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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Speakers Indicate the Hospitality Industry
will Continue to Lead Recovery in United Arab Emirates in 2011



United Arab Emirates, 30 March 2011
– With global attention focused on the Arab world, AHIC 2011 will examine the key issues expected to affect the hotel investment industry over the coming year and beyond during the three day conference, running from 30th April to 2nd May.

Investor Hard Talk, dedicated to issues facing the investment community, will look at the regional and global factors that will affect performance, impact on balance sheets, and dictate which markets are prime for investment.

Mark Wynne-Smith, Chief Executive Officer Europe, Middle East & Africa, of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, who is the moderator of this session, commented:

“The global hotel investment market has seen a significant pick-up in activity over the past twelve months. The Middle East market started to see some activity but recent events in the region make it a difficult time for investors to make decisions. The market continues to offer excellent potential for investors who are prepared to tread carefully through the myriad of issues that are currently to be considered.”

In a recent report entitled Top Ten Trends for UAE Real Estate 2011, Jones Lang LaSalle predict that the hospitality industry will become more focused on performance and repositioning in 2011, and that it will be among the first sectors of the Dubai market to recover following two years of economic pressure. The report also mentions that financial performance will drive decision making in hotel sector in UAE in 2011, where there will be increased opportunities for the repositioning of older five star hotels, in order to compete with the new flagship properties.

The Dubai hotel market will also witness an increased focus on asset management, and a diversification of product, with an increased number of budget hotels coming online as the market broadens from its previous focus on five star properties. Forecasts indicate contrasting fortunes for the major UAE markets, with Dubai’s hotel industry set to stabilise in 2011 while Abu Dhabi continues to soften.

Furthermore, the year to date February 2011 numbers from STR  Global for Middle East/Africa Hotel Industry Performance illustrates the short term impact of political unrest  shown in the decline of Middle East occupancy rate from 59.2% in February last year to 56.8% this year. However, there’s an overall longer term positive trend, because those countries not directly impacted showed progress.

Abu Dhabi and Muscat came within the top 5 markets which positively witnessed an increase in the occupancy rate recorded by 24.1% and 12% respectively. Middle East RevPar has also increased from 96.42 US Dollars in February last year to 102.32 US Dollars this year. Major events such as the Muscat Festival & The World’s Largest Floating Book Fair have also contributed in hotel performance growth in Muscat, pushing it to the top of the 5 markets with 22.9% increase in YTD February 2011 vs. YTD February 2010.

The ‘Investor Hard Talk’ speakers include Joe Sita, President of IFA Hotel Investments, Anass Alami, Director General of Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion, Morocco (CDG), and Richard Riley, CEO of Abu Dhabi National hotels.

Mr. Sita commented: “As with any burgeoning geopolitical situation, it is impossible to predict the impact of any long-term effects on hotel investments. That said, if we look at markets like Thailand which has weathered bouts of civil unrest without significantly impacting long-term investment, we can be hopeful of a similar outcome. Within the region, we believe that Dubai, owing to its stability, will remain as attractive a destination for investment as it has always been.”

In line with the special focus on investors this year, AHIC also offers a new initiative called the ‘Owner & Investor Association’ in 2011. This initiative comes as a response to requests from the industry, and provides a networking platform specifically for hotel owners and investors to interact and share information. It will take the form of an invitation only gathering during AHIC and a conference session entitled ‘The Owners Forum’ with content driven specifically by members.

About Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)
The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference is being organised by Bench Events and MEED, the Middle East business information group, and will run this year from April 30 - May 2 2011 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. AHIC’s exclusive Advisory Board this year is made up of 50 hotel stakeholders, key investors and governmental representatives from across the Middle East and Africa.

AHIC attracts over 600 industry leaders annually from over the 40 countries, including many of the most influential names within Middle East’s hotel investment community as both speakers and attendees. Previous awardees include HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HRH Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company, and HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan. Details of AHIC can be found on www.arabianconference.com

Platinum sponsors: Carlson, IHG, Jumeirah Group, The Rezidor Hotel Group, Wyndham Worldwide.

Emerald sponsors: Corinthia Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, MAROC, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Seven Tides.

Gold sponsors: Accor, AECOM, The Address Hotels and Resorts, Anantara, Argentina National Institute of tourism Promotion, Bell Pottinger,  Deloitte, Golden Tulip, Hamilton Hotel Partners, Hodema, Horwath HTL, Hyatt, Marriott, Orient Express, Rotana, STR Global,  Tourism & Leisure EuroPraxis Consulting, Viceroy Hotel Group, Villeroy and Boch, WATG.

Bench Events
Bench Events has a long track record of delivering, with its partners, the premier hotel investment events in Europe and the Middle East. Bench Events’ Chairman, Jonathan Worsley, is one of the organisers and founders of the highly successful International Hotel Investment Forum now in its fourteenth year (www.berlinconference.com). In 2005, he was responsible for launching the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai (www.arabianconference.com); and in 2008 launched the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (www.russia-cisconference.com).  In 2011 Bench Events adds two events to its portfolio, co-hosts of the Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (www.cathic.com), and launching Hotel Investment Conference Africa, in Morocco (www.africa-conference.com).

Bench Events’ sister company, JW Bench, is a benchmarking company that has successfully launched the Conference Bench and the Productivity Bench. An industry first, the Conference Bench, measures performance data for conference and banqueting space in 10 cities throughout Europe and the Middle East.  www.benchevents.co

About MEED
For 50 years business leaders have been relying on MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) to give them a wealth of factual, unbiased business information that they need to be successful. The MEED brand represents an unrivalled portfolio of high calibre business information products, online services and premier networking events.

MEED Conferences is part of the leading information brand in the Middle East working to provide delegates with the very latest business sensitive information. Over the past 12 years, MEED Conferences has organised events attended by senior government officials and thousands of international business people. The conference series is aimed at companies actively seeking business in the markets of the Middle East. MEED is well established as the source of strategic and accurate regional information placing it in a unique position to bring together high-calibre speakers. www.meed.com
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Contact:

Alisdair Haythornthwaite
+971 56 690 1725
ahaythornthwaite@bell-pottinger.co.uk

Rosemary Youssef
+971 50 354 8805
ryoussef@bell-pottinger.co.uk

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