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Hotel Industry Leaders to Discuss Impact of Ongoing Political Change in the MENA Region at Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2011)

altThe annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2011, taking place from 30 April to 2 May 2011, will be addressing the impact of the ongoing political change across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on the hotel investment industry.

Whilst the MENA region reported increases in all three key performance measurements during January 2011 as compared with January 2010, according to data compiled by STR Global, the unrest which has spread from Tunisia and Egypt through to Libya and a number of other countries in the region, have significantly impacted the short term outlook for the industry.

The organisers of AHIC 2011 have dedicated a number of the panels of this year's conference programme to address the impact of these issues on the hotel industry. Elizabeth Randall, Managing Director of STR Global, will participate in a panel session titled 'SHIFTING GEARS, BUT WHERE ARE WE GOING?', focusing on how the short term uncertainty will impact the near-term investment climate as well as tourist numbers in key markets across the MENA region.

Elizabeth Randall commented: "We understand that each country faces very different circumstances and outlooks, both politically and economically. A stable political environment is critical for the hotel industry and tourism in general. Our industry has the ability to stimulate local economies by creating jobs and attracting visitors and investors. We hope that new governments will support our sector by providing transparency and investment opportunities that will encourage the industry to grow."

Another panel discussion will focus on the challenges being faced in markets previously seen as key emerging locations such as Libya, as well as other areas in the MENA region. The session will be hosted Karim El Asmar, Managing Partner, of Hodema as a Moderator; and Panelists Bart Carnahan, Senior Vice President Acquisitions & Development of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; Guy Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of Jumeirah Group; Hawazen Esber, Chief Executive Officer of Bena Properties; and Selim El Zyr, President & CEO of Rotana.

Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events which co-organises AHIC, commented: "With events moving rapidly, we have had to be nimble and now include speakers from Egypt and other countries to address investment concerns. What is vital is allow the industry's most experienced operators, investors and commentators a platform to voice their concerns and facilitate debate on the investment landscape and prospects.

"As organisers of the region's leading hotel investment conference, it is our duty to address the current issues and help industry leaders understand the impact of these circumstances, in order for them to be able to react quickly."

Elsewhere on the programme, a session titled 'FOCUS ON MOROCCO' will take the format of a 'Hard Talk' interview, on the strategy behind the multi-billion dollar plan to double tourist receipts and uncovering the opportunities for hotel investors, and why this is so essential for the economy of the Kingdom of Morocco. His Excellency Yassir Zenagui, Minister of Tourism and Handicraft, will be in discussion with Jalil Mekouar, Managing Director Middle East & Africa, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

The Conference will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airlines. Sheikh Ahmed will be receiving the 'Outstanding Achievement Award' this year at AHIC, Gerald Lawless, Executive Chairman of Jumeirah Group, will also be presented with the 'Leadership Award', and Nasser Al Nowais, Chairman of Rotana, with the 'Lifetime Achievement Award'.

In 2011, receptions will be held on Saturday 30 April at the new Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the Palm Jumeirah, and at the recently opened Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, hosted by Seven Tides, on Sunday 1 May.



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