Speakers 2019

Zubin Doshi, Founder - Scoopi Café

As an accomplished entrepreneur with a major in Business administration from University of Wollongong in Dubai, Zubin Doshi, the home-grown scoop master aspires to make Dubai an ice-cream haven for dessert lovers in the region. Turning his dream into reality Doshi launched the first Scoopi Café in Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Road in December 2014 and since then he has been constantly improvising the menu by introducing delectable flavours for customers to enjoy. Doshi is also the creator of the world’s most expensive ice-cream, the black diamond priced at a whopping AED3,000. Substantiating his position as a successful entrepreneur and a scoop master, Doshi recently opened doors to Scoopi’s rebranded flagship store, also located on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai. The year 2019 will also see the opening of another Scoopi Café branch in Ras Al Khaimah as well as spread its reach to major cities in India in the near future.

Zaid Alqufaidi, Managing Director - ENOC Retail

Zaid Alqufaidi is the Managing Director of ENOC Retail. In his current role, Alqufaidi is responsible for the strategic development of ENOC’s retail business stream. An ENOC veteran and a seasoned oil & gas industry professional, Alqufaidi comes to his role with extensive experience across the energy value chain, that includes marketing, aviation, terminal operations and supply sectors. Alqufaidi has held numerous managerial positions and has played an instrumental role in the development of EPPCO’s retail network. He has also immensely contributed to bridging the gap between the ENOC and EPPCO brand during the formation of the Group’s identity as ENOC. Prior to his current post, Alqufaidi held the position of Managing Director of ENOC Marketing. He was also CEO for EPPCO Group of Companies in 2010. Zaid was previously appointed as Manager Terminals, Distribution and Aviation Operations in 2000. Alqufaidi first started his career in EPPCO in 1989 as an engineer with the Operations Department. He was then promoted to Operations and Supply Coordinator in 1992. He is an engineering graduate from the University of Central Florida, USA.

Xavier Anglada

Xavier Anglada has 22+ years of combined strategy consulting and operational experience in the digital, fintech, high-tech, media and telecommunications industries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, leading large teams of professionals and effectively steering P&L in operations. He has extensive experience as an advisor to top executives of leading groups across multiple domains including corporate and commercial strategy, business and operational transformation, analytics and organisational development. Prior to joining Accenture, Anglada was CEO International Operations in Cash Credit, an innovative fintech player in the lending space, leading the company expansion from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Far East and Africa. Before Cash Credit, he spent nearly a decade in Delta Partners Group helping setup, grow and consolidate the business globally and had managerial roles in Ono (today, Vodafone in Spain), also in Cluster Consulting (today, Oliver Wyman) and Hewlett-Packard. Anglada is an MBA from ESADE in Barcelona and MSc in Electrical Engineering and BSc in Telecommunications from La Salle Engineering in Barcelona.

Vijay Talreja, Co-founder and Director - Adapty

Vijay Talreja is the co-founder and director of Adapty, one of the leading digital commerce companies with offices in the US, the UAE and India. Talreja heads the UAE operations at Adapty. The team at Adapty designs and implements digital solutions that drive customer engagement and business growth by implementing industry leading e-commerce and content management solutions. Prior to joining Adapty, as a founding member of Accenture India, Talreja had the opportunity to setup and grow world-class offshore development centre – a team that grew from 12 when he joined to 120,000 in the 12 years that he spent at Accenture. He is also a charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) and active member of leading angel investing platforms. Talreja is an advisor and investor to a bunch of start-ups in the e-commerce, fintech, HR and IoT space.

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.

Timothy Earnest, Group Director/CEO - Al-Futtaim Malls

In his current role, Timothy Earnest manages a range of assets including super-regional iconic destinations in Qatar, the UAE and North Africa under the Festival City Malls brand, totalling 70 million visitors, 1,300 retailers and two additional assets under development in Dubai and Morocco. Earnest’s passion and expertise is building and executing an organisation as a preferred business partner, generating sustainable growth and long-term value creation while delivering exceptional stakeholder experiences that produce safe, exciting and enriching shopping environments. He is a seasoned executive with a solid 30-year career within the Simon Property Group in the US where his last role was executive vice president – property management, responsible for the regional malls portfolio, where he managed day-to-day operations for over 200 malls, 5,000 employees, $3.2-billion in EBITDA, $1.3-billion in expenses, $100-million in OPEX and $350-million in development. Earnest brings a thorough understanding of retail dynamics and shopping mall management in addition to relevant best practice capabilities.

Tania Lodi, Founder - Tania’s Teahouse

Tania Lodi is the founder of Tania’s Teahouse. Dubbed as Dubai’s most Instagrammable café, she has become a key player in the region’s foodie scene. It was when Lodi completed a Bachelor of Honors in Psychology at the University of Toronto that her love for the café culture began. Suffering from a chronic pain condition during this time, she looked to tea for its wondrous health benefits. Learning that many people were also dealing with similar health problems alongside personal and social issues, she wanted to create a space for them, incorporating tea in a fun and healthy way. Thus, Tania’s Teahouse opened in April 2018, a space which introduces tea in a fun and healthy way. The café from the inside to out, captured the region’s attention even before it opened. Since opening, some of the world’s biggest brands – Nike to NARs and Fujifilm to Ounass – have hosted events at Tania’s Teahouse.

Tahir Shah, Founder - Moti Roti

Tahir Shah is the Founder of Moti Roti, a Pakistani ‘soul kitchen’ with a local cult following in Dubai for their roti-style burritos. After 12 years of working for Nokia he decided to drop out of corporate life and set out on a mission to make Pakistani food modern, healthy and accessible to outsiders. Starting out at local markets, he helped pioneer the food truck movement in Dubai with Moti Roti. Unfortunately, Moti Roti had to close in 2017, but has recently found new life by running as a delivery-only concept through dark kitchens in Dubai. After Moti Roti had closed, Shah joined with Careem who had invested into food delivery and now leads their expansion of Careem NOW in Riyadh, KSA. Moti Roti has been nominated in the past for several industry awards.

Stevi Lowmass, Founder & Owner - The Camel Soap Factory

The idea of creating a Dubai-based soap factory came to Stevi Lowmass after a visit to an Australian soap manufacturer in 2008. As a long-time resident of the UAE, and a host to many friends and family visiting her, Lowmass was all too aware of the shortage of beautiful local souvenirs that reflected the rich traditions of the region. The creation of a company to address this gap in the market became an obsession. By 2011, Lowmass had established a home industry supplying school fairs and markets with soaps made in her garden shed. It soon became apparent that an industrial license would be required and so The Camel Soap Factory was born. What started as a home industry is now recognised as a premium gifting brand in the UAE and is world’s largest manufacturer of camel milk-based skincare.

Shivjeet Kullar, CEO - NFX Digital

Shivjeet Kullar is known as the brand guru in India. He has spent over 25 years in advertising. He began his career with agencies like Lintas and Contract. At the age of 29, he became a creative director and went on to win over 100 national and international awards, including One Show, New York Festival, Creativity International and JWT – All World Gold. Till recently he was a mentor to the ad agency that he founded – K-Factor which itself has won awards at Delhi Ad Club, Bombay Ad Club and Creativity New York. In 2011 the world-renowned Campaign magazine did a survey and ranked him as one of the 10 most high-profile creative people in India, and the only creative person in Delhi to be named on the list. Kullar has now moved to the internet domain and launched a website called adytude.com. One of the world’s largest research sites, Adytude conducts over 900,000 reviews yearly.

Shant Oknayan, Group Director – Middle East & North Africa - Facebook

Shant Oknayan is currently the Group Commercial Director at Facebook in the Middle East and North Africa, where he leads efforts to enable businesses in the region to scale growth and engage with consumers on Facebook, Instagram and the family of apps. Oknayan’s current focus is in retail, FMCG, telecom, technology, media and real estate, and previously also covered Facebook’s focus on e-commerce and digital services clients. He has over 18 years of experience in leading strategy & business development, with subject-matter expertise in digital and investment strategies for governments and corporations, having most recently headed up Google’s market development for small & medium businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. Oknayan’s understanding of the start-up space saw him co-found GlamBox, the first and leading beauty e-commerce company in the MENA region. Oknayan was also Google’s Head of Strategy & Operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and prior to that spent eight years as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and Strategy.

Shamin Amin, Head of Business Development - Landmark Leisure

Shamin Amin is the Head of Business Development at Landmark Leisure since 2012, having joined the business as a store manager in 2005 and eventually heading operations in the UAE. He was elevated to form the Business Development department. In the formative years after strengthening the base fundamentals of business along with Silvio Liedkte, CEO, Landmark Leisure and the leadership team, Amin has transformed the leisure division into one of the fastest growing businesses. Under his leadership and vision, the company offers a wide range of entertainment and play-centric options to its guests at its family entertainment venues including Fun City, Fun Ville, Fun Block, Fun Works, Tridom and the latest disruptive offering Jumble. From just very few stores in 2010, currently Landmark Leisure owns and operates more than 51 centres across the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and India across its four entertainment brands. Currently the majority of the focus is on expanding the leisure business in India. Amin has also been instrumental in transforming the complete ethos of the company, thereby not limiting his contribution to superlative business results only but with a deep-rooted emphasis on the wellness and welfare of his entire team who has worked hard along with him.

Shames Al Hashemi, Director – Member of Board - Dual Investments

Shames Al Hashemi is the eldest son of the founder, and the current co-executive director of Al Hashemi Enterprises (MHE). A lawyer by profession, Al Hashemi has successfully overseen the company’s expansion into the retail industry and has held several leadership roles across the GCC, including the oversight of franchise operations in Saudi Arabia and Dubai for the past X years. His key achievements include bringing renowned niche European menswear brand Suitsupply and British maternity brand Seraphine to the GCC and conceptualising the launch of home-grown cafe Roux Dubai. He presently manages Al Hashemi Enterprises’ business development and global investment.

Shahzad Bhatti, Founder - The Co-Dubai & Share This Space

Shahzad Bhatti is the founder of The Co-Dubai and Share This Space. He has made it his mission to make it easier and more affordable to launch a business for entrepreneurs. Offering a unique concept of coworking, education and collaboration he launched the first coworking incubator certified by the Dubai SME and one of the first retail accelerator programmes for new and start-up retail concepts. Having worked with over 60 start-ups from technology, retail and food industries both in London and Dubai, Bhatti has a range of hands-on experience and is an inspiring and motivating character.

Sarah Jones, Founder & CEO - Sprii.com

Sarah Jones was bitten by the bug at just 14, when she set up a profitable eBay business importing items from across the globe and selling in the UK, igniting a love for e-commerce and developing an acute business mind in the process. Four years later, a degree in economics at Edinburgh University beckoned, which not only heightened Jones’s financial acumen, but also her highly competitive nature. Her placement at Deloitte London in the retail M&A team led to an international secondment in the Middle East just a few years later. Which is where the Mini Exchange story began. Spotting a gap in the market on arrival, Jones secured funding for Mini Exchange in a matter of months, growing from an exchange platform for parents to a hugely successful e-commerce venture in just two years. With fresh ideas and innovations, Jones has never lost the thirst for clinching a business deal first-hand and is a self-confessed workaholic. In 2016, Jones turned her attention to growing the brand portfolio to include ‘At Home’ and Pre/Post Pregnancy ‘Get Fit’ categories, thus paving the way for Mini Exchange to evolve and become Sprii.com – a destination providing Everything For Mums. A natural extension for the online portal, a brand refresh followed in early 2017 to establish this as the core proposition of the business, focusing on top categories and products required by the modern mothers.

Sandeep Ganediwalla, Managing Partner - Redseer Consulting, Middle East

Sandeep Ganediwalla is a digital strategist with a focus on emerging markets with 16+ years of experience in consulting and technology. He has expertise in multiple sectors including retail, e-commerce, technology, telecom and private equity across topics including corporate strategy, commercial strategy, functional strategy, business planning, due-diligence and funding. Most recently, he was the director of strategy and corporate development at MarkaVIP, an online shopping community in the MENA region. Prior to that, Ganediwalla was an engagement manager at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company). He has completed his Master’s in Business Administration from HEC Paris with an exchange with London Business School. He has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Mumbai University. He also finds time to mentor and advice start-ups primarily focused on the digital space.

Sajan Alex, Vice President – GCC - Tablez

Sajan Alex is the Vice President of Tablez Food Company, the F&B retailing division of Abu-Dhabi based retail conglomerate Lulu Group. A seasoned F&B professional, Alex has over 15 years’ experience with some of the leading players in India and GCC. The Tablez Food Company 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, Pancake House, Sugar Factory and more.

Rumana Nazim, Founder & CEO - The Edit

Born and raised in Dubai, Indian-origin Rumana Nazim founded The Edit in a bid to offer the modern women of the region a one-stop shop that serves up curated options ranging from art, fashion and even specialty coffee. Nazim studied law in London (at SOAS and BPP College of Law) and worked as an in-house lawyer for an FMCG company until August 2018. Through her many travels and observations of the fast-paced and ever-changing retail landscape all over the world, Nazim found a gap in the Dubai market for a lifestyle space that would efficiently deliver an interactive yet relaxing environment. Creating a home away from home where customers can shop unique pieces, enjoy a cup of coffee and also visit an art gallery and workshop space all under one roof eventually became the end goal for Nazim as she temporarily closed the chapter on being a lawyer. Nazim’s interests and personal style are showcased through the statement finds at The Edit.

Raza Beig, CEO - Splash

Raza Beig heads Splash and LMI, the fashion concepts of the retail conglomerate Landmark Group. He is also a Director of Landmark Group. Back in 1993, when Splash was at a nascent stage, Beig was involved in almost every aspect of the business from buying to visual merchandising, budgeting and retail operations. Over two decades with the organisation, Beig’s strong dedication and passion guided Splash to become a category leader and a core brand within the Landmark Group’s portfolio. Splash currently operates over 220 stores and 55 brand stores (offering brands such as Lee Cooper, Bossini, Kappa and more) across 14 countries.

Ramesh Cidambi, COO - Dubai Duty Free

Ramesh Cidambi is the Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free (DDF) and is responsible for all aspects of the company’s operation and reporting to the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Colm McLoughlin. His responsibilities include both the retail and leisure business of DDF. Prior to his current role, Cidambi has held a variety of senior positions in the company with responsibility for areas such as information technology, logistics, retail development in both of Dubai’s airports and the DDF Leisure business through the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel and Irish Village Bar and Restaurant (in two locations). He has been with DDF for over 30 years, and during which time it has grown to be one of the world’s largest airport retailers in a single location with sales of just under $2 billion in 2017. He also maintains his links with the domestic retail market through the Network International’s Merchants Advisory Board, VISA Advisory Council for CEMEA and within the Steering Committee of the Retail Business Group (under the Dubai Chamber of Commerce).

Rajiv Prasad, Chief Innovation Officer - Xpandretail

With specialised studies in Electronics and Telecommunications as well as Computer Systems Networking from India and the UK, Rajiv Prasad is not only a technology geek but also possesses an unusual affinity to languages by speaking around eight languages and reading and writing around 14 languages. Wherever he has worked, Prasad is recognised for his remarkable quick problem-solving skills, strong communication skills, motivational abilities and detail-oriented approach. Adept at research and development, project administration and incorporating innovative, creative and disruptive programmes to boost overall operational growth in the highly dynamic and competitive industry, Prasad is also known amongst his peers to be highly motivated to take up new challenges and deliver sustainable results in a highly unpredictable environment. He possesses more than 15 years of experience in managing high priority tasks within tight schedules with a remarkable success record in cost control and development of robust customer relationships to continuously maintain harmony within the firm.

Rachel McArthur, Founder & Managing Editor - Digital Ink Media

Rachel McArthur is a Dubai-based journalist and editor, with over a decade of experience in digital, print and broadcast media. She is the Founder and Managing Editor of Digital Ink Media, a provider that curates exclusive content – including editorial copy, photography and video – for some of the region’s best-known media outlets and brands. Having edited/been published in titles such as ‘T Emirates: The New York Times Magazine’, Thomson Reuters and Wamda, McArthur covers a range of topics – lifestyle to B2B – with a keen interest in Islamic Economy industries, science and medicine, Middle Eastern entrepreneurship, motoring and entertainment. In addition to her role at Digital Ink, McArthur is a contributor to online portal Al Arabiya, UAE newspaper Gulf News and appears as a current affairs commentator on ‘The Agenda’ on Dubai Eye 103.8FM.

Priya Patel-Chomel, Product Marketing Lead - Facebook Middle East

Priya Patel is the Product Lead for Facebook and Family of apps in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. She has 17 years’ experience in media and advertising including print (Financial Times), TV (BBC), agency and digital in the UK, Australia and Asia. Prior to joining Facebook, Patel spent five years at multinational company Google, where she was an instrumental part of YouTube’s commercial rollout across South East Asia. She relocated to the Middle East with Google in 2014 where she managed the Food and Beverage sector and led advertising strategy across MENA. It was in 2015 that Patel was appointed as Business Development Lead at Instagram where she works closely with brands and agencies to help them achieve their business objectives on the platform.  In her spare time, Patel takes inspiration from Instagram to pursue her interests in cooking, travel and scuba diving.

Peggy Li, Managing Partner - SPS: Affinity

Peggy Li is the Managing Partner at SPS: Affinity, a boutique consultancy that covers all spectrum of working within the hospitality & service industries. She has 18+ years executive-level management experience in Europe, Middle East and Far East. She is a solid Michelin star high-end food & beverage operator worked with world-renowned chef such as Joel Robuchon. With Li’s strong working persona, she has caved many successful business ventures prior of settling in Dubai three years ago. She is an active member at Dubai Business Council, UAE Chinese Business Women Council, with the level of network and association that elevate the work synergy among female entrepreneurs. Li is also a start-up mentor and adviser at WOMENA, In5 Tech Incubator & Accelerator and SHERAA. She has mentored entrepreneurs behind concepts such as Halakiwi in the UAE and Mathaqi in KSA.

Patrick Dorais, Director of Sales - Al Nassma Chocolate LLC

Patrick Dorais brings with him over 20 years of international sales and marketing experience, entirely consumer-related, both from a retail operator and supplier-side perspective. He has gained extensive knowledge of the food industry working for top-name blue-chips companies, predominantly in the confectionery industry. After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts (Economics) at York University’s Glendon College, in Toronto, Canada and completing training as Shopping Center Manager with Cadillac Fairview, Dorais started his long-standing international career gaining invaluable retail experience with Swiss conglomerate Manor AG / Maus Freres SA in 1991. Before joining Al Nassma Chocolate LLC as Director of Sales in 2012, he was with Cacaos Favarger in Geneva, Kraft Foods, Nestle International Travel Retail in Switzerland, Perfetti van Melle Middle East and Al Ghurair Foods. Dorais has developed a profound specialist knowledge of the European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. In addition, he was elected in 2014 & 2016 into the Tax-Free World Association’s Management Committee representing the confectionery and fine foods category in promoting the interests of the $65-bn global duty free / travel retail industry.

Naim Maadad, Chief Executive - Gates Hospitality

Naim Maadad come 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. Maadad’s philosophy and approach are simple – connecting like-minded investors, operators and brands to define concepts, successful portfolios and continue to shape the hospitality industry.

Nadine Benchaffai, Co-founder & Managing Partner, - Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Nadine Benchaffai started her career in the world of FMCG marketing initially at Kraft Foods in the Middle East followed by Nestle Purina in Europe and Yoplait UK Innovation. She has covered a variety of roles from brand management to strategy development and innovation processes. Thereafter, Benchaffai embarked on her MBA at London Business School and decided to take the entrepreneurship route. She joined fellow LBS alum Brandon Stephens in launching Tortilla in the UK in 2006 where she remained on the board until her move to Dubai, although she remains an investor at Tortilla. In Dubai she co-founded and launched Taqado Mexican Kitchen in 2012, which now has over 14 stores with aggressive expansion plans in place. In 2015 Benchaffai went on to launch a new concept called Park House Cafe targeting the underserved beach and park locations. She is also an investor in a number of other start-ups.

Naim Maadad, Chief Executive - Gates Hospitality

Naim Maadad come 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. Maadad’s philosophy and approach are simple – connecting like-minded investors, operators and brands to define concepts, successful portfolios and continue to shape the hospitality industry.

Nadine Benchaffai, Co-founder & Managing Partner, - Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Nadine Benchaffai started her career in the world of FMCG marketing initially at Kraft Foods in the Middle East followed by Nestle Purina in Europe and Yoplait UK Innovation. She has covered a variety of roles from brand management to strategy development and innovation processes. Thereafter, Benchaffai embarked on her MBA at London Business School and decided to take the entrepreneurship route. She joined fellow LBS alum Brandon Stephens in launching Tortilla in the UK in 2006 where she remained on the board until her move to Dubai, although she remains an investor at Tortilla. In Dubai she co-founded and launched Taqado Mexican Kitchen in 2012, which now has over 14 stores with aggressive expansion plans in place. In 2015 Benchaffai went on to launch a new concept called Park House Cafe targeting the underserved beach and park locations. She is also an investor in a number of other start-ups.

Mouna Abbassy, Founder & CEO - IZIL Beauty

The creative force behind Izil Cosmetics, Mouna Abbassy is an authentic Berber as her father descends from one of the oldest Berber families in the Atlas region. She first got deepened in Argan Oil during her assignment with the Moroccan antenna of OXFAM Quebec when she was in charge of finding funds to support Argan local co-operatives develop and modernise. Despite enjoying a successful career at one of the world’s largest beauty corporations, Abbassy stayed true to her Moroccan-Berber heritage. The traditional hammam, Argan oil and rhassoul clay were just some of the natural staples of her beauty routine that inspired her to establish an all-natural skincare brand, IZIL Beauty. But it was only in September 2012, when she started investigating the possibility of creating a business on her own. Seven years and a lot of hard work later, IZIL Beauty is now an accomplished brand.

Mohammed Dhedhi, Principal - A.T. Kearney Consumer and Retail Middle East and Africa

Mohammed Dhedhi has over 15 years of experience in North America and the Middle East helping clients tackle their more critical agenda items. His work is focused on consumer and retail industries where he has advised on several cross-functional topics, including corporate and growth strategy, M&A, sales improvement and broader transformation programmes. His work has demonstrated impactful and measurable top and bottom-line results for his clients. Dhedhi has an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business and is a Computer Engineer from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mohammad Iqbal Alawi, Chairman - SAHAT Property Management Co.

Mohammad Iqbal Alawi is the chairman at SAHAT Property Management Co. in Saudi Arabia. He has more than 25 years of experience in managing and operating properties, assets, facilities, mixed-use buildings and commercial centres with some of the most prestigious companies in Saudi Arabia and the GCC. An industry veteran, Alawi wears many hats; he is chairman & partner at Saudi Sand Souvenir Co and B&T Brands and Trade Services Middle East DMCC. Being well-versed in operations and marketing, Alawi has created two epic retail shopping centres in Saudi Arabia – Hera Community Mall and Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. He also carries in his career a portfolio of eight other shopping malls, which were developed during his tenure with Savola. Alawi has also been part of Al Amoudi, Majid Al Futtaim and SKAB. He is a member with the promotions and events committee at JCCI and a member with the National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh.

Mohamed Galal, CEO - Dar Al Osool

Mohamed Galal is the CEO of Dar Al Osool Real Estate Company. A real estate veteran, he was the President & CEO of TSM CRENOVATIONS Egypt, a leading real estate retail mall management consultancy firm with focus on retail shopping malls development and mixed-use residential management. TSM CRENOVATIONS has been in the Egypt market for 10 years with success stories of 47 active shopping pavilions and centres, 7 regional retail and hypermarket launches in Cairo in the principal secondary cities of Egypt. Over two decades Galal has contributed to the launch of major players in the Egypt market with his debut as Majid Al Futtaim Misr country head, followed by DANDY Transworld Egypt, DORRA CAPITAL Group and SODIC Egypt.

Mohamed Attia, General Manager – Business Development - Al-Othaim Leisure & Tourism Co

Mohamed Attia is an energetic professional who always converts challenges in any circumstances to a win- win solution. That’s why he is known for his own strategic plans to turn in a right direction of business with the aim to accomplish company goals.  He comes with rich experience of 18 years of in the leisure sector. Although he has earned a degree in Master of Business Administration from repute university, Attia is a self-starter and ever-keen to do a challenging job with his team. He is a cherished leader with solid leisure experience and his quest is constantly to achieve more to do as well apply best leisure practices which add value to business. Currently, he is with Al-Othaim Leisure & Tourism Co, a subsidiary of Al-Othaim Group in Saudi Arabia. He has been enjoying his work with a huge expansion of leisure business within the MENA region as well oversees a five-year robust expansion plan in Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and countries in Eastern and Western Africa and Central Asia.

Milat Sayra Berirmen, Digital Innovation Director - Reem Mall

In August 2018, Harvard-alumni Milat Sayra Berirmen was announced as Reem Mall Abu Dhabi’s Digital Innovation Director in line with the developer’s ambition to turn the $1.2 billion mega mall into the world’s first fully digitally enabled mall – unequivocally reinventing the shopping centre experience for both retailer and customer. Berirmen has previously worked for some of the world’s leading business conglomerates such as Godiva, Ulker, Unilever and Northstar Innovation. He will be responsible for developing business strategies, assessing and analysing relevant digital technology providers, developing comprehensive ecosystems pertinent to the application of digital technologies and supervising the overall execution of the strategy of Reem Mall.

Megha Kapoor, Head of Performance Marketing - AYM Commerce

Megha Kapoor is head of performance marketing at AYM Commerce. She is a data and performance-driven marketing executive with over 12 years of success in developing highly successful, award-winning marketing programmes and advertising campaigns. Before joining AYM in May 2017, Kapoor built her career at some of the region’s biggest online lifestyle apps and transportation networks, The Entertainer & Careem, where she played an instrumental part in building and executing marketing strategies to reach customers throughout their journey on the platforms and outside ecosystems. At AYM Commerce, Kapoor’s major focus is leading marketing efforts for partner Danube Online. She, alongside AYM’s innovative marketing team, have been instrumental in establishing Danube Online’s position as the region’s leading e-commerce grocery platform. Kapoor has Bachelor of Commerce from Delhi Collage of Arts and Commerce and an MBA from the International Management Institute, New Delhi, India.

Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman - Shurooq

Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal is the Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and is one of the key business leaders in Sharjah. His career with Shurooq began as CEO of the authority in 2009 until mid-2018, after which he became the Executive Chairman under an Emiri decree by HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah. Al Sarkal has led the authority by realising the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and established Shurooq as the driving force behind the transformation of Sharjah as a key investment, tourism and business destination in the region. Al Sarkal led major developments and projects by Shurooq covering tourism, environment, healthcare, logistics, light manufacturing, education and real estate, which has contributed to its on-going success story.

Marwan Eskandarani, Group Business Development Director – GCC - Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Marwan Eskandarani has worked with the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group since 1999, first starting in the sales team in Jeddah. He progressed within six months to a role in retail operations management within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was followed by a move to Dubai where he supported the opening of operations across the remainder of the GCC states. In 2006, Eskandarani took over business development, where during the past 12 years he has acquired 500+ stores for the business in seven countries and over 50 cities. Today as a Business Development Director, he manages all corporate relationships with landlords and developers in the region, with a focus in growing the business via profitable and strong locations.

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 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. The organisation’s key focus has been to target specific market sectors and evolve a retail strategy in line with shifting global trends. Tesseyman has driven the change management agenda placing customers first, improving performance and transforming the way the company operates. He 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. Prior to his current role, Tesseyman held key senior positions at both large corporate PLC companies as well as family-owned organisations. He is also familiar with private equity-backed businesses.

Mark Lack, CEO - Urban Foods

Mark Lack is a seasoned retailer with over 35 years of experience in leading major international, multi-regional, multi-cultural and multi-format retail, wholesale and FMCG companies. He specialises in developing and executing efficient store operations, improving the customer experience and loyalty engagement through training, empowering and engaging colleagues at all levels.

Manoj Ganapathy, Division Manager – Visitors Management & Robotics Division - Jacky's Business Solutions

Manoj Ganapathy is the Divisional Manager at Jacky Business Solutions, and possesses over two decades of Gulf experience in various fields of electronics, office/industry automation, physical security, point of sale, auto identification and data capture solutions etc., in the UAE. He has an educational background in Electronics & Communication Engineering and post-graduation in Marketing Management. He has a fair amount of techno-commercial experience with a proven and verifiable track record in the market. Before joining Jacky’s Business Solutions, Ganapathy has served leading companies such as Almoe Digital Solutions, Pixel Digital Solutions and Emirates Photo Marketing. He has executed several prestigious projects in the retail, hospitality, entertainment, theme parks, airports, government and education sectors. He is currently responsible to handle various vertical market solutions comprising queue management solution, feedback management solution, robots, digital signage solution, in-store radio, currency counting solutions and smart vending solutions.

Manish Das Group, Chief Officer – Franchise Retail - Jashanmal Group

Manish Das heads the Jashanmal Group’s Franchise Retail Business, with a portfolio including international brands like Bally, Paul & Shark, Brooks Brothers, Stuart Weitzman, Clarks, Calvin Klein Underwear, Max & Co, T M Lewin and Kipling, to name a few. His wide corporate role and responsibilities included setting up the shared services vertical comprising Finance, IT, HR, Logistics and Legal. He is also responsible for the Group’s Joint Ventures which include Burberry, Christian Dior, Faces (Kuwait) and Coty (Calvin Klein Perfumes) and often acts as an Alternate Director for the Chairman of Jashanmal Group on these joint ventures. He has also handled several legal matters to successful conclusion, including a very complex, significant and material International Arbitration (LCIA) matter for the Group. Prior to joining the Group, Das has held various leadership positions in Ernst and Young, Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse. He was the Dubai Government’s representative to the World Bank and IMF as the finance team leader of Dubai 2003 – the body set up by the Dubai Government to conduct the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Dubai in 2003.

Malik Shehab, Co-founder & CEO - Golden Scent

Malik Shehab is the Co-founder and CEO of the beauty and lifestyle e-commerce platform Golden Scent. A Saudi national, Shehab brings a track record of entrepreneurial successes and financial management to his role. He is a financial expert who has worked in Germany. He also has experience in project management and deal-making in regional markets. Shehab believes in the power of start-ups in contributing to national economies and addressing the needs of the market. Golden Scent, for instance, is specifically designed to bring a range of fragrances and beauty products to the GCC market. Shehab’s network of connections, long-term business relationships and ability to harness investment for innovative ideas make him ideally suited to his entrepreneurial role. He firmly believes that success comes from innovating rapidly, discipline and being brave enough to follow through with promising ideas. He holds a Science in Finance & Accounting degree from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt.

Mahmoud Gao, Founder & CEO - Mr. Draper

Mahmoud Gao is the founder and CEO of Mr. Draper, a curated shopping service that leverages data and technology to provide a convenient and personalised shopping experience. Prior to launching Mr. Draper, Gao started his career in the US at one at Accenture, working in management and strategy consulting. Wanting a complete change of pace, he left the US for Dubai to start his career at one of the region’s leading luxury retailers, Chalhoub Group. It was at Chalhoub Group that Gao acquired a taste for fashion and luxury, which he would soon leverage to launch Mr. Draper. Born in Syria, Gao grew up in the US and holds two degrees from West Virginia University in finance and accounting. Mr. Draper is an Arabnet top 10 start up to watch, a portfolio of San-Francisco based VC 500 start-ups and winner of the Sheraa Series A programme.

Mahmoud Bartawi, Co-founder - Under500

UAE National Mahmoud Bartawi is a corporate banker and entrepreneur, specialising in the business development and management of Under500, a Dubai-based healthy café concept. Bartawi holds a Business Degree from the American University of Sharjah and a Masters in International Business from the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Observing a gap in the market for nutritious food concepts that are affordable and offer taste, Bartawi set out to develop a business around his belief of healthy living and eating. Since the inception of Under500 in 2016, the company has now expanded to many restaurants across popular areas of Dubai, with plans for future expansion. Bartawi believes in contributing to the UAE’s 2021 Vision, through his business that will help to facilitate change, and is keen to see obesity rates lowered, life expectancy increased and the happiness factor go up. His vision for Under500 is to develop it commercially and financially into the top three healthy food brands in the region.

Maha Morley-Kirk, CEO - Pinky Goat

With her strong fashion & makeup background coupled to her entrepreneurial spirit, it was only really a matter of time until Maha Morley-Kirk founded Pinky Goat. Lebanese by birth, she has spent most of her adult life in fashion, firstly as the Head of Visual Merchandising for H&M across all of the Middle East. The she spent three years living in Poland prior to returning to Lebanon where she was the Head Franchisee for Inglot Cosmetics. Pinky Goat was launched in 2015 with her partner Elle Hardy and the brand hasn’t looked back; with its unique lash collections, Pinky Goat quickly established itself both regionally and internationally. Today, Pinky Goat is available in well over 1,500 retail locations with many more in the pipeline. When not busy running the Pinky Goat business or visiting her stores or factories, Morley-Kirk is a busy mother, focused on keeping fit and healthy.

Luz Villamil, Deputy Director - Cinema Akil

Luz Salem Villamil oversees partnerships and business development at Cinema Akil, and is the creator of Alternativo Latino, the UAE’s first Latin American Film Week. A self-identifying third culture kid, Villamil was born in Bogota to a Palestinian father and Colombian mother, raised in Fujairah and now lives and works in Dubai. She holds more than 11 years’ experience in media, production and film in the UAE and started her career developing the BBC Middle East Business Report in 2008, upon graduation from the American University of Sharjah. She currently sits on the jury of the 10th Zayed University Middle East Film Festival (ZUMEFF) 2019 and is a recurring guest on Dubai Eye 103.8 FM on the Reel Review talking all things Cinema Akil.

Lucy Chow, Director - Women’s Angel Investor Network

Lucy Chow is focused on the innovation space, both in terms of supporting founders and as an investor. She is a Director of WAIN (Women’s Angel Investor Network) and is a LP with Mindshift Capital. Chow was appointed Senator (UAE) at the Grand Assembly, World Business Angel Forum (WBAF) and is a Board Member of the Global Start-up and Women Executive Committees. She is also an investor with NextWave Ventures and the Founder Institute, both based out of the US. During her 12 years in Dubai, Chow has garnered a strong reputation for originating business focused events that target captains of industry, as well as trendsetters in the UAE through her firm, The Elements Group. She is Chairman of the Steering Committee with The Capital Club (a prestigious private business and social club located in the Dubai International Financial Centre), Member of the Advisory Board, Canadian Business Council, and founded the Dubai Chapter of Room to Read. Previously, she sat on the UAE committee for Acumen, was Non-Executive Director for Educate Girls Globally and was a Co-Chapter Chair for Techfugees (UAE) and Ellevate.

Leena Khalil, Co-founder - Mumzworld

Leena Khalil is the Co-founder of Mumzworld, responsible for the developmental strategy and growth of the business in the GCC. Khalil felt compelled to join Mona Ataya, the CEO of Mumzworld, in establishing a comprehensive bilingual online shopping and information portal dedicated to everything mother, baby and child that empowers mothers in the region. Khalil has previously worked for Liberata, a leading business process outsourcer. She started her career in investment banking at a San Francisco investment bank focused on the technology sector. She brings a wealth of experience to her role, combining strong analytical and financial skills with the ability to develop technology driven processes that increase access, reduce costs and improve quality. Khalil’s experience also extends to the listing of a number of Europe’s leading internet and technology firms during her time at Citigroup and Robertson Stephens International. She holds a BA in Electrical Engineering from Cambridge University.

Leanne Sherlock, Co-founder - Safe Space

Leanne Sherlock is a passionate Brand and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of experience. She can provide strategic and practical advice to boost a company’s marketing efforts. She has the ability to plan any marketing strategy and implement all activities needed to support the strategy. In addition, Sherlock is someone who is ready to make a difference – focusing her efforts in growing a social enterprise – Safe Space – that is devoted to improving mental wellbeing in society.

Laurent Guitart, CEO - Circle K UAE

Laurent Guitart has over 22 years of experience in retail with wide experience across verticals – including hypermarket, central purchase and leading international franchise of convenience stores. Currently, Guitart is the CEO of Convenience Arabia, Circle K master franchise in the UAE. Guitart grew the Circle K UAE business to 36 convenience stores, signed premium locations as Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Queen Elisabeth II Hotel and also partnered with Dubai Summer Sport Event in Dubai World Trade Center. The number of Circle K customers increased from 4.6 to 6 million per annum. Prior to join Circle K, Guitart was the general manager of retail subsidiary of DAS Holding based in Abu Dhabi. From 2006-11 Guitart was in charge of Hyperpanda non-food purchase & merchandising department in Dubai Festival City branch. Prior to 2006, he was head of non-food in Geant Casino in France for a period of eight years. Guitart holds a Bachelor of Commerce and retail with a Major in Negotiation from Rive Gauche University, France.

Kunal Kapoor, Founder & CEO - The Luxury Closet

Initially sales manager at Louis Vuitton in Mall of the Emirates, Kunal Kapoor noticed how the brand never went on sale, as coveted as it was by many. This brought him to think of ways to democratise luxury and sell items at a lower price, which lead to him founding his own company. The Luxury Closet is a marketplace for new and pre-loved luxury items for top designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier and Rolex. The company that started in his own apartment, now has close to 80 employees, across the UAE, KSA and India. The company raised over $18 million from leading regional investors like MEVP, Wamda Capital and Precinct. The site now features the largest luxury catalogue in the region with 22,000+ unique styles and customers from over 40 countries each year.

Kristine Lasam, Head of Branding and Integrated Marketing - Accenture Interactive – Middle East and Turkey

Kristine Lasam is a go-getter and passionate digital and strategy executive with over 15 years’ experience in advising and operating businesses in MENA. She demonstrates experience in a full range of transformational digital business operations aimed at traction and growth. Lasam has looked after a formidable list of global household brands like PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, COTY USA, Bombardier as well as helped launched rising start-ups. With several successful case studies published in her belt, she is a sought-after voice in the digital, media and technology space and has regularly provided mentorship in the UAE circles like to In5, GITEX, SBWC and UAE Innovation Week, among others. In her capacity as Head of Branding and Integrated Marketing in the Middle East for Accenture Interactive, her mandate and passion are anchored on marrying the right and the left brain, delivering powerful strategies for brand and communications engagement, creating compelling content that converts, ideas that can scale and impact that flexes the needle.

Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director - Dubai Design District

Khadija Al Bastaki plays a key role in positioning Dubai Design District (d3) both regionally and globally through strategic development, cultural programming and partnerships. Al Bastaki continues to focus on building d3’s profile as the leading destination for design, art and culture. Her responsibilities include enabling a strong design community, attracting and nurturing home-grown design talents and elevating the UAE culture and design scene to a global level. She also manages the implementation of d3’s business vision and future growth plans. Al Bastaki brings to her role more than 14 years of executive experience. Prior to her current position, Al Bastaki was director of business development for Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Production City. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Strategic Management from the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi and a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering Technology from the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai.

Katia Kachan, Managing Partner - All4Founders

Katia Kachan is a cross-border business development adviser for luxury and retail companies. Her professional mission is to contribute to international development of diverse industry players, from creative tech start-ups to global brands and retailers. Kachan acquired her business acumen while working in investment banking in London and Paris, after graduating from Sciences Po Paris with a Masters of Finance in 2010. Passionate about consumer goods and luxury industries, she has worked in the corporate advisory department of Nasdaq, where she helped to raise funds for large listed multinationals of consumer discretionary and luxury sectors. After receiving an MBA from INSEAD in 2016, Kachan moved to Dubai, where she has built a cross-border match-making platform for retail and fashion tech start-ups. Her objective is to put Dubai on a world map as an innovation hub for immersive and technology-powered customer experiences, by bringing the most innovative solutions via a number of global competitions and ensuring their successful integration in retail spaces.

Jim Ragsdale, Deputy CEO – Beauty - Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Jim Ragsdale has been with Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC for over five years and is currently Deputy CEO of the Beauty Division, responsible for the management and development of Mikyajy, The Body Shop, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Nayomi Beauty Salon. Ragsdale holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies (Japan) from Yale University, along with an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He commenced his career with L’Oréal in New York and Paris. More recently, Ragsdale has held senior management positions at MH Alshaya Co. and Zohoor Alreef.

Isobel Abulhoul, Co-founder - Magrudy’s

Isobel Abulhoul was born and educated at Cambridge in the UK. She came to Dubai in 1968 and it has been home for her ever since. 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 until 2019. 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.

Ibrahim Abudyak, Co-founder - The Smash Room

Ibrahim Abudyak is a serial entrepreneur and a strategist. He excels at creating systems and processes, which guarantee businesses to thrive and operate at maximum profitability and customers’ satisfaction. He is the co-founder of Dubai’s ultimate de-stress destination, The Smash Room. Having quit the corporate world after over eight years of experience in sales, marketing, operations, CRM, customer service and business development and management, Abudyak still serves as a consultant for a number of businesses especially in the automotive industry and start-ups ecosystem. He has led his team of young entrepreneurs to top the Techstars’ 2017 Dubai Startup Weekend competition and continues to support young and aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and fulfil their passion. He enjoys building projects, systems and companies from scratch and going through the thrill of a new venture whilst leading them to thrive and grow at the same time. Abudyak’s work has been featured in a number of local, regional and international media and entrepreneurial authorities.

Ian Alexander Hunter, COO - BinSina & Holland & Barrett

Ian Alexander Hunter is a highly experienced international general manager with a first-class track record obtained across three continents. He uses deep customer insights and understanding to establish a differentiated brand position. Hunter’s extensive experience across many disciplines – marketing, commercial, supply chain as well as managing director – allows him to take a 360-degree viewpoint to any business problem and allows him to create a solution that is pragmatic allowing successful implementation. His brand building skills span from start-ups in the Far East, Thailand and Japan, where he brought the Boots brand to a new consumer to reinvigorate the iconic brand from the UK back to its pharmacy roots. He also instigated and pioneered the relaunch of British beauty brand No7 overseeing the full marketing mix through to the implementation across 1,300 stores. Hunter’s easy-going style allows others to feel relaxed with him, thereby creating a coaching and empowering environment. He has performed in diverse environments – from the challenging business environment of profit warnings and breakdown of JVs to social, political and leadership challenges of leading a business during military coup.

Hesham Almekkawi, CEO - YYT Food Corp

Hesham Almekkawi is currently the CEO of YYT Food Corp. based in Dubai and the operator of multi restaurant brands in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and KSA. He is an International Business Consultant and F&B industry expert with more than 25 years’ experience in managing global and international chains of restaurants in the US and the Middle East. He is the founder and president of AHRAMIZ FZ LLC, a leadership development and management consulting company based in Dubai. Prior to AHRAMIZ, Almekkawi was the Vice President of Hospitality for Majid Al Futtaim and COO for Kuwait Food Company (Americana) in the UAE. Prior to moving to Dubai in 2008, Almekkawi held several leadership positions with YUM! Brands and ADF Companies in New York and the Mid-Atlantic Region in the US for more than 15 years. Almekkawi holds a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Alexandria University in Egypt and EMBA from the Zicklin School of Business in New York.

Heer Lalwani, Marketing Manager - Al Ghurair Retail

Utilising creativity, innovation and passion, Heer Lalwani has successfully carried out and executed various marketing campaigns in the region. In her current role with Al Ghurair Retail, she is responsible for managing a team of three and oversees all marketing operations for brands such as Springfield and The Face Shop – including devising and implementation of strategies. Lalwani’s versatility and knowledge in the field give her a unique edge to be able to devise catchy and innovative campaigns for brands.

Heba Al Farazi, Founder & CEO - 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 Farazi is an advisor in global sourcing and non-market strategies. With strong knowledge in factories relocation for best market access, Al Farazi 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 Farazi is now on a mission to create a global revolutionary data driven platform to unite best emerging brands with the millions of people across the globe who are looking for their next unique treasure find.

Hathal Saad Alutaibi, CEO & Board Member - Alandalus Property Co.

Hathal Saad Alutaibi is the CEO and board member of Saudi Arabia-based, public listed company called Alandalus Property Company. He is also a board member of Hamat Real Estate Company and West Jeddah Hospital Co – the company that owns Dr. Suliman Alhabib Hospital in Jeddah. In his role, Alutaibi has led the company’s businesses and its super-regional malls transformation to a customer centric and shopper engaging destinations. Alutaibi holds a master’s degree in finance, post graduate diploma and bachelor degree in marketing.

Girard Moussa, Director of CX - SAP

Girard Moussa is the Director of CX at SAP leading the CX transformation across Middle East South. Moussa joined from Microsoft where he was the Cybersecurity Director for MEA. He joined the Microsoft Enterprise Cybersecurity Group as the first person on the ground in 2016 to engage with the top customers to establish Microsoft as a trusted Cybersecurity Advisor. Previous to Microsoft, Moussa was the Regional Sales Director for Splunk across the Middle East. In 2010, Girard established the Enterprise business for Google in MENA and Turkey and headed the Enterprise unit at Google until 2014. Prior to that, he held senior sales roles at multinationals including Cisco Systems, Dimension Data and Schlumberger. Moussa has over 20 years of industry and technology experience across the Middle East and Australia.

George Kunnappally, Managing Director - Nando’s UAE

A seasoned hospitality industry professional, George Kunnappally has been into franchise operations, brand development and F&B management for over 20 years. He has launched and built brands like Subway, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Whittard of Chelsea, Bateaux Dubai, Second Cup Coffee, Joe’s Café, Johnny Rockets and a host of UAE bred concepts in the Middle East, Africa and CIS regions. Starting his career with the Taj Group of Hotels in India, Kunnappally has worked at the senior management level with large conglomerates headquartered in Dubai with a MENA footprint. His previous roles were with Al Madani Group, BinHendi Enterprises, Al Faris Restaurants LLC, ADNOC Distribution. Currently, Kunnappally is the Managing Director of Nando’s Restaurants, based in Dubai. Most recently, he was Executive Director – Private Equity at Regulus Capital Limited. A graduate in Hotel Management, Kunnappally also holds a Master’s degree in Tourism Management.

Geetanjali Kaul, Co-founder - TurtleCard

A young mother with over a decade of marketing experience across a number of different industries, Geetanjali Kaul felt daunted by the task of raising a toddler and keeping him suitably engaged in various social, physical and developmental activities. This led to the launch of TurtleCard, a kid’s activity booking app. Kaul has since gone on to win first prize at the Pitch Rising finale hosted by Mompreneurs Worldwide in December 2018 and reached the top three at the competition hosted by Step Conference 2019 in February 2019. TurtleCard has been selected by Dubai Chamber of Commerce as one of the top three start-ups that will be showcased under their education pillar to schools and universities. The app continues to go from strength-to-strength working on their first round of investment in 2019. TurleCard was also in the top 50 start-ups at Smartpreneur 4.0, which was conducted by Dubai Startup Hub at Dubai Chamber of commerce, competing with over 350 start-ups.

Furqan Athar, Managing Director - McArthur + Company

Over the past two decades, Furqan 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. Furqan 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, Athar founded Retail Solutions, an investment management and advisory firm based in Dubai. He is also Managing Director of Spret Retail, a multinational retailing company with various locations across the Middle East. 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. He has extensive experience in all aspects of the shopping centre industry, more specifically in investment management and value creation.

Florencio Padilla, Head of People Experience - Chalhoub Group

Florencio Padilla has been working as an HR professional in Asia and Middle East since 2007. He is the Head of People Experience division within Group HR at Chalhoub Group. He led the division’s setup in the beginning of 2018 and development of its three-year strategy, with a strong focus on redesigning experiences in different touch points in the employees’ life cycle. He specialises in learning and development, employee engagement, organisational effectiveness and employee experience. He uses people experience data to re-design and enhance the experience of the 12,000+ employees of Chalhoub Group across the Middle East. Prior to joining Chalhoub Group, Padilla led the setup of L&D departments of a premium airline in Kuwait and a regional airline in Dubai, where he achieved great success. He helps leaders and organisations develop their people capability and enhances people engagement at work using design thinking as a methodology and a wide range of practical interventions.

Feras Almaddah, Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer - Zmakan

Feras Almaddah has over 20 years of experience serving multinational brands. He has worked with several global agencies such as Publicis across various engagements in the MENA region. Some of the clients and brands he worked with include Unilever, Samsung Electronics, Procter & Gamble, Mercedes-Benz, MMW and Mitsubishi Motors. Almaddah is the founder of Headlines PR and Events that has carried out several campaigns and events in Europe and the Middle East for companies such as Sesame Street and the Saudi Arabian government’s 2030 initiative. He is also the co-founder & chief marketing officer for Saudi Arabia-based home-grown brand Zmakan.

Fabrice Le Boulenger, CEO - Grandiose Supermarket

With over two decades of food retail experience in Europe, South America, Africa and the Middle East, Fabrice Le Boulenger currently holds the position of CEO of Grandiose Supermarket in the UAE. Le Boulenger started his career by opening his own French restaurant chains in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to the Carrefour Group, where he spent the majority of his work experience, working in retail operations and development, in four different continents. After launching Carrefour operations across three countries in West Africa, he decided to join UAE-based Ghassan Aboud Group (GAG), to dedicate his energy in the development of new concept stores in the region. In his current position, Le Boulenger is leading the partnership between GAG and Intermarche, the third biggest food retailer in France, to expand a unique and modern style of supermarkets under the name of ‘Grandiose Partnaire Intermarche’ in the UAE. Le Boulenger is passionate about gastronomy and dreams of an environment that encompasses fair trade, eco-friendly initiatives and plastic-free for the new generation of customers.

Elli Kasbi, Founder & CEO - Elli Junior

Elli Kasbi is a mother of two and has been living in Dubai for the last five years. Established in 2017 by Elli Kasbi When Kasbi moved to the UAE, she I noticed a gap in the children’s market – high-quality and beautiful baby items with a Scandinavian design touch and focus on sustainability. A huge fan of the Swedish brand Elodie Details, Kasbi decided to bring it to the GCC, and that’s how Elli Junior started in 2017. Today, Elli Junior is the exclusive distributor for some of the best Swedish brands, including Elodie Details, JaBaDaBaDo and Kids Concept. Elli Junior sells through its e-shop, as well as through high-end brands such as Level Kids, Bumble Bee and House of Fraser in Abu Dhabi. Elli Junior offers functional and innovative baby products that live up to the motto of making ‘big differences for small people’. Without any prior knowledge of the industry and market in less than two years, Kasbi has ensured growth for Elli Junior by being profitable and present in 20 stores across the UAE.

Elena Weber, Founder and Managing Director - ICONS Coffee Couture

Model turned entrepreneur, Elena Weber is the founder and managing director of ICONS Coffee Couture – a café that blends glamour with health & wellness. Launched in 2012, Weber signed the first franchisee for ICONS in 2013, which led to the opening of ICONS Coffee Couture outlet at Souk al Bahar in The Dubai Mall. Between 2014 and 2018 Weber undertook expansion of ICONS Coffee Couture, signing the master franchise of Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. In 2018, the first ICONS branch opened in Austria. Currently, Weber operates 11 owned ICONS Coffee Couture branches in the UAE, with 50+ signed and upcoming franchise branches internationally.

Ebraheem Al Samadi, CEO Retail - Al Samadi Group

An entrepreneur from the age of 14, Ebraheem Al Samadi launched his very first business out of his mother’s Florida apartment selling thrift shop clothing and items on eBay, a stint which eventually earned him one of eBay’s coveted “1000 Power Sellers” awards. He joined the family business in 2010 as CEO of Retail, headed up by his father Husni Al Samadi. The Al-Samadi family later expanded their business interests into the Middle East, with Dubai as their operational hub. Today Al Samadi energetically pursues new opportunities wherever they arise. With brands, products and successful business models sourced from the US, Canada and Europe, the company portfolio is diverse and continues to expand. Al Samadi’s driving force has long been the desire to fully support his family, as well as striving to ensure he creates an environment which first and foremost promotes happiness amongst employees and colleagues. By taking successful business models and proven products and applying local knowledge, Al Samadi now treats the UAE to the best the world has to offer.

Duncan Fraser-Smith, Vice President of F&B - The First Group

Duncan Fraser-Smith has spent the past 26 years in the hospitality industry, spanning Australia, Asia and the Middle East. During the past 10 years, he has been in the Middle East in key corporate food and beverage roles within the hospitality industry. In 2013, he established “The Cutting Edge Agency” and opened several outlets in the region including Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton’s Marina Social as well as Michelin starred Chef Greg Malouf’s Cle in the DIFC as well as Intersect by Lexus, to name a few. As Vice President of The First Group’s Food and Beverage division, he created and executed six new outlets for the group during his first year, for its newly formed standalone division. Through Fraser-Smith’s expertise, The First Group was able to secure the right to conceptualise and operate the world’s first Masterchef-branded restaurant called MasterChef, the TV Experience, which opened in Dubai in late April 2019.

Charbel Lahoud, Head of Digital Scouting - Chalhoub Group

Charbel Lahoud is the Head of Digital Scouting for luxury retailer Chalhoub Group. Lahoud has worked for more than eight years in a global management consulting firm, across industries supporting companies – crafting and implementing their digital transformation plan. He joined Chalhoub Group four years ago and incubated the e-commerce activities for the group. Lahoud is currently in charge of building strategic partnerships in the digital ecosystem and leading the efforts towards building the ‘store of the future’.

Chang Sup Shin, CEO - 1004 Gourmet

Chang Sup Shin is the CEO of 1004 Gourmet, a Dubai-based Asian speciality food retail brand that also supplies to the likes of Carrefour; Nobu at Atlantis, The Palm; Burj Al Arab; Armani Hotel; and Zuma. Shin has reshaped 1004 Gourmet into a high-end concept store with an expansive product line, inclusive of an Asian supermarket, a premium butchery, a speciality coffee shop and a Korean cosmetics store Lamise Beauty. In 1987, Shin left his hometown in South Korea and journeyed across the world gathering the expertise and know-how to allow for his current success in Dubai. After obtaining his Business Management degree from Penn State University in the US, he navigated the financial crisis of 2008 in New York whilst working within the real estate industry. With both business acumen and hard graft, Shin launched 1004 Mart in Dubai in 2008, stocking and distributing Japanese products and fresh produce from one of the world’s largest seafood markets, Tsukiji, to over 250 restaurants across the UAE.

Carole Moawad, Co-founder - M’OISHÎ

Born and raised in Lebanon, Carole Moawad has a degree in chemistry, and is the co-founder of M’OISHÎ, UAE’s first and only home-grown mochi ice-cream manufacturer. It was during her visit to Beirut that Moawad first came across mochi ice-creams at a Japanese restaurant, and instantly fell in love with everything about this unique dessert. She began to lay the foundations for her ‘dream project’ soon, working on launching M’OISHÎ, alongside her hectic 9-5 insurance job. From preparing and experimenting with a variety of flavours and recipes at her own home to carrying out photoshoots at her partner’s house and partnering with a start-up agency in Lebanon for all branding material, the initial few months of M’OISHÎ were incredibly difficult and challenging. In March 2017, Moawad opened her first M’OISHÎ store in City Walk, Dubai. Today, there are 13 M’OISHÎ cafés across the UAE and one franchise in Saudi Arabia, with the aim to soon expand the Japanese café concept to Europe, North Africa and the US.

Butheina Kazim, Founder & Managing Director - Cinema Akil

Butheina Kazim is the Co-founder of Cinema Akil – the first arthouse cinema in Dubai and the Gulf region. She was a Fulbright scholar of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU and has worked as a project manager in television and radio stations in the UAE at media conglomerates Arab Media Group and Dubai Media Incorporated. Kazim has been involved in programming cinema pop-ups, including Abu Dhabi Film Festival at The Pavilion and a Focus on the UAE programme at the Short Film Week (Kurzfilmwoche) in Regensburg, Germany. She is the producer of short documentary ‘Letters to Palestine’; winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (2010). Kazim was on the jury for the iEmmys Asia & Africa Competition, the International Competition at the Regensburg Kurzfilmwoch (Short Film Week), Imagine Science Film Festival AD, A Shaded View on Fashion Films (ASVOFF) in Paris at the Centre Pompidou and is a member of the UAE Academy Award Committee.

Bernhard Heiden, Chief Strategy Officer & Creative Director - Schweitzer Group & Interstore

Bernhard Heiden has worked for 18 years as an architect and visual merchandising expert in various areas of responsibility for Manor, one of the largest department store chains in Switzerland. Meanwhile, he has been Creative Director of Interstore for over 19 years. He has a passion for working in different areas of fashion and food, for different markets and at different levels. This passion, combined with the constant question about how to turn them into a successful retail format, makes his work stand out. Moreover, as Chief Strategy Officer of the Schweitzer Group, he further develops the corporate strategy together with the company owner Bernhard Schweitzer.

Bahaneh Dehghani, Green Founder - Happy Bubble

A civil engineer by profession, Bahaneh Dehghani Green’s creative spirit led to the inception of Happy Bubble and a gradual career switch. What started off as a passion project on the side “ballooned” into a full-time role. Happy Bubble is famous for personalised bubble balloons and balloon installations in the UAE. From handpicking raw materials to supporting local artists, Green indulges herself in the research and creative process. Taking the plunge in a saturated industry, Green prides herself in bringing something unique to the table. She also hopes to set an example as a pioneering female entrepreneur in the UAE. Green has created branded balloon invitations for the renowned French jewellery Maison Van Cleef & Arpels, organised a massive balloon-drop for a fashion show by Level Kids in collaboration with UNICEF and decorated a 25-meter-long wall with approximately 9,000 colourful balloons for charity organisation, Al Jalila Foundation. Happy Bubble has also provided festive décor for du, L’Oreal, Charlotte Tilbury, L’Occitane, Cartier, Huda Beauty and several others.

Ashish Shukla, CEO - Cinépolis Gulf

Ashish Shukla is the CEO of Cinépolis Gulf. In his role, Shukla is responsible for adapting Cinépolis International best practices in cinemas under the banner ‘Cinépolis Gulf’, which commenced operations in Bahrain and Oman in 2019 and will soon launch in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. With his expertise and experience, Shukla brings on board an extensive first-hand experience in film exhibition, hospitality, retail and real estate. He is adept at technological integration with rich experience in selection, application of relevant and emerging technologies in pursuit of exceeding business goals. With hospitality roots and over two decades of experience, Shukla has successfully established multiple businesses from start-up phase to full-blown scalable businesses in his professional journey viz. Cinépolis India, Bharti Retail (Walmart India), PVR Cinemas. Shukla is always enthusiastic to think creative, providing unique concepts and innovations to the projects he is associated with.

Armin Jamula, Co-founder & CEO - ItsHerWay.com

Armin Jamula is the co-founder & CEO (or SheEO) of ItsHerWay, a platform that supports and empowers passionate and creative business driven women in the region. the platform’s mission is to enable and accelerate financial independence of women who have a passion and want to make profits from it. ItsHerWay not only supports them through the community built together but also through actual commerce driven channels where they can sell their products, services and skill. It is a social enterprise formed by women for women to excel and become more independent and confident human beings. Jamula and her business partner Alita Rodrigues believe that the more women they can empower, the more they contribute towards breaking the gender barriers to create a better world one step at a time. Through ItsHerWay’s commerce channels – including ItsHerStore.com and ItsHerSkill.com –a sustained income is ensured to the #shepreneurs through sale and scale of the individual microbusinesses.

Amit Yadav, Head of Marketing - 2XL Furniture & Home Décor

Amit Yadav is the head of marketing for home-grown luxury home furnishings brand 2XL Furniture & Home Décor with nine exclusive showrooms across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah and Al Ain. He joined the company in 2016 and is responsible for strategic brand management and strong market positioning of 2XL Furniture & Home while leading the enterprise-wide integrated brand and media strategy. In addition, he overseas customer research and market analytics to create conceptual branding and marketing campaigns across the various distribution channels. With an outstanding all-round experience of nearly 12 years, and a diploma in Digital Marketing from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta, Yadav represents the successful leadership model at 2XL and has been playing an instrumental role in supporting the luxury brand’s vision and long-term growth and expansion. Yadav began his career at the Reliance Trends Ltd in 2007 and progressively worked his way up gaining valuable experience with diverse and leading companies such as BinHendi Enterprises, Pure Gold Jewellers and Lifestyle & BeautyBay – Landmark Group.

Amit Dhamanim, Managing Director - Dhamani Jewels Group

Amit Dhamani is the Managing Director of Dhamani Jewels Group. He started his career with setting up office for the Group in Bangkok in 1989. During these 30 years, the Dhamani Group has evolved from gem and diamond wholesale business to having notable fine jewellery brands as Dhamani 1969, Dhamani Jewels, DuSoul and Laviere with Dubai as headquarters. Dhamani is a Harvard Business School Alumni and is on the Board of Director at the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) & The Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group and in the Board of Governors of GIA (Gemological Institute of America).

Akanksha Goel, Founder & Managing Director - Socialize

Akanksha Goel is the Founder of Socialize (2010), an independent social media agency, recognised amongst the country’s top performing businesses and included in Dubai’s prestigious SME100 ranking (2015). Goel was nominated as Emirates Woman of The Year in 2013. She is also the Founder of FrontRow.ae, Middle East’s first curated network of social media influencers.

Ahmed Ragab, CEO and Executive Board Member - BRG Holding 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.

