Ziad Matta is the founder of the luxury fashion retail concept Boutique 1 Group with stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut and London. In 2000, he launched Boutique 1 Group with his wife Lena Jabbour Matta as his partner. He still serves as the company’s CEO. The company operates multi-brand luxury concept stores under the Boutique 1 brand, as well as Boutique1.com, the first and leading luxury online store in the Middle East that caters to customers worldwide. In addition, the group owns and operates mono-brand stores under franchise agreements or as joint ventures with some of the world’s leading luxury fashion brands including Missoni, Elie Saab, Isabel Marant and Furla to name a few. Matta went to school in Lebanon, the UAE, France and the UK and to University in London. He graduated in 1988 as a civil engineer with honours from the Imperial College of Science & Technology and obtained his MBA the following year from the management school at the same college. In 1990, he joined the family business SIFICO Group with interests in real estate, hospitality and construction. In addition to his business interests, Matta co-founded the UAE Chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Organisation and serves on the International Board of Advisers of the University of Balamand.
Vivek C Pande is an engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He works for Khimji Ramdas as CEO, lifestyle group. He has senior management experience in diverse organisations such as Tata, Escorts, Onida, Modicorp, Benetton etc. Pande has exposure to wide ranging industries like retailing, lifestyle products, restaurant chains, ready-to-wear fashion, telecom and consumer electronics to name a few. To him, imparting knowledge is a way of life that he pursues with passion – be it as visiting faculty or conducting programmes.
Walid Hajj is the founder and CEO of Cravia, a Dubai-based restaurant company with presence across the UAE and in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Hajj is responsible for providing strategic direction for the company’s portfolio that includes over 60 restaurants and a team of over 2,000 people. His overarching role encompasses business planning, organisational excellence and the long-term development objectives for six brands under the Cravia umbrella – Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Zaatar w Zeit, The Steak Bar, Carvel Ice Cream and the company’s most recent franchise acquisition, Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Proir to establishing Cravia, Hajj was brand manager at Procter & Gamble for two years and vice president of operations for his family business, United Group, in Saudi Arabia. He holds a BS degree in industrial management from the University of Petroleum and Minerals and an MBA from Harvard University.
Vic Bageria is the founder and CEO of Sávant Data System, a retail solutions and services provider focused on empowering businesses with progressive technology solutions such as people counting solutions & in-store analytics. Bageria is trained as an IT professional by education but retail is where he is rooted, having learnt grass-roots business building strategies by growing up in a family retail business in the UAE.
Ulugbek Yuldashev is the founder and managing director of Awok.com. He founded the company in April 2013, which has now grown into one of the leading online shopping platforms in the UAE. The business has humbly expanded from three employees to over 300 within a period of just 24 months. This is due to his passion for the e-commerce industry and his ability to take risk on the success of the region’s e-commerce bloom. Yuldashev has always had a flair for business; starting his first business in 2004 at the tender age of 19. With a proven track record, he registered a company called Alifca JLT, which later became Alifca DMCC, and is the parent company for Awok.com. Coming from a retail background, Yuldashev has always been motivated by making customers happy; he thrives on engagement with his customers and hearing their feedback. He’s an avid reader and soaks up information as a hobby, and is fluent in English, Russian and Uzbek. His recipe to success is risk taking, his mantra is ‘never give up; don’t be afraid of taking risks and success will come to you ultimately’.
Tapan Vaidya is general manager, restaurant division, for Bahrain-based retail conglomerate Jawad Business Group. Having greatly enjoyed his experience working in restaurants during his student years, Vaidya continued his career in the same industry, joining The Taj Mahal and Taj Intercontinental Hotel in Mumbai, India. He relocated to the GCC in 1989 to continue with Intercontinental, joining the branded restaurants segment in 1991 as deputy country head with Pizza Hut, till 1994. He was promoted to country head for Taco Bell at the time, again moving up within the organisation to launch Fuddruckers in the Oman market. In 1999 he was seconded by the franchisor of Fuddruckers to various Middle Eastern markets including Jordan, Syria and Bahrain. In May, 2001 he was offered a position to head the restaurant business for Jawad Business Group – a position which he holds today – handling several brands including include Papa John’s Pizza, Chili’s, Jamie’s Italian, Thai Express, Outback Steakhouse, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Burger King, Dairy Queen and Hakisushi to name a few. Vaidya holds a post-graduate degree in management studies from NMIMS, India and a bachelor of science degree in Mathematics from St. Xavier’s College, India.
Thomas Lundgren Inventor
Thomas Lundgren is the inventor, founder and CEO (creative emotional originator) of THE One, a UAE-based home fashion brand. Besides being an inspirational business speaker and a philanthropist, Lundgren is an entrepreneur living his dream that he had in 1993.
Sumit Bathla as the general manager- EIT, Al-Futtaim Group is responsible for managing the IT and application landscape across more than 1,000 stores, over 40 brands such as Ikea, Ace, Marks & Spencer, Toys R Us spread across 19 geographies (MENA & APAC). Bathla is responsible for delivering the strategies on ERP, CRM, e-commerce and big data for the group. He has contributed in the business success and growth by planning and delivering a three-year IT roadmap for the group well aligned with business strategy, ensuring all the retail brands are on a single ERP & POS platform. He has delivered more than seven business transformational programmes over last three years and acted as a change agent to the business. Bathla has more than 16 years of multinational experience in managing and heading IT for retailers including Wal-Mart, Alghanim Industries and Barista Coffee Company. He has delivered over 20 business transformational programmes including SAP Implementation, Oracle ERP, CRM and e-commerce and mobility in POS.
Stephen Holbrook is a member of the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) group executive board & divisional director - apparel division representing brands including Nayomi, Nayomi Abaya, Soiree and Mihyar. He joined the group in January of 2013 and has over 20 years of apparel industry experience managing brands such as Playtex, Wonderbra, Gossard and Shock Absorber as well as developing long-term strategic partnerships with Marks & Spencer and Victoria’s Secret. Prior to joining KOJ Group, Holbrook was responsible for the Courtaulds women’s wear division and was a non-executive director of a leading London PR firm. He holds an MSc degree from the Cranfield Institute of Technology.
