The GM Debate 2020 powered by Hotelier Middle East officially starts today from 1pm UAE time.

The first day of our virtual event will focus on regional markets, with industry leaders coming together to discuss the future of MENA tourism, the KSA market and the UAE market.

The day will begin with a keynote speech before the panels get under way so make sure you don’t miss a second of it!

You can still register for the event here.

Day one
The day starts at 1pm with a welcome from host Tom Urquhart before former Jumeirah Group CEO Gerard Lawless delivers a key note speech. With decades in the industry, Lawless is one of the most respected speakers around, with plenty of expertise in the region’s hospitality industry and beyond.

The day’s first discussion will be moderated by Hotelier Middle East group editor Paul Clifford. The Leader’s Panel will cover the MENA region’s tourism future and feature JJ Sleiffer, Hilton area president Middle East, Africa and Turkey JJ, Anthony Ross, CEO JA Resorts & Hotels, Dubai, Guy Hutchinson, CEO of Rotana and Marc Descroizaille, COO Middle East & Africa, Accor. Between the four panellists, there is more than 100 years of experience.

At 2pm is a discussion about the KSA market into 2021. Our host Urquhart will moderate and the panel includes Kamel Ajami, Hilton’s VP Operations, KSA, Levant, Egypt and North Africa, Amir Golbarg, Minor Hotels’ VP of operations, Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP operations and development, Europe Middle East, Africa and India and SVP group human resources and talent development, Swiss-Belhotel International, Bastian Blanc, IHG’s managing director in KSA, and Christopher Lund, head of hotels at Colliers International.

The third and final panel, at 3pm, is hosted by Amy Mathieson, editor of Time Out Dubai, and will focus on the UAE market. Taking part are GMs Jan Hanak of Radisson Blu Dubai Creek, Deira, Adrian Stoppe of Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort, Adib Moukheiber of Zaya Nurai Island and Ayman Gharib, Managing Director of Raffles Dubai.

Day two
The event’s second day begins with a recap of what happened the previous day, before Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority delivers a key note speech for day two, introducing the topics to be discussed in the panels that will follow.

The day’s first discussion, sponsored by Diversey, focuses on the new health and safety measures in hotels, how they’re implemented and who’s responsible. Legal expertise will come from Jonathon Davidson, founder of Dubai’s Davidson & Co. law firm, while the hotel industry will be represented by Monther Darwish, MD at Palazzo Versace, Kosta Kourotsidis, GM at Fairmont Hotel Ajman and Stuart Birkwood, curator (aka GM) at Radisson RED Hotel Dubai Silicon Oasis. The panel will be moderated by Arabian Business’ editorial director Eddie Taylor.

At 2pm the discussion will turn to the future of F&B in hotels, with Caterer Middle East’s editor Simon Ritchie on moderating duties. Joining him will be Emma Banks, Hilton’s VP F&B Strategy & Development, EMEA, Michael Ellis, chief culinary officer at Jumeirah Group, Lynne Bellinger director of F&B development at Marriott International, Omar Souab, GM at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk and Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality.

The final panel at The GM Debate will centre on hotel design and how it needs to change post-COVID-19. It will be moderated by Jane O’Neill, editor of Commercial Interior Design and will feature design experts Jonathan Ashmore, founder and director of ANARCHITECT, and Diane Thorsen, design director at Gensler Middle East. Hoteliers on the panel include Justin Kim, GM of The Merchant House Bahrain and Laura Eggleton, GM at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown.