Published On: Wed, Jan 13th, 2016

Tourism game changers in Dubai

about-dubai-02It’s a new year and new challenge for Gerald Lawless who is taking up his new tourism and hospitality role at Dubai Holding and assuming the Chairmanship of the World Travel & Tourism Council in April 2016.

Dubai Holding announced yesterday that Gerald Lawless, currently President and CEO of Jumeirah, will transition to a new position where he will be responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding’s Corporate Office, having served 18 years at the helm of Jumeirah Group.

Photo © Elisabeth Lang

Gerald Lawless came to Dubai in 1978 and joined Jumeirah Group in 1997. Since then he has built the company into one of the best-known luxury hospitality brands in the world. He was the leading drive that established the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah as the most luxurious hotel in the world and a symbol of Dubai as a luxury destination.

Mr. Lawless spearheaded the expansion of the company’s portfolio, which now includes 23 hotels in 12 destinations, stretching from London to Shanghai, with a robust pipeline of new openings planned. Jumeirah Group operates over 100 restaurants, the Wild Wadi Waterpark, and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, where Mr. Lawless will remain Chancellor. The company has also launched Venu, its contemporary lifestyle hotel brand.

Photo © Elisabeth Lang

His Excellency Mohammad Abdulla Al Gergawi, Chairman of Dubai Holding, thanked Mr. Lawless for his leadership of the Jumeirah Group, saying: “We appreciate the role that Gerald has played as the founding CEO of the Jumeirah Group and its subsequent expansion. Jumeirah Group has been a consistently valuable engine of international growth for Dubai Holding, and its future expansion will further enhance that impact. We are delighted to have the opportunity of benefitting from Gerald’s expertise in building our own integrated vision for the hospitality sector. In recognition of Gerald’s contribution to the success of Jumeirah, he will hold the title of Honorary President of the Jumeirah Group and remain Chancellor of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.”

Continuing, His Excellency said: “We welcome Stefan Leser, the new Group CEO of Jumeirah Group [effective February 1, 2016]. He has a deep understanding of the fast-changing international travel market, which will play an important role in driving Jumeirah’s successful expansion plans both at home and abroad.”

Photo © Elisabeth Lang

Stefan Leser, a German native, had been the “CEO in Waiting” with Kuoni (a SWISS global tour operator) and left the company in 2014, where he spent the last 10 years, most recently as Executive Vice President of its outbound travel and inbound specialist businesses. Prior to Kuoni, Mr. Leser was working for various IT companies.

Commenting on his new role, Gerald Lawless said: “It has been an immense honor and privilege to have been entrusted with setting up the Jumeirah Group, with the development of its outstanding portfolio of luxury hotels and other businesses, and the promotion of the brand internationally.

“I would like to express my thanks to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, for giving me this opportunity, and to thank Dubai Holding for its support over the years and to the company’s 14,000 colleagues who have made Jumeirah what it is today. As I move forward into a new set of responsibilities at Dubai Holding, I look forward to a smooth transition with Stefan.”

Photo © Elisabeth Lang

Who is behind the Dubai Holding?

Dubai Holding is a major investment conglomerate with operations in 24 countries employing over 22,000 people. Established in 2004, Dubai Holding today manages an AED 130 billion portfolio of assets, which supports the strong development of Dubai’s non-oil economy across sectors including tourism, hospitality, media, real estate, ICT, education, and financial services. Its portfolio includes: TECOM Group, which manages 11 of Dubai’s most successful business communities; Jumeirah Group, the hospitality arm which owns and operates 23 hotel developments in 12 destinations in 10 countries; Dubai Properties Group, a major contributor to the development of Dubai’s skyline with 54 skyscrapers; and Emirates International Telecommunications which holds a major stake in “du,” the fast-growing mobile operator.

The Jumeirah Group, a global luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding, operates a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts including the flagship Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts manages properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Kuwait in the Middle East; Baku, Bodrum, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Mallorca (Spain), and Rome in Europe; and the Maldives and Shanghai in Asia.

Photo © Elisabeth Lang

Jumeirah Group also runs the luxury serviced residences brand, Jumeirah Living, with properties in London and Dubai; the new contemporary lifestyle hotel brand Venu; the wellness brand Talise; Jumeirah Restaurant Group Dubai; Wild Wadi Waterpark, the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management; and Sirius, its global loyalty program. Future openings include luxury and lifestyle hotels in China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, and the UAE, Dubai.