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, COO - Shurooq

Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer graduated from Dubai Men’s College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology. In 2002 he started his career at The Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) in the Government & Corporate Segment and worked as senior sales support and senior sales executive for four years. In 2006, he joined the Al Qasba Development Authority as a business development manager and was promoted to director of business development in 2008, forming an integral part of the team that transformed Al Qasba into a popular leisure and tourism destination. Following his highly successful track record with Al Qasba, Al Qaseer played a key role in the establishment of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), where he held the position of director of property management in 2010, being in charge of property, operations, sales and leasing. Since then he has been promoted to become Shurooq’s Chief Operating Officer in 2011, being responsible for the operational execution of all of Shurooq’s projects and destinations.

Ahmed Kazim, Co-founder - Project Chaiwala

A millennial raised in a traditional Emirati neighbourhood, following his ancestors’ footsteps through determined hard work and commitment, Ahmed Kazim was capable of working his way up into a career through audit and financial advisory at Deloitte, a globally recognised firm. After finally realising his entrepreneurial streak, Kazim partnered with his colleague to provide the real chai (tea) experience and ‘add life to life’ through the birth of Project Chaiwala.

Speakers 2018

Mazen Qandeel, Executive Director, Granada Investment Center Organization

Mazen Qandeel is currently the Executive Director of Granada Investment Center Organization, which manages the well-known Granada Complex in Riyadh City. Granada Center and Granada Business Park are the major two components in this complex. Qandeel is in this position since October 2017. Before that he was handling the leasing department in Hamat Property Co for almost four and half years and. Qandeel has handled 22 different scales of retail projects in 10 different cities in Saudi Arabia. From 2010 till 2013, he worked in Research and Capital Markets departments in Jones Lang LaSalle. In 2008, Qandeel graduated from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals with Bachelor in Marketing.

Mazen Qandeel
Executive Director / Granada Investment Center Organization

Rachel McArthur, Founder & Managing Editor, Digital Ink Media

Rachel McArthur is a Dubai-based journalist and editor, with over a decade of experience in digital, print and broadcast media. She is the Founder and Managing Editor of Digital Ink Media, a provider that curates exclusive content – including editorial copy, photography and video – for some of the region’s best-known media outlets and brands. Having edited/been published in titles such as ‘T Emirates: The New York Times Magazine’, Thomson Reuters and Wamda, McArthur covers a range of topics – lifestyle to B2B – with a keen interest in Islamic Economy industries, science and medicine, Middle Eastern entrepreneurship, motoring and entertainment. In addition to her role at Digital Ink, McArthur is a contributor to online portal Al Arabiya, UAE newspaper Gulf News and appears as a current affairs commentator on ‘The Agenda’ on Dubai Eye 103.8FM.

Rachel McArthur
Founder & Managing Editor / Digital Ink Media

Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer, Dubai Duty Free

Ramesh Cidambi is the Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free (DDF) and is responsible for all aspects of the company’s operation and reporting to the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Colm McLoughlin. His responsibilities include both the retail and leisure business of DDF. Prior to his current role, Cidambi has held a variety of senior positions in the company with responsibility for areas such as information technology, logistics, retail development in both of Dubai’s airports and the DDF Leisure business through the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel and Irish Village Bar and Restaurant (in two locations). He has been with DDF for over 30 years, and during which time it has grown to be one of the world’s largest airport retailers in a single location with sales of just under $2 billion in 2017. He also maintains his links with the domestic retail market through the Network International’s Merchants Advisory Board, VISA Advisory Council for CEMEA and within the Steering Committee of the Retail Business Group (under the Dubai Chamber of Commerce).

Ramesh Cidambi
Chief Operating Officer / Dubai Duty Free

Vic Bageria, Chief Visionary Officer, Xpandretail

Crediting his business acumen, vision and innovative to his early entry into the dynamic retail sector, entrepreneur, Vic Bageria has a tried and tested formula for success that relies on 5% strategy, 15% positioning and 80% execution – where you plan it, stick to it, execute it and keep moving forward to achieve success. Bageria is passionate about helping brands establish strategies to sustain loyal consumer clientele, and has a proven talent for blending sales techniques with insights into client needs and expectations, and in-depth knowledge of product lines and services, to help guide clients in their decisions. Distinguished by his passion for business, Bageria demonstrates tactical leadership and sector-specific expertise. His contagious enthusiasm, dedication and approach to collaboration ensures a maximised revenue and increase market share for clients.

Vic Bageria
Chief Visionary Officer / Xpandretail
Tarek Ahmed-Venture Growth Manager, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center – Sheraa

Tarek Ahmed

Tarek Ahmed Fouad is venture growth manager at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center – Sheraa, spearheading Sheraa’s accelerator programme to contribute to Sharjah’s vision in becoming the entrepreneurial hub of the Middle East. He brings in over 8 years of experience in leading business entities and an extensive background in strategic marketing and lean business models. Fouad founded Lean International in 2012, which was sold off to a private equity firm, and cofounded Wakil Technologies, a blockchain government services portal, earlier this year. He has also worked with the likes of TechWadi in Silicon Valley as UAE’s country manager. The young business entrepreneur has published numerous research papers in both engineering and marketing fields and was a motivational speaker in various events held by the Dubai government and TEDx. Fouad holds a Master’s degree in control engineering and an MBA from the prestigious London Business School. He is also a certified personal trainer, life-coach, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist.

Venture Growth Manager / Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center – Sheraa
Sian Rowlands-Owner & Chief Storyteller RETOLD

Sian Rowlands

An award-winning F&B and hospitality designer by profession, Sian Rowlands has successfully created and developed several large-scale design projects. Rowlands originally conceived the idea for My Ex Wardrobe when studying for her LEED Green Associate qualification. As the qualification focused on sustainable living, she embarked on a journey to lead a lower-impact lifestyle. Based on this experience, she identified a gap in the local market for a sustainable concept. My Ex Wardrobe rapidly skyrocketed and Rowlands was recognised with two business awards within the first six months. After several years of pursuing My Ex Wardrobe on the side, an inspiring meeting on a trek to Everest's base camp lead her to enter and win an impressive business competition. This meeting also introduced Rowlands to her new business partner. Launching the brand's first permanent boutique also inspired a rebrand. Rowlands continues telling the story of pre-loved fashion under a different name. This is the core philosophy behind RETOLD.

Owner & Chief Storyteller / RETOLD
Saad Umerani,-Co-Founder & CEO, Protein Bakeshop

Saad Umerani

Saad Umerani is the co-founder and CEO of Protein Bakeshop, a Dubai-based healthy snacks company founded in 2014. Protein Bakeshop develops healthy, guilt-free snacks that don’t compromise on taste. Umerani is also passionate about start-ups and technology. He is the founding partner at Enabling Future, a Dubai-based venture capital firm that makes seed and early stage investments in companies in the US and MENA. Some of their notable investments include Cowlar, Thrive Market, Aspiration, AlemHealth, Aspiration and Protein Bakeshop. He is a former technology and social entrepreneur, he founded two fintech software programmes which add efficiency to banks’ lending and KYC processes in the Middle East. The software is currently used by 40 banks in the region and is owned by his family business, ValuStrat. Umerani has previously worked in investment banking, management consulting and technology sectors in the Middle East. He received his bachelor’s in engineering from McMaster University in Canada.

Co-Founder & CEO / Protein Bakeshop
Raki Phillips-Co-founder & CEO, SugarMoo

Raki Phillips

Raki Phillips is a hospitality veteran, who over the last 15 years has worked for some of the world’s global brands including Universal Studios Orlando, Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. His experience spans in launching more than 12 hotels globally and numerous F&B concepts such as Hard Rock Live Orlando, Noire the Middle East's first Dinner in the Dark concept, SoBe at Monte Carlo Beach Club Abu Dhabi, Al Basta Sandwiches, District Lounge in DIFC & District47 Dubai’s highest rooftop at Warwick Hotel Sheikh Zayed Road. Phillips co-founded SugarMoo Desserts in 2014 and currently is CEO of the home-grown start-up, which caters to sweet cravings across the UAE and is Dubai’s first online dessert delivery business. It also manages and operates several dessert labs & lounges across town including Dar Wasl Jumeirah, Mercato Mall, Dubai Parks & Resorts and VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates.

Co-founder & CEO / SugarMoo
Omar Al Jundi-Founder & CEO, Badia Farms

Omar Al Jundi

Omar Al Jundi is the Founder and CEO of Badia Farms, a pioneering and revolutionising agricultural initiative to provide a sustainable solution for the region’s future. A Saudi national and qualified industrial engineer, Al Jundi began his career in the financial and engineering industries in Saudi Arabia, before following his entrepreneurial passion. This led to a successful business in hospitality, and recognition in the 2007 book ‘Leaders of Saudi Arabia’. Strongly committed to the region, its development and sustainable future, he became focused on agricultural innovations. Studying a variety of methods and techniques around the world, he moved to the UAE to establish Badia Farms. As founder and CEO of Badia Farms, Al Jundi drives the business vision, with ambitious plans to lead the region’s agriculture industry. He holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and MBA from the University of Miami. He is a certified industrial consultant from the Saudi Council of Engineers license number 3536 and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) UAE Chapter.

Founder & CEO / Badia Farms
Nadine Benchaffai-Co-founder & Managing Partner Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Nadine Benchaffai

Nadine Benchaffai started her career in the world of FMCG marketing initially at Kraft Foods in the Middle East followed by Nestle Purina in Europe and Yoplait UK Innovation. She covered a variety of roles from brand management to strategy development and innovation processes. She left to embark on her MBA at London Business School and decided to take the entrepreneurship route. She joined fellow LBS alum Brandon Stephens in launching Tortilla in the UK in 2006 where she remained on the board until her move to Dubai, although she remains an investor at Tortilla. In Dubai she co-founded and launched Taqado Mexican Kitchen in 2012, which now has 14 stores with aggressive expansion plans in place. In 2015 Benchaffai went on to launch a new concept called Park House Cafe targeting the underserved beach and park locations. She is also an investor in a number of other start-ups.

Co-founder & Managing Partner / Taqado Mexican Kitchen
Mouna Abassy-Founder & Managing Director Izil Beauty

Mouna Abassy

The creative force behind Izil Cosmetics, Mouna Abassy is an authentic Berber as her father descends from one of the oldest Berber families in the Atlas region. She first got deepened in Argan Oil during her assignment with the Moroccan antenna of OXFAM Quebec when she was in charge of finding funds to support Argan local co-operatives develop and modernise. Despite enjoying a successful career at one of the world’s largest beauty corporations, Abbassy stayed true to her Moroccan-Berber heritage. The traditional hammam, Argan oil and rhassoul clay were just some of the natural staples of her beauty routine that inspired her to establish an all-natural skincare brand- IZIL. But it was only in September 2012 – when her child was one-year old – that she started investigating the possibility of creating a business on her own. One year and a lot of hard work later, IZIL was an accomplished brand ready to be launched.

Founder & Managing Director / Izil Beauty
Mohammed Parham Al Awadhi-Co-founder, Wild Peeta

Mohammed Parham Al Awadhi

Mohammed Parham Al Awadhi is an award-winning Emirati filmmaker, entrepreneur and adventurer. His career spans over two decades and includes building growth strategies for some of the world’s leading global brands. Al Awadhi is the co-founder of Wild Peeta and the recipient of “The 40 Most Influential Emiratis Under 40” title on the occasion of the UAE’s 40th National Day celebration. A creative, lateral thinker with experience across diverse industries, Al Awadhi thrives in situations where he drives business transformation and change management.

Co-founder / Wild Peeta
Mehdi Oudghiri-Co-founder & Co-CEO eyewa

Mehdi Oudghiri

Matthieu Guinard is the CEO of GlamBox Middle East, an innovative and disruptive, home-grown player in the regional beauty industry. Guinard has over 15 years of international experience in general management, e-commerce and marketing for several industries such as luxury, beauty, travel, consumer goods and media.

Co-founder / eyewa
Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal-Executive Chairman Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)

Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal

Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal is the executive chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and is one of the key business leaders in Sharjah. His career with Shurooq began as CEO of the authority in 2009 until mid-2018, after which he became the executive chairman under an Emiri decree by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah. Al Sarkal has led the authority by realising the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and established Shurooq as the driving force behind the transformation of Sharjah as a key investment, tourism and business destination in the region. Al Sarkal has and continues to lead major developments and projects by Shurooq, covering tourism, environment, healthcare, logistics, light manufacturing, education and real estate, which has contributed to its on-going success story.

Executive Chairman / Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)
Majed M Al Tahan-Co-founder & CEO Danube Online

Majed M Al Tahan

Majed M Al Tahan is an award-winning entrepreneur and young e-commerce leader in Saudi Arabia with a great passion to impact the apps market. A first-mover in the Kingdom to tackle the e-commerce grocery space, from an early age, he was eager to build his own businesses and take the entrepreneurial plunge. After graduating university with an architecture degree, he started working as a real estate developer working with some of the biggest names in the industry. During this period of six years, he continued developing ideas for his next business move. Al Tahan recognised that e-commerce was the missing element in the Saudi commerce landscape at the time and he grabbed the opportunity to begin his journey to build the first-ever online service for grocery shopping in the Kingdom with the BinDawood Group. In 2016, he co-founded Danube Online and founded AYM Commerce as the platform to power the technology needed to revolutionise the region’s e-commerce space. Today, at the helm of Danube Online and AYM Commerce, he’s focused on developing the technology behind the e-commerce app and spearheading the transformation of grocery shopping space.

Co-founder & CEO / Danube Online
Kanchan Kulkarni-Founder KARA

Kanchan Kulkarni

Kanchan Kulkarni, a fashion designer, mother of two and philanthropist, is the woman behind Kara. Born in Mumbai but bred in Dubai, Kulkarni’s first time designing a capsule collection of shirts was in 2013, and in a short span of time the brand has already been featured in high-profile shows in the GCC, India, London, Milan and the US. Kulkarni takes a hand-on approach to her line and is involved all the way though, from designing to manufacturing. She sketches out her designs and buys the fabric and the accessories locally. Her team then create samples from these gathered resources and when the design is approved, it is added to the Kara boutique. Kulkarni has been awarded the Society Icons and the Savvy Woman’s award applauding her great innovations and contribution to the fashion world, as well as her personal achievements, including the Kara Foundation, a not-for-profit fund that uses Kulkarni’s own income to support health and education programmes for underprivileged children in India.

Founder / KARA
Gaurav Sabharwal-CEO & Co-founder Wok Boyz

Gaurav Sabharwal

Gaurav Sabharwal is the CEO and co-founder of the home-grown Dubai hotspot for Asian street food, WOK BOYZ. Born and bought up in Dubai, and after a successful 15-year corporate stint in some of the world’s largest companies, Sabharwal has embraced his two passions – food and entrepreneurship. Whether it was during his student days at York University in Canada or his subsequent travel across the globe for work and for pleasure, Sabharwal has always been fascinated by how food and flavours bring us together and create amazing memories. Previously as the head of business development for MEA and Turkey for research firm IDC, Sabharwal honed his understanding of the business and consumer dynamics of the region and what makes the region so unique and truly multi-cultural. It also allowed him to spot the gaps in Dubai’s vibrant food scene and what was missing.

CEO & Co-founder / Wok Boyz
Frank-Matthias Kuntermann-Deputy CEO ABC s.a.l

Frank-Matthias Kuntermann

Frank-Matthias Kuntermann was appointed Deputy CEO of ABC Group in November 2016. An accomplished business leader, Kuntermann joined ABC in 2013 as COO. With his in-depth knowledge of the retail industry, he drove ABC’s strategic vision and development and has brought new practices to the company primarily centred on enhancing customer experience. He has also been instrumental in expanding the group’s brand portfolio. Prior to joining ABC, Kuntermann held the role of General Manager for Hermès Middle East from 2007 till 2013. Based out of Dubai, he established and executed the Maison’s roll-out strategy and directed all activities across the region. He joined Hermès in 2000 as Sales Director for Europe and over the course of seven years, developed the business across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. He began his career at Deloitte & Touche in France before moving to the Perfume and Cosmetics industry where he managed the sales and export of brands Marina de Bourbon and Mauboussin. Kuntermann has been a Trade Advisor to the French Government since 2005, and is a Board Member of Retail Inc. in Lebanon.

Deputy CEO / ABC s.a.l
Faraz Khan-Founder & CEO souKare

Faraz Khan

Faraz Khan is the founder & CEO of souKare, a healthcare tech start-up in Dubai. souKare’s primary goal is to leverage technology to provide fast, convenient and hassle-free healthcare offerings to its customers. Before founding souKare, Khan worked for over 13 years at top tier management consulting and investment banking firms in the US, the UK, Middle East and Asia, focusing on healthcare, telecom and energy verticals. He served numerous private equity clients on due diligence and operation turnaround engagements and has deep functional expertise in start-up launch, strategy, corporate finance, transformations, operations and marketing. Khan holds BA (Hons), MA in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from INSEAD.

Founder & CEO / souKare
Faisal Yabroudi-Head of Operations & Co-Founder PINZA

Faisal Yabroudi

Faisal Yabroudi was educated in the UK, graduating with a BA in International Business from the Regents Business School in London. In 2008, he began a career in real estate, working in district investment and development before eventually joining the family business Dubai Contracting Company LLC (DCC). A leading regional contractor and developer, DCC has a varied portfolio with significant projects throughout the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Yabroudi served as Assistant Area Manager, establishing and overseeing the Saudi branch of operations. He is currently the Head of Operations and Co-Founder of Pinza! A growing entrepreneurial spirit and passion for authentic food led Yabroudi to venture into the F&B industry, where he teamed up with Tamer Elkhayat and Talal Kaddah to create Key Crew Group Ltd where he is a Managing Partner. Yabroudi’s vision, management style and values continue to drive the company to overachieve.

Head of Operations & Co-Founder / PINZA
Emma Banks-Managing Director, Jumeirah Restaurant Group

Emma Banks

Visionary leader, disruptive innovator, inspirational motivator, passionate environmentalist and equal rights champion, Emma Banks is the Managing Director of JRG Dubai – the global standalone restaurant group of Dubai Retail. In managing the Group’s brand portfolio of more than 20 award-winning food & beverage venues and international franchises, Banks spearheads the company’s long-term commercial strategy and leads multi-departmental performance in everything from day-to-day operations and streamlining service standards, to driving new concept development, delivery and execution. In addition to breathing new life into celebrated Dubai institutions including Pierchic, Pai Thai and Al Nafoorah, Banks has proven equally adept at launching new-to-market brands and reinvigorating the Group’s legacy properties. Banks is married to Jon with a teenage daughter Lily; she cares deeply about animal welfare and shares her home with three rescue cats and a rescue dog Bella. In her downtime she can normally be found with her family at the beach or mall by day, and in one of her restaurants by night.

Managing Director / Jumeirah Restaurant Group
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen-CEO, Novo Cinemas

Debbie Stanford-Kristianse

Since taking on the role of CEO of Novo Cinemas in 2013, Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen has worked hard with her executive team to bring Novo Cinemas to new heights, from a standard cinema experience to an innovative entertainment hub through strategic partnerships, technological advancements, new experience offerings and alternative content opportunities for consumers. Under Kristiansen’s guidance, further expansion throughout the GCC will see Novo Cinemas enter the newly opened Saudi Arabia cinema market. As an accomplished leader with more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment, events and hospitality industries, Kristiansen is a CEO with an extensive understanding of public, government and private organisations with a recognised track record of driving growth and successful business development.

CEO / Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO, Novo Cinemas
Darami Coulter-Global Marketing and Communication Manager Sumo International Inc./Sumo Sushi & Bento

Darami Coulter

People Matter – that’s Darami Coulter’s simple mantra on how she approaches every situation. How does what we are about to do or what we are about to say affect the people around us? She is always willing to jump in and help in any area that she is requested and has the brand message at the forefront of her mind. Coulter came to know Sumo first in 2009 as her favourite client when she owned her own marketing agency. When the opportunity arose in 2014 for her to sell the agency and join the Sumo family full time, she jumped. She has been with Sumo as Global Marketing and Communications Manager ever since, growing internal and external communications and spreading the Sumo happy across the globe. She is a wife of over 25 years and mom to 3 sons, an avid exercise enthusiast and brings energy to any room she enters.

Dana Al Sharif-Founder, Urban RetrEAT

Dana Al Sharif

Dana Al Sharif is the founder of Urban RetrEAT, Abu Dhabi’s new food incubator. Hailing from Amman in Jordan, Al Sharif moved to the UAE in 2008 to follow her foodie passion and pursue a career in F&B. She received a degree in agri-business from the University of Jordan in 2008 which was a platform for her career in marketing in the F&B industry. In 2013, she began the famous Calle Tacos food truck in Dubai, which has been nominated for the BBC Good Food Award two years in a row. Al Sharif is a true foodie at heart and is passionate about promoting home-grown food talent which drove her to start Urban RetrEAT. The mission behind Urban RetrEAT is to promote local food businesses and give them a platform to launch their career in the competitive UAE food market.

Founder / Urban RetrEAT
Ahmad AR Bin Dawood-CEO DanubeCo. Ltd. & BinDawood Stores

Ahmad AR Bin Dawood

Ahmad AR Bin Dawood oversees the strategic direction of the Saudi-based retail company, the BinDawood Group’s Danube and BinDawood stores. Bin Dawood currently sits on the board of directors of the Red Sea Malls, implementing and enhancing the corporate governance of the group. He joined the group at the start of his career and has held a number of positions in the group until he was appointed to the board of directors and CEO of DanubeCo. Ltd in 2014. In 2018 he was appointed CEO of both DanubeCo. Ltd and BinDawood supermarkets. Bin Dawood has led Danube through a period of dramatic revitalisation and growth, continually sustaining double-digit growth for the company. He has transformed Danube Company Ltd. from 9 branches to 40 branches by May 2018, with ambitious expansion plans to open more stores across the Kingdom and regional markets in the coming years. He is the driving force behind the e-commerce platform for the Danube Online and the Danube App.

CEO / DanubeCo. Ltd. & BinDawood Stores
Stephen Graham Holbrook-Member executive board, director – clothing Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC

Stephen Graham Holbrook

Stephen Graham Holbrook directs the clothing division for the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group, comprising four brands with a cumulative annual turnover running into the billions of Dirhams. He joined KOJ in 2013, with over 20 years’ of apparel industry experience, directly managing or partnering with global brand names such as Playtex, Wonderbra, Marks & Spencer and Victoria’s Secret. Prior to moving to the region Holbrook spent time working in Europe, the US and Asia, as well as holding non-executive positions with a number of SME businesses. He holds an MSc from the Cranfield Institute of Technology as well as a number of professional qualifications from the London Business School. Holbrook loves the cultural diversity and opportunity travel affords and is fascinated by the ever-changing social fabric of the world.

Member executive board, director – clothing / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC
Ramzi Nakad-Co-founder Fashion Forward Dubai & BRAG

Ramzi Nakad

A serial entrepreneur and seasoned marketer, Ramzi Nakad co-founded BRAG – a leading event agency in Dubai – in 2009. As BRAG’s managing partner, Nakad helped secure partnerships with government and private entities, including Dubai Tourism & Emaar, while also directing some of Dubai’s most talked about community events like Market OTB, Beach Canteen, Sole Dxb and Meet d3. A strong supporter of regional talent, Nakad co-founded Fashion Forward (FFWD) in 2013, offering a unified developmental platform for the region. Recognising the importance of actively making tangible contributions towards economic growth, in 2016, Nakad helped establish an empowerment programme under FFWD, named EPIC. The programme aims to extend business development support to emerging talent from the Middle East through a series of initiatives, including the establishment of a FFWD Showroom in Paris. A regular commentator for thought leadership, Nakad has been selected to be a guest speaker at Start-up Grind powered by Google.

Co-founder / Fashion Forward Dubai & BRAG
Sajan Alex-General manager Tablez Food Company

Sajan Alex

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.

Sajan Alex
General Manager / Tablez Food Company
Mohammad Alawi-Chairman of shopping malls committee, Jeddah Chamber KSA

Mohammad Alawi

Mohammad Alawi is an industry veteran who wears many hats; he is currently the chairman of shopping malls committee, Jeddah Chamber KSA, as well as chairman & partner at Saudi Sand Souvenir Co and B&T Brands and Trade Services Middle East DMCC. Alawi comes with over 25 years of experience in creating successful developments and renovating existing retail properties in Saudi Arabia. With well-versed skills and persistent follow-up in operations and marketing, Alawi created two epic retail shopping centres in Saudi Arabia – Hera Community Mall and Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. He also carries in his career a portfolio of eight other shopping malls which were developed during his tenure with Savola. During his illustrious career, Alawi has been part of Al Amoudi, Majid Al Futtaim and SKAB. He is also a member with the promotions and events committee at JCCI and a member with the National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh.

Chairman of shopping malls committee / Jeddah Chamber KSA
Matthieu Guinard-CEO GlamBox Middle East

Matthieu Guinard

Matthieu Guinard is the CEO of GlamBox Middle East, an innovative and disruptive, home-grown player in the regional beauty industry. Guinard has over 15 years of international experience in general management, e-commerce and marketing for several industries such as luxury, beauty, travel, consumer goods and media.

CEO / GlamBox Middle East
Ian Ohan-Founder & CEO Freedom Pizza

Ian Ohan

A later in life entrepreneur, Ian Ohan has lived, worked and created in the Gulf region for the past 18 years. Today Ohan is the CEO and founder of Freedom Pizza – a UAE-based, all-natural carry-out and delivery pizza chain with over 250 employees, an airline packaged product division – developed initially for Emirates Airlines and soon for VOX Cinemas – and six locations in the UAE. Freedom Pizza is part of KRSH Investments, an F&B investment platform, also owned by Ohan, which is in the process of developing additional home-grown food concepts in the healthier fast and fast casual food sectors. In 2006, Ohan joined two partners and established a real estate and hospitality investment advisory firm RSP Group, which was sold to Jones Lang LaSalle in 2009. In the past, Ohan has held senior positions in KPMG, Arthur Andersen’s Real Estate and Hospitality Group and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Founder & CEO / Freedom Pizza
Kunal Kapoor-Founder and managing director The Luxury Closet

Kunal Kapoor

Kunal 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 moved to Dubai working for Louis Vuitton. In 2011, Kunal founded The Luxury Closet, one of the largest marketplaces for luxury items in the Middle East. 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. This successful and unique venture sees luxury products from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Rolex, Cartier, Louboutin and 100 other top brands sold for up to 70% off the original price. 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.

founder and managing director / The Luxury Closet
Sarah Jones-founder Mini Exchange

Sarah Jones

At the age of 14 Sarah Jones set up a profitable eBay business importing items from China and America and selling in the UK, igniting a love for e-commerce and a dream to be CEO of eBay. A degree in Economics at Edinburgh University and a highly competitive nature led her to compete in sport internationally, leading Jones to the world of buying and selling companies in the M&A retail team at Deloitte in London before an international secondment brought her out to the Middle East. After two years in Deloitte’s Dubai office Jones left the finance world, recognising the huge potential of the e-commerce market and started Mini Exchange. She raised a seed funding round of $1.1 million last July and has been the recipient of many awards and was selected for Google’s prestigious BlackBox accelerator programme in Silicon Valley in 2015.

founder / Mini Exchange
Raza Beig-director Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC

Raza Beig

Raza Beig heads Splash and ICONIC, the fashion concepts of the Landmark Group. Since the inception of Splash in 1993, Beig has been actively involved with the overall business development and retail buying for the brand. In 1998, he helped set up Lifestyle, the department chain in India. His bullish approach facilitated the initial days of the Group’s entry into a new market and before he knew it, he was made a board member, in charge of the fashion division for India. Sometime in early 2000, he was appointed managing director of Splash and was invited to be part of the board of directors of Landmark Group. Eventually, in 2006 he was appointed the CEO of Splash. Along with Splash, Beig heads ICONIC, a six-year old business of Landmark Group. With 34 stores in four countries Beig with his strong business acumen plans to take the brand way ahead in the coming future. He is at the forefront of the business, spearheading the brand across the Middle East, Levant countries and the sub-continent, with aggressive expansion plans in the near future.

director / Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC
Ashish Panjabi-COO Jacky’s Group of Companies

Ashish Panjabi

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 Panjabi’s long standing partnership with Samsung Gulf that he started and now runs Jacky’s Retail LLC, which operates Samsung brand shops across the UAE. Starting with the first brand shop in December 2013, Jacky’s already operates some of the top-grossing Samsung brand shops in the world, such as that in Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Deira. Jacky’s also operates its own Samsung brand shops in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Panjabi also managed the group’s distribution, mail order and project sales businesses. He is also responsible for managing IT-infrastructure at Jacky’s and integrating the group’s different business units in the UAE onto a unified system.

COO / Jacky’s Group of Companies
Mona Ataya-Founder & CEO Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya

Mona Ataya has proven to be one of the Middle East’s most prominent of women entrepreneurs. The co-founder of Bayt.com, arguably the most successful online search engine for jobs in the Middle East, is now, after becoming a mother of three boys, working to disrupt the well-ingrained retail space in the Middle East with the goal of assisting mothers with their maternity, infant and childcare product needs. Ataya’s latest venture is Mumzworld.com, a leading gold standard e-commerce vertical for baby and child shopping in the Middle East region that has been going from strength-to-strength. Prior to Mumzworld.com, Ataya has had a track record of impressive and diverse international experience building global brands. She started her career at Procter & Gamble, USA, at age 20 after graduating with a dual honors degree in marketing and finance. She later moved back to the Middle East working with Johnson and Johnson MENA followed by Johnson and Johnson Europe managing a broad portfolio of leading global brands.

Founder & CEO / Mumzworld.com
Shafeena Yusuffali-CEO Tablez Food Company

Shafeena Yusuffali

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, Yusuffali 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 most recently American brasserie and celebrity brand Sugar Factory. Yusuffali 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.

CEO / Tablez Food Company
Zaid Alqufaidi-Managing director ENOC Retail

Zaid Alqufaidi

Zaid Alqufaidi is the managing director of ENOC Retail. In his current role, Alqufaidi is responsible for the strategic development of ENOC’s retail business. An ENOC veteran and a seasoned oil and gas industry professional, Alqufaidi comes to his role with extensive experience across the energy value chain, including marketing, aviation, terminal operations and supply sectors. Alqufaidi held numerous managerial positions and has played an instrumental role in the development of EPPCO’s retail network. He has also immensely contributed to bridging the gap between the ENOC and EPPCO brand during the formation of the group’s identity as ENOC. Prior to his current post, Alqufaidi held the position of managing director of ENOC marketing. He was also CEO for EPPCO Group of Companies in 2010. He was previously appointed as manager terminals, distribution and aviation operations in 2000. Alqufaidi first started his career in EPPCO in 1989 as an engineer with the operations department, after which he was promoted to operations and supply coordinator in 1992. He is an engineering graduate from the University of Central Florida, USA.

Managing director / ENOC Retail
Speakers 2017

Yasser Shamsi-Chairman El-Shamsi Group, Egypt

Yasser Shamsi

Yasser Shamsi started his professional career with a degree in Business Administration and Economics. Being a third-generation family member to work in the textile industry, he started the shirt-making Dalydress factory in 1979. His ability to develop and expand the business led to the emergence of Shamsi for Trading & Agencies, the company’s fashion retail division. In 1996 Dalydress started with a menswear line, later the womenswear line was introduced and the brand quickly developed into one of Egypt’s leading brands, managing to sustain international competition and continue to grow into one of Egypt’s largest fashion retail networks. With his hunger and understanding of the industry, Shamsi’s next aim was to expand internationally and that was achieved last year, opening the company’s first two shops in Morocco, with the plan to run the model regionally in the next few years.

Chairman / El-Shamsi Group, Egypt
Vikram Krishna-Executive vice president, head of group marketing & customer experience Emirates NBD

Vikram Krishna

Vikram Krishna is the executive vice president, head of group marketing & customer experience at Emirates NBD, with the mandate to position Emirates NBD as a leading banking brand, and enhance its customer experience capabilities. Krishna has successfully developed Emirates NBD into the No.1 banking brand in the UAE, with a brand value of USD 3.41 billion, in addition to making it one of the top 100 financial brands globally. Krishna oversees the three areas of marketing, customer experience and customer lifecycle management at the Emirates NBD Group level, continuously devising and implementing innovative strategies across all channels, to ensure a customer-centric approach and further grow the bank’s dominant market position. Krishna has also significantly raised Emirates NBD’s presence in the social media space through the successful launch and management of the bank’s social media platforms. Prior to his current role, Krishna has also held senior posts in HSBC and CitiFinancial in India.

Executive vice president, head of group marketing & customer experience / Emirates NBD
Vijay Talreja-Co-founder Adapty

Vijay Talreja

Awarded as top 25 most influential e-commerce professionals of India by CMO Asia, Asia Retail Congress, Vijay Talreja works with global retailers in helping them establish and scale their e-commerce business. He comes with close to two decades of technology, global delivery and business operations experience having worked with startups, IT MNCs and Fortune500 clients. He is the co-founder and director of Adapty Inc, a digital commerce product and services company that implements omnichannel products and solutions to drive customer engagement and growth for global retail brands. Charter member of TiE Mumbai and active member of angel investing platforms, Talreja is passionate about mentoring startups in the e-commerce, Fintech and HR space.

Co-founder / Adapty
Tariq Sanad-CFO Fetchr

Tariq Sanad

Bahraini national Tariq Sanad is CFO for Fetchr. Having lived in the UAE for over 14 years, Sanad has worked on a multitude of businesses across the MENA region. He has worked with Procter & Gamble managing billion dollar brands like Gillette and Pantene and has been heavily involved in the FMCG and retail sectors. Sanad was also heavily involved in building Careem, one of the region’s most successful start-ups and now continues to build at Fetchr. As CFO he leads the finance, business intelligence and human resources teams. He works on managing the overall performance of the company to help it achieve its long-term objectives.

CFO / Fetchr
Tarek Moussawer-Vice president Virgin Megastore MENA

Tarek Moussawer

Tarek Moussawer leads the strategic development and evolution of the Virgin Megastore brand throughout the MENA region including the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. Since joining the Virgin Megastore team in 2007, Moussawer has helped strengthen the brand name and image across the region, contributing to its successful expansion across 33 stores in 6 countries. Through his innovative approach, Virgin Megastore saw the development of its award-winning omnichannel experience, including the launch of the brand’s acclaimed e-commerce website, industry-leading ticketing service and engaging loyalty programme. Moussawer was actively involved in the strategic addition and rollout of new store concepts and product categories, which transformed the brand into the region’s leading entertainment lifestyle retail destination. Prior to his role at Virgin Megastore, Moussawer worked in finance, managing electronic channels at Byblos Bank in Beirut, Lebanon. He graduated with an MBA from the American University of Beirut with a focus on Finance, Marketing and Business Ethics.

Vice president / Virgin Megastore MENA
Tanvi Malik-Co-founder Elevaete

Tanvi Malik, co-founder, Elevaete

Tanvi Malik is a transdisciplinary designer working on apparel, interiors and experiences, using design thinking to apply herself across industries for positive social impact. Through the dual-degree programme at the New School in New York City, she received a BFA of Integrated Design/Apparel Design from Parsons and a BA of Literary Studies/Non-Fiction Writing from Eugene Lang College. She has worked in architecture firms, sportswear brands, nightlife events and startups designing products, spaces and experiences. As fitness has had a big influence on her development and with a background in sports apparel/retail, in 2016 she co-founded Elevaete, a made-in-UAE activewear brand for women with a focus on social impact through positive community engagement. Her personal conviction is to encourage education and creation across disciplines and so she also co-founded the Dubai chapter of LWD. Currently, she works on Elevaete, interior/exterior design in New York and Dubai, and creates identities and brand experiences for startups.

Co-founder / Elevaete
Tahir Shah-Founding partner Moti Roti

Tahir Shah

Tahir Shah is the founding partner at Moti Roti – the region’s first Pakistani soul kitchen pop-up and food truck. Born in Doncaster to Pakistani parents, he grew up in a household rooted in a rich food culture where roti or flatbread was shared at the table every night. Graduating from Hertfordshire University he spent over 10 years working for Nokia in IT, moving to Dubai midway through his career. Here, lamenting the lack of quality quick food options for office workers – and being inspired by a fast-food trend from the US known as fast casual – he decided to change the face of Pakistani food. He believed it should be fresh, cool, accessible and represent the true style of Pakistani mums’ food. In 2012, he left Nokia and started Moti Roti.

Founding partner / Moti Roti
Stevi Lowmass-Founder & owner The Camel Soap Factory

Stevi Lowmass

Stevi Lowmass is the founder and owner of The Camel Soap Factory – an award winning natural soap manufacturer in Dubai. She worked in the IT and electronic payments industries for many years, but after the birth of her daughter in 2005 became increasingly obsessed with the idea of creating a business built on her passions. A trip to Australia in 2008 when she visited an amazing olive oil soap factory cemented the idea in her head of creating a company selling natural soap made with local camel milk. She studied soap making with Melinda Coss in London – the author of ‘The Handmade Soap book’ – and started a small business. Rapid growth entailed obtaining an industrial licence and establishing a factory in the UAE. The company is now based in Al Quoz, Dubai and ships across the GCC and worldwide.

Founder & owner / The Camel Soap Factory
Stephen Graham Holbrook-Member executive board, director – clothing Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC

Stephen Graham Holbrook

Stephen Graham Holbrook directs the clothing division for the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group, comprising four brands with a cumulative annual turnover running into the billions of Dirhams. He joined KOJ in 2013, with over 20 years’ of apparel industry experience, directly managing or partnering with global brand names such as Playtex, Wonderbra, Marks & Spencer and Victoria’s Secret. Prior to moving to the region Holbrook spent time working in Europe, the US and Asia, as well as holding non-executive positions with a number of SME businesses. He holds an MSc from the Cranfield Institute of Technology as well as a number of professional qualifications from the London Business School. Holbrook loves the cultural diversity and opportunity travel affords and is fascinated by the ever-changing social fabric of the world.

Member executive board, director – clothing / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC
Sonia Parekh-Co-founder The Goodwill Tribe

Sonia Parekh

A Bachelor of Arts graduate Sonia Parekh’s change journey began while volunteering with a non-profit called Make A Difference, Bangalore shaping her into a youth leader. Upon returning to Dubai, she set out to become an events professional and landed a job at Informa Middle East. Alongside her full-time job, she continued creating positive social change in the world. She is the co-founder of The Goodwill Tribe, which exists to inspire kindness and human connection. It began as an experiment in generosity. Within four years the movement spread organically to 15 cities across the world and events were being organised focusing on the small acts of kindness and happiness, fostering human empathy. One such initiative being the Karma Kitchen, centred on human trust and runs as a gift economy. Parekh believes that every kind act has a ripple effect in the world. She also dedicates time to various service-hearted projects like GYEM and the Sameness Project to name a few.

Co-founder / The Goodwill Tribe
Shaikha Ahmad Al Bishri-Director Business Excellence Department, Dubai Economy

Shaikha Ahmad Al Bishri

As director of the Business Excellence Department in Dubai Economy, Shaikha Ahmad Al Bishri is in charge of various programmes and initiatives, including the Dubai Quality Award, Dubai Human Development Award, Dubai Service Excellence Scheme and the Global Islamic Business Award, all of which are aimed to promote quality, excellence and best practices in doing business. Passionate about organisational improvement programmes, particularly those focused on employee satisfaction and overall customer happiness, Al Bishri has successfully steered a number of leadership initiatives and forums through the years. Under her stewardship, the Business Excellence Department has continued to organise the Best Practices & Benchmarking Forum, Visions 2 Reality forum and has also remained a strong partner to the International Business Excellence Award, ASQ Professional Award and the Gulf Customer Experience and Digital Award. Al Bishri received her Bachelor’s in Business Management with honours from the Higher Colleges of Technology and Master’s in Management of Entrepreneurial Leadership from the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University.

Director / Business Excellence Department, Dubai Economy
Saoud Khoory-General manager Yas Mall

Saoud Khoory

With over 11 years of experience in real estate asset management and operations, Saoud Khoory has managed a diverse portfolio including retail, hospitality, residential and leisure. At Yas Mall, Khoory first held the position of deputy manager for four years and then became general manager in 2016. During this time, Khoory has led all areas of operations and marketing of the regional shopping, dining and entertainment destination. His focus at Yas Mall has been to maximise the mall’s overall performance by supporting business development, strengthening retail leasing portfolio while implementing an innovative retail strategy. He has also held board positions on Aldar hotels & hospitalities and Al Raha International. Prior to this, Khoory has worked in companies such as Zakum Development Company, Noor Islamic Bank and Aldar Properties PJSC. During his time at Aldar Properties PJSC, Khoory’s key achievements include orchestrating the merger between Aldar and Sorouh Real Estate and the management agreement between Aldar and Yas Viceroy Hotel. He holds a Bachelor degree from Boston University.

General manager / Yas Mall
Saeed Mohammad Mesam Alfalasi-Executive director – retail and strategic alliances Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment

Saeed Mohammad Mesam Alfalasi

Saeed Mohammad Mesam Alfalasi has an accomplished track record of over 15 years in retail, information technology and food and beverage sectors. As executive director, retail and strategic alliances, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) – an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) – Alfalasi is overseeing the implementation of Dubai’s Retail Calendar that was launched in December 2016, featuring the full programme of anchor retail activities promoted city-wide. He is also responsible for sponsorship development, specifically bringing on board new sponsors and managing relationships with existing strategic partners and sponsors, as well as liaising and coordinating with key corporate partners for all events and festivals organised by DFRE. Starting his career as a data network engineer at Dubai Internet City, Alfalasi has held senior management positions in the private sector, especially on the retail front, in companies like BinHendi Enterprises. He holds a Master of Science, Information Technology (Executive) from Bond University Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, and has graduated from the University of Colorado, USA with a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering.

Executive director – retail and strategic alliances / Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment
Ramzi Nakad-Co-founder Fashion Forward Dubai & BRAG

Ramzi Nakad

A serial entrepreneur and seasoned marketer, Ramzi Nakad co-founded BRAG – a leading event agency in Dubai – in 2009. As BRAG’s managing partner, Nakad helped secure partnerships with government and private entities, including Dubai Tourism & Emaar, while also directing some of Dubai’s most talked about community events like Market OTB, Beach Canteen, Sole Dxb and Meet d3. A strong supporter of regional talent, Nakad co-founded Fashion Forward (FFWD) in 2013, offering a unified developmental platform for the region. Recognising the importance of actively making tangible contributions towards economic growth, in 2016, Nakad helped establish an empowerment programme under FFWD, named EPIC. The programme aims to extend business development support to emerging talent from the Middle East through a series of initiatives, including the establishment of a FFWD Showroom in Paris. A regular commentator for thought leadership, Nakad has been selected to be a guest speaker at Start-up Grind powered by Google.

Co-founder / Fashion Forward Dubai & BRAG
Rajiv Prasad-Chief innovation officer Xpandretail powered by Sávant Data System LLC

Rajiv Prasad

Rajiv Prasad has been instrumental in building the company internationally with deployments in hundreds of businesses worldwide. As chief innovation catalyst/officer (CIO) at Xpandretail powered by Sávant Data System LLC, he is responsible for evaluating new and innovative technology, overseeing special customer projects and programmes and managing the company’s technological services department. He has also demonstrated a record of success in enhancing internal efficiency and increasing ownership of organisational goals and objectives, while generating processes to enhance corporate profitability that affect organisation-growth with sustainable results. Prasad comes with a professional career background which reflects management, training, support and organisational development skills in highly competitive and diligently regulated telecom, IT, BPO sector and vast networking systems. He possesses extended expertise in operations management, training management, business development, project administration, revenue enhancement and cost control.

Chief innovation officer / Xpandretail powered by Sávant Data System LLC
Rachel McArthur-Founder & managing editor Digital Ink Media

Rachel McArthur

Rachel McArthur is a Dubai-based journalist and editor, with over a decade of experience in digital, print and broadcast media. She is the founder and managing editor of Digital Ink Media, a provider that curates exclusive content – including editorial copy, photography and video – for some of the region’s best-known media outlets and brands. Having edited/been published in titles such as ‘T Emirates: The New York Times Magazine’, Thomson Reuters and Wamda, McArthur covers a range of topics – lifestyle to B2B – with a keen interest in Islamic Economy industries, science and medicine, Middle Eastern entrepreneurship, motoring and entertainment. In addition to her role at Digital Ink, McArthur is a contributor to Al Arabiya, Gulf News and appears as a current affairs commentator on ‘The Agenda’ on Dubai Eye 103.8FM.

Founder & managing editor / Digital Ink Media
Phil McArthur-Founder and managing director McArthur + Company

Phil McArthur

Phil McArthur has dedicated his professional career to the development and expansion of shopping centres globally. Over the past 36 years, he 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 projects 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, MAF Shopping Centres and Brookfield Properties. He has a long association with the New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) as a past trustee, as well as a faculty member of the ICSC’s John T Riordan School for Professional Development.

Founder and managing director / McARTHUR + COMPANY
Nasif Kayed-Founder & CEO The Arab Culturalist

Nasif Kayed

Nasif Kayed, founder and CEO, The Arab Culturalist, is a cultural expert on Arab-Emirati culture. He has been an entrepreneur and consultant for 33 years, having developed 40 businesses during that period. He also spent eight years as managing director of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding. Kayed’s most recent venture, The Arab Culturalist, is a consultancy firm focused on building cross-cultural communication and inter-cultural competencies among businesses and educational institutions throughout the Middle East and beyond. He was part of the UAE delegation at the 2015 & 2016 Dubai Week in China, and a participant in the Dubai Plan 2021 strategy session.

Founder & CEO / The Arab Culturalist
Nadine Benchaffai-Managing partner Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Nadine Benchaffai

Nadine Benchaffai started her career in the world of FMCG marketing initially at Kraft Foods in the Middle East followed by Nestle Purina in Europe and Yoplait UK Innovation. She covered a variety of roles from brand management to strategy development and innovation processes. She left to embark on her MBA at London Business School and decided to take the entrepreneurship route. She joined fellow LBS alum Brandon Stephens in launching Tortilla in the UK in 2006 where she remained on the board until her move to Dubai, although she remains an investor at Tortilla. In Dubai she co-founded and launched Taqado Mexican Kitchen in 2012, which now has 14 stores with aggressive expansion plans in place. In 2015 Benchaffai went on to launch a new concept called Park House Cafe targeting the underserved beach and park locations. She is also an investor in a number of other start-ups.

Managing partner / Taqado Mexican Kitchen
Nada Alawi-Co-founder Annada

Nada Alawi

Recognised at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Awards for Young Business Leaders as the Best Arab Start-up Business in the female category, among other local and regional recognitions, Nada Alawi grew up loving fashion and appreciating art. In 2011 she founded Annada, a luxury lifestyle brand that transforms art into fashion accessories and apparel, with her sister Noor Alawi in partnership with Middle Eastern artists. Today Annada products are sold widely across the GCC. In 2016 Alawi received the female entrepreneurship seal from Her Majesty Princess Sabeeka for her work in Annada. Besides being an entrepreneur, Alawi – who began her career in the oil & gas industry in Houston, Texas – is currently a board member at the Bahrain Economic Development Board and prior to that she led a number of key roles, most notably as a board member at Bahrain Bourse in addition to being the president of leading global NGO Rotary Club Bahrain.

Co-founder / Annada
Mukul Bafana-Co-founder & CEO Arvind Internet

Mukul Bafana

Mukul Bafana is a co-founder & CEO of Arvind Internet. Prior to joining Arvind Internet, Bafana was co-founder & managing director at Jabong.com. Prior to Jabong, Bafana has worked in a strategy role at Google, private equity at Bain Capital and as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. across various geographies and industries. Bafana received an MBA from Harvard Business School. He also received a BBA with high distinction in finance and computer information systems from the University of Michigan Business School.

Co-founder & CEO / Arvind Internet
Images RetailME

Morten Kirch

Morten Kirch is regional manager for SSI SCHAEFER is in charge of the automation department and covers the GCC and African areas. With more than 15 years’ experience in the field, Kirch come with sound knowledge in efficient planning, designing and organising warehouses.

Regional manager / SSI Schaefer
Mohammed Abdullah Al-Anjari-Chairman Mohammad Al Anjeri Company

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Anjari

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Anjari is a Kuwaiti entrepreneur who succeeded in launching home-grown brands. After graduation his first job was at the Exports Department of the Ministry of Justice followed by the Environment Public Authority. Launching a home-grown fashion brand for the first time in Kuwait was a wild idea back then. Al-Anjari commissioned a professional artist to design a brand reflecting his ideas and plans. Once this was ready, he promptly had the trademark registered. Three-to-four months later Deer&Dear was a registered trademark in the US, the UK and Europe. Today Deer&Dear is present at The Avenues Mall, Kuwait and four other locations, in addition to Al-Khobar and Al-Hamra Mall in KSA. The plan is to expand Deer&Dear worldwide. In order to diversify his investments, Al-Anjari also ventured into the restaurants sector. His journey has strengthened his belief that business enterprises have every chance to succeed with the right elements and a strong foundation.

Chairman / Mohammad Al Anjeri Company
Mohammad Alawi-Chairman of shopping malls committee, Jeddah Chamber KSA

Mohammad Alawi

Mohammad Alawi is an industry veteran who wears many hats; he is currently the chairman of shopping malls committee, Jeddah Chamber KSA, as well as chairman & partner at Saudi Sand Souvenir Co and B&T Brands and Trade Services Middle East DMCC. Alawi comes with over 25 years of experience in creating successful developments and renovating existing retail properties in Saudi Arabia. With well-versed skills and persistent follow-up in operations and marketing, Alawi created two epic retail shopping centres in Saudi Arabia – Hera Community Mall and Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. He also carries in his career a portfolio of eight other shopping malls which were developed during his tenure with Savola. During his illustrious career, Alawi has been part of Al Amoudi, Majid Al Futtaim and SKAB. He is also a member with the promotions and events committee at JCCI and a member with the National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh.

Chairman of shopping malls committee / Jeddah Chamber KSA
Mohamed Haouache-CEO & co-founder Storefront

Mohamed Haouache

Following a career in finance of nearly a decade in New York and Paris, where he specialised in hedge funds and in risk management, Mohamed Haouache is now the CEO and co-founder of Storefront – one the leading global marketplaces for short-term commercial space rental. He is currently focusing on developing the company’s strategy and overseeing Storefront’s continued expansion into new markets. Haouache holds a J.D in Law, and a Masters in Finance.

CEO & co-founder / Storefront
Mohamed Galal-Managing director Tasweeq Shopping Malls,Egypt

Mohamed Galal

Mohamed Galal is the president & CEO of TSM CRENOVATIONS Egypt, a leading real estate retail mall management consultancy firm with focus on retail shopping malls development, and mixed-use residential management. TSM CRENOVATIONS has celebrated 10 years in the Egyptian market this year with success stories of 47 active shopping pavilions & centres, and 7 regional retail & hypermarket launches in Cairo & in the principal secondary cities of Egypt. Over two decades Galal has contributed to the launch of major players in the Egypt market with his debut as Majid Al Futtaim Misr country head, followed by DANDY Transworld Egypt, DORRA CAPITAL Group and SODIC Egypt. TSM CRENOVATIONS is a people’s organisation currently capitalising its widespread expansion with the support of its 327 Egyptian staff members, tracing a new trend in small & middle shopping malls developments with non-institutional developers & investors – Allegria and Katameya Plaza, Autoville the Strip and The Showrooms now Desigopolis.

President & CEO / Tasweeq Shopping Malls, Egypt
Matthieu Guinard-CEO GlamBox Middle East

Matthieu Guinard

Matthieu Guinard is the CEO of GlamBox Middle East, an innovative and disruptive, home-grown player in the regional beauty industry. Guinard has over 15 years of international experience in general management, e-commerce and marketing for several industries such as luxury, beauty, travel, consumer goods and media.

CEO / GlamBox Middle East
Mark Tesseyman-CEO LIWA Trading Enterprises

Mark Tesseyman

With over three decades of experience in the fashion retail industry, Mark Tesseyman has made his mark as an experienced successful retailer across 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. Prior to his current role, he held key senior positions at both large corporate PLC companies as well as family-owned organisations. He is also familiar with private equity-backed businesses.

CEO / LIWA Trading Enterprises
Mansour Salameh-Client solutions manager – retail & e-commerce, MENA Facebook

Mansour Salameh

Mansour Salameh has been working as Facebook’s client solutions manager for retail & e-commerce clients in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan since 2012. During this time, Salameh has been at the forefront of helping top retail, online and e-commerce companies including SOUQ.com, Namshi, Dubizzle, Careem, AWOK.com, Alshaya, Al Tayer and Landmark Group, among others, achieve their marketing objectives and scale their business through Facebook. Prior to that, Salameh spent nine years working in traditional media and creative advertising, managing blue-chip brands across various industries.

Client solutions manager – retail & e-commerce, MENA / Facebook
Mahmoud Bartawi-Co-founder Under500

Mahmoud Bartawi

UAE national Mahmoud Bartawi is the co-founder of Under500, a Dubai-based healthy café concept. Observing a gap in the market for nutritious food concepts that are affordable and tasty, Bartawi set out to develop a business around his belief of healthy living and eating. Since the inception of Under500 in 2016, the company has now expanded to three restaurants across popular areas of Dubai, with plans for future expansion. Bartawi believes in contributing to the UAE’s 2021 Vision, through his business that will help to facilitate change, and is keen to see obesity rates lowered, life expectancy increased and the happiness factor go up. His vision is to develop Under500 commercially and financially to rank among the top three healthy food brands in the region. Bartawi holds a Business Degree from the American University of Sharjah and a Masters in International Business from the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

Co-founder / Under500
Luma Bourisly-Founder & vision creator KOOOT.com

Luma Bourisly

With almost three decades of experience behind her, Luma Bourisly brings a rich, diverse background to her role as founder and vision creator of KOOOT.com – an online shopping and lifestyle destination for modern Middle Eastern women. She is also the founding member and general secretary of Kuwait Business Council for Dubai and Northern Emirates. Bourisly’s career began in 1990 as the head of media department in Kuwait Information Centre in Cairo, where she was responsible for assuring adequate coverage of the Gulf War across international media channels. She then moved to the research industry working with Australia-based Reark Research in 1992. She also worked with First Gulf Bank in Ajman and the ENOC Group. In 2005, she was a member of the launch team of Emirates National Development Programme at the Executive Office. In 2006, Bourisly joined du – where she was one of the founding team members – where she held several leadership positions during her 10-year tenure.

Founder & vision creator / KOOOT.com
Lennard Otto-CEO IMG Worlds of Adventure

Lennard Otto

As the driving force behind some of the most high profile properties in the Middle East and internationally, Lennard Otto possesses a wealth of experience in managing and operating large-scale entertainment-based facilities. In his current role, as CEO of IMG Worlds of Adventure, Otto has worked closely with the owners and leadership of the Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group to successfully launch the world’s largest indoor theme park in Dubai. Otto is spearheading the park’s future development, with plans to expand the existing attraction to further attract a global audience. Widely recognised for his vision and leadership abilities, Otto has over a decade of experience in managing large international hospitality and leisure destinations. Prior to joining IMG Worlds of Adventure, Otto 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.

CEO
IMG Worlds of Adventure
Kristine Lasam-Founder & CEO Pink Entropy

Kristine Lasam

Go-getter entrepreneur Kristine Lasam has spearheaded the quick rise of Pink Entropy as one of the leading digital agencies in the Middle East in the last four years. With several successful published case studies on her belt and a sought after voice in the digital, media and technology space in the region, Lasam is looked upon as one of MENA’s top female entrepreneurs and was recently ushered into the Hall of Femme by Khaleej Times’ WKND feature about women breaking the glass ceiling. Lasam and her team looks after a roster of clients from up and coming tech start-ups like AirWayBill and ServiceMarket.com to a formidable A-list of brands like Procter and Gamble, COTY USA, BRP and unicorns like Line Messenger. Always at the forefront of technology, Lasam is now in the ITO and Blockchain space.

Founder & CEO / Pink Entropy
Khurshid Vakil-Co-founder Marina Home Interiors

Khurshid Vakil

Khurshid Vakil is the co-founder of Marina Home Interiors retail chain – a Dubai-based avant-garde lifestyle & home décor company that operates large format stores across most Middle East markets, North Africa and India. Born in India and having lived and worked in Switzerland, Spain and Dubai, Vakil understands cross cultural influences very well that can be vividly seen coexisting in his company’s corporate culture and design harmony of product mix. 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 continued franchise rollout 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. A member of several international business forums, Vakil is regularly seen as a speaker at international business events and conventions.

Co-founder / Marina Home Interiors
Karl Schwitzke-Managing Director Schwitzke GmbH

Karl Schwitzke

After finishing his studies in design and interior design in Kaiserslautern, Karl Schwitzke went abroad to acquire international experience. He was gaining expertise by working in Antlanta, USA, at Associated Space Design and as a designer at Hentrich, Petschnigg und Partner. The years Schwitzke spent at Esprit, where he had a decisive influence on the image appearance of the fashion and lifestyle brand as departmental head, proved to be the defining period in terms of his views on marketing and retail. In 1989, Schwitzke founded the design company Schwitzke & Partner GmbH. In 1991 his brother Klaus joined as his partner – a success story which they have since strategically built, renewed and expanded with the clear goal of developing successful retail concepts for international brands. Today the Schwitzke Group comprises 200 employees servicing five global offices in Düsseldorf, Berlin, Krakow, Paris and since 12 years in Dubai, where Schwitzke is known for successful creative work for Virgin, Marina Home and Majid Al Futtaim.

Managing Director / Schwitzke GmbH
Juan de Lascurain-Chief dreamer Dream Big

Juan de Lascurain

Juan de Lascurain is an entrepeneur-designer from Mexico. He has founded a brand called Dream Big. He started his career as a tennis player, then went on to compete as a triathlete for more than five years around the world, including the 1999 Hawaii Ironman. In 2000 he started coaching tennis in Beverly Hills and four years later he was offered free air-time at a local non-profit television network. Without prior experience he started interviewing celebrities and athletes to present their inspiring stories to inspire others. In 2008 while sitting at a friend’s place Lascurain grabbed a napkin and a black marker and started doodling. A lady noticed and told him to start painting. He decided to try and after a few months finished his first painting. Realising his talent, he decided to paint commercial designs and commercialise everything through the Dream Big brand. Most people thought he was crazy and that artists don’t make money, but through his faith, determination and talent he has been able to create over 10,000 designs.

Chief dreamer / Dream Big
James Whelton-Managing director AYM

James Whelton

James Whelton is managing director at AYM, where he leads the charter to build the infrastructure and technology elements for AYM’s partners across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Prior to AYM, Whelton joined Cobone as CTO in 2013 working closely with the management team to lead Cobone successfully through an acquisition in December of 2014. At 18 Whelton co-founded CoderDojo, a not-for-profit volunteer organisation, setting up youth computer clubs across Ireland and the world. Today it is present in over 50 countries with more than 500 clubs, teaching over 30,000 children weekly. As a digital age thought leader, Whelton has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Huffington Post, Wired, TechCrunch and The San Francisco Chronicle. He is a master orator on entrepreneurship and technical subjects and a regular guest speaker at colleges, universities and embassies. He is also involved in advising and addressing government bodies nationally and internationally on subjects such as youth entrepreneurship and technology education.

Managing director / AYM
Ishwar Chugani-CEO & managing director Giordano Middle East

Ishwar Chugani

Ishwar Chugani is the CEO and managing director of Giordano Middle East and a member of the management committee of Giordano International, Hong Kong. He is also a founding member/advisor of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers. Chugani began his career in 1979 when he set up Sindbad’s Wonderland, Middle East’s first indoor family entertainment centre at the Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai. Chugani received the 2014 Retail Professional of the Year Award from the Middle East and North Africa Shopping Centre and Retailer Awards organised by the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers and the International Council of Shopping Centers and has consistently been recognized as one of the Top 20 Indian CEOs in the Arab World by Forbes magazine in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In June 2017, he was appointed as the FICCI – Philippines (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc.) first Foreign Ambassador of Goodwill.

CEO & managing director / Giordano Middle East
Ian Ohan-Founder & CEO Freedom Pizza

Ian Ohan

A later in life entrepreneur, Ian Ohan has lived, worked and created in the Gulf region for the past 18 years. Today Ohan is the CEO and founder of Freedom Pizza – a UAE-based, all-natural carry-out and delivery pizza chain with over 250 employees, an airline packaged product division – developed initially for Emirates Airlines and soon for VOX Cinemas – and six locations in the UAE. Freedom Pizza is part of KRSH Investments, an F&B investment platform, also owned by Ohan, which is in the process of developing additional home-grown food concepts in the healthier fast and fast casual food sectors. In 2006, Ohan joined two partners and established a real estate and hospitality investment advisory firm RSP Group, which was sold to Jones Lang LaSalle in 2009. In the past, Ohan has held senior positions in KPMG, Arthur Andersen’s Real Estate and Hospitality Group and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Founder & CEO / Freedom Pizza
Hani S Al-Sulaimani-Marketing director Hamat Property Co.

Hani S Al-Sulaimani

Hani S Al-Sulaimani has more than 16 years of marketing & communication experience in the Saudi Arabia market, currently holding the position of marketing director for Hamat Property Co. Prior to Hamat, Al-Sulaimani has led various mega campaigns for several banking products and services, and was part of the team that led the biggest marketing efforts for SABB HSBC in Saudi Arabia achieving outstanding results. He also led the marketing department at the Saudi Investment Bank, where he drafted transforming marketing strategies and influenced the marketing department structure. Al-Sulaimani started his career with GE before moving to banking industry and now real estate.

Marketing director / Hamat Property Co.
Francesco Magri-Country manager and director The Woolmark Company

Frank-Matthias Kuntermann

Frank-Matthias Kuntermann was appointed CEO of ABC Group in August 2017. An accomplished business leader, Kuntermann has been deputy CEO since November 2016 after having joined ABC in 2013 as COO. With his in-depth knowledge of the retail industry, he drove ABC’s strategic vision and development and has brought new practices to the company primarily centred on enhancing customer experience. He has also been instrumental in expanding the group’s brand portfolio. During his tenure, the recent renovation of the ABC Achrafieh Department Store was completed, ultimately bringing new standards to the retail industry in Lebanon. Prior to joining ABC, Kuntermann was with Hermès Middle East. He began his career at Deloitte & Touche in France before moving to the perfume and cosmetics industry where he managed the sales and export of brands Marina de Bourbon and Mauboussin. Kuntermann has been a trade advisor to the French government since 2005, and is a board member of Retail Inc. in Lebanon.

CEO / ABC Group
Francesco Magri-Country manager and director The Woolmark Company

Francesco Magri

Francesco Magri, country manager and director of The Woolmark Company, Australian Wool Innovation, Italy and Iberia, has been associated with the organisation since last five years and has been the driving force behind the Italy office as well as managing The Wool Lab which is an innovative seasonal sourcing guide for wool. Prior to this he has been in the industry for over 15 years as the global brand manager and licensing director for Sergio Tacchini S.P.A, head of brand – Miss sixty, brand manager for Diesel, handled marketing and trend research for Levi Strauss and Co. He possesses a degree in Bachelor of Business Management from University Luigi Bocconi.

Country manager and director / The Woolmark Company
Fahimuddin-CEO Cityland Group

Fahimuddin

A seasoned corporate banker turned entrepreneur, Fahimuddin currently serves as CEO of Cityland Group since 2014, also sitting on the board of the company. He initially started as the group CFO and subsequently advanced to the CEO level, given his excellent management skills, business knowledge and exponential business growth achieved under his leadership in the span of two years. Fahimuddin’s major accomplishments during his banking career include, but not limited to, financing of various real estate and retail projects including Bawadi Mall development in Al Ain, Al Barari Outlet Mall Al Ain and Al Etihad Towers in Al Raha Beach Abu Dhabi with a combined project value in excess of AED1.2 billion. Fahimuddin is a highly regarded expert in the field of finance and management owing to his various assignments in banking and his current job as the CEO of Cityland Group. He is all geared up to bring landmark destinations to Dubai under his leadership.

CEO / Cityland Group
Enjy Kiwan-Founder & Managing Director Rubabikia

Enjy Kiwan

Enjy Kiwan is of Egyptian origin, but born and bred in the UAE. She has a BA in banking and finance from the American University in Dubai. She has worked in the banking Industry for almost ten years as an investment analyst, financial editor, panel moderator and event organiser. She worked in esteemed companies such as NBAD, Thomson Reuters and Menacorp. In 2013 she opened her own home décor boutique and has now taken her business online through social media. Kiwan’s passion for public speaking overshadowed her financial background where she spent most of her time moderating panels, presenting analysis, introducing products and teaching students. She is now a certified presenter from Reporters Academy and has hosted a range of events including fitness, fashion, engineering, film and a lot more.

Founder & Managing Director / Rubabikia
Ebraheem Al Samadi-CEO retail Al Samadi Group

Ebraheem Al Samadi

An entrepreneur from the age of 14, Ebraheem Al Samadi launched his very first business out of his mother’s Florida apartment selling thrift shop clothing and items on eBay, a stint which eventually earned him one of eBay’s coveted ‘1000 Power Sellers’ awards. He joined the family business in 2010 as CEO retail, headed up by his father Husni Al Samadi. The Al Samadi family later expanded their business interests into the Middle East, with Dubai as their operational hub. Today Al Samadi energetically pursues new opportunities wherever they arise. Al Samadi Group comprises two business divisions; retail and hospitality. With brands, products and successful business models sourced from the USA, Canada and Europe, the company portfolio is diverse and continuing to expand. Ebraheem’s driving force has long been the desire to fully support his family, as well as striving to ensure he creates an environment which first and foremost promotes happiness amongst employees and colleagues.

CEO retail / Al Samadi Group
Denis Ravizza-Co-founder ESMOD Dubai & Pôlette Concept Store

Denis Ravizza

Denis Ravizza started his professional career with a degree in art direction & graphic design. In 1989, he was rated by world-renowned American head hunter Rita-Sue Siegel among the top 1% graphic designers in the US. His design and art direction works for numerous record labels in France, England and the US, led him to become consultant for various fashion brands including Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint-Laurent, Versace and Kansai Yamamoto, among others. In 1988 Ravizza was appointed as the ‘key keeper’ of the graphic identity of Esprit’s collections. In 2004, Ravizza landed in Dubai in view of sharing his lifetime passion and expertise in art direction, fashion and design with aspiring fashion designers by founding ESMOD Dubai The French Fashion Institute with Tamara Hostal. Ravizza and Hostal have also co-founded the Pôlette Concept Store at City Walk in Dubai to operate as a retail space for emerging designers and ESMOD Dubai graduates for designing, manufacturing, retailing, branding and marketing their collections.

Co-founder / ESMOD Dubai & Pôlette Concept Store
Christine Souffrant Ntim-Partner Global Startup Ecosystem

Christine Souffrant Ntim

Christine Souffrant Ntim is an award-winning Haitian-American entrepreneur and start-up ecosystem expert for emerging markets. Ntim started her career as the founder of Vendedy, a social network connecting people to street markets with the aim of digitising a $10-trillion black economy and centralising the world’s 200,000 street markets. Today she is the director of Startup Grind Dubai powered by Google for entrepreneurs and a partner at the GlobalStartupEcosystem.com, which hosts the largest digital online accelerator programme in the world, graduating over 1000+ companies across 190+ countries a year. She speaks on digital entrepreneurship, start-up hacking, exponential tech AI and personal branding at over 20+ global conferences a year, which includes former appearances at the US State Department Tours, United Nations, TEDx, SXSW, Startup Grind Global, SeedStars World, European Union Forum and more.

Partner / Global Startup Ecosystem
Chinmoy Ghosh-Assistant Vice President – Performance & Rewards UAE Exchange

Chinmoy Ghosh

Chinmoy K Ghosh, based out of UAE, heads the Global Performance and Rewards department for the UAE Exchange. Ghose is responsible for global compensation and benefits, performance management, recognition programmes and HR analytics for more than 5000 employees spread across 28 countries. He has been with UAE Exchange for the last six years and prior to that has worked with organisations such as Apeejay Surendra Group and Quaker Chemical Ltd in India, during which time he handled many different areas of HR such as performance management, compensation and benefits, recruitment, policies and processes, employee engagement and organisational development. Ghose received his MBA in Personnel Management and Human Resource Development from Balaji Society, India and Masters in Labour Law and Labour Welfare from Pune University, India; before which he had completed his Master degree in Finance at Calcutta University, India.

Assistant Vice President – Performance & Rewards / UAE Exchange
Bhavik Jhaveri-CEO & Founder Pretr Pvt. Ltd

Bhavik Jhaveri

Bhavik Jhaveri is a serial entrepreneur and an emerging market observer. Over a decade long experience in successfully building and leading ventures across payments, consumer internet, technology and omnichannel retailing, both in Indian and global market. In his previous roles, he has been part of founding teams at EBS, Fashionandyou and Craftsvilla. Jhaveri has also been part of a New York-based venture Truefacet.com, and continues to be an active shareholder. In his last role as the founder & CEO at Ambab, he has created India's largest product engineering & co-innovation centre, and has been instrumental in incubating close to 100 products in the last five years. He continues to chair the board at Ambab. In his current role as the founder & CEO at Pretr, he spearheads product, business, strategy and growth. He strongly believes that people don't buy online because it's convenient, but because the alternate is inconvenient. Bhavik is committed to revolutionise the way consumers shop online and at malls.

CEO & Founder / Pretr Pvt. Ltd
Babak Golkar-Co-founder Emperor London

Babak Golkar

Babak Golkar of the Golkar brothers – that also include Farhan and Haman – are the co-founders of Emperor London, a label established in 2010. All three of them take keen interest in art, architecture and accessible luxury, which helped them develop an alternative path to high street retail. Fashion brand Emperor with a multi-disciplinary heritage is based on the principle that its customers are provided with a luxury product made with detail and care, but at an accessible price point. The collections are defined by the Golkar brothers’ signature design aesthetics and attention to detail, with a strong emphasis on luxury and an eclectic use of materials. Babak studied his craft at the London College of Fashion after which he worked for ITTIERRE s.P.a (Just Cavalli, C.N.C, Gianfranco Ferre, Ferre, GF FERRE) heading the visual and creative team for the GCC and Middle East region.

Co-founder / Emperor London
Asli Okar-Marketing Director for Middle East Philips Lighting

Asli Okar

Asli Okar is the marketing director for Middle East at Philips Lighting, the world leader in lighting, connected lighting and lighting for the Internet of Things. She is responsible for marketing strategies and activities for B2B and B2C lighting business covering 13 countries in Middle East. Okar has more than 18 years of experience both for upstream and downstream marketing in technology and innovation. She holds a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University and master’s degree in business administration from Yeditepe University.

Marketing Director for Middle East / Philips Lighting
Arva Saleem Ahmed-Founder Frying Pan Tourism LLC

Arva Saleem Ahmed

With an itch for food discovery inherited from her Indian family in Dubai, which intensified during her college years in Philadelphia, USA and then blew wildly out of control when she took on a management consulting position in New York – Arva Ahmed is convinced that explosively delicious cities are written in her destiny. When she’s not ferreting out a hole-in-the-wall dive in a backstreet of the city or filling tummies on an Old Dubai food trail with visitors, she’s probably chewing over the next interview for the upcoming Frying Pan Adventures' food podcast, penning her food column in a local magazine or churning out some ice cream. Ahmed has an undergraduate degree in Finance and an MBA from the Wharton School in the US.

Founder / Frying Pan Tourism LLC
Andreas Borgmann-Founder & co-CEO Kcal

Andreas Borgmann

Entrepreneur from the age of 18, Andreas L Borgmann has experience in multiple fields ranging from F&B, real estate and construction to design, IT and auto garage. A sports, health and fitness enthusiast, Borgmann followed his passion to start a health food concept called Kcal Healthy Fast Food along with his business partner Mark Carroll. Borgmann’s creative drive, dynamic passion and ‘think big’ approach meshed perfectly with Carroll’s branding and marketing passion. Ambitious and passionate, Borgmann and Carroll identified a gap in the local F&B market for healthy, nutritious food. After 12 months of solid research, hard work and dedication Kcal was born in 2010. Since then, Kcal has enjoyed phenomenal success in the UAE, now forging ahead with plans to expand via franchising beyond the Middle East. In Dubai alone, there are 12 Kcal branches in addition to other divisions including Kcal Extra, Kcal GO and the newly launched Fuel Up by Kcal.

Founder & co-CEO / Kcal
Ulugbek Yuldashev-Founder and managing director Awok.com

Ulugbek Yuldashev

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’.

Ulugbek Yuldashev
ounder and managing director / Awok.com
Retail Development

Adel Belcaid

Adel Belcaid is a principal with AT Kearney's CMT practice, based in Dubai. Belcaid has over 18 years of strategy and operational experience acquired through various engagements in the Middle East, Europe and the US. He advises corporations, regulators and government agencies in telecommunications and media, and more recently in digital transformation, both market-facing (distribution, e-commerce) and structural (operating model, supply chain). Belcaid has led numerous engagements in the areas of strategic planning, sales & marketing, go-to market, new product development, supply chain strategy and organisational development. He is a prolific author/speaker and is regularly featured in leading regional/international publications and audio-visual channels. He holds a MBA from MIT Sloan, USA and M.Eng in Computer Engineering from ENSEIRB, France. He is a Fulbright Scholar and holds a patent in telecommunications.

Principal / AT Kearney Middle East
Walid Hajj-Founder and CEO Cravia

Walid Hajj

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.

Walid Hajj
Founder and CEO / Cravia
Abdul Kader Saadi-Managing Director Glee Hospitality Solutions

Abdul Kader Saadi

Abdul Kader Saadi is MD and owner of Glee Hospitality Solutions, a hospitality consultancy based in Dubai. Saadi has been in the hospitality profession since last 22 years. After graduating from Roches Hotel Management School in Switzerland Saadi started his career in Paris with Sogeres Company and spent six years there. In 2001, he moved to the UK and joined MARC Restaurants Group as a project manager. Within three years of his association with the company, he opened three restaurants of which two were granted Michelin-star recognition. From 2005-07 Saadi invested and focused on turning around a restaurant chain with three outlets in London. In 2008 he moved to the UAE and started Glee Hospitality Solutions by 2009-end. In its seventh year of operations, the company has successfully launched over 21 concepts, opened over 35 outlets across the region and manages a team of nearly 350 employees.

owner & managing director / Glee Hospitality Solutions
Mark Thomson-Director of retail & hospitality solutions EMEA Zebra Technologies

Mark Thomson

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. 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. 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. Prior to joining Motorola Solutions (now part of Zebra Technologies), Mark was head of EMEA market development at Zebra Technologies, responsible for helping to growing Zebra’s EMEA business by focusing activity on core growth verticals. He specifically focused on retail. He has also held senior roles in financial services and hospitality businesses.

director of retail & hospitality solutions EMEA / Zebra Technologies
Matthew King-co-founder Baembu

Matthew King

Matthew King, is the co-founder of Baembu, a self-funded start-up & the first 100% sustainable apparel in the region as recognised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He juggles his full-time day job in between, working as the division manager for one of the largest print companies in the region, armed with almost two decades of experience in the print industry. With the passion and drive for creating something sustainable, King along with his partner Aimee Changco decided to set-up Baembu that specialises in sustainable apparel, made of bamboo fiber and organic cotton, which carries international accreditations. Two years in the industry, the ecologically conscious brand has established a firm foot in the growing entrepreneurial community in the Middle East with one retail touchpoint, e-commerce shop and several pop-up markets aligned to its ethical core.

co-founder / Baembu
Raza Beig-director Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC

Raza Beig

Raza Beig heads Splash and ICONIC, the fashion concepts of the Landmark Group. Since the inception of Splash in 1993, Beig has been actively involved with the overall business development and retail buying for the brand. In 1998, he helped set up Lifestyle, the department chain in India. His bullish approach facilitated the initial days of the Group’s entry into a new market and before he knew it, he was made a board member, in charge of the fashion division for India. Sometime in early 2000, he was appointed managing director of Splash and was invited to be part of the board of directors of Landmark Group. Eventually, in 2006 he was appointed the CEO of Splash. Along with Splash, Beig heads ICONIC, a six-year old business of Landmark Group. With 34 stores in four countries Beig with his strong business acumen plans to take the brand way ahead in the coming future. He is at the forefront of the business, spearheading the brand across the Middle East, Levant countries and the sub-continent, with aggressive expansion plans in the near future.

director / Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC
Alexandre Teodoresco-Founder Street Nights/TruckersDXB

Alexandre Teodoresco

Alexandre Teodoresco is a cultural entrepreneur who has been very active shaping the Dubai event scene with a series of home-grown, grassroots projects such as Street Nights and TruckersDXB. As the founder of Street Nights he has helped bring street art as a genre into the mainstream in Dubai. Street Nights, winner of the best arts and culture event of the Middle East is now in its fourth year and thousands of Dubai residents have enjoyed this energetic mix of street art, hip hop and street food. Seeing that there was no platform for home-grown food trucks, last year Teodoresco launched the first Food Truck community in the UAE, called TruckersDXB. After massive success, this community is expanding all over the country and leading the food truck revolution, always home-grown of course. Teodoresco’s objective is to push Dubai residents to live something different and authentic, not imported but made in Dubai. His slogan is #getoutofthemall

Founder / Street Nights/TruckersDXB
Zaid Alqufaidi-Managing director ENOC Retail

Zaid Alqufaidi

Zaid Alqufaidi is the managing director of ENOC Retail. In his current role, Alqufaidi is responsible for the strategic development of ENOC’s retail business. An ENOC veteran and a seasoned oil and gas industry professional, Alqufaidi comes to his role with extensive experience across the energy value chain, including marketing, aviation, terminal operations and supply sectors. Alqufaidi held numerous managerial positions and has played an instrumental role in the development of EPPCO’s retail network. He has also immensely contributed to bridging the gap between the ENOC and EPPCO brand during the formation of the group’s identity as ENOC. Prior to his current post, Alqufaidi held the position of managing director of ENOC marketing. He was also CEO for EPPCO Group of Companies in 2010. He was previously appointed as manager terminals, distribution and aviation operations in 2000. Alqufaidi first started his career in EPPCO in 1989 as an engineer with the operations department, after which he was promoted to operations and supply coordinator in 1992. He is an engineering graduate from the University of Central Florida, USA.

Managing director / ENOC Retail
TP Pratap-Chief marketing officer QwikCilver Solutions

TP Pratap

With two decades of experience in strategic marketing, product launch initiatives, media campaign management and public relations, TP Pratap has successfully led teams across different segments – setting up channels of distribution, retail and product development. His diverse experience and involvement spans across leading brands across India and the Middle East across Timex Watches, Wipro Lighting and the Polyurethanes and Paints business of ICI and Kuwait Danish Dairies in the GCC Markets. Pratap is a key stake-holder/driver of QwikCilver journey to market in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

Chief marketing officer / QwikCilver Solutions
Shankar Balan-President – CORE Business QwikCilver Solutions

Shankar Balan

A seasoned professional with over two decades of experience across the hospitality, services and retail sectors, Shankar Balan has held various senior and leadership positions with some of the best-known brands in these business segments including Taj Group of Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, ColorPlus, Indian Terrain, Hidesign, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle – Aditya Birla Group and Levi Strauss India. The key stake-holder/driver in QwikCilver’s journey of customer adoption and evangelism in the pre-paid, stored-value space, Balan is also the architect of Qwikcilver’s business services expansion outside of India, into the UAE/GCC region and other international arenas.

President – CORE Business / QwikCilver Solutions
Bhupinder Singh-General manager & CFO Dalma Mall

Bhupinder Singh

Backed with 25 years’ of extensive retail and shopping mall management experience, Bhupinder Singh brings a new functional edge to real estate mixed use, retail, entertainment and hospitality. Having spent the last 18 years in the UAE and Oman, Singh has served in some of the biggest retail names in the region, namely Majid Al Futtaim Investments, Emaar Malls Group, Meraas Holding and presently working with The Developers Holding, in the capacity of general manager and chief financial officer at Dalma Mall, in Abu Dhabi. His diverse career has given him a deep knowledge of local, regional and international landscape, and his history of success contributed in uplifting businesses, demonstrating operational impact and writing successful journeys in the world of retail shopping and mall management. Some of Singh’s career highlights include business operations, strategic planning, trade and brand mix, rental budget and leasing strategies, feasibility analysis and cost control as well as tender and contract management of various mixed use development projects, shopping malls and hospitality.

General manager & CFO / Dalma Mall
Alex Andarakis-Founder and managing director Andarakis Advisory Services

Alex Andarakis

Alexander John Andarakis, founder and managing director of Andarakis Advisory Services, is a prominent marketing and leadership professional with over 25 years of local, regional and international experience with multi-nationals, large regional and publicly listed companies across Australasia, MENA and Turkey.

Founder and managing director / Andarakis Advisory Services
Speakers 2016

Abdul Kader Saadi-Managing Director Glee Hospitality Solutions

Abdul Kader Saadi

Abdul Kader Saadi is MD and owner of Glee Hospitality Solutions, a hospitality consultancy based in Dubai. Saadi has been in the hospitality profession since last 22 years. After graduating from Roches Hotel Management School in Switzerland Saadi started his career in Paris with Sogeres Company and spent six years there. In 2001, he moved to the UK and joined MARC Restaurants Group as a project manager. Within three years of his association with the company, he opened three restaurants of which two were granted Michelin-star recognition. From 2005-07 Saadi invested and focused on turning around a restaurant chain with three outlets in London. In 2008 he moved to the UAE and started Glee Hospitality Solutions by 2009-end. In its seventh year of operations, the company has successfully launched over 21 concepts, opened over 35 outlets across the region and manages a team of nearly 350 employees.

owner & managing director / Glee Hospitality Solutions
Anita Baker-Business director Lush Middle East

Anita Baker

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 her financial acumen she played a key role in the selection of new business partners, country openings and potential commercial opportunities. Baker’s strong combination of financial expertise, Lush brand knowledge and retail awareness led to a new opportunity to expand and develop the MENA region.

business director / Lush Middle East
Kunal Kapoor-Founder and managing director The Luxury Closet

Kunal Kapoor

Kunal 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 moved to Dubai working for Louis Vuitton. In 2011, Kunal founded The Luxury Closet, one of the largest marketplaces for luxury items in the Middle East. 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. This successful and unique venture sees luxury products from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Rolex, Cartier, Louboutin and 100 other top brands sold for up to 70% off the original price. 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.

founder and managing director / The Luxury Closet
Mark Thomson-Director of retail & hospitality solutions EMEA Zebra Technologies

Mark Thomson

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. 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. 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. Prior to joining Motorola Solutions (now part of Zebra Technologies), Mark was head of EMEA market development at Zebra Technologies, responsible for helping to growing Zebra’s EMEA business by focusing activity on core growth verticals. He specifically focused on retail. He has also held senior roles in financial services and hospitality businesses.

director of retail & hospitality solutions EMEA / Zebra Technologies
Thameem Rizvon-group IT director Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Thameem Rizvon

Thameem Rizvon is group IT director of KOJ Group LLC, a Middle East based retailer with around 800 stores, in seven countries and growing at a rapid pace. He has been credited with building a proactive IT strategy, which enables KOJ Group to achieve consistent growth every year. Rizvon’s career spans more than two decades and over the years he has empowered businesses to use technology as a tool for growth in retail, trading, consulting and education. He advises top IT consulting firms in their Middle East strategy and is a passionate IT enthusiast. He is also the founder and chairman of the Middle East Oracle User Group and executive committee member of CIOMajlis – a forum for IT Executives in Middle East. He is a frequent speaker and has spoken in USA, Europe and across the Middle East. He has coined and firmly believes that “Technology is an Enabler to business.”

group IT director / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group
Tahir Shah-founding partner Moti Roti

Tahir Shah

Tahir Shah is the founding partner at Moti Roti, the region’s first Pakistani soul kitchen pop-up and food truck.Born in Doncaster to Pakistani parents, he grew up in a household rooted in a rich food culture where roti or flatbread was shared at the table every night. Graduating from Hertfordshire University he spent over 10 years working for Nokia in IT, moving to Dubai midway through his career. Here, lamenting the lack of quality quick food options for office workers – and being inspired by a fast-food trend from the US known as fast casual – he decided to change the face of Pakistani food. He believed it should be fresh, cool, accessible and represent the true style of Pakistani mums’ food. In 2012, he left Nokia the bullet and started Moti Roti. Within three years he has got his pop-up shops in three locations, and was nominated Restaurateur of the Year 2014 and is one of the first home-grown concepts to start a food truck in the UAE.

founding partner / Moti Roti
Matthew King-co-founder Baembu

Matthew King

Matthew King, is the co-founder of Baembu, a self-funded start-up & the first 100% sustainable apparel in the region as recognised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He juggles his full-time day job in between, working as the division manager for one of the largest print companies in the region, armed with almost two decades of experience in the print industry. With the passion and drive for creating something sustainable, King along with his partner Aimee Changco decided to set-up Baembu that specialises in sustainable apparel, made of bamboo fiber and organic cotton, which carries international accreditations. Two years in the industry, the ecologically conscious brand has established a firm foot in the growing entrepreneurial community in the Middle East with one retail touchpoint, e-commerce shop and several pop-up markets aligned to its ethical core.

co-founder / Baembu
Zaina Kanaan-Charicycles

Zaina Kanaan

Zaina Kanaan is a creative and self-motivated go-getter with 8 years of marketing, digital and startup experience. After graduating from McGill University with a double major in Marketing and Finance, Zaina moved to Dubai and co-founded her first startup, Ananasa, an online platform that commercialized handmade products from the MENA region. A couple of years later she co-founded Charicycles.com, an enlightened business that up-cycles vintage bicycles in a quest to conserve the environment and give back to children in refugee camps. In her free time Zaina spends time traveling and volunteering with less privileged communities using art as a medium to express, heal and communicate their stories to the public eye.

Charicycles
Andres Gonzalez-general manager of fast casual Foodmark

Andres Gonzalez

Andres Gonzalez is currently general manager of fast casual for Foodmark. With 20 years’ experience in the F&B industry both in the GCC and the UK, he has worked for companies operating in the casual and fast casual market segments like La Tasca, Kout Food Group and Just Falafel.

general manager of fast casual / Foodmark
Raki Phillips-co-founder & CEO SugarMoo

Raki Phillips

Raki Phillips is a hospitality veteran for 15 years working for some of the world’s most global brands including Universal Studios Orlando, Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. His experience spans in launching more than 12 hotels globally and numerous F&B concepts such as Hard Rock Live Orlando, Noire the Middle East’s first Dinner in the Dark concept, SoBe at Monte Carlo Beach Club Abu Dhabi, District Lounge in DIFC & District47 Dubai’s highest rooftop at Warwick Hotel Sheikh Zayed Road. He along with his partner Jawad Yehia both realised they had a sweet tooth and a passion for the dessert industry and wanted to create something so unique and out-of-the-box that would want the clients craving more! This led to them to set up SugarMoo, the first online delivery dessert concept in the region. They wanted to be trendsetters in the industry and come up with a completely new dessert concept that consists of unique hybrid desserts.

co-founder & CEO / SugarMoo
Joy Ajlouny-co-founder Fetchr

Joy Ajlouny

For over 20 years, Joy Ajlouny has been an e-commerce industry professional whose business and fashion influence has spanned the globe. Ajlouny is the co-founder of Fetchr, a Silicon-Valley backed technology company based in Dubai aimed at solving emerging market shipping logistics. Fetchr is the first start-up in the Middle East to be funded by a top venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. 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.

co-founder / Fetchr
Margherita Cechhini-divisional director for beauty brands Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Margherita Cechhini

Margherita Cecchini is the divisional director for beauty brands for Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group since March 2015. She has twenty years’ experience in the European beauty industry. For the past ten years she has been global marketing director of KIKO MILANO, an international cosmetics brand, which is a leader in the European beauty market. She led the development of KIKO MILANO into a highly successful international retailer with over 700 stores across Europe and USA. As divisional director for beauty, Cecchini’s responsibilities include Mikyajy, The Body Shop in western KSA, Nayomi Beauty Salon and Neal’s Yard Remedies with nearly 450 stores. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics and Marketing.

divisional director for beauty brands / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group
Nisreen Shocair-president Virgin Megastore Middle East

Nisreen Shocair

Nisreen Shocair is the president of Virgin Megastore for the Middle East. Shocair 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, she held positions at Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG and Hearst Entertainment. She has extensive experience within the music, publishing, licensing, digital and retail sectors. Shocair holds Masters’ degree in Business Administration from both London Business School and Columbia University and has a global perspective having lived and worked in New York, London, the Middle East and Africa. She is on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups and is recipient of several globally prestigious awards and regularly speaks at different industry forums.

president / Virgin Megastore Middle East
Sarah Jones-founder Mini Exchange

Sarah Jones

At the age of 14 Sarah Jones set up a profitable eBay business importing items from China and America and selling in the UK, igniting a love for e-commerce and a dream to be CEO of eBay. A degree in Economics at Edinburgh University and a highly competitive nature led her to compete in sport internationally, leading Jones to the world of buying and selling companies in the M&A retail team at Deloitte in London before an international secondment brought her out to the Middle East. After two years in Deloitte’s Dubai office Jones left the finance world, recognising the huge potential of the e-commerce market and started Mini Exchange. She raised a seed funding round of $1.1 million last July and has been the recipient of many awards and was selected for Google’s prestigious BlackBox accelerator programme in Silicon Valley in 2015.

founder / Mini Exchange
Raza Beig-director Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC

Raza Beig

Raza Beig heads Splash and ICONIC, the fashion concepts of the Landmark Group. Since the inception of Splash in 1993, Beig has been actively involved with the overall business development and retail buying for the brand. In 1998, he helped set up Lifestyle, the department chain in India. His bullish approach facilitated the initial days of the Group’s entry into a new market and before he knew it, he was made a board member, in charge of the fashion division for India. Sometime in early 2000, he was appointed managing director of Splash and was invited to be part of the board of directors of Landmark Group. Eventually, in 2006 he was appointed the CEO of Splash. Along with Splash, Beig heads ICONIC, a six-year old business of Landmark Group. With 34 stores in four countries Beig with his strong business acumen plans to take the brand way ahead in the coming future. He is at the forefront of the business, spearheading the brand across the Middle East, Levant countries and the sub-continent, with aggressive expansion plans in the near future.

director / Landmark Group & CEO – Splash & ICONIC
Ishwar Chugani-CEO & managing director Giordano Middle East (FZE)

Ishwar Chugani

Ishwar Chugani is the CEO and managing director of Giordano Middle East (FZE) and is also an executive director and board member of Giordano International, Hong Kong. As CEO & MD of Giordano Middle East, he heads the group’s business in the Middle East, India, Africa, Central Asia and Europe. Chugani began his career in 1979 when he set up Sindbad’s Wonderland, Middle East’s first Indoor family entertainment centre at Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai. In 1993, he successfully entered into a JV with Giordano International and has successfully expanded the business from its original base in the UAE to numerous markets around the region. Apart from his responsibilities at Giordano, Chugani is also a founding member of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres. His contribution to the retail industry in the region spans 37 distinguished years. Chugani studied business management at De La Salle University in the Philippines, where he graduated with honours.

CEO & managing director / Giordano Middle East (FZE)
Aiisha Ramadan-founder AIISHA

Aiisha Ramadan

Behind the brand AIISHA is Lebanese fashion designer Aiisha Ramadan, who started the company in the UAE in 2007. Even before graduating from the American University in Dubai majoring in Fashion Design, Ramadan won a number of prestigious awards, a trend that continues. Ramadan’s character dictates her love for complexity and consequently, her designs have adopted the characteristics of their maker. The brand AIISHA truly values the design process and defies fast fashion trends of today in favour for creating classic and long lasting pieces. Through meticulously detailed embroidery and intricate hand-made beading, AIISHA has flourished with an identity rooted in couture at desirable designer prices making the brand an accessible luxury. As an influencer, Ramadan places emphasis on individuality, freedom of expression, self-acceptance and celebration expressed through the designs she creates for AIISHA as well as her CSR initiatives that she sincerely supports.

founder / AIISHA
Nick Peel-CEO Marka PJSC

Nick Peel

As CEO of Marka PJSC, Nick Peel is responsible for leading the development and growth of the first public joint stock company listed on the Dubai Financial Market focused on the UAE’s rapidly growing retail sector. Drawing on a wealth of experience gained from senior management positions in major corporations and world-renowned brands, Peel provides strategic direction for Marka by identifying key opportunities to expand its position in the marketplace. Under his expert guidance, Marka is strengthening its influence across the region as a premier retail operator targeting the mid-to-high-range segments in sports retail, fashion and hospitality. His overarching role sees him pursuing a growth strategy for Marka based on acquisitions, franchise agreements and unique retail concepts that includes partnering with leading global brands in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Prior to Marka, Peel has held important positions at McArthur Glen, Arsenal FC, Land Securities, Rangers Football Club and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC.

