H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa

ITSC 2019 Speaker
H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority

His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa brings over 15 years of dynamic professional experience in various commercial, tourism and economic fields in Sharjah.

Under his leadership, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority (SCTDA) has achieved many successes at both international and local levels, becoming a major cornerstone of the emirate’s tourism development efforts. Al Midfa has taken the emirate’s events and forums to even higher standards. Further cementing his commitment to taking Sharjah’s tourism success to new heights, Al Midfa continues to play key a role in the execution of the new tourism strategy that aims to attract 10 million visitors by 2021; including SCTDA’s adoption of four strategic pillars.

Beside his responsibilities as the Chairman of SCTDA, Al Midfa is also a member of the Sharjah Executive Council, the Chairman of the Higher Committee of National Day Celebrations in Sharjah and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Sharjah International Marine Club. Prior to taking on the role of SCTDA Chairman, Al Midfa served in a senior administrative role at the Sharjah Airport Free Zone.

Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat

ITSC 2019 Speaker
Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat
Managing Director
Jordan Tourism Board

Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat is the current Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board; the leader in positioning and promoting Jordan as the destination of choice in international markets.

Prior to his position at the Jordan Tourism Board, Dr. Arabiyat filled the position of Finance Department Director at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission as well as previously holding that position and the position of Director of Administrative Affairs at the Commission simultaneously.

Preceding that, Dr. Arabiyat worked in several ministerial positions including; Serving in the Financial Department at the Ministry of Planning before moving on to becoming the Head of Auditing as well as Financial Manager at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities before moving on to becoming the Financial & Administrative Manager for the Tourism Development Project ( JICA)

Dr. Arabiyat holds a PHD in Finance from the Amman Arab University for Graduate Studies, a Masters degree in Banking and Financial Science from the Arab Academy for Banking and Financial Science and a BA in Public Administration and Political Science from the University of Jordan.

H.E. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry

ITSC 2019 Speaker
H.E. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry
Ajman Tourism Development Department

His Excellency Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry is Director General of Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD) in Ajman, UAE.

Mr Al Geziry, a seasoned marketing professional who possesses a wealth of global tourism experience, is widely- known in the UAE tourism industry for his exceptional leadership skills, as well as his unique ability to identify and maximize growth opportunities.

Mr Al Geziry, who was announced to be ATDD’s Director General in May 2017, is responsible for strategically strengthening Ajman’s economy through attracting tourists and inward investment into the emirate while delivering Ajman’s tourism vision for 2021.

Prior to joining ATDD, Mr Al Geziry held executive leadership positions, with increasing responsibility, at Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company whose destinations includes City Walk, The Beach, Boxpark and Blue waters, a man-made mixed-use island off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence, among others. In his capacities as Director of Hospitality and Vice President of Retail Marketing, Promotions and Recreations, Mr Al Geziry led several world-class projects and was responsible for overseeing the expansion of the company’s portfolio in the hospitality and retail sector.

Early in his career, Mr Al Geziry spent more than a decade marketing Dubai’s tourism industry as part of his role as Director of Overseas Promotions and Inward Missions at The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), where he developed and implemented successful tourism initiatives that helped to position Dubai as a global business and leisure destination.

During his tenure at DTCM, Mr Al Geziry led high-profile international delegations and organized more than 100 exhibitions and road shows across diverse geographies. He also managed a wide variety of marketing campaigns, including Kids Go Free, a summer promotion that encouraged the growth of family tourism, while overseeing the activities of DTCM’s overseas offices, and serving as a spokesperson for the establishment.

Mr Al Geziry is a winner of the Dubai Government Excellence Programme Award and was a member of the International Promotions Committee for the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities.

He holds a BBA in Marketing from the American University in Dubai and an Executive Diploma in Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Republic of Singapore.

H.E. Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal

ITSC 2019 Speaker
H.E. Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal Executive Chairman Sharjah Investment and Development Authority

Marwan Al Sarkal was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shurooq in 2009 at the time of its establishment as per the Emiri Decree no.2 of 2009 that was issued by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. In his capacity as CEO, he intensified efforts to drive and lead the investment and cultural growth and development of Sharjah.

H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal is Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), an entity tasked with leading the continued transformation and economic diversification of the emirate of Sharjah.

Operating under the wise directives of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and under the vision of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal played an integral role in transforming Sharjah’s economic infrastructure, diversifying markets and facilitating new investments by leading projects and partnerships across major sectors such as tourism, healthcare, environmental, logistics, real-estate, retail and light manufacturing.

Al Sarkal has spearheaded all the major infrastructural projects and key partnerships at Shurooq, initiating the development of its portfolio of projects, initiatives and partnerships estimated at a total value of more than AED 10 billion (more than USD 2 billion), and covering Sharjah’s western, central and eastern regions.

His creative, innovative thinking and ambitious drive, rooted in the emirate’s traditions, has enabled Shurooq to adopt worldclass standards in providing an array of services and infrastructural facilities to attract investors from the UAE, the Middle East, and beyond.

Issam Kazim

ITIC Speakers
Issam Kazim
Chief Executive Officer
Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Issam Kazim is the CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), which was established in December 2013 as an affiliate of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Having built and developed DCTCM’s team from the ground up, as well as its large network of international offices, Kazim leads all activities vis-à-vis the branding, promotion and marketing of the emirate of Dubai. He is instrumental in negotiating and facilitating global partnerships and plays an integral role in the development of relationships with industry stakeholders, partners and investors that contribute to the overall growth in visitation to the city. He also regularly acts as a key media spokesperson and the face of Dubai Tourism for events, presentations, interviews and visiting VIP delegations, influencers, public personalities and government bodies.

Kazim’s accomplishments since taking up his post at DCTCM in February 2014 include developing innovative destination tools and dynamic digital platforms to enhance the visitor experience in Dubai. He has also played a pivotal role in facilitating high profile broadcast productions such as Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour, as well as other initiatives that have helped showcase Dubai as a ‘must-visit’ destination. Kazim has also initiated collaborations with A-list celebrities including an award-winning #BeMyGuest campaign featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

Kazim previously worked as Director of DXB Live and Commercial at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), and successfully launched strategic live events including Dubai Music Week.

Ben Lock

ITSC 2019 Speaker
Ben Lock

Ben has over 20 years experience in communications at world leading agencies with a particular focus on building and managing international corporate reputations.

Ben leads Edelman UK’s International Affairs practice which provides strategic communications consultancy to clients looking to build, enhance or protect reputations across multiple markets. These clients encompass a mix of NGOs, government agencies, foundations, philanthropists and sovereign state-owned bodies.

Ben has a particular focus on developing compelling narratives and strategic campaigns to support international governments enhance their economic development ambitions across multiple markets.

Ben has run major international communications campaigns for destinations including Chile, Canada, Tunisia, Morocco, Armenia and Dubai.

Prior to joining Edelman, Ben was Head of Issues and Crisis for Ogilvy PR London.

Final list of speakers revealed for the future of travel & tourism Middle East conference

Industry News 29th May, 2020

This week HE Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce, has confirmed his attendance at a conference considering the future of travel and tourism in the Middle East.

The event – part of Arabian Travel Market’s three-days of webinars and conferences – will discuss sustainable investment measures for the region’s travel & tourism sector alongside strategies to restore travellers’ confidence and move forward post-pandemic.

He will talk about his vision for Dubai’s success alongside leaders from across the region:

Panel Discussion: Initiatives to revive the travel and tourism industry and secure sustainable investment in the region?

Moderator: Rajan Datar, Presenter and Broadcaster BBC


  • HE Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman Sharjah Investment and Development Authority
  • His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)
  • HE Saleh Al Gezeiry, Director General for Ajman Tourism
  • Mr. Majed M. Alghanim Tourism & Quality of Life Managing Director, Ministry of Investment, Saudi Arabia 
  • Mr. Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Center of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality

This is one of three sessions on the day and you can be part of the event with free registration.

Restructuring to Attract Sustainable Investment and Customers in the New World Order.

Register HERE


READ MORE ABOUT Arabian Travel Market’s Virtual Programme 1 – 3 June , 2020 HERE

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Europe: flight searches online go up as governments relax Covid lockdowns


Industry News 28th May 2020

Flight searches in Europe have plummeted by more than 90 per cent but there are signs that as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, people are preparing to fly again.

And Greece – which escaped the worst of the virus – has becomre a key target for people researching holidays online, according to digital audience analyst Sojern. 

It examines and reports travel intent by internet use, as measured by searches on airline websites, online travel agencies and metasearch.

This week Sojern reported that while bookings in Europe are down by more than 90 per cent in most countries, Greece is a front runner in the recovery forecast.

Sojern has released its latest findings on how travel trends in Europe are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The most recent insights, from data collected on Tuesday (26 May), are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals.

Flight searches and bookings remain down overall, however we are beginning to see positive signals that travel intent is improving in some markets that have announced an easing of travel restrictions. We will look deeper into these countries in the next section.


Global flight searches to key European markets


Global flight bookings to key European markets


European travellers itching to get away to newly-opened markets

In particular, Greece stands out with a major uptick in global flight searches and bookings in the last week, after announcing that Athens will be open to tourists on 15 June, and that the Greek islands will be open as of 1 July.

But there are other countries hoping to attract European travellers for their usually-busy summer season. In addition to the re-opening of Greece, we know that Italy will mostly reopen on 3 June (with some staggered re-openings in places like Sardinia), while Cyprus and Poland will reopen from 15 June. At present, these countries do not appear to have any self-isolation restrictions from arriving travellers.

When looking at future departure months, while we see longer term recovery nearer the end of the year, we are seeing spikes in regional flight searches to these countries in June.


European flight searches to reopening markets

And when we look at bookings to these countries made in the last 14 days, we see that many Europeans have booked travel in July, in line with the reopening of borders. While these spikes are still well down when compared year-over-year, it is a positive sign that we see these upticks in travel searches and bookings so quickly after government announcements. Europeans remain eager to enjoy a summer holiday abroad.


European flight bookings to reopening markets


Government policies impact European travel intent to the UK, but domestic intent is strong

Last week, the UK announced that starting 8 June, arrivals into the UK will need to go into a 14-day self-isolation, which could be a deterrent to those looking to travel to the UK in the coming months. As a result, with the exception of a small spike in June, European travel intent to the UK remains well below that of the European countries who are opening their borders without any self-isolation rules. For example, the small spike in June is still 86% down YOY, whereas for Greece in the same month, travel intent is only down 31% YOY.


European flight searches to UK, future departure months

On a positive note, it does appear that domestic travel within the UK is really starting to improve. We’ve indexed to the first week in April, when Europe was perhaps in the worst phase of the virus, lockdowns were strictest, and travel intent was at its lowest. We now see that searches for travel within the UK are up over 70% from the first week in April. While the government has not lifted restrictions on non-essential travel, it appears that staycations and ‘near-cations’ will be the name of the game once travel is allowed in the UK.


Travel intent to the UK, indexed to 5 April



We will continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation. At the moment, we see that European countries that are starting to reopen their borders without any restrictions are reaping the benefits of growing travel intent, opposed to those countries who are implementing self-isolation restrictions on arrivals. These forward-looking insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies when the industry starts to recover from this outbreak.


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Business chiefs call on UK government to scrap 14-day quarantine

Industry News: 28th May 2020

Business leaders have called on UK government to scrap its 14-day quarantine on visitors and concentrate on ‘air bridges’ with countries deemed safe.

Low risk visitors would avoid the need for quarantine, due for introduction on June 8, otherwise they warn British business will suffer serious damage and it will be left out of other countries co-operation. 

Yesterday business groups wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying the 14-day quarantine on all air passengers arriving in the UK will have “serious consequences” for the economy. 

In a letter to the prime minister, bosses of airlines including EasyJet, Tui, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic, as well as industry bodies Airlines UK, the British Chambers of Commerce, UK Hospitality and manufacturing association Made UK said that while they fully support the government’s commitment to public health, they have “serious reservations” about a “blanket approach” to all arrivals into Britain.

So-called ‘air bridges’ would allow visitors from countries where coronavirus infection rates are low into the UK, without having to self-isolate for two weeks.

Instead, they are asking for a more “targeted, risk-based” approach when establishing air links with countries that have high infection rates from the pandemic.

“The alternative risks major damage to the arteries of UK trade with key industry supply chains, whilst pushing the UK to the back of the queue as states begin conversations for opening up their borders,” says the letter.

Home Secretary Pritti Patel announced quaratine plan details on Friday. She said: “We recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel and leisure sectors, who are already struggling in these unprecedented times.

“Across government, we continue to work with them and support what is an incredibly dynamic sector to find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way.”

She added that the 14-day self-isolation rule will be reviewed every three weeks.

Some airlines have announced plans to increase flight numbers this summer after air travel ground to a virtual halt because of the coronavirus lockdowns imposed by many governments.

However, some have argued that the two-week-long quarantine will put people off travel and be difficult to enforce. 

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Haitham Mattar

ITSC 2019 Speaker
Haitham Mattar
Managing Director
IHG Hotels & Resorts, Middle East, Africa & India

Multi global awards winner in the Tourism & Hospitality fields, Haitham Mattar is currently Senior Advisor to the Saudi Ministry of Tourism Advising on structuring the Saudi Tourism Authority and delivering on the Saudi tourism promotion strategy.

This includes building capacity, market research and studies, delivering product development plans, tourism infrastructure plans, trade engagement and promotion plans, source market development and airlift.

As former CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority from 2015 – 2019, where he successfully repositioned Ras Al Khaimah to become one of the fastest growing destinations in the world, exceeding the target of one million visitors in the first three years, droving economic growth and winning a number of global travel awards and personal accolades.

With more than 25 years of experience in global destination and hospitality management and marketing, Mattar has also held senior roles with leading global brands including Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and Hilton Worldwide.

Mattar’s cross-continent experience and valuable global insights allowed him to effectively lead Ras Al Khaimah’s destination growth strategy, through capturing existing and emerging source market movements and international tourism trends. He was also instrumental in the concept and delivery of globally recognized tourism demand generators in the emirate including Jebel Jais Flight: the world’s longest zipline and the region’s first Via Ferrata.

In 2017, Mattar was elected as Vice Chair of the UNWTO Board of Affiliate Members as well as being appointed as a member of the steering committee for the UNWTO 2017 International Year for Sustainable Development in Tourism.

Mattar was also named a full-time advisory board member of the Global Thinkers Forum (GTF) in 2018, and an Advisory Board Member of Al Marjan Development. Mattar is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economy and was appointed in 2018 as a member of the Arabian Travel Market Advisory Board by Reed Travel Exhibitions. In August 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority joined WTTC as a member, being represented by Mattar

Named ‘Tourism Promotion CEO of the Year’ at the Global CEO Excellence Awards, Mattar was featured in the Arabian Business ‘most powerful Arabs’ list, in addition to being named ‘Leisure and Tourism CEO of the Year’ at the prestigious CEO Middle East Awards and ‘Business Leader of the Year’ at the Hospitality Excellence Awards in 2018.

A Lebanese-born American citizen and Arabic speaker, Mattar holds a Batchelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida, USA, and a MBA in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, UK.