Hospitality News Middle East - June/July 2018 (Issue 118)

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EDITOR'S VIEW Hotels have several motivations for making sustainability a key goal Group editor Nouhad Dammous Managing director Joumana Dammous-SalamĂŠ Editor Annie Keropian-Dilsizian Publication manager Randa Dammous-Pharaon Publication executive Rita Ghantous Graphic designers Elias Tufunkji Ibrahim Kastoun Features consultant Rana Freifer Features writer Jad Haidar Sub-editor/writer Miriam Dunn Community manager Lisa Jerejian Sales executives Michel Ajjoub, Maha Hasbani, Josette Hikri, Nancy Mouawad Subscription coordinators Houayda Haddad-Roumman Mirna Maroun Circulation coordinator Rita Nohra News Production & printing Arab Printing Press Photographer Pavlos Nikolaou Photography Published by Hospitality Services sarl Lebanon Borghol Building, Dekwaneh P.O.Box 90 155 Jdeidet el Metn 1202 2020 Tel: +961 1 480081 Fax: +961 1 482876 Dubai Tel: +971 56 6661718 All the information disclosed in the magazine was provided by the parties concerned by each publication and checked to the highest possible extent by the editors. However, the magazine cannot ensure accuracy at all times of all information published and therefore could in no case be held responsible should any information reveal to be false or insufficient. We welcome views on any subject relevant to the hospitality industry, but request that letters be short and to the point. The editor reserves the right to select and edit letters. Hospitality News ME is distributed to trade professionals in the catering and lodging industry in the Middle East.

Sustainability and hotel industry initiatives Sustainability is one of the most important issues affecting the hospitality sector today, bringing challenges that are having a farreaching impact across the environment, from the consumption of energy and water to the use of consumable and durable goods, and solid and hazardous waste creation. It is time for us to acknowledge that we cannot go on as we have before. We must make change a priority and ensure that the term ‘integrated sustainable development’ becomes an urgent course of action, as opposed to nothing more than hollow buzzwords. There is a significant ethical side to the sustainability problem; severe water shortages, the effects of climate change and desertification, depleting oil reserves and barriers to renewable energy, are all wake-up calls that cannot be ignored and require us to think and act differently. Like many other industries, hospitality is making an effort to be greener through measures that include improving the quality of the indoor environment, raising awareness on key issues among associates, guests and communities, making use of collateral materials and keeping an eye on costs. Great progress towards these goals has been made through core initiatives, such as the adoption of low-flow faucets and fixtures, and energy-efficient equipment and lighting. Hotels have several motivations for making sustainability a key goal. These include consumer demand, social responsibility and the incentive of reducing operational costs. There is a growing realization that a sustainable future is one in which a healthy environment lays the foundations for economic prosperity, thereby ensuring the wellbeing and a good quality of life for both the present and future generations. Hotels, restaurants and related establishments must rally to this transformational shift in perspective and the realization that traditionally, environmental issues are based on social, economic, political and cultural development challenges that will benefit us all, once solutions are found. Nouhad Dammous Editor-in-Chief Docteur Honoris Causa

In this issue June - July 2018



Sustainability and hotel industry initiatives


08 Industry Overview 10 Hotels 20 Nightlife 22 Food & Beverage 28 Chefs 30 Suppliers

Annual Hospitality Forum (AHF) 2018


Le Royal Hotels & Resorts founder Sir Nadhmi Shakir Auchi


Lebanon wins ‘Best Stand Design’ at ATM


Four Seasons Burj Alshaya, Kuwait



38 40


SEEN & HEARD ATM's 25th anniversary and BIFEX 2018 Ras Al Khaimah hosts AHIC 2018 and Window 2 the Future



KSA hospitality market: on the brink of a new era


Lebanon: rallying against the odds


EYE ON Abu Dhabi: a missed opportunity?

STRATEGY 58 US export and franchise strategies TOURISM 60 Beach clubs: a shore thing HOTELS 62 Young, accomplished and ambitious: 66

16 top hotel general managers 7 hotel trends anticipated this year


Powerhouses of the Middle East


ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Placemaking: putting life and soul into neighborhood spaces

F&B 74 Going solo: the latest culinary trend?




35 top women in hospitality


F&B Vegging out 76 78

HUMAN RESOURCES Authenticity: the need of the hour

MANAGEMENT The family business: relative values 80



On the market



FOOD 84 Which 'wich?: the future of sandwiches 86 Frozen assets: the latest ice cream trends BEVERAGE 90 Liquid value: coffee and cocktail ideas

using syrup

CHOCOMANIA 94 Artistic origins




Out and about with Hospitality News ME

Coming issue Aug - Sep 2018

• Special report New projects • Market update Oman • Equipment Packaging, tableware & buffetware • Food Meat & Chicken • Beverage Water



Maram Kokandi





HOSPITALITYNEWSMAG.COM Gordon Campbell Gray plans to open a new property in Bahrain

A key industry event, the 44th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Middle East, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Ministry of Tourism of the Arab Republic of Egypt on May 8 and 9, focused on innovation and digital transformation. It was followed by this year’s UNWTO Regional Conference, which highlighted the importance of tourism’s labor market performance under the banner ‘Human Capital Development in Tourism: New Perspectives’. Around 6 million jobs in the Middle East are related to tourism and the sector is expected to grow strongly in the coming years. Tourism is therefore ideally positioned as a general job

provider, particularly as an entry point into the labor market for youth, and a source of economic empowerment for women through employment, the conference found. Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretarygeneral, highlighted the enormous opportunities for the creation of decent jobs and enterprises through tourism in the MENA region. In line with UNWTO’s new innovation and digital transformation agenda, he said that “tourism human capital development needs to prepare the workforce through education and training and by embracing technology and digital solutions as educational and training tools.”

TOURISM IN LEBANON MAKING STEADY STRIDES Spending by tourists in Lebanon increased by almost two percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to Q1 the previous year, according to Global Blue’s Globe Shopper Spending Insights – January-to-March period. Against this positive backdrop, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) concluded the second edition of ‘Visit Lebanon’, hosting 150 Arab and international tour operators from 36 different countries. Avedis Guidanian, the minister of tourism, said the aim of the event was to increase the number of tour operators visiting Lebanon and stressed the importance of diversifying the country’s tourism offering with niche segments. Religious, medical and MICE tourism are all on the radar, with specific projects in the pipeline. Minister Guidanian revealed that two websites, one for recreational and another for MICE tourism, have been activated. “We need to cooperate with embassies to open the door for tourists to facilitate their entry into Lebanon, especially those coming from India, Tunisia, Morocco, Armenia and Egypt,” he said. The minister added that the MoT was working on


finding an alternative, indirect route from Latin America and Brazil, with a view to increasing the number of visitors from the latter. He also spoke about visits to Saudi Arabia and to Kuwait, which he said was on his agenda. In a separate governmental drive, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose the Lebanese Diaspora Conference as the platform to launch the Gastrodiplomacy Initiative. The project aims to highlight local cuisine and products, while also marketing agro-industrial produce and restaurants throughout countries that host Diaspora communities. Ambassadors, councilors and commercial attachés are being urged to help restaurateurs and industrialists penetrate these markets. “Gastrodiplomacy has been a foremost activity since the launching of the first edition of the Lebanese Diaspora Energy conference five years ago,” Gebran Bassil, minister of foreign affairs, said. He highlighted the importance of promoting Lebanese products across international markets, as well as encouraging expatriates to open restaurants abroad, serving Lebanese cuisine.


Campbell Gray Hotels, the hospitality group behind the iconic Le Gray name, will mark its entry into Bahrain this September with the opening of The Merchant House in Manama. The property will be an all-suite boutique hotel, with 47 suites in total, accommodating an open-plan design. Campbell Gray Hotels operates three properties across the globe: Le Gray Beirut; The Phoenicia Malta; and The Farmington Liberia. It also has two more properties in the pipeline, in addition to the hotel in Bahrain, namely: Campbell Gray Living Amman and The Marchie Islay in Scotland. Egypt posts best Q1 hotel occupancy since 2010

Hotels in the Middle East reported mixed Q1 2018 performance results, while hotels in Africa posted growth across the three key performance metrics, according to data from STR. Overall, occupancy grew by almost 1 percent to reach nearly 71 percent in the first phase of the year for the ME. Performance recovery continued in Egypt, with the country recording its highest, first-quarter absolute occupancy level since 2010. USD 8 billion joint venture between Emaar and Aldar to kick off projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Aldar Properties (Aldar) and Emaar Properties (Emaar) have embarked on a joint venture (JV) to develop an USD 8 billion development pipeline. The JV will focus on two projects; Emaar Beachfront in Dubai, which will bring various F&B outlets, and Saadiyat Grove, on Al Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. The development will provide a link between the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as the planned Zayed National Museum, the UAE’s first national museum, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Set to open in 2021, the mixed-use development will feature close to 2,000 residential units, two hotels, 400 serviced apartments and 130,000 square meters of lifestyle and retail space. Jumeirah opens first ice rink in the Maldives

Jumeirah Vittaveli has inaugurated the first ice rink in the Maldives. The milestone, eco-friendly ice skating rink spans 170 square meters, offering space for pirouettes and ice hockey games. LeMall Jbeil scheduled to open in 2020

Acres Development Holding and Hawat Investment announced the launch of the new LeMall Jbeil, due to open in 2020 in Lebanon. The project will extend across 30,000 square meters of gross leasable area, housing 130 shops showcasing a wide range of offerings, eight movie theaters with 1,200 seats, two entertainment venues, a gym, a supermarket and a large food court, with 1,100 parking spots. A special department store of 1,500 m2 has been designed to welcome Jbeil craftsmen.



General manager Youmna Ashkar with Fulcrum's HORECA Lebanon team members

If you have ever entered or left Lebanon by air or even just collected someone from the airport, chances are you’re acquainted with the products and services of the Fulcrum management company that has exclusive rights to manage and operate all F&B outlets at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut. Established in 2004, the company has grown and expanded its offering over the years through four concept stores based across the arrival and departure areas. Youmna Ashkar, general manager, elaborated on the company’s strategy, saying, “Fulcrum’s goal has always been centered around introducing popular, as well as innovative items, that are fresh, healthy and of high quality. The four

outlets offer their guests products that are replenished two-to-three times a day. The range takes into account all budgets and most items are served in eco-friendly packaging. To ensure and guarantee the best possible product/service, Fulcrum’s central kitchen was awarded the ISO 22,000 certification in 2017. Furthermore, because we believe in putting our skills to the test, and as HORECA participants since 2005, we entered this year’s sandwich and food competition and won 10 medals (two gold, two silver and six bronze), which goes to show the level of quality and detail we pride ourselves in offering one and all. Furthermore, Fulcrum decided to fly the chefs that won gold medals

at HORECA 2018 to Paris and London as a token of its appreciation. The gold medal winner for the 'Sandwich Award' traveled to London and assisted the Barista team at the London Coffee Festival, while the gold medal winner for pastry will will travel later this year to Paris. The outlets Fulcrum runs are: Cafematik, serving salads, sandwiches, baked goods and coffee; Akle, a canteenstyle restaurant offering Eastern/Western cuisines with numerous daily specials; Salt, a gourmet seafood/international cuisine restaurant; and Balkoumi, which features Mediterranean specialties rooted in Lebanese cuisine.

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Nine Rotana properties slated for this year

AccorHotels Group has signed an agreement with Mövenpick Holding and Kingdom Holding to acquire Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for a cash amount of USD 584.6 million. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts will benefit from AccorHotels’ loyalty program, distribution channels and operating systems, which will help optimize their performance. This acquisition further consolidates its current footprint in Europe and in the Middle East and will accelerate growth, notably in key regions where the Group has been established for many years, such as Africa and Asia. The agreement should be completed during the second half of 2018. In an exclusive comment to HN ME, Olivier Chavy, president & CEO of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts said, “The integration of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts into AccorHotels is an exciting development that will benefit the company going forward. With the support of AccorHotels, Mövenpick will continue its success story and accelerate expansion in key strategic markets in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, where the company currently operates 84 properties and has another 42 in the pipeline.” He continued: “Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts will also benefit from access to new sales channels and capitalize on the resulting corporate synergies to drive its overall growth and development. Our loyal guests, who value the company’s Swiss heritage and personalized approach to hospitality, will continue to enjoy the highest levels of service under the new arrangement. This is a landmark moment in the history of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, one that will usher in an exciting period of growth, backed by one of the industry’s largest

Olivier Chavy, president & CEO of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

and most respected operators.”Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of AccorHotels, said, “With the acquisition of Mövenpick, we are consolidating our leadership in the European market and are further accelerating our growth in emerging markets, in particular in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. By joining the Group, Mövenpick will benefit from AccorHotels’ power, particularly in terms of distribution, loyalty-building and development. This transaction illustrates the strategy we intend to pursue with the opening up of AccorInvest’s capital: to seize tactical opportunities to strengthen our positions and consolidate our leaderships, as well as leverage our growth.” möövenpick‎

LOUVRE HOTELS GROUP TO REACH 100-HOTEL MILESTONE IN THE MENA BY 2020 Louvre Hotels Group (LHG) is focused on enhancing the midscale offering across the MENA region, servicing the growing needs of the global traveler. The group is on track to reach the 100-hotel milestone in the MENA by 2020, with more than 15,000 keys under operation. The signing of the first Kyriad-branded hotel in Dubai, with 263 rooms, signals the group’s focus on rolling out such midscale 3 and 4-star hotel services. Key additions to Louvre Hotels’ regional portfolio include the conversion to a modern 4-star hotel in the downtown district of Abu Dhabi by Q3, 2018, for its repositioned Golden Tulip brand. By the end of 2018, the group will have opened six new properties and over 1,150 rooms, ranging from upscale 4-star to midscale 3-star hotels, including: the 156-room Golden Tulip Down Town Abu Dhabi; the re-opening of the 288-room Golden




Tulip Inn Al Khan Sharjah

Tulip Media Dubai; the 107-room Tulip Inn Modon Riyadh; the 232-room Tulip Inn Khan, Sharjah; the 126-room Tulip Inn Al Daar, Madinah; and the 256-room Tulip Inn Aziziyah Makkah.

With a robust pipeline of 43 hotels and 11,455 rooms in 13 countries, Rotana continues to pursue its aggressive expansion plans. The company is gearing up to open nine new properties in 2018. Properties that opened earlier this year included Al Bandar Rotana, and Al Bandar Arjaan by Rotana (280 keys) Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Abu Dhabi (327 keys and 13 villas), Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, Abu Dhabi (315 keys), Centro WestSide, Istanbul (152 keys); WestSide Arjaan by Rotana, Istanbul (153 keys). vHotels set to be launched in Q3 2018 include: Centro Salama, Jeddah, KSA (189 keys); and Beach Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi (326 keys). In Q4 2018, Rotana will open Centro Olaya, Riyadh, KSA that will add 156 keys. In the UAE alone, properties with a total of 4,125 keys are under various stages of development. Rotana also announced the signing of a new management agreement in the capital of Egypt at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018. The agreement for a new 200room, 5-star hotel in New Cairo City will bring the company’s total inventory in the country to 726 keys. Emaar Hospitality Group and ARADA to launch three hotels

ARADA, a joint venture between KBW Investments and Basma Group, has signed a management agreement with Emaar Hospitality Group, the hospitality and leisure subsidiary of Emaar Properties, to launch three new hotels in Sharjah. The three properties fall under Emaar Hospitality Group’s premium lifestyle Address Hotels + Resorts, upscale lifestyle Vida Hotels and Resorts and the contemporary midscale Rove Hotels. They will be located in Aljada, a 2.2 million square-meter integrated lifestyle destination, which marks a new leisure and entertainment hub for Sharjah. Emaar Hospitality Group will manage Address Aljada Sharjah, with 150 rooms, and Address Residences Aljada Sharjah, an exclusive selection of just 150 serviced residences. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the central hub will be a new focus for leisure and entertainment in the UAE. In close proximity is the Vida Aljada Sharjah, with 175 hotel rooms, and Vida Residences Aljada Sharjah, with 120 residences. A separate initiative, the 300-room Rove Aljada Sharjah is located within Aljada’s business park. The serviced residences under Address and Vida will be offered for sale in Q4 2018.


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Interested parties can also enroll in bespoke cooking classes, which can be booked upon request. In a separate development, Souk El Tayeb and Audi Bank recently announced the launch of a joint private initiative aimed at empowering and promoting small-to-medium producers through training, business growth workshops and financial support. Commenting at a press conference held in April and attended by a host of business owners belonging to the network, as well as Audi Bank representatives, Mouzawak highlighted the fact that small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) made up the backbone of the country’s economy. “I was truly surprised when I first learned that Lebanon’s biggest bank would be interested in the country’s smallest F&B producers and farms,” he admitted. Elaborating on the scheme, Joyce Abu Rizk, head of SME business development at the bank, explained that a dedicated account for Souk El Tayeb had been set up and would be used to fund 50 percent of the business registration fees for the first 10 applicants who fulfil the mandated requirements.

Active social entrepreneur and founder of Souk El Tayeb, Kamal Mouzawak, recently launched his fourth guest-home cluster, called Beit El Tawlet, and located just above Tawlet Beirut in Mar Mikhael. Unlike the usual hospitality chains, each of these homes has its own unique character and sets out to highlight the traditions of the region in which the property is located. Furthermore, each guest-home is named after the village or town in which it is situated. These properties also offer visitors the opportunity to discover and enjoy, firsthand, local traditions and indigenous food practices, enabling city dwellers to absorb the full rural experience. Beit El Tawlet is a tranquil establishment boasting colorful décor, bold lampshades, rattan and unique finds from the local art scene, all complemented by a fresh twist of greenery and breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. It has four double bedrooms, two with private balconies and two with direct terrace access. Savor a mouthwatering Lebanese breakfast in the room or at Tawlet, which also offers guests a daily traditional home-cooked buffet.

Beit El Tawlet, Mar Mikhael, Lebanon

“We are proud to become Lebanon’s first 5-star hotel to receive the Prime Food Safety Management Award in recognition of our high standards, customer satisfaction and food safety with an ISO 22000 certification,” confirmed Joyce Mouawad, corporate director of sales and marketing at Le Royal Hotels & Resorts. “In light of increasing competition, the award ensures that any and all visitors frequenting our establishment are guaranteed the best on offer for an unforgettable stay,” she continued. “Furthermore, guests can rest assured that whether they order breakfast, lunch, dinner or pastries, the quality, presentation and taste will leave them asking for more.” The hotel confirmed its status as a leading establishment when participating at the 25th edition of HORECA Lebanon. “The hotel’s chefs were able to make a bold statement and brought home 22 medals, including nine gold,” Mouawad said. “Being a member of the Leading Hotels of the World made the challenge very tough, but the hotel’s staff reaffirmed their leadership qualities at every opportunity.”












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Founder Sir Nadhmi Shakir Auchi at HORECA Lebanon with Le Royal Hotels VP Nather Auchi

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W HOTELS DEBUTS IN JORDAN WITH W AMMAN W Hotels Worldwide, part of Marriott International, has unveiled W Amman, the brand’s first property in Jordan. Developed by Eagle Hills Jordan, the project marks the first hotel collaboration between Marriott International and Eagle Hills Jordan, which will be followed by three more hotel openings across Jordan: The St. Regis Amman; The Westin Saraya Aqaba; and Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba. Number of rooms: 280

THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 VESSEL OPENS TO THE PUBLIC PCFC Hotels - part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation - has reinvented the vessel as its latest tourism destination. The world-famous cruise liner is docked at Mina Rashid. As part of this project’s first phase, the 13-deck hotel will be welcoming passengers on board to experience a selection of restored rooms and suites, and discover five of 13 planned restaurants and bars. Number of rooms: 224



MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES ELEMENT HOTELS Marriott International announced the debut of Element Hotels in the Middle East and Africa with the opening of Element Me’aisam in Dubai. It is owned and developed by Dubai Properties. The hotel offers a variety of innovative amenities including an outdoor pool, a fitness center and various F&B outlets. Number of rooms: 168






SHANGRI-LA TO DEBUT IN BAHRAIN IN 2022 Bahrain Marina Development Company has appointed Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts as Bahrain Marina’s hotel operators. The ShangriLa Hotel brand will manage the hotel located in ‘Bahrain Marina’, which will include 250 hotel rooms, 150, one-to-three-bedroom suites, eight beach chalets and 21 waterfront villas. Opening: 2022

EMAAR HOSPITALITY GROUP UNVEILS AL ALAMEIN HOTEL Emaar Hospitality Group has commenced the renovation and redesign of the property, while maintaining its cultural context and heritage. Managed by Vida Hotel and Resorts, the all-new Al Alamein Hotel will feature 189 rooms, including luxury chalets. Opening: during 2018,

IHG SIGNS DOUBLE HOTEL DEAL WITH ARABIA HOTELS The new hotels in Giza, Egypt – 200-room Holiday Inn Giza Sun Capital and 150-room Staybridge Suites Giza Sun Capital – will be part of Sun Capital, a mixed-use project that will include the largest commercial area in Egypt. Opening: 2024



MANDARIN ORIENTAL KICKS OFF NEW PROJECT IN MUSCAT The hotel will feature 150 rooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, a Spa at Mandarin Oriental and an outdoor swimming pool. The group will also manage 155 residences at Mandarin Oriental, which will feature some of the most select private apartments in the capital. Opening: 2021

IHG SIGNS CROWNE PLAZA DOHA WEST BAY IHG has signed Crowne Plaza Doha West Bay in partnership with Tanmiyat Real Estate. Currently operating as the M Doha Hotel, the hotel is expected to be rebranded by August 2018. The 317-room Crowne Plaza Doha West Bay will be the seventh operating IHG hotel and second Crowne Plaza hotel in the city. Opening: August 2018

CAESARS HOTELS & BEACH CLUB IN DUBAI Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Meraas Holdings have entered into a non-binding letter of intent for two luxury hotels and a beach club at Bluewaters Island development. Opening: Late 2018

ROVE HOTELS IN RAS AL KHAIMAH Earmarked for Al Marjan Island, the emirate’s first Rove hotel will have 450 rooms, a beach club concept, an outdoor pool and a gym, among other facilities.

A NEW STEIGENBERGER SLATED FOR LUXOR The Steigenberger Resort Achti is to be located on the East Bank of the Nile. In addition to 281 rooms, suites and bungalows, the hotel will boast six restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool, a business center, a meetings room and a permanent multi-purpose tent for the staging of conferences and banquets. Opening: Q3 2018


ACCORHOTELS ANNOUNCES FIRST SO/ PROJECT IN THE MIDDLE EAST SO/ Uptown Dubai will feature 188 rooms and 215 branded residences. Interiors will be brought to life by the Rockwell Group. Opening: Late 2020‎







James Berry has been appointed as the new general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City. He takes up his new role from Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel, where he held the same position. Berry brings with him over 20 years of experience in the industry.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has made Aidan Dempsey hotel manager. Dempsey joins The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, from his native Ireland, where he held the title of hotel manager at sister Marriott brand – The Shelbourne Dublin, a Renaissance Hotel.

Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts has announced Emiel Van Dijk as the new general manager of both Swissôtel Al Ghurair and Swissôtel Living Al Ghurair in Dubai. Van Dijk has acquired almost two decades of experience, spanning several divisions of the hospitality industry across the globe, during his career.

Mario Ephrem has been appointed COO of the Al Sultan Brahim group of restaurants. A part of the restaurant’s family since 2012, Ephrem will be responsible for the overall performance and the growth of the establishment in his new role.



Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has appointed experienced human resources professional, Abdul Rahman Al Harbi, as its new director of Saudization. With more than 14 years of experience, including roles with Mövenpick in Saudi Arabia, Al Harbi is now responsible for leading the Swiss hospitality firm’s Saudization Strategy. He will liaise with all hotel HR departments in Saudi Arabia and ensure training programs are developed according to Mövenpick’s Saudization Strategy.

General Hotel Management (GHM) has named Patrick Moukarzel general manager of the Al Bait Sharjah, a 53-key hotel, scheduled to open later this year. Since his last role with GHM as a general manager in Suzhou, Moukarzel has managed luxury hotels in Penang, Malaysia and the Maldives.

Al Hokair Group has announced the appointment of Omar Sami Samara as its chief executive officer for tourism and development. With a proven track record in the industry, Samar holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting, decision science and management information systems from George Mason University, Virginia, US.

Two new general managers have joined Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ growing Dubai team as part of the hospitality firm’s preparations for opening another two properties in the city this year. Maria Lamarche, former hotel manager at Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba, Jordan, has been promoted to general manager of Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai, and Alfio Bernardino comes on board as general manager of Mövenpick’s upcoming hotel in Dubai Media City, moving from Radisson Blu Dubai Media City,

where he held the same post. Lamarche boasts a hospitality career spanning more than three decades and several continents, having worked for international hospitality names including Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Millennium & Copthorne, Hilton and Rotana. Bernardino has more than 20 years of industry experience in Europe, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, many of which have been spent working for Carlson Rezidor. A graduate of Cornell University, his move to Mövenpick marks his fourth general manager position.


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IN BRIEF Buddha-Bar Beach debuts in Abu Dhabi

Addmind Group, the leading concept creation and F&B management company, continues to take the Middle East region by storm. Head of marketing and communication Bob Yacoub elaborated on the cutting-edge, large-scale consumer experiences offered, saying, “We have become the largest network of prestige entertainment experiences in the Middle East because of our highly individualized approach to each undertaking, which is reflected in the diversity and quality of our establishments.” He added that while the launch of White set the scene for the entire Lebanese nightlife rooftop lounge experience, Iris was unique in that it







offered visitors a lounge experience alongside the opportunity to enjoy the sunset, which had previously been unheard of. “Since then, we’ve opened Iris in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both of which are fully owned and operated by us. Last December we opened our first franchise in Bahrain, while simultaneously signing a deal to open a a second in Qatar,” he noted. “Furthermore, we are currently negotiating a deal to open a fifth venue in Oman. I am also happy to report that at the end of April, we moved Iris to Beirut's New Waterfront Seaside Pavilion, in order to accommodate more guests."

Buddha-Bar Beach mixes Pacific Rim cuisine, cocktails and cutting-edge beats to The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi. The day-to-night destination takes the famous brand alfresco, bringing Bohemian chic design and opulent decor into allnatural elements that integrate stones, wood and colorful organic features with futuristic undertones and vintage flavors. Its Pacific Rim menu includes a Wagyu rib-eye steak and the signature, world-famous Buddha-Bar Chicken Salad that features Chinese leaves, coriander, honey sauce and molasses. Its show kitchen features cevicheria, a sushi counter and robata grill visible to guests as they enter the space. Imaginative cocktails concocted by expert mixologists include The Art of Essence, which takes inspiration from the world of perfume. Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi has a seating capacity of 290 covers. Designed by Sedley Place Design Ltd of London, the interior mixes classic beach items with more modern ones.


C R E AT I V E H A R D WA R E F O R I N T E G R AT E D P R O D U C T S S . A . L Tel:+961 01 573573 Fax:+961 01 561599



CHIP HQ Building, Dora 5530 Sea Side Road, Beirut, Lebanon





ALSHAYA BRINGS A NEW CLUSTER TO THE KSA AND EXPANDS IN KUWAIT Alshaya International Trading Co. has launched Sidra, a new dining destination in Riyadh, which brings together a host of international food brands, namely: The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Asha’s, Pinkberry, Texas Roadhouse, Shake Shack, IHOP, Raising Cane’s, Blaze Pizza and Starbucks. Five of the restaurants at Sidra are making their first appearance in Riyadh; The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, and Asha’s will open immediately, with Texas Roadhouse and Blaze Pizza set to follow in the coming weeks. Extending over an area of 18,000 square meters, Sidra is strategically located next to Granada Centre on two main highways in Riyadh on Exit 9, Imam Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Abdulaziz Road. Alshaya is also introducing 11 new brands to Kuwait, with the opening of The Avenues Phase IV. Food brands making their market entry in Kuwait include: 400 Gradi; Cleo, a dining destination combining

Mediterranean charm with Hollywood glamour which is opening its first restaurant outside of the US; and Blaze Pizza, the trend-setting brand currently taking the US by storm which combines exceptional quality with lightningfast speed. Additional brands following later in


After 10 years in the bartending industry, Jad Ballout, the world-famous Lebanese bartender and beverage director at the World’s 50 Best Bars Central Station Beirut, has introduced his first lifestyle brand to the market focusing on the cocktail culture, under the name Cockpit

Cocktails. Inspired by the jet-setting, globetrotting attitude of rock-star bartenders around the world, the brand showcases his creativity and identity, with premium professional barware and accessories. “Reasonably-priced premium tools are hard to find in Lebanon, which motivated me to launch my own brand in support of the local cocktail industry,” Ballout explained. “Each tool is meticulously produced to provide accuracy and durability. Design is also a ubiquitous element, be it the crosswind strainer, tailwind barspoon, turbo shaker or speedjet jigger. Each tool aims to bring the bartender a piece of inspiration.” He added that since its launch, Cockpit Cocktails had received widespread recognition for its quality and branding from F&B professionals across the board. With stainless steel, gold and copper tools featured in the expanding line, bartending enthusiasts can also create their own set and enjoy the professional bartending experience at home. Facebook/cockpit cocktails

the year include the Italian pizza brand Spontini and the brand-new family and entertainment concept Tek Zone. Other highlights of the multi-brand opening by Alshaya include The Avenues’ first Starbucks Reserve Bar.


Black Coffee, Café Younes’ latest new venture, remains true to its heritage of the 'neighborhood café' style, catering to the same clientele while expanding its reach to the younger generations. In addition to its famous coffee and sandwiches, unlike Café Younes, Black Coffee, serves local wine from several regions in Lebanon. As the managing partner, Amin Younes puts it, “I believed that it was time for Café Younes to make the brand resonate with Generations Y and Z. In other words, it was time to ‘crosspollinate’ our success among the youth.” Black Coffee opened its first branch this month, in the Zero4 cluster in the heart of the Metn area, which is part of Café Younes’ real estate expansion strategy. “We believe that Black Coffee will help advertise and increase the exposure of the Café Younes parent brand by helping to establish additional loyalty and trust. If the venture turns out to be successful, the next step will be franchising the concept abroad,” said Younes.









Opened March 14 Owners Samer Rizk, Sihame Asseily Tueni, Joseph Mouawad Total investment USD 2 million Executive chef Elias El Rahi Covers Restaurant 150, Winebar 80 Average price/person USD 50-60 Typical dishes Shrimp Ceviche, Spaghetti Carbonara, Salmon Teriyaki, Knefe Lebanese Cheesecake Address 38 Monot Street, Achrafieh

Opened March 9 Owner Massimiliano Bugliosi Executive corporate chef Massimiliano Bugliosi Covers 65 indoors and outdoors Average price/person USD 30 Typical dishes Pinsa Romana by slice, Meter, Homemade fresh pasta Tonnarelli ai Gamberi, Artisanal Pastries, Tiramisu’ ice cream, Abbacchio alla Romana Address Rached el Khazen Street, Naccache Main Road, Antelias facebook/ViaRomaLB




Opening January 2019 Owner Ahmass Fakahany - Atelier House Hospitality/Altamarea Group Executive chef Michel White Average price/person USD 90-100 Typical dishes Pan Italian Address Hotel 51 Boulevard, Riyadh

Opened Mid April 2018 Owner Addmind Group Executive chef Naim Zoughaib Covers 150 indoor, 180 outdoors Average price/person USD 25 Typical dishes Baklawa be lahem and the fried Shanklish, Kabab Ma3jou2a, Knefeh Fondue Address Seaside, Antelias facebook/Zuruni Beirut

Opened Mid-April 2018 Owner Maysoon Sleiman Covers 65 indoors, 40 outdoors Average price/person USD 27 without alcohol Typical dishes Breakfast trays, Tartines, Angus Burger Toastie, Kale & Maple Hill Salad Address AYA, Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael

BURGER & LOBSTER Simplicity combined with great respect for food, service and quality are the core values at Burger and Lobster. Live Canadian lobsters, giant 280-gram burgers, buttery lobster rolls and a new range of burgers, rolls and other unique dishes are on the menu. Opened March 4 Owner Gourmania International Executive chef Krishna Karki Covers 72 Average price/person USD 36 (KD 11) Typical dishes Original Burger, Lobster Roll, Original Lobster Address Ahmad Al Jaber Street, Block 6 Ground Floor, Kuwait City







NICOLAS AUDI LE RESTAURANT Nicolas Audi Le Restaurant, Zaitunay Bay - Beirut, serves a formula menu of Mediterranean grazing cuisine that portrays the love of art through food. The indoor and outdoor seating adds a great nature-oriented atmosphere to the experience; by day as much as by night. Opened April 26 Owner Nicolas Audi Et Fils Total investment Approx. USD 800k Executive chef Nicolas Audi Covers 100 indoors, 60 outdoors Average price/person USD 55 Typical dishes Poisson Cru Avocatilo, Fattet Atayef, Kechek Mtabbal Address Zaitunay Bay, Minet El Hosn






Opening September 2018 Owner Ahmass Fakahany, Atelier House Hospitality/Altamarea Group Head chef Michel White Covers 220 Average price/person USD 100-125 Typical dishes Crudos and hand-made pasta Address DIFC Gate Village, Dubai

Opened April 24 Owner Al Shaya Group Executive chef Gabriel Martinez Covers 300 Average price/person USD 165 for two (without alcohol) Typical dishes Specialty Mocktails, Robata Grills, Unique Rolls, Sushi Platters Address 2nd Floor, Fashion Avenue, new extension, The Dubai Mall

MOHALLA Opening July 2018 Owner Ahmass Fakahany, Atelier House Hospitality/Altamarea Group Executive chef Adwit Anantwar Covers 100 Average price/person USD 20-25 Typical dishes Indian street food Address Dubai Design District

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MEET THE CHEF: FREDERIC CHABBERT Last April, and in line with Kempinski’s commitment to bringing exceptional experiences from all over the world to its guests, Kempinski Summerland hosted the French Michelin-star chef Frederic Chabbert, owner of the Dôme in Belgium and one of Hong Kong’s revolutionary talents, at Candelabra international restaurant for four days. HN had the chance to chat with him, and here’s what he told us 1. What does it mean to you careerwise to visit Kempinski Summerland Beirut for this special occasion? The general manager of Kempinski Summerland Hotel and Resort, Daniele Vastolo and I worked together in Kuala Lumpur in 2005, and we’ve been close friends since then. We’ve discussed me visiting Lebanon to tailor-make something for the Lebanese audience in the past and recently we decided that the time was now right for me to venture into a new cuisine – that of the Mediterranean, and specifically the Lebanese cuisine. This special occasion has created a new horizon for me. During the visit I’ve discovered Lebanese cuisine and simply fallen in love with it. Today, after this experience, I can definitely promise all of

my Lebanese guests that I’ll be indulging with Lebanese ingredients in my dishes. 2. Were you familiar with Mediterranean cuisine and how do you assess its distinctive culinary traits? I only discovered this cuisine three days ago when I had dinner at Pier 78, the Mediterranean restaurant located at Kempinski Summerland, but I can honestly say it’s truly succulent! I loved the sharing cold and hot mezzes that have a huge variety of cheese, vegetables and chicken, among other ingredients. I’ve also fallen in love with the different spices which I’ll definitely be taking back with me to the Dôme. 3. Do you have any plans to collaborate with a Lebanese chef? Last month, Kempinski Summerland’s

COUQUELET MAKES LEBANON PROUD To learn more about an initiative aimed at further promoting French cuisine throughout the region, HN spoke to Alexis Couquelet, corporate chef, cofounder of Couqley restaurant and president of the Master Chefs of France Middle East chapter “During the 59th General Assembly of French Master Chefs (MCF), at which Chef Sylvain Arthus (Table de Alfred), Chef Patrick Burat (Casino du Liban) and I represented Lebanon, I am happy and proud to report that we inducted our newest member, Mickael Gantner (La Central), at the last MCF world congress,” Couquelet said. He added that another, more recent event held to support



the initiative was the French Business Council’s gala dinner, which took place in Dubai. “This promoted prestigious French chefs from Laduree, Pierre Gagniare Bistro and La Serre, to name just a few,” he said. Chef Couquelet explained that the MCF Lebanon chapter is working on several projects and charity events, scheduled to take place this summer. One of these events is the 10th anniversary gala dinner of the MEREF, scheduled for June at La Résidence des Pins - French Embassy in Lebanon, which is being organized in partnership with the Bristol Hotel. On a more personal note, Couquelet revealed that following the success of the two Couqley outlets in Gemayze and Dbayeh, a third branch is set for launch in Broumana. “The restaurant, opening on June 1, will be seasonal and will feature Couqley’s most loved and requested dishes, as well as some new additions, like kids and apéritif menus,” he said.

executive chef, Georges Mansour, visited me in Antwerp, where he spent a week in the kitchens of the Dôme restaurants. It was an amazing collaboration! I would definitely like to collaborate with him again and cook some surprising creations in both Lebanon and Belgium. 4. What future projects do you have planned? We are currently in the process of finalizing a new project that focuses on wine. It’s still in the preparation phase, but will soon be ready. Longer term, I will definitely be expanding my restaurant and Lebanon could be on my radar!


CHEF MARC ABED’S PASSION FOR FUSION Descending from a long line of chefs and restaurant owners, chef Marc Abed, currently working as culinary director at a 5-star hotel in the UAE, spoke to HN about his new culinary inspirations and what inspires him in the kitchen Chef Abed has held various prestigious positions during his career, one of which was at Noma, voted the world’s best restaurant four times. Even though he’d worked under international Michelin-star chefs and attended the Alain Ducasse Cooking School, in addition to studying gastronomy, he felt that something central was still missing in his work. That was when chef Abed decided to embark on his personal taste and flavors crusade. With over 1 million views on his YouTube channel, he is now pulling out all the stops to spread the word on his latest project in the form of short video episodes. He also plans to visit and spend time living in

a new country every year to bring the best cuisines it has to offer right to his audience’s screens. “I’ve already been to Japan and taken a masters course, given by a master chef, in making edo sushi,” he explained. “Following that plan, I

will be enrolling in an MA program in Italy.” The aim, he said, is to get people to discover the secrets of the world’s best cuisines and the real stories that brought about their inception.






FIRST SAUDI COMPANY TO LAUNCH FOOD TRADE WITH IRAQ IN 30 YEARS Goody, a Saudi food company forming part of the Basamh Trading and Industries Group, will expand into the Iraqi market, becoming the first Saudi company to conduct food trade activities in Iraq since 1990 in the process. The Jeddah-based company said it will not only sell its products in Iraq, but will also customize some of them to suit the local market. Khalid Temairik, Basamh’s CEO said: “There are approximately 38 million potential consumers in the Iraqi market who spend 50 percent of their income on food.”

IN BRIEF SugarMoo expands into KSA


SugarMoo has announced a joint venture (JV) partnership with Al Hokair Group to provide creative dessert solutions to meet customers’ needs in Saudi Arabia. The JV will operate under the name SugarMoo Desserts. Launched as Dubai’s first online dessert bakery in 2014, SugarMoo Desserts has since expanded into four Dessert Labs throughout the city and now caters to over 100 F&B outlets. Al Hokair, one of the region’s largest entertainment and hospitality companies, is looking to continue growing its F&B offerings by including new and trendy desserts, a vision SugarMoo is implementing in its business model. HOBART receives ‘Best of Market’ award for third consecutive year

For the third time in a row, HOBART GmbH, one of the world's market leaders in commercial ware-washing, was elected ‘Best of Market’ on the evening before the opening of INTERNORGA, the major international trade show for the catering industry. Since 2012, the B&L Mediengesellschaft has given this significant annual award based on the results of an online survey among readers of trade magazines featuring products and concepts of industry partners of the away-from-home market. More than 1,447 readers of the trade journals ‘GVmanager’, ‘first class’, ‘24 Stunden Gastlichkeit’ and ‘street FOODbusiness’ cast their votes. Ouda W Dar is a new online rental platform that connects travelers seeking authentic experiences with hosts offering unique spaces around the world. Founder, Sarah Berjaoui, explained, “If I had told you a few years ago that an increasing number of people would be staying in strangers’ homes, I doubt you would have believed me. Nowadays though, most of us already have courtesy of vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb. This created a new kind of ‘hotelier’, namely the home owners who are looking to increase their income. However, guests are no longer satisfied with paying less for less, as they want to stay in an Airbnb and have the hotel experience. To address this matter, after managing luxury villas and properties in Greece, Mykonos and London for the past 20 years, we observed the need to further expand our presence in the estimated USD 170 billion market, especially given that



annual rental growth in Beirut is at 88 percent, Dubai at 107 percent and Cairo at a whopping 297 percent.” Ouda w Dar was created to fully capitalize on this ever-growing trend in anticipation of what Berjaoui believes will become a highly requested service. “We list the properties on multiple platforms, as well as handle all related guest operations, such as cleaning, laundry, check in/out and price optimization. Furthermore, we offer guests bespoke services provided by our third-party partners who facilitate the searching, booking and paying processes related to meals, and nanny and concierge services.” The company manages over 20 properties around Greater Beirut and is currently converting three mountain and seafront properties into authentically unique guesthouses, coupled with a broad range of hospitality services.

Château Ksara’s Chardonnay Cuvée Du Pape 2016 wins silver

The Chardonnay of Château Ksara was awarded a silver medal, from over 600 competing chardonnays worldwide, at the renowned Chardonnay Du Monde competition in Lyon. “This is a great recognition for the Chardonnay Cuvée Du Pape 2016 to be awarded for the second consecutive year by a panel of international wine experts. We have been keen on producing a distinct chardonnay that truly stands out,” said winemaker, James Page. Using just one grape variety that is grown at over 1,200 meters, Chateau Ksara’s famous chardonnay wine is fermented and matured in new French oak for at least eight months, giving a subtle, almost creamy, vanilla topping to the grape aroma and an extra dimension of delicate spiciness to the taste.


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CHIP’S NEW STATE OF THE ART FACILITY Since its inception in 1990, CHIP’s objective, as one of the most reputed security and management systems integrators in Lebanon, has been to offer customized high-end solutions that are either imported from the world’s leading manufacturers or developed in-house. Discussing the company’s move to a state of the art facility, chairman and general manager, Hady Nahas said, “We started with three individuals, occupying one room; and now that we have grown into a team of 75, we needed to regroup under one roof, our whole team as well as our warehouses, workshops and a showroom. Furthermore, we wanted our headquarters to also serve as a vehicle to showcase the various layers related to our entire operation. We now have a spacious multi-purpose room where we can setup presentations and banquets, and a showroom, where we can display and demonstrate our products in operation. The HQ is located at Beirut’s Seaside Road and is spread over a 1,200 m2, leaving room for future growth”. The building’s design, courtesy of architect Malek Salame, has a very modern and functional look and feel, which was achieved using an amalgam of natural elements such as metal, wood and glass

with plenty of green spaces. The interior was designed in such a way to offer upper management the privacy to operate without distraction, while providing an


Vresso, Lebanon-based food service and laundry equipment company, inaugurated its newly built factory for stainless steel custom fabrication, moving from its Jal-el-Dib factory to Dora. The move has enabled the brand to introduce new technologies and other enhancements in the fabrication sector. Having executed projects in 52 countries, the Sabounjian factory is now upping the ante by breaking into additional markets and introducing new products made in Lebanon that adhere to international standards. Sabounjian factory was opened in 1942 by its founder, Ardaches Sabounjian, to begin



manufacturing refrigerated cases for deli and butcher shops. At that time, it was the first manufacturer in the entire Middle East. Following the passing of the founder, his son, former minister, Vrej Sabounjian, took the helm of the operation and, when stainless steel was introduced onto the market, became a pioneer bymanufacturing stainless steel items such as cupboards, sinks, shelves and tables, to name just a few. Since then, the company has expanded its services in the food service sector to meet its clients’ needs.

easily customizable open space to the technical teams so that they can work and communicate efficiently.


The first gold winner of HORECA Lebanon's National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contest, Lebanese olive oil brand Bustan El Zeitoun, has also won gold at the 2018 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC). The win, at what is the world’s largest olive oil contest, has put Lebanon on the map of the best extra virgin olive oil producers. Bustan El Zeitoun is a premium extra virgin olive oil, produced from Italian olive tree varieties grown in Lebanon. This combination creates a unique product that allows the taste to expand with a formidable balance of flavors and aromas. facebook/BustanElZeitoun



ANNUAL HOSPITALITY FORUM 2018 The Annual Hospitality Forum, organized by Hospitality News ME in collaboration with Hodema Consulting Services, took place during the 25th anniversary of HORECA Lebanon 2018. This key event provided a valuable opportunity for the industry to come together and highlight the pertinent issues of the day. Here’s a snapshot of what was discussed

GM Roundtable

The shift in the political situation starting November 2017 saw Iranians, Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Turks considering Lebanon as a holiday destination; a shift I believe to be a healthy one. Dagmar Symes, General Manager, Phoenicia Hotel Beirut and Le Vendome Beirut

Taking into consideration the difficult economic situation, we had to make concessions to maintain high occupancy and ensure continued partnerships with the companies we deal with. Georges Ojeil, General Manager, Le Gray, Beirut

The Guesthouse Experience Guesthouses help us shine a light on some of the country’s beautiful locations that have gone unnoticed for far too long. Ramzi Salman, Owner, Bkerzay

My aim is to support the various aspects of local identity, by offering a complete service comprising the location, produce, cuisine, architecture, and arts and crafts, for a truly allencompassing experience. Kamal Mouzawak, Founder Souk el Tayeb, Tawlet, Beit Network

There is no shortage of hotels in Lebanon. However, these remain limited in their offering compared to guesthouses, where visitors can spend their entire time engaged, rather than enter only to exit hours later. Khalil Arab, Owner, Palm Beach Hotel and Al Yasmine Guesthouse

Our management company runs a number of guesthouses and we ensure that new entrants to the industry are offered added value in terms of services, so as to gain an edge in this niche segment that is rapidly growing. Sarah Berjaoui, Owner, Ouda w Dar



After a 25 year stint outside Lebanon, I returned to Sour and renovated an old house, because I wanted to help highlight the city as a touristic destination that has more than white sandy beaches to offer. Philippe Tabet, Owner, Dar Alma and Dar Camelia

We are extending the guesthouse experience by using the space we have to feature artwork and in so doing, lending the experience a more home-away-from-home feeling. Nabil Debs, Owner, Arts Club

Stealth Health

Eating healthy is far better than subjecting my body to chemicals that eventually may or may not work. Sabine Kassouf, Owner, Organic Sisters and A New Earth

Lebanese Cuisine

Lebanese food is very simple, humble and healthy and if you’re a vegetarian, you’re in heaven. Tony Kitous, Owner, Pasha, Kenza and Comptoir Libanais

Our B2B model has us offering our products directly to F&B outlets and therefore making them available to would-be consumers.

Lebanese cuisine taught me how to be humble and is a reflection of the people, which is why it’s so generous and healthy.

Reema Maamari, Owner, Biolicious

Joe Barza, Lebanese Terroir Culinary Artists

Our gluten-free outlets offer individuals who suffer from different kinds of allergies and have numerous other health concerns safe-to-consume baked goods and pastries.

No one is changing the cuisine; the cuisine itself is alive, and when it’s alive, it will continuously change on its own. Kamal Mouzawak, Founder, Souk el Tayeb, Tawlet, Beit network

Rena Dagher, Owner, Oh! Bakehouse

I started growing organic vegetables and selling them in baskets to clients once a week. Over time, we extended our range of offerings and even acquired the franchise of La Vie Claire.

F&B Trends

Zeina Daoud, Owner, La Vie Claire and Le Potager

MBC Top Chef 2018 Superstars Trending in the F&B sector today are concepts that take the consumers back to their roots, because people are oversaturated with technology and feel the need for minimalism and simplicity. Georges Khoueiry, CEO, Disruptive Entertainment Group

Winning the event gave me a lot of confidence in myself as a person and my abilities as a chef.

In Lebanon, people are well traveled, and therefore shy away from copy-paste concepts.

Chef Mostafa Seif El Din Mortada, Winner, MBC Top Chef 2018

Rouba Khalil, Owner, Rouba Khalil Kitchen

I can truly admit that despite the fact I felt bad for not winning, I nonetheless managed to learn so much and that reminded me why I am here in the first place.

We opened our restaurant based on the things we enjoy most, as we figured that we will be spending most of our waking hours there.

Chef Serge Ghazarian, Contestant, MBC Top Chef 2018

Athanasios Kargatzidis, Owner and Chef, Baron

Being a contestant on the show has driven me to think way beyond what I thought was possible and that opened up incredible possibilities.

Casual-fun dining will definitely continue to trend, as will the farm-to-table movement. Maysoon Sleiman, Owner and Managing Partner, The Sage Parlour

Chef George Chartoune, Contestant, MBC Top Chef 2018

Whether the candidate won top honors or otherwise, making it this far should be viewed as a great personal achievement. Chef Maroun Chedid, Owner Maroun Chedid Academy and Ritage Restaurant, Judge, MBC Top Chef

When a restaurant’s menu is centered on mixing two cuisines to come up with new dishes, the success rate is very low, because Lebanese food is really good on its own. Emile Razzouk, Business Development and Project Manager, Addmind Group




LEBANON REVIEW A standalone restaurant doesn’t get as much traffic nowadays because people don’t go out to have dinner and return home; they want to live a full experience and this is where clusters come in.

Organic vs. Non-organic Clusters

Elie Njeim, General Manager, Zaitunay Bay

Despite the economic situation, our projects add value to the community’s lifestyle, as we are bringing the service to them. Marwan Ayoub, Managing Partner, Venture Group

I want to take my customers back in time before all the modern conveniences became available. Alain Hadife, Owner, Zero 4

Sustainable Beach Clubs Our model offers all parties interested a year-round access to the beach and the restaurants, with more focus on food and regular beverages to generate the required profit for sustained operation. Charif Doumit, CEO, Al Mandaloun Management

The main problem we are facing when attracting tourists to our outlets for an extended time period is directly related to the size of the coastal space we are afforded. Nizar Alouf, Board Member, Riviera Hotel

The key to sustainability and growth is to make a minimum number of investments that have a maximum effect on the business.

The idea of opening a second beach resort at a different location under the same brand is a country first. Khalil Noujeim, Managing Partner, Orchid Beach Resort

Various factors affecting the tourism season will eventually see visitors thinking twice before making their summer plans in Lebanon. Jean Beyrouti, General Secretary, Syndicate of Beaches and Resorts, Lebanon

Georges Boustani, Owner, Lazy B AHF included a host of topics including the Lebanese Food Coalition with ACT, FAO and the Lebanese Food Bank, Restaurant Interiors with Delphine Gebran Markarian, Startups and Disruptions in the AgriFood Sector with Berytech, Food Safety and Awareness in Japanese Cuisine with the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night Clubs & Pastries and Sustainable Beach Clubs with Amber Consulting.








ATM'S 25TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018 opened its doors on Sunday, April 22, for four days of business-networking opportunities and insightful seminar sessions, with over USD 2.5 billion deals agreed Now in its 25th year, the region’s leading travel industry showcase welcomed over 2,500 exhibiting companies and around 40,000 visitors, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions in place and more than 100 new participating exhibitors. Building on the success of last year, ATM 2018 was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, where it showcased the largest exhibition of regional and global hotel brands in the history of the event, with hotels comprising 20 percent of the total show area. This year saw ATM partner with International Hotel Investment Conference (IHIF) organizers to present the inaugural Destination Investment panel. Taking place on the ATM Global Stage, the session explored what drives investment in travel destinations across the Middle East and neighboring regions. Also debuting this year was the ATM Student Conference

– Career in Travel – a program aimed at students and graduates who are looking to pursue a career in the travel and tourism industry. Taking place on the

final day of ATM, this program allowed ‘tomorrow’s’ travel professionals and hoteliers to listen to guest speakers and travel industry leaders.

LEBANON WINS ‘BEST STAND DESIGN’ AND DUBAI TOURISM, ‘BEST STAND FOR DOING BUSINESS’, AT ATM There was success for both Lebanon and Dubai at ATM 2018’s ‘Best Stands’ awards. Launched in 2015, the awards were introduced to recognize the design creativity and business-friendly appeal of exhibiting companies’ physical presence at the ATM. This year’s judging panel comprised top industry and design professionals: Leo Fewtrell, managing partner, Gulf Reps; Nicholas Hall, CEO & founder, SE1 Media; Pippa Jacks, group editor, TTG Media Ltd; and Matt Gibson, travel blogger, writer and photographer. Dubai Tourism won the ‘Best Stand for Doing Business’ at the awards. Commenting on Dubai Tourism’s winning stand, Gibson said, “It was an exceptionally good business stand with an effective and efficient set-up. One of the few stands to boast a tripledecker layout, Dubai Tourism attracted huge numbers of visitors throughout the event.” When it came to ‘Best Stand Design’, the judging criteria focused on identifying an eye-catching stand with a creative design that made the best use of available space and attracted a high level of visitor traffic. Lebanon’s stand ticked



all the boxes. Jacks said, “I was very impressed, the stand really stood out and presented a welcoming and homely feature. The stand featured a huge front door, with a staircase which led to a well-laid-out meeting space. It was a subtle, yet intelligent, way to showcase the country.” Nada Sardouk, director general of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) in Lebanon said that despite its modest financial and economic conditions, the MoT was able to obtain this award, thanks to the guidance of Avedis Guidanian, minister of tourism. She added, “The Lebanese private sector, through the ICE International Events team that designed this stand, was able to offer a lot of creativity, despite the small size of the pavilion compared to other participating stands.” The Czech Republic was recognized as Highly Commended in the ‘Best Stand Design’ category. The award for ‘Best Stand Personnel’ went to Saudi Arabia. “The staff for SAUDIA were excellent,” said Fewtrell. The ‘Best Stand Feature’ accolade was awarded to Turkey.


BIFEX 2018

cities throughout the world. This balance and the expertise in the leisure segment has given Meliá superior knowhow and excellence to succeed in responding to contemporary demand for ‘bleisure’ hotels, combining business facilities and services with a leisure and lifestyle experience.

2. What is your expansion strategy for the region and which markets interest you the most?

On the sidelines of the ATM, HN ME spoke to François Kassab, managing director, Middle East and Africa, at Meliá Hotels International, who told us about the brand’s presence in the region and expansion strategy.

1. Where do you position Meliá in terms of leadership in the leisure segment? With more than 375 hotels in 43 countries across four continents, Meliá Hotels International, the leading hotel company in Spain, is well known as the ‘Best Hotel Group in the World’ for leisure hotels. The leisure hotel segment has always been a priority for Meliá, as it is the only one among the top 20 international hotel groups that was born as a resort group. Resorts make up 45 percent of our operating hotels. We also currently have the most balanced mix of resort and city hotels; our Meliá, Gran Meliá, Innside by Meliá and ME by Meliá brands successfully operate in gateway

At ATM, we shared our latest communication about the new rebranding of the unique existing Polo Club & Resort as Desert Palm by Meliá from July 1, 2018. In addition, a further 13 hotels are in the regional pipeline and will be opened over the short term. Our focus for the remainder of 2018 is to introduce three new brands to the region: • ME by Meliá to Dubai, a flagship property designed by the late Zaha Hadid. • The first Innside by Meliá, our urban, upscale lifestyle brand, which will be opening in Doha. • The Gran Meliá Huravee, Maldives, which focuses on our strength in the leisure segment. Going forward, we will focus on further growing our mid-to-upscale brands in both the leisure and urban segments, as well as more selectively, growing our premium brands, including Meliá, Gran Meliá and ME. The regional focus will be on the GCC and North Africa, but we will continue to explore opportunities across the whole of Africa.‎

60 SECONDS WITH DUSIT INTERNATIONAL’S ANDREW SHAW to open over the next couple of years across Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. Our hotel brands in operation encompass the mid-market, upscale and luxury segments.

2. What are your current projects and future plans?

During ATM, HN also caught up with Andrew Shaw, head of development - Europe, Middle East and Africa at Dusit International, who made time to highlight the chain’s plans and expectations for the region.

1. What is your expansion strategy for the region and which markets interest you the most? In the MENA region, we currently have six hotels in operation across the UAE, Egypt and Kenya. Eleven projects are anticipated

At ATM, we officially announced the signing of Dusit Resort and Spa Lagoona Beach, our second property in Bahrain, which follows last year’s signing of dusitD2 City Centre Bahrain. Both properties are slated to open in Q4 this year. We also recently announced the launch of our new brand, ASAI Hotels, which is designed to link curious, millennial-minded travelers with authentic local experiences in vibrant cities and resort destinations worldwide. The first ASAI hotel is slated to open in Bangkok next year. Four more ASAI hotels are already in the pipeline: three in Cebu, the Philippines, in Lapu-Lapu, Oslob and the city center; and one hotel in Yangon, Myanmar, in the historic Yankin Township. All are expected to open in 2019.

The 2018 edition of the Beirut International Franchise Forum and Exhibition (BIFEX), held under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers HE Saad Hariri and organized by the Lebanese Franchise Association since 2011, kicked off with a bang to a full house on April 18. Held at the Beirut Seaside Pavilion, this two-day event, titled ‘Retail in Lebanon: Sustainability and Growth’, featured five one-hour sessions, with 10 international guest speakers based across various industries taking to the stage and sharing their experience and advice with local and regional attendees. Arab retailers, business owners and entrepreneurs listened eagerly as the speakers presented new ideas, technologies and innovations that audience members could adopt to grow and expand their businesses or even launch new projects related to commerce, tourism and culture. The key topics tackled on the first day were: finding ways to build powerful brands; lending insight to new consumers and their consumption patterns; strategies to drive future growth; and the merits partnerships and collaborations bring. On the second day, a roundtable session was attended by five local and prominent figureheads, representing some of Lebanon’s most respected brands. The discussion revolved around the secret behind the success of these businesses, the development strategies devised to propel them forward and the challenges they have faced. This was followed by a keynote presentation, tackling issues related to the world’s creative economies and the lessons that could be learned. The event concluded with a masterclass directly addressing the hotly debated issue of sustainable innovation, which represents a major concern to all industries.







the emirate’s plans to support its growth, Sheikh Saud said, “We aim to increase tourism’s GDP contribution to 10 percent by 2025. Already, the sector has been growing at a rate of about 19 percent year-on-year. We aim to have 1 million visitors by the end of this year in Ras Al Khaimah and we have a target of 2.9 million per year by 2025.”

Ras Al Khaimah was the location in mid-April for the 14th edition of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in a first for the emirate The annual knowledge and networking platform for the global hospitality investment community was organized in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and inaugurated by AHIC host and patron, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. “In a relatively short period of time, Ras Al Khaimah has changed dramatically, from a quiet, agricultural town, where a formal education was hard to come by, to a thriving city with a diverse economy and great educational institutions. Our emirate, our people, our economy and our industries have been on quite an incredible journey,” Sheikh Saud said in his official opening address. Speaking about the key role earmarked for the hospitality and tourism sector and

In 2017, Ras Al Khaimah saw an average year-round occupancy of 74 percent, an average length of stay of 3.4 days and total revenues that produced doubledigit growth year on year, whilst visitor satisfaction reached an impressive 90 percent. According to data released by RAKTDA, hotel occupancy in Q1 2018 reached 79.4 percent, marking the highest ever level recorded in the emirate for a quarterly period. In his opening keynote discussion with BBC HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur, His Excellency Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, discussed the future of hospitality in relation to the region and the opportunities of tomorrow, before announcing the launch of the company’s first hotel and residences project in Ras Al Khaimah. Located on the Views island of Al Marjan Island, a four-island mega-development, Address Al Marjan Island hotel and residences will be managed by Emaar Hospitality Group’s premium lifestyle brand, Address Hotels + Resorts. The hotel will have 249 rooms, including suites, while Address Residences Al Marjan Island will comprise 234 high-end apartments. As part of Views, the largest of the four islands, residents will be in close proximity to the urban core of the master-planned community, as well as the town center.

Guest speaker at AHIC 2018, Egyptian business mogul Samih Sawiris is the founder of Orascom for Hotels and Development S.A.E. HN sat down with the man who has made the impossible happen wine in Egypt and a tourist town in the Egyptian desert, for a one-on-one What are your expansion plans for the near future? Right now, we're in eight countries, so we're focusing on them rather than looking to expand, since that's more than enough. We have tons of land plots in these countries which need development, so I don’t believe that we need to look for new opportunities.

Which region or country do you feel most confident about? It keeps changing! Ask me this year and I’ll tell you one of the eight. If you'd asked me last year, I would have told you another one. It really keeps shifting according to the dynamics. For instance, Morocco was completely dormant for a few years and now, all of a sudden, it's coming back. We’re excited about Morocco. We’re even looking at another opportunity there, not just the Chbika development that stayed idle for many years because of the crisis. So as you can see, it's impossible to give a generalistic view of these countries.

Any developments in Egypt? Egypt is in my heart. I’m an Egyptian and Egypt made me what I am. The El Gouna, which gave everyone confidence in us and instilled the trust that we'd make good partners, is still our flagship, and will always remain a priority for me.



WINDOW 2 THE FUTURE 2018 Window 2 the Future, a Swiss knowledge initiative of Lausanne Hospitality Consulting (LHC), an Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and Swiss Hotel Association company, gathered 120 high-level academics, hotel investors, serial entrepreneurs, hotel chain executives and consultants at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne to consider the industry’s future

reduced attention span of Millennials and Generation Z.” Forbes found the attention span of Millennials and Generation Zers to be 12 seconds and 8 seconds respectively when it measured them. Professor Nouria Hernandez, rector at University of Lausanne, said that in the current climate of information abundance, critical thinking was the most important skill to teach students.

Ernst Brugger, LHC chairman, opened the 2018 edition of the summit by offering a glimpse of the challenges the hospitality industry is expected to face in the future and how to approach them. “Sustainability is not just to correct environmental risks. The question is how we can create a high-quality environment,” he said. “Anticipate, not correct, this is sustainability, a competitive factor for the future.”

Technology can enable different ‘touch points’; decoding dreams will be possible in 20 years. Today, we can already control cars with our brains

What is the role of technology in the future of hospitality education? The use of new tools and tech enablers in the field of hospitality education can play an important part in creating a sustainable environment, according to Dominique Turpin, dean of external relations at IMD. Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Mobile Learning will shape the future of hospitality education, he noted, adding: “Ted Talks of 20 minutes are now sliced into much shorter videos to respond to the

Professor James Larus, dean of the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at the EPFL, explained that while students who embarked on their courses five years ago wouldn’t have spotted even a hint of neuroscience in their classes, today, it lies at

the heart of much of what is being taught. Throughout the curriculum, students have seen disciplines grow and others replaced, he noted, adding that this trend will continue expanding, requiring us to adapt. Christophe Dubi, IOC Olympic Games executive director, unveiled his vision for the future of hospitality with a striking analogy: “What we want from managers is to deliver ultra-performance, like Olympians, on a daily basis. Do we give all the educational tools to the students to train, perform and most of all, recover when they become managers?” he asked. He then suggested a new take on the panel’s title, ‘High tech for

High Touch’, explaining that the future of hospitality will allow millions of ticket buyers, as well as heads of state, to personalize their experience at the games. There was a lively exchange when the topic of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was discussed between Samih Sawiris, chairman of the Board of Directors Orascom Development and Yaron Ashkenazi, CEO of GCH Hotel Group. All attendees agreed that May 25, 2018, would bring changes to the way that the future of hospitality is examined. Tej Tadi, CEO at Mindmaze told the audience that technology’s role in hospitality is that of enabler, rather than replacer. “The key is to stick to one modality of training,” he said. “Technology can enable different ‘touch points’; decoding dreams will be possible in 20 years. Today, we can already control cars with our brains. We will be able to enhance what we feel, what we touch and experience in 10 years. But how cannot be determined yet.” Tadi also shared concrete actions being tested in his hotels, such as how staff could communicate in any language with tech tools. Efforts were also underway to identify the moods of staff and hotel guests, which he said, could enable personalized staff training in soft or hard skills and experiences for hotel guests. All of the panel’s experts agreed that outsourcing would be an important trend in the future, especially in the areas of technology, social media and customer relationship management (CRM).



HN shines a spotlight on 35 of the top female hospitality professionals and entrepreneurs in the Middle East, to find out what advice they have to offer their juniors and what they think are the advantages of being a member of the fairer sex in this rapidly evolving industry. Ranging from an eye for detail to empathy and the ability to multitask, here’s what they said...

Editor's addition

H.E. Rania Al-Mashat

H.E. Lina Annab

Minister of Tourism

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities

Nada Sardouk Director General


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

As Egypt’s first female Tourism Minister, her excellency holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland, US. Her distinguished career abroad saw her eventually return home after being officially elected in 2005 as sub-governor for monetary policy at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). AlMashat comments on the role women play in the tourism and hospitality industry saying, “At the beginning of this year, I was informed by a representative of the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, that he wanted me to run the local tourism industry with a principal focus on the economic side of the sector. It was a huge assignment as that industry represents 10 percent of Egypt’s GDP and employs more than two million workers. As for my advice to women in this industry, I truly see no difference when it comes to ability to perform between both genders. Yet despite the fact that the industry is comprised of 80 men, the one and only thought on my mind while on my way to the office, is getting the job done in a clear and focused manner. In 2011, the tourism industry witnessed a transformation that today saw the creation of economic women empowerment programs in line with the industry’s sustainable development goals. And I am happy to report that due to this and other initiatives, women today have plenty of opportunities to become part of this important industry. We are also working with various hotels to create inviting and more fitting career opportunities for them.”

Prior to assuming her ministerial post in June 2016 Minister Annab was the general manager of Zara Investment Company (Holding). She was also a member of the board of directors of various private and public shareholding companies in Jordan. She represented the private sector on the 'Employment –Technical Vocational and Education Training Council (E-TVET Council)'. She was a member of a number of selections and judging panels for renowned awards and fellowships in entrepreneurship and leadership. Until recently, Minister Annab represented the private sector on the Board of Directors of Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) as well as on the 'Economic and Social Council'. Over the past 20 years, Minister Annab has held various positions at Citibank, Johnson &Johnson, and the International Monetary Fund. She holds a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy and Foreign Languages and Literature.

After obtaining a BA in French Language and Literature from the Lebanese University, she immediately began to teach what she had learned in the midst of a civil war. Unrelenting in her quest to highlight the wealth of the printed word, she went on to become a lecturer in French literature, while also devoting her time to pedagogical questions. Her career takes a new turn when she, in the early 2000s is appointed as the first female to head the directorate general position at the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism. Her unwavering belief in the country’s tourism industry saw her promoting Lebanon as a go-to regional touristic hub. She went on to attain a DEA in linguistics from the University of OrleansTours and published a number of books on the subject. She has also been awarded the knight's insignia of the National Order of Merit by the French government. Sardouk comments on the role women play in hospitality saying, “Women represent the majority of employees in the tourism field because they are a huge asset to this industry. That is why they should master the different aspects of their working environment. They should surround themselves with a professional team, acknowledge their weakness, face their failures, embrace their responsibilities and be proud of their achievements. Women do things with great passion and that constitutes their main drive. Add confidence to that and you get a winning formula for success.” JUN-JUL 2018 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME




Ulrike Andorff General Manager

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa-Al Aqaa, UAE “Start learning the basics and obtain in-depth knowledge of all hotelrelated departments. Ensure consistent achievements, as these have proven to be the main drive related to revenue. Furthermore, improvement of guest satisfaction as well as talent development go a long way when it comes to organic growth. Passion, flexibility, patience and an eye for detail are traits women master. They are also more caring and service-minded. Any female who likes an interesting, colorful and exciting work environment is therefore designated for the always-rapidly-changing hospitality industry.”

Emma Banks General Manager

Jumeirah Restaurant Group, UAE “Keep your finger on the pulse at all times to stay well-informed; you must be willing to work hard as the hours can be brutal; continuous innovation in such a dynamic marketplace is key. It is imperative to have a solid understanding of when to invest and make money and when to walk away.

Simone Höch General Manager

Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, Red Sea, Egypt “Enthusiasm for socializing, helping and serving people is often the one key attribute in the hospitality sector. Employers in hospitality, leisure and tourism will also be looking for an array of ‘soft’ character traits, such as, communication skills, empathy, teamwork, commitment and flexibility. I do not think there is any difference between a man and a woman in this industry. Personally, being a woman did not hold me back. However, I do believe that in any work environment, you have to push yourself, go that extra mile and dedicate yourself to the job.”

There are very few ‘leaders in heels’ in our industry, yet it has been proven that businesses with a gender-balanced team offer better perspective.”

Laura Lahoud General Manager

Al Bustan Hotel and Festival, Lebanon “This type of profession calls for everything to be perfect, which is why women will have to be available round the clock, especially on weekends and holidays. Furthermore, they will need to pay tremendous attention to every detail and know how to present the brand to everyone equally well. The female touch is always welcome in the hotel business. Taste, perfectionism, attentiveness and social skills are all great attributes. A woman will take care of a hotel just as she does her own home, and this is her advantage.”



Katrin Herz General Manager

Al Bustan Palace (a Ritz Carlton company), Oman “I feel very honored to be the first female Ritz-Carlton general manager in the Middle East region and I am very grateful to Oman and the Omani Ministry of Tourism for giving me the chance to manage the famous Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel. My advice is, you can have it all, but you cannot do it alone. You need to surround yourself with the right people at work and at home! The hospitality industry is a people business; empathy and caring for others is in our genes.”

Maram Kokandi General Manager

Park Inn by Radisson, KSA “Every woman should exude confidence, speak her mind whenever the need arises and, most importantly, never give in to her fear of taking risks or new challenges. Stay focused, insist on getting the relevant education, keep an open mind and be ready to go where the opportunities are. My position affords me the opportunity to create and raise awareness about the situation of Saudi women in the industry, which is very challenging and promising. Keep in mind that women are detail-centric and therefore see their immediate surroundings in a more elaborate fashion.”

Hala C. Massaad General Manager

Raouché Arjaan by Rotana, Lebanon “You need to first believe in yourself, have passion to accept all the challenges and be detail-oriented to see the opportunities and foresee the problems. Be flexible, diplomatic and persistent. Dare to take new challenges, keep cultivating your mind and your PR skills. Finally, keep smiling!

Ghada Sadek General Manager

Mövenpick Hotel West Bay Doha “Exude confidence in dealing with professionals of all levels. Make full use of networking functions. Learn and understand the other’s mindset, taking into account their culture and profession, which will help you engage in different scenarios and navigate the various challenges encountered, while inciting new business opportunities and career growth. Women today are more empowered and engaged in strong decision-making. They possess that natural disposition of taking care of something as if it were their own and in so doing, govern better.”

Women, by nature, can multitask, which is a major advantage. They can also act from a macro perspective and take sound business decisions on a micro perspective. This helps them deal with challenges in an innovative and humane way.”

Eleni Tsolakou Dagmar Symes General Manager

Phoenicia Hotel Beirut, Lebanon “Be fearless and open to new experiences, while surrounding yourself with people that inspire you. Ask for what you deserve, engage in transparent communication with an authentic human approach. And of course, support other women on the way. As a female general manager in a male-dominated field, I use my position and positive perception to influence and encourage others to achieve their best selves and this is achieved through introducing highly creative initiatives and focusing on activities that encourage team bonding.”

General Manager

Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, UAE “Studies show that women entering hospitality companies today will have more opportunities for upward movement into top executive positions than past generations. Women will have to be ready to explore challenges and make sacrifices. Competencies in areas of business growth are: cost and expense reduction; negotiating deals; motivating and coaching; loyalty; and retention programs. Women have multi-tasking abilities that help them set priorities and adapt to changing conditions more swiftly than men. Skills like empathy, intuition, optimism and emotional intelligence, as well as emotional self-awareness, conflict management, adaptability and teamwork, constitute competitive advantages.”





Christine Assouad CEO

Semsom, Basillio and Dunkin Donuts Lebanon, New York

Nayla Audi

Owner and General Manager

Oslo, Lebanon and Milk, Los Angeles “Irrespective of the industry, women have to be very cautious. Being inexperienced is no excuse for being naïve. Even with an impeccable academic background and extensive work experience, they are going to be taken advantage of. Sadly, this is a global attitude. The advantages are overshadowed by an infinite number of disadvantages. However, on a more positive note, women have the ability to bring people and ideas together. We also possess a profound understanding of beauty and esthetics. Equality and fairness are other elements we bring that elevate the entire experience.”

“Dedicate yourself to something you are passionate about, since we in hospitality spend most of our time at work. Have a clear vision and surround yourself with talented individuals from whom you can learn new things. Always try to do things differently, think outside the box, break some rules and do not be afraid to fail. Lastly, keep the financials in check, as getting all worked up about a project can often prove distracting. I do not see any difference between men and women, as both genders are fully capable.”

Joanna Debbas Owner

Joanna’s Table, Lebanon “Be prepared to work extremely hard. It’s a competitive market with demanding consumers. Stay away from gimmicks and provide good quality, as well as consistent products. Manage your risk, don’t over-invest, look for partners who can complement your skill set and provide extra capital. I think each person has his or her own vision. It’s not about being a woman or a man, it’s about having a clear and well-thought-out vision of what you want your restaurant to look, feel and taste like.”

Hala Audi Beydoun Founder and Owner

Cocoa & Co, Lebanon “Be patient, because this profession drains all your energy and almost prevents you from having any kind of social life. Yet after 18 years in F&B, I still look forward to going to the kitchen every morning. Apart from being satisfying, albeit challenging, decorating desserts and catering to special events allows me to explore and push myself to the delicious edges of my ‘gourmande’ being. Being a mother, a wife and a business owner isn’t easy, but our passion for all three helps us find the balance.”



Zeina El Eid

Chairman and General Manager

Urbanista, Lebanon “Working in the industry for quite a while has taught me that nothing is easy, especially when it comes to our highly competitive and oversaturated market. As such, the need to be dynamic is a must, the ability to change is key and allowing yourself to follow your intuition truly pays off. Any person bent on entering the industry needs to employ creativity, be it strategically, conceptually or aesthetically. Female entrepreneurs possess a boundless ability to do just that; whatever you give a woman, she will make great .”

Mireille Hayek Founder

Em Sherif, La Parrilla, Lebanon, UAE “First, you need to figure out if this role is a passion or simply a job. This is by no means a 9-to-5 profession, as it calls for plenty of patience, determination and perseverance. You will need to be present and very mindful of all the minute intricacies. Women are the ones who build a home. As a result, they develop a heightened sense for these intricacies, which have significantly evolved. Through this, and due to the emotion they introduce, their creations take on a special feel.”

Aline Kamakian Owner and CEO

Fig Holding (Mayrig and Batchig) Lebanon, KSA, Armenia “Women have always been great cooks as they cook from the heart. In the F&B sector, when women combine a visionary dream with their natural talent for multitasking and a love for flavors and people, they can be the best leaders. So, I encourage every woman with a great idea and with courage and perseverance to get out there and try.”

Rima El Husseini

Lina Letayf CEO

La Mie Dorée s.a.l, Lebanon “Be passionate, fight to achieve your goals, learn the legal and administrative procedures, have a grasp of the esthetical aspect and its effects, carefully screen new recruits and never be afraid to gamble. Anticipate what is to come and be prepared to accommodate market needs. Finally, do not allow stressors to negatively affect you. The main advantages are women’s organizational abilities, which help keep them motivated and on task. Yet above all, being productive is paramount to achieving perfectionism in every assigned task, especially when it comes to the details.”

Co-founder and CEO

Blessing, Lebanon “Only with patience, persistence and hard work can success be achieved in business. The online presence of any business is necessary for attaining goals. However, the idea that online businesses are easier to grow is a misconception. In the business world, men and women have equal opportunities and face the same challenges. Success becomes a choice and a result of performance.”

Maya Bekhazi Noun Founder and Managing Director

The Food Studio General Secretary

Syndicate of Restaurant Owners, Lebanon “Arm yourself with unwavering determination and never stop reevaluating your performance. Strive to do better with every passing minute. Shed your fears and venture into the place where you feel you belong. I personally do not differentiate between men and women in any sector. I believe we are equally competent in anything we wish to do once we have the will and determination to do it. This business is all about the details, esthetics and presentation.”

Liza Soughayar Co-owner

Liza's Restaurant, Paris, Lebanon “Courage and perseverance are a must. The profession may be more demanding for a woman as it is an industry that requires being continuously hands on, so finding the right life/work balance is key. I don’t see a particular advantage of being a woman in this industry. It’s probably because I live in Paris and women there are considered equal to men. I would probably say that the perception of people is different when they see a woman working in this industry. They are impressed as they know how demanding a restaurant business is.”





Cynthia Bitar

Co-founder and Executive Chef

Nazira Catering, Lebanon

Zarmig Haladjian Master Chef

Mamig, Qatar “Being a celebrity chef and an artist is not my ultimate goal. However, the honor of representing my country and sharing its culture and heritage globally, is. Employing my talent, passion and feelings in the culinary arts have not only brought me great personal satisfaction, but also the confidence to introduce my own artistic style with flair. It’s important to always keep in mind that cooking wasn’t invented by chefs, but rather, by poor, yet determined women trying to feed their families with little to work with. That is why you should seize every opportunity, knowing that there is no limitation as long as you have passion and creativity.”

“My advice applies equally to men and women, as I consider them both equal. What matters is to have the drive and passion to see matters through. Equally important is not to allow fear to get in your way, because you have to prove yourself at every turn to earn the respect you deserve. Allow yourself to exercise patience, thoroughness and mindfulness, as I guarantee you these qualities will clearly come across in the dishes created and I am certain you will garner the right kind of deserved admiration.”

Nazira Bitar Co-founder

Nazira Catering, Lebanon "Think twice before entering this profession as it is exhaustive, yet simultaneously beautiful. This profession was initially created by women, since the biggest chef of us all are our moms. Love, care and comfort is what everyone looks for in a meal, and this we all learned from our mom's food."

Sadiqa Esmael

Head of Culinary and Development

DarHamad Restaurant, Kuwait

Hilda Hosh Owner

"I extend my warm-hearted invitation to all women who are thinking about entering the culinary world, because it’s an interesting field full of challenges and in turn requires plenty of devotion and discipline. This career extends beyond the love for food and recipe creation. It is about appreciating and respecting the ingredients and tending to the customers’ needs. Both these aspects are very important to run any business."

Chez Hilda Pâtisserie and Confiserie, Jordan “As a female entrepreneur entering into the hospitality industry, confidence is key. The best advice I can give is to keep growing that confidence by continuously learning. Attend trade shows and exhibits to stay current with industry trends. Accept feedback and constructive criticism. Network with peers and find a mentorship program to learn from the successes and failures of others. Women often underestimate their own potential and fail to dream big. Finding that inner strength, courage and confidence will take them a long way in their career paths."



Rouba Khalil Founder

Rouba Khalil Kitchen Boutique Catering Services, Lebanon “It is not a man’s world, it is not a woman’s world, it’s a whoever hustles world. You must want this bad and work for it hard, as your gender is only a minor detail. I don’t believe that your gender puts you at an advantage or disadvantage. Contrary to clichés, I have seen male chefs who crumble under pressure and female chefs who push through. In all cases, diversity of chefs in the workplace, be it background, gender, sexual orientation or experience, is an advantage in and of itself.”

Nada Alameddine Partner

Hodema Consulting Services, Lebanon “One of the biggest challenges is how to be tough in a male-dominated industry, without coming across as being difficult. Skillfully state your opinion without being obstinate and put in the time to see matters through. Be willing to go where the opportunities are and remain flexible to ensure success. Women are very detail and customeroriented, which adds value to any proposition. This means your quality of service and reliability must be on the money. Success stems from focusing on your product, employees and your target market.”

Hala Matar Choufany

President, Middle East, Africa & South Asia

HVS “Women have the innate ability to succeed in both raising a family and excelling at work, therefore finding the right balance becomes crucial.

Youmna Ashkar Chedid General Manager

Fulcrum - LBACC Rafic Hariri International Airport, Lebanon “My advice would be to be passionate about your job and surround yourself with likeminded individuals who share that same passion and commitment. Cultivate a positive work environment!

Unlike the misconception about gender advantage, I believe that success is achieved through an individual's ability to develop soft skills, demonstrate empathy, increase self-awareness, recognize cultural dimensions and adapt to contextual dynamics.”

I do not see any specific advantages a female in the hospitality industry brings. Every individual has different strengths and weaknesses. To be successful, it’s important to continuously self-assess your own performance and strive to be better every day.”

Sarah Hawilo CEO

serVme, UAE “Don't fear starting a business, even if it is not within your realm of experience. Surround yourself with talented people who believe in the company's vision and are persistent and passionate. I make no gender distinctions as I believe women offer equal and different advantages to men. I also believe that having professional diversity across the company such as gender, nationality, age and others is adventageous to the overall business, people and culture."

Lidija Abu Ghazaleh Founder

Lidija’s Kitchen, UAE “Trust your intuition. As a woman, it’s been crucial to find my unique voice and let it be the driving force behind creating engaging content. In other words, always be in touch with that voice. I believe that forging emotional connections is something that women do quite well. Establishing these connections throughout my work has helped pave the way for compelling storytelling.”



HIGH HEELS & ENTREPRENEURSHIP The rise of female entrepreneurs in the pan-Arab region was significant for the last 5 years especially in Lebanon and the UAE. Despite continuous hard work from the regional authorities and business community, there is still room for improvement in the entrepreneurship world in the Middle East.



of ME poplulation are female


78% MALE


22 y 92% 25 34 28%

is their median age compared to 28 y worldwide

of female youth in the region are educated




If people are doubting how far you’ll go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore! is the age range of women launching their business

of companies owned by women in the UAE generate


Michele Ruiz, President & CEO, Ruiz Strategies



compared to a shy


in the US






Saudi Arabia’s hospitality market is expected to experience a huge surge in activity in the coming years, as the Kingdom continues to implement a range of socio-economic reforms. Filippo Sona, director, head of hotels, MENA region, at Colliers, highlights the most pressing issues Several masterplans launched publicly recently are already making an impact, with the results of key initiatives reflected in the figures that show tourism having increased in the Kingdom since the beginning of 2018. Occupancy levels have risen across most of Saudi Arabia’s cities in the first quarter of the year. Demand up in emerging segments Saudi Arabia’s source market is predominately corporate, especially in cities such as Riyadh, where more than 80 percent of demand is generated by corporate visitors. However, the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 and the subsequent socio-economic reforms have led to an increased focus on leisure, religious and domestic tourism, with a view to expanding these segments. Visa reforms were introduced in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of last year, aimed at significantly boosting visitor numbers. The new Umrah (pilgrimage) plus visas are a novel concept that provide these visitors with the opportunity to stay for an extra period of time in the country and explore various cultural and heritage hotspots. The Kingdom is expected to launch a dedicated tourist visa in the near future, as a step in the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030. The holy cities of Makkah and Madinah have also benefited from the increased visa quotas, in line with the Kingdom’s target of reaching 15 million Umrah visitors by 2020. The General Entertainment Authority, which was launched in 2016, confirmed



Saudi Arabia’s plans to channel USD 64 billion into developing the country’s entertainment industry over the next 10 years, including opening cinemas and theme parks, such as Six Flags. Its plans include hosting more than 5,000 concerts and festivals in 2018 as part of the Kingdom’s social and economic reform program. Planned projects announced recently include a huge entertainment resort at Qiddiya, which will span 334 sq km, making it more than twice the size of Disney World, Florida. Scheduled to open by 2022, the development aims to attract 1.5 million visitors annually and will include the Six Flags theme park, waterparks, motor sports, cultural events and vacation homes. Key milestone events have already taken place this year with

With a raft of initiatives announced and early successes achieved in just a few months, industry players are eyeing opportunities across the Kingdom with great interest success, such as the March opening of the country’s first cinema after nearly four decades and the hosting, in April, of a major World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) event in Jeddah, which attracted nearly 60,000 fans. Mega projects, such as the Red Sea initiative and NEOM, are also expected to change the face of Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry by putting the Kingdom on the map as a leisure destination. Launched in 2017 and situated between the cities of Umlaj and Al-Wajh, the Red Sea project is a mega-tourism venture comprising resorts and luxury residences across 50 pristine islands, as well as a nature reserve situated in the area. NEOM, meanwhile, is a USD 500 billion business and industrial zone in Tabuk, which extends into Egypt and Jordan. It will take the form of a fully

independent economic zone with its own laws, taxes and regulations. The first phases of the Red Sea project and NEOM are expected to be completed by the end of 2022 and 2025 respectively. Hospitality supply indicates 3-star potential A total of 6,000 branded keys are expected to enter the Saudi market in 2018, taking the branded hotel supply to 51,600 keys, with the number set to reach 75,200 by 2020. From the confirmed branded hotel supply in the pipeline, 38 percent is expected to be 5-star properties, with 49 percent earmarked for the 4-star category. Markets such as Jeddah and Makkah are projected to grow at an annual rate of 20 percent until 2020, while planned mega-projects, such as NEOM, the Red Sea initiative and the Qiddiya venture, look set to provide the local market with an extensive array of new and exciting hospitality development projects. New hotel openings in the first quarter of 2018 include the Crowne Plaza RDC Hotel and Convention Centre (Riyadh), the Radisson Blu Jeddah Corniche and the Park Inn by Radisson Dammam Industrial City. Currently, 5-star properties account for 65 percent of the branded hotel supply in Saudi Arabia, with 4-star facilities making up 30 percent of the offering. The share held by the 3-star segment stands at less than 5 percent, indicating aconsiderable gap in the market, given the expansion already underway in the industry.

contributing to this growth. Interest in lifestyle properties in both the 3- and 4-star categories is growing across the region. Given its young population and rising demand for leisure activities, the Kingdom offers significant scope for the development of lifestyle properties that appeal to younger travelers.







Source: Colliers International, 2018 Note: The above includes only the branded hotel supply in KSA

Hospitality market outlook Demand in the leisure segment is expected to increase from 2018 and beyond, based on the reform progam underway in Saudi Arabia. Visa reforms, including the upcoming implementation of tourist visas, and the emerging entertainment industry, are key factors






A MISSED OPPORTUNITY? to offset any performance upside. This was partially attributable to the source of the demand growth; China was (and remains) the largest and fastest-growing inbound source market to the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Given the fact that much of this demand has price-sensitive attributes, many hotel operators felt that they could only compete with each other on rate.

Ali Manzoor, associate partner, Hospitality and Leisure, at Knight Frank, helps us draw the lines that illustrate Abu Dhabi’s hospitality scene According to the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) a record 4.8 million people stayed in the emirate’s 162 hotels and hotel apartments during 2017, a 10 percent increase year-on-year (y-o-y). Abu Dhabi enjoyed the strongest growth in the travel and tourism spending and GDP in the region, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and was named the fastestgrowing of all cities outside Asia over the past decade in the study. Despite these positive numbers, however, slower growth is expected for the next 10 years, with the oil crisis the reason behind this instability. Oversupply on the horizon While most were cautiously optimistic about the recovery of Abu Dhabi’s hospitality sector between 2012 and 2015, the spectre of forthcoming supply was always an area of concern for many analysts. These concerns were soon substantiated, as numerous supply deliveries over the following two years resulted in performance declines across the capital. This trend was further exacerbated by the fact that the wider market was being dragged down by economic uncertainty and declining corporate visitation. As a result, 2016 and 2017 were characterized by a widespread softening in performance across the capital, which was primarily attributable to a decline in achievable rates rather than occupancy levels. Indeed, despite the fact that visitation numbers were increasing over this period, the decline in average rates was substantial enough



Difficult hotel operating conditions The hospitality team at Knight Frank has undertaken a substantial number of hotel valuations in Abu Dhabi in recent years, and, as such, has had sight on how hotels have been affected by market conditions in real time through annual valuations. What is clear is that many hotels have had a rigid cost structure, and, as a result, have not been able to react sufficiently to rapidly changing market conditions. In some Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana

The offer of complimentary hotel accommodation for many passengers with a stopover in Abu Dhabi is a great initiative to reach potential guests cases, we have seen profitability ratios decline by over 20 percent in a span of just three years, and such situations have been a bitter pill to swallow for asset owners. While the first instinct of some is to cut payroll, most understand that doing so is a short-term solution; instead many are looking at alternative ways to drive revenue, or in some cases, to enhance efficiencies in utilities expense, which has been a subject of great interest in recent years. New destinations to drive footfall One shortcoming that Abu Dhabi has continuously had to deal with is the lack of credible demand generators, particularly those which are compelling enough to stimulate room-night demand from the leisure segment. Historically, visitors to the capital would be able to visit major sites in a single day, and beyond Yas Waterpark, Yas Arena and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, there were few other attractions to visit. However, with the delivery of Yas Mall, the Louvre and the upcoming Warner Brothers Theme Park, properties are in a stronger position to convert these day trips into room-night demand.

The role of the national carrier Etihad Airways is also an important conduit for the capital’s hospitality sector, and it is interesting to see new initiatives being carried out by the airline which are clearly designed to stimulate Abu Dhabi’s hospitality market. The offer of complimentary hotel accommodation for many passengers with a stopover in Abu Dhabi is a great initiative to reach potential guests who may not have previously considered the emirate as a tourist destination. While we do appreciate that the market has a challenging operating environment, in the short-to-medium term, given the comparatively modest supply pipeline and various government initiatives, we believe that the long-term outlook is broadly positive.

More rooms than stayers DCT’s data shows that Abu Dhabi has 162 hotel establishments and 30,574 hotel rooms, up from 140 and 27,258 respectively in 2016, or 16 percent and 12 percent y-o-y. This increase reveals hotel supply growth outpacing that of hotel visitors, which grew by 10 percent in 2017, resulting in drops in room rates, as per the WTTC.


HN spoke to Christian Baudat, area vice president, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Oman for Rotana, who shared his insights on the business attractiveness of the UAE capital • When Rotana opened its first hotel in Abu Dhabi in 1993, the emirate was on the brink of an exciting growth phase. The city had ambitions to become a hub for a number of growth industries, including

tourism, and in the years to follow, the wheels were set in motion to transform Abu Dhabi into a destination like no other. Today, the emirate covers a diverse tourism offering that is truly unique, spanning the city, beach and desert.

from real estate and construction to hospitality and retail. By encouraging visitors to Abu Dhabi, we are attracting more business to the emirate, which has ultimately stimulated commercial and financial growth.

• The Abu Dhabi government has made it clear that it is keen to see economic diversification for the future prosperity of the emirate and is opening the opportunities to meet these goals. Tourism intersects with a number of other commercial and economic sectors,

• Following the recent announcement from the Department of Culture and Tourism, an impressive 15 percent hotel guest increase in February this year to the capital shows positive and progressive growth across all sectors. JUN-JUL 2018 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME







expenditure in 2017. Figures suggest that spending could grow by an estimated 7.8 percent in 2018, on the back of an anticipated rise in international visitor numbers, which are expected to reach 1.95 million.

The airport is currently struggling to cope with traffic volumes, having registered a record 8.3 million passengers in 2017 Beirut’s hotel occupancy rate rose 4 percent in 2017 year-on-year (y-o-y) to reach 64 percent, according to EY's Hotel Benchmark Survey. The average room

Beirut hotel occupancy rates 75%


69% 70%



62% 62% 57%



D ec -1 7

N ov -1 7

O ct -1 7

Se p17

Au g17

Ju l-1 7

Ju n17

M ay -1 7

Ap r17

M ar -1 7


Fe b17

On a national level, increases in rents, soaring prices of goods, a cheaper Syrian workforce and the ballooning public debt last year, which led to a reduction in available capital for investment and increased risk factors, continued to present challenges for the hospitality sector. Last but not least, the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri last November, which was later withdrawn, raised questions about its potential adverse impact. With marked resilience and against a challenging backdrop, the tourism and hospitality sectors not only held their own in 2017, but produced highly impressive

Spending by visitors generated USD 6.9 billion, representing 48.5 percent of total

Ja n17

Lebanon’s tourism and F&B industries rebounded in 2017 to deliver surprisingly solid performances, shaking off challenges, such as travel restrictions and regional instability, in the process. Tarek Hammoud, offshore team manager and consultant at Hodema, dissects the data, while reflecting on the country’s trademark resilience

performances. Avedis Guidanian, the minister of tourism, described the year 2017 as Lebanon’s second best for tourism since 1951, noting that a total of 2 million passengers passed through Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport in the 12-month period and hotel occupancy rates reached 65 percent during the holidays. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector’s total contribution to the economy reached USD 9.3 billion or 18.4 percent of GDP, with this figure expected to rise by 5.2 percent in 2018.

rate and the revenue per room increased by 7 percent and 15 percent y-o-y to reach USD 151 and USD 96 respectively. The only dip took place in November, when Prime Minister Hariri announced his resignation, with the result that hotel occupancy rates slipped to 54 percent, down by 9 percentage points on the same period in 2016. The F&B sector also recorded a good year, with restaurant openings in Beirut up by 5.28 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. Mid-level capital costs and acceptable returns have been attracting investors, while also boosting the capital city’s performance on the international stage. Travel and Leisure Magazine named Beirut ‘Best International City for Food’ in 2017, with Forbes Magazine describing it as “the greatest food and wine country you’ve never visited.”

Mid-level capital costs and acceptable returns have been attracting investors, while also boosting the capital city’s performance on the international stage The outlook could brighten further this year, if and when Gulf countries lift their travel restrictions, which would have an immediate impact on visitor numbers

and spending. The authorities also have major plans in the pipeline to support the industry, including significantly increasing capacity at the airport. Prime Minister Hariri announced recently that the facility’s expansion would allow it to accommodate an additional 5 million passengers annually, up from its current capacity levels of around 6 million. The airport is currently struggling to cope with traffic volumes, having registered a record 8.3 million passengers in 2017. On the political side, all eyes were on the general elections in May, with the business community eagerly awaiting

the outcome and its implications. News that Lebanon had received pledges worth billions at the Paris conference of international donors in April to support its ailing economy will provide some reassurance for business leaders. The country has a lengthy track record for showing resilience amid recurring political and economic woes; a characteristic that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the WTTC, which expects the industry’s contribution to GDP to reach 23.7 percent by 2028.

Travel & tourism's contribution to GDP from 2009 to 2017 in Lebanon (in USD million) 30%

16,000 14,000





10,000 8,000




20% 9,010

19% 8,896


18% 8,413

18% 8,634




9,088 15%

6,000 4,000 2,000


10% 5,500


















5% 0%

Direct contribution to GDP

Indirect contribution to GDP

% of GDP





US EXPORT AND FRANCHISE STRATEGIES Naaman Tayyar, head of the commercial section, US Commercial Service of the US Embassy, Beirut, sheds light on how to grow your business locally and remain competitive What is the role of the US Commercial Service in the Lebanese-US relationship? The US Commercial Service in Lebanon serves as a one-stop shop through which Lebanese investors and buyers may be introduced to potential US partners. It is part of a network of over 1,400 trade professionals in over 100 cities and in more than 75 countries dedicated to helping US companies identify international partners around the world. What services does the US Commercial Service offer its clients? The US Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the US Department of Commerce. It offers a wide range of services, including the following: • Counsels US companies on market opportunities, regulations and ways of doing business in Lebanon.



• Assists Lebanese companies in identifying US suppliers of products and services. • Assists US companies in identifying Lebanese agents and representatives for their products and services. • Recruits Lebanese delegations to attend trade shows in the US • Organizes trade fairs and seminars in Lebanon to promote US products and services. • Conducts market research for US companies. • Identifies major projects and offers advocacy support to US companies bidding for these projects. • Negotiates with the Lebanese government market access issues and barriers to trade and investment. • Mediates and resolves commercial disputes between US and Lebanese companies.

What opportunities are available for Lebanese investors in the US market? Are there any shows or events that they can participate in? The US is the world’s most attractive consumer market, offering unmatched investment opportunities and a thriving culture of innovation. Companies of all sizes can find opportunities, resources and markets in the US to succeed and grow. For Lebanese companies that are interested in representing US products and services, CS Beirut annually promotes a series of major trade shows in the US and encourages Lebanese companies to attend those events. In the hospitality industry, we

Lebanese exports to the US reached USD 66 million in 2017, from which USD 33 million were food and beverages recruited business delegations to attend the National Restaurant Association Show, from May 19 to 22 in Chicago and the International Franchise Expo from June 1 to 3 in New York. These forums introduce Lebanese investors to the latest US technology in the hospitality industry and to US franchises that have potential to expand in Lebanon. For Lebanese companies that are interested in investing in the US, we encourage them to attend the ‘SelectUSA Investment Summit’ from June 22 to 24 in Washington DC. How prominent is the US presence in Lebanon in terms of F&B products and franchises? Franchising is among the fastestgrowing business sectors in Lebanon. The US presence in franchising and F&B sectors is large and still has room to grow. Everywhere you travel in Lebanon, you see American franchises. Major franchises present are Baskin-Robbins, Burger King, Chili’s, Cluckster’s, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Häagen-Dazs, Hardee’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald's, P.F. Chang’s, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Subway and T.G.I. Friday’s. American franchises are still expanding in Lebanon. A

good example would be Burger King’s inauguration of its 26 th outlet earlier this year. Franchising opportunities are also available in the hotel industry. Several internationally recognized US hotel groups, including Hilton, Four Points (Sheraton) and Grand Hills (Starwood Hotels) already operate in Lebanon. In April 2008, we recruited a delegation from the Lebanese Franchise Association (LFA) to the International Franchise Expo and signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Franchise Association to foster international training and sharing of information. What are the laws and regulations involved in exporting Lebanese goods to the US? US Customs regulations are clear, and shipping goods across the border can be relatively straightforward if exporters are well prepared for it. Some extra time spent on paperwork will contribute a great deal to efficient customs clearance. Inaccurate or incomplete documentation is the most common reason for US authorities to delay shipments. Lebanese exports may have to abide by regulations established by other US agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For instance, FDA maintains guidelines for the labeling of food and beverage products. If your product falls into these categories, you may need additional documentation, such as a Certificate of Hygiene, a Certificate of Free Sale or a Certificate of Inspection. On another note, it’s very important to highlight that Lebanese exports benefit from tariff-free access to the US under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Lebanese exports to the US reached USD 66 million in 2017, from which USD 33 million (50 percent) were food and beverages. We encourage Lebanese exporters to contact us to learn more about the GSP program. Can you share a few statistics on the amount of Lebanese goods exported to the states? What is the percentage of F&B related products? The US was Lebanon’s largest trading partner between 2008 and 2012. It is

currently Lebanon’s third-largest trading partner, with US exports exceeding USD 1.4 billion, behind China and Italy, and ahead of Germany, France and Greece. US firms credit the growth in US exports to the excellent reputation of US products in terms of quality and price. Major US exports to Lebanon in 2017 included USD 452 million worth of mineral products, USD 362 million worth of automotive products, USD 112 million worth of machinery and electrical instruments, USD 74 million worth of medical products, and USD 112 million food and beverages, constituting 8 percent of total US exports to Lebanon. Lebanon exports approximately USD 65 million in goods and services to the US, of which food and beverage products accounted for half of Lebanese exports, followed by jewelery exports, reaching USD 9 million.

Major US exports to Lebanon in 2017 included USD 112 million worth of machinery and electrical instruments and USD 112 million food and beverages Can you tell us about the SelectUSA event in June and how Lebanese investors can participate? SelectUSA is a US governmentwide program organized by the US Department of Commerce from June 20 to 22, 2018, in Washington DC. Its objective is to help companies of all sizes find the information they need to make decisions, connect to the right people in the US and navigate the federal regulatory system to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US. The summit’s theme for 2018 is ‘Invest Here. Grow Here. Succeed Here’. Since its inception, SelectUSA has facilitated more than USD 22.5 billion in investments in the US. The 2017 Summit attracted more than 3,000 attendees, including more than 1,200 global investors from 64 different markets and more than 600 economic development officials from 51 states and territories. We encourage Lebanese investors to attend the June SelectUSA conference. Register at JUN-JUL 2018 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME





While visitors can access Lebanon’s seashore free of charge via its coastline, the beach getaway concept has been somewhat altered by the introduction and development of private clubs, where additional facilities, such as pools and restaurants, are made available to customers. Ralph Nader CEO of Amber Consulting tells us more

which remains the biggest beach club in Lebanon today. With competition heating up over the years, new beach clubs looked for innovative ways of attracting clientele, adopting clever strategies that included offering unique concepts and differentiating their services and facilities. As novelties and new temptations became the norm, followers were less likely to stay loyal to one outlet.

Beach clubs also find their profitability affected by a lack of support from the public sector

An evolving business The first beach club to open in the Middle East was the Saint-Georges Yacht & Motor Club, which was launched in April 1936 in Minet El Hosn - Beirut by industry pioneer, Michel Nader.

Diversification and growing numbers of new venues springing up along the Lebanese coast also weighed on beach club memberships, which have dipped in popularity since the turn of the millennium, due to a desire among curious customers to try out new outlets without committing to one particular place. Against this backdrop, beach cub owners face a tough battle to maintain inflows of visitors and revenues at an optimal level.

A few beach clubs followed in the 1960s, such as Saint Simon and Riviera. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and significantly, beach clubs started to spring up outside of the capital, to the south and north of Beirut. Key players included Bamboo Bay in Jiyeh, Oceana in Rmeileh and Eddesands in Byblos,

Choosing wisely Developing a beach club concept requires serious studies and financial resources. Keeping in mind that the beach is the number one destination for outings during the sunny season, club owners need to create their concept meticulously, based on the



niche clientele they want to target. With appetites and lifestyles changing, new beach clubs in Lebanon are shifting their focus from social classes and age groups to tastes and spending behaviors. One major trend currently in evidence is the draw of natural features and surroundings. Ô-Glacée, an open-air, hip beach lounge in Batroun, welcomes its guests with an ice-cold, natural pool, while offering simple and affordable services and products. Aside from these attractions, beach clubs in the area are also considered ideally located for water sports. Other concepts remain focused on luxurious services, targeting a niche clientele that wants to be pampered. Beach resorts in Lebanon: a challenge Benefiting from warm weather that extends from mid-April to late September, Lebanon is a draw for locals, tourists and expatriates in summer, many of whom flock to its richly varied coast that features both rocky and sandy shores, spanning south to north. In recent years, the country has enjoyed longer summers, leading to prolonged seasons for beach-related businesses. Lazy B, located in Jiyeh, opened its doors on April 1, 2018, significantly earlier than traditional opening dates, in a bid to attract customers keen to kick-start their summer sooner rather than later. However, the Lebanese still tend to restrict beach-going to between June and early September,

despite warm spring-times and amazing Indian summers that can stretch from September to end-October. These limited windows are among the challenges that beach club owners face in their struggle to generate profits. Owners traditionally counted on customers spending money on food and drinks, since F&B tended to generate more revenue than entrance fees. However, over the years, consumption behaviors have changed, with popular upselling items now a distant memory. Alcohol is a prime example; while it used to be a key revenue stream for the F&B segment, many customers have reduced their qualitative alcohol consumption at the beach, leading to a cutback in profit margins. Other factors affecting both pricing and profitability include high rents and related taxes. Tough on the pocket People seek out the beach to relax and enjoy the warmth of the sun. But what happens when kicking back by the sea is beyond budget? Costly entrance fees and F&B checks are two major issues at beach clubs in Lebanon, especially for families. Visitors will select a beach club based on a number of factors, including

access to the sea and use of basic beach facilities, such as pools, which they expect, alongside estimated spending on food and drinks. However, some owners seem to forget that the higher the price, the lower the consumption, leading to reduced visitor inflow per season, even if other factors come into play, such as the popularity of a venue with children.

Owners traditionally counted on customers spending money on food and drinks, since F&B tended to generate more revenue than entrance fees More support needed In addition to facing high taxes, beach clubs also find their profitability affected by a lack of support from the public sector: • Permits Obtaining construction and operational permits is a major struggle for owners, which leaves them having to navigate complicated procedures with various public institutions prior to gaining approvals. • Subsidized Loans Subsidized loans have always been a challenge to secure and have

DUBAI: LUXURY LIVING, PARTY CENTER AND FAMILY FRIENDLY From chic and elite to cool and casual, Dubai has beach clubs to suit all tastes and budgets. Amongst its luxury options are: • Cove Beach – Set on a stretch of Dubai’s golden sand, this venue offers guests comfortable daybeds or sofas, where they are treated to an upscale service and fancy food • Nikki Beach – Part of the 5-star, Dubai lifestyle beachfront resort, this beach club features spectacular views of the breathtaking Dubai skyline, while offering a refined experience • Nasimi Beach – Although best known as an after-dark party spot, this outlet is equally popular during the day, welcoming a strictly 21 years+ clientele • Eden Beach Club – This club’s sleek pool area is surrounded by cabanas and white sun loungers, while showcasing an expansive dancefloor. By day, guests are pampered with the butler service, and by night, the beach club transforms into one of the wildest parties in town When it comes to beach bashes, party lovers are spoilt for choice. Destinations include: • Zero Gravity – A venue that has the edge when it comes to a day-to-night beach experience, offering watersports and beach activities, as well as live music. Visitors can obtain a voucher for food and drink with their

beach pass or opt for a private cabana and grill their own lunch on the BBQ • Blue Marlin Ibiza – With minimalist décor, this beach club is split into several sections that include a terrace, a dining area, a bar area and the beach itself • Drai’s – An authentic Vegas experience, this day-to-night poolside partying venue offers upscale facilities in a luxurious VIP setting Dubai’s long list of family-friendly beach resorts includes: • Riva Beach – Where guests can enjoy unrivalled views of the crystal-clear water of the Arabian Gulf in a relaxed, vibrant and family-oriented environment, with a picturesque vista of Burj Al Arab • Rixos The Palm – Promoting family bonding, this club offers guests the opportunity to relax in a cabana or chill out by the pool bar, while the little ones splash around • Fairmont The Palm – Boasting four pools, including one dedicated to families, this beach resort has a picturesque view of the marina and a wide stretch of private beach • Jumeirah Zabeel – Kids will love the largescale children’s club available at Jumeirah Zabeel, while parents can soak up the luxurious ambience on a lounger

also traditionally only been made available for new builds. Such loans were granted at rates of around 0 percent at the end of the 1990s, but rose to 3 percent in the early 2000s, before reaching 4.5 percent this year. However, owners of beach clubs already up and running, but seeking financial support for refurbishment, are often forced to explore alternative and expensive sources of funding or sell part of their property. • More expenses A lack of reduced or subsidized electricity pricing and municipality taxes present further challenges. Moreover, insufficient sewage lines for the seashore can lead to additional treatment plant costs. • Categorization Unlike hotels, beach clubs in Lebanon do not follow 2, 3, 4 or 5- star classification ratings, making it difficult for the public to gauge their standards and the services they offer. Against the odds Despite the market difficulties, some beach clubs, such as Kalani in Halat, La Siesta in Khaldeh and Mandaloun Beach in Dbayeh, are still standing tall, championing Lebanon’s efforts to regain its position of regional touristic summer hub.

KSA: THE NEXT BIG THING The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been working on the development of a new city, known as NEOM, that will span the northwestern coastline of the country, while also extending into territories in neighboring Jordan and Egypt. This Red Sea project will be governed by laws “on par with international standards”, setting out to provide an easy-going lifestyle, where activities that are traditionally forbidden in the Kingdom will be permitted. In a separate development, and as part of the country’s tourism plan, a project is underway to transform 50 islands into luxury resorts within natural surroundings, geared toward visitors from around the globe. Initial construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2019, with the first phase of completion targeted for the fourth quarter of 2022. JUN-JUL 2018 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME




YOUNG, ACCOMPLISHED AND AMBITIOUS It’s a known fact that hiring young, skilled leaders can inject new blood into a company, foster innovation and unlock achievement. Hotel chains operating in the MENA region are adopting this mindset, selecting the leaders of their properties best suited to boost performance and leapfrog forward when it comes to initiatives, innovation and development. Our list of 16 general managers, nominated by their respective hotel chains, is a who’s who of those transforming the hospitality scene in this part of the world, as well as those who have made the biggest impact during this calendar year



Rabih Abdou, 41

Haytham Aziz, 38

1996, prior to his graduation, and has been promoted for several times. Following the business management degree he got from the Lebanese University in 2001, he has held different operational and administrative positions. His repertoire includes working with different leading chains, including Rotana.

positive vision, clear-cut business strategies and leadership skills started to make a difference when Coral Beach Resort closed 2016 with 25 percent increase in the business compared to 2015. Soon after, the guest satisfaction graph rose to an all-time high, with Coral Beach Resort taking the number one spot on TripAdvisor. The employee satisfaction survey shows the organizational stability and morale of staff higher than before. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Helwan University in Cairo, Aziz has over 17 years’ experience in the hospitality industry.

Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah

Rabih Abdou brings over 20 years’ experience in the hotel business, and has become general manager for the first time when he was 35. He has stated his professional career with IHG hotels back in

Dan Benzaquen, 35 Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba and Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba

Coral Beach Resort Sharjah

Haytham Aziz joined the HMH group in 2014 as executive assistant manager at Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel, before being promoted to the position of hotel manager at Coral Beach Resort Sharjah in 2015. He was 36 when appointed as hotel manager and, by the age of 37, he had been promoted to general manager. At this comparatively young age, Aziz turned around a struggling business, making it a success story in an impressively short time. His

Richard Bleakley, 42 After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Hospitality Management from the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland, Dan Benzaquen embarked on a flourishing career in hospitality. Starting out as a guest service manager in the 5-star Sheraton Dongguan Hotel in China, Benzaquen crossed continents to join the team at the Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai for three years as assistant front office manager. From there, he moved to Deira to join Mövenpick Hotel Deira,

where he quickly rose up the ranks to become operations manager. In 2015, he became executive assistant manager for Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea. Shifting further south to Jordan, Benzaquen is now cluster general manager of two Mövenpick properties. Several accolades have come the hotel’s way under his reign, including the World Travel Awards’ title of Leading Resort in Jordan for five straight years. The property was also honored by King Hussein Cancer Foundation for sponsoring the ‘Room for Hope’ initiative.

Laura Eggleton, 31

Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb

Laura Eggleton joined Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb as its general manager in 2014 and has since then consistently proved her mettle by successfully implementing strategies to enhance guest experience and increase hotel revenues. Despite a challenging year in 2017, she was able to introduce strategies to continually achieve good results, focusing on offsetting shortfalls and delivering on occupancy. The strength coming from strong corporate performance was illustrated in an uplift of 23

percent year-to-date. One key attribute Eggleton demonstrates as general manager is an ability to work closely with house colleagues. She is a firm believer in the philosophy that a satisfied employee ensures a fully satisfied guest, which then translates into results. Under her leadership, the Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb reached 39 percent Omanization, the highest figure since the hotel’s opening. She persuaded her colleagues to undergo additional training throughout the year and encouraged them to prepare for upcoming roles in their careers with IHG. Many of her colleagues also completed the IHG leadership academy ‘Leading Others’ in 2017.

Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi

Richard Bleakley is a seasoned hospitality professional with more than 16 years of extensive experience, the last five of which have been at three Marriott International properties in the UAE. He began his career in 2000 as an area sales manager for Marriott UK, moving upward to secure several key positions before he clinched his first general manager role at the Northampton Marriott Hotel in 2009. In 2012, he relocated to the UAE, gaining international experience as director of operations for the JW

Marriott Hotel, Dubai, and shortly after, acquired the position of acting general manager for the same property. In 2014, Bleakley joined Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi, as general manager to open the hotel. The property was the first Marriott International property to open in the capital and has seen phenomenal success under his leadership. During this time, Bleakley has been a recipient of the Diamond General Manager of the Year Award by Marriott International. In 2017, he was appointed general manager of the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi, opened on March 21, 2017.

Antoun Kobercy, 37

Tulip Inn Downtown Muscat

Having almost 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Antoun Kobercy has been with Louvre Hotels Group since 2006. Prior to becoming the hotel manager of Tulip Inn Downtown Muscat, he had held various managerial and had also worked with other

leading hotel chains including Marriott and IHG. After joining Golden Tulip Hotels - MENA, Kobercy’s journey involved properties across the region. Besides his hotel managerial role, he has been the director brand & system services - MENA in charge of the entire managed and franchised hotels in the region, which include 62 hotels, and has held this position for three years starting 2009.




HOTELS Rafat Gotta, 38

Elias Moukarzel, 39

Coral Dubai Deira Hotel

Rafat Gotta started out on his career path aged 20 and gained his first managerial position when just 24 years old. He became the head of department at 28, hotel manager at 33 and general manager at 37. Gotta began his career with Marriott in 1999, while still completing his university degree, and remained there until the end of 2006. During this period, he was assigned several roles within three Marriott hotels in the region. Afterwards, he joined Kempinski Hotels in early 2007, before moving to

IHG as an executive committee member at the Crowne Plaza in 2008. He was in charge of three separate Holiday Inn Express properties between 2011 and 2017, before moving to HMH as general manager of Coral Dubai Deira Hotel. Under his supervision, the hotel won several accolades and was recognized regionally, securing first place on STR in a competitive field and boosting employee satisfaction to 88 percent. Gotta also led the hotel team to victory at the 2017 TripAdvisor travelers’ choice awards and the 2017 Agoda customer review award, in addition to reaching 91 percent occupancy for a full year.

Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa

When he was just 35, Elias Moukarzel was named as the general manager of the Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi. Afterwards, he became the leader of several Hilton properties across the region. For the time being, he has under his belt both King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre managed by Hilton, as well as Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa.

Georges Ojeil, 40 Le Gray, Beirut

Daniel Kaan, 38

Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Daniel Kaan was appointed general manager of Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers in 2017, aged 37. He attained his first general manager title within the group at Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain in 2014, where he led the team to win Best Airport Hotel in the Middle East for three consecutive years, including in 2017, Condé Nast top 10 airport hotels in the world (2017) and was also awarded the most popular Friday Brunch in Bahrain. His efforts increased the hotel’s profitability, without impacting on its unparalleled service excellence. In June, he joined Mövenpick

Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai, where, along with his team, he developed a cartoon brunch concept catering to families, and scored a win at the BBC Good Food awards within the ‘Best Family Brunch in Dubai’ category. A versatile executive, he brings over 16 years of experience to his role, having joined Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts at Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam in 2010. Kaan served as director of food and beverage before being promoted to hotel manager. His early areas of expertise encompassed leadership roles in F&B, as well as conference services within the InterContinental Hotels Group in Dubai, Nairobi and Shenzhen, and with the Grand Hyatt in Beijing.

Extending Le Gray in Beirut, signing a MOU with Alain Ducasse for an anticipated F&B property, maintaining the number one position on TripAdvisor since 2015, and being the sole hotel in Lebanon to be listed among the top 25 hotels in the Middles East in the categories of Luxury and Service on TripAdvisor, as well as winning TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Award 2018, are some of Georges Ojeil’s achievements as the general manager of Le Gray, Beirut, a position he held since he was just 38. With several years of experience in the hospitality industry and extensive knowledge in F&B, coupled with a double MBA from the École

Alaa Selim joined Al Jahra Copthorne in October 2013. Since then, he has been instrumental in driving the business forward. Adopting an empowering strategy, he makes it a point to be in the front line, sending out a message that regardless of title, every team member needs to contribute to get the job done. Under his tenure, Al Jahra Copthorne Hotel and Resort reached the

highest annual revenue to date, growing 30 percent year-onyear (y-o-y) and exceeding budget by almost 20 percent, up USD 3.5 million on last year’s figure. Occupancy index has risen by 39 percent y-o-y to take the number one spot among the competition. The property also achieved a 97 percent average hotel occupancy in the fourth quarter of 2017. The employee satisfaction score

also rose to reach 94 percent, the second highest in the Middle East among Millennium & Copthorne hotels. In other achievements, the culinary team at Al-Jahra Copthorne Hotel & Resort earned five silver and bronze medals, along with 10 merit certificates and a prize of excellence in food safety and hygiene from Boecker during the annual culinary contest, held on the sidelines of the HORECA Exhibition.



Moukarzel started his career in food and beverage service in the hospitality industry, and later progressed to take on managerial positions in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon. He received his Hospitality Management Higher National degree and an MBA from Ecole Hôtelière de Toulouse and Ecole de Savignac in France. To his repertoire of successes is added hosting the Annual Arab League Summit in 2017, which brought together all the Arab kings and heads of states.

Supérieure de Commerce de Paris and an Executive MBA from the École Supérieure des Affaires in Beirut, Ojeil has all the attributes needed for a leading general manager and hospitality aficionado. Following years as F&B director and executive assistant manager with a number of properties in Lebanon, Ojeil was appointed corporate director of food and beverage for Le Royal Hotels & Resorts, overseeing different properties in the region, including Le Royal Hammamet, Le Royal Luxembourg, Le Royal Beirut, Le Royal El Minzah and Grand Hotel Ville De France by Le Royal in Tangier. He was called to join IHG as executive assistant manager for the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Dead Sea, Jordan and then as hotel manager for Intercontinental’s flagship property in Amman.

Alaa Selim, 42

Copthorne Al Jahra Kuwait

Mohamed Samir Elsayed Mohamed, 38

Moustafa Sakr, 40 The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Address Dubai Mall

With 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Mohamed Samir Elsayed Mohamed joined the hotel in February 2014 as a junior manager and was instrumental in strengthening its operational aspects. Previously, he worked in various managerial roles at a number of luxury hotels across the UAE and in Egypt.

Mohamed is a graduate in Hotel Management from Helwan University, Cairo. He also completed the general manager’s program at Cornell University. He is responsible for the overall management of the hotel, including meeting financial targets, guest satisfaction and all-round operations. He is also mandated with further enhancing service standards through competent guest-management practices.

One of the founding members of The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Moustafa Sakr opened the hotel in 2013 as deputy general manager and was promoted to general manager two years later. He has 17 years of hospitality experience, including 15 in the Middle East. Under his tenure, the property won

12 awards in 2017 alone. Sakr expressly believes he owes this achievement to his team and is adamant that this tight relationship is reflected in overall guest satisfaction and loyalty. He is also convinced that his passion is what drives him to lead people and influence them. In return, he adds, he is inspired by his team. Asked about plans for the new year, Sakr said the growing market offers plenty of opportunities to capitalize on.

Amr Al Sunari, 43

Makarem Ajyad Makkah Hotel

Burçin Türker, 41 Warwick Ankara

With over 15 years of experience within the hospitality industry, Burçin Türker leads Warwick Hotels and Resorts Ankara, the group’s first property in Turkey. Under his tenure, and with just a year of operations behind it, the Warwick Hotels’ brand awareness was boosted significantly in the country, while the hotel clinched the Guest Review Award in 2017. Prior to joining Warwick Hotels and Resorts, Türker served as group director of sales at Rixos Hotels & Resorts, where he effectively managed all aspects of the group’s portfolio of

residences and governmental business. Previously, he was the director of business development at a 5-star local hotel chain in Ankara, where he successfully positioned it in the luxury property market. Türker has also served as sales and marketing director of GL Events properties, which is the biggest international convention and exhibition center in Ankara. Earlier in his career, he worked at Swissotel & Resorts, Radisson BLU and Hilton International, gaining experience in pre-opening and opening hotels. He is a member of the Anatolian Tourism Administrators Association and the Association of Hoteliers and Operators Ankara.

A professional, ambitious and practical leader, Bassam Zakaria brings nearly 20 years of experience within the hospitality sector. A French citizen with Syrian origins, he has managed and worked in some of the largest hotels and resorts around the world, including Hilton International, Starwood and Rotana. His result-driven style of management has helped him lead multi-talented teams

and led to him receiving critical acclaim during his tenure. He secured his first managerial role in 2006, when he was area sales manager at Rotana Hotels in Abu Dhabi. Zakaria joined Millennium Hotels and Resorts in 2016 as resident manager/ deputy general manager, where he improved the overall guest satisfaction score by 2.3 points, achieved better positioning on various guest review websites and increased the mix of leisure

With over 20 years of experience within the hotel industry, Amr Al Sunari, general manager of Makarem Ajyadh Makkah, a 5-star hotel by Dur hospitality, has greatly contributed to the growth of his hotel brand. Since he was appointed general manager of Makarem Ajyadh Makkah in 2015, Al Sunari has initiated marketing plans to promote the brand and boost its management and operations. He has also nurtured potential employee talent and created a productive work environment by implementing training programs. Some of his key achievements include being actively involved in the rebranding/renovation

business by 9 percent yearon-year by attracting new markets with longer lengths of stay. He was promoted to general manager at Kingsgate Abu Dhabi and, with a team of just 28 staff members, he has serviced over 60,000 guests in the year to date, improved occupancy and maintained it at 85 percent, and achieved excellent reviews on various platforms, such as Facebook and TripAdvisor.

project of the hotel. He has also achieved the Saudization target, better financial results for Hajj, when the market was critically declining, achieved an outstanding savings versus budget outcome, and efficiently compensated the YTD loss of the group from transient business through in-depth planning and execution. For guests, he established a Masjid in the lobby, immersed himself in the process of solving the long-standing issues of the hotel lobby shop and opened two counters at the lobby to provide convenience for guests. He took on the leadership role at the Jeddah compound in the absence of the general manager for six months, Makarem Um Al Qura for two months and also handled the Makkah properties and matters related to the Chamber of Commerce.

Bassam Zakaria, 36 Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Kingsgate Hotel Abu Dhabi






Dale Qi Shen, associate director, hotels strategic advisory services at CBRE Middle East region, one of the largest commercial real estate services and investment firms in the world, pinpoints seven growing trends in the region’s hotel industry to look out for 1. Growth in visitor numbers prompted by an ease in visa regulations In order to achieve their respective targeted visitor numbers (Dubai 2020 Tourism Vision, Saudi Vision 2030 and Oman Vision 2020), GCC countries are eyeing new source markets and easing their visa requirements. The UAE and Oman now grant visas on arrival to Russian, Chinese and Indian citizens. Saudi Arabia also recently announced its own plans to issue tourist visas as of Q1 2018. The easing of entry restrictions in the UAE proved to be a success in 2017, with visitor numbers from these source markets up significantly. In Dubai, for example, arrivals from India, China and Russia increased by 17 percent, 46 percent and 111 percent respectively, yearon-year. Going forward, arrivals from China are expected to increase by 21 percent to reach 2.5 million by 2021. Furthermore, additional GCC hotels are expected to be listed on, China’s number one travel website, as in the case of the Armani Hotel Dubai, which appeared there in early January.



The Indian source market is also expected to become more important in the GCC’s visitor segmentation due to the country’s relative proximity to the region. Indian millennials, some 400 million people, looking for a quick escape are likely to represent a significant share of the country’s outbound visitors coming to the GCC. Moreover, the decision to restore flight connections between Egypt and Russia in January is expected to increase the flow of Russian nationals to the region. 2. Significant increase in supply With GCC countries aware that in order to achieve their visitor number targets, they must increase their accommodation capacities, there is evidence of a significant portfolio, both under construction and in the planning stage. The GCC region encompasses around 2,000 ongoing

Indian millennials, some 400 million people, looking for a quick escape are likely to represent a significant share of the country’s outbound visitors coming to the GCC hospitality projects, two thirds of which are located within the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In 2018, Dubai is expected to add approximately 17,000 hotel rooms to its current inventory. Furthermore, according to MEED Projects, there are over USD 14 billion worth of hospitality construction contracts to be awarded in 2018 in the MENA region. This incoming new supply will put pressure on average daily rates (ADRs), as well as occupancy, creating additional impetus for older properties to undertake refurbishment programs or to seek reclassification. The additional supply may also lead to a restructuring of the market in terms of ownership, particularly within markets where foreign ownership is a factor, and we expect a growing number of hotel transactions in the years to come.

3. New developments positioned towards lifestyle, green and midscale offerings As the GCC hospitality market continues to mature from its existing provision of luxury, branded hotels and aged owner-operated accommodation, the need for more upscale and midscale developments reaching international standards is anticipated to rise in order to meet the demands of a wider spectrum of visitors. Consequently, more lifestyle and midscale segment properties have begun entering the market. In addition, concepts with innovative accommodation solutions offering community spaces that increase guests’ interactions, such as informal and open-plan meeting and lounge areas, are gaining in importance. More developers are also aspiring to deliver environmentally friendly buildings. In Dubai, Diamond Developers has begun building its IHG Indigo hotel in Sustainable City, which will be 100 percent solar powered. In a separate move, Emaar recently partnered with the Emirates Green Building Council to get its existing and upcoming properties Green Key Certified. 4. Further operation rationalization In most of the GCC market, gross profit margins (GOP) have decreased due to the challenging conditions of the past few years, which have forced hotels to

rationalize their operations and diversify their revenue mix. Hotel operators and owners have started to value-engineer their cost structures and put their support functions into clusters, as well as renegotiating procurement contracts and outsourcing certain back-of-house operations. Hotels are also looking at various ways of adding value to their public areas by creating new leisure concepts, such as pop-up cinemas and mini indoor golf facilities, while also leasing out operated F&B outlets, spa or gym components. Meanwhile, the function of revenue management is becoming ever-more important, since a detailed revenue strategy is crucial to avoid strong rate fluctuations. 5. VAT implementation in GCC countries While Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman decided to delay implementation of VAT to 2019, the UAE and Saudi Arabia introduced the tax from January 1, 2018, at a rate of five percent. Despite hoteliers across these markets declaring that implementation has been smooth, VAT is expected to decrease the relative attractiveness of the countries that have implemented the tax compared to those that have not. While some hotels will do their utmost to soften the impact of the tax by reducing the net room

rate, guests will still, in most cases, have to pay VAT, which will increase accommodation costs. This, in turn, could weigh on occupancy rates, with alternative destinations outside the GCC, but within the MENA region, perhaps registering a commensurate upturn as a result.

Hotels are also looking at various ways of adding value to their public areas by creating new leisure concepts, such as pop-up cinemas and mini indoor golf facilities 6. Technology Hoteliers are constantly looking at ways to improve guests’ experience, and technology will be making a major contribution to their efforts in 2018. Powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software, as well as smart televisions that allow guests to use their media accounts on their room’s TV, are expected to be part of this. Mobile phone applications are also set to play an important role in 2018, as operators continue to implement mobile check-in and mobile keyless access.

7. Health and wellness Health and wellness are playing an increasingly bigger role today, and hospitality must amend its offering to adapt to this trend. Properties are expected to revisit their F&B element and concepts, to match guests’ changing expectations, as well as to review their spa and gym business approach. Hilton recently introduced its Five Feet to Fitness room, where guests can work out within their own room and IHG’s EVEN brand is built around health and wellbeing. Within the region, The Retreat Palm Dubai – MGallery by Sofitel opened in 2017, offering distinctive wellness programs for its guests.

About CBRE CBRE Group, a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. CBRE Hotels has orchestrated the sale and financing of some of the world’s most notable hotels and resorts, including the Grosvenor House Hotel London, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston and the Westin Melbourne.






HN spoke to three architecture and design firms that have invested heavily in exciting projects throughout the region to learn more about their vision of the hospitality landscape for the coming years


Virna Ramazzini

Gensler is an American global design and architecture firm whose annual revenue has, for the fifth year running, surpassed all other firms operating in the continental US. Its Middle Eastern branch has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. HN talked to Virna Ramazzini, regional client relationship manager, and Sejal Patel and Lisa Chomondelay, leaders of Hospitality Studio, to learn more about the firm’s recent undertakings, which are aimed at defining very specific trends that will shape the industry in the years to come. What are some of the most sought-after trends in the hospitality industry? Gensler’s global hospitality design communities have been engaging with our local/global clients in a dialogue to define and understand the most recent trends in this industry. This enables us to respond with design solutions which are effective and relevant. The results of our research show that the new drivers in the hotel industry are: 1. Dissolving Demographics While traveler segments over the past decade were primarily classified by business versus leisure, the next generation of traveler classifications will be more focused on behavioral patterns and expectations of their travel experiences. The hotel experience is becoming even more personalized. In addition to varied choices in bed type, room size and food, some are reaching new personalized heights by implementing DNA dining, a combination of sensory dining and holistic healthcare, based on a biological blueprint. 2. Members only There is a growing culture centered on the ‘members-only’ and ‘club’ mentality.



Sejal Patel

Consumers are looking for exclusive offerings and experiences that set them apart from the mainstream and are willing to pay the price. Hotels within clubs and clubs within hotels are a few of the developments following this trend. 3. Sharing economy Consumers seeking real-time, communal, meaningful experiences are prioritizing access over ownership, driving the focus away from personal space and more toward communal and collaborative spaces, such as hotel lobbies. 4. Authenticity Developers, hotel owners and brands are turning to adaptive-reuse as a method of providing a more unique, local setting with a story for their properties. Keying in on regional differences and localizing a property is crucial in today’s market. Guests want to live within the context of a property’s neighborhood. Offering artisanal décor, products and services allow for that local feel. Local art and local cuisine are also essential elements related to this trend. 5. Digitalization The guest journey at hotels is increasingly becoming a digital one. Advances in

Lisa Chomondelay

technology are driving consumers to opt for convenience and look for more control during their stay. Not only are new technologies making the booking easier and totally customized, but an integration in the hotel experience of new elements, like keyless entry, in-room technology for total connectivity and audio-visual (AV) integrated in the customer service to update guests and respond to all their questions are much sought-after amenities. From a design perspective, where do you see the hospitality industry headed and what areas of focus are available to investors looking to break into the Middle Eastern market? We believe the hospitality industry will be focused on new lifestyle brands that have a special interest for millennials. Another trend we see materializing is the emergence of new special hospitality concepts for transient visitors, like pod hotels in airports. Lastly, hybrid products with a strong residential feel and/or longstay components will also soon be in vogue, in particular branded residences, such as Ritz, Four Seasons, Emaar Address, Vida, Marriott, Fairmont and Kempinski. This will also be coupled with long-stay

hotel apartments, since the sale of the branded residences helps to fund the hotel component attached and boosts the hotel’s overall return on investment (ROI).

Four Seasons Burj Alshaya, Kuwait

Millennial brands are focused on being both trendy and affordable. The final product has to be aspirationally upper-scale, while remaining within clear midscale investment parameters. This exercise needs an experienced and versatile design team, with good experience across a wide spectrum of hotel brands and types of hotel projects. At Gensler, thanks to the collaborative approach between our 44 global offices, we can capitalize on the best practices and offer this expertise to our clients in the region. Now that the market in the region is maturing, many hotels are changing hands and brands, hence they need to be repositioned or totally redesigned. Moreover, in an additional trend, many traditional retail developers are looking at enhancing their existing malls by creating new hotels attached or in the neighborhood, which is a reality that proves quite useful to individuals or organizations thinking of breaking into the hospitality scene.

Latest hospitality projects executed in the region • Four Seasons Burj Alshaya, Kuwait • Hilton Garden Inn, Kuwait • Midscale hotel in retail development, Muscat, Oman • Park Hyatt and M Gallery in Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar • Vida Hotel and residences, Bahrain • Luxury hotel residences, Bahrain • Refurbishment of beach club and restaurant in a leading resort on Dubai Palm Island • Refurbishment of rooms in a 5-star hotel in Sheikh Zayed, Dubai • New midscale lifestyle hotel, Dubai • Refurbishment and brand repositioning of a 5-star hotel in Deira, Dubai • Luxury wedding hall and ladies’ spa complex in Riyadh, KSA






Galal Mahmoud, president of GM Architects, reveals the firm’s newest projects to HN and discusses what makes these special, while sharing his thoughts on the future concept for architecture, as he takes us on a journey of form and function. What are some of your latest projects executed in the region specifically for the hospitality industry? We are currently involved in numerous, award-winning projects in the MENA region, some of which are: the renovation of the Sofitel Winter Palace, a historical landmark in Luxor; a new Rotana hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai; a Jumeirah beach resort in Bahrain; an Accor combo, comprising a Majlis Grand Mercure, Mercure and Adagio in Dubai as well; a Sheraton Grand in Dakar, Senegal; a Mysk by Shaza Hotels in Kuwait City; and numerous boutique hotels in Greece. K- Hotel Mykonos



What makes these special? Each project is special as we build for each one of them a narrative inspired by the culture, the lifestyle and history of the location, hence providing guests with a true sense of place. Regardless of whether it’s a 4 or 5-star luxury destination, each of them is a challenge, in the sense that we truly believe in creating bespoke environments for each through contextual immersion and holistic designs. Story-telling has become the benchmark in designing hotels, as it allows for solid communication and is quite an effective marketing tool. After all, your best marketing is through your guests, their experience and how they convey it to others. They have to remember their hotel experience in a positive sense, of course. What are some of the most sought-after trends and how, through design, have you been able to accommodate them? The main trend today is to have guests experience local culture by fully immersing them in a comfortable and informal environment in such a way that every individual visiting that same space would feel at ease and well taken care of. Luxury is now in the details and the tactile, which includes beds and linen, quality and discreet service, amazing cuisine with local flavors, locally curated art and informal bedroom layouts, irrespective of size. I think there is definitively a shift and challenge in understanding as to how today’s travelers

perceive comfort and luxury. As a result, a lot of destinations now have to cater for both millennials, who have their own prerequisites, and traditional travelers, especially in the region. Where do you see the hospitality industry headed and what areas of focus are available to investors looking to break into the Middle Eastern market? Strongly stated and witty designs that creatively translate the context in all its aspects. Design is now directly linked to eating, lounging, socializing, drinking, relaxing, exercising and curating. These have all become intermingled and therefore, none of the elements can be dissociated from one another. The issue here is how to sustain such designs long term, with such large investments, and how to convince investors with a traditional background to go that route. On the other hand, brand proliferation has become so extensive that today, each needs to work hard at differentiating itself through a strong and consistent story and brand image. The main problem is that a great number of large groups have acquired the medium-to-large sub-brands, making it more difficult for them to create clear differentiation patterns for each of the brands they now own, especially when it comes to identifying their target audience for each product.

Rotana Hotels & Resorts

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE BLEU is an interior design firm with a unique flair for hospitality. As the manager of Bleu, Rana Nasr collaborates with a team of passion driven individuals who keep surprising and delighting her. Out of a small Lebanese apartment, which at times doubles as a home, they have taken on some of the most exciting interior design projects for the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa. What are some of your latest projects executed throughout the region specifically for the hospitality industry? We are currently renovating the guestrooms of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut. This project has a special meaning for us, as our mentor Pierre-Yves Rochon, is the original designer of the hotel. Before taking on this assignment, we informed him and he, in turn, gave us his blessing. We also worked with well-reputed chef Maroun Chedid on giving form to his lifelong dream of opening his own unique food concept restaurant in the heart of Achrafieh, which will soon be followed by a second branch in KSA. Other projects we are working on include a newly-built Rotana Hotel in Tanzania, a huge exhibition center in the Grand Hyatt, a large part of Le Meridien and a new Marriott courtyard, all in UAE. We also have ongoing projects in Egypt, Seychelles, Oman and Morocco.

What makes these special? How can they be not special? We have put our heart in each one of them! We dream, we work hard, we learn, we take this job and the quality of our deliverables “au-dela” of our own limits. I am a complete fan of this group of people that I keep on pushing every day and who in-turn keep impressing me. What are some of the most sought-after trends in your industry and how have you been able to accommodate them? As Bob Ramchand, one of the owners of La Petite Maison, once told me, “Ethics and aesthetics are interrelated.” Ever since, we came to the realization that if a design is true, then it cannot but be beautiful. What I also learned was that people have a genuine desire

to learn the real story behind the creation of those structures. Whether it is the food, the menu, the chef’s dream, a certain context or a location, we always present our design with a narrative, beginning with the words, ‘Once upon a time.’ Now, if I had to choose one sought-after trend that I would like to see more often in architecture, it would be the increased incorporation of art. Aside from holding a degree from ESA in Art Management, I also believe that art is an intrinsic part of the beauty of a place/ space; it is part of the original story. A great example to that effect is ArtSy, a restaurant we started working on with Mysk in Muscat. It genuinely looks like an art gallery where food just happens. JUN-JUL 2018 | HOSPITALITY NEWS ME






With its focus on both the environment and ensuring a strong, healthy and fair society, sustainable development has become a key criterion in project pipelines the world over. This approach to development has gradually led us today to what we refer to in the hospitality industry as Placemaking. Chirine Salha, senior consultant at Ulysses Consulting tells us more Placemaking is an urban planning movement that supports the development of lively and sustainable master-planning projects, such as real estate, resorts and compounds, by balancing specialized technical and financial components with the art of creating places that have a soul and will attract people looking to come



together, eat and enjoy themselves. The concept doesn’t fall far from sustainable development, since bolstering communities by strengthening an area is critical to sustainability; you could argue that if we don’t have places that are worth caring about, they will simply not be sustained. Placemaking seeks to collectively reimagine public spaces in the community by transforming them into areas of activity and connection for the neighborhood. It inspires the transformation of underused spaces into vibrant gathering places, strengthening the community’s unity and making the neighborhood more desirable for people to live in, hence increasing the value of property there. Here in Lebanon, Placemaking has much potential. Following the Lebanese wars, public spaces that were damaged and deserted remain, for the most part, neglected and misused to this day. Cities in Lebanon are a geography of innovation. Beirut, for instance, features unique urban traits that include diverse religious, political and cultural communities, an overall lack of public space, a lack of basic urban functional infrastructure and large influxes of refugees and migrants. It has the right

specs for creating quality public spaces that nurture creativity and innovation. By engaging in a Placemaking process in such ad hoc cities as Beirut, we can, in practice, maximize our shared values, through community-based participation, and strengthen the connection between people and the

Placemaking is an urban planning movement that supports the development of lively and sustainable masterplanning projects, such as real estate, resorts and compounds, by balancing specialized technical and financial components with the art of creating places that have a soul space they all share together. The result will be the creation of quality public spaces, re-invented to see anew the potential of small gardens, downtowns, waterfronts, squares, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings, among others. The process should start by offering guidelines to help: funnel diverse opinions



into a cohesive vision; translate that vision into a plan and development program; and ensure its implementation. Here are some of the recommendations to help achieve these objectives successfully: 1. Involve the community Placemaking revolves around observing, listening to and asking the people who live, work and play in a particular space questions, in order to understand their needs and aspirations for that space. This will help in obtaining community ownership, which means it will be better looked after and maintained over the years. Through these observations, it will become clear what kind of activities are missing and what could be incorporated. Observation shouldn’t stop there; when the spaces are built, it’s important to continue observing them, since this will reveal even more about how to evolve, adapt and manage the area over time. Teaming up with good, influential partners is critical to the future success and image of the project in hand. Potential partners could include local authorities, community groups and institutions or NGOs. Seek to engage young people by working with local schools and university groups, as they are often a key demographic in many locations.





















2. Make a great space, not just a design Make it a point to create high-quality public spaces. Design alone is not enough; other physical elements need to come into play, such as pedestrian circulation, seating, shelter, and the relationship between the retail segment and activities or entertainment taking place in the space.

5. Support local economies Aim to generate a positive impact on local economies by supporting local businesses and attracting further investment to the areas. Through this support, you are providing opportunities for businesses to flourish, as well as offering a variety of experiences to visitors.

Be sure to provide the means for people to access the destinations and get around them easily so that they are fully inclusive.

Keep in mind that making a place is not the same as constructing a building, designing a hotel or developing a commercial zone. Using Placemaking in a process that isn’t really rooted in the community’s participation dilutes its value. As more communities engage in Placemaking and more professionals refer to it in their work, it is important to preserve the true meaning of the process. When people of all ages, skills and socio-economic backgrounds can not only enjoy a place, but also play a key role in its identity, creation and maintenance, then, and only then, will genuine Placemaking succeed.

Great public spaces do not have to be design-heavy, multi-million-dollar projects – what matters is that they can generate change and positively impact communities. In fact, sometimes the most exciting spaces are low cost and in the most unexpected locations. Roofless buildings, with the potential to become gardens, coffee shops or concert spaces, are one such example. 3. Build on emotions When developing Placemaking, use emotional and physical experiences to enhance the project. It’s worth remembering that emotional experiences will sustain the life of the project in the long term. 4. The test of time For a great Placemaking project, you need to constantly redefine and improve the area. Elements such as seating, outdoor cafes, public art, landscaping and murals are examples of improvements that can be accomplished over time. Respond and adapt to the ongoing changes of the community’s needs and empower management with the flexibility to adapt to that change and follow up on wear and tear of amenities.

At UMC, we have embedded Placemaking within our business processes and built our reputation on creating assets that deliver positive change for the community. With every development we undertake, we aim to make somewhere a better place. Our Placemaking strategy draws on the knowledge and experience we have accumulated through successful schemes and expresses how we will continue to anticipate the socio-economic, technological and cultural changes that will shape the great places of the future.






THE LATEST CULINARY TREND? lobster. However, adopting this principle does not mean that the menus in mono-product outlets are necessarily simple or short, as is often the case with burger brands; in fact, many are highly developed and offer a wide variety of dishes, while retaining a key product at their core.

With almost all types of world cuisines having now been dissected, when it comes to finding a winning restaurant concept, less is sometimes proving to be more. Toufic Akl, partner at Hodema consulting services, highlights the wisdom of narrowing things down and introduces us to the mono-product Many F&B concepts are embracing this trend, which sees the ‘mono-product chefs’ share their obsession for creating an impeccable dish with a star ingredient as a way of standing out from the crowd. As the name implies, mono-product F&B concepts focus on one food product or item, whether chicken, eggs, meat, burgers, shawarma or



How it all started Having existed for centuries, the monoproduct trend has recently caught on in many major cities as an alternative to mainstream, sometimes hackneyed, concepts. Mono-product dishes were a popular offering in modest street-food shacks back in the late 19th century. Originally, each region around the globe had its own local specialty. However, fast forward to today and these concepts have followed in the steps of world food, extending their reach outside of their place of origin, and can now be found worldwide. Some, viewed as perhaps too traditional or old fashioned, have been revamped to give them a trendier image, using a more professional approach, especially where they’ve been adopted by franchising businesses. Star products, from breakfast to dinner Let’s start with breakfast! The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) leads the way in this category, having expanded outside of the US and around the globe, extending its reach to the Middle East (Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE),

Asia (Thailand and India) and North America (Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama). Working on the philosophy that eggs have long been a favorite morning ingredient, the Canadian brand Eggspectation launched its concept back in 1993. Serving over 30 dishes revolving around eggs, including hits such as ‘Huevos Rancheros’ and Lobster Benny, the brand currently has over 25 restaurants in Canada, the US, India, Qatar and UAE. Other brands putting the humble egg at the heart of their menu include Eggs & Co, tucked away in a small street of Paris’ Saint Germain neighborhood. Barcelona’s L’EGGS, an egg-centric restaurant, meanwhile, has managed to elevate the egg to the status of culinary delicacy, thanks to the creativity of its chef Paco Pérez, who serves up dishes such as ‘Quail eggs on grilled marrow bone with slice chili and tender onions’. If you’re considering opening a restaurant that serves only cereals, you’re in good company! Cereals certainly have their devotees, with brands like Cereal Killer Café, which is present in the UK, Jordan, UAE and Kuwait, the Beirutborn concept, Crunchy Flakes, Cereality in Texas and Cereal Lovers Bar in Madrid, all garnering loyal customer bases. Burgers, hot-dog shacks and the famous ice-cream trucks were born in the US and, unsurprisingly, remain the most famous mono-products in that part of the world.

The unchallenged winner of the monoproduct trend is predictably the burger, boasting over 200 international franchised brands, championed by McDonalds and Burger King. McDonalds serves over 70 million customers daily in over 100 countries across approximately 37,000 outlets. Middle Eastern brands are also riding the burger trend, including the Lebanese-born Classic Burger Joint, which is already present in Kuwait, the UAE and Iraq, and Saudi Arabia’s Hamburgini brand, which has 27 units in the country.

years. This local staple, which is a white cornbread cake, can be eaten either plain or stuffed with cheese, beef, avocado or beans. Although arepa shops have yet to spread much beyond the borders of their countries of origin, there are signs that this food trend is about to take off. One trailblazer leading the way is chef Federico Tischler, who has just opened White Envelope in Baltimore, while Arepera in Montreal and Guamá Arepa in the French city of Lille, are also bringing this South American favorite to a wider audience.

Hot on the burger’s heels is the pizza, personified around the globe by Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. Regional favorites include Saudi Arabia’s Maestro Pizza, which has opened over 120 branches in just a few years. Staying in the region, it would be a crime to overlook the shawarma, which is to the Middle East what the burger is to the US. Beirut’s Joseph restaurant won ‘World's Tastiest Sandwich Award 2015’, competing against 4,000 candidates across 150 cities to clinch the coveted title. In Saudi Arabia, fans can choose from more than 20 specialized brands, such as Shawarma House, Shawarma Factory, Shawarma 360, Shawarma Plus, Shawarma Emperor and Shawermer. Dubai-born Swich, meanwhile, has taken the shawarma to a whole new level, offering chicken and meat, but also duck and portobello fillings that are served with dozens of topping and sauce options, customized to suit your personal taste. Today, the shawarma is firmly established as a favorite outside of the Middle East, even bagging a part in the 2012 movie The Avengers, when the stars celebrated saving our planet by enjoying one of the iconic wrapped sandwiches.

Found in small street shops all over China, Peking duck is as popular among locals as the shawarma is in the Middle East. However, few international franchises have followed, save for Quanjude which has expanded from China to Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada, which could be food for thought for savvy investors.

In direct competition with the shawarma stands the falafel, which originates from Egypt, where it is known as the ta’amiya. Having risen to the status of global celebrity, the fried chickpea ball can be found on menus of almost every Middle Eastern concept around the world, alongside those of dedicated shops, from street vendors to higher-end outlets. In Lebanon, Falafel Aboulziz and Karim Sahyoun are the references, with multiple branches across the country. Falafel are becoming increasingly popular in North America and Western Europe, where vegetarian diets are a rising trend. When we think of chicken, KFC is the name that usually springs to mind. Originally called Sanders Court & Café, KFC operates in 80 different countries and boasts over 20,000 outlets. Newer brands are putting down roots on the international stage, however, with Chick-fil-A gaining ground in the US, while regionally, Malak al Tawouk in Beirut and Chicken Republic in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are both building up followings. In parts of South America, including Venezuela and Colombia, arepas have been an essential part of the diet for over 2,000

When it comes to sweet success, waffles have long been among the winners. The Belgian trademark snack, made from dough and instantly recognizable thanks to its patterned texture, can be found in food trucks, street kiosks and even dedicated shops. Usually served in sweet varieties, it can also be created in savory options. Popular brands include Go.fre in Belgium and Wafflemeister in the UK. However, dominating neighborhoods on a global scale, the undisputed king of desserts remains the ice cream. Some names, such as Baskin Robins, Pinkberry, Cold Stone and Amarino, have developed into world conquerors by becoming highly desirable franchised brands.

The latest trends in this long-established sweet treat are being driven by the search for new varieties and flavors. In Dubai M’oishi is causing a buzz as a brand expert in Japanese ice cream wrapped in rice dough, known as mochi, while another talking point, Sub Zero, makes its ice cream on the spot using liquid nitrogen. Unfortunately, some concepts have inevitably not made it to the finishing line - Just Falafel and Shawarmanji to name just two - while others have diversified their offering away from the mono-product brand. Examples include the French luxury brand Ladurée, which was once a macaron flagship, but has now transformed into a fully-fledged restaurant with branches worldwide. A number of brands, such as Nobu, the Cheesecake Factory and Dai Tin Fung, have opted to take a different direction and switched to offering extensive menus, while still successfully franchise around the world. The mono-product market remains wide open, with a diverse basket of goods to choose from. Investors eyeing this exciting field will need to consider a range of factors when making their choice of product, from available resources – both human and financial – to business objectives and expansion goals. If you do decide to put all your eggs in one basket, dedicating yourself to your product and mastering it will play a key part in future success. Customers expect perfection from a mono-product shop.

Mono versus vario Advantages of a mono-product concept

Disadvantages of a mono-product concept

Sense of ‘specialization’ which reassures the customer

Deciding which product or specialty will attract the crowds can be a challenge

Convenient for customers since deciding what to order is quick and simple

Risk that an on-trend product chosen might go out of fashion, as happened in some markets with cupcakes

Less waste which is • good for the business and • good for the environment

Usually requires locations with high traffic, hence a high rent

Production line is smaller, thus Requires a very solid and standardized • reducing required investment in equipment system for the entire operation • fewer recipes required, meaning greater consistency in the final product Smaller outlets required, so • less investment • less rent

Bets on one attraction factor only, the product itself, where the ambiance (service, design, entertainment, etc) carry less weight

Easy to franchise, since the operation system is brief and straightforward

Only a few options are presented on the menu, thus the concept is not always suitable for groups of people with diverse tastes

Control is easier, since there are fewer variables for monitoring, in terms of ingredients and production costs (labor, utilities, etc)





Nutrient-packed, healthy fruit and vegetable juices are proving to be the liquid lunch for a new generation. Gebran N. Bekhazi, managing partner of The Food Studio, weeds through the trends and picks out the winning ideas There are an estimated one billion vegans and vegetarians worldwide and this community is growing fast, as consumers, especially the younger generation, act on concerns about the impact of what they eat on both their health and the environment. The big players in the beverage industry, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks, have all ventured into the healthy fresh juicing industry. Their current main market of North America will open the door for Europeanbased concepts that can become dominant brands in Western Europe, while facilitating a possible move into other parts of the region. Taking a closer look at the market, we have noticed the following general, nonexhaustive trends, which are eventually expected to spill over into the Levant and the GCC: • Pret A Manger made its Veggie Pret popup, experimental concept in London permanent and opened a second branch in Apr 2017. More Veggie Prets are soon to be launched in Hong Kong. In a separate move, Pret A Manger has installed a bright green, veggie fridge throughout most of its stores in London. Research undertaken by the chain found that 52 percent of Veggie Pret customers typically eat meat, but are trying to cut back on consumption in order to be healthier. • Freshii was set to expand in the UK in 2017. This Canadian health-oriented, but not exclusively vegan concept, operated 244 restaurants in North America, South America, Europe and the UAE as of September, 2016. From these, 11 are in European markets including Austria, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands. During Freshii’s debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange earlier this year, the CEO announced an aggressive expansion plan, which will see it target the setting up of 840 venues worldwide by the end of 2019.



VEGGING OUT Freshii’s primary focus is food, rather than juices and smoothies, while cold-pressed methodology is not something it promotes. • In 2016, the owner of the organic food restaurant Le Pain Quotidien opened an organic, vegetable-based, fast-moving, casual restaurant in NYC, titled Le Botaniste. Plans are in the pipeline for the food and wine bar, which serves its dishes by the bowl, to expand in the EU. • Against this backdrop, green has become the dominant color of food, with ‘juiceterias’ on the rise, according to Baum and Whiteman, Global F&B consultants. • Modern living is busy and the pace of life is only getting faster, with the result that people don’t always have time to sit and eat wholesome meals. As a result, nutrientpacked, healthy wholesome fruit and vegetable juices, often marketed as new versions of the ‘liquid lunch’, are becoming increasingly popular. • In North America, PepsiCo jumped ahead of the curve, when it invested in the Naked Juice brand, while rival Coca Cola entered the cold-pressed territory in 2015 by buying a minority stake in the organic juice-maker, Suja Life, which had a USD 42 million turnover in 2016. Meanwhile, Starbucks rolled out its maiden line of cold-pressed juices in March 2016, under the Evolution Fresh brand. • Herb cultivators are certainly a trend to watch. A rising number of hotels and restaurants, especially properties in the Middle East, are adopting this technology to grow their own fresh herbs and greens in a sustained, controlled environment. • With rising demand for super foods, especially among millennials, new and trending ingredients are regularly appearing in recipes and in a cold-store near you. Here’s a few making waves: Chlorophyll,

Kombucha (from the tea family), Wheatgrass, Guaranimal (a herbal form of caffeine), Alkaline water, Bee pollen and Camu camu (a fruit from the Rain Forest packed with Vitamin C). The Med Diet • Recent studies have proven that Mediterranean food has many benefits. As far back as 1980, Professor Ancel Keys found mortality rates were lower in Greece and Italy than in other countries, when publishing the results of his investigations into cardiovascularrelated deaths in various countries. The ideal Mediterranean meal includes: - High quantities of vegetables, beans and grains - A moderate quantity of meat and fish - Low amounts of added iodized salt, but instead features sea salt - Plenty of herbs and spices for seasoning, reducing the need for salt - Monounsaturated fat (olive oil) The challenges and opportunities • The cold-pressed juice industry is extremely fragmented, comprising many small players, but without a market-dominant brand. • Only a few juiceterias have a wholesome offering that includes vegan or healthy foods. • Barriers to entry are minimal, with startup costs low (around USD 150,000-175,000) and a 20-25 percent average cost of goods sold. The startup costs include a USD 30,000 cold-press juice extractor and USD 20,000 licensing fee for buying a franchise, without investment in human capital or consultants. • Data produced by Persistence Market Research in February 2017 predicted that the global cold-pressed juice market will be worth USD 845 million by the end of 2024.




Master trainer Mark Dickinson discusses a critical component lacking in our industry today: genuine people There is a beautiful, award-winning 5-star hotel in Dubai that says to its customers, “Welcome Home!” as they get out of the taxi. Only problem is, what if this is the customer’s first visit to the hotel? How does that make the hotel ‘home’? In contrast, there is a delightful hotel in Phnom Penh where you are greeted with “Welcome home” when you return there from your day out. What’s the difference? Care. And a passion for being authentic. In the first scenario, the idea is right, but the execution is wrong. Sure, if you are a returning customer it feels good to be welcomed back, but I struggle to equate a world-class hotel with home. I don’t want it to be home. I’ve gone there to be away from home. I want to experience a world-class, 5-star hotel that cares for me and makes me feel special, providing the extras that don’t generally happen at home. While saying “Welcome home” sounds like a good idea in a planning session in the boardroom or general manager’s office, it is not necessarily right when directed at customers. In the second scenario, “Welcome home” really works because there is a relationship already in place between the hotel and the customer. The returning customers are already acquainted with the hotel. However, in this case it is much more difficult to execute, because the team on duty has to be alert and finely attuned to the movements of customers as they check in, then again as they go off property, and finally, when they return. The bigger the establishment, the more difficult the task. Many hospitality organizations put a tremendous amount of effort into the initial impact that they have on the customer at the entrance to their hotel. But perhaps we are now at the point where we have to create



a different kind of standard; a standard that allows staff to employ a variety of greetings and use their own personality. But this requires deep thinking; we have to figure out how to make an employee capable of reacting to a customer from a specific scope of words and using a particular set of skills. These skills are not easy to learn. What we are asking for is an employee who is aligned with the very core of the business. This can be done, but it takes time. The enemy awaits Just when you think you have your team where you want them to be, someone resigns. Turnover kills authenticity. Every time an employee leaves and a new one joins, the collective learning of the departing individual is gone. The space that they leave behind cannot be filled instantly by a new person. And so, we return to relying on the scripts that we give team members until the new employee has mastered the concept of using a variety of expressions. There are some very practical and simple ways around this problem that can convert an impersonal interaction into a winning one. Breakfast: The best way to impress a customer is by using his or her name. We all have that one unique thing that no one can take away from us; until you go to breakfast in a hotel that is. As you arrive at the door of the restaurant, the greeter says those terrible words, “What is your room number, sir?” and the whole thing crashes down. Be authentic: talk to customers by name at every opportunity! What could we do? Change the whole thinking process. First, ask employees to refer to each other by number for a few minutes. They will think you have lost your mind. Then remind them that this is exactly what they are doing with customers. Now help them to learn this sentence, “Good morning sir/madam, how are you this morning?” while smiling and pausing, before saying, “May I know your name please?” The customer will then reply with their name. “Yes, Mr. So-and-so, for how many persons

this morning?” And away you go. The team member can then check the customer’s room number in the database, or they may have the waiter ask for the room number when they present the bill. Why do we ask the room number when the customer arrives for breakfast? Because we always have! Be authentic: take the customer at his or her word! Mini-bar: The classic “I don’t trust you” statement that every hotel makes. You have just stayed in the hotel for five nights and the price was USD 350 per night, so you have pre-paid the hotel the best part of USD 2,000. You arrive at the front desk to check out and the first thing that they ask you is, “Did you take anything from the mini bar?” I weep! Not because they asked, but because of what comes next. The front desk staff then pick up a phone or a walkie-talkie and contact someone to go and check. The total contents of the mini bar must be not more than USD 20 at cost, but we have trained our team to make the last experience with the customer as unpleasant as possible. Why not simply take what the customer has said as fact? If the customer says they did not take anything, then accept it. And if they did, well, it is not the end of the world. You will have created some goodwill. Customers, not guests: If you are a hospitality professional, you have probably been reading through this article and wondering why I have been talking about customers and not guests. The people coming into your business are paying for what they get. You are not inviting them. Customers pay money. And when they pay money, they expect services and value for that money. It is time to make a shift in our mentality. Being authentic is born from empathy – an understanding that customers are paying hard-earned money to use your facilities, and that it would make them feel so much better if they were greeted and served by team members who are genuine and authentic in their actions.




The family business is a common module for locally grown concepts in the hospitality industry. With successful family businesses expanding and evolving into established companies, we are witnessing the integration of their mentality into the corporate business structure. Manal Syriani, senior consultant at N4TC explains When well planned, a family business mentality can be good for business. Rationale The family business mentality has its origins in the characteristics of a family business that form an integral part of a typical upbringing in our society. A family business is perceived as a traditional business that focuses on the community. Similarly, new trends focus on: back to roots concepts; traditional



values; and developing customer recognition systems that foster a community feel and homely atmosphere to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business. As a result, the family business mentality is gaining ground. Checkpoints We highlight in the table below, the main differentiations between the family business mentality and a purely corporate mentality. While the characteristics of a family business mentality in themselves promote high level of values and belonging, their implementation is coupled with the heavy involvement of business owners. In certain businesses, the owner is involved in the day-to-day operations. When you are planning to grow, significant efforts will be

required to integrate those values across all brands and entities. In addition, systems will have to be put in place to translate the owner’s vision into practical policies and procedures. What to take away The personality of a company undoubtedly resembles that of those at the top. When the corporate vision fosters development and believes in growth, the company will follow. We have also to accept that any business will expand and follow an independent path and growth curve. Business owners will have to be able to spot that curve and allow it to flourish.

Family business vs. corporate mentality Corporate mentality

Family business mentality

Emphasis on systems and procedures

Emphasis on team members

Development is based on strategy

Development is based on opportunities

Strategies are based on the company position Strategies are influenced by owner preferences and stage in its life cycle Systematic traceability and accountability

High level of trust in individuals and their loyalty

Main goal for the business is financial gain

Main goal for the business is financial gain and owner’s passion

Sense of success is gained through quantitative results (financial and number of physical outlets)

Sense of success is gained from quantitative and qualitative results (quality of achievements)

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Invest in the right products and equipment to make cooking easier. Here’s a good place to start

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Fresca INSU System

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Dressed in bold orange, with a typical aroma of fresh carrot and delicately sweet notes, Le Fruit de MONIN Carrot allows you to naturally twist classic beverages. MONIN

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WHICH ‘WICH? Growing demand among today’s consumers for sustainable, nutritious, personalized and traceable food has sharpened the focus on the ingredients and condiments that are an intrinsic part of our favorite legendary, lunchtime meal. In an era of fast-changing fillings, we asked the global trend forecasters for their insight into the future of the sandwich industry

Sylvie Gaudy Director

Sandwich & Snack Show Sandwich consumption is on the rise, with sales having tripled in 15 years to EUR 8.25 billion. The snacking sector has exploded in the last 15 years, mainly due to the fast pace of modern life. Ten years ago, eating quickly was synonymous with junk food. However, in the last few years, we’ve observed a general premiumization of the sandwich industry, to the point that it’s no longer considered

Eric de Wagenaere President

Leaders Club International + Belgium



SANDWICH TRENDS TO KEEP IN MIND • Prioritization of premium products and exotic specialties.

junk food; today, you can order a sandwich at a fine-dining restaurant. With consumers demanding greater quality and novelty, players will be forced to widen their portfolio of premium products to offer exotic specialties, such as tacos, croque-monsieur, bagels, sushi, onigiri, falafels, kalamaki pitas and English muffin sandwiches. Escalation in the ‘NO’ (gluten, lactose, meat) will prevail and, by next year, the ‘NO low unhealthy quality’ will dominate the industry. Demand for premium ingredients, including locally produced, homemade, healthy gourmet, preferably vegan products will dominate the sandwich offering. With cuisine becoming more global, cultural influences will make major inroads, influencing the sandwich industry. In 2019, ingenious products, such as professional sauces inspired by other cultures, will add an original twist to classics. The Middle-East will continue to influence the sandwich industry with its specialties. Hummus will continue to be the ‘it’ ingredient as it is vegan and can easily be incorporated in sandwiches.