CEO / Marka PJSC
Ola Sinno-Owner/managing partner Spill the Bean

Ola Sinno

Beirut is the kind of city that wakes you up to the smell of coffee roasting or brewing from every nook and cranny. Growing up to these sights and sounds planted the love of coffee in Ola Sinno’s heart and soul from a young age. The urge to get into the F&B business happened when Sinno quit the corporate world. She was spending a lot more time in coffee shops and restaurants to freelance and meet clients and craved for a place to call her own blossomed into a full-fledged dream. This started the whole ‘I should open up a coffee shop that I could spend the rest of my life in’ idea. Spill the Bean was thus born as an independent specialty coffee shop built on the marriage between single origin coffees from different areas of the world and reinvented coffee shop food to create a healthy but decadent affair aimed at serving and delighting the community around.

Owner/managing partner / Spill the Bean
Tanya Ganwani-Founder Burn

Tanya Ganwani

Tanya Ganwani hails from a family of entrepreneurs and decided to carry on the tradition and contribute to the legacy of her family business by beginning her career with the Lals Group in 2012. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business Management with a minor in marketing from Regents College London. Soon after graduation, Ganwani moved back to Dubai and took on her role as the director of marketing of the Lals Group, a retail group in Dubai that operates brands such as Homes R Us, Lamcy Plaza, Arabian Center, Carters and Daiso, to name a few, as she believes that business has been in her blood since the day she was born. With four years of experience in the retail industry, Ganwani has taken a step forward and has launched an active wear brand for women, Burn, conceptualised and designed solely by her.

Founder / Burn
Andrew Williamson-Director, head MENA retail JLL

Andrew Williamson

Andrew Williamson comes with 22 years of experience with 11 years in the UAE. He is currently director, head MENA retail at JLL. He is responsible for revenue generation, leasing and property development advisory work at JLL MENA. He has been involved in numerous retail development advisory assignments in the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Egypt and Oman. Some of the key projects handled by Williamson include Al Faisaliyah Mall and The Landmark in Riyadh, Emaar Jeddah Gate in Jeddah, Aramco, SDHOP in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Palm Mall in Muscat, Oman; and The Crescent Project in Baku, Azerbaijan, among several others. Williamson has a degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario. He is also a certified financial planner.

Director, head MENA retail / JLL
Hesham Almekkawi-Group managing director of hospitality Marka Group PJSC

Hesham Almekkawi

Hesham Almekkawi is an accomplished executive, entrepreneur and college professor. He has dedicated his career to adding value to companies through their greatest assets – its people. It’s a task, or rather a mission, he has carried out with profound success for over 23 years, contributing to the success of various US and Middle Eastern organisations in the service industry. Currently, he is the group managing director of hospitality for Marka Group PJSC. Among his most notable accomplishments are directing the operations of two of the largest restaurant franchises in the US and the UAE; with a combined revenue and personnel of over $500 million and 8,000-plus employees, respectively. Almekkawi holds a bachelor degree in Engineering with an EMBA in Service Strategy and Operations Management from Zicklin School of Business in New York. In 2003 he was appointed by Baruch College as an adjunct professor to teach service strategy and operations management to senior undergraduate students. In 2012, he became a certified International Life Coach and NLP Practitioner. He is also a certified John Maxwell speaker.

Group managing director of hospitality / Marka Group PJSC
Rajiv Suri-CEO Majid Al Futtaim Fashion

Rajiv Suri

Rajiv Suri is CEO at Majid Al Futtaim Fashion, the retailing arm of Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the MENA region. Suri joined Majid Al Futtaim Fashion in April 2014 at a time of significant growth and expansion, with the launches of Halston Heritage and Hollister, into the region. Since his start with Majid Al Futtaim Fashion, Suri has spearheaded the signing of franchise agreements with iconic brands AllSaints, lululemon athletica and Peacocks. Under his leadership Majid Al Futtaim Fashion has signed a landmark joint venture with Monsoon & Accessorize. To the already existing apparel portfolio Suri added the French furniture brand Maisons du Monde, a strategically new move for the fashion retailer. Prior to Majid Al Futtaim Fashion, Suri was CEO retail at Jashanmal from 2007, and franchise director and then managing director of Mexx, between 2003 and 2007, having worked for the company since 1998. Suri started his retail career in Kuwait with Alshaya in the late 1980’s.

CEO / Majid Al Futtaim Fashion
Tapan Vaidya-General manager, restaurant division Jawad Business Group

Tapan Vaidya

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. In May, 2001 he was offered a position to head the restaurant business for Jawad Business Group – that he currently holds – 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.

General manager, restaurant division / Jawad Business Group
Nisha Varman Shetty-Founder & managing director The Urban Yogi

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.

Founder & managing director / The Urban Yogi
Ulugbek Yuldashev-Founder & managing director Awok.com

Ulugbek Yuldashev

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 and counting. 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, he 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.

Founder & managing director / Awok.com
Ashish Panjabi-COO Jacky’s Group of Companies

Ashish Panjabi

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 Panjabi’s long standing partnership with Samsung Gulf that he started and now runs Jacky’s Retail LLC, which operates Samsung brand shops across the UAE. Starting with the first brand shop in December 2013, Jacky’s already operates some of the top-grossing Samsung brand shops in the world, such as that in Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Deira. Jacky’s also operates its own Samsung brand shops in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Panjabi also managed the group’s distribution, mail order and project sales businesses. He is also responsible for managing IT-infrastructure at Jacky’s and integrating the group’s different business units in the UAE onto a unified system.

COO / Jacky’s Group of Companies
Stephen Holbrook-Member of the executive board Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Stephen Holbrook

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.

Member of the executive board / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group
Mona Ataya-Founder & CEO Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya

Mona Ataya has proven to be one of the Middle East’s most prominent of women entrepreneurs. The co-founder of Bayt.com, arguably the most successful online search engine for jobs in the Middle East, is now, after becoming a mother of three boys, working to disrupt the well-ingrained retail space in the Middle East with the goal of assisting mothers with their maternity, infant and childcare product needs. Ataya’s latest venture is Mumzworld.com, a leading gold standard e-commerce vertical for baby and child shopping in the Middle East region that has been going from strength-to-strength. Prior to Mumzworld.com, Ataya has had a track record of impressive and diverse international experience building global brands. She started her career at Procter & Gamble, USA, at age 20 after graduating with a dual honors degree in marketing and finance. She later moved back to the Middle East working with Johnson and Johnson MENA followed by Johnson and Johnson Europe managing a broad portfolio of leading global brands.

Founder & CEO / Mumzworld.com
Shafeena Yusuffali-CEO Tablez Food Company

Shafeena Yusuffali

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, Yusuffali 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 most recently American brasserie and celebrity brand Sugar Factory. Yusuffali 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.

CEO / Tablez Food Company
Rahul Agarwal-CEO Organic Harvest

Rahul Agarwal

Rahul Agarwal is the CEO of Organic Harvest, India’s first natural organic brand launched in 2013. In three years Agarwal has successfully taken Organic Harvest to new heights, with reach in over 5,000 outlets, 11 exclusive brand outlets across India and has launched more than 100 SKUs of organic beauty products. He recently launched the brand in the UAE. Agarwal chose entrepreneurship over a dynamic career with Ernst and Young, where he worked for five years. In 2007 he launched Innovadia LLC, his first venture, an education medium working as a legislature financed program under the US Federal Government, with more than 20, 000 US students. Agarwal is an avid proponent of innovation and considers it a benchmark for any industry.

CEO / Organic Harvest
Muna Al Gurg-Director retail Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group

Muna Al Gurg

An active member of Dubai’s business and non-profit community, Muna Al Gurg’s primary responsibility is towards her family business – the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group – a diversified international conglomerate formed by her father in Dubai in 1960. She is currently director of retail for the family business, responsible for strategy and operational development for the group’s international and local retail brands that include United Colours of Benetton, Siemens, Unilever and IDdesign. Al Gurg is also chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders UAE; founding board member of Hub Dubai, a non-profit collaborative playground for social, environmental and economic development; and an active mentor at the Dubai Start-up sessions. She is also on Endeavor Global‘s Middle East board. A personal interest in social initiatives sees Al Gurg serve on the board of several non-profit organisations, including the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and ambassador of the UAE’s Pink Caravan’s breast cancer awareness initiative.

Director retail / Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group
Rohin Thampi-Regional director Zomato Middle East

Rohin Thampi

Rohin Thampi is the regional director for Zomato in the Middle East. He has successfully handled and grown the business for Zomato in Bengaluru, India and in his current role he oversees all operations for Zomato at a regional level, across the Middle East and South Africa. Prior to joining Zomato, Thampi has worked in multiple sectors such as FMCG and real estate. Having graduated with a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007, Thampi went on to pursue a PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad in 2009.

Regional director / Zomato Middle East
Furqan Athar-Partner/director – strategy & planning McArthur+Company

Furqan Athar

Over the past 20 years, Furqan Athar has been instrumental in the financial and administrative strategic planning and management of some of the most successful shopping centres and mixed-use developments in the Middle East and Asia. In 2011, he 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. He 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. An expert in business process and IT set-up, he has participated in the deployment of major ERP solutions such as JDE 1 World, Navision and SAP in major multinationals. In 2004 he launched Spret Trading, a multinational retailing company with over 250 employees within various locations across the Middle East. He also founded Retail Solutions, an investment management and advisory firm based in Dubai.

Partner/director – strategy & planning / McArthur+Company
Ian Ohan-Founder & CEO Freedom Pizza

Ian Ohan

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.

Founder & CEO / Freedom Pizza
Phil Broad-Vice president – food & beverages Alghanim Industries

Phil Broad

Phil Broad is vice president of food and beverage at Alghanim Industries, where one of the brands he is responsible for is Wendy’s Middle East. He has overseen the refurbishment and opening of Wendy’s restaurants and is excited to be planning the roll out of the Wendy’s brand across the region. Prior to Alghanim Industries, he joined the Intercontinental Hotels Group in AMEA as VP of food and beverage, and oversaw F&B in 236+ hotels in 40 countries with more than 900 restaurants and bars. He has worked across six of the company’s hotel brands, including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Indigo. Broad was also managing director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC where he was tasked to set up and license innovative and successful casual restaurant concepts both locally and internationally. He has also managed a range of global brands including Starbucks Coffee, T.G.I Friday’s, Tesco and Pizza Hut UK. Broad has also owned and operated his own restaurant company in the UK between 2000 and 2006.

Vice president – food & beverages / Alghanim Industries
Ronaldo Mouchawar-Co-founder & CEO Souq.com

Ronaldo Mouchawar

Ronaldo Mouchawar is the co-founder and CEO of Souq.com, the largest online retail and marketplace platform in the Arab world. Since co-founding Souq.com in 2005, Mouchawar has overseen aggressive expansion of the company to become the first choice in online shopping for millions of customers in the MENA region. Mouchawar has more than 15 years of experience in technology and business management. He started his career as a technical and systems consultant with EDS in the US, and before starting Souq.com, he spearheaded a consulting company that managed numerous web and e-commerce projects in the Arab world. He holds a Master's degree in Digital Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. In March 2015, Mouchawar received an award from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, in recognition of Souq.com’s digital influence in the UAE.

Co-founder & CEO / Souq.com
Sanjay Manchanda-CEO Nakheel

Sanjay Manchanda

Sanjay Manchanda is the CEO of Nakheel PJSC, one of the world-leading developers and a key player in realising the vision of Dubai for the 21st century. Manchanda joined Nakheel as a consultant to advise the company through its $16 billion debt restructuring programme, which was successfully completed in August 2011. He assumed the role of CEO in 2012. He has been recognised for his leadership skills and has been ranked as Top Executives Forbes listing for the Middle East and has also featured in the Indian Super 100. Prior to joining Nakheel, Manchanda spent 25 years working in the Middle East as a partner at leading global accounting advisory firm – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Born in Vienna and educated in India, Manchanda is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

CEO / Nakheel
Karen Staley-Senior vice president IAAPA EMEA

Karen Staley

Karen Staley is senior vice president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) EMEA. Staley 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, the US, and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Orlando, Florida.

Senior vice president / IAAPA EMEA
Krish Shroff-Project manager Regal Group

Krish Shroff

Krish Shroff is a third generation member of the Regal Group, which operates a variety of businesses in the UAE and Middle East, including textiles retail & wholesale, industrial & personal technology solutions, optics retail and real estate & investments. Shroff joined the business in September 2014 to head up the retail arm of a franchised sportswear brand, and built it up before selling it (along with the wholesale division) in August 2016. Within the group, he is currently focused on an e-commerce business that supplies branded products to major e-commerce platforms in the region, digital marketing for the textile company to increase brand awareness and market share and developing the internal architecture for the group as a whole to improve productivity, efficiency, communication and co-ordination. Aside from the group, Shroff is also co-working on a fitness website and other media projects. He enjoys connecting with a variety of people across industries in Dubai, especially in the start-up and technology sectors.

Project manager / Regal Group
Nisreen Boustani-PR & corporate communications manager Mercato & Town Centre Jumeirah

Nisreen Boustani

Nisreen Boustani joined the Al Zarooni Group in 2013 and holds the position of PR & corporate communications manager for Mercato and Town Centre Jumeirah. Boustani started her professional career in the fashion and retail industry working for Al Tayer Group in Dubai, working on prestigious brands such as Dolce & Gabbana. She went on to work for a brand new shopping mall in Dubai in 2008, where she spent five years handling the tourism marketing and public relations activities. Today, Boustani is the face of Mercato and Town Centre Jumeirah and is responsible for all PR, corporate communications and the tourist marketing programmes at the malls. With a Bachelor’s degree in foreign languages (English & Arabic) from Aleppo University in Syria, a travel & tourism diploma and a marketing & sales diploma, Boustani is passionate about travel and communications.

PR & corporate communications manager / Mercato & Town Centre Jumeirah
Gundeep Singh-President & founder The Change Initiative

Gundeep Singh

Gundeep Singh is the president and founder of The Change Initiative, a Dubai-based eco-friendly retail concept set up in 2010, which offers a wide range of environmental friendly fashion brands, wall paints to organic groceries and much more. Prior to setting up The Change Initiative, Singh worked at HSBC and was an HSBC Talent Pool member from 2003-06. He set up Khalid Abdulla Al Ghurair Enterprises in 2006 and was appointed managing director of the group. He also worked with the Al Ghurair Group from 1999 till 2002. Singh is a serial entrepreneur who set up his first enterprise way back in 1997 in India called The Learning Curve, which set the trend in psychometric measurement in India. He is an acclaimed author too who has written several career oriented books. Singh holds a Graduate degree from the University of Madras, India and Master’s degree from Cornell University and ESSEC.

President & founder / The Change Initiative
Mark Pilkington-CEO Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group

Mark Pilkington

Mark Pilkington is the CEO of Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group, a Middle East based retailer with around 800 stores, in seven countries and growing at a rapid pace. Pilkington joined the KOJ Group in 2008 as brand director of Nayomi, and became CEO of the group in March 2013. He comes with a very strong background in fashion having been the director general of Georges Rech, a French fashion house, in the 1990s before becoming managing director of Gossard, a leading European lingerie brand. In 2000, Pilkington founded Splendour.com, UK’s first online luxury lingerie company, with the financial backing of Marks and Spencer. Splendour was acquired by a UK publically listed company in 2006. Pilkington is an Oxford University graduate and has an MBA from INSEAD Business School in France.

CEO / Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group
Mohammad Iqbal BH Alawi-Board member & CEO Red Sea Markets Co Ltd.

Mohammad Iqbal BH Alawi

Mohammad Iqbal BH Alawi is board member & CEO, Red Sea Markets Co Ltd., owner and developer of Jeddah-based Red Sea Mall. He comes with over 25 years of experience in tuning towards success, various developments and existing retail properties in Saudi Arabia. With well-versed skills and persistent follow-up in operations and marketing, Alawi created two retail epics of their time, Hera Community Mall at Madinah Road and the iconic super-regional Red Sea Mall at King Abdul Aziz Road in Jeddah. He also carries in his career portfolio eight other shopping malls that were developed during his tenure at Savola. Al Amoudi, Majid Al Futtaim and SKAB are some other prominent names linked to his career path. Alawi is a Saudi public figure on the retail scene. He chairs the Shopping Malls Committee at JCCI. He is also a member with the promotions and events Committee at JCCI and the National Saudi Tourism Board in Riyadh. He is an active panellist, juror and speaker at many events and conferences in the region and beyond.

Board member & CEO / Red Sea Markets Co Ltd.
Saba Tahir-Vice president – purchasing Dubai Duty Free

Saba Tahir

Saba Tahir joined the Dubai Duty Free (DDF) in 1983 as merchandiser. She later worked as assistant buyer, buyer and as senior buyer. She was appointed as manager purchasing & research (acting) in 2008 and promoted to manager purchasing, vendor support and research in 2010. Tahir has 32 years of buying experience at DDF and is responsible for developing product assortments following consumer and market trends as well as managing sales and overall margins across all categories. She was named vice president – purchasing in July 2011.

Vice president – purchasing / Dubai Duty Free
Shant Oknayan-Head of e-commerce, retail, online services & media Facebook MENA & Pakistan

Shant Oknayan

Shant Oknayan is the head of e-commerce, retail, online services & media at Facebook MENA and Pakistan, where he leads efforts to enable businesses in the region to scale growth and engage with consumers on Facebook. Shant has over 15 years of experience in leading strategy & business development, with subject-matter expertise in digital and investment strategies for governments and corporations, having most recently headed up Google’s market development for small & medium businesses in MENA. Shant’s understanding of the e-commerce space saw him co-found GlamBox, the first and leading beauty e-commerce company in the MENA region. He was also Google’s head of strategy & operations in MENA, and prior to that spent eight years as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and Strategy, leading business technology and digital strategy projects for governments, large organisations and investment firms both in the Middle East and Europe. Shant holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a Masters with honors in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Imperial College London.

Head of e-commerce, retail, online services & media / Facebook MENA & Pakistan
Ramesh Cidambi-COO Dubai Duty Free

Ramesh Cidambi, COO, Dubai Duty Free

Ramesh Cidambi is the COO of Dubai Duty Free (DDF) and is responsible for all aspects of the company's operation, reporting to the executive vice chairman and CEO. Prior to taking over this role in June 2016, Cidambi looked after the IT and logistics functions at DDF as senior vice president. He also led the team that oversaw the development of DDF’s retail offer at both of Dubai’s airports. His recent projects include the opening of DDF’s retail offer in Concourse D in February 2016 after having previously worked on the opening of Concourses A, B and Terminal 3. Cidambi has also led the design and construction of the head office and automated distribution centre that supports DDF’s $2 billion retail business. He has also helped complete the construction of the DDF-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, which together with the Irish Village and Century Village, is part of the DDF’s leisure business. He started the IT function in 1987, and had led the implementation of custom applications, Oracle e-business suite, Oracle Retail applications, Oracle Commerce (for the click-and-collect service), work-force management as well as new technologies at the point of sale. Cidambi holds an MBA degree from Utah State University and a B.S. degree from Loyola College (Chennai, India).

COO / Dubai Duty Free
Alexandre Teodoresco-Founder Street Nights/TruckersDXB

Alexandre Teodoresco

Alexandre Teodoresco is a cultural entrepreneur who has been very active shaping the Dubai event scene with a series of home-grown, grassroots projects such as Street Nights and TruckersDXB. As the founder of Street Nights he has helped bring street art as a genre into the mainstream in Dubai. Street Nights, winner of the best arts and culture event of the Middle East is now in its fourth year and thousands of Dubai residents have enjoyed this energetic mix of street art, hip hop and street food. Seeing that there was no platform for home-grown food trucks, last year Teodoresco launched the first Food Truck community in the UAE, called TruckersDXB. After massive success, this community is expanding all over the country and leading the food truck revolution, always home-grown of course. Teodoresco’s objective is to push Dubai residents to live something different and authentic, not imported but made in Dubai. His slogan is #getoutofthemall

Founder / Street Nights/TruckersDXB
Dr Eyad Alkassar-Co-founder Middle East Internet Group

Dr Eyad Alkassar, co-founder, Middle East Internet Group

Eyad Alkassar grew up in Germany, where he earned a Ph.D. Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science from Saarland University. Before joining Rocket Internet as managing director for the Middle East, Alkassar worked as senior researcher in Computer Science. During his studies he was a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Alkassar was a co-founder of Namshi.com and in the fall of 2013, he became a founder of the Middle East Internet Group.

Co-founder / Middle East Internet Group
Cyrille Fabre-Partner Bain & Company Dubai

Cyrille Fabre

Cyrille Fabre is a partner in Bain & Company’s Dubai. He leads Bain’s social & public sector practice for EMEA as well as the retail and consumer Products practices in the Middle East. He is also a core member of the firm’s family businesses practice. Fabre has more than 15 years of management consulting experience and delivers strategies that work for leading businesses. He primarily advises family businesses and retailers on their portfolio strategy and organisation. He has also developed specific expertise in the Middle East food sector from producer to retailer. In addition, he works with economic development agencies to address topics such as industrialisation in the GCC region. Prior to joining Bain, Fabre worked for IBM Middle East and Capgemini. He is also a former member of the executive committee for the French Business Council in Dubai. He holds an MBA from INSEAD/Wharton Business School, a Master’s in industrial relations from London School of Economics and a Diploma in management studies with honours from University of Cambridge.

Partner / Bain & Company Dubai
Brad Merchant-Director of retail asset management Aldar Properties PJSC

Brad Merchant

Brad Merchant is the director of retail asset management at Aldar Properties PJSC where he leads the property management, leasing and retail delivery teams responsible for more than seven million sqft of retail and mixed-use space across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Kazakhstan. The portfolio includes the highly successful super-regional Yas Mall; the mixed-use World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi; Al Jimi Mall, currently under expansion in Al Ain; the sizable one million sqft community retail portfolio; and the exciting Abu Dhabi Plaza, mixed-use project scheduled to open in June 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Merchant has more than 25 years shopping centre experience, having previously worked with two of Canada’s leading property developers and more recently with a major developer based in Dubai. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and has attained both his Certified Shopping Centre Manager (CSM) and Senior Certified Shopping Centre Manager (SCSM) designations from the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC).

Director of retail asset management / Aldar Properties PJSC
Laurent Guitart-General manager Circle K UAE

Laurent Guitart

Laurent Guitart is the general manager of Circle K, a US-based franchise of convenience store with a network of 32 stores all over the UAE. Guitart comes with more than 16 years of experiences in the retail industry with 10 years only in the UAE. Prior to Circle K he has been part of some multinational companies, such as Group Casino, Hyperpanda and also Das Holding. Guitart has experienced all retail business size and segments, from big box to convenience business size, from non-food to food industry. Circle K’s mission is to bring new convenience unit concept to the dynamic retail environment in the Middle East, and to operate its network by maintaining extraordinary services to customers, partners and shareholders, creating a working environment that reflects the brand’s high standards and uncompromising commitment to excellence.

General manager / Circle K UAE
Idriss Al Rifai-Founder & CEO Fetchr

Idriss Al Rifai

Idriss Al Rifai is an entrepreneur passionate about disrupting the Middle East retail market with technologies and customer-centric services that enable the growth of e-commerce in the region. Al Rifai has developed and optimised a last mile delivery solution specifically for the e-commerce needs and requirements in the Middle East. In 2013, he founded Fetchr, formerly MENA360, which has evolved to become a full end-to-end logistics solution, backed by technology, for e-commerce companies, regional players, social media sellers as well as SMBs in the MENA. Fetchr is the first company in MENA to raise $11M in Series A funding, led by a Silicon Valley VC, New Enterprise Associates. Previously Al Rifai worked for MarkaVIP where he headed the operations and built an in-house logistics department for the company to expedite deliveries. Prior to that, he worked as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group. He holds degrees from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris (Sciences Po) and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He is a Rath and Fulbright scholar and Endeavor entrepreneur.

Founder & CEO / Fetchr
Zaid Alqufaidi-Managing director ENOC Retail

Zaid Alqufaidi

Zaid Alqufaidi is the managing director of ENOC Retail. In his current role, Alqufaidi is responsible for the strategic development of ENOC’s retail business. An ENOC veteran and a seasoned oil and gas industry professional, Alqufaidi comes to his role with extensive experience across the energy value chain, including marketing, aviation, terminal operations and supply sectors. Alqufaidi held numerous managerial positions and has played an instrumental role in the development of EPPCO’s retail network. He has also immensely contributed to bridging the gap between the ENOC and EPPCO brand during the formation of the group’s identity as ENOC. Prior to his current post, Alqufaidi held the position of managing director of ENOC marketing. He was also CEO for EPPCO Group of Companies in 2010. He was previously appointed as manager terminals, distribution and aviation operations in 2000. Alqufaidi first started his career in EPPCO in 1989 as an engineer with the operations department, after which he was promoted to operations and supply coordinator in 1992. He is an engineering graduate from the University of Central Florida, USA.

Managing director / ENOC Retail
Luca Cappuccitti-Head – global business development division Design International

Luca Cappuccitti

Luca Cappuccitti is a highly experienced player within the retail and property development industry and a member of several leading industry affiliations. He has been recently named the co-chair for the ICSC European Conference 2016. Cappuccitti heads up the Design International (DI) global business development division and since 2013 has been expanding its operational reach worldwide. He has spent the last 18 years supporting at strategic level international property owners and working on numerous high-profile projects. With his wide experience in retail, results-driven approach and colourful character, Cappuccitti brings a new level of creativity to DI’s global business development ambitions across Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, China and India. Being very close in the past years to the Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Group International, Cappuccitti is currently working on several relevant new shopping malls within the GCC, Africa and India. He is a graduate of La Sapienza University of Rome, with a PhD in International Geoeconomics and Geopolitics and a Master’s in Luxury Management.

Head – global business development division / Design International
Amal Al Marri-Owner Independent Food

Amal Al Marri

Creative designer and event planner Amal Al Marri found her food passion upon graduating from Zayed University in 2013. Holding a degree in interior design did not stop Al Marri from starting a food revolution that focused on an effortless yet premium-dining experience. Utilising open space in the UAE Al Marri alongside her friend and food entrepreneur Deem AlBassam started a food movement that left an everlasting impression on all those who experienced it. With her creative background and AlBassam’s passion for experience in F&B, SALT was born, becoming the UAE’s first known food truck and today is a lifestyle that hopes to change the way people view food. SALT developed a unique culinary style: rustic foods made using pure and easy ingredients bursting with vivid flavors. Moving around the country SALT found huge success with its #findsalt campaign on social media channels. Soon after its launch SALT became one of the top dining destinations in the region and holds permanent locations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman in the UAE.

Owner / Independent Food
Deem AlBassam-Owner Independent Food

Deem AlBassam

Hailing from Saudi Arabia Deem AlBassam started her food journey in 2008 with the launch of ‘Switch’ restaurant. AlBassam spotted gaps in the market and took a leap following her passion, creating dishes that were both delicious and visually appealing. She was determined to create a local-born Arab-centric food experience that would put the region on the world’s food map. Following the success of ‘Switch’, in 2013 AlBassam joined forces with her friend Amal Al Marri to launch SALT, a pop-up dining experience that gained attention from all over the world. With aspirations to open multiple restaurants, the duo are now looking forward to expand their culinary expertise already launching their new restaurant concept ‘Parkers’ in The Dubai Mall. Holding a degree in marketing from the American University of Dubai, AlBassam is continually reinventing happening market trends to bring forth a space brimming with passion and energy, to create an idealistic social situation for good talks and good food.

Owner / Independent Food
Natasha Rockstrom-Innovator Mzero.one

Natasha Rockstrom

Natasha Rockstrom’s creative mind and entrepreneurial spirit is always looking to innovate how organisations can interact and engage with an individual’s everyday behaviours to co-create the world around us and maximise the ripple effect of positive transformation. Along with past work experience in Canada, the US and the Middle East, Rockstrom holds an EMBA in Finance from the Stockholm School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Economics from McGill University. With 15 years’ of experience across multi–cultural environments encompassing social enterprise, financial services, business consultancy, real estate development and owning her own business, she brings a wealth of experience to the creative table. With a passion for technology, transformation and human values, Rockstrom is also an active member with philanthropic and non-profit enterprises such as Magic Bus, Wisdom Together and Servicespace. A creative, focused and inspiring individual who always has a smile, Rockstrom is inspired by people who are making a difference one small act at a time.

Innovator / Mzero.one
Paul Kenny-Partner Emerge Ventures

Paul Kenny

Paul Kenny is one of the leading technology founders in the Middle East. Having founded his first venture at the age of 25 Kenny went on to start four companies before the age of 30. At the age of 28 he exited his first venture and is now a partner at Emerge Ventures, which is investing into early stage growth companies in the Middle East. Kenny has been selected as the 10th most influential person under the age of 30 in the Middle East; one of the 25 most important people in technology in the region; in the top 10 entrepreneurs in the Middle East; and one of the 30 under-30 shaping Ireland’s future. In September and October 2012 Kenny won the Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year by Gulf Business and the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year highlighting the explosive growth achieved so early in his career.

Partner / Emerge Ventures
Shamail Siddiqi-Principal AT Kearney

Shamail Siddiqi

Shamail Siddiqi is a principal in AT Kearney’s consumer industries and retail practice in the Middle East, based in Dubai. He has 16 years’ of strategy consulting and consumer industry experience across the Middle East, Africa and North America. He has led numerous engagements for leading companies in FMCG, food & beverage and retail across MENA. His experience covers a broad range of topics, including corporate, growth, market entry and turnaround strategies; acquisition and joint venture structuring; new venture development; and, governance and operating model design. Siddiqi holds an MBA from Ivey Business School, Canada.

Principal / AT Kearney
Rebecca Chebli-Vice president – investor relations Al Masah Capital Management Ltd

Rebecca Chebli

Rebecca Chebli has more than eight years of experience in the banking and financial services industry and is currently mandated to grow AMCL across all business lines with particular focus on key sectors like healthcare, education, food and beverage, logistics, real estate and women’s wealth management. Utilising her unique investment management and networking skills, Chebli looks to develop multi asset portfolios that align investor requirements with prevailing economic opportunities. Prior to joining Al Masah Capital, Chebli worked at Jefferies, a US investment banking firm as business development manager and prior to that worked at Union Bancaire Privée, private banking. She holds a double Master’s degree in Management & Marketing of services from Université Saint-Joseph, Lebanon and Université François-Rabelais de Tours, France.

