News: AHIC 2017: Industry pioneers recognised with prestigious awards


On the final day of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, founder, Action Hotels, and Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive, flydubai, were announced winners of the prestigious annual AHIC Awards.

The AHIC 2017 Awards were presented by AHIC Patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates Airline.

The event welcomes 700 hotel owners, investors, consultants and operators across an exciting three-day programme.

The AHIC 2017 Awards are nominated and voted for by the AHIC Advisory Board, a panel of 40-plus hotel owners, investors, operators and consultants with extensive knowledge and experience of the Middle East hotel industry.

Chairman of Bench Events, Jonathan Worsley, said: “The AHIC Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the driving forces behind the Middle East hospitality industry.

“These are the people we hope will inspire the next generation of hoteliers and embolden young, local talent to pursue a career in our dynamic industry.

“This year’s acclaimed winners, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and Ghaith Al Ghaith, are pioneers in the regional mid-market travel and tourism industry.

“They are responsible for enabling and encouraging more visitors to come to the Middle East and stay in the wonderful destinations this region offers.

“The underserved mid-market segment is finally getting the attention it deserves, as reflected in the conversation at this year’s AHIC, and as an industry, we are inspired by and grateful to Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and Ghaith Al Ghaith for paving the way.”

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum presented Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah with the AHIC 2017 Industry Pioneer Award.


The AHIC 2017 Industry Pioneer Award is presented to Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah

As founder of Action Hotels, Sheikh Mubarak has spearheaded the growth of economy and mid-market hotels in the Middle East and broken new ground internationally, with Dubai-based Action Hotels being the only Kuwaiti company and the only hospitality company in the region to be listed on the London Stock Exchange and regulated by the Dubai International Financial Centre.

On receiving the AHIC 2017 Award, Sheikh Mubarak said: “It is a privilege for me to accept this prestigious Industry Pioneer Award.

“Over ten years ago we identified a material gap in the Middle East’s hotel market.

“There were very few, if any, branded three- and four-star hotels in the prime cities across the Middle East and with the growth of intra-regional travel and the proliferation of budget airlines, I believed there was certainly an opportunity to develop this segment of hotels across our region.

“This led to establishing Action Hotels, which has now become the leading hotel company in the Middle East and Australia spearheading the development of economy and mid-market hotels.”

Sheikh Mubarak continued: “Since the opening of our first hotel in 2008, we now have 12 hotels across the Middle East and Australia, with a further seven in our pipeline in the Middle East and Australia.

“I am very pleased to note that we are no longer the lone player focused exclusively on this sector.

“I am encouraged to witness the meaningful business model of the economy and mid-market hospitality sector also adopted by few others and remain fundamentally optimistic about the power of tourism to change the world.

“By simply expanding tourism, we promote peace and better international relations; this creates stronger relationships and reminds people of our common humanity.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, was the recipient of the annual AHIC 2017 Leadership Award.

The AHIC Advisory Board chose to acknowledge and thank Ghaith Al Ghaith for showing leadership and entrepreneurship in developing an airline focused on the budget traveller, increasing demand from the budget-conscious visitor and in turn, opening this segment to hotel investors and operators. 

“I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the whole flydubai team in recognition for their work and for the contribution they have made to the growth of the airline,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, upon receiving the Award.