Ahmed Ragab
Ahmed Ragab
Group CEO - Baraka Retail Group

Ahmed Ragab is the group CEO and executive board member of Egypt-based BRG Holding. He is the CEO and board member of Barak Optics Group, as well as board member of Baraka Folio Company and Sigma Construction. Ragab is also a selected entrepreneur with Endeavor Egypt. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the American University in Cairo, Master’s in Business Administration from Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands. He also completed the Scaling Ventures Programme from Harvard Business School in the US. Ragab is a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Amitabh Taneja
Amitabh Taneja
Chairman & Managing Director - Images Group
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
Regional Director - Ayton Global Research

Andrew Smith is the Regional Director for Ayton Global Research. When Founder and Managing Director of Ayton Global Research, Susan Ayton, looked to expand into the Middle East, Andrew offered his time and knowledge to help the company become established in this region.

Andrew will be introducing Susan Ayton. Susan Ayton is the Founder and Managing Director of Ayton Global Research Ltd and inventor and owner of Ayton System Software, which has been successfully trading for over 25 years. She has designed and ran consumer studies for over 400 international clients including; contract manufacturers such as PZ Cussons and Acheson & Acheson, large high street chains such as A.S. Watson, Tesco, Walgreen Boots Alliance and The Body Shop, as well as global brands such as Skinny Tan, Oriflame, Liz Earle and Temple Spa.

Susan has been nominated three times for the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite and has won the Mendip Family Business and International Business Awards. Ayton System Software won a British Government Research and Development Grant because of its ability to provide an homogenous global research platform in real-time and in any language. Susan has a life of developing her business model hand-in-hand with some of the largest global cosmetics and toiletries corporations all across the world.

Ashish Panjabi
Ashish Panjabi
COO - Jacky’s Business Solutions and Jacky’s Retail LLC

Ashish Panjabi is the COO of Jacky’s Business Solutions. Panjabi also runs Jacky’s Retail LLC, which operates Samsung Brand Shops across the UAE and is a partner in Cutting Edge Solutions FZE. He is a board member and president-elect for the UAE Chapter of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur), where the focus is on fostering entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking, education, funding and incubation. He is also involved in various mentorship activities, as a Tech Mentor at in5 Tech and at Techstars, which is a seed accelerator. Panjabi is also a board member of the Dubai Computer Group, which represents the interests of the computer industry in Dubai and is formed under the auspices of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is currently a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) MENA One Chapter as well as a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Bart Denolf
Bart Denolf
CEO – Franchise - Sacoor Brothers Group

Bart Denolf is currently the CEO – Franchise for the Sacoor Brothers Group. Since he joined the company in 2015, Denolf has been actively driving growth both offline and online and the company has since opened in more than 10 new countries. Prior to joining the Sacoor Brothers Group, he pursued a successful career at Pepe Jeans Group (Pepe Jeans, Hackett) from 2010-15 where he joined as global retail and expansion director and prior to that at MANGO from 2005-10, where he joined as area manager for expansion and became senior vice-president – business development, managing more than 35 countries. Denolf has a Degree in Law from the University of Ghent (Belgium) and a Master’s Degree in European Law from the University of Cantabria (Spain). He also has a second Master’s Degree in Marketing, Sales and Business Administration in ESIC (Madrid, Spain). In 2014 he did an executive programme in INSEAD, Paris. More recently, he has completed a course on application of AI in business strategy from MIT, USA.

Cameron Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell
CEO - Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment and Cinemas

Cameron Mitchell has worked in the entertainment industry for 25 years, initially in various regional operational roles across Australia, specialising in the setup and opening of new complexes and cinema concepts across the country. He joined Majid Al Futtaim in January 2007, and as CEO oversees the existing entertainment businesses, coupled with the company’s aggressive expansion across the MENA region, which has seen VOX Cinemas become one of the region’s largest, and favourite cinema entertainment providers. Mitchell additionally oversees Majid Al Futtaim’s Leisure and Entertainment businesses, which includes 30 Magic Planet family entertainment centres and Majid Al Futtaim’s Ski business including the iconic Ski Dubai located in Mall of the Emirates and Mall of Egypt’s Ski Egypt, with Ski Saudi and Ski Oman under development. In addition to these attractions, Majid Al Futtaim also operates a number of other innovative leisure attractions, including VR experience centre Dreamscape in Mall of the Emirates, along with several other integrated entertainment centres.

