Haitham