Key takeaways from the Hospitality Innovation Summit 2024

The second edition of the Hospitality Innovation Summit for Saudi Arabia & UAE, which took place on the 6th and 7th of March 2024, was graced by exceptional speakers and engaging presentations from industry leaders who shared precious perspectives on the primary opportunities and challenges in the hospitality industry

Hospitality Innovation Summit 2024
Hospitality Innovation Summit 2024

The 2nd Edition of the Hospitality Innovation Summit for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which took place on the 6th and 7th of March 2024, culminated with a blockbuster response, setting new heights of excellence in the process. The summit was kick-started by Turab Saleem, Partner at Knight Frank, who also served as the knowledge partner for the summit – presenting an essential information package about the region’s hospitality industry and emphasizing the need to nurture local brands to an international scale. This was succeeded by Richard David Nelson from Kengo Kuma and Associates detailing the firm’s dedication to sustainability and functionality. Further, Alexander Reick, Co-Founder of LAVA, showcased his company’s distinctive notion of luxury living and their large-scale operations in the region.

The Future Interior Design was presented by Jeroen van den Hurk, CEO – VBH, creatively merging design innovation and technology to create interiors that would not be out of place in a sci-fi film. Cho Chiu, Founder of NUEMA, contributed with her ingenious idea of an exclusive, luxurious post-natal hospitality project, which turned many heads during the summit.

One of the highlights of the event was the organized and efficient B2B meetings. By facilitating direct interaction between pre-qualified buyers and suppliers, considerable business networks were established. Worth noting were also the riveting keynote speeches from renown international architects and designers, such as LAVA, CHAP, Woodsbagot, and WATG.

An interesting series of interviews that kept the audience engrossed was hosted by Maya Ziadeh, Chief Development Officer, Premium Midscale & Economy – Middle East, Africa & Turkey – Accor. Notable figures like Dr. Abdulgader Amir, Deputy CEO – Aseer Development Authority (ASDA), Mohamed El Samman, Group CEO – Rajhi Invest, and Ziad Al Khoury, Vice President Hotel Operations – Abu Dhabi National Hotels unveiled their upcoming projects and their strategies to craft unmatched hospitality experiences for their guests.

Following a thought-provoking beginning, the summit led the way to successful business discussions via GBB’s signature face-to-face sessions attended by upwards of 70 global suppliers and more than 140 buyers from several significant hospitality projects in the region.

Following this, another innovative session took place where 4 designers showcased their work while 4 developers posed questions about their own projects. Jeremy Heyes, Managing Principal at WATG, Paolo Testolini, Principal at Woods Bagot, Justin Wells, CEO of Wells International, and Kristina Zanic, CEO of Kristina Zanic Consultants addressed topics ranging from planning massive structures, unique elements of their design philosophy, to BIM.

If there was anything that could strive to match this in terms of interest, it would undoubtedly be the Brand Wars, moderated by Paul Bishop, and featuring guests such as Hakan Ozkasikci, Executive Vice President, Global Design & Technical Services at Kerzner International, Gilbert Khalil, Director of Design and Technical Services at Sunset Hospitality Group, Jacqueline Shaddock, Head of Interior Design at Emaar on one side, and Maliha Nishat, Director, Interior Design, Global Design at Marriott International, Stephen Laucirica, Senior Director, Design & Engineering India, Middle East & Africa at IHG Hotels & Resorts, Vibha Sawhney, Senior Director of Design & Construction Services at Kempinski Hotels on the other. The debate was stimulating, informative, interesting, and every other adjective that might come to mind.

To end with a flourish, Know Your Partner, a quick networking game, which allows for ice breaking and starting conversations, leveraged every bit of energy for a splendid conclusion. The summit as a whole was a mix of elite participants, thought leaders, and strategically planned networking that brought together the best of the hospitality industry to reach their business goals. Soon, GBB will also host their flagship Real Estate Development Summit Saudi Arabia and their new brand Emerging Tech Summit.