Why AHIC 2021 is an event not to be missed

Why AHIC 2021 is an event not to be missed

The Arabian & African Hospitality Investment Conference (AHIC) will return to Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai live and in person from September 20-22, 2021.

For the first time, AHIC 2021, which is organized by Bench and MEED, will house the four investment communities of the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference (AHIC), Saudi Arabia Hospitality Investment Conference (SHIC), Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) under one roof.

United under the theme “Rise Together,” investors, owners, private equity firms, financiers, franchise owners, innovators, developers, and government entities will network, share insights and do business, with the potential for partnerships greater than ever.

The AHIC 2021 program combines on-stage one-to-one interviews, roundtables, discussions and workshops with innovation pitches, off-stage individual meetings and networking experiences.

Many of these sessions will be underpinned by AHIC Intelligence, with industry data, insights and predictions for the region’s pipeline, performance and profitability expected to be key.

On September 20, Robin Rossmann, managing director, STR, will present some of the key learnings from the past 18 months. Meanwhile, Dr. Martin Berlin, partner & global deals real estate leader at PwC, will unveil exclusive research on the impact of Covid as a never-before-seen catalyst for innovation.

Day two will follow with insights on how Covid-19 has changed the hotel operating model from Michael Grove, chief operating officer of HotStats; analysis of UAE and KSA consumer data by Muhammad Ali Syed, chief executive officer, Mingora; and learnings from 22,000 restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by Alexis Marcoux-Varvatsoulis, Foodservice consulting lead, Middle East and Africa, JLL – one of several sessions set to inspire the GRIF community.

Meanwhile, Hala Matar Choufany, president – Middle East, Africa and South Asia for HVS, will launch the company’s latest Valuation Index for the Middle East & Africa on day two.

AHIC has already released its exclusive fourth annual AHIC Hotel Investment Forecast in partnership with MEED Projects. According to this research, more than USD 3.5 billion worth of new hotel projects in the GCC have been awarded over the past 18 months during the height of the pandemic, indicating that investors expect the market to return to normality in the next two to three years when the new projects are due to open.

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Ed James, director of content and analysis at MEED Projects, said longer-term, the industry is even more bullish, with USD 27 billion worth of hotel investments in the pipeline.The majority of these are comprised of the ‘giga project’ tourism investments in Saudi Arabia led by the Red Sea Project, NEOM, AMAALA, Diriyah Gate and Al-Ula, to name but a few.

These giga projects will have a major presence at AHIC 2021, with Jerry Inzerillo, Group CEO, Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), kicking off the Saudi Day on day three, 22 September, with a live-on-stage morning talk with Gloria Guevara Manzo, chief special advisor, Ministry of Tourism – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

AHIC 2021 will also feature speakers from another of Saudi Arabia’s giga projects, NEOM, with Andrew McEvoy, head of tourism sector, NEOM, set to discuss the foundations of developing a future destination with sustainability at the core of investment.

John Pagano, chief executive officer, The Red Sea Development Company and AMAALA, will deliver a keynote entitled: ‘Regenerative tourism and partnerships which enable it to be a reality’.

AHIC 2021 will also feature several sessions focused on the African investment community.

In addition to the focus on the different investment communities present at this year’s AHIC – those from Saudi Arabia, Africa and the global restaurant sector in addition to the Middle East at large – there will also be numerous plenary sessions that tap into the high level issues impacting hospitality investment across the board.

Topics to be covered include: conversions and M&A; third party operators; implementing ESG into investment strategies; FDI investment funds; development bright spots in the Middle East and Africa; the regional tourism outlook; and the “new normal” for profitability.

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