AHIC Talks

Arabian & African Hospitality Investment Conference

Every year we host an annual event – the Arabian & African Hospitality Investment Conference – in Dubai, where we host over 100 hospitality investment leaders from across the MEA region to share their expertise and insights on stage. And there are another 100 or more speakers that we couldn’t have on stage because of timing, availability or some challenge as the event is only for three days.

AHIC Talks is our new medium to ensure that we can still have these conversations and share them with the AHIC community. We hope you find them insightful and if you have any feedback, please share them with us at hello@ahic.com.

All Episodes

AHIC Talks met with Youssef Chraibi, Managing Director of Magespro Africa, a project management and engineering firm focused into the African market to find out how the past 24 months have impacted their organisation and the markets they work in.  We discussed what opportunities there are for the market, the geographies they are focused on for new business opportunities and how clients can minimise construction costs to maximise their returns. 

Sep 15

22 min 7 sec

Michael Levie and David Keen are co-founders of Kube Ventures, a new accelerator platform designed to transform the hospitality industry. Michael and David spoke with Jonathan Worsley about their mission for this platform on this episode AHIC Talks. The founders also spoke about what inspired them to develop the platform and the different verticals created to solved different problems through various mediums. The conversation is a perfect scene-setter for their session at AHIC. In their discussion with Marloes Knippenberg, they will delve further into fostering transformation and change in hospitality.

Sep 6

28 min 38 sec

In this episode, Matthew Weihs talks with Hon. Minister Najib Balala to see how tourism in Kenya is handling the pandemic and what can be done for future investment opportunities. The minister spoke about how infrastructure plays a big role during times of crisis as it enhances intra-Africa travel which offers plenty of opportunity for growth. Having recently confirmed his participation, Minister Balala will be joining over 100 speakers live in person on stage at AHIC in September. 

Aug 23

20 min 52 sec

In this week's episode of AHIC Talks, Jonathan Worsley had a chat with Carlos Khneisser, who is Hilton's Vice President of Development for the Middle East and Africa region. They discussed how the hotel chain has been adapting to enormous changes by focusing on their people and the strength of their relationships with owners. Despite these challenges, they've made significant strides over the past year with the new deals done across the MEA region, with more opportunities brewing in the pipeline. Listen to the full episode to find out more about Hilton's plans and which countries have taken priority.   

Aug 8

18 min 15 sec

In this episode of AHIC talks, Jonathan Worsley spoke with Makram El Zyr, a second-generation hotelier whose father Selim El Zyr was one of the founding partners of Rotana. As the brand's Corporate VP of Development, Makram now leads the brand's ambitious expansion plans, focused on building their relationships with owners across every new project they move into.

Aug 3

16 min 53 sec

In the latest episode of AHIC Talks, Fuad Sajdi shares his vision for Toggle Hospitality: to be your go-to digital marketplace for hotel FF&E procurement. This is a revolutionary idea that will save hotels manhours and time on sourcing supplies by providing them with one easy platform from which they can find everything their property needs in just seconds! Fuad also discussed with Jonathan Worsley the innovations planned in its roadmap to enhance the user experience.

Jul 25

10 min 23 sec

In this episode, Jennifer Pettinger-Haines handed the reins over to Muhammad Ali Syed, Founder & CEO of Mingora Consult. He was in conversation with Prince Alwaleed Bin Nassir who is President of Qoot, about their recent collaboration on a joint report focusing on Saudi CEOs and COVID-19 sentiments in the Saudi restaurant industry. COVID-19 has hit the Saudi restaurant business hard, significantly weakening the business's financial position. Yet their leaders seem committed to holding on, but they can only do so with a  little bit of help from the Saudi government. These were the findings of the report, and Ali and Prince Waleed will be discussing them in detail over the course of this episode.

Jul 19

20 min 27 sec

In this week's episode of AHIC Talks, Mathew Weihs spoke to Andrew McLachlan, who joined Hilton last year as the brand's Managing Director of Development for the Sub-Saharan African region. Andrew shared a preview of the development strategy for the African continent with some of the brand's key brands such as Hilton Garden Inn, LXR, Waldorf Astoria and many more. He also talked about how the brand's history and legacy along with a focus on safety have helped its properties stay resilient during the pandemic.

