Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

09 – 11 April 2019

AHIC Village, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

2018 Session

Welcome Remarks

Haitham Mattar  photo

Haitham Mattar, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, was appointed in May 2015 to drive the economic growth of Ras Al Khaimah by positioning the Emirate as a world-class destination for business and leisure tourism.

With over 25 years of experience in global destination and hospitality management and marketing, Mattar has held senior roles with leading global brands including Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and most recently Hilton Worldwide. 

As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hilton Worldwide, he was managing a 240+ strong team across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Russia and responsible for 126 trading properties with a further 100 in the pipeline, sharpening his aptitude in hospitality, travel and tourism.

Mattar’s cross-continent experience and valuable global insights allow him to effectively lead Ras Al Khaimah’s destination growth strategy, through capturing existing and emerging source market movements and global tourism trends. Under Mattar’s leadership, Ras Al Khaimah is achieving continued growth in visitor numbers and netting a growing share of the global outbound tourism market.

A Lebanese-born American citizen and Arabic speaker, Mattar holds a Bachelors degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida, USA, and a MBA in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, UK, having completed a thesis on the sustainability of tourism in Dubai.

Jonathan Worsley photo

Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events, is one of the founders and organisers of multiple leading international conferences for the hotel investment industry, including the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai, now in its 14th year, The Summit in London, the Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference and the Africa Hotel Investment Forum.

More recently, Jonathan and his team have entered the Latin America market partnering with SAHIC in Cuba and Buenos Aires and the inaugural Iran Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference in 2017.

Bench Events has also branched out into the related fields of aviation and F&B, with the respective launches of AviaDev Africa, inaugurated in 2016, and The Global Restaurant Investment Forum now in its fourth year.

In 1997, Jonathan was one of the founding members of the annual International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, a conference he subsequently organised for 19 years, which today attracts over 2,000 delegates. Earlier in his career, Jonathan worked for real estate consultants CBRE & Hotel Partners, hotel advisors PKF and hotel operator Forte & Holiday Inns.

Jonathan sits as a shareholder and board director of STR, a global benchmarking company with over 50,000 participating hotels following the merger of The Bench, STR and Deloitte’s Hotel Benchmark. He sits on the board of Hotel Swaps, which allows participating members to swap empty hotel rooms with other members around the globe and is an investor in TripTease, the tech start-up that enables hotels to increase direct sales and aims to defeat rate disparity.

Jonathan and his colleagues are actively involved raising money for the communities in which Bench Events works. They raised more than £200,000 for TUSK, Cancer Research and the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation by participating in the Kili Madness challenge and breaking the World Record for the highest game of cricket ever played on top of Kilimanjaro. In 2016, Jonathan cycled from Amsterdam to Berlin with nine others for the opening of IHIF and raised funds for the Anne Frank Trust and Future Talent, a feat he will tackle again in 2017.

Jonathan is a Trustee of Future Talent, a charity that provides financial support to gifted young musicians in need of financial assistance to pursue their dreams and talent.