The Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) and 19th edition of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) is gearing up to check in to Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island for three days of discussion, debate and dealmaking at the region’s leading tourism and hospitality summit, taking place 25-27 September.
As the Middle East and Africa’s hospitality industry continues its exponential growth and expansion, more than 1,000 industry leaders will gather to discuss the sector’s hottest topics, including investment opportunities, ESG, pioneering new ventures and artificial intelligence, all under the theme, ‘Focus on Investment’.
Organised by The Bench and supported by host sponsors Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition Bureau, Miral, and Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, FHS features everything from seminars to site visits and events to entrepreneurship, with more than 100 speakers across three conference tracks, networking receptions, awards ceremonies, business start-ups, site visits to world-class attractions, and fitness and wellness sessions.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of The Bench, said: “After a hugely successful FHS Saudi Arabia where we deliberated – and celebrated – KSA’s hospitality investment landscape, we’re moving to Abu Dhabi, where the focus will shift to a broader range of topics that affect all aspects of the industry across the region. Key subjects in September include the influence of ESG on the industry, the impact of the prevailing geopolitical landscape on investment prospects and the integration of technology in the hospitality sector, all illustrated by real-world examples and successful case studies from the UAE.
“FHS Abu Dhabi will unite hundreds of top-flight government and industry leaders, investors, owners developers from the Middle East and Africa. We look forward to welcoming back a wealth of familiar faces – and delegates attending this highly influential industry platform for the first time – to celebrate this ever-growing sector, identify key factors affecting the industry, and discuss the seemingly endless, opportunities for growth.”
Taghrid Alsaeed, Executive Director, Group Communications and Destination Marketing at Miral, said: “Bringing the Future Hospitality Summit to Yas Island serves as a powerful testament to Miral’s ongoing efforts in expanding and developing the island, all while establishing Abu Dhabi as the premier global destination for both business and leisure. We eagerly anticipate the Summit’s action-packed agenda, which will delve into the pivotal trends shaping the future of the hospitality industry. As industry leaders gather, we invite them to immerse themselves in the world-class assets and unparalleled experiences that Yas Island proudly provides. It is an exceptional opportunity to witness first-hand the remarkable offerings and extraordinary potential that make Yas Island a true gem in the realm of hospitality and leisure.”
Speakers and seminars
Confirmed speakers at FHS include Sébastian Bazin Group Chairman & CEO and Luxury & Lifestyle Division CEO; Guy Hutchinson, President & CEO Rotana; Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director & CEO of The Indian Hotels Company; William E. Heinecke, Founder & Chairman of Minor International; and Kevin Jacobs, Chief Financial Officer and President Global Development for Hilton.
The real estate, asset management, consulting, banking and investment community are represented through H.E. Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, Founder & Managing Director of Emaar Properties; Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, Group Chief Executive Officer, Miral; Khalid Saud Abu Haimed, Chief Executive Officer Al Khozama Investments; Ahmed Bin Madhi, Chief Investment Officer Rua Al Madinah Holding Company; Giuliano Gasparini, Head of Hospitality Asset Management at Wasl Group; Olivier Granet, Managing Partner and CEO Kasada Capital Management; Khatija Haque, Chief Economist and Head of Research, Emirates NBD; Neal Lindsay, Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Finance, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB); Andrew Gilmore, Principal Economist at The Economist Group, Thomas Emanuel, Senior Director, STRand Nick van Marken, Managing Director van Marken Consulting. Stephen Sackur, Presenter of HARDTalk, will return to FHS as MC for the event.
After an official opening by Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, Group Chief Executive Officer, Miral, the FHS agenda kicks into action, with leaders from some of the world’s top hospitality brands taking to the stage to discuss the current and future state of the region’s hospitality sector.
The event begins on Monday, 25 September with a morning session dedicated to the food and beverage investment scene from the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) with a focus on hotel F&B, followed by an F&B Concept Tour at Yas Bay Waterfront hosted by Miral.
From there on, it’s all about hotels, resorts and tourism, with dozens of sessions addressing pressing industry topics including sustainability, innovation, investment trends, economic issues, construction and more.