• The ‘NO low unhealthy quality’ will dominate the sandwich industry. Demand for premium ingredients, including locally produced, homemade, healthy gourmet, preferably vegan products, will dominate the sandwich offering • Ingenious products, such as professional sauces inspired by other cultures, will add an original twist to classic sandwiches • The Middle East will continue to influence the sandwich industry, through specialties such as hummus • Increase in healthy bread alternatives, such as rye bread and sourdough bread • The use of veggies, plant-based charcuterie, vegetable-centric sandwich ingredients and vegan products will be more prominent in 2019 • Gourmet meat, offered in a traditional, high-quality way, will be in greater demand • The impact of oriental cuisine will always trend, as will the ‘croque and toast concepts’

Sandwich consumption depends mostly on the country and even the region, but on a global scale, I predict two particular trends: The demand for healthy products will continue to rise and we will increasingly feel its impact on the sandwich market, as well as the ingredients incorporated in it.

Moscow, meat in Prague and Budapest, minced meat and pickles in Flanders, and so on. The impact of oriental cuisine will always trend, as will the ‘croque and toast concepts’ that are serving variations of the rustic, yet sophisticated culinary classics, such as croque-monsieur, and set to pop up everywhere in Europe.

The use of healthy bread alternatives, such as rye bread and sourdough bread, will rise, and the use of veggies and vegan products will be more prominent in 2019. For example, in the Netherlands, there is a huge increase in avocado sandwiches.

Consumers are ready to explore regional nuances, including ingredients, spices and savoir-faire, and integrate them into their classic sandwiches. With wellness and taste being their prime concern, it has become a running theme in consumer food trends. Vegetable-centric sandwich ingredients, plant-based charcuterie and gourmet meat will dominate 2019.

In contrast, gourmet meat, offered in a traditional, high-quality way, will be in greater demand: pastrami in New York, crab in



Ice-cream is not what it used to be, as anyone who remembers when the only flavors around were chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, will testify. This sweet delight is today being redefined as a complex, standalone product, already being incorporated into sophisticated dishes and signature beverages

Mario Daou Foodstyling and Photography


SWEET EMOTION specialize in spreading happiness and the way this is ultimately achieved is through a range of diverse approaches. Ice cream-making has become an art form that transgressed the original vanilla, strawberry and chocolate flavors. In an ever-expanding array of combinations, fruit purées and extracts, cocoa powder, nuts and cookie-dough pieces are some of the trending ingredients incorporated into the mixture by manufacturers.

Master Chef Charles Azar Even though most people view ice cream as simply a sweet treat or indulgence, Chef Charles Azar takes the process of making it very seriously. The creations he has been channeling his efforts into producing are on an entirely different level, even bordering on art. Here, he discusses with HN the strategies behind his offerings, the flavors he incorporates from traditional Lebanese sweets and why he believes ice cream is gradually moving to the top of the menu. What considerations should be taken into account when creating new offerings? Every product, especially in the food industry, must have a clearly-defined strategy in order to allow it room to develop and grow. While these should be designed as part of a portfolio that supports the overall corporate strategy, each should also have explicitly defined characteristics that are specifically tailored to meet market needs. What are some of the ingredients being incorporated into ice cream today? People who work in the ice cream business



What issues are you tackling to ensure you remain competitive,? Everybody wants to create a successful product, which isn't always easy to do. A product’s success is ultimately achieved when the novel offering adds value to the available range, while delivering consistent value. Companies that achieve product success grow their loyal following and, in turn, outperform the competition.

What promising flavors do you believe will be trending this summer and why? Ice cream production continues to develop in creative ways. One of the most recent innovations has been to transform Lebanese sweets into ice cream. Some of these include maamoul glacé, pistachio mafroukeh glacé and halaweh ice cream, which have been garnering an encouraging following based on feedback received. Where do you envision ice cream heading in the coming years? There are so many reasons why ice cream is the best dessert on the planet. No matter the weather, flavor or time of year, it is the perfect frozen treat for anyone of any age. There is so much you can do with this deliciously creamy dessert! It could be served as it is or added to other items on the menu, such as cake, cookies, brownies, perhaps even some dishes, thereby shifting its status from a side offering to a more central one.


Master Chef Maurizio Avena Maurizio Avena is an Italian master pastry chef with more than 40 years of experience. He studied the art of pastry at the Istituto dell’ Arte Bianca di Turin under some of the world’s most reputed chefs and today teaches at the elite pastry academy of Castello di Barolo. Chef Avena has been working closely with international ice cream companies since 2006 and is also developing new and innovative products exclusively for the Granulati Italia company. HN had an opportunity to meet and sample his marvelous creations at Fresca LTD's HORECA 2018 stand and also ask him about the lesser-known challenges that ice cream-making presents. What does the production process involve? Making a single product that looks nice, tastes good and is not detrimental to people’s health is undoubtedly a tricky proposition. The process becomes even more complex if you are making a product for diabetics or people who are lactose intolerant or have an allergy. However, I am committed to creating something that brings joy and satisfaction, while catering to consumers’ sensitivities and dietary needs. What are the challenges on that front? At Gelato d’Italia, we are working on producing a line of ice creams for lactose-intolerant consumers. Also, our products are gluten-free, meaning that they are safe for people with allergies to consume. On top of that, we have come up with a solution for two significant health considerations that pose major challenges for brands everywhere. We are currently working extremely hard on delivering gelato products that are safe for diabetics to eat. This is proving very difficult since, on the one hand, we’ve experimented with various chemical sugar compounds that circumvent existing problems for some diabetics, but cause damage elsewhere, while on



the other hand, we’ve been looking at a natural sugar compound that resolves other concerns, but raises new ones. What are some of the requirements and skills needed to master the process of ice cream-making? The answer may come as something of a surprise, but mathematics is a very important discipline in ice cream-making, since the process is about mixing the exact quantities of sugar, fat, stabilizer and other ingredients. Very few people are aware that each product ends up in a store, where it requires between 18 and 24 months of rigorous testing. We do this to guarantee that every offering is safe for consumption. Whether that product sells well is an entirely different proposition that requires its own set of calculations. What are the challenges of operating in highly diverse global markets? Just because a product proves a success in a market such as Italy, there’s no guarantee that it will achieve the same results in China, North America or the Middle East. While there are plenty of commonalities, there are also diversities that can make or break a product. For example, consumers in various markets might all like chocolate, but not necessarily prefer the same flavor of chocolate. That is why, depending on the market and product, we employ two different approaches. The first is a bespoke one and the other is more along the lines of one size fits all. What strategies, then, are used to accommodate changing tastes in diverse markets? The answer to this question is somewhat complex. For example, if we want to make gelato for the Swedish market, we must first consider the weather! Remember that snow falls there nine months of the year. Temperature averages also play a

significant role; in summer the range there, for example, is generally between 12-15 degrees celsius. Aside from the flavors, we need to be confident that the ingredients going into them ensure that the product maintains its consistency for as long as possible within the existing parameters. Greece, Lebanon and Morocco are markets that may seem similar in many ways to an outsider, but, in reality, are very different. What methods are used to learn more about individual markets’ specifics and characteristics? One of my principal responsibilities is to visit the market in question, sample the available offerings and discuss these with our partners there. When I return, I first brief the owner of the company, then discuss the most suitable solutions for the market in question with the technical director. Next, we present our findings to the country manager and try to align our approach and vision. This is then followed by a visit from a representative of the host country, who, in turn, verifies the accuracy of the findings so far and sets up meetings with potential clients who can eventually carry our brand in their stores. What role do technological advancements play? Production technologies change from one year to the next. In the raw material/ machine production phases, there is always room for upgrades. That makes it necessary for us to meet with our clients and bring them up to speed on how a certain upgrade will yield a better solution for a specific product. In addition, and due to these instituted upgrades, using, or at times even finding a more appropriate ingredient becomes essential to move forward. This relentless and never-ending pursuit of the best possible product is what drives us to push past our own limits.



MADE TO ORDER in the second wave, commercial espressos dominated. Today, in the third wave, consumers not only want different types of specialty coffees, but are expecting their baristas, roasters and farmers to be more informed about the coffee they are handling. Furthermore, these same consumers insist on knowing more about where and how their coffee is sourced and made. This, in turn, has resulted in the offering of better quality coffees, despite the fact that we still have much to improve.

LIQUID VALUE In the F&B sector, chefs, baristas and mixologists have long been searching for ways to breathe life into classic dishes and drinks. The challenge has been to identify ingredients that are appealing in isolation, but can also work well together. HN delved deep into the world of syrups to discover more about how these essential ingredients are being used to create coffee and cocktail-based drinks that are capable of appealing to a mass and increasingly demanding audience

Stavros Lamprinidis, from Greece, is a lively, somewhat eccentric character whose passion for coffee has led to him winning more than half a dozen world coffee championships. As an authorized member of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Europe, and a judge at HORECA 2018 Lebanese Barista Competition, he has traveled the world and brainstormed with coffee manufacturers, farmers and just about everyone working in the supply chain. Here, he gives his take, from the global coffee industry’s perspective, on the trend for using syrups in this popular beverage. As a veteran of the coffee-making industry, what do you regard as the main changes that have taken place in the business and what has caused them? Coffee-making has changed significantly over the past two decades. During the first wave, consumers wanted instant coffee, while


Is there a specific syrup flavor that doesn’t yet exist that you’d like to see produced? According to industry sources, the big brands are hard at work creating an entire line of new flavors. On a personal note, the one flavor I would really like to see manufactured is tomato, while flavors and other ingredients that have worked well for me in the past are fruits, nuts, biscuits and herbs. When it comes to choosing any kind of syrup, the quality, freshness and amount of chemicals involved are central elements of consideration.

HORECA’S 2018 WINNING COCKTAIL about the secret behind the drink that netted him the crown.

As part of its annual program, HORECA Lebanon saw the crowning of Anthony Andonian winner of the Lebanese Bartenders Competition. Andonian is a full-time bartender at Sapa in Beirut, a Peruvian restaurant with a refined cocktail bar. HN talked to the winner


Consumers’ ever-changing tastes have driven various industries to introduce new concepts and flavors. Is this why adding syrup to coffee has become a popular practice? It’s true that consumers are always looking for something new, which drives people in the food industry to accommodate demand. The use of syrups is one way to go about doing just that, especially when it comes to introducing novelties that may hold new appeal for consumers.

“The mystery box of ingredients was called ‘Pandora’s Gift’, which reminded me of a story from Greek mythology. The moral of the story is about finding balance on earth. The same rule applies to making cocktails, which is not always easily achieved, especially when you only have 10 minutes and are required to use items you had no idea you would be working with. The box contained dehydrated kale, pickled turnips and pomegranate molasses! After muddling all of the above in a shaker, I added Jose Cuervo Tradicional, MONIN triple sec and to balance the sweetness, threw in MONIN rose syrup, which really suited the pomegranate taste. I then gave the mixer a good hard shake, strained it in a rimmed glass and topped it with black pepper and salt,” he revealed.

THE SYRUP REVOLUTION used by the baristas, simply because the higher the quality, the more flavorsome the outcome.

Anthony Bedoyan, general manager of La Marquise International in the UAE, Qatar and Oman since 2004, has over 16 years of experience in the coffee profession. Prior to being elected as a board member of the SCA in the UAE/MENA, he served as judge at the UAE National Barista Competitions from 2010 onwards in the Barista and Latte Art Championships section, and at HORECA 2018 Lebanese Barista Competition. He also focuses on new coffee talents, organizes competitions, conducts training sessions and keeps abreast of all the new specialty coffee roasters in the region. As sensory jury member of the 2018 Lebanese Barista Competition, what challenges have you witnessed? One of the biggest challenges faced when it comes to this specific context is the quality of the single origin bean

What are the main changes that have taken place in the coffee-making industry? Coffee-making has changed dramatically in the past decade, specifically, the decrease in demand for commercial coffee and the increase, as well as evolution, of specialty coffee, which is growing at a phenomenal rate. This is mainly due to the desire among consumers to enjoy coffees that have distinctive characteristics and exotic flavors. Such growth has also been expounded by consumers’ everchanging tastes and sense of discovery, driving various industries to introduce new concepts, flavors and mixes.

Is there a specific syrup flavor that doesn’t yet exist that you’d like to see produced? I have been a resident of the UAE for many years now and have come to like dates, which are considered a fundamental part of the UAE’s heritage and identity, tremendously. As such, I have yet to find a brand that has mastered the precise taste of sweetness in any date syrup.

Does this explain the trend for adding syrup to coffee? To be honest, I prefer to have my coffee without any additional ingredients or flavors as I enjoy the combination of sweetness, bitterness and acidity coffee presents to the taste-buds. However, with consumer trends, it’s highly popular to add or mix syrups to enhance the flavor of the coffee. It’s all about finding a good balance that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

What are as some of the most interesting flavors of syrup that go well with coffee? Off the cuff, I would say that popcorn and saffron are some of the most interesting syrup flavors that complement coffee-based drinks. If calibrated correctly, the taste is surprisingly pleasant. The trend of syrup flavors is here to stay. However, syrups are in higher demand when it comes to ‘mocktails’ (non-alcoholic cocktails), as well as regular cocktails, since these have a higher turnover. Some important factors to keep in mind when selecting a syrup brand is to make sure the syrup has a low percentage of sugar content, a high percentage of fresh ingredients and no added artificial colorings. Of course, the quality and source of the water used are also a key concern.

spirits, liqueurs and bitters, syrups are what really give the cocktail its unique flavor. For example, a Mai Tai, following the Trader Vic’s recipe, contains amber rum, dark rum, lime juice, Cointreau and Orgeat syrup. If the Orgeat syrup is substituted, the drink can no longer be considered a Mai Tai.

taste from the fruit all year round, which can affect the consistency of the cocktail and that makes using fruit puree a necessity. In general, when I select a syrup, I choose it based on how well it matches the cocktail being made, and in most cases, I go for more natural-flavored brands.

How do you go about selecting the syrup brands you use? There’s a broad range of local and international syrup brands available to choose from. Some feature artificial flavors and coloring and others use natural extracts. Personally, I always use the ones with natural flavors, irrespective of where they are produced. In some cases, I even make my own syrups, like passion fruit syrup and spiced syrup, for example, because I haven’t found the exact taste that I need for some cocktails.

What strategy do you adopt, when customizing a drink using local dishes and ingredients? The mixology field is evolving fast and mixologists around the world are becoming more creative in making new cocktails, introducing their twist on classics and using new flavors, such as popcorn. Sometimes, these twists are used to present the flavor of a culture or a country. For example, vodka sour has simple syrup as an ingredient. However, if you substitute this syrup with meghli or thyme syrup, you will have a different cocktail inspired by Lebanese culture. These examples show how the bartender is, at times, inspired by the flavors of a culture and also by the story behind the creation of a certain spirit. This is where creativity comes into play and a new drink or syrup is born.


Lebanese bartender, Johnny Mansour, set a country first when he won second place at the Grand Finals of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2018 and best rum cocktail after winning first place in the Middle East and Africa championship. Throughout his 13 years of mixology experience, he’s garnered many awards and managed a large-scale with three different concepts. HN talks to the wizard about what’s currently causing a buzz in the business. Are there any syrup brands specific to creating certain types of drinks? While cocktails have many ingredients, like

What role do syrups containing fresh ingredients play? In some cocktails, the use of a fresh fruit muddle is recommended instead of a syrup, to give the cocktail a fresher taste. On the other hand, we sometimes face difficulties in finding seasonal fruits and in getting the same





MONIN RIDES THE NEXT WAVE in close collaboration with top bartenders in Paris, London, Berlin, Dubai and Shanghai. We used what is called a perception map to understand what ingredients bartenders found indispensable for cocktail creation. When the results were in, we found that syrups came second after alcohol, followed by fresh fruits, cementing the role that syrup plays.

Olga Cassidy, trade marketing manager MEIA at MONIN Studio Dubai, the makers of one of the favorite syrups among F&B professionals, talks to HN about the company’s key strengths and challenges, and what she expects to be the next big flavors to hit the market. What can you tell us about the important role played by syrups in the preparation of various drinks? Syrup is a key ingredient needed to create cocktails, whether it’s a classic mojito or a complex and unique signature cocktail. Bartenders are always looking for novelties and unexpected twists in classic drinks and that’s definitely where syrups come into play. To learn more about the role these play, we at Monin launched a research project last year,

What is the added value a syrup brand like Monin brings to the table as opposed to other varieties? Monin is the referent brand for bartenders and baristas worldwide. With more than 150 flavors in the current portfolio and innovative flavor launches twice a year, we offer plenty of opportunities for professionals to create drinks, depending on their needs and the time of day. Furthermore, Monin’s presence in 150 countries enables us to be aware of all the global F&B trends. We then use that insight as actionable data when proposing new relevant products that capitalize on the emerging trend. Transparent labels, additives and colorings are a major concern for health-conscious customers. How is Monin tackling these demands? We are well aware of this trend and natural ingredients are key. For this reason, Monin continuously strives to offer products made

from natural ingredients, wherever possible. The finest ingredients are used in our syrups to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to quality. In addition, our products contain only pure cane sugar, which is a welcome alternative for a significant segment of healthconscious consumers, as opposed to glucose syrup. To provide a further alternative, we have created a range of sugar-free and low-sugar syrups and concentrates. What are some of the top-trending flavors today and what’s behind their popularity? The latest trend in bars is to offer vegetable cocktails, in addition to earthy and botanical flavors. This year, at HORECA Lebanon, we launched Le Fruit de MONIN Beetroot and Le Fruit de MONIN Carrot, and received a great response from visitors. Other trending flavors are within the spices category. Saffron, pink peppercorn and habanero, for example, were developed and offered by MONIN to only the top bartenders. What flavors that have not yet been created would you like to see bottled? One flavor that comes to my mind, which is proving quite challenging on many levels, is what Asians refer to as, ‘The King of Fruits’ Durian. The difficulty relates directly to the pungent odor, which, if processed, would negatively affect the entire production line.


Orange Spritz Syrup

Caprice d’Orient

Agave Organic 1883

Toschi Rose Syrup

Irresistibly eye-catching, it perfectly marries the juicy, sour taste of orange with delicate notes of white wine and the right amount of bitterness. Add MONIN Orange Spritz to your lemonades, sodas, iced teas, cold-brew coffees and creative cocktails. MONIN Inc.

A series of new syrups with fruits such as mulberry, raspberry and blueberry harvested from local farmers and freshly pressed, and local spices such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon infused to produce the syrups. WADIH KASSATLY CO.

Organic flavors, created in pursuit of aromatic excellence. All natural, pure organic cane sugar/agave, GMO-free, gluten-free and vegan. Pure water from the French Alps, and no artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives. MAISON ROUTIN 1883

This range of syrups is meant exclusively for professional use. Available in 45 different flavors, from the real classics to the more exotic tastes, these syrups are ideally formulated for creating cocktails, long drinks and much more. TOSCHI



© MONIN - January 2018 - Serving suggestion


T: + 961 1 883963, P.O.BOX: 55106- EL METN / SIN EL FIL / BEIRUT / LEBANON



ARTISTIC ORIGINS For the artist in every chef, singleorigin chocolate, paired with Mona Lisa style, will add color and pop to your next dessert creation

ARRIBA SINGLE ORIGIN CHOCOLATE CAKE By Charbel Darwich, Technical Advisor at EMF & Callebaut Ambassador Serves 8 Ingredients CHOCOLATE SPONGE • 250g chocolate sponge mix BRAUN Biscao • 175g eggs • 75g water • Mix all together for 10 min. then bake for 6 minutes at 220°C.

Single Origin • 50g dairy cream 35.2% EVEN • 200g whipped cream 35.2% EVEN • Heat the cream then add the chocolate. Add the whipped cream.

KRANFIL CARAMEL • 150g caramel crunchy filling BRAUN Kranfil • Melt the Kranfil caramel.

CRÈME BRULÉE • 200g dairy Cream 35.2% EVEN • 50g water • 65g crème Brulée BRAUN • Heat the cream and water. Add the crème brulée and mix well.


GLACAGE • 85g Dairy Cream EVEN

• 35g Mirroir neutral BRAUN Cristaline • 35g sweet condensed milk • 100g Milk Chocolate CALLEBAUT Arriba Single Origin • Heat the cream with mirroir and sweet condensed milk. Add chocolate. Preparation Assemble the cake in the following order: Chocolate sponge - Kranfil cream Chocolate mousse cream -Crème brulée - Chocolate mousse cream - Chocolate sponge - Chocolate mousse cream - Glacage Decorate with Mona Lisa decoration

Single Origin ARRIBA

EMF Middle East t. +961 9 938732 |



Made with Nacional cocoa from the upriver Guayas region. Arriba's story goes back to the 19th century: one day, a Swiss chocolatier navigating along the Guayas River in Ecuador encountered a unique cocoa species. This cocoa – a Nacional variety with unique aromas – was quickly named Arriba, referring to the upriver region where it was grown. Today, the Nacional variety grown in the Arriba region is still an extremely sought-after type of cocoa, yielding an exceptionally intense cocoa taste with complex aromas. Callebaut®'s Arriba milk chocolate reveals an intense body of roasted cocoa, with plenty of sweet, caramelly notes and subtle fruity hints. Arriba tastes great as such, and in pairings with mildly acidic ingredients, mildly roasted ingredients, such as mild coffees and subtly herbaceous ingredients. Arriba is great for bars and tablets, yet can also be used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from flavoring ganaches to mousses, crémeux or sauces.

EuropEan dairy products The tastiest moments of your day!



9 April

19 April

5 May

Tea time with Michel Willaume at Maroun Chedid Academy, Beirut

Sipsmith London Dry Gin at The Cask & Barrel liquor boutique in Beirut

Pierre Azar trading company, on behalf of Valrhona and Boiron, celebrated pastries during an exclusive tea time welcome.

G. Vincenti & Sons organized a tasting session to introduce Sipsmith London Dry Gin, the latest addition to its fine alcohol range.

12 April

25 April

L'herbier Libanais exhibition Tawlet in Beirut hosted an exhibition by Tanya Traboulsi and Kamal Mouzawak of a modern interpretation of botanical plants based on what you smell and taste in a Lebanese kitchen.

9-11 May

Opening of Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City

A taste of Venice with Federico Belluco

IHG, in collaboration with Al Futtaim Group, invited the media to attend a media roundtable followed by the opening ceremony with Keith Barr and Omar AllHalf Futtaim. BRF18 HN118 page ad.pdf 1 5/23/18

To celebrate the inaugural JW Venice Food & Wine Festival, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai hosted Michelin award-winning chef, Federico Belluco, for an exclusive epicurean affair. 4:17 PM

Chef Pierre Abi Haila at Le Cordon Bleu Lebanon Sponsored by Valrhona, Les Vergers Boiron and Sosa ingredients, this was the chef's first confectionery workshop at Le Cordon Bleu.












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