2015 Speakers

Deema Anani

Deema Anani, Commercial & Customer Service Director, Airport International Group

Commercial & Customer Service Director, Airport International Group

A “big picture” person, Deema Anani has worked on local, regional and international programmes spanning several industries but mainly focused on real estate, construction, banking and technology. 

With over twenty years of experience in the fields of Business Development and Strategy Execution across the Middle East, Deema has been working with Airport International Group (AIG) since 2011 and is currently the company’s Commercial and Customer Service Director, with responsibility for developing, maintaining and increasing non-aeronautical revenues at Queen Alia International Airport. The scope includes retail activities (Duty Free, Specialty Retail, Food & Beverage) landside and airside, airport services, car parks, advertising and real estate development. The commercial division also looks after property and asset management.

Before assuming her current role, Deema worked with a number of organizations including Tecom Investments, IBM and Monitor. 

Deema has an MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Edinburgh, and is a founding member of the Young Entrepreneurs Association. Her interests include writing, teaching and travel retail.

To top

Sharon Beecham

Sharon Beecham, Manager-Purchasing & Vendor Support, Dubai Duty Free

Manager-Purchasing & Vendor Support, Dubai Duty Free

Sharon Beecham began her career in travel retail in 1994 with Aer Rianta International in Moscow, followed by a short spell in Beijing. She joined Dubai Duty Free in 1998 and has held various positions in operations and merchandising, and currently in purchasing. Prior to joining the world of duty free and travel retail Sharon worked in retail management on the UK High Street.

A fitness enthusiast, Sharon also enjoys travelling in her leisure time.

To top

H.E. Akel E. Biltaji

H.E. Akel E. Biltaji, Mayor of Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Mayor of Amman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Akel Biltaji was born in Gaza, Palestine in 1941. Having graduated with a degree in Education in the summer of 1962, he immediately joined the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) in Saudi Arabia. In the summer of 1969 he returned to Jordan to join Royal Jordanian Airlines as a senior management officer. In a distinguished 28-year career with the airline he served in various capacities, the last of which was Senior Vice President.

In March 1997 His Majesty, the late King Hussein, appointed Akel Biltaji as Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. He continued to serve in this role under His Majesty King Abdullah II until June 2001, when he was appointed by His Majesty as Chief Commissioner for the newly declared Region of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority. In February 2004 King Abdullah appointed Akel Biltaji as His Majesty's Advisor on Tourism Promotion, Foreign Direct Investment and Country Branding. 

In November 2005 His Majesty appointed Akel Biltaji as a member of the House of Senate, where he served as Chairman of the Tourism and Heritage House Committee, and as a member of the Foreign Relations, Health and Environment and Education House Committees. In September 2013 the Prime Minister appointed Akel Biltaji as Mayor of Amman.

Akel Biltaji has represented his country in a number of national, regional and international forums and conferences, including the World Economic Forum both in Davos and the Dead Sea. He also sits on the boards of a number of national and international organizations and institutions. He is known to be one of Jordan’s strongest public speakers especially on issues related to the country's image, the holy sites and protection of heritage. 

He has been decorated with the highest orders by the heads of State of Japan, Norway, France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Chile and at home. He is a member of Skål International Amman.

To top

Kjeld Binger

Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group

CEO, Airport International Group

Since November 2011 Kjeld Binger has been responsible for the operational management and delivery of the new US$1.2 billion terminal of the Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan’s capital city, Amman. Kjeld has 18 years of experience in the airport sector. In his capacity as Executive Vice President of Copenhagen Airports he oversaw the transformation of CPH to a major regional hub, and as CEO of Copenhagen Airports International, he acquired and operated a successful portfolio of 11 airports globally. His other positions include Chairman and CEO of ASUR Mexico and CEO of DAE Airports, as well as membership of the boards of various airport companies.

Kjeld’s areas of expertise include business planning, acquisition and operational management of existing facilities as well as development of green- and brown-field airports. His main focus has been on the development of necessary infrastructure and commercial facilities to supply capacity in due time, constantly taking into account the strong correlation between market development and necessary supply of quality capacity at competitive rates.

Kjeld graduated from the Technical University in Odense, Denmark in 1980, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering. He has two adult daughters, and enjoys spending his leisure time scuba diving and supporting causes related to oceanic conservation.

To top

Pedro J. Castro Benitez

Pedro J. Castro Benitez, International Operations Director, World Duty Free Group

International Operations Director, World Duty Free Group

Pedro Castro was born in Las Palmas, Canary Islands in 1967. He studied at the German School at Las Palmas and got his University Degree in Administration and Political Science from the Complutense University in Madrid in 1991, specializing in Foreign Affairs. He was awarded a Masters in International Relations at the Spanish Diplomatic School in Madrid and then became specialized in foreign trade through several courses with the Chamber of Commerce, Junta de Andalucía and finally ICEX, the Spanish official foreign trade institution.

He started his professional career as an intern with ICEX at the Spanish Embassy in Santiago de Chile, later becoming Market Analyst in the same office. He joined duty free retailer Aldeasa in 1998 as General Manager for Chile, becoming Managing Director for Canariensis/Aldeasa in Spain in 2000.

Three years later Pedro was named CEO of Aldeasa Jordan and development director for the eastern region, also overseeing the retailer’s Kuwait operation. In December 2006 he was appointed as Operations Director for Spain, before taking on his current role as WDFG International Operations Director, responsible for the retailer’s activities in 15 countries. 

As part of an organisational restructure of new WDFG parent company Dufry, Pedro was recently named Dufry Divisional CEO Southern Europe and Africa, effective from January 1 2016.

To top

Sarah Branquinho

Sarah Branquinho, President ETRC & Corporate Communications & External Affairs Director, World Duty Free Group

President ETRC & Corporate Communications & External Affairs Director, World Duty Free Group

Sarah Branquinho is an active advocate for the duty-free and travel retail industry, and the key dual role it plays in enhancing transport infrastructure and the passenger experience.  She is President of the European Travel Retail Confederation, the representative organisation for the duty free and travel retail industry in Europe, Chair of the UK Travel Retail Forum and a member of the Board of the Duty Free World Council.

With thirty years experience in the duty free industry at TFWA, then managing the consumer mobilisation programme and the ambitious research projects which underpinned the lobby to save intra-EU duty free, Sarah joined BAA and its retail company World Duty Free where her remit for business relationships and external affairs grew with the company.  Today she also manages World Duty Free Group’s Corporate Communications department.

To top

Gerry Crawford

Gerry Crawford, Chief Operating Officer, Aer Rianta International

Chief Operating Officer, Aer Rianta International

Gerry Crawford joined the DAA group of companies after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University College Dublin. He held various finance management roles before being recruited to the DAA’s international retail management programme.  

Subsequently, Gerry spent 14 years overseas with Aer Rianta International, holding senior management positions in Eastern Europe, Middle East, The Levant and the Mediterranean.

Prior to taking up the role of COO, his most recent posts were Director Retail Operations, Head of Retail & Concessions (Ireland), Regional Purchasing Manager – Middle East and General Manager of the award winning Cyprus Duty Free.  

Gerry also holds an MBA from Warwick Business School.

To top

Baptiste Duguit

Baptiste Duguit, Marketing & Commercial Director, Dutyfly Solutions

Marketing & Commercial Director, Dutyfly Solutions

Baptiste Duguit is Marketing & Commercial Director at Dutyfly Solutions, the inflight retail division of Lagardère Travel Retail. Dutyfly Solutions currently operates duty free sales on board Air France, Iberia, Alitalia, Air Caraïbes, Luxair, Transavia and Czech Airlines, among others. 

Within Lagardère Travel Retail and Dutyfly Solutions, Baptiste previously managed the product offer strategy for all airline customers, and was Senior Project Manager within the Aelia purchasing team. Today, Baptistes’ responsibilities include product offer, marketing strategy, account management, business development and new projects.

Before joining one of the top European inflight concessionaires, Baptiste worked in Sports Marketing for Havas Entertainment (Advertising) as well as the French brand Le Coq Sportif (sports lifestyle goods), developing experience in consumer marketing, communication tools, purchasing and sales promotion. 

Baptiste holds a MBA from ESSEC Business School and played rugby at semi-professional level. 

To top

Mark Essien

Mark Essien, Founder & CEO, Hotels.ng

Founder & CEO, Hotels.ng

Mark Essien is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria-based Hotels.ng, an online hotel booking agency which is the first and largest of its kind in Nigeria.

As Nigeria begins to actively diversify its economy from an oil-based one, tourism has emerged as a promising sector, contributing 3.2% of Nigeria's GDP in 2014, a figure that is expected to double by 2024. Hotels.ng continues to maintain its position as the largest market share holder in the Nigerian hotel booking sector, and is in the process of expanding across the rest of Africa.

Since establishing Hotels.ng in 2013, Mark has overseen the growth of hotel listings on the platform from just over 100 at launch to over 7,000 hotels in 21 regions of Nigeria, with millions of transactions in 2014 alone.

Mark was born in Nigeria and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng), Computer Hardware Engineering, from Beuth Hochschule in Berlin, Germany. He also holds an MSc degree in Computer Science from Freie Universität, also in Berlin.

To top

David Freeborn

Managing Director, Pernod Ricard Gulf

David Freeborn previously worked in the UK for L’Oreal for ten years before moving to Dubai in 1998. He joined Seagram in 2000 and subsequently set up the Pernod Ricard Gulf business following the Seagram acquisition in 2001. As Managing Director he has responsibility for all the Pernod Ricard sales throughout UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar as well as Sri Lanka and The Maldives. In addition the Pernod Ricard Gulf business also supports operational delivery into India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Key brands would include Royal Salute, Chivas Regal, Ballantines, The Glenlivet, ABSOLUT, Martell Cognac as well as wines such as Jacobs Creek, Brancott Estate and Campo Viejo.

To top

Alan Glasby

Alan Glasby, Product Manager, SITA

Product Manager, SITA

Alan Glasby is a Product Manager at SITA, where he is responsible for a range of solutions that enhance a passenger’s experience on their day of travel. These solutions use context such as beacon proximity to deliver relevant information to passengers’ mobile devices. This may include navigation assistance, such as the directions to the gate for their flight, queue wait times so they know how long it will take to get to their gate, or the searchable details of airport shops where they can buy a new pair of headphones or other items available for use on their journey or as gifts for friends and family.

Alan has been working in the air transport industry for almost 25 years. After working in the field of baggage reconciliation for 15 years, Alan joined SITA in 2007, developing solutions across the portfolio of airport products provided by SITA before moving to his current Product Management role in 2014. He was born in London in 1959 and is a Chartered Engineer.

To top

Joe Harvey

Joe Harvey, Head of New Business Development, Tourvest Inflight Retail Services

Head of New Business Development, Tourvest Inflight Retail Services

Joe Harvey is the Head of New Business Development for leading concessionaire Tourvest Inflight Retail Services. Previously he headed up the global crew engagement programme, which is based around influencing change and customer service.

Joe took on the challenge of leading the new global business development and corporate marketing strategy of the company in May 2014, as Tourvest IRS expands into new global travel markets focusing on its ‘direct to passenger’ strategy, developing buy on board and duty free programmes for airlines.

Joe has over 11 years’ experience within the inflight retail industry, including a seven-year spell within the team that successfully developed the Aer Lingus inflight retail business. With a background in hotel management, he also holds a Masters degree in Tourism Management.

With its headquarters in South Africa, Tourvest is the exclusive inflight duty free service provider to British Airways, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, SA Airlink and TAAG.

To top

Keith Hunter

Keith Hunter, Director, Senior Vice President, Qatar Duty Free and Qatar Airways Inflight Duty Free

Senior Vice President, Qatar Duty Free and Qatar Airways Inflight Duty Free

Keith Hunter joined Qatar Airways in October 2008 as the Senior Vice President of its duty free business. He is also responsible for the inflight duty free retail business of Qatar Airways and, in addition, heads up the Internal Media Services department along with Qatar Duty Free’s food and beverage outlets, including concessions, at Hamad International Airport.

Qatar Duty Free is a subsidiary company of Qatar Airways and now operates from Doha’s new state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport, which opened in May 2014, and from the Doha Sea Port. The innovative, award-winning duty free operator has enjoyed consistent double-digit growth year-on-year and is now the second largest duty free operator in the Middle East. In April 2015, QDF won the Global Travel Retailer of the Year at the DFNI Global Awards for the third year in a row.

Prior to joining Qatar Airways in 2008, Keith was the retail consultant for Bourne Leisure Group. He started his airport retail career in 2002, when he joined Alpha Airports Group as Regional Manager.

To top

Terry Kane

Terry Kane, Head of Auto, Finance, Telco and Travel, MENA Region, Facebook

Head of Auto, Finance, Telco and Travel, MENA Region, Facebook

Terry Kane has been Head of Auto, Finance, Telco and Travel for the MENA Region at Facebook Inc since May 2014. He has more than 15 years of experience in technology, strategy and marketing in large national and international organizations, having worked across multiple verticals and industries and in his most recent post as Head of Digital Strategy for the Dubai-based international luxury hotel company, Jumeirah Group. 