Vice president – investor relations / Al Masah Capital Management Ltd
TP Pratap-Chief marketing officer QwikCilver Solutions

TP Pratap

With two decades of experience in strategic marketing, product launch initiatives, media campaign management and public relations, TP Pratap has successfully led teams across different segments – setting up channels of distribution, retail and product development. His diverse experience and involvement spans across leading brands across India and the Middle East across Timex Watches, Wipro Lighting and the Polyurethanes and Paints business of ICI and Kuwait Danish Dairies in the GCC Markets. Pratap is a key stake-holder/driver of QwikCilver journey to market in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

Chief marketing officer / QwikCilver Solutions
Shankar Balan-President – CORE Business QwikCilver Solutions

Shankar Balan

A seasoned professional with over two decades of experience across the hospitality, services and retail sectors, Shankar Balan has held various senior and leadership positions with some of the best-known brands in these business segments including Taj Group of Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, ColorPlus, Indian Terrain, Hidesign, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle – Aditya Birla Group and Levi Strauss India. The key stake-holder/driver in QwikCilver’s journey of customer adoption and evangelism in the pre-paid, stored-value space, Balan is also the architect of Qwikcilver’s business services expansion outside of India, into the UAE/GCC region and other international arenas.

President – CORE Business / QwikCilver Solutions
Sidiqa Sohail-Owner Spontiphoria

Sidiqa Sohail, owner, Spontiphoria

Sidiqa Sohail is the owner of Spontiphoria, a Dubai-based independent concept store that is a bakery, cafe, boutique and event space. Sohail 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 Durham University in the UK. Spontiphoria is Sohail’s first full-time job right out of college and is her first experience and foray into business after starting it as a home business in 2011.

Owner / Spontiphoria
James Morley-Smith-EMEA CTO & director of User Experience Zebra Technologies

James Morley-Smith

As Zebra’s EMEA CTO, James Morley-Smith helps Zebra and its customers understand the impact that technology has on their business and how technology can and should be leveraged to gain strategic advantage for the future. Morley-Smith has worked at Zebra Technologies for 17 years through (various acquisitions) Symbol, Motorola and now Zebra. He started his career with the company as a software developer producing custom solutions for the EMEA market and then went on to create the first-ever industrial browser, PocketBrowser including defining the extensions to HTML (EMML - http://bit.ly/1LJsYxj) that would be used in all industrial browsers in the enterprise space. As EMEA CTO Morley-Smith acts as the technology lead in the region representing how industries operate and the needs of the region’s users within the technology office to ensure that products and innovations from Zebra are designed and built with a global voice in mind. He also heads up the global User Experience Design team as part of the Innovation & Design group.

EMEA CTO & director of User Experience / Zebra Technologies
Omar Bseiso-CEO Al Sayegh Group

Omar Bseiso

Omar Bseiso is a result oriented senior executive with over 24 years’ of professional experience gained through working for blue chip companies such as Nestle, BAT, MEMRB, Inchcape, BMW and Samsung. His career started in consumer research progressing into sales and marketing and finally general management. During his 20 years of general management experience, he has attained valuable knowledge and skills relating to brand and trade marketing, human resources, organisational development, corporate, legal and financial affairs, manufacturing and supply chain. Bseiso has gained demonstrable experience in the setup and reconstruction of different business models in the MENA region. Key accomplishments were in the construction of sustainable partnerships between multinationals and local companies to facilitate market entry or improved business operations. The strong understating of the region’s operating environment has provided him with the capabilities to initiate, develop and manage different types of partnerships including those with governmental authorities and state-owned monopolies. He has acquired hands-on experience in the highly profitable markets of the Middle East such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon.

CEO / Al Sayegh Group
Vic Bageria-Founder and CEO Sávant Data System

Vic Bageria

Vic Bageria, a compelling business driver, whose entrepreneurial instincts & clarity of vision has taken Sàvant Data System & partner companies to new heights of rapid & continuous growth. This seed, this passion, for retail was planted at an early age while working side by side with his father to operate & maintain the retail chain of stores. Bageria, first founded his business – a People Counting platform, at the early stages of his career. Since then, the growth of Sàvant has been unmeasurable. To establish a solid ROI platform for retailers, Bageria meshed his practical business knowledge with cutting-edge technology. Today, over 39 countries – ranging from government & banks, shopping centres, airports & retail businesses – have experienced strong growth by implementing Bageria’s people counting solution. Prior to establishing his first venture, Bageria worked as an IT consultant, managing several government projects & start-ups. Soon after, he established roles focusing more on business development, resulting in delivering an average of 90% annual growth year-on-year. As an influential investor & advisor, Bageria stands behind programme that lay out a strong path for growth for future generations of entrepreneurs, including his own non-profit initiative.

Founder and CEO / Sávant Data System
Karim Talhouk-Director of business applications Microsoft Gulf

Karim Talhouk

Karim Talhouk leads Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) division in the Gulf region. His responsibilities expand to cover MBS channels, sales, marketing and operations. With over 20 years’ of experience in enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management his focus is to drive customer digital transformation through Microsoft’s latest innovation within the MBS space. Within his current role, Talhouk is looking after the strategic development and overall commercial plans for Microsoft Dynamics that includes Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, NAV and GP across industries and market segments. He leads a team that is responsible for designing and landing the strategic channel strategies and partner ecosystem for Microsoft Gulf including Cloud technologies such as CRM Online and AX7. Previously, Talhouk worked at Oracle, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, where he engaged in international sales and management. He managed the international commercial development of overseas direct and indirect sales as well as consultancy and implementation involved a broad spectrum of industries such as manufacturing, retail, building and construction, wholesales and distribution.

Director of business applications / Microsoft Gulf
Bhupinder Singh-General manager & CFO Dalma Mall

Bhupinder Singh

Backed with 25 years’ of extensive retail and shopping mall management experience, Bhupinder Singh brings a new functional edge to real estate mixed use, retail, entertainment and hospitality. Having spent the last 18 years in the UAE and Oman, Singh has served in some of the biggest retail names in the region, namely Majid Al Futtaim Investments, Emaar Malls Group, Meraas Holding and presently working with The Developers Holding, in the capacity of general manager and chief financial officer at Dalma Mall, in Abu Dhabi. His diverse career has given him a deep knowledge of local, regional and international landscape, and his history of success contributed in uplifting businesses, demonstrating operational impact and writing successful journeys in the world of retail shopping and mall management. Some of Singh’s career highlights include business operations, strategic planning, trade and brand mix, rental budget and leasing strategies, feasibility analysis and cost control as well as tender and contract management of various mixed use development projects, shopping malls and hospitality.

General manager & CFO / Dalma Mall
Mazen Qandeel-Leasing director Hamat Property Company

Mazen Qandeel

As the leasing director of Hamat Property Company, Mazen Qandeel manages the portfolio of properties under the company management from leasing perspective across Saudi Arabia. The portfolio consists of 23 projects of different scale in 10 cities with a total gross leasable area of 1,100,000 sqm generating a total income of SAR1 billion. Prior to becoming the leasing director, Qandeel was the leasing manager at Hamat, actively involved in lease negotiations at the property level. He was also involved in developing strong tenant network and relationship in the market, maintaining high level of occupancy (85% on average) at the portfolio level, while maximising income with the best tenant mix Prior to joining Hamat, Qandeel worked with Jones Lang LaSalle as senior analyst – capital markets closely involved in transaction and portfolio assessment in the KSA market. Qandeel has a bachelor degree in Marketing from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

Leasing director / Hamat Property Company
Amin elMaghrabi-CEO Maghrabi Retail

Amin elMaghrabi

Amin elMaghraby is the CEO for Magrabi Retail, a Cairo-based, premium ophthalmic eyewear and sunglass retail chain, with over 200 stores, located in the most prestigious malls and shopping districts, throughout Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Turkey. Having pursued his studies at Brown University and the London Business School, elMaghraby returned to Egypt, in 2000, to join the family business. Today he is credited for having advanced the expansion of Magrabi Optical to the largest premium eyewear retail group in the emerging markets. elMaghraby is a board member of Magrabi Hospitals & Centers, Magrabi Foundation, Saudi Institute of Health Service and the Ebsar Charity Association. Like his father, Dr Akef El-Maghraby, philanthropist and visionary leader, he is passionate about contributing to society and places great importance on his philanthropic involvement. He believes that every human being, irrespective of income, gender, religion or ethnic affiliation deserves the right to high quality, affordable eye care. This belief is demonstrated through the family’s commitment to the Magrabi Foundation, a leading, private foundation in the area of eye care dedicated to a working towards a society where needless blindness ceases to exist.

CEO / Maghrabi Retail
Khalid S Al Jasser-CEO Arabian Centres

Khalid S Al Jasser

Khalid Al Jasser joined Arabian Centres as CEO in May 2016. As the CEO, his mandate is to further expand Arabian Centres’ operations and help transform the modern retail landscape in KSA. Under his leadership, the leading retail real estate company aims to double its retail offering by 2018. With an excess of 10 malls in the pipeline, Arabian Centres is set to become one the region’s top developers in this category. Currently it operates 19 malls spread across 10 cities in the kingdom. Prior to the appointment, Al Jasser was the CEO of Bank Albilad, and is credited with the growing the bank’s operations and its emergence as a leading Shariah-based financial solutions provider in the kingdom. He previously served as the executive vice president of Riyadh Bank where he spent 12 years in various leadership roles within the bank. Additionally, he also served on the Boards of Bank Albilad, Saudi Travelers Cheque Company, and Qassim Cement Company.

CEO / Arabian Centres
Ameesha Shah-Prabhu-CEO TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India)

Ameesha Shah-Prabhu

Ameesha Shah-Prabhu shoulders the responsibility of nurturing all the initiatives of the Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) as its CEO. Her understanding of the retail environment, as well as her empathy with the front-end associates, is the result of her personal journey from the shop floor associate to being the head of buying. At TRRAIN, she is a role model and mentor to the enthusiastic, young team. Prabhu started her career in retail over 23 years ago. Her hands-on experience at various department and specialty stores, lifestyle and value formats have given her an in-depth understanding of the buying & merchandising function, along with end-to-end category management. She has the ability to create cross-functional initiatives, key partnerships and actionable strategies necessary for successful goal achievement. She has lead a large team of category managers and has worked in various departments starting from apparels, accessories, books, music, stationery and general merchandise. She has worked with leading organizations such as Tesco Hindustan Wholesaling Ltd, Aditya Birla Retail, Crossword Bookstores, Swatch Group and Shoppers Stop Ltd.

CEO / TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India)
Sammar Farooqi-Associate partner for retail and consumer industries IBM Middle East

Sammar Farooqi

Sammar Farooqi is associate partner for retail and consumer industries with IBM Middle East. Steeped in retail and customer experience technology Farooqi was vice president – IT for Al Tayer Group in the UAE and prior, held transformation leadership roles across the globe with KPMG, Deloitte, Philips and SAP. A technology strategist, transformation catalyst and innovation leader he brings expertise in driving at scale the transformative capabilities required to meet current and future challenges including enterprise architecture, cyber-security, people, process, governance and technologies.

Associate partner for retail and consumer industries / IBM Middle East
Speakers 2014

Anoop Gopal-General manager-leasing Line Investments & Property

Anoop Gopal

Anoop is an experienced shopping mall industry professional with over nine years experience in the Middle East. He started his career in the shopping mall industry with Line Investments & Property (LIP) in the Leasing department. During his career with LIP, Anoop has managed to successfully lease 10 projects; 4.2 million sqft gla which includes Khalidiyah Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall, Madinat Zayed extension, and Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi; Ramli Mall in Bahrain; Al Foah Mall in Al Ain; LuLu Mall in India; and LuLu Mall in Fujairah.

General manager-leasing / Line Investments & Property
AbdulKhader Pattillath-IT director LSH Holding

AbdulKhader Pattillath

A qualified technocrat as well as a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of IT experience, mostly in Kuwait, AbdulKhader initiated his career as a systems analyst and progressed as project manager, IT manager, group IT manager, IT manager - application and finally as IT Director for various industry sectors, specializing in IT operations, IT governance and IT roadmap definition.

IT director / LSH Holding
Alasdair Lennox-Executive creative director-EMEA FITCH

Alasdair Lennox

Recently appointed executive creative director for EMEA, Lennox directs creative output and strategy for FITCH’s biggest studio. Joining FITCH as a junior environmental designer in the late 90s, Lennox worked his way up evolving a broad spectrum of design skills. He is known to bring a brand’s unique personality to life and overcome complex challenges.

Executive creative director-EMEA / Alasdair Lennox
Alex Andarakis-Founder and managing director Andarakis Advisory Services

Alex Andarakis

Alexander John Andarakis, founder and managing director of Andarakis Advisory Services, is a prominent marketing and leadership professional with over 25 years of local, regional and international experience with multi-nationals, large regional and publicly listed companies across Australasia, MENA and Turkey.

Founder and managing director / Andarakis Advisory Services
Amit Khanna-Partner & lead-data & analytics KPMG

Amit Khanna

Amit joined KPMG India in Jan 2014 and has since started building KPMG's data & analytics capability for leading clients in India. Prior to this, Amit was a partner and managing director with Accenture Management Consulting where he led the global consulting practice for advance analytics, customer insights, sales and marketing transformation.

Partner & lead-data & analytics / KPMG
Davide Padoa-CEO Design International

Davide Padoa

Padoa, who graduated from the faculty of architecture in Milan, is the CEO of London-based Design International. While working as design director in Indonesia, he lectured on architecture at the Trisakty University. Padoa’s considerable development experience and project leadership ensures the production of splendid architecture and commercially successful projects.

CEO / Design International
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen-CEO Novo Cinemas

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen has led Grand Cinemas’ growth over the preceding year, and will continue to successfully lead the transition to the recently launched, rebranded Novo Cinemas. Prior to her current role, Kristiansen served as vice president for global sales at Regent Exhibitions - IMEX Frankfurt, CEO of Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Centre, and CEO of events@Bahrain.

CEO / Novo Cinemas
Hari Kesavan-CTO Isyx Technologies

Hari Kesavan

Hari Kesavan is a seasoned serial entrepreneur and technology executive with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He was the senior vice president of emerging business & technologies at NTT DoCoMo’s subsidiaries in the US. He founded two successful technology companies over the last 12 years. Kesavan was the founder, CEO & CTO of Percipia, Inc in Columbus, Ohio and InterContinental Software Solutions in the US and India. Percipia was a pioneer in launching the first IP Telephony solution from Cisco to the hospitality market globally. Kesavan grew Percipia from a small technology startup to a publicly traded company. Prior to his entrepreneurial stint, Kesavan was a senior scientist in GEC Picker International (now Phillips Medical Systems) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was later promoted to lead the international business division in the Asia-Pacific region for Picker.

CTO / Isyx Technologies
Hosam Arab-Co-founder and managing director Namshi

Hosam Arab

As co-founder of online fashion store Namshi.com in 2012, Hosam is currently driving the company’s transition into becoming a household fashion brand across the region. Prior to this, Hosam worked in private equity with Waha Capital in Abu Dhabi, a regional project management role at GE, as well as a project engineer post, with responsibility across Europe and Africa, at Schlumberger.

Co-founder and managing director / Namshi
Jeremy Johnston-CEO Zohoor Alreef

Jeremy Johnston

Jeremy Johnston has over 35 years experience in international retailing. He has managed and developed own brand and franchised businesses in the UK, Europe, America and the Middle East and has board level expertise in the fashion, footwear, accessories, lingerie, body care and perfume retail sectors. As the CEO of Zohoor Alreef, Jeremy has upgraded and modernized the business and its proprietary brands. The company has quadrupled in size and profitability and Zohoor Alreef will end 2014 with more than 250 locations across the GCC and Morocco.

CEO / Zohoor Alreef
Khurshid Vakil-Co-founder Marina Home Interiors

Khurshid Vakil

Khurshid Vakil is co-founder of Marina Home Interiors retail chain and remains at the fore front of the company’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. Born in India and having lived and worked in Switzerland, Spain and Dubai, Vakil understands cross cultural influences very well and can be vividly seen coexisting in his company's corporate culture and in the design harmony of its product mix that the sprawling Marina Home showrooms feature.

Co-founder / Marina Home Interiors
Leigh Regan-COO BurJuman

Leigh Regan

Leigh Regan heads the management team at BurJuman and its sister retail establishment Reef Mall. Regan moved to Dubai from Shanghai, China, where he oversaw the development of several landmark shopping centres. Prior to this, he oversaw a number of shopping centres in various stages of development and operation in Indonesia and served as national portfolio asset manager retail for Jones Lang LaSalle and then as GM of a regional shopping centre in Australia.

COO / BurJuman
Lennard Otto-General manager Wadi Adventure

Lennard Otto

Lennard has more than 9 years of experience in the leisure industry in the UAE & Middle East having worked for some of the big names in the region such as Jumeirah Group, Atlantis the Palm, Majid Al Futtaim, and John Buck International. Lennard’s key focus areas are pre-opening and ongoing management of recreational facilities.

General manager / Wadi Adventure
Maarten Jan de Wit-Industry principal retail & wholesale SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC

Maarten Jan de Wit

Maarten-Jan de Wit leads all industry go-to-market activities for SAP MENA in retail. In this role he is one the driving thought leaders working closely with SAP EMEA industry team, customers and partners aligning their business strategies with SAP’s solution fit. Prior to assuming his current role, Maarten-Jan worked as an IT consultant in Europe and the US, focusing primarily on the retail industry. In his 15 years of professional experience in IT in the Retail industry, Maarten-Jan has held a variety of positions working for prominent Dutch retail companies such as Praxis, KPN Retail and V&D department stores as well as renowned international retailers like Carrefour, Limited Brands, Burberry and Reebok.

Industry principal retail & wholesale / SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC
Maher Elissaoui-Director- EMEA CitiXsys - iVend Retail

Maher Elissaoui

Maher has over 14 years of experience in the world of software technologies and ERP. His international experience in Arabia and entire MENA region, building and rolling out global ERP projects, has given him both a global vision and local expertise. Maher possesses strong leadership qualities and management skills to impact and influence positive changes in an organization.

Director- EMEA / CitiXsys - iVend Retail
Mark Thomson-regional industry director EMEA Zebra Technologies

Mark Thomson

Mark Thomson is an international marketing expert with experience in leading senior teams and driving strategic direction with strong focus on alignment of sales and marketing goals to create a synergistic customer centric approach to business growth. Thomson’s previous work experience includes sales training at Royal Sun Alliance and various managerial positions at Zebra Technologies and Motorola Solutions.

Retail industry director / EMEA, Zebra Technologies
Michael Schmidt-Manager - Retail Sales Dubai Duty Free

Michael Schmidt

Michael joined Dubai Duty Free in 2000 and has held position of duty manager, manager – merchandise and manager – retail sales. Prior to joining Dubai Duty Free, Michael worked with THE One for 3 years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai where he was part of the team that set up the Abu Dhabi and Dubai retail outlets. Prior to locating to the UAE in 1996 Michael was a buyer for men’s fashion with the EDGARS group in South Africa.

Manager - Retail Sales / Dubai Duty Free
Mohammad Alawi-CEO Red Sea Markets Co

Mohammad Alawi

Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Markets Co, is the owner of the 1.2 million sqft Red Sea Mall, the largest shopping Mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Prior to this, he was the vice-president of asset management-KSA in Majid Al-Futtaim (MAF) Property and country head of MAF Shopping Malls Co.

CEO / Red Sea Markets Co
Mona Ataya-Founder & CEO Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya

Mona Ataya is the founder and CEO of Mumzworld.com, the Middle East’s first site for all things mother, baby and child. Prior to Mumzworld.com, Mona has had a diverse international experience building global brands at Procter & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson MENA and Johnson and Johnson Europe.

Founder & CEO / Mona Ataya
Muhammad Chbib-CEO Citra Style.com

Muhammad Chbib

After a short stint at SAP, Muhammad started his entrepreneurial career in 2000, as he set up a B2B online marketplace based in Munich. From 2004, Muhammad led various McKinsey & Company client service teams in the online, financial, technology and telecommunications sectors, until finally, taking the entrepreneurial plunge with Sukar.com in early 2011 and subsequently Desado.com, before co-founding Citra Style with his wife, Habibah Chbib. Muhammad’s focus for Citra Style is the global Islamic lifestyle theme, creating value propositions for a largely untapped part of the world’s population.

CEO / Citra Style.com
Murad Alnasur-General manager International Leisure Investment

Murad Alnasur

Murad Alnasur is responsible for operating four regional brands – Scoozi, Napoletana, La Piazza, and Bob’s Easy Diner. He is also the the founder of the Score Card, a scoring system to be used when evaluating a brand for the region. Alnasur has extensive experience in the franchise model, having spent over 30 years in the F&B industry in the US, and having worked for multinational restaurant companies such as Brinker International, Cracker Barrel, Ponderosa, and Dave and Busters.

General manager / International Leisure Investment
Mustafa Sadek-CEO UrbanBuz

Mustafa Sadek

Mustafa has over 18 years’ experience in the technology field, with a focus on building online consumer platforms from the ground up. Previously he managed teams at Intel, USA (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. Mustafa’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.

CEO / UrbanBuz
Pat Bakey-Global Head of Consumer Industries SAP

Pat Bakey

Pat Bakey, SAP Global Head of Consumer Industries, drives collaboration across regions, customers and partners and the 7 primary domains of SAP (IBU, development, sales, services, ecosystem & channel, global support, marketing & sommunications). Pat has over 25 years of experience in the information-technology industry and is committed to helping customers enhance the consumer experience, turn insights into revenue and improve operational efficiencies. As chief operations officer for EMEA 2012-2014, he built and executed the go-to-market strategy for the region. Prior to this, Pat served as executive vice president of SAP Strategic Industries, North America where he managed all aspects of SAP's public services, financial services, retail and healthcare business units.

Global Head of Consumer Industries / SAP
Phil McArthur-Founder and managing director McArthur + Company

Phil McArthur

Phil McArthur is an internationally experienced career shopping centre specialist with over 33 years in the industry and more than 60 successful shopping centre projects in his portfolio. In 2011, he launched McArthur + Company to provide strategic advice, leasing and management services to projects in North America, MENA and Asia.

Founder and managing director / McArthur + Company
Prakash Menon-Executive director Thought Leaders Middle East

Prakash Menon

Prakash Menon helps entrepreneurs, retailers, corporate professionals, CEOs and aspiring business owners, speakers and mentors achieve world class results and financial independence. As the former Director of Supply Chain for Australia’s leading department store, Myer, PK is renowned for having delivered an unprecedented $25 million increase to the retail giant’s bottom line within just 12 months and transforming the supply chain landscape on a global scale. He is also renowned for achieving extraordinary results for India’s Taj Group of Hotel where he climbed through the ranks in record time to head the food and beverage team.

Executive director / Thought Leaders Middle East
Preetam Daniel-Director India and South East Asia, IMAX

Preetam Daniel

Preetham started his career with Canadian enterprise IMAX corporation in 2004. In his current role, he heads its Indian operation. As the Director of sales – India and South East Asia, he handles key markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

Director / India and South East Asia, IMAX
Rajiv Sangari Vice president - retail & leasing, IMG Group-Vice president - retail & leasing IMG Group

Rajiv Sangari

Rajiv heads the entire retail, merchandising, licensing & cinema aspects of IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor entertainment theme park in Dubai. He is responsible for the concept to execution for the retail project through multiple licensed and non-licensed retail stores. Prior to this, Rajiv held several senior management positions in th UAE and India, including director of licensing at Mattel, managing director of Tanweer Group, and CEO-South Asia of Spacetoon.

Vice president - retail & leasing / IMG Group

Ronaldo Mouchawar

Ronaldo Mouchawar is the CEO and co-founder of Souq.com, the largest e-commerce site in the MENA region. Established in 2005, Souq.com’s investors include Jabbar Internet Group,Naspers Limited and Tiger Global Management.Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, Souq.com has offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

CEO / Souq.com
Said Kiwan-Founder and director

Said Kiwan

Said Charles Kiwan is the founder and director of MVP Tech, a security and technology contracting company initially founded in Dubai. He has overseen the company’s expansion regionally and internationally over the past 10 years. MVP Tech is today recognized as one of the leading security contractors. His objective from the beginning was to bridge the technology gap between east and west, deploying systems that positively impact the day to day running of businesses.

Founder and director / MVP Tech
Sam Whittam-Founder and CEO Adventure HQ

Sam Whittam

Sam Whittam, who has over 20 years of retail experience, is the creator of Adventure HQ, the first outdoor adventure store in the UAE where customers can embark on an adventure while they shop. Prior to this, Sam was a part of the founding team of Australia's largest outdoor retailer and the founder of a top class bike brand, offering bikes, cycle wear, helmets and accessories.

Founder and CEO / Adventure HQ
Sarah Appleton-Founder Mini Exchange

Sarah Appleton

Sarah Appleton founded Mini Exchange at the start of 2014. Previously she had a successful career in finance, pending four years at Deloitte in Mergers & Acquisitions advisory, firstly in London and then in Dubai. After two years in the Gulf Sarah left the finance world, recognising the potential of the early-stage e-commerce market and the Mini Exchange business model.

Founder / Mini Exchange
Shafeena Yusuff Ali-CEO Tablez Food Company

Shafeena Yusuff Ali

Shafeena Yusuff Ali is the CEO of Tablez Food Company whose aim is to revitalise the food scene of Abu Dhabi with concepts such as Bloomsbury’s, Peppermill, London Dairy and Galito's. Shafeena 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.

CEO / Tablez Food Company
Shankar Balan-President Stored Value Business - QwikCilver Solutions

Shankar Balan

A seasoned professional with over two decades of experience across the hospitality, services and retail Sectors, Shankar has held various senior and leadership positions with some of the best known brands in these business segments : Taj Group of Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, ColorPlus, Indian Terrain, Hidesign, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle – Aditya Birla Group and Levi Strauss India. He is a key stake-holder/driver in QwikCilver’s journey of customer adoption and evangelism in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

President / Stored Value Business - QwikCilver Solutions
Silvio Liedtke-COO Landmark Leisure

Silvio Liedtke

Silvio Liedtke is the COO of Landmark Leisure, a division of Landmark Group. The main focus of Silvio's work has been to re-position the Fun City chain of family entertainment centres as an innovative indoor leisure business. Before relocating to the Middle East in 2007, Silvio served as managing director at the Butlins holiday resort and Legoland Windsor theme park in the UK.

COO / Landmark Leisure
Sophie Katirai-Founder Sophie’s Closet

Sophie Katirai

Sophie’s Closet has become a place where stylish women all over the world gather to fulfil their own dreams of all things rare and sparkly. Sophie believes glamour doesn’t need to be expensive and that she can hand-pick gorgeously luxe pieces for all budgets. She hand-selects each and every item in Sophie’s Closet; things that she personally loves and covets, exquisitely pretty things that she dreamed about as a little girl.

Founder / Sophie’s Closet
Steve Odak-CEO iMarketVend

Steve Odak

Steve Odak is CEO of USA based eCommerce and digital Marketing Solutions provider - iMarketVend. Steve brings almost two decades of digital retailing and marketing experience across USA, Brazil and Europe. He has been active in the GCC for the past couple of years and adding value to the retail industry with valuable insights and learnings from the USA and Europe.

CEO / iMarketVend
T P Pratap Chief marketing officer QwikCilver Solutions

T P Pratap

With two decades of experience in strategic marketing, product launch initiatives, media campaign management and public relations, Pratap has successfully led teams across different segments – setting up channels of distribution, retail and product development. His diverse experience and involvement spans across leading brands across India and the Middle East across Timex Watches, Wipro Lighting and the Polyurethanes and Paints business of ICI and Kuwait Danish Dairies in the GCC Markets. Pratap is a key stake-holder/driver of QwikCilver’s journey to market in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

Chief marketing officer / QwikCilver Solutions
Tarek El Goweiny-CEO National Catering Company

Tarek El Goweiny

Tarek El Goweiny joined the National Catering Company as a general manager in 2007 and serves as the company’s CEO. He is also a group CEO, board of director's member in Al Raha International Integrated Facilities Management and co-founder & CEO of Business DNA Company. Goweiny graduated from the faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management in Alexandria University, Egypt. He has held various senior positions in hospitality management and retail in the Middle East, including a role as a sports analyst in Dubai Sports Channel.

CEO / National Catering Company
Thej John Roy-Regional sales and marketing manager-UAE Al-Hokair Group

Thej John Roy

Thej John Roy oversees the marketing and sales portfolio of the entertainment division of Al Hokair group. His primary responsibilities include mergers, brand management, planning pre-launch and launch operations and business development. Roy has been instrumental in the launch of the flagship Sparky’s center in Dubai, in Al Ghurair Center.Prior to his current role, he was the manager of the pre-launch team at KidZania, The Dubai Mall, part of Emaar Retail.

Regional sales and marketing manager-UAE / Al-Hokair Group
Vic Bageria-Founder and CEO Sávant Data System

Vic Bageria

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. Vic 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.

Founder and CEO / Sávant Data System
Vishal Pandey-Director and principal consultant Glasgow Consulting Group

Vishal Pandey

Vishal has over 15 years of experience across the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent in consulting, market research and sales & marketing across a diverse set of industries. Previously with Deloitte Consulting’s Dubai offices, he was part of a team responsible for strategy and operations assignments across the MENA region. He has also worked with Colliers International, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces.

Director and principal consultant / Glasgow Consulting Group
Vivek Pande-CEO lifestyle group, Khimji Ramdas Group

Vivek Pande

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, 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.

CEO / lifestyle group, Khimji Ramdas Group
Wassim Kabbara-Industry head – retail Gooble MENA

Wassim Kabbara

Wassim Kabbara is an industry manager at Google, leading the company’s business activities in retail and finance in the region. Prior to Google, Kabbara worked in management consulting at Booz & Company, focusing on developing sales and marketing strategies for the largest companies in the Middle East. He also worked as a technology consultant at CGI, based in Toronto, Canada.

Industry head – retail / Gooble MENA

Zafer Younis

Zafer Younis is a marketing specialist who is paving new ways for companies to connect with their consumers in the digital space. He is the co-founder of The Online Project where his team develops and executes social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and high profile organizations operating in the Middle East and North Africa. Zafer is actively involved in several charity and non-profit organizations, including the board of New Think Theater and Jordan River Foundation. He is also an advisor to startups as he serves on the Mentorship Network of Oasis500, the Middle East’s premier seed investment program.

Co-founder / The Online Project
Speakers Over The Years

Anoop Gopal-General manager-leasing Line Investments & Property
Anoop Gopal
General manager-leasing / Line Investments & Property

Anoop Gopal

Anoop is an experienced shopping mall industry professional with over nine years experience in the Middle East. He started his career in the shopping mall industry with Line Investments & Property (LIP) in the Leasing department. During his career with LIP, Anoop has managed to successfully lease 10 projects; 4.2 million sqft gla which includes Khalidiyah Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall, Madinat Zayed extension, and Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi; Ramli Mall in Bahrain; Al Foah Mall in Al Ain; LuLu Mall in India; and LuLu Mall in Fujairah.

