Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

April 2020 | United Arab Emirates

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Industry calls for proactive approach to Emiratisation in hospitality at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)

Posted on April 19, 2018

100+ Emiratis attend AHIC’s first hospitality mini job fair in Ras Al Khaimah


Ahmed Ramdan, Founder of Ròya International, Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group and Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority discuss Emiratisation as an opportunity for the industry.

Dubai, UAE. 19 April 2018. Following a three year public-private sector initiative aimed at engaging the Hospitality industry in Emiratisation led by Ahmed Ramdan, founder of Ròya International at AHIC 2017, and in line with this year’s theme of Focus on the Future, AHIC hosted a seminar and mini job fair for 100+ young Emiratis interested in a hospitality industry career.

UAE Nationals attending saw a compelling film with Emiratis now working in various segments of the industry.  Following the film produced by DTCM/Medyaf and the Emaar Emiratization team, the students met with international hotel brands and regional hospitality leaders with the aim to explore career opportunities and further bridge the information awareness gap between Emiratis and the hospitality industry.

On day three of the conference, Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and Co-Founder of AHIC, led a panel discussion on Emiratisation with Ahmed Ramdan, Founder of Ròya International, Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group and Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. 

Commenting on where the industry is at, following the establishment of the board at AHIC last year, Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group said: “Emiratisation for us at Emaar is not a business issue, it’s a matter of the heart.”

“We are working effortlessly to inspire and attract as many Emiratis as possible to the hospitality industry and to showcase the diversity this fabulous industry has to offer locally, regionally and internationally.

“Our target is to double the percentage of Emirati employees at Emaar Hospitality Group by the end of the year and we’re looking to diversify the roles they have within the hotels.” 

The panel agreed that the industry does face challenges in attracting Emiratis to work in hospitality, mainly because of the perception of the hotel industry, which they are collectively looking to change by visiting schools and colleges to talk about the opportunities the industry offers across all facets of hotel management and operations. 

Ahmed Ramdan, Founder of Ròya International, a pioneer in Emirati led Hospitality said: “Thanks to the industry initiatives over the past few years and last year’s formation of the industry group, we see things moving into the right direction. The industry needs to take a lead to find and develop talent, positioning UAE Nationals to lead the industry in the future.”   

He continued: “Perceptions of the industry are changing and as younger generations are coming onto the job market, they have less fear about working in the hotel sector, which is a great sign. They now see the industry as a more sophisticated and serious business than before.” 

Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, addressed Emiratisation from a government entity perspective. “Three years ago, we only had three percent Emiratis at the Authority, but we only had 19 employees. Now we have 80 employees and we have 35 percent Emiratis working at RAKTDA.” 

“Some of the work we have done to encourage Emiratis to join the Authority is to show the opportunities they can explore in the sector and we have seen a great uptake, for example in disciplines such as marketing. We also work toward educating the Emirati population about the value of tourism to the overall value of the economy.

“This initiative will help us to encourage the hotels in Ras Al Khaimah to embrace Emiratisation further through a culture shift.”

The panel agreed that there is definitely more momentum when it comes to Emiratisation than in the past, but urged that the private sector need to be proactive and move the initiative forward.  

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Contact: Lisa Flanagan, Senior Communications Consultant, In2 Consulting; Office: +971 4 455 8499; Mobile: +971 52 689 5509 

Notes to Editors


About AHIC 2018

AHIC, now in its 14th year, is the annual gathering for the Middle East’s hospitality investment community organised by global hotel investment event organiser Bench Events in partnership with MEED Events. AHIC creates a knowledge and networking platform for global and regional investors of all backgrounds, offering essential insights to investing in hotels, showcasing regional and international hospitality investment opportunities and facilitating direct connections with hospitality industry stakeholders. AHIC 2018 will be held in a purpose-built AHIC Village on the beach of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, from 17 April to 19 April 2018 in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, AHIC 2018 will be co-hosted by its founding patron, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, whose continued support of the industry and AHIC has been critical to the region’s tourism growth.


AHIC 2018 Sponsors

AHIC 2018 is hosted by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. Sponsors include: Al Marjan Island, Hilton and Radisson Hotel Group as Platinum Sponsors; Dur Hospitality as Strategic Partner; AccorHotels, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), Emaar Hospitality Group, Grant Thornton, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Insignia, Marriott International; The Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) and Wyndham Hotel Group as Emerald Sponsors; and Action Hotels, Al Kamal International, Colliers International, Honeywell, HVS, Louvre Hotels Group, Melia Hotels International, PwC, Roya, SSH, STR, Indian Hotels Company Limited (Taj Group) and Time Hotels as Gold Sponsors.


About Bench Events

Global event organiser Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 14th year, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Summit in London and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC). Bench Events’ extensive portfolio also includes the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Dubai and AviaDev, designed to promote the future air connectivity in Africa. Bench Events’ mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide.

About MEED

MEED is a remarkable senior management media brand, that encompasses subscription to the MEED Business Review publication and website,, as well as organising the MEED Quality Awards for Projects, AHIC and Innovation Live! MEED also works with clients on bespoke content, events, broadcast and digital offerings.  MEED also has two high-value content businesses, MEED Projects and MEED Insight. MEED Projects is the Middle East's premium project tracking database and MEED Insight offers tailored research and in-depth analysis. Established in 1957, MEED, has been integral to delivering business information and news, intelligence and analysis on the Middle East economies and activities ever since.


About Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA)

The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) was established in May 2011 under the government of Ras Al Khaimah. In order to achieve target growth of one million visitors by the end of 2018, the authority aims to develop the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and establish Ras Al Khaimah as a world-class destination for leisure and business travel, creating sustainable investment opportunities and enhancing the quality of life for its residents. In order to achieve its goals, the RAKTDA has a government mandate to license, regulate and monitor the emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry.