Peter Blackburn

Peter Blackburn

President & CEO, Cristal Group

Industry veteran Peter blackburn is accumulating Air miles as he flies around the region to oversee new hotel openings for cristal group.

Describing himself as a very hands-on boss, who is always looking to lead by example, Blackburn has led Cristal Group through the downturn to emerge with ambitious plans.

Having established the Abu Dhabi-based company in 2007 just ahead of the recession, he drew on his 25 years of industry experience — 17 of those in the Middle East — to keep the company profitable.

“We suffered some set-backs in 2012 and 2013, which we managed to overcome in 2014. The future now looks bright,” Blackburn tells Hotelier.

A pipeline of 16 hotels in development — the first stage of plans to have 50 hotels across the MENA region by 2020 — means Blackburn is “currently living on a plane overseeing new openings”, while at the same time empowering his team to “improve on our designs and operations through new ideas”.

The company is setting up a new office in Turkey to capitalise on the growth in the country’s hospitality sector, with a target of eight new hotels there within three years. Meanwhile construction is underway for the Cristal Grand Erbil Hotel, the company’s third in Iraq, despite suffering a car bomb attack in the carpark of the Cristal Grand Ishtar in Baghdad in June.

Top inspiration

“My father”


Rudi Jagersbacher
President, Middle East & Africa
Alex Kyriakidis
President & Managing Director, Middle East & Africa
Christophe Landais
Chief Operating Officer
Guido De Wilde
Senior Vice President and Regional Director Middle East
Pascal Gauvin
Chief Operating Officer, India, Middle East and Africa
Omer Z. Kaddouri
President & CEO
Gerald Lawless
President and group CEO
Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi
Founder, President & CEO
Mark Willis
Area Vice president, Middle East and Turkey
Michael Zager
Regional Vice President, Middle East and Africa
Philippe Zuber
Chief Operating Officer
Sami Nasser
Senior Vice President Operations, Middle East, Africa, & India
Christian Clerc
President of hotel operations – Europe, Middle East and Africa
Andreas Mattmüller
Chief operating officer, Middle East and Asia
Amine E Moukarzel
President, President and Founder
Alan Leibman
Chief Executive Officer
Pablo Graf
Senior Vice President, operations
Robert Kunkler
Chief Operating Officer
Mark Griffiths
SVP, regional operations, Middle East & Africa
Baran Turkel
Managing Director Turkey, Middle East & Central Asia
Laurent A. Voivenel
Chief Executive Officer
Ziad El Chaar
Managing Director
Ibrahim Barghout
Area Vice President, Middle East & Africa
Adam Nicholls
Managing Director Middle East/Africa
Dr Badr Al Badr
Chief Executive Officer
Anton Bawab
Regional President
David Grant Thomson
Chief Operating Officer
Thierry Douin
Vice President, operations
Hussein Ali Hatata
Vice President — hospitality division
Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla
Chief Executive Officer
Noel Massoud
VP — operations and development
Rob Weeden
VP sales & marketing EMEA, India, Indian Ocean & Canada
Hamad Abdullah Al Mulla
CEO and board member
Bugra Berberoglu
Chief Executive Officer
Sumair Tariq
Managing Director
Maximilian Lennkh
Vice President – hotel operations EMEA
Antoine Sayegh
Siegfried Nierhaus
Vice President Middle East
Gabriel Escarrer Jaume
Vice Chairman and CEO
Russel Sharpe
Chief Operating Officer
Jamal Serhan
CEO, Vice President
Peter Blackburn
President & CEO
Vincent Miccolis
Area Manager GCC
Hatem Gasmi
Managing Director
Abdulla Bin Sulayem
Chief Executive Officer
Jason Harding
Area Director, General Manager
Philippe Harb
Chief Operating Officer and Partner
Daousser Chennoufi
Concept Creator and Partner
Paul Arnold
Vice President Development — Europe, Middle East & Africa
Vardaraj Shetty
Chairman & Managing Worker


Last year
Number of years in role
Number of years with company
Number of operating hotels in the Middle East
Number of pipeline hotels in the Middle East

From social media