Srikanth Parthasarathy is the senior vice president for furniture concept Homes R Us, which is part of Dubai-based retail conglomerate Lals Group. Parthasarathy heads business development, marketing and retail operations of Homes R Us in the Gulf region. He develops the company’s operating objectives and strategies in accordance with overall corporate business plan. In his role, Parthasarathy provides the board/executive director with the organisational information it needs for governance responsibilities. He maintains and develops an interface between the board and management, proposing and defining the strategy for revenue generation to the board as well as presenting tactical, operating and financial plans in line with the agreed vision and strategic plan. Prior to Homes R Us, Parthasarathy was deputy general manager at Home Centre.
Simon Hathaway leads Cheil’s retail experience operations globally. The agency is most famous for creating the Tesco Homeplus virtual store in a Seoul subway and its partnership with Samsung, which has helped the electronics company create a top 10 global brand with significant presence in retail. Hathaway joined Cheil in 2012 from Saatchi & Saatchi X where he was EMEA CEO and chairman of their worldwide creative board. He is a recognised authority on shopper marketing and regular speaker at industry events. He has 20 years of experience in marketing in almost every discipline, but is particularly adept in the world of shoppers and retail. Hathaway has offices in South Korea and the UK, where he is also chairman of the Marketing Agencies Association.
Sidiqa Sohail, born and raised in Dubai, has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a master's degree in conflict prevention, sustainable peace and security from the University of Durham in the UK. Having loved baking since she was 16 and having always enjoyed finding quirky gifts, she created Spontiphoria Boutique and Café in November 2013 – a Dubai-based, independent concept store combining a bakery, café, boutique and event space. The bakery bakes the way one would at home using no commercial equipment, ingredients or techniques, while the boutique stocks a unique selection of products ranging from stationery to clothing and travel accessories, ensuring that none of the brands are available elsewhere in Dubai. The café serves breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks and is a popular venue for events.
Shuja H Jashanmal
With a strong background in retail and distribution and over 30 years of industry experience with award-winning global brands, Shuja H Jashanmal is a specialist in the areas of international beauty, health and lifestyle brands in the Middle East & India. Having collaborated with beauty chains including Sephora, Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and Paris Gallery, amongst others, Jashanmal has represented luxury beauty brands including Dior, CK, Armani, Davidoff, Gucci, Elizabeth Arden, Sisley and Donna Karan to name a few both in the UAE and across the Gulf countries. Since 2011 Jashanmal has focused his energy on establishing emerging retail concepts in the Middle East through joint ventures and franchise arrangements. By way of bespoke distribution agreements, he has successfully opened SIS, kiosks and box flagship retail stores throughout the Middle East region. Prior to setting up Lucrae, he has held executive roles at the Jashanmal Group and Beautybay LLC.
Shivam Sharma took up the reins at Sana Fashions early 2014 to spearhead the companywide change called ‘Sana Reborn’. The brain behind many sustainable initiatives and changes in the company, Sharma has been a driving force behind the brand right through its makeover and market positioning. Ever since his joining, the company has made strategic decisions on bringing about corporate management and a pool of highly skilled retail professionals on board. Apart from teambuilding, he has played a key role in facilitating major initiatives in logistics, IT, business expansion to align with the company’s vision and future ambitions. Prior to Sana Fashions, Sharma was associated with many other leading regional retailers including Landmark Group, Fawaz Al Hokair Group and Al Shaya Group (Havelock-AHI) with his core expertise being the field of retail business development; Sharma holds a Master’s degree in Project Management from University of Sydney.
Sheriff Rizwan is founder and CEO of ALSHOP.com, an online shopping portal catering to consumers in the Middle East region. It deals in consumer electronics, IT equipment, smartphones, perfumes, home appliances, wellness and beauty products with the range expanding rapidly. Prior to setting up ALSHOP.com in 2008, Rizwan was associated with Abu Dhabi-based EMKE Group as buyer - central purchase division.
Shawn Sipman is Executive: customer engagement and commerce at UCS Solutions. He is a business consulting professional with applications implementation knowledge spanning a 20-year career, comprising of over 17 years’ experience in delivering enterprise class solutions across a broad business background. His primary focus over the last 11 years has been in delivering quality CRM solutions to large and medium enterprises in the UK, Ireland, Dubai and South Africa.
Shavak Srivastava is the managing director of SQ.FT Consulting and board member of Tamdeen Shopping Centres. He has over 25 years of work experience of which almost 15 years have been in developing shopping centres and retail businesses in the Gulf region. He has a deep knowledge of the Gulf market, its demographics, economic parameters and its inherent potential. This, coupled with a good understanding of Arab business culture and sensitivities, enables him to offer holistic advisory services in the shopping centre and retail sectors. Before setting up SQ.FT Consulting, Srivastava held several important positions in Al Ghurair Retail LLC, Al Ghurair City, ICSC and MECSC.
Shailen Shukla is heading the logistics division of Jumbo Electronics Co Ltd, the flagship company of the Dubai-based Jumbo Group. He is an astute professional with over 26 years of experience in logistics management, supply chain management, profit centre management, commercial operations, project procurement and management, vendor management and ERP & systems implementation. Prior to Jumbo, Shukla has worked in senior positions in large Indian companies like Reliance Logistics, Grasim, Vedanta and Modi Group to name a few in addition to MNCs like Brightpoint and TNS in India.