Terry has developed recognized expertise in multiple disciplines, including brand and strategic marketing, digital communications, research and software development, to name but a few. He has an MBA from London Business School and Undergraduate Degrees from Bournemouth University and The University of Ulster. Terry has published research for The World Economic Forum; he also serves on multiple non-executive boards and is a regular speaker at international events.

To top

Blacky Komani

Blacky Komani, CEO, Tourvest Ground Duty Free

CEO, Tourvest Ground Duty Free

Blacky Komani has been involved in the tourism industry since 1985 and was the Director for the Americas of SA Tourism for six years. During this period he was based in New York, and oversaw operations in both North and South America.  He was also Managing Director of Miami-based tour operator Karell Travel for four years. 

On returning to South Africa, Blacky joined American Express Foreign Exchange, a division of Tourvest Holdings, as Director of Sales, Marketing and HR. He held this position for four years prior to joining 1time Holdings as CEO from 2011 to 2013.  

Blacky was appointed as a member of Tourvest’s executive committee in July 2013 and is a long-standing board member of American Express Foreign Exchange in South Africa.

Blacky holds a BA (Hons) degree in Public Administration from Fort Hare University in South Africa, and a Masters in Tourism Administration from George Washington University, USA.

To top

Ahmet Kötehne

Ahmet Kötehne, Chief Strategy Officer, ATU Duty Free

Chief Strategy Officer, ATU Duty Free

Ahmet Kötehne, Chief Strategy Officer of ATU Duty Free, has been working in the company since 2006. Previously he was the Operation Units and Business Development Deputy General Manager, responsible for 80 shops in 8 countries, along with the Business Development and Architecture departments.

Ahmet has spent much of his life travelling in various countries, giving him a strong background in change and cross-cultural management. He graduated from Radford University and holds an MBA from the same school. In his career he has worked at AT&T/AHS, Garanti Bank Luxembourg, Mezun.com and provided independent consultancy services. 

Ahmet is a keen sportsman and is married with a son. He speaks English, French and Turkish.

To top

Eoin Martin Cox

Eoin Martin Cox, Manager Inflight Operations, Inflight Duty Free, Qatar Airways

Manager Inflight Operations, Inflight Duty Free, Qatar Airways

Eoin Martin Cox has more than 20 years of experience in aviation and retail. Currently, in his role as Manager, Inflight Duty Free Operations at Qatar Airways, he is responsible for the on board retail business of one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, which has seen unprecedented expansion averaging double-digit growth year on year. 

Prior to joining Qatar Airways, Eoin worked as a Senior Retail Consultant with Aer Rianta International Middle East, initially in Bahrain and later in Doha, Qatar. 

Before coming to the Middle East, he worked as European Retail Operations Manager for Tommy Hilfiger International, one of the world’s leading designer lifestyle brands. 

A native of Ireland, Eoin has also worked previously for Aer Lingus and Air France’s CityJet, based in Dublin.

To top

Michiel Munneke

Michiel Munneke, General Manager, M2Mobi

General Manager, M2Mobi

Michiel Munneke is very passionate about improving the travel experience. He is one of those persons always lost, too late, or in the wrong place at the airport. He expects a better digital assistant on his travel and a better airport experience, and that’s what M2Mobi is building.

He is co-founder of M2Mobi and general manager. 

Michiel holds a Master degree in Business Information Systems from the University of Amsterdam and a Master in Management Research at the Said Business School in Oxford.

To top

Tim Sebastian

Tim Sebastian, Author, journalist and commentator

Author, journalist and commentator

Tim Sebastian is the chairman of The New Arab Debates, currently broadcast and distributed worldwide on Deutsche Welle TV. The award-winning former BBC foreign correspondent was the first presenter of HARDtalk, BBC World's daily half-hour interview programme, where he worked for more than seven years.

Tim was the founder and chairman of The Doha Debates, which were broadcast across the globe on BBC World News from 2004 until 2012. The programmes, recorded in Qatar, provided a unique, uncensored forum for discussing the most controversial issues in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

In 2012 he presented the Outsider Debates, recorded in India and screened on Bloomberg TV.

In 1982, Tim was the winner of the Richard Dimbleby Award at BAFTA and was also named Television Journalist of the Year by the Royal Television Society. For two years running, in 2000 and 2001, he received the Royal Television Society's Interviewer of the Year Award.

His began his career as a foreign correspondent in Warsaw, covering the Solidarity revolution, before becoming the BBC's Europe Correspondent in 1982 and Moscow Correspondent in 1984. A year later he was expelled by the Soviet authorities and sent to Washington until 1989.

Born in London in 1952, Tim speaks Russian and German fluently and also holds a BA Honours degree in modern languages from Oxford University. A best-selling author, he has written eight novels and two non-fiction books.

To top

Sean Staunton

Vice President Operations, Dubai Duty Free and President, MEADFA

Sean Staunton is the Vice President of Operations at Dubai Duty Free, and was elected President of the Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) in February 2013.  

Prior to joining Dubai Duty Free, Sean was employed by Aer Rianta for 10 years (1990-2000), working in such locations as Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Moscow, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria and Qatar.  

Sean is responsible for a team of 4,900 staff who handled US$1.92 billion in turnover in 2014, as well as nearly 74,000 sales transactions daily across Dubai International and Al Maktoum International.  

Sean is President of Dubai Celts Gaelic Athletic Club, past Chairman of Dubai Irish Society and is presently on the board of the World Duty Free Council.

To top

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder and Managing Director, soleRebels - Founder and Creator, Republic of Leather

Founder and Managing Director, soleRebels
Founder and Creator, Republic of Leather

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is Founder and Managing Director of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and the only WFTO Fair Trade footwear company in the world. She is also the Founder & Creator of Republic of Leather, a new company that is changing the way people around the world buy & love luxury leatherwear.

From the humblest of beginnings in Ethiopia, Bethlehem has built soleRebels into the first global footwear brand ever to emerge from a developing nation. She has created world-class jobs and empowered her community and country, while presenting a galvanized, dynamic face of African creativity to the global market. soleRebels has expanded rapidly and today exports to 45 countries; the brand is targeting 50 stand-alone retail stores across the US by 2019 and 500 worldwide by 2022.

Bethlehem’s achievements in building her businesses have brought wide global acclaim. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and the first female African entrepreneur to address the Clinton Global Initiative. She was named Outstanding African Business Woman by African Business Awards in 2011, listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women to Watch, and Business Insider ranked her one of The Top 5 Entrepreneurs in Africa. CNN recently named Bethlehem one of the 12 greatest female entrepreneurs of the last century, alongside Coco Chanel and Sara Blakely for her ground-breaking influence.

To top


Dermot Davitt

Dermot Davitt, President, The Moodie Report

President, The Moodie Report

Dermot Davitt is one of the most experienced editors and commentators working in the travel retail media. He joined The Moodie Report in April 2006 as Deputy Publisher, becoming President (and Co-owner) in August 2015. He manages the company's flourishing Print Division and also plays a key editorial role on the industry’s leading daily business intelligence website, www.TheMoodieReport.com, and the leading weekly, The Moodie Report e-Zine.

Previously he spent ten years with trade magazine Duty-Free News International, six of those years as Editor-in-Chief, having joined in 1996. Based in Galway, Ireland, Dermot is also a highly experienced conference moderator. He has chaired and moderated many of the travel retail industry’s leading events over the years, including The Trinity Forum, the Airport Food & Beverage Conference & Awards, the annual MEADFA Conference, the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference, the Nordic Travel Retail Seminar and many others.

To top

John Rimmer

John Rimmer

Conference, Research and Corporate Affairs Director, TFWA

John Rimmer has worked in the duty free and travel retail industry since 2000, when he joined trade journal Duty-Free News International as a reporter. Within three years he had been appointed editor of sister publication Travel Retailer International, before becoming editor of DFNI a year later. In 2006 he relocated to Paris, where he joined retailer Aelia as Deputy Director of Business Development, helping the company to develop its presence at airports beyond France. 

Four years later he returned to the UK to become Executive Director – Business Development at leading trade publisher The Moodie Report. In October 2012 John returned to Paris to join Tax Free World Association as Conference, Research and Corporate Affairs Director, tasked with strengthening the Association’s services to its members across the world. 

John has taken part in the moderation of several industry conferences, including the Global Travel Retail Summit, The Trinity Forum, TFWA Asia Pacific Conference and TFWA China’s Century Conference.

To top