Gerald Lawless

Gerald Lawless started his career with Forte Hotels which culminated in him setting up and growing Forte’s operations in the Middle East.

After a 23-year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah in 1997 and helped establish it as one of the premier luxury hotel brands in the world. Taking on the challenge of launching Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, after the successful introduction of Jumeirah Beach Hotel to an eager travelling public, Mr. Lawless went on to become President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jumeirah Group.
● At the beginning of 2016, having served for 18 years at the helm of the Jumeirah Group, Mr. Lawless assumed a new leadership position responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding, the Group’s parent company. During this period he served as Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council. He has now retired from these roles and continues to reside in Dubai.

Mr. Lawless is a Graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and holds the following Honorary Degrees:
● Doctor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management at the Johnson & Wales University, State of Rhode Island, USA;
● Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws at the National University of Ireland, Galway;
● Honorary Doctorate at the Middlesex University Dubai.

He served as a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobility with the World Economic Forum. He is a fellow member of the Institute of Hospitality; and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. Recipient of the 2017 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

During his 45 year career he has worked in the following locations: Galway,  Geneva, Southampton, Swindon, Glasgow, Dubai 1978 to 1982, Durban, London, Bahrain, Dublin, and Dubai again since 1991.

He has been responsible for the development of hotels in various regions and has visited many cities within these countries and regions including North Africa, virtually all countries of the Middle East, the CIS and Asian countries such as Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia. He has participated in UAE trade delegations to China where he has negotiated
management agreements for over 8 hotels. He has also been responsible for the Caribbean division of Forte hotels in Bermuda, Jamaica, Bahamas, Barbados and Guyana.

In his capacity as Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council 2016 to 2018, he has addressed conferences throughout the world. He has also attended the Annual World Economic Forum in Davos on nine occasions. He has been a member of the Farmleigh Forum and the Advisory Board of the Global Irish Network.

Walid Namane

Walid provides economic and geopolitical risk analysis on North Africa and the Middle East for EMIR. He also undertakes bespoke consultancy engagements for EMIR’s clients in the region. Prior to joining EMIR, Walid worked as a political risk analyst for two UAE- based advisory firms where he managed consulting and research projects, and produced intelligence reports on the economic and geopolitical dynamics in the region.

Walid is currently completing his PhD thesis at the Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris on the role of Political Islam in the Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East. He has written extensively on the region’s geopolitical challenges and is a native Arabic and French speaker.

Ross Veitch

Ross is CEO & Co-Founder at Wego, an online travel marketplace for users living in the MENA and APAC regions. Wego harnesses powerful technology that simplifies the process of searching, comparing and booking flights and hotels across hundreds of airlines, hotels and online travel agency websites. Wego has dual-HQs in Dubai and Singapore and is backed by top-tier investors including Tiger Global, Crescent Group, Square Peg Capital, MEVP and the MBC Group. 

Ross is an internet industry veteran having established Yahoo!’s Southeast Asian operations in Singapore in 1998 and where he led product & engineering teams. Ross is an active angel investor in the technology sector and enjoys working with other passionate entrepreneurs. He has worked in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Kuala Lumpur and now splits his time between Dubai and Singapore where Wego’s business is based. He travels frequently for business but not nearly enough for leisure.

H.E. Marwan Al Sarkal

H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal is Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), an entity tasked with leading continued transformation and economic diversification of the emirate of Sharjah.

Marwan Al Sarkal was appointed Chief Executive Office (CEO) of Shurooq in 2009 at the time of its establishment as per the Emiri Decree no.2 of 2009 that was issued by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. In his capacity as CEO, he intensified efforts to drive and lead the investment and cultural growth and development of Sharjah.

Operating under the wise directives of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and under the vision of Sheikha Budour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal played an integral role in Sharjah’s economic infrastructure, diversifying markets and facilitating new investments by leading projects and partnerships across major sectors such as tourism, healthcare, environment, logistics, real estate, retail and manufacturing.

Al Sarkal has spearheaded all the major infrastructural projects and key partnerships at Shurooq, initiating the development of its portfolio of projects, initiatives and partnerships estimated at a total value of more than AED 10 billion (more than USD 2 billion), and covering Sharjah’s western, central and eastern regions.

His creative, innovative thinking and ambitious drive, rooted in the emirate’s traditions, has enabled Shurooq to adopt world-class standards in providing an array of services and infrastructural facilities to attract investors from the UAE, the Middle East, and beyond.

Khalid Anib

With more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Khalid had the opportunity to manage various hotels under well-reputed international hotel chains in different countries.

Khalid has had exposure to different business models, resorts, city hotels and mix-used development.

Before joining Abu Dhabi National Hotels, Khalid spent 5 years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was the Managing Director of Al Hokair Group, where he played a key role in the group’s successful IPO. Prior  to that, Khalid worked as General Manager for Accor & Banyan Tree.

Khalid a 55 yr old Finnish citizen of Moroccan origin, holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the Strathclyde University, United Kingdom.