Power 50 2014: Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi
Man behind M&C's Middle East growth story ranked at number eight
Ali Hamad Alzaabi has been with Millennium & Copthorne since the Middle East office was set up in 2001 and is currently driving ambitious expansion plans.
2014 ranking: 8
2013 ranking: 9
As of July 2014, Millennium & Copthorne operates 18 hotels, with approximately 5000 rooms in eight countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Oman and Iraq. However, it has 40 properties in the pipeline in the region, half of which will be in Saudi Arabia.
In the next 12-18 months alone, new hotels are expected to open across the region in UAE, Kuwait and Oman, and Alzaabi’s plan is for the company to operate 50 properties throughout the Middle East and Africa by 2017.
Last year was a strong one for the company, with a 23.3% increase in total revenues and a 34.1% increase in gross operating profit. Additionally, plans were set in motion to roll out three new brands to the region: Studio M, M Hotel and Millennium Executive Apartments, the latter two having been previously announced but yet to materialise.
Riyadh will see the launch of the first Studio M in quarter two 2015, M Hotels will be unveiled in Makkah and Muscat and Dubai Marina will see the opening of the first Millennium Executive Apartments.
Openings over the past year have included two hotels in Iraq: Millennium Kurdistan Hotel & Spa in December 2013 and the iconic landmark property Grand Millennium Sulaimani, which opened in March 2014 and was hailed at the time of opening as “the Burj Al Arab of Kurdistan”.
In charge of 3500 employees across the region, UAE national Alzaabi has 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and cites HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first president of the UAE, as his inspiration.
“We want to build on this success and cement our position as one of the leading hotel companies in the region,” he says. “Since founding the company we are now competing with a number of competitive brands who have been in the region for much longer than us.
“We have recognised the immense scope for development in the region and have identified certain gaps where Millennium & Copthorne’s own unique portfolio of brands will fit perfectly with the target audience.”
Alzaabi’s involvement in the hospitality sector extends beyond just Millennium & Copthorne; Alzaabi is linked to investment companies that have assets of more than US $3 billion, and he was also behind the introduction of contract food and support service provider Compass Group into the Middle East.
Among his philanthropic endeavours are Hamad Centre for Special Needs in Abu Dhabi, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping children with autism. He is also sponsor of The Ali Alzaabi Young Business Leaders Scholarship Fund at the American University of Sharjah.
By The Numbers
Number of years in role: 13 Number of years with company: 13 Number of operating hotels in the Middle East: 18 Number of pipeline hotels in the Middle East: 40
Fun Fact: Sponsors a scholarship fund at American University of Sharjah.