Rudi Jagersbacher
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Rudi Jagersbacher

president, Hilton Worldwide Middle East and Africa

Rudi Jagersbacher first entered the Power 50 in 2011 at number two, following his appointment to his current role in January of that year, a position he sustained in the 2012 Power 50 ranking.

Now, after three years of strong growth and a record 12 months with 19 new properties signed — a first for Hilton Worldwide as a company within a 12-month timescale — Jagersbacher rightly takes the top spot in the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 2013.

Rudi Jagersbacher, who in 2014 will celebrate 40 years in the hotel business, joined Hilton Worldwide in 1974 after graduating from hotel school in Austria and has held senior leadership positions at The Savoy and Claridges in London, as well as general manager positions in flagship properties such as the Langham Hilton and the Park Lane Hilton — all iconic in their own right.

This was followed by vice president roles in London, Dubai — which involved a three-year spell as VP for Hilton Worldwide MEA — and Brussels. But it is in his current role that Jagersbacher has really shone, making the company a force to be reckoned with in the region.

The numbers speak for themselves: over the past 12 months, Jagersbacher has overseen the opening of seven hotels and signed 19 new properties.

In the Middle East specifically, four hotels opened; Hilton Sharjah, the first in the emirate; Hilton Alexandria Corniche in Egypt; the launch of luxury brand Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah and the recently converted Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi.

The highly-anticipated Conrad Dubai Hotelier is assured will follow this month. Of the 19 new signings, only two are outside of the Middle East/Egypt region, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE the key growth markets.

Looking at the total pipeline, for the Middle East and Africa this stands at 62 hotels, representing more than 20,000 rooms and all expected to open within the next three years. More importantly, 80% of this region’s pipeline growth is in the Middle East (including Egypt).

Both STR Global and Viability Management Consultants rank Hilton Worldwide as the chain with the largest and most active hotel pipeline in the region; indeed, according to Viability’s research into five Gulf cities on pages 56-61, Hilton Worldwide leads by a significant margin with 8211 rooms planned in Dubai, Abu Dhbai, Doha, Riyadh and Makkah alone until 2017. The forecast for the remainder of 2013 and 2014 is particularly strong, with 18 hotels due to open; 15 in the Middle East and three in Africa.

This is where Rudi Jagersbacher stands out against his competitors in this year’s Power 50; growth is very much still focused on the Middle East, predominately the GCC and Egypt, rather than emerging markets or Africa.

Considering there are already 62 hotels in MEA, 44 of which are in Middle East and 16 of which opened under Jagersbacher’s tenure, the fact there is still so much potential for the group to grow is testament to this president’s ability to scout out opportunities and secure deals. Indeed, one of his achievements in Dubai alone was the removal of areas of protection clauses with current owners to enable further expansion.

One of the focal areas now seems to be establishing the group as a leader in the luxury space as well, with the debuts of Waldorf Astoria and Conrad in UAE flagships for the group — and proud moments for Jagersbacher personally.

“As we seek to introduce our luxury concept into the region, there was a particular highlight when we opened the UAE’s first Waldorf Astoria in Ras al Khaimah on August 1,” he says.

“I was delighted to note we have seamlessly combined true Waldorf service, which is reminiscent of those core values of a pre-eminent luxury experience, with a range of specially tailored features to honour the best of Arabian culture. It was a proud moment.”
But as we know with the Power 50, it’s not just about portfolio, pipeline and properties — however special they may be.

Jagersbacher is responsible for 18,000 team members working in Middle East and Africa, some he notes in “testing and challenging locations”. In addition, he’s already focused on recruiting the same number of colleagues again to service the hotels expected to open by 2017.

“Before the end of 2014, we expect to hire the first wave of around 5000 new team members in markets as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE to Chad and Burundi in central Africa,” he reveals.

“We have a very strong brand in the industry and our aim is to become the number one choice for guests, owners and team members alike. Equally as important, are our efforts to be a good corporate citizen, and making a meaningful contribution to the many local communities in which we operate. By way of example I will lead our Global Week of Service initiative for MEA this October, which will see team members from across the region give something back.”

Jagersbacher is also a founding member of the Hilton in the Community Foundation — a grant-making organisation that fundraises to support disadvantaged children.

Far more than a figurehead, next year will see Jagersbacher truly reach the top as he attempts to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and raise US $100,000 to help provide clean drinking water for children in Africa.

How he finds the time Hotelier is not sure, but the mission surely reflects the determination of character that has made Jagersbacher so successful in his professional life and we wish him the very best of luck!

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Rudi Jagersbacher
president
Pascal Gauvin
chief operating officer, India, Middle East And Africa
Guido de wilde
senior vice president and regional director - Middle East
Alex Kyriakidis
president, Middle East & Africa
Christophe Landais
managing director
Selim El Zyr
president & CEO
Gerald Lawless
president and group CEO
Bani Haddad
regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa
Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi
president and CEO
Amine E. Moukarzel
president, president
Pascal Duchauffour
area vice president EMEA
Ulrich T. Eckhardt
president Middle East & Africa
Simon Casson
regional vice president and GM
Andreas Mattmuller
chief operating officer
Josef Kufer
chief operating officer
Sami Nasser
senior vice president, operations, Middle East, Africa and India
Peter Fulton
group president
Mark Willis
area vice president for the Middle East & Sub Saharan Africa
Michel Noblet
president & founding partner
Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla
chief executive officer
Mahmoud Mokhtar
vice president of operations for KSA
David Thomson
chief operating officer
Jiri Kobos
vice-president operations
Glenn de Souza
vice president for international operations - Asia and Middle East
Moritz Klein
GM, Area GM
Anton Bawab
regional president
Paul Arnold
vice president of development, Europe, Middle East and Africa
Raj Shetty
chairman & managing worker
Ziad Al Chaar
managing director
Magdi Samman
regional director of operations & development
Sultan B. Al Otaibi
general manager
Simon Coombs
president & CEO
Mohammed H. Arkobi
vice president & managing director
Fadi Mazkour
managing director hotel division
Darroch Crawford
managing director
Hussein Ali Hatata
vice president — hospitality division
Peter Blackburn
president & CEO
Russel Sharpe
chief operating officer
Tarek el Sherif
managing director
Serge Zaalof
president/managing director
Aqeel Raees
chief executive officer
Dr Ali Kasapbashi
group general manager
Hatem Gasmi
founder and managing director
Anders Dimblad
area general manager
Horsten Ries
managing director
Patrick De Groot
general manager
Rupprecht Queitsch
General manager

BY THE NUMBERS

44
Hilton Worldwide Hotels open in Middle East
50
Hilton Worldwide Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East
4
Hilton Worldwide Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months
17
Hilton Worldwide Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months
15
Hilton Worldwide Middle East hotels due to open by end 2014
39
Years in hospitality
6
Years in Middle East
Austrian
Nationality

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