Jul 10

19 min 40 sec

In this week’s episode of AHIC Talks, Jonathan Worsley spoke with Jalil Mekouar, Founder & CEO of inHovate Solutions about the data challenges in hospitality and how his company uses data science, machine learning and A.I to help solve them. As properties across the globe look to optimise and stay lean, finding solutions like inHovate have become paramount, as it provides 360° degree optimization across all functions including revenue management, operations and CX through its suite of web-based applications – providing complete visibility into hotel operations.

Jul 4

20 min 14 sec

In this episode of AHIC Talks, Matthew Weihs spoke with Amos Wekesa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes Safaris about the challenges African owners have faced over the past 18 months.  Great Lakes Safaris, a brand synonymous with luxury leisure travel in East African destinations, has been severely impacted by the lack of international tourism. Amos shared how he dealt with the situation and how he was able to diversify his offering during the period. Looking forward, Amos also shares the opportunities he is looking towards in 2022. 

Jun 27

14 min 21 sec

In this episode, Ian Ohan & Food Sheikh joined us to announce the Rise Up challenge, a competition searching for food entrepreneurs in the UAE, with the finals taking place live and in-person at AHIC in September. Their conversation with Jennifer Pettinger-Haines touched on why they put such a competition together and what kind of contestant would make the cut. Interested in participating or know someone who would be interested? Visit https://www.riseupdxb.com/ for more information.

Jun 22

21 min 35 sec

James Asquith has set the Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to travel to all 196 countries in the world by the age of 25. In this episode of AHIC Talks, he speaks with Jonathan Worsley about how he came across the idea for Holiday Swap and what his future plans are. Holiday Swap is an award-winning home exchange platform. It has been designed for travellers to securely swap and host their homes across 185 countries for just $1 per person, per night. With their subscription plans, travellers can save even more and benefit from unlimited swaps, instantly messaging unmatched users and bringing one guest for free.

Jun 16

23 min 43 sec

In this episode of AHIC talks, Jonathan Worsley speaks with Neil Patel, whose team is creating something remarkable with his company Kabuni. They use exponential technology to make all these immersive experiences in this digital twin of the planet called the metaverse. It sounds really cool - they've built this world that you can explore with their tech - but what is it for? It turns out there are lots of opportunities for something like the metaverse! For example, you could take kids on safari tours in Africa to applications in health such as immersive embodied therapies. The possibilities are endless. So if you want to see where our future could go, we suggest listening to this episode.

Jun 7

18 min 44 sec

In this episode of AHIC Talks, Matthew Weihs chats with Michael Grove, COO of Hotstats on the findings of the recently published Profit Matters Review in 2020.  Obviously, on the back of a very difficult year for the industry, the two looked at what the report covered and some of the key operational areas hoteliers could look at going forward.  A few other key themes discussed were the return of events and some of the winners and losers in the Middle East and Africa region.  

May 31

17 min 55 sec

In this episode of AHIC Talks, Jonathan Worsley, Chairman and Founder of Bench, caught up with Mohamed Awadalla, CEO of Time Hotels & Resorts at the Arabian Travel Market held live and in-person in Dubai. The two spoke about how Time Hotels & Resorts had fared during the pandemic and what Mohamed's development plans are for the future.

May 31

7 min 39 sec

In this episode of AHIC Talks, Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, Managing Director of Bench, speaks with Andrew Morrow. Director of Operations for the Firmament. The conversations touch on Andrew's impressions of Australia's restaurant scene and the differences he sees in comparison to Dubai. Andrew also shares exciting news about the Firmament's expansion plans for the overseas market.

May 23

12 min 10 sec

On the eve of publishing the 13th Annual Hotel Chain Development Pipelines in Africa, Trevor Ward, Managing Director at W Hospitality Group spoke with Matthew Weihs, Managing Director at bench about the report findings. They discussed what the 2020 hotel development numbers looked like for Africa and what this implied for the industry. They also dived into the key operators across the continent and the markets that are leading development.   Download your copy of the report today. 

May 7

14 min 22 sec