Shahzad Gidwani is the general manager, trading division of Morad Yousuf Behbehani (MYB), a pioneering group in Kuwait and the largest distributor of luxury watches and jewellery brands in Kuwait. His customer oriented approach and hands on management made him a much sought after candidate to take over the leadership of the retail division of MYB joining the company as deputy general manager in 2010. Within two years of effective leadership, he was appointed for a larger responsibility and was promoted as the general manager of the trading division where he has played an integral role in the growth of the company from an already pioneering position to acquiring several new world-class luxury brands and launched several new boutiques in premium malls of Kuwait under the MYB umbrella and growing the business at a striking rate of 12-15% annually since his appointment. Prior to MYB, Gidwani has worked for companies such as Ericsson Kuwait and Wataniya Telecom, now Ooredoo Kuwait.
Strong willed with a perfect vision for hospitality, Shafeena Yusuffali is the founder and CEO of the Tablez Food Company, the F&B arm of the retail conglomerate Lulu Group International. Her strong acumen for business is the driving force behind what the company has achieved since its inception. With a major in finance from Richmond, the American International University in London, Shafeena felt that her ultimate aim was to revitalise the food scene of Abu Dhabi with concepts such as Bloomsbury’s, Peppermill, Galito’s, Famous Dave’s, London Dairy Parlors and three more new franchised concepts to be announced soon. Shafeena strongly believes the time has come for Abu Dhabi to create its own thriving food scene, similar to those that can be found in cities such as New York, Paris and London.
Sarah Appleton founded Mini Exchange at the start of 2014. Previously she had a successful career in finance, spending four years at Deloitte in mergers & acquisitions advisory, firstly in London and then in Dubai. After two years in the Gulf, Appleton left the finance world recognising the potential of the early-stage e-commerce market and the Mini Exchange business model. Sarah and Mini Exchange have been recipients of many awards, including ArabNet’s Start-Up Demo Award, Small Business CEO of the Year Award in the Middle East CEO Awards and more recently was selected by Google to attend their two-week BlackBox programme in Silicon Valley.
Sammar Farooqi is the vice president, IT strategy and governance for Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al Tayer Group. Farooqi is an award winning British IT technology director / CIO bringing nearly 20 years of transformation, strategy, programme delivery, consulting and IT management experience in a variety of demanding industries worldwide. Holding a first class Master’s degree, Farooqi has an established track record of success in leading technology in international corporations, technology vendors and ‘Big-Four’ Consulting organisations. He is a proven adaptable leader and excellent communicator, able to unify business demand to a genuine vision and passion for technology, evidenced by an international senior IT delivery track record in IT director/CIO and lead consulting advisor roles.
Sajan Alex heads the operations of Tablez Food Company (TFC), the F&B retailing division of Abu-Dhabi based retail conglomerate Lulu Group since 2013. A seasoned F&B professional Alex has over 15 years’ experience with some of the leading players in India and GCC. TFC that started out by opening two home-grown concepts, Bloomsbury’s Café and Peppermill has now enhanced its portfolio with a mix of home-grown and franchised concepts like Galito’s, Famous Dave’s, London Dairy Parlors and three more new franchised concepts to be announced soon.
Ruwan Manjule De Silva
Ruwan Manjule De Silva is CTO of The Luxury Closet, an online platform that buys and sells pre-owned luxury goods on consignment. Passionate about start-ups and enabling start-ups through strong IT teams and systems, De Silva joined The Luxury Closet in December 2014. He leads the development of e-commerce systems that generates millions of dollars with millions of visits monthly. Prior to joining The Luxury Closet, De Silva worked in Singapore with companies including Jobiness.com as technical cofounder and as chief architect - head of technoglogy at Dealguru Holdings under iBuy Group Limited.
Rohan Bhardwaj is general manager at Radix Wears, a UAE-based fashion e-commerce start-up. Having entrepreneurial interest, Bhardwaj started his first business, a coffee shop, at the age of 22. Thereafter, he felt the need to get better exposure and pursued a series of marketing management roles with global restaurant concepts – including Burger King Riyadh/Dubai and Applebee’s Dubai – in several Middle Eastern markets. Finally in 2014 it was time to put all the learning to good use. With the opportunities that e-commerce offers Bhardwaj decided to start Radix Wears with his partner. He has a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Montreal and MBA in marketing from Columbia Southern University.
Rob Canning is the general manager of En Vogue, a luxury home concept store in Dubai representing international design brands to the Middle Eastern market, as well as offering interior design service for residential and commercial projects. Apart from the daily operation and implementation of all systems and policies of this new business concept, Canning’s main role is to find new suppliers from around the world and give them local presence. Being in the retail business for over 16 years, Canning is certainly no stranger to this industry. He started work in Dubai as general manager for Falaknaz Habitat in 1998 and then spent a long time working in the same industry in the UK. After a decade, Canning returned to Dubai to look after the management of various labels particularly BoConcept MENA where he was responsible for the brand development and successfully opening stores across GCC.
Raju Shroff is the managing director of Regal Group. Being the second generation member of the Shroff family, he took over the operations of the Regal Group from his father Vasu Shroff more than a decade ago. He has spent a major part of his childhood in the UAE and later graduated from the London School of Business. He oversees the entire operations of the Regal Group. Having an eye for identifying new market opportunities, Shroff has been constantly working over the years to diversify the business and today the group apart from textiles has successfully ventured into technology, sportswear (Anta brand), power diagnostics, optical wear (Optika brand) investments and real estate. Over the years his entrepreneurial spirit has guided him to make sound business decisions, his philosophy in business being ‘Keep it simple’.
Pravin Hungund has over 23 years of experience in the IT industry. He is working with the chief technology office, Wipro Ltd and carries a dual charter of global head – Technovation Centre and chief technologist – India & Middle East. Technovation Centre is a state-of-the-art innovation incubation centre setup by the CTO’s office to help clients conceptualise their ‘change the business’ portfolio leveraging emerging technologies and industry processes. Hungund is also responsible for emerging technology business in India & Middle East as chief technologist – India & Middle East. He leads the emerging technology go-to-market strategy and is responsible for solutions selling and business development in the region. Hungund has completed his Bachelors in electronics and telecommunications from GIT, Belgaum. He has been working with Wipro since 2007, playing various roles ranging from head service productisation, product manager – cloud computing, innovation evangelist and strategic alliances management.
Prakash Vivekanand is the managing director of Amusement Services International, part of the regional amusement industry from a design, attraction procurement, family entertainment centre (FEC) business strategy and operations perspective. A leisure industry professional with over two decades of experience, Vivekanand is associated with almost all the leading FEC brands including Fun City, Magic Planet, Sega Republic and Sparky’s to name a few.
Phil McArthur is the founder and managing director of McArthur + Company. He has dedicated his professional career to the development and expansion of shopping centres globally. Over the past 30 years, McArthur has developed an international reputation for strategically positioning projects, ensuring efficient execution and delivering consistently strong financial returns in the shopping centre industry across the Middle East, North America, North Africa and Asia. In the Middle East, McArthur has held senior directorial and managerial roles on prestigious projects such as Dubai Festival City, City Centre Deira, Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Muscat and CityStars in Cairo. Prior to founding McArthur + Company, he held senior executive positions at renowned real estate companies such as Ivanhoe Cambridge, Al-Futtaim Group, CityStars, Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Centres and Brookfield Properties.
Nisreen Shocair has been the president of Virgin Megastore Middle East since 2006. She has been instrumental in building the Virgin brand across the region by incorporating local and international consumption trends into one shopping experience. Prior to joining Virgin Megastore, Shocair held positions at Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG and Hearst Entertainment. She has extensive experience within music, publishing, licensing, digital and retail sectors. Holding a Master’s degree in Business Administration from both London Business School and Columbia University, she is on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups.
Nisha Varman Shetty
Nisha Varman Shetty is the founder and managing director of The Urban Yogi, a Dubai-based luxury and sustainable home décor provider retailing eclectic, colourful, comfortable and unique fabrics, furniture, art and tableware. Prior to starting The Urban Yogi in 2012, Shetty was involved in sales and business development roles for more than a decade in sectors such as banking, outdoor media, aviation/aerospace, broadcast and digital and was associated with major brands and media agencies across Southeast Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions.
With a passion for social enterprise and an entrepreneur at heart, Natasha Rockstrom, co-founder of Injoy Giving, is also the creative behind the brand. Bringing 13 years of experience and a varied skill set to build business across multi-national and multi-cultural environments, Rockstrom is an accomplished business owner bringing an uplifting business strategy to market. Rockstrom is also actively engaged in philanthropy and non-profit ventures, with the objective to create shifts in consciousness that elevate humanitarian values in individuals, corporates and communities, which is why she co-founded Injoy Giving in 2015 to bring the cause to the market. She holds an MBA in Finance from the Stockholm School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Economics from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Nasif Kayed, the managing director of SMCCU is a semi-retired businessman, who in the early eighties left the gulf and travelled to the US where he lived for more than two decades. There, he established himself as a business entrepreneur and by 2007 had established 40 companies and ventures in the US and Canada. He also donated his skills to coaching others on how to grow a business, and advised his business associates on how to relate in a multicultural business environment. For the last 20-plus years Kayed has been a lecturer and advisor, first in the US through various cultural awareness programmes for community leaders, schools and universities, religious institutions and law enforcement in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has continued these endeavours as managing director and lecturer at SMCCU. His life’s mission continues to be promoting a peaceful coexistence among people living and working in a multi-cultural, global environment through the many years of business and educational experience he has in this field.
Narain Jashanmal joined Facebook in early 2014 and presently leads the direct response advertising team for the MENA region, which focuses on retail, e-commerce, media, entertainment and mobile app installs. Prior to Facebook, he worked at the Jashanmal Group for 10 years in various roles covering retail, print media distribution, strategy and communications. He is a graduate of New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts.
Nandakumar Vijayan is the chief communications officer (CCO) of Lulu Group International, the Abu Dhabi headquartered retail conglomerate with operations in 41 countries across the Middle East, India, Far East, Africa and Europe. Nandakumar joined the group in 2000 and heads the marketing, communications and PR operations across different geographical locations and verticals such as hypermarkets, shopping malls, F&B retailing, hospitality and MICE. A seasoned marketing and communications professional, he is widely regarded as the person who transformed the Lulu brand from being a conventional supermarket to one of the most aggressive and popular multinational retailing brands today. Always the one to adapt innovations and disruptive marketing initiatives, Nandakumar has made grocery shopping a fun thing to do 365 days a year with mega promotions and events. Today Lulu is regarded as the trendsetter in retail marketing with high octave media presence not only in the conventional ATL & BTL but also in the social media with highest number of followers in the region. Prior to joining the Lulu Group, Nandakumar was with media powerhouses like The Times of India and The Indian Express.
Mustafa Sadek is the founder and CEO of UrbanBuz. He has over 20 years of experience in the technology field building online consumer platforms from the ground up. Sadek’s technology development background helps him lead UrbanBuz’s progress from the front, and leverage his expertise in the constant evolution of an agile and dynamic customer loyalty platform. Previously he has managed teams at Intel (USA) where he built an Enterprise User Portal; and Nike (USA) with responsibility for their B2B e-commerce platform, which generated revenues of over $4bn in 2009.
Mona Ataya is founder and CEO of Mumzworld.com, a leading gold standard e-commerce vertical for baby and child shopping in the Middle East that has been going from strength-to-strength. She has proven to be one of the Middle East’s most prominent of women entrepreneurs. Prior to setting up Mumzworld.com, Ataya co-founded Bayt.com, arguably the most successful online search engine for jobs in the Middle East. She boasts a track record of impressive and diverse international experience of being associated with global brands such as P&G in Cincinnati, where she handled brand management for P&G’s and Johnson & Johnson.
Mohammad ARS Al Madani
Board member & CEO, Red Sea Markets Co Ltd. (Owner & developer of Red Sea Mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) Mohammad Iqbal BH Alawi has over 25 years of experience in successfully handling various developments and existing retail properties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Currently he heads the Red Sea Markets Co. with a vision to turn it into a major player in the shopping malls industry in the Kingdom. With well-versed skills and persistent follow-up in operations and marketing, Alawi has created two major retail developments – Hera Community Mall at Madinah Road and the iconic super-regional Red Sea Mall at King Abdul Aziz Road in Jeddah. Alawi also carries in his career portfolio eight other shopping malls, which were developed during his tenure with Savola. He has also been associated with Al Amoudi, Majid Al Futtaim and SKAB at different points during his career. Alawi also chairs the Shopping Malls Committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). He is also a member of the promotions and events committee at JCCI and a member of the National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh.
Mohamed Galal is the managing director of Tasweeq Shopping Malls in Egypt. He has been part of the mall management and retail industry since 1999. Galal has been in the Egyptian Market since 2009, and has contributed to several successful mall developments, and retail launches with primary focus on the development of hypermarket-anchored mall developments in the secondary cities of Egypt such as Mansoura, Assyut, Zagazig, Banha, Tanta, Port Said and Mahallaa. Galal started his career in mall management with Majid Al Futtaim Misr launching Maadi City Centre and Alexandria City Centre. Dandy Mega Mall was his next success story acting as the CEO for the Dandy Development Company. Then he launched Capital Zayed, a strategically located mixed-use project as executive director for Dorra Group Egypt, which was followed by the successful launch of Sodic Egypt – unique commercial projects of Eastown & Westown allied with Solidere International. This was followed by the award-wining best residential golf-anchored luxury compound Allegria and Katameya Plaza, Autoville the Strip and The Showrooms now Desigopolis.
A former CEO & CMO in private and public companies, award winning speaker Michael Leander travels the world sharing insights and best practices derived from his 20+ years of practical experience. Leander has helped many house hold brand names in retail and B2B improve marketing and customer programmes. A seasoned multichannel marketer, he advocates the importance of customer centricity, smarter marketing automation and a realistic approach to return on marketing investment. In his spare time he judges marketing awards in 15+ countries and is a veteran judge of The Loyalty Awards. In addition he helps global clients quickly improve the efficiency of their customer and marketing programmes. Leander is also the founder of Markedu – a training institute aiming at providing professionals new inspiration and insights.
Markus Beyr is the managing director/owner of Attraktion! GmbH that creates media-based attractions and offers turn-key solutions for entertainment and leisure venues including theme & amusement parks, family entertainment centres, science centres, shopping malls, brand lands etc. As a serial entrepreneur with a penchant for delivering high quality service and creating exclusive products and specialised companies, Beyr has been involved in successful projects for several theme parks and nearly 100 4D/5D attractions plus numerous dark rides, brand lands and full dome experiences such as Marvel Superheroes 4D at Madame Tussauds London, Gardaland (Italy), Arthur 4D at Futuroscope (France), Swarovski Crystal World (Austria), Ancol (Indonesia) and City of Dreams, Macau (China).
As director of retail industry solutions at Zebra Technologies (formerly Motorola Solutions), Mark Thomson works closely with retailers and hospitality providers to provide input on how to face the challenge of a new retail landscape, where customers are often more connected and informed than shop floor staff. Thomson helps retailers focus on developing a vision for their retail business that aims to improve customer experience and drive business efficiencies. He has worked closely with retailers on the pain points of modern retail and explains how technology solutions can be an integral part of their business strategy to help them solve their real business challenges. With over 25 years customer focused experience, Thomson has developed in-depth knowledge of the EMEA retail market place and regularly speaks at industry events throughout the region. Prior to joining Motorola Solutions (now part of Zebra Technologies), Thomson was head of EMEA market development at Zebra Technologies, responsible for growing the company’s EMEA business by focusing activity on core growth verticals, specifically retail. He has also held senior roles in financial services and hospitality businesses.
Mark Anthony Lack
Mark Anthony Lack is the chief operating officer of Retail Arabia, the master franchise owner of the Geant Hypermarket and Geant Easy brands in the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait as well as the owner of GulfMart supermarkets, Le Marche supermarkets, Last Chance supermarkets and The Bahrain Mall. A retail veteran of 30 years and having started on the store floor, Lack brings with him wide and deep knowledge of the retail industry gained whilst working in a variety of formats from discounters, wholesalers, neighborhood stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and FMCG distribution in 19 different countries around the world, including an extensive period of time spent in the GCC. With an absolute passion for training and people development alongside an obsession for high standards and detail within the operation, Lack’s goal has always been to get the best possible out of the team to ensure that the customer experience is memorable and one they want to repeat time and again. An unswerving belief that retail can be a simple business, Lack’s aim is to simplify processes and procedures to ensure that colleagues can spend more time interacting with customers and truly deliver on the promise of providing quality, freshness and a shopping experience with difference.
Marcus Käss is art director of design firm Schwitzke & Partner in Dubai. He is responsible for the development and the implementation of retail concepts, supporting and shaping the rise of high-profile brands in the Middle Eastern region. In 2003 Käss joined Schwitzke & Partner as a senior designer. After a short intervention in a Berlin-based retail design studio Käss re-joined Schwitzke in 2006 as director of the competition and design concept department. Käss studied interior architecture at the University of Applied Sciences in Coburg, Bavaria.
After 14 years’ experience with blue chip companies such as P&G and Mars Inc, spanning diverse locations such as Belgium, Nigeria, Cairo and finally the UAE, Mahmoud Adham decided to leave the corporate world and founded Munchbox. Munchbox is a unique healthy snacking concept, developed and manufactured in the UAE. It serves online customers as well as stocks retail locations across Dubai such as Reel cinemas, Fitness First and Dubai World Trade Centre, to mention just a few.
Mahboob Murshed is an experienced finance professional, with over 34 years of corporate/investment banking experience in the UAE and Bangladesh with organisations such as Standard Chartered Bank, Mashreq & American Express. A CSA certified professional, Murshed holds an MBA with a major in finance. He has also undergone several executive management courses at Ivy League Business schools such as Harvard, Wharton and INSEAD. He has lead-managed over $10 billion worth of transactions in the areas of syndications/debt/equity capitals markets and project finance in the GCC over the last 20 years. He is a senior member of the team that publishes Alpen Capital’s GCC industry reports, including the highly acclaimed GCC Retail industry report.
Maartenjan de Wit
Maartenjan de Wit has been working in an advisory capacity to retailers for nearly 20 years. In this period he has worked with Dutch retail companies in the Netherlands like Praxis, KPN Retail and V&D department stores as well as renowned international retailers like Carrefour, Limited Brands, Burberry, and Reebok. Since 2007 he has lived in the region and worked predominantly with retailers in the Middle East. From 2008 to 2014 he has led the retail business for SAP in the region. He is now a dedicated advisor to a group of key accounts. Within these organisations he works with IT as well as business stakeholders to identify how and where performance and results can be significantly improved by using the right technologies. He helps them drive a digital strategy in a reality where retailers need to adapt to a fast changing world.
Luca Cappuccitti heads global business development of design firm Design International since 2013 expanding its operational reach worldwide. He is currently working on Kingdom City Mall in Jeddah. Being very close in the past years to the Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Group International, Cappuccitti is also working on several new shopping malls within GCC and India. He has spent the last 17 years supporting international property owners at the strategic level and working on numerous high-profile projects. With his unmatched experience in the retail sector and results-driven approach, Cappuccitti brings a new level of creativity to Design International’s global business development ambitions across Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, China and India. He is a graduate of La Sapienza University of Rome, with a PhD in
Louay Moursel is the food & beverage retail manager at Eataly, The Dubai Mall, which is part of the Azadea Group. With over 15 years of experience in the F&B industry, Moursel has a passion for providing first class front of house service, whilst leading a motivated, engaged team to deliver outstanding business results. Moursel is multi lingual holds an honours degree in Hospitality Management. His career has seen him contribute to businesses across the GCC, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
As the driving force behind some of the most high profile properties in the Middle East and internationally, Lennard Otto brings a wealth of experience to the development of IMG Worlds of Adventure. As the general manager of IMG Worlds of Adventure, Otto works closely with the owners and leadership of the Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group. He will lead all operational aspects of running IMG Worlds of Adventure, from development through to the execution of strategies and delivery, from rides and attractions to the safety and security of guests. Widely recognized for his vision and leadership abilities, Otto brings over a decade of experience in managing large international hospitality and entertainment-based facilities, including resorts, outdoor and indoor waterparks, beachfront developments, theme parks and adventure facilities. Prior to joining IMG Worlds of Adventure, he was responsible for the pre-and-post opening phases of some of the most iconic entertainment properties across South Africa and the Middle East, including Wild Wadi, Atlantis the Palm, Wahooo! Waterpark, John Buck International and Wadi Adventure.
Lama Bazzari is the CEO and founder of NStyle International, the parent company that owns the premium grooming brands NStyle Nail Lounge, Urban Male Lounge and NStyle Nail Care. In 2011, Lama launched the NStyle nail polish and beauty line, which is retailed across the company’s stores and distributed by regional suppliers and wholesalers. Under her direction & working alongside BICE International’s corporate team based in Dubai, BICE Restaurant Group that was established in Milan in 1926, currently operates 40 restaurants worldwide including the award winning & one of Dubai’s favourite Italian restaurants, award winning BICE located in the Hilton & the multiple awards winning BICE Mare in Souk Al Bahar.
Kunal Kapoor is the founder of The Luxury Closet. Kapoor is a serial entrepreneur with a background in luxury and fashion. He built a successful sportswear brand in India and then received an MBA from INSEAD, France. Kapoor subsequently landed in the lap of luxury itself in Dubai, working for the French fashion empire Louis Vuitton. In 2011, Kapoor founded The Luxury Closet, the largest marketplace for luxury items – including brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Rolex, Cartier, Louboutin and 100 other top brands sold for up to 70% off the original price – in the Middle East. Kapoor strongly believes that the ability to buy luxury items should be available to everybody, which is why most items on The Luxury Closet are pre-owned and sold at a discounted price, maintaining brand and item integrity and the assurance of authenticity. The Luxury Closet has raised over $3 million from top tier venture capital funds that include Middle East Venture partners, Dubai Silicon Oasis Capital, Two Four 54 and Mena Venture Investments.
Kritika Rawat is the managing director of Kkompany, a UAE-based media company that handles both radio and television production. She hosts the ‘Kritika Express’ show on 89.1 FM Radio4. Rawat is one of the most well-known Asian celebrities in the Middle East. Rawat hosts one of the popular Asian radio breakfast shows in the Middle East. She has been doing her breakfast show on radio for the last eight years. Rawat also uses her radio show to help a lot of needy unfortunate people in the UAE, believing that while most charities and voluntary organisations are doing a wonderful job, they somehow tend to overlook individuals that don’t get the help they need.
Khurshid Vakil is the co-founder and executive director the Dubai-based avant-garde lifestyle & home décor company Marina Home Interiors retail chain, which operates its large format stores across most Middle East markets, North Africa and India. As the brand’s co-owner & brand ambassador, Vakil remains at the forefront of Marina Home’s acquisition, expansion and brand building strategy and its vision to take the brand forward globally through company owned operations as well as its continued franchise roll out plan. He ensures Marina Home’s philosophy is clearly visible in its environment, thus bringing in continued year-on-year growth and global accolades for the organisation.
Khalifa Furqan Athar
Khalifa Furqan Athar is the managing director of Spret Retail, a multinational retailing company with over 250 employees within various locations across the Middle East. Over the past two decades, Athar has been instrumental in the management, as well as the financial and administrative strategic planning of some of the most successful shopping centres and mixed-use developments in the Middle East and Asia. Athar began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG before taking on management positions with Dubai-based developers Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Centres and Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate. In 2006, he founded Retail Solutions, an investment management and advisory firm based in Dubai. In 2011, Athar became a partner at McArthur + Company. As director of strategic planning and finance, he leads the team on various assignments throughout the Middle East, North America and Asia. Athar is a trained Chartered Accountant (CA) and a Chartered Management Accountant (CMA) from the UK with wide-ranging experience in investment portfolio management, from planning to divestment and exit strategies.
Karen Staley is senior vice president of International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) EMEA. She is an experience attractions professional working for over 10 years in Europe and now expanding IAAPA’s reach into the Middle East and Africa. As an association professional, she has represented the attractions industry at the European Union political level and supported various national associations with representation and activities to promote safety and the continuous successful growth of the attractions industry in Europe and worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently located amusement facilities and attractions and the industry’s suppliers, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Orlando, Florida.
For over 20 years, Joy Ajlouny has been an e-commerce industry professional whose business and fashion influence has spanned the globe. She is the co-founder of Fetchr, a Silicon-Valley backed technology company based in Dubai aimed at solving emerging market shipping logistics. Prior to Fetchr, Ajlouny founded Bonfaire, an internet-based VC-backed discovery platform for luxury footwear and accessories. Bonfaire was acquired in 2013 by fashion e-commerce giant Mode Operandi, owned by LVMH and Condé Nast. While only 2.7% of venture capital funds have been raised by women, Ajlouny has successfully raised funds for two companies from some of the most prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firms. She has also been a strategic advisor to fashion start-ups, venture capital firms and major fashion publications.
Jeremy Johnston is the CEO of Zohoor Alreef, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading fragrance and body care retail brands. As CEO, Johnston has upgraded and modernised the business and its proprietary brands. The company has grown exponentially in size and profitability and Zohoor Alreef will end 2015 with more than 300 locations across the MENA region. Johnston is an Oxford University graduate with a 35-year long career in international retailing. He has managed and developed owned brands and franchised businesses in the UK, Europe, the US and the Middle East. He has board level expertise in the fashion, footwear, accessories, lingerie, body care and perfume retail sectors.
A seasoned entrepreneur in the fast casual F&B sector, Ian Ohan is the founder and CEO of Freedom Pizza - a cool, independent and authentic F&B company established in the UAE, combining the world’s most popular food with a culture that cares. He is the former area owner and developer of NKD Pizza in the UAE. Prior to his foray into the entrepreneurial world, Ohan enjoyed a successful career in the real estate industry in the Middle East and North America, having sold his real estate investment and advisory company in late 2006 and holding senior positions at global real estate services firms Jones Lang LaSalle, Al Futtaim Investments, Arthur Andersen and KPMG.
Hannes Liebe is the Co-MD & COO for SAP in the Middle East and North Africa. Based out of Dubai, he is part of SAP MENA’s management board and member of SAP’s extended senior leadership team globally. In the Middle East, Liebe is responsible for all marketing & solution related activities including pre-sales, industry business development, value engineering and the business operations. On the back of SAP’s growth strategy in the region, he is especially focused on driving further operational excellence in full alignment with the strategic ambitions of SAP globally and within the region. Prior to joining SAP MENA, Liebe held several senior executive roles within SAP across Europe. Before joining SAP MENA, he managed the operations for SAP’s emerging markets organisation in EMEA. Before that, he served as the senior vice president for EMEA’s ecosystem, which also included the partnerships with ISVs and OEM partners.
Garry Wells has been the property manager for Lush Middle East since March 2015. He is responsible for the opening of 30 shops in the Middle East over the next three years and refitting of all stores and relocating shops to larger locations. Wells manages the construction phase of the works alongside contractors, negotiating the costs to ensure shops are opened on time and on budget. In addition, he is responsible for ensuring the highest standards and details are maintained in the shops, working closely with retail and visual merchandising as well as shop managers across the region. Wells has been with Lush for over 10 years having worked in the UK across various areas of the business including manufacturing, H&S management, facilities management and project management. His tenure with Lush Cosmetics brings to the region a wealth of knowledge and experience on products, shop design and visual merchandising. He was awarded with the SKA accreditations for his contributions towards sustainable fittings for shops.
Fuad Mansoor Sharaf
Fuad Mansoor Sharaf is the senior director – property management at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, overseeing all the GCC malls. In this role, Sharaf is responsible for day-to-day management of ten operational shopping malls in the GCC including Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Me’aisem, City Centre Ajman, City Centre Fujairah, City Centre Sharjah, City Centre Muscat, City Centre Qurum, and City Centre Bahrain. His responsibilities include managing leasing, marketing, media and promotional activities for the malls in his portfolio. Sharaf previously served as the senior asset director – shopping malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, overseeing five of the company’s flagship shopping malls in the UAE and Oman. He started his career at the Department of Economic Development, making his way up to head of Quality & Productivity Centre in 2002. During this period, he supervised and led a variety of programmes including the Dubai Human Development Award, Dubai Service Excellence Scheme and The Dubai Quality Award. He has a degree in International Business – banking and finance from the Higher Colleges of Technology and has completed his Masters in quality management from the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
Essa Behbehani is an expert in turning personal passions into successful businesses, having turned his love for cooking and food into a food and beverage empire that stretches across the GCC. He founded Choowy Goowy while still in Kuwait University and during a time when young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs were rare and had little support. Since its inception in 2004, Behbehani's small cookie shop grew into a company that is now worth 7 million KD. At the heart of Behbehani’s's success is his love for good food and his ability to market this food to the masses. He was so successful with his own food and beverage concepts that he is now a consultant for other restauranteurs around the GCC. As one of the first and most successful young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, he now hopes to educate others on how to turn what they love into a business that is loved by consumers.
Dr Mohammad Shoaib Hai
Dr Mohammad Shoaib Hai, Majid Al Futtaim Fashion’s director of supply chain & logistics, holds a Doctorate in business management – logistics and has more than 15 years of combined experience in the various areas of supply chain management. He has worked with international freight forwarding and 3PL companies during which he spearheaded the restructuring of DANZAS AEI, TNT Express and UPS SCS. Under his leadership, the Majid Al Futtaim Fashion supply chain & logistics department became ISO-certified as well as a profit-centre, two significant firsts for a company in the Middle East. Additionally, he holds certifications in CSCM, CTLP, is a certified professional Engineer by the Gulf Engineering Federation, a PME and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen joined Novo Cinemas as CEO in July 2013. Among the highlights of her career, Kristiansen had the unique pleasure of hosting international movie star Liam Neeson exclusively at Novo Cinemas for the region’s very first Fan Premiere, an event that threw the spotlight on the thriving cinema business in the UAE, in collaboration with Emirates Airline. An accomplished leader, Kristiansen brings with her the vast experience gained at companies such as Regent Exhibitions – IMEX Frankfurt, where she served as VP for global sales from 2001 until 2005. In 2005, Kristiansen joined Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority and by 2009 had achieved the post of chief executive. In 2009, she became CEO of events@Bahrain, a company owned by Bahrain Mumtalakat Holdings Company, where she had achieved exemplary business growth despite the economic climate.
Charbel Sarkis is sector lead for retail, e-commerce, technology and telecom at Google in MENA. Prior to Google, Charbel spent several years in London as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and in the Middle East as a strategy consultant at Booz & Co. Charbel studied Engineering at USJ in Lebanon and Strategic Management at HEC in France, and holds an MBA degree from the Harvard Business School.
Beatriz Carrera leads all industry go-to-market activities for SAP MENA in retail. In this role she is driving thought leaders working closely with SAP’s global industry team, customers and partners aligning their business strategies with SAP’s solution fit. Some of the main areas she is focusing on currently is the digital transformation for retailers and how retail will evolve over the next couple of years.
Ashish Panjabi is the COO for UAE’s Jacky’s Group of Companies and is currently running Jacky’s Business Solutions, the group’s end-to-end solutions provider for major companies and organisations in the region seeking efficient and effective visitor management, banking and graphics solutions. It is also through his long standing partnership with Samsung Gulf that he started and now runs Jacky’s Retail LLC, which operates Samsung brand shops across the UAE. From 2004 until mid-2014, Panjabi ran Jacky’s Electronics, being responsible for developing the company as an organised retailer by implementing various changes in store design, marketing and product mix, among others. Aside from retailing, he managed the group’s distribution, mail order and project sales businesses. Holding a Bachelor in Science with specialisation in finance, investments and economics from Babson College in the US, prior to joining the family business, Panjabi worked in Hong Kong for a multinational company in the graphic arts industry as a financial analyst, managing the Asia-Pacific region.
Anita Baker is the business director of Lush Middle East and has been based in the UAE for the past four years. Her role involves handling brand strategy, commercial decisions and senior team development for the region, along with managing relationships with all MENA licensee partners. She oversees the general business and is responsible for the market’s sales and profit growth, in addition to maintaining Lush brand principles and harmonising them with the local culture. Baker joined Lush in 2007 as group accountant, using her finance and accountancy knowledge in a retail capacity. She was quickly promoted into the International Business Development team, due to the commercial nature of her skill set. Baker’s strong combination of financial expertise, Lush brand knowledge and retail awareness lead to a new opportunity to expand and develop the MENA region. She has a commercial finance background of 13 years and is a CIMA qualified accountant with ACMA qualifications of 10 years.
Adel Rashid is CEO for Hidesign Middle East, a highly successful leather goods brand in India and several other parts of the world that’s foraying into the Middle East. Rashid has to his credit more than four years of experience, which includes a stint with HSBC Bank Middle East Limited in the financial institutions group and with Ardent Advisory, a boutique investment bank in their corporate finance team. Adel has worked on numerous mergers and acquisitions (sell-side), business valuations and select strategic business plan reviews. He has consulting and transaction experience across several key domains including FMCG, distribution companies, financial services & healthcare. He has also been involved in short term capital raising for trading & contracting firms in Saudi Arabia in addition to successfully setting up a trading firm and executed transactions in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Abhish Chandok is general manager marketing for with Himalaya Drug company for their personal care business for Russia, Middle East & Africa. His key role includes delivering profitable growth, gaining market share and enhancing salience of Himalaya. Chandhok has 18 years of sales & marketing experience straddling FMCG, FMCD and IT. He spent 13 years with the German MNC Henkel which included seven years in their India operations where he eventually headed the marketing function and was instrumental in turning the historic loss making business to profit. While in Henkel’s Headquarter in Germany he was responsible for market research & consumer insights for the MENA region.
Abdulla Mahmood is director - marketing and corporate communication at Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG) since 2014 and has been developing the group’s overall marketing strategy across different continents covering varied business segments including construction, manufacturing, real estate, retail, hospitality, lifestyle, comics and entertainment. He has successfully positioned AAHG’s Comicave store as the world’s largest pop culture retail destination. Mahmood has an MBA in marketing and comes with over 16 years of international experience specialising in strategic marketing, corporate communications, brand management, digital marketing and strategic global alliances. Prior to AAHG, Mahmood has worked for companies such as RAK Ceramics and Fosroc construction chemicals within BP Group.
AbdulKhader Pattillath Regional IT director, LSH Holding Co
AbdulKhader Pattillath is the regional IT director at LSH Holding Co., member of Kuwait-based Al Homaizi Group. A qualified technocrat and a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of IT experience, mostly in Kuwait, Pattillath initiated his career as a systems analyst and progressed as project manager, IT manager, group IT manager, IT manager - application and finally as regional IT director for various industry sectors, specialising in IT operations, IT governance and IT roadmap definition.