Selim El Zyr’s vision for the company he co-founded in Abu Dhabi back in 1992 has always been clear: to be the leading hotel management company in the Middle East. He has long made public his target to have 100 hotels by 2020, and in each edition of the Power 50, El Zyr comes another step closer to achieving his goal.
In just over two decades, Rotana’s growth has been phenomenal. The group is one of a handful that seems to actually hit the targets it reveals year-on-year, with hotels being signed at a rapid pace just as new properties are opening.
There are now 47 hotels operating and 46 more in the confirmed pipeline up to 2016.Four
hotels opened between September 2012 and September 2013, including Bahrain debut the Majestic Arjaan by Rotana and the Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana and Arjaan by Rotana complex in Dubai.
Looking forward, the Rotana Resort on Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi is back on track and due to open in 2015, while there has been a whopping 19 new signings.
These include management contracts for three hotels in Iran, marking the Abu Dhabi-based group’s debut in the country, a deal for two hotels in Turkey and plans for Sundas Rotana, the group’s first flag in Oman’s capital, Muscat. Beyond the region, Rotana also has plans to roll out hotels in India, capitalising on the great number of flights between the country and the UAE.
El Zyr is also going to great lengths to ensure that all operating properties are up to standard, with approximately 17 properties in the UAE undergoing some level of refurbishment, with Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi set to grow to around 900 rooms.
There are also various new initiatives at brand and corporate level. A new brand, Residences by Rotana, has opened in Doha and is set to launch at the Park Rotana complex in Abu Dhabi. It’s an unfurnished residences concept to offer yet more flexibility to clients and guests. Meanwhile, the group is developing a new-look for the Arjaan by Rotana apartment brand, being piloted at Al Maha Arjaan in Abu Dhabi.
The group has also renovated its own HQ to be more green, as part of a new company-wide sustainability strategy, Rotana Earth, now being rolled out, with huge saving potential.
A true inspiration, El Zyr started at the bottom of the ladder and worked his way up; his first post was as chief steward at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, and he later joined Hilton.
After a spell in Lebanon, he joined Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company, where he met Rotana co-founder Nasser Al Nowais and the rest is history. Sadly, however, this will be El Zyr’s last entry in the Power 50 as he is due to retire by the end of 2013. COO Omer Kaddouri has been CEO-in-the-making for a few years now, so watch this space in 2014.