Farah Emara
Farah Emara
Co-founder & CEO - FreshSource

Farah Emara has extensive experience with start-ups and SMEs. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Economic Development and Public Policy at Durham University and pursued a Master’s Degree in Management at the London School of Economics. Emara has worked in Procter & Gamble as the head of the strategic communications department as well as entrepreneur selection & growth manager at Endeavor. She has appeared as a judge on CBC’s Hona Al Shabab and awarded the Obama Presidential Award.

Grace Karim
Grace Karim
Co-founder - Bookends

Bookends is the first digital platform in the UAE for buying and selling pre-loved books. Bookends is a UAE-based start-up founded by mompreneurs Grace Karim and Somia Anwar. Karim is a mother of two enthusiastic readers Omar and Adam. While Anwar is also a mother of two avid readers Zoha and Abdullah. While their kids were growing older, they struggled to keep refreshing their book collections at affordable prices. Kids would outgrow the books quickly and always ready to buy new ones. This is where the idea of Bookends came into being. Today Bookends.ae offers a wide variety of books at affordable prices. Readers can buy books and sell their pre-loved books on Bookends.ae.

Halima Jumani
Halima Jumani
Director - Kibsons

Halima Jumani is director and part of the founding family of Kibsons Online Home Delivery Service, which focuses on distributing fresh, healthy food directly from market-to-door for thousands of UAE residents. Jumani has worked at Kibsons for over 10 years, having seen the company go from strength-to-strength and leading the expansion through the practical challenges of implementing several projects/initiatives in the world of operations and trading. Today she oversees finance and operations for Kibsons and a team of over 1,000 across the business and over 5,000 daily orders. Jumani graduated from the London Business School (UK) with an MBA. Whilst she was based in the UK, she worked with Barclays Global Investors as a Project Analyst in the Pooled Funds Division. Post-graduation, Jumani moved to Dubai where she worked with GE as a Six Sigma Black Belt, leading and executing projects to drive improvements in performance, as well as key business and customer processes within Employee and Financial Services.

Heba Al Fazari
Heba Al Fazari
Founder - Coveti

Emirati entrepreneur Heba Al Fazari is a visionary and founder of Coveti. A former diplomat, the first Emirati offshore engineer in 2002 and author of “Politics of fashion: The Global Sourcing Hacks Every Fashion Designers Need,” she has worked and lived in more than 10 countries. Armed with a Georgetown Global MBA and Foreign Relation, Al Fazari is an advisor in global sourcing and non-market strategies. With strong knowledge in factories relocation for best market access, Al Fazari uses many innovative strategies to expand her business across different territories. With Coveti, she has set out on a journey to support the new wave of emerging brands that would otherwise remain undiscovered and unheard. Al Fazari is now on a mission to create a global revolutionary data-driven platform to unite best-emerging brands with millions of people across the globe who are looking for their next unique treasure find.

Hisham Al Amoudi
Hisham Al Amoudi
Group CEO - Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

After more than 25 years of working with Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group, Hisham Al Amoudi was appointed as Group CEO in 2017. He has worked alongside the KOJ Group founder in establishing and growing the business from a handful of shops in the city of Jeddah in western Saudi in the 1990s to the Group’s nearly 700 stores across the GCC and Morocco today. Aside from successfully establishing the Group’s international franchise brands across the region (The Body Shop and Early Learning Center), Al Amoudi has also played an instrumental role in developing KOJ’s home-grown brands Nayomi, Mikyajy and Mihyar. In addition to his strategic role on the KOJ board, Al Amoudi has direct responsibility for the Group’s business development efforts, overseeing all expansion and investment initiatives. He has successfully led critical projects for KOJ, including ERP launch and implementation, e-commerce and digital transformation, store build factory development and modernisation, building a training academy and labour policy implementation across all countries. A firm believer in the power of people, Al Amoudi has worked alongside the founder in developing KOJ Group as an ethical, professional and people-driven organisation.

