Register now for The GM Debate 2020 powered by Hotelier Middle East

Some huge names are taking part this year

Some of the speakers taking part
Some of the speakers taking part

Every year, The GM Debate is one of the most hotly anticipated events of the industry calendar, and this year, despite some changes, is no different.

If anything, the virtual event is bigger and better than ever before – now spread over two days and including six panels filled with some of the biggest names in the hotel industry and experts giving their insight into the challenges facing hospitality in 2020 and what we can look forward to in 2021.

Taking place on September 23 and 24, The GM Debate will be a virtual event, hosted by much-loved presenter, journalist and MC Tom Urquhart. There will be a key note address each day before the panels begin. Day one will focus on regional markets, while day two is more topic driven.

It’s the only place to hear so many thought leaders, making it a must-attend event for the industry. 

Read on for details of the panels, moderators and key speakers.

You can register for the event here

Day one

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

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

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

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

Day two

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

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

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

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

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