AbdulKhader Pattillath-IT director LSH Holding
AbdulKhader Pattillath
IT director / LSH Holding

AbdulKhader Pattillath

A qualified technocrat as well as a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of IT experience, mostly in Kuwait, AbdulKhader initiated his career as a systems analyst and progressed as project manager, IT manager, group IT manager, IT manager - application and finally as IT Director for various industry sectors, specializing in IT operations, IT governance and IT roadmap definition.

Alasdair Lennox-Executive creative director-EMEA FITCH
Alasdair Lennox
Executive creative director-EMEA / FITCH

Alasdair Lennox

Recently appointed executive creative director for EMEA, Lennox directs creative output and strategy for FITCH’s biggest studio. Joining FITCH as a junior environmental designer in the late 90s, Lennox worked his way up evolving a broad spectrum of design skills. He is known to bring a brand’s unique personality to life and overcome complex challenges.

Alex Andarakis-Founder and managing director Andarakis Advisory Services
Alex Andarakis
Founder and managing director / Andarakis Advisory Services

Alex Andarakis

Alexander John Andarakis, founder and managing director of Andarakis Advisory Services, is a prominent marketing and leadership professional with over 25 years of local, regional and international experience with multi-nationals, large regional and publicly listed companies across Australasia, MENA and Turkey.

Amit Khanna-Partner & lead-data & analytics KPMG
Amit Khanna
Partner & lead-data & analytics / KPMG

Amit Khanna

Amit joined KPMG India in Jan 2014 and has since started building KPMG's data & analytics capability for leading clients in India. Prior to this, Amit was a partner and managing director with Accenture Management Consulting where he led the global consulting practice for advance analytics, customer insights, sales and marketing transformation.

Davide Padoa-CEO Design International
Davide Padoa
CEO / Design International

Davide Padoa

Padoa, who graduated from the faculty of architecture in Milan, is the CEO of London-based Design International. While working as design director in Indonesia, he lectured on architecture at the Trisakty University. Padoa’s considerable development experience and project leadership ensures the production of splendid architecture and commercially successful projects.

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen-CEO, Novo Cinemas
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen
CEO / Novo Cinemas

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen has led Grand Cinemas’ growth over the preceding year, and will continue to successfully lead the transition to the recently launched, rebranded Novo Cinemas. Prior to her current role, Kristiansen served as vice president for global sales at Regent Exhibitions - IMEX Frankfurt, CEO of Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Centre, and CEO of events@Bahrain.

Hari Kesavan-CTO Isyx Technologies
Hari Kesavan
CTO / Isyx Technologies

Hari Kesavan

Hari Kesavan is a seasoned serial entrepreneur and technology executive with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He was the senior vice president of emerging business & technologies at NTT DoCoMo’s subsidiaries in the US. He founded two successful technology companies over the last 12 years. Kesavan was the founder, CEO & CTO of Percipia, Inc in Columbus, Ohio and InterContinental Software Solutions in the US and India. Percipia was a pioneer in launching the first IP Telephony solution from Cisco to the hospitality market globally. Kesavan grew Percipia from a small technology startup to a publicly traded company. Prior to his entrepreneurial stint, Kesavan was a senior scientist in GEC Picker International (now Phillips Medical Systems) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was later promoted to lead the international business division in the Asia-Pacific region for Picker.

Hosam Arab-Co-founder and managing director Namshi
Hosam Arab
Co-founder and managing director / Namshi

Hosam Arab

As co-founder of online fashion store Namshi.com in 2012, Hosam is currently driving the company’s transition into becoming a household fashion brand across the region. Prior to this, Hosam worked in private equity with Waha Capital in Abu Dhabi, a regional project management role at GE, as well as a project engineer post, with responsibility across Europe and Africa, at Schlumberger.

Jeremy Johnston-CEO, Zohoor Alreef
Jeremy Johnston
CEO / Zohoor Alreef

Jeremy Johnston

Jeremy Johnston has over 35 years experience in international retailing. He has managed and developed own brand and franchised businesses in the UK, Europe, America and the Middle East and has board level expertise in the fashion, footwear, accessories, lingerie, body care and perfume retail sectors. As the CEO of Zohoor Alreef, Jeremy has upgraded and modernized the business and its proprietary brands. The company has quadrupled in size and profitability and Zohoor Alreef will end 2014 with more than 250 locations across the GCC and Morocco.

Khurshid Vakil-Co-founder Marina Home Interiors
Khurshid Vakil
Co-founder / Marina Home Interiors

Khurshid Vakil

Khurshid Vakil is co-founder of Marina Home Interiors retail chain and remains at the fore front of the company’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. Born in India and having lived and worked in Switzerland, Spain and Dubai, Vakil understands cross cultural influences very well and can be vividly seen coexisting in his company's corporate culture and in the design harmony of its product mix that the sprawling Marina Home showrooms feature.

Leigh Regan, COO, BurJuman
Leigh Regan
COO / BurJuman

Leigh Regan

Leigh Regan heads the management team at BurJuman and its sister retail establishment Reef Mall. Regan moved to Dubai from Shanghai, China, where he oversaw the development of several landmark shopping centres. Prior to this, he oversaw a number of shopping centres in various stages of development and operation in Indonesia and served as national portfolio asset manager retail for Jones Lang LaSalle and then as GM of a regional shopping centre in Australia.

Lennard Otto-General manager Wadi Adventure
Lennard Otto
General manager / Wadi Adventure

Lennard Otto

Lennard has more than 9 years of experience in the leisure industry in the UAE & Middle East having worked for some of the big names in the region such as Jumeirah Group, Atlantis the Palm, Majid Al Futtaim, and John Buck International. Lennard’s key focus areas are pre-opening and ongoing management of recreational facilities.

Maarten Jan de Wit-Industry principal retail & wholesale SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC
Maarten Jan de Wit
Industry principal retail & wholesale / SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC

Maarten Jan de Wit

Maarten-Jan de Wit leads all industry go-to-market activities for SAP MENA in retail. In this role he is one the driving thought leaders working closely with SAP EMEA industry team, customers and partners aligning their business strategies with SAP’s solution fit. Prior to assuming his current role, Maarten-Jan worked as an IT consultant in Europe and the US, focusing primarily on the retail industry. In his 15 years of professional experience in IT in the Retail industry, Maarten-Jan has held a variety of positions working for prominent Dutch retail companies such as Praxis, KPN Retail and V&D department stores as well as renowned international retailers like Carrefour, Limited Brands, Burberry and Reebok.

Maher Elissaoui, Director- EMEA, CitiXsys - iVend Retail
Maher Elissaoui
Director- EMEA / CitiXsys - iVend Retail

Maher Elissaoui

Maher has over 14 years of experience in the world of software technologies and ERP. His international experience in Arabia and entire MENA region, building and rolling out global ERP projects, has given him both a global vision and local expertise. Maher possesses strong leadership qualities and management skills to impact and influence positive changes in an organization.

Mark Thomson-regional industry director EMEA Zebra Technologies
Mark Thomson
Retail industry director / EMEA, Zebra Technologies

Mark Thomson

Mark Thomson is an international marketing expert with experience in leading senior teams and driving strategic direction with strong focus on alignment of sales and marketing goals to create a synergistic customer centric approach to business growth. Thomson’s previous work experience includes sales training at Royal Sun Alliance and various managerial positions at Zebra Technologies and Motorola Solutions.

Michael Schmidt-Manager - Retail Sales Dubai Duty Free
Michael Schmidt
Manager - Retail Sales / Dubai Duty Free

Michael Schmidt

Michael joined Dubai Duty Free in 2000 and has held position of duty manager, manager – merchandise and manager – retail sales. Prior to joining Dubai Duty Free, Michael worked with THE One for 3 years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai where he was part of the team that set up the Abu Dhabi and Dubai retail outlets. Prior to locating to the UAE in 1996 Michael was a buyer for men’s fashion with the EDGARS group in South Africa.

Mohammad Iqbal BH Alawi-Board member & CEO Red Sea Markets Co Ltd.
Mohammad Alawi
CEO / Red Sea Markets Co

Mohammad Alawi

Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Markets Co, is the owner of the 1.2 million sqft Red Sea Mall, the largest shopping Mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Prior to this, he was the vice-president of asset management-KSA in Majid Al-Futtaim (MAF) Property and country head of MAF Shopping Malls Co.

Mona Ataya-Founder & CEO Mumzworld
Mona Ataya
Founder & CEO / Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya

Mona Ataya is the founder and CEO of Mumzworld.com, the Middle East’s first site for all things mother, baby and child. Prior to Mumzworld.com, Mona has had a diverse international experience building global brands at Procter & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson MENA and Johnson and Johnson Europe.

Muhammad Chbib-CEO, Citra Style.com
Muhammad Chbib
CEO / Citra Style.com

Muhammad Chbib

After a short stint at SAP, Muhammad started his entrepreneurial career in 2000, as he set up a B2B online marketplace based in Munich. From 2004, Muhammad led various McKinsey & Company client service teams in the online, financial, technology and telecommunications sectors, until finally, taking the entrepreneurial plunge with Sukar.com in early 2011 and subsequently Desado.com, before co-founding Citra Style with his wife, Habibah Chbib. Muhammad’s focus for Citra Style is the global Islamic lifestyle theme, creating value propositions for a largely untapped part of the world’s population.

Murad Alnasur-General manager, International Leisure Investment
Murad Alnasur
General Manager / International Leisure Investment

Murad Alnasur

Murad Alnasur is responsible for operating four regional brands – Scoozi, Napoletana, La Piazza, and Bob’s Easy Diner. He is also the the founder of the Score Card, a scoring system to be used when evaluating a brand for the region. Alnasur has extensive experience in the franchise model, having spent over 30 years in the F&B industry in the US, and having worked for multinational restaurant companies such as Brinker International, Cracker Barrel, Ponderosa, and Dave and Busters.

Mustafa Sadek-Founder and CEO UrbanBuz
Mustafa Sadek
CEO / UrbanBuz

Mustafa Sadek

Mustafa has over 18 years’ experience in the technology field, with a focus on building online consumer platforms from the ground up. Previously he managed teams at Intel, USA (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. Mustafa’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.

Pat Bakey-Global Head of Consumer Industries SAP
Pat Bakey
Global Head of Consumer Industries / SAP

Pat Bakey

Pat Bakey, SAP Global Head of Consumer Industries, drives collaboration across regions, customers and partners and the 7 primary domains of SAP (IBU, development, sales, services, ecosystem & channel, global support, marketing & sommunications). Pat has over 25 years of experience in the information-technology industry and is committed to helping customers enhance the consumer experience, turn insights into revenue and improve operational efficiencies. As chief operations officer for EMEA 2012-2014, he built and executed the go-to-market strategy for the region. Prior to this, Pat served as executive vice president of SAP Strategic Industries, North America where he managed all aspects of SAP's public services, financial services, retail and healthcare business units.

Phil McArthur-Founder and managing director McArthur + Company
Phil McArthur
Founder and managing director / McArthur + Company

Phil McArthur

Phil McArthur is an internationally experienced career shopping centre specialist with over 33 years in the industry and more than 60 successful shopping centre projects in his portfolio. In 2011, he launched McArthur + Company to provide strategic advice, leasing and management services to projects in North America, MENA and Asia.

Prakash Menon-Executive director, Thought Leaders Middle East
Prakash Menon
Executive director / Thought Leaders Middle East

Prakash Menon

Prakash Menon helps entrepreneurs, retailers, corporate professionals, CEOs and aspiring business owners, speakers and mentors achieve world class results and financial independence. As the former Director of Supply Chain for Australia’s leading department store, Myer, PK is renowned for having delivered an unprecedented $25 million increase to the retail giant’s bottom line within just 12 months and transforming the supply chain landscape on a global scale. He is also renowned for achieving extraordinary results for India’s Taj Group of Hotel where he climbed through the ranks in record time to head the food and beverage team.

Preetam Daniel-Director, India and South East Asia, IMAX
Preetam Daniel
Director / India and South East Asia, IMAX

Preetam Daniel

Preetham started his career with Canadian enterprise IMAX corporation in 2004. In his current role, he heads its Indian operation. As the Director of sales – India and South East Asia, he handles key markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Vi

Rajiv Sangari Vice president - retail & leasing, IMG Group-Vice president - retail & leasing IMG Group
Rajiv Sangari Vice president
Vice president - retail & leasing / IMG Group

Rajiv Sangari Vice president

Rajiv heads the entire retail, merchandising, licensing & cinema aspects of IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor entertainment theme park in Dubai. He is responsible for the concept to execution for the retail project through multiple licensed and non-licensed retail stores. Prior to this, Rajiv held several senior management positions in th UAE and India, including director of licensing at Mattel, managing director of Tanweer Group, and CEO-South Asia of Spacetoon.

Ronaldo Mouchawar-CEO, Souq.com
Ronaldo Mouchawar
CEO / Souq.com

Ronaldo Mouchawar

Ronaldo Mouchawar is the CEO and co-founder of Souq.com, the largest e-commerce site in the MENA region. Established in 2005, Souq.com’s investors include Jabbar Internet Group,Naspers Limited and Tiger Global Management.Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, Souq.com has offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

Said Kiwan-Founder and director
Said Kiwan
Founder and Director / MVP Tech

Said Kiwan

Said Charles Kiwan is the founder and director of MVP Tech, a security and technology contracting company initially founded in Dubai. He has overseen the company’s expansion regionally and internationally over the past 10 years. MVP Tech is today recognized as one of the leading security contractors. His objective from the beginning was to bridge the technology gap between east and west, deploying systems that positively impact the day to day running of businesses.

Sam Whittam-Founder and CEO Adventure HQ
Sam Whittam
Founder and CEO / Adventure HQ

Sam Whittam

Sam Whittam, who has over 20 years of retail experience, is the creator of Adventure HQ, the first outdoor adventure store in the UAE where customers can embark on an adventure while they shop. Prior to this, Sam was a part of the founding team of Australia's largest outdoor retailer and the founder of a top class bike brand, offering bikes, cycle wear, helmets and accessories.

Sarah Appleton-Founder Mini Exchange
Sarah Appleton
Founder / Mini Exchange

Sarah Appleton

Sarah Appleton founded Mini Exchange at the start of 2014. Previously she had a successful career in finance, pending four years at Deloitte in Mergers & Acquisitions advisory, firstly in London and then in Dubai. After two years in the Gulf Sarah left the finance world, recognising the potential of the early-stage e-commerce market and the Mini Exchange business model.

Shafeena Yusuffali-CEO Tablez Food Company
Shafeena Yusuff Ali
CEO / Tablez Food Company

Shafeena Yusuff Ali

Shafeena Yusuff Ali is the CEO of Tablez Food Company whose aim is to revitalise the food scene of Abu Dhabi with concepts such as Bloomsbury’s, Peppermill, London Dairy and Galito's. Shafeena 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.

Shankar Balan-President Stored Value Business - QwikCilver Solutions
Shankar Balan
President / Stored Value Business - QwikCilver Solutions

Shankar Balan

A seasoned professional with over two decades of experience across the hospitality, services and retail Sectors, Shankar has held various senior and leadership positions with some of the best known brands in these business segments : Taj Group of Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, ColorPlus, Indian Terrain, Hidesign, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle – Aditya Birla Group and Levi Strauss India. He is a key stake-holder/driver in QwikCilver’s journey of customer adoption and evangelism in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

Silvio Liedtke-COO, Landmark Leisure
Silvio Liedtke
COO / Landmark Leisure

Silvio Liedtke

Silvio Liedtke is the COO of Landmark Leisure, a division of Landmark Group. The main focus of Silvio's work has been to re-position the Fun City chain of family entertainment centres as an innovative indoor leisure business. Before relocating to the Middle East in 2007, Silvio served as managing director at the Butlins holiday resort and Legoland Windsor theme park in the UK.

Sophie Katirai-Founder, Sophie’s Closet
Sophie Katirai
Founder / Sophie’s Closet

Sophie Katirai

Sophie’s Closet has become a place where stylish women all over the world gather to fulfil their own dreams of all things rare and sparkly. Sophie believes glamour doesn’t need to be expensive and that she can hand-pick gorgeously luxe pieces for all budgets. She hand-selects each and every item in Sophie’s Closet; things that she personally loves and covets, exquisitely pretty things that she dreamed about as a little girl.

Steve Odak-CEO iMarketVend
Steve Odak
CEO / iMarketVend

Steve Odak

Steve Odak is CEO of USA based eCommerce and digital Marketing Solutions provider - iMarketVend. Steve brings almost two decades of digital retailing and marketing experience across USA, Brazil and Europe. He has been active in the GCC for the past couple of years and adding value to the retail industry with valuable insights and learnings from the USA and Europe.

T P Pratap Chief marketing officer QwikCilver Solutions
T P Pratap
Chief marketing officer / QwikCilver Solutions

T P Pratap

With two decades of experience in strategic marketing, product launch initiatives, media campaign management and public relations, Pratap has successfully led teams across different segments – setting up channels of distribution, retail and product development. His diverse experience and involvement spans across leading brands across India and the Middle East across Timex Watches, Wipro Lighting and the Polyurethanes and Paints business of ICI and Kuwait Danish Dairies in the GCC Markets. Pratap is a key stake-holder/driver of QwikCilver’s journey to market in the pre-paid, stored-value space.

Tarek El Goweiny-CEO, National Catering Company
Tarek El Goweiny
CEO / National Catering Company

Tarek El Goweiny

Tarek El Goweiny joined the National Catering Company as a general manager in 2007 and serves as the company’s CEO. He is also a group CEO, board of director's member in Al Raha International Integrated Facilities Management and co-founder & CEO of Business DNA Company. Goweiny graduated from the faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management in Alexandria University, Egypt. He has held various senior positions in hospitality management and retail in the Middle East, including a role as a sports analyst in Dubai Sports Channel.

Thej John Roy-Regional sales and marketing manager-UAE Al-Hokair Group
Thej John Roy
Regional sales and marketing manager-UAE / Al-Hokair Group

Thej John Roy

Thej John Roy oversees the marketing and sales portfolio of the entertainment division of Al Hokair group. His primary responsibilities include mergers, brand management, planning pre-launch and launch operations and business development. Roy has been instrumental in the launch of the flagship Sparky’s center in Dubai, in Al Ghurair Center.Prior to his current role, he was the manager of the pre-launch team at KidZania, The Dubai Mall, part of Emaar Retail.

Vic Bageria-Founder & CEO Sávant Data System
Vic Bageria
Founder and CEO / Sávant Data System

Vic Bageria

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. Vic 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.

Vishal Pandey-Director and principal consultant Glasgow Consulting Group
Vishal Pandey
Director and principal consultant / Glasgow Consulting Group

Vishal Pandey

Vishal has over 15 years of experience across the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent in consulting, market research and sales & marketing across a diverse set of industries. Previously with Deloitte Consulting’s Dubai offices, he was part of a team responsible for strategy and operations assignments across the MENA region. He has also worked with Colliers International, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces.

Vivek Pande-CEO lifestyle group, Khimji Ramdas Group
Vivek Pande
CEO / lifestyle group, Khimji Ramdas Group

Vivek Pande

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, 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.

Wassim Kabbara-Industry head – retail Gooble MENA
Wassim Kabbara
Industry head – retail / Gooble MENA

Wassim Kabbara

Wassim Kabbara is an industry manager at Google, leading the company’s business activities in retail and finance in the region. Prior to Google, Kabbara worked in management consulting at Booz & Company, focusing on developing sales and marketing strategies for the largest companies in the Middle East. He also worked as a technology consultant at CGI, based in Toronto, Canada.

Zafer Younis
Co-founder / The Online Project

Zafer Younis

Zafer Younis is a marketing specialist who is paving new ways for companies to connect with their consumers in the digital space. He is the co-founder of The Online Project where his team develops and executes social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and high profile organizations operating in the Middle East and North Africa. Zafer is actively involved in several charity and non-profit organizations, including the board of New Think Theater and Jordan River Foundation. He is also an advisor to startups as he serves on the Mentorship Network of Oasis500, the Middle East’s premier seed investment program.

AbdulKhader Pattillath-IT director, LSH Holding
AbdulKhader Pattillath
Regional IT director / LSH Holding Co

AbdulKhader Pattillath

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.

Abdulla Mahmood-Director, Al Ahli Holding Group
Abdulla Mahmood
Director / Al Ahli Holding Group

Abdulla Mahmood

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.

Abhish Chandok-Himalaya Drug company, General manager
Abhish Chandok
General manager / Himalaya Drug company

Abhish Chandok

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.

Adel Rashid-CEO, Hidesign Middle East, Adel Rashid
Adel Rashid
CEO / Hidesign Middle East

Adel Rashid

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. 

Anita Baker-Business director, Lush Middle East
Anita Baker
Business director / Lush Middle East

Anita Baker

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.

Ashish Panjabi
COO / Jacky’s Group of Companies

Ashish Panjabi

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.

Beatriz Carrera-UAE & Gulf, SAP, Retail lead
Beatriz Carrera
UAE & Gulf, SAP / Retail lead

Beatriz Carrera

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.

Google MENA-Sector lead for retail
Charbel Sarkis
Sector lead for retail / Google MENA

Charbel Sarkis

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. 

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen-CEO, Novo Cinemas
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen
CEO / Novo Cinemas

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

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. 

Dr Mohammad Shoaib Hai-Director of supply chain and logistics supply chain management
Dr Mohammad Shoaib Hai
Director of supply chain and logistics / supply chain management

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.

Essa Behbehani-Founder Choowy Goowy
Essa Behbehani
Founder / Choowy Goowy

Essa Behbehani

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. 

Garry Wells-Property manager Lush Middle East
Garry Wells
Property manager / Lush Middle East

Garry Wells

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.

Hannes Liebe-Co-MD & COO, SAP MENA
Hannes Liebe
Co-MD & COO / SAP MENA

Hannes Liebe

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.

Ian Ohan-Founder & CEO Freedom Pizza
Ian Ohan
Founder & CEO / Freedom Pizza

Ian Ohan

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.

Jeremy Johnston-CEO, Zohoor Alreef
Jeremy Johnston
CEO / Zohoor Alreef

Jeremy Johnston

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. 

Joy Ajlouny-Co-founder, director, Fetchr
Joy Ajlouny
Co-founder, Director / Fetchr

Joy Ajlouny

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.

Karen Staley-Senior vice president IAAPA EMEA
Karen Staley
Senior vice president / IAAPA EMEA

Karen Staley

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.

Khalifa Furqan Athar-Managing director, Spret Retail
Khalifa Furqan Athar
Managing director / Spret Retail

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. 

Khurshid Vakil-Co-founder, Marina Home Interiors
Khurshid Vakil
Co-founder & executive director / Marina Home Interiors

Khurshid Vakil

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.

Kritika Rawat-Managing director, Kkompany
Kritika Rawat
Managing director / Kkompany

Kritika Rawat

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.

Kunal Kapoor-Founder and managing director, The Luxury Closet
Kunal Kapoor
Founder and managing director / The Luxury Closet

Kunal Kapoor

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.

Lama Bazzari-Serial entrepreneur & philanthropist
Lama Bazzari
Serial entrepreneur & philanthropist

Lama Bazzari

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.

Lennard Otto-CEO IMG Worlds of Adventure
Lennard Otto
General manager / IMG Worlds of Adventure

Lennard Otto

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.

Louay Moursel-Food & beverage retail manager Eataly
Louay Moursel
Food & beverage retail manager / Eataly

Louay Moursel

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.

Luca Cappuccitti-Head of global business development, Design International
Luca Cappuccitti
Head of global business development / Design International

Luca Cappuccitti

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.

Maartenjan de Wit-Senior industry advisor – retail & consumer industries, SAP MENA
Maartenjan de Wit
Senior industry advisor – retail & consumer industries / SAP MENA

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.

Mahboob Murshed-Managing director, Alpen Capital (ME) Limited.
Mahboob Murshed
Managing director / Alpen Capital (ME) Limited.

Mahboob Murshed

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.

Mahmoud Adham-Founder, Munchbox
Mahmoud Adham
Founder / Munchbox

Mahmoud Adham

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.

Marcus Käss-Art director Schwitzke & Partner Dubai
Marcus Käss
Art director / Schwitzke & Partner Dubai

Marcus Käss

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.

Mark Anthony Lack-COO Retail Arabia
Mark Anthony Lack
COO / Retail Arabia

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.

Mark Thomson-regional industry director EMEA Zebra Technologies
Mark Thomson
Director of retail & hospitality solutions EMEA / Zebra Technologies

Mark Thomson

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.

Managing director/owner, Attraktion! GmbH
Markus Beyr
Managing director/owner / Attraktion! GmbH

Markus Beyr

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).

Michael Leander-CEO The Michael Leander Company
Michael Leander
CEO / The Michael Leander Company

Michael Leander

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.

Mohamed Galal-Managing director Tasweeq Shopping Malls,Egypt
Mohamed Galal
Managing director / Tasweeq Shopping Malls,Egypt

Mohamed Galal

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.

Mohammad Alawi-Chairman of the Board Saudi Sand Souvenir Co.
Mohammad ARS Al Madani
Chairman & CEO / Al Madani Group of Companies

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.

Mona Ataya-Founder & CEO Mumzworld
Mona Ataya
Founder & CEO / Mumzworld.com

Mona Ataya

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.

Mustafa Sadek-CEO UrbanBuz
Mustafa Sadek
Founder and CEO / UrbanBuz

Mustafa Sadek

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.

Nandakumar Vijayan-chief communications officer Lulu Group International
Nandakumar Vijayan
Chief communications officer / Lulu Group International

Nandakumar Vijayan

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.

Narain Jashanmal-Head of DR advertising – MENA Facebook | Instagram
Narain Jashanmal
Head of DR advertising – MENA / Facebook | Instagram

Narain Jashanmal

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.

Nasif Kayed-managing director Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Nasif Kayed
Founder & CEO / The Arab Culturalist

Nasif Kayed

Nasif Kayed, founder and CEO, The Arab Culturalist, is a cultural expert on Arab-Emirati culture. He has been an entrepreneur and consultant for 33 years, having developed 40 businesses during that period. He also spent eight years as managing director of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding. Kayed’s most recent venture, The Arab Culturalist, is a consultancy firm focused on building cross-cultural communication and inter-cultural competencies among businesses and educational institutions throughout the Middle East and beyond. He was part of the UAE delegation at the 2015 & 2016 Dubai Week in China, and a participant in the Dubai Plan 2021 strategy session.

Natasha Rockstrom-Co-founder Injoy Giving
Natasha Rockstrom
Co-founder / Injoy Giving

Natasha Rockstrom

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.

Nisha Varman Shetty-Founder and managing director The Urban Yogi
Nisha Varman Shetty
Founder and managing director / The Urban Yogi

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.

Nisreen Shocair-president Virgin Megastore Middle East
Nisreen Shocair
President / Virgin Megastore Middle East

Nisreen Shocair

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.

Phil McArthur-Founder and managing director McArthur + Company
Phil McArthur
Founder and managing director / McArthur + Company

Phil McArthur

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.

Prakash Vivekanand-Managing director Amusement Services International
Prakash Vivekanand
Managing director / Amusement Services International

Prakash Vivekanand

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.

Pravin Hungund-Global head – Technovation Centre & chief technologist – India & Middle East Wipro Ltd
Pravin Hungund
Global head – Technovation Centre & chief technologist – India & Middle East / Wipro Ltd

Pravin Hungund

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.

Raju Shroff-Managing director Regal Group
Raju Shroff
Managing director / Regal Group

Raju Shroff

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’.

Rob Canning-General manager En Vogue Rob Canning
Rob Canning
General manager / En Vogue

Rob Canning

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.

Rohan Bhardwaj-Partner & general manager Radix Wears
Rohan Bhardwaj
Partner & general manager / Radix Wears

Rohan Bhardwaj

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.

Ruwan Manjule De Silva-CTO The Luxury Closet
Ruwan Manjule De Silva
CTO / The Luxury Closet

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.

Sajan Alex-General manager Tablez Food Company
Sajan Alex
General Manager / Tablez Food Company

Sajan Alex

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.

Sammar Farooqi-Vice president– IT strategy and governance Al Tayer Group
Sammar Farooqi
Vice president – IT strategy and governance / Al Tayer Group

Sammar Farooqi

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.

Sarah Appleton-Founder Mini Exchange
Sarah Appleton
Founder / Mini Exchange

Sarah Appleton

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.

Shafeena Yusuffali-CEO Tablez Food Company
Shafeena Yusuffali
CEO / Tablez Food Company

Shafeena Yusuffali

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.

Shahzad Gidwani-General manager trading division – Morad Yousuf Behbehani Group
Shahzad Gidwani
General manager / trading division – Morad Yousuf Behbehani Group

Shahzad Gidwani

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.

Shailen Shukla-Head – logistics division Jumbo Electronics Co. Ltd
Shailen Shukla
Head – logistics division / Jumbo Electronics Co. Ltd

Shailen Shukla

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.

Shavak Srivastava-Managing director SQ.FT Consulting
Shavak Srivastava
Managing Director / SQ.FT Consulting

Shavak Srivastava

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.

Shawn Sipman-Executive: customer engagement and commerce UCS Solutions
Shawn Sipman
Executive: customer engagement and commerce / UCS Solutions

Shawn Sipman

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.

Sheriff Rizwan-Founder and CEO ALSHOP.com
Sheriff Rizwan
Founder and CEO / ALSHOP.com

Sheriff Rizwan

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.

Shivam Sharma-CEO Sana Fashions
Shivam Sharma
CEO / Sana Fashions

Shivam Sharma

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.

Shuja H Jashanmal-Managing director Lucrae General Trading LLC
Shuja H Jashanmal
Managing director / Lucrae General Trading LLC

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.

Sidiqa Sohail-Founder Spontiphoria Boutique and Café
Sidiqa Sohail
Founder / Spontiphoria Boutique and Café

Sidiqa Sohail

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.

Simon Hathaway-President & global head of RX [retail experience] Cheil
Simon Hathaway
President & global head of RX [retail experience] / Cheil

Simon Hathaway

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.

Srikanth Parthasarathy-Senior vice president Homes R Us
Srikanth Parthasarathy
Senior vice president / Homes R Us

Srikanth Parthasarathy

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.

Stephen Holbrook-Member of the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group executive board
Stephen Holbrook
Member of the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) / Group executive board

Stephen Holbrook

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.

Sumit Bathla-general manager roup IT Alfuttaim Al-Futtaim Group
Sumit Bathla
General manager- EIT / Al-Futtaim Group

Sumit Bathla

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.

Thomas Lundgren Inventor-founder and CEO (creative emotional originator) THE One
Thomas Lundgren Inventor
founder and CEO (creative emotional originator) / THE One

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.