FHS Intelligence Talks: Datafication for Resilient Tourism Investment, will give market snapshot of key trends as they relate to the hospitality sector to give an understanding of the fundamentals underpinning the market from performance, costs, staffing and contracts. Speakers include Kashif Khalid, Regional Director Africa and Middle East at IATA; Jan Knappe, Senior Manager Data at Considerate Group, and Filippo Sona, Co-Founder & CCO of Wood Couture.
Meanwhile, rising construction costs, funding delays and higher interest rates for hotel development projects are covered by Building Hotels in a Challenging Environment, with insights from Michael McGovern, Director at Compass Project Consulting; Camil Yazbeck, Global Chief Development Officer of Accor, and Hala Matar Choufany, President, HVS Middle East, Africa & South Asia.
With the spotlight on sustainability like never before, several conference tracks focus on ESG, including Building Sustainable Hospitality: Setting the Scene for Hotel Development in the Middle East, with Charbel Boutros and Carlos Khneisser, the VPs of Development for Middle East & Africa at IHG Hotels & Resorts and Hilton respectively; The Business Case for ESG Integration: Exploring the Commercial Benefits and Opportunities for Real Estate Investors and Developers moderated by Alfonso Ponce Alvarez, Director of Contributory Turnover Development, Sustainable Development & Innovation Department at Egis Group, in conversation with Philipp Klohr, Senior Vice President, Mubadala Investment Company; Socially Responsible Talent Development in Hospitality: A Unified Approach to ESG-Driven Acquisition, Retention, Engagement, moderated by Filip Boyen, Global Ambassador Forbes Travel Guide with panellists Mariam Al Musharrekh, Executive Director of Human Resources at Miral and Dimitris Manikis, President, Europe, Middle East, Eurasia & Africa (EMEA) for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Embracing Sustainability: Paving the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality a discussion moderated by Lizzy Coates, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Considerate Group, with Glenn Mandziuk, Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.
A special economic analysis, Assessing the Impact of Global Conflicts, Interest Rates, and Supply Challenges on Hospitality Industry in the Middle East, presented by Andrew Gilmore, Principle Economist from The Economist Group, will examine the how the geopolitical landscape affects the sector.
Plus, Tourism-Led Policies for a Better World, with Turab Saleem, Partner – Head of Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure – MENA, Knight Frank in conversation with Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Global CEO, JLL Hotels & Hospitality, will discuss the importance of the industry getting a seat at the government policy-making table.
Technology will once again be at the forefront of the FHS 2023 programme with leaders discussing the future of the hospitality and travel tech stack. Confirmed speakers include Cenk Sidar, CEO and Co-Founder of Enquire AI, who will share key insights on The Power of AI: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Business Decision Making.
The continued growth and evolution of the region’s hospitality industry also means constant change. Don’t miss Navigators of Change: Insights of a CEO’s Journey, with MC Stephen Sackur, Presenter, HARDTalk, in conversation with Sébastien Bazin, Group Chairman & CEO and Luxury & Lifestyle Division CEO, Accor and William E. Heinecke, Founder & Chairman, Minor International PCL.
FHS will also feature special sessions highlighting investment opportunities outside of the Middle East, including India and Africa. Why India Matters in Hospitality Investment, will be chaired by Manav Thadani, Founder & Chairman, Hotelivate, in discussion with Jitindar Bir Singh, President & CEO, InterGlobe Hotels Pvt Ltd and Suma Venkatesh, Chief Development Officer, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd.
Once again, FHS will act as a springboard for entrepreneurship with the Start-Up Den, where new ventures built on innovative, sustainable business models pitch their ideas to a senior panel of judges. FHS will also feature the finals of the 2023 Sustainable Hospitality Challenge, a global competition for students to turn their ideas for innovation and sustainability into a reality, taking on the summit main stage.
A wealth of receptions and networking events await at FHS Abu Dhabi including the Welcome Reception at At Café del Mar Abu Dhabi, and an Evening Reception at Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.
The FHS Abu Dhabi agenda features a wide and diverse range of experiences, including site tours to world-famous attractions, an F&B concepts tour and sports and wellness events.
FHS will also acknowledge and celebrate the industry top players with a Focus on Investment winner presentation and award ceremony.