Stephen Sackur is presenter of HARDtalk, the current affairs interview on BBC World and the News Channel. His subjects have included the heads of NATO and OPEC, Shimon Peres, Gore Vidal and Richard Dawkins.
For HARDtalk he has also interviewed a number of the world’s great innovators, from James Dyson to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and the bioscientist Craig Ventor. Distilling his notes for a series of articles, Stephen identiﬁed the ﬁve qualities they all seemed to share: an indestructible will, passion (almost beyond reason), outrageous optimism, a super-sized ego and a ‘rebel yell.’
These interviews have also given him an insight into how organisations can best bring about innovation: “You need to ﬁnd ways to assess individuals on their merits, and give rewards for innovative thinking rather than play-it-safe mediocrity. You should encourage insiders to get outside and bring back fresh insights. And you shouldn’t confuse seniority with creativity.”
Away from set-piece interviews Stephen has served in Brussels, reporting on day-to-day stories from the major European institutions and across the continent. Before that he was Washington Correspondent, where his coverage and analysis of 9/11 won widespread acclaim.
Ten years earlier it was Stephen who broke the story of the mass killing on the Basra road out of Kuwait, marking the end of the Gulf War. He was then posted to Cairo and Jerusalem as Middle East Correspondent, where he reported on the emergence of the Palestinian Authority.
Abdullah Al Abdouli
Managing Director, Al Marjan Island
Abdullah Al Abdooli, a qualified Architect and Urban Planner, is a senior contributor to the design and planning of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and its crown jewel, Al Marjan Island. His specialist areas of expertise include architecture, urban planning, interior design, project management and sustainable development.
As Managing Director of Al Marjan Island, Al Abdooli leads the company’s real estate investment, development and strategy. He is a board member of AlMarjan Island LLC and works closely with the board to deliver the strategic plan and vision for the organisation.
His priorities include establishing and building relationships with major institutions and developers. He actively engages all stakeholders as he continues to develop both the brand and the Al Marjan Island project into a highly regarded investment destination of choice, and proactively shapes partnerships within various investor categories.
In addition to being Managing Director and board member of Al Marjan Island LLC, Abdullah Al Abdooli is also Director, Town Planning, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, and board of RAK Dredging.
Abdullah Al Abdooli received his Master’s degree from Paris Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi and his Bachelor’s from the American University of Sharjah.
Chief Executive Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group
An international hospitality management leader with over 30 years of experience, Olivier Harnisch is the Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group. He is mandated with driving the overall operations of the organisation with a focus on setting new benchmarks for Emaar Hospitality Group in Dubai and other international markets.
He is responsible for the overall management strategy for 11 operational hotels and three serviced residences in Dubai, and the pipeline of over 30 projects in the UAE – in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Fujairah - as well as in international markets including Egypt, Maldives, Bahrain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
With the goal of national and international expansion as well as enhancing productivity and profitability, Olivier leads the company in unlocking the potential of its three hotel brands – the premium luxury brand Address Hotels + Resorts, the upscale lifestyle brand Vida Hotels and Resorts, and the contemporary midscale brand Rove Hotels.
He is also responsible for the leisure clubs under Emaar Hospitality Group and the Lifestyle Dining assets. In addition, he will focus on further enhancing guest experiences and implementing new strategies that create long-term value for all stakeholders.
Olivier joins Emaar from Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in Brussels, where he was Chief Operating Officer, responsible for a portfolio of over 350 leased, managed and franchised hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He has acquired in-depth expertise in all aspects of the hospitality business through multiple leadership roles across four continents. He has significant regional and international experience in both hotel and restaurant operations.
Olivier started his career in 1986, and was initially associated with individual hotels, food and beverage operations and airlines for over 13 years, enabling him to gain strong insights in classic hospitality and in developing compelling guest experiences.
He then worked for over 14 years with an international hotel chain where he held the position of Vice President for Northern and Central Europe, before taking up his last role in 2012.
Olivier holds an MSc in Organisational Behaviour from the University of London, an MBA in International Finance from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a Degree in Hospitality Management from Berlin School of Hotel Administration. Having worked across the globe, Olivier is fluent in six languages.
Dr Reem Osman
Chief Executive Officer, Saudi German Hospital
Dr.Reem is the Group CEO of SGH Emirates (Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah) since November 2017 and CEO of SGH Dubai since 2012
Under her leadership, Saudi German remains a key player in evolving the healthcare industry in the UAE and international markets. Her dream to serve more patients in UAE has led to expansion into new Emirates – Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah & Dubai facility expansion which is expected to add 300 beds. Her vision is to take SGH Group – UAE branch into whole different level through the upcoming and current expansions.
Her drive for excellence has been rewarded with numerous titles to her role. Featured in the Forbes Middle East’s 200 most powerful Arab women listing in 2015, Dr Reem has many honours to her name; including being one of the top 15 most influential business people in the Emirate, according to Arabian Business, in 2017. In addition to her achievements, the international organization for development and human rights nominated Dr. Reem Osman as a peace ambassador. Saudi German Hospital Dubai’s collaboration with the Zayed Giving Initiative has been making strides in the healthcare industry, with Dr Reem appointed as the Humanitarian Ambassador for the cause.
Graduated from Tishreen University of Medicine in Latakia, Syria as an ophthalmologist, Dr.Reem gained her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Wollongong University in Sydney along with becoming a certificate holder of management healthcare delivery from Harvard Business School.
Executive Director, Destination Tourism Development, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
Shaji Thomas is the Executive Director of Destination Tourism Development for Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and in his remit, he manages B2B relationships, MICE and Market insights. Responsible for initiating strategic alliances with travel trade associations and airlines among other major industry players, Shaji is key to further boosting international visitor numbers to Ras Al Khaimah.
Prior to joining RAK TDA, Shaji was the Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Hyatt Hotels (in Dubai and West India) and prior to that, the Area Director of Sales for IHG Northern Gulf. During these stints, he was responsible for providing support and strategic oversight to all brands across functions of Sales, Marketing, Events and Revenue Management.
An Engineering school graduate with multiple Management Development Program certifications , Shaji has been associated with varied sectors and Industries in his illustrious career of 23 years.