A familiar face in the Power 50 top 10, Selim El Zyr is respected industry-wide for setting up the region’s first hotel group that proved local management could operate at international standards.
Among his notable achievements have been the diversification of brands to capitalise on all market segments including the all-suites Arjaan, midscale business Centro Hotels by Rotana, and the alcohol-free Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts, in addition to the original five-star Rotana.
Still at the helm of Rotana 20 years on, El Zyr is now the CEO to which all other home-grown companies seeking Middle Eastern growth aspire to.
With El Zyr the numbers really do speak for themselves: he has now worked in hospitality for 42 years, runs 43 operating hotels in the Middle East and has another 46 in the pipeline. Only two properties have opened in the past 12 months but 16 have been signed, including hotels in Riyadh, Jeddah and Iraq, plus properties in Doha and RAK which were only signed in June and have yet to be officially announced.
And at the end of October, Rotana will take over from Starwood as the dominant hotel chain in Dubai, with the opening of Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana and Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana taking the tally to 15 operating hotels in the emirate.
By this time next year, El Zyr should be in charge of 53 operating hotels, including exciting launches such as the long-awaited Capital Centre Rotana in Abu Dhabi.
By the numbers
Rotana Hotels open in Middle East: 43 Hotels in confirmed pipeline for Middle East: 46 Middle East hotels opened in past 12 months: 2 Middle East hotels signed in past 12 months: 16 Middle East hotels due to open by September 2013: 10 Years in hospitality: 42 years Years in Middle East: 39 Nationality: Lebanese