AHIC to tap new investment opportunities

Worsley ... more delegates from the GCC at AHIC 2013

THIS year’s edition of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2013 will take place from May 5– 6 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, UAE. This year the conference will be held under the theme ‘Connecting People, Creating Knowledge’, streaming from event’s core principals of bringing people together and generating valuable content for hotel investment community.

Highlighting Dubai’s hotel performance and outlook for 2013 will also take centre stage at this year’s event.

Speaking to TTN in the lead up to the event, Jonathan Worsley, chairman for Bench Events which co-organises AHIC said, “This year, we have organised a series of invitation only events bringing together the local investment, development and finance community with our existing conference supporters. Through both the briefings and AHIC itself we are aiming to connect people, provide an educational platform and help attendees to grow their business.

“The aim of the AHIC programme is to provide a forum for the hotel investment industry which is entirely designed by the industry for the industry and therefore the format for AHIC 2013 has changed slightly; the conference is now over a two day period.”

This year AHIC will bring together a selection of confirmed speakers including  Amr Abdel Ghaffar, Middle East regional director for UNWTO; Sarmad Zok, chairman and chief executive officer, Kingdom Hotel Investments; Mohammed Mahfoodh Al Ardhi, vice chairman, National Bank of Oman; Joe Sita, president, IFA Hotel Investments; Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports;  Eric Danziger, president and CEO, The Wyndham Hotel Group; Rachel Ziemba, head of emerging markets, Roubini Global Economics; Adel Ali, chief executive officer, Air Arabia; William E. Heinecke, chairman and chief executive officer, Anantara / Minor International PCL; Jennifer Fox, president, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts; Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and CEO, The Rezidor Hotel Group; Essameldeen Abdelhady Mohamed, chairman and managing director, The Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels “EGOTH”; Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa Continent, Marriott International Inc; Arthur de Hasst, global chairman, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels; Geoffrey Breeze, executive director, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC);  Gerald Lawless, president and group CEO, Jumeirah Group; Salman Haider, executive managing director, Hotels, Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

The show has also seen a strong interest from delegates. Last year AHIC welcomed over 550 delegates from 30 countries Worsley is confident that the renewed interest from Europe this year will boost these delegate numbers.

“We have also seen an increase in participation from the Gulf market. During the last year, AHIC has launched a series of invitation only briefings in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which have brought together investors and industry leaders to share their insights into the issues and opportunities facing the local markets.  This has helped us to shape the content of the AHIC programme and it has been a valuable opportunity for us to engage directly with the local players. Through these briefings, we are now seeing an increase in attendance from these countries,” he added.

Markets beyond the GCC have also shown their interest at this year’s event however its nothing but peace can restore faith and confidence in these markets, added Worsley.

“With so many different agendas political leadership is urgently required to restore confidence. We are very pleased to have Essameldeen Abdelhady Mohamed, chairman and managing director of the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels participate in a hard talk session discussing the future of the tourism industry in Egypt, how owners are coping with the new environment and what does the future hold?”

He further adds, “We believe that Saudi Arabia is probably the most active market for most of our clients outside of the UAE so we have focussed on this market in the AHIC programme.

“We have included a symposium on Saudi Arabia which will provide the opportunity for hotel owners, developers and investors to learn how their business can benefit from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s phenomenal growth and also address the challenges of operating in this market.

“The Gulf States are of increasing interest to global investors, the big story is the resurgence of Dubai with hotels reporting some of the highest room rates in the world resulting in strong pipeline of new builds entering the market. Alpin Capital in its GCC hospitality industry report confirms that hotels, as an asset class, have the potential to provide an excellent investment opportunity. The report estimates that the GCC hospitality market will grow at an annual rate of 8.1 per cent to $28.3 billion by 2016 compared to $19.2 billion in 2011,” he added.

AHIC will also highlight markets such as Oman, Egypt and Qatar. The most recent AHIC breaking briefing in Doha, Qatar identified that the Qatar Tourism Authority plans to invest $20 billion on tourism infrastructure as the country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup with 21 new hotels to open by 2017. The country plans to build 45,000 additional hotel rooms to ensure that it meets FIFA’s room capacity requirement of 60,000 rooms.

The briefing included a presentation by Nehme Ayoub, manager for Transaction Real Estate, Hospitality and Leisure Advisory Services Group, Ernst & Young Middle East on the current state of Qatar’s hotel market for investors and an overview on the vision moving forward. The presentation showed that Qatar is set to witness a significant impact on its hospitality industry, driving a high growth of corporate business, transiting guests and sporting tourists.

“AHIC 2013 will once again provide a great platform to meet investors and developers and hear of Qatar’s plans for the country,” concluded Worsley.