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KAMEL AJAMI

Vice president operations, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Levant, Hilton
Under his leadership, Hilton’s footprint in KSA and the Levant is set to triple in the region

Hilton is a hospitality giant, and while Kamel Ajami is the VP of operations for only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Levant, his 16 hotels account for approximately 27% of Hilton’s supply in the MENA region. Even more impressive, his 32 pipeline hotels are responsible for just under half of Hilton’s pipeline of 79 hotels in MENA. Under his leadership, Hilton’s footprint in KSA and the Levant is set to triple in the region.

“To put this into perspective,” Ajami says, “according to STR data, Hilton has more rooms under construction in Saudi Arabia alone than any other company has in the entire GCC.”

He has certainly overseen many openings and signings for the region during his tenure. Last year, KSA’s first Conrad Hotels & Resorts’ property, Conrad Makkah, opened its doors, and in March this year, Hilton opened Jordan’s first Hilton Hotels & Resorts property, Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa. The operator expects to debut the Embassy by Hilton brand in the Middle East in 2020 with the opening of a property in Riyadh that will also come under Ajami’s command.

All of this translates to a growing team in this region and, in line with the mothership’s focus on human resources (HR), Ajami is keen to push the development of young talent. The company has made progress towards Saudisation and other nationalisation initiatives, and has partnered with the KSA government on HR programmes, while in Jordan, Hilton is working in partnership with the Queen of Jordan, on an initiative to establish a hospitality university and a youth job service. Like many other operators, Hilton is also working to attract more women to careers in the hospitality industry, and to help its own female team members reach leadership positions.

This year has seen personal career development for Ajami as well. In 2017, his remit was expanded to include Jordan and Lebanon (the Levant); previously, he was vice president of operations for Saudi Arabia. He has been working in the hospitality industry for 36 years, seven of which have been spent working in Middle Eastern and North African hotels. He is now based in Jeddah, with a Hilton regional office established there for the first time — at the end of last year, Hilton was named Saudi Arabia’s best workplace by the Great Places to Work organisation.

“I am proud to be a hotelier and, as a Jordanian, I am particularly proud of the tradition, status, and potential of the hospitality industry in the Middle East,” he says.

“When I talk about a vision for the future of the company, it is more a vision for how I intend Hilton to play a leading role in helping our industry to empower and enable the people and cultures of this region to thrive.”

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ALEX KYRIAKIDIS
President and managing director
OLIVIER GRANET
Managing director and chief operating officer
PASCAL GAUVIN
Chief operating officer, India, Middle East and Africa
MARK WILLIS
Area senior vice president Middle East, Turkey, and Africa
ANDREAS MATTMÜLLER
Chief operating officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts
ALI HAMAD LAKHRAIM ALZAABI
Founder, president, and CEO, Millennium Hotels & Resorts
OMER KADDOURI
President and CEO
ROBERT KUNKLER
Chief operating officer
KAMEL AJAMI
Vice president operations
AMINE MOUKARZEL
President/ partner
IGNACE BAUWENS
Wyndham Hotel Group regional vice president
SAMI NASSER
COO luxury brands
PETER FULTON
Group president – Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Southwest Asia
HUSSAIN SAJWANI
Chairman
Simon Casson
President – hotel operations, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Dr Badr Al Badr
Chief executive officer
Antoine El Sayegh
President
Imad Elias
CEO
Vincent Miccolis
Country general manager, Middle East and Turkey
Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla
Chief executive officer
Henk Meyknecht
Chief operating officer, Middle East and Africa
Andrew Shaw
Assistant vice president — development EMEA
Laurent A. Voivenel
Senior vice president, operations, and development for the Middle East, Africa, and India
Sumair Tariq
Managing director
Baran Turkel
Managing directorTurkey, Middle East, and Central Asia,
Hatem Gasmi
Founder and managing director,
Aboudi Asali
Chief executive officer
Gabriel Escarrer Jaume
Vice chairman and CEO
Jamal Serhan
CEO and senior vice president
Hussein Ali Hatata
Vice president, hospitality division
Marc Dardenne
Group chief operating officer and interim CEO
Siegfried Nierhaus
Vice president Middle East
Rob Weeden
Vice president sales and marketing Europe
Kamal Fakhoury
Chief executive officer
Nehme Imad Darwiche
Founder and chief executive officer
Mohamed Soussan
Group general manager
Simon Coombs
President and CEO
Suparat Chirathivat
Vice president business development
David Grant Thomson
Chief operating officer
Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi
Executive chairman
Philippe Zuber
President and chief operating officer
Anton Bawab
Regional president
Frederic Flageat-Simon
Chief executive officer
Sir Rocco Forte
Founder and chairman
Philippe Harb
Chief operating officer and partner
Ranjit Phillipose
General manager

BY THE NUMBERS

2
Number of years in the role
15
Number of years with the company
16
Number of operating hotels in the region as of July 2017
32
Number of pipeline hotels in the region as of July 2017

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