Hozefa Saylawala
Hozefa Saylawala
Director of Sales - Zebra Technologies

In his current role at Zebra Technologies, Hozefa Saylawala covers a large territory, working through channel partners. As Zebra Technologies is introducing new internet of things (IoT)-based solutions on top of its legacy business of barcode/printing products, Saylawala has a strong pipeline of new end-to-end solutions to meet regional demand across a range of vertical sectors. His responsibility is to drive growth and penetration of Zebra Technologies’ new solutions around Enterprise Asset Intelligence, based on ‘sense-analyze-act’ and harnessing IoT technologies in the region. Saylawala likes to work closely with customers and support them in an increasingly complex world. He likes to engage and understand customers’ businesses and relate to the challenges in an ever-changing technology landscape, before suggesting the right solutions to address their specific needs. Saylawala feels that innovation is central to the region’s future, as it looks to diversify and quickly build sustainable, competitive new economies.

Ian Ohan
Ian Ohan
Founder & Chief Executive - KRUSH Brands

A later in life entrepreneur, Ian Ohan has lived, worked and created in the Gulf region for the past two decades. He is the founder & chief executive of KRUSH Brands. KRUSH Brands is a full-service, multi-kitchen, brand development, operating and franchising company. Cool brands that you love, bound together by technology, convenient and reliable, better for you, from a company that cares. KRUSH Brands owns and operates Freedom Pizza, Wildflower Poke & More, Coco Yogo Vegan Kitchen and the Salad Jar with more brands coming soon. It also owns Big Dwarf Food Technology that develops KRUSH Brands’ proprietary digital, online ordering, operating and delivery platforms. All KRUSH Brands concepts are Powered by Freedom – KRUSH Brands’ proprietary technology and delivery platform and its fleet of over 200 professional delivery drivers delivering fast, fresh and safe, every time.

Isobel Abulhoul
Isobel Abulhoul
Co-founder - Magrudy’s

Isobel Abulhoul co-founded Magrudy’s, a bookshop chain, in 1975. In addition to Magrudy’s, she was a co-founder of Jerboa Books, a publishing company which produces children’s books in Arabic and English. Abulhoul has a keen and abiding interest in education and literacy. Following a chance conversation and the support of Emirates Airline, she founded and directed the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word, from its inception. In 2013, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also the Festival patron, issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, naming Abulhoul as one of the trustees on the board. In addition, Abulhoul also holds the position of CEO of the Foundation. She is also a trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Board, secretary general of the Kalimat Foundation and director of the board for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library and a member of the Supreme Committee for the Year of Tolerance. Abulhoul is a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Jeremy Denisty
Jeremy Denisty
Customer Director – Operational Lead MENA - Scopernia

Jeremy Denisty is a transformation & innovation expert leading the MENA office of the Belgian advisory firm Scopernia. For the last 10 years, Scopernia has been helping leaders across all industries transform, innovate and grow towards a strong, future-proof organisation. Scopernia’s expertise is grounded in four best-selling books written and published by its founding partners: Digital Transformation (2014), Corporate Venturing (2016), The World is Round (2020) and Metasystems (2020).

Justina Eitzinger
Justina Eitzinger
COO - Images Group Middle East

Justina Eitzinger is the COO at Images Group, Middle East, the no. 1 retail intelligence and knowledge sharing media house with its monthly print magazine, RetailME app, website and the iconic retail event called the Middle East Retail Forum, which has proven to be a go-to conference for insightful retail content and invaluable networking. Eitzinger has 24 years of experience across media, hospitality and travel industries and has held leadership roles in revenue, marketing and customer service. She is a Harvard certified Digital Marketer, and has an MBA in Marketing from SP Jain School of Global Management, Dubai. In her role as the operations lead, Eitzinger oversees content, business and marketing and is working on growing the portfolio in the region and beyond. Prior to joining Images Group, she served as the Chief Revenue Officer at Forbes Middle East, and also worked at brands like STAR TV, Gulf News, Jumeirah Group of Hotels, ITC Maurya Sheraton and The Oberoi.

Kiran Karanki
Kiran Karanki
CEO - Semnox Solutions

Kiran Karanki is the CEO of Semnox Solutions, a multi-national company focused on developing solutions for the leisure and amusement industry. In this role, he oversees the overall strategy and the operations of Semnox, setting the focus and driving the execution. Semnox is an innovation driven company and Karanki has architected the hardware platform and is currently actively engaged in re-architecting the solution platform to drive the next stage of growth. He has been instrumental in growing Semnox’s business in the theme and water park segment. In the past, he was responsible for the Far East and the American markets which he built from ground up. Karanki was deeply involved in setting up the China JV partnership. Prior to Semnox, Karanki was with Infosys Technologies, where he managed the multi-million-dollar relationship with a key customer in the US.

Kris Fade
Kris Fade
Founder - Fade Fit

Kris Fade is the Australian/Lebanese radio phenomenon that has taken the region by storm. He hosts The Kris Fade Show on Virgin Radio speaking to one million listeners daily and his show is also airing on Australia’s largest radio network, KIIS Network, with more than 2 million listeners. Fade hosts the official Middle East Chart, regularly interviews the biggest celebrities both on and off air and is the official Middle East TV host at the red carpet of the Oscars every year for OSN. His unparalleled live entertainment skills have made him one of the most coveted people in the industry and his authentic content creation on social media in combination with that has resulted in multiple brand ambassadorships. An entrepreneur at heart, Fade is also the founder of a successful healthy children’s snack (Fade Fit Kids), partner in a fitness company (Enhance) and founder of Fade Fit, a community for people who are looking at being inspired to get fit and healthy.

Kristian Stinson
Kristian Stinson
Co-founder & CEO - Hopi

Kristian Stinson is the co-founder and CEO of Hopi, a premium daily contact lens brand selling directly to consumers across the GCC. Stinson co-founded Hopi, together with business partner Charles Wright, in December 2019 to disrupt the antiquated contact lens retail model and bring high-quality daily lenses directly to customers at honest prices. Stinson is responsible for overseeing the overall development of Hopi, including marketing, sales, finance and distribution management. This is his second entrepreneurial venture. Prior to launching Hopi, he co-founded Studio EM in 2011, a Dubai-based interior architecture firm specialising in retail, hospitality and F&B projects. As pioneers of the direct-to-consumer e-commerce model in the Middle East, Stinson and Wright have also set up the DTC ME group to facilitate knowledge exchange between other DTC colleagues to help other co-founders operating in the space.

Majed M. Al Tahan
Majed M. Al Tahan
Co-founder & Managing Director - Danube Online

Majed M Al Tahan is the Founder & CEO, AYM and Co-founder & MD, Danube Online. He is an award-winning entrepreneur and e-commerce leader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a great passion to impact the apps market. Al Tahan recognised that e-commerce was the missing element in the Saudi retail landscape and he grabbed the opportunity to begin his journey to build the first-ever online service for grocery shopping in the Kingdom in partnership with BinDawood Holding. In 2016, he founded AYM Commerce as the platform to power the technology needed to revolutionise the Middle East’s e-commerce grocery space and set up Danube Online in partnership with BinDawood Holding. In 2019, Al Tahan was recognised for his achievements and contribution to Saudi Arabia’s economy when he was awarded ‘Young CEO of the Year’ at the Saudi Top Achiever Awards and ‘Digital Leader of the Year’ at Seamless Middle East.

Mark Tesseyman
Mark Tesseyman
CEO - LIWA Trading Enterprises

With over three decades of experience in the fashion retail industry, Mark Tesseyman has made his mark as an experienced and successful retailer across the GCC, North Africa, Russia in addition to Europe and the UK. Tesseyman was appointed CEO of LIWA Trading Enterprises in 2015 to restructure and grow the organisation. A key focus has been to target specific market sectors and evolve a retail strategy in line with shifting global trends. He has driven the change management agenda placing the customer first, improving performance and transforming the way the company operates. Tesseyman has extensive international experience, developing and implementing best practice retail management systems and working for industry-leading international companies, including Next Retail, Matalan Ltd, The Peacock Group and Alshaya Group. Prior to his current role, he held key senior positions at both large corporate PLC companies and family-owned organisations. He is also familiar with private equity-backed businesses. Tesseyman is a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Marwan Moukarzel
Marwan Moukarzel
CEO - Fawaz Alhokair Fashion Retail

Marwan Moukarzel is the CEO of Fawaz Alhokair Fashion Retail, a leading fashion retail group in Saudi Arabia. At Fawaz Alhokair Fashion Retail, Moukarzel oversees all facets of the business, across all operating territories. He drives growth and maximises value for shareholders, brand owners and customers, pivoting the company to new heights of success. Prior to joining Fawaz Alhokair Fashion Retail, Moukarzel served as general manager of AZADEA Group. Under his leadership, AZADEA Group witnessed immense growth, entered new markets and fostered strong relationships with brand owners and major real estate developers. Prior to taking on this position, Moukarzel also served as the deputy CEO and CFO of the company. With over 25 years of professional experience, he has held various other positions – including external auditor with Deloitte (Abu Dhabi) and Ernst & Young (Lebanon) and head of internal audit for a major retail and wholesale operator in Qatar. Moukarzel is a certified public accountant (US), certified internal auditor (US) and holds a Bachelor Degree from Notre Dame University (Lebanon) and an Executive MBA from INSEAD.

Meenaxy Vashishtha
Meenaxy Vashishtha
Founder - GoOrganic

Meenaxy Vashishtha started her journey with plant-based food eight years back when after both her boys were born. After going through two back-to-back C sections in just a period of 1-year and 3 months, the whole process put a tremendous pressure on her body.  Living on multiple multivitamins and pills was not helping and was only adding to her discomfort. This is when her husband introduced her to juicing. Having 2 green juices for 3 months daily with plant-based food changed her completely. She lost weight, had a lot more energy, clearer mind and a clear focus. She started reading more about juicing and plant-based eating. This is how GoOrganic was born with a mission to bring out the goodness of REAL (Restorative Energetic Authentic Living) food. Today, GoOrganic manufactures not only cold pressed juices and juice cleanses, but has also launched its range of soups, shots, Keto shakes, celery juices and protein smoothies and will soon launch 24 new products suitable for all lifestyles.

Mohamed Attia
Mohamed Attia
CEO - SALA (Salman Al Hokair Leisure & Attractions) Entertainment

Mohamed Attia is the CEO of SALA Entertainment (Salman Al Hokair Leisure & Attractions Entertainment), which is a subsidiary of the Salman Al Hokair Group in Saudi Arabia. In his current role, Attia oversees a huge expansion of SALA Entertainment’s business within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is an accomplished and productivity-oriented leader with 18+ years’ track record in organisational development management and planning across prestigious companies in the leisure sector, always bringing challenges to a win-win solution. Attia has exceptional leadership acumen with a well-developed ability to direct cross-functional team operations, deliver expert coaching and co-coordinate decision-making with executive management. He is a strong leader with a customer-focused and operational mind-set with rigorous financial management skills to maximise revenue, profitability and shareholder value. As a leader, Attia strongly believes in the power of teamwork. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Mona Ataya
Mona Ataya
CEO & Founder - Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya, CEO & founder of Mumzworld.com, has proven to be one of the Middle East’s most prominent women entrepreneurs. Beyond leading a successful and growing SME, and inspiring her employees and communities, Ataya is on a mission to change the region, one mum at a time. She has managed to grow Mumzworld from a business plan on paper to a leading brand reaching more than 2 million mothers across the region over the past nine years. Founded in 2011, Mumzworld has pioneered a revolutionary and gold standard e-commerce shopping experience for all things mother, baby and child in the Middle East region. Today, Mumzworld offers over 250,000 products, an engaged community, exclusive product offerings and delivery to over 20 different countries in the fastest, most convenient and cost-effective way, at everyday low prices. Under Ataya’s leadership, Mumzworld has undergone tremendous growth and successfully established itself as the regional leader in this vertical space. Ataya is a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Naim Maadad
Naim Maadad
Chief Executive & Founder - Gates Hospitality

Naim Maadad comes with over 38 years of experience in the hospitality world across Australia, Asia and the Middle East in various senior management roles. He has launched and operated some of the world’s best hotels, resorts, spas and lifestyle F&B concepts. During his stint with international hospitality groups, Maadad was instrumental in nurturing sound relationships with owners, securing the best-possible locations, negotiating and formalising contractual agreements and appointing teams to infuse and reflect the ethos of the brands. Being based in the Middle East over the past 20 years, Maadad has witnessed tremendous industry growth, gained a deep cultural understanding and has been endorsed by principals & organisations alike. In 2010, he established Gates Hospitality, a home-grown hospitality company representing F&B brands, including Ultra Brasserie, Reform Social & Grill Dubai, Folly by Nick & Scott and Publique, to name a few. He is a member of the Advisory Board for RetailME and MRF.

Nathan Watts
Nathan Watts
Creative Director - Interstore I Schweitzer

Since the beginning of 2020 Nathan Watts represents the London-based office of the retail agency Interstore, part of the design and shopfitting company Interstore | Schweitzer, as creative director. Prior to that, for 15 years he has worked for branding and retail agency Fitch, where he was able to acquire in-depth experience in the retail sector. During that period, he implemented projects for brands and retailers in Europe, Asia and North America, such Douglas, Walmart and Volvo. Socio-economic trends influence his work and serve as source of inspiration for the realisation of new and innovative design concepts. Watts sees it as one of his major challenges to create spaces where people would want both to consume and interact with their environment. He aims at creating forward-looking concepts especially for young consumers who grow up in a technological society and with a different view on the world. Together with his internationally connected team, Watts tracks down tomorrow’s trends and translates them into store concepts of the last generation.

Nawal El Masri
Nawal El Masri
Founder & Storyteller - exhale

Nawal El Masri is the founder and storyteller of exhale, a mindful and conscious driven e-commerce brand that seeks to change perspectives through storytelling, art, visual journeys and clothing. El Masri believes that through exhale she can bring awareness for mental wellness and break stigmas in order for the society to use the tools they have at hand to heal themselves. Artists from around the world, storytellers, writers, painters, illustrators and poets come together to tell stories with exhale. The brand also teams up with educational awareness events such as The Global Teacher Prize to target and bring awareness to the millennials. El Masri has partnered with UNHCR to further initiate and activate the process of supporting and healing. She is a speaker at the American University of Sharjah advocating mental health, alongside forming a lecture collaboration at DIDI Institute in d3 for fashion students about mindful designing.

Neelam Keswani
Neelam Keswani
Director - Glamazle

With over 15 years of working experience, Neelam Keswani started her career with UAE’s popular ‘Buy One Get One Free’ concept, The ENTERTAINER. After a successful stint of five years, she moved on to Gulf Technical, working on coupon loyalty programmes. Keswani then joined Cobone.com as its founding member and strategically grew the brand as one of the leading online coupon sites in the region. Keswani’s most recent stint was her role with ALshop.com where she grew the business up to 400%. Currently, combining her love for makeup and business acumen, Keswani runs her own online beauty and fashion store, Glamazle.com.

Patrick Chalhoub
Patrick Chalhoub
CEO - Chalhoub Group

Patrick Chalhoub began his career in 1979, fulfilling his father’s vision to build a bridge between the east and west and be the ambassador of luxury lifestyle in the region. In 1990, he created a regional distribution platform in the Jebel Ali Free zone with Fendi, L’Oréal, Dior Parfums and Puig. As the director of Christofle and Bernardaud, Chalhoub was involved in the strategic planning for the restructuring and redeployment of these brands. From 2000 he developed the retail network of the Chalhoub Group from a few stores to over 600 stores with a workforce which increased from a few hundred to over 12,000 in the region and with local implementation in 14 countries. Chalhoub continues to expand the Group’s distribution, retail business, marketing and communication activities and is eager to strengthen the Group’s support services. Chalhoub is also very engaged in the Group’s digital transformation. He has also been instrumental in guiding the development of a sustainability strategy for the Chalhoub Group, and is a board member of the UN Global Compact.

Phillip Smith
Phillip Smith
Group Head of Digital - Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Phillip Smith leads digital transformation for one of the region’s most dynamic home-grown retail groups, Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group. He started his digital career 18 years ago in the UK working across a diverse range of e-commerce businesses, from rapid-paced start-ups to large-scale innovators. After leading the online European expansion of multiple household names, he arrived in Dubai in 2015 at the region’s most exciting time for technology. KOJ Group operates 700 retail stores and 6 e-commerce sites, which include some of the region’s much-loved brands – including Nayomi, Early Learning Center, Mikyajy, The Body Shop, LEGO and more. Smith has taken on the challenge to drive the aggressive digital roadmap and to solidify KOJ Group’s vision of being one of the leading omnichannel, technology-enabled retailers in the Middle East.

Piyush Kumar Chowhan
Piyush Kumar Chowhan
Group CIO - Lulu Group International

In his role at Lulu Group International, Piyush Kumar Chowhan is responsible for digital strategy and execution of technology for all its global businesses across 12 countries, which include retail, hypermarket and shopping malls. He has over 20 years of experience in driving businesses change using the latest technology innovations, thereby enhancing business value. Chowhan has acquired strong domain knowledge in retail, e-commerce and supply chain management while working for global retailers like Walmart, Target, Circuit City, Tesco and Best Buy. He has also been instrumental in leading the deployment of state-of-art, award-winning supply chain replenishment programme, defining the roadmap for future-ready retail stores and Artificial Intelligence and analytics. He has won many awards for his work and is a part of the Steering Committee of the Analytics and Data Science COE (jointly started by the Government of Karnataka and NASSCOM in Bangalore).

Raed Hafez
Raed Hafez
CEO - elGrocer

Raed Hafez, the new CEO of elGrocer brings over 25 years of experience in managing large-scale technology developments and leading large commercial operations. Hafez’s experience in scaling up start-ups, especially as an investor, has been proven over the few last years and will be critical in elGrocer’s growth ambitions in the coming years. He will be leading the company’s regional expansion as well as contributing to the evolution of elGrocer into a tech-driven company, continuing to lead its digital transformation for the retail sector.

Renuka Jagtiani
Renuka Jagtiani
Chairwoman & CEO - Landmark Group

For over 25 years, Renuka Jagtiani has guided Landmark Group’s corporate strategy and grown the fashion and hospitality businesses for the region’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. A cornerstone of the Group’s journey, Jagtiani was instrumental in creating the high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993. In her current role, she oversees all retail and hospitality operations, leading strategic growth through expansion into new markets and driving the group’s CSR initiatives. Under her leadership, the Group forayed into e-commerce and invested in the MENA region’s largest privately-owned logistics and distribution hub, with a vision to reach the customers, no matter where they shop.

Ryan Den Rooijen
Ryan Den Rooijen
Group Head of Data & Analytics - Chalhoub Group

Ryan Den Rooijen has joined the Chalhoub Group as group head of data and analytics in charge of leading the data transformation stream with a goal to make using analytics as natural to the organisation as using the internet. Rooijen has previously worked with Dyson and Google; he has been recognised for exceptional achievements and brings a wealth of knowledge in the tech industry. He has an MSc in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford. He is now an advisory board chair of MSc/DPhil in Social Data Science contributing to the development of the Oxford Internet Institute’s newest degrees. Most of his work involves the practical application of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). In line with the Chalhoub Group’s strategic transformation plans, Rooijen’s mission will be instrumental to operationalise analytics & AI capabilities, and to develop data products for the Group and its trusted partners. Rooijen’s recruitment marks a new step towards building a sustainable and future-proof organisation by welcoming best-in-class talents.

Shamim Kassibawi
Shamim Kassibawi
Founder - Play:Date

Shamim Kassibawi is a publicist turned serial entrepreneur and appreneur. She has over a decade worth of public relation skills and has led successful media campaigns for various industries including healthcare, FMCG, aviation, lifestyle and many more. Kassibawi identified a gap within her community where parents and children, especially expats, had very little or no access to playgroups and most importantly, no opportunities for socialising – an important contributor to a child’s positive development in their early years. Applying her communication experience and intertwining it with the imminent rise of the digicultural age, Kassibawi founded Play:Date in a bid to promote social activities for children, create a safe space for parents to connect with others to discuss trending subjects on children and develop a platform that offers discounts on popular brands and services with a conscious understanding of how expensive parenting can be. A Business and Marketing graduate from the Auckland University of Technology, Kassibawi currently manages a team of PR and digital experts, along with overlooking and liaising talent management for brands including Coca-Cola, Unilever and P&G.

Somia Anwar
Somia Anwar
Co-founder - Bookends

Bookends is the first digital platform in the UAE for buying and selling pre-loved books. Bookends is a UAE-based start-up founded by mompreneurs Grace Karim and Somia Anwar. Karim is a mother of two enthusiastic readers Omar and Adam. While Anwar is also a mother of two avid readers Zoha and Abdullah. While their kids were growing older, they struggled to keep refreshing their book collections at affordable prices. Kids would outgrow the books quickly and always ready to buy new ones. This is where the idea of Bookends came into being. Today Bookends.ae offers a wide variety of books at affordable prices. Readers can buy books and sell their pre-loved books on Bookends.ae.

Susan Ayton
Susan Ayton
Founder & Managing Director - Ayton Global Research Ltd

Susan Ayton is the Founder and Managing Director of Ayton Global Research Ltd and inventor and owner of Ayton System Software, which has been successfully trading for over 25 years. She has designed and ran consumer studies for over 400 international clients including; contract manufacturers such as PZ Cussons and Acheson & Acheson, large high street chains such as A.S. Watson, Tesco, Walgreen Boots Alliance and The Body Shop, as well as global brands such as Skinny Tan, Oriflame, Liz Earle and Temple Spa.

Susan has been nominated three times for the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite and has won the Mendip Family Business and International Business Awards. Ayton System Software won a British Government Research and Development Grant because of its ability to provide an homogenous global research platform in real-time and in any language. Susan has a life of developing her business model hand-in-hand with some of the largest global cosmetics and toiletries corporations all across the world.

Tapan Vaidya
Tapan Vaidya
CEO - PJP Investments Group

A restaurant industry veteran, Tapan Vaidya is currently the CEO of PJP Investments Group, owner-operators of Papa John’s in the UAE. With 30+ years’ experience in the region, Vaidya has been associated with the development of hundreds of restaurants across the GCC markets with brands including Chili’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Outback Steakhouse and many more. Currently focused on developing and expanding Papa John’s in the UAE and beyond, Vaidya is keen to give back to the industry from his deep knowledge and hands-on experience. The current crisis that the industry is facing, Vaidya has dug deep to bring new insights and creative solutions in handling his business.

Tom Urquhart
Tom Urquhart
Presenter - Dubai One

Tom Urquhart is a very popular media professional in Dubai, who hosts The Agenda show on Dubai Eye 103.8 and several television shows.