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His Highness Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum to patron leading hotel investment conference

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DUBAI – His Highness Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group, has confirmed his ongoing patronage of t

DUBAI – His Highness Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group, has confirmed his ongoing patronage of the fifth Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), according to conference management.

AHIC co-organizer, Jonathan Worsley, said that more than 100 industry leaders will take to the stage at the upcoming, three-day forum (from May 2-4, 2009) to debate the strategies required to combat the global meltdown.

Speaking ahead of AHIC 2009, Edmund O’Sullivan, conference co-organizer said that the industry needs to revive itself and redefine ‘Brand Arabia’ in order to attract ongoing foreign investment. O’Sullivan urged companies to maintain marketing activity despite the downturn.

Echoing his sentiments, Gavin Samson, director at TRI Hospitality Consulting, said that the astute marketing campaigns will help the return of confidence and spark bank lending, the two drivers that he suggests will safeguard development. He stated: “We must keep our profile high and ensure that we are competitive. The industry must recognize that it must work collectively to instigate creative measures. We must also find the confidence to make some drastic decisions if we are to maintain growth in 2009.”

Meanwhile, Marc Dardenne, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group and Emaar Hotels & Resorts, noted that the GCC is a compelling economic block, where governments are taking concerted initiatives to diversify the economies and create new growth opportunities in a variety of sectors. He said the GCC Monetary Union will be a great step to further enhance the collaborative strength of ‘Brand Arabia.’ He, too, agreed that joint marketing efforts are crucial, saying, “Collective efforts in showcasing the region’s real opportunities must be taken, especially while participating in overseas exhibitions.”

Toufic Tamim, VP, sales and marketing Middle East of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, urged that alongside marketing budgets, HR and training budgets are also maintained. He said that quality of service is an important factor in maintaining business levels and avoiding redundancies across the industry. “It is vital that the high product and service standards that are synonymous with ‘Brand Arabia’ are retained. If we let standards drop, this will affect the confidence of prospective employees, customers, and investors. We would risk unravelling all the hard work that has been done to establish the region as a ‘premium’ destination,” Tamin warned.

Worsley promised that AHIC will provide a timely platform to find industry consensus in all of these issues.

The 2009 conference includes a half-day summit with a spotlight on Saudi Arabia, networking receptions, plus a world-class speaking faculty including HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, chairman of the board, secretary general of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA); Dr. Henry Azzam, CEO Middle East & North Africa, Deutsche Bank AG; Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer, Dubai Airports; Sarmad Zok, chief executive officer of Kingdom Hotel Investments; Sheikh Fawaz Alhokair, chairman & founder, Fawaz Alhokair Group; John Defterios, host, CNN Marketplace Middle East; and Gerald Lawless, executive chairman, Jumeirah Group; among others.

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference is organized by Bench Events and MEED Events. Details can be found on www.arabianconference.com .