for the US’ Ramada International Hotels Group in Belgium, France, the UK, Germany and Sweden. In 1976, he was appointed general manager of the SAS Lulea hotel in Sweden. In 1979, Ritter took up his first position in the Middle East as general manager of the SAS hotel in Kuwait. In 1984, Ritter was appointed as vice-president SAS Hotels Middle East. In 1988, he became president and chief executive officer of SAS hotels. The Rezidor Hotel Group was previously known as Rezidor SAS. Ritter has honorary doctorates from the US’ Johnson & Wales University and the UK’s Oxford Brookes University.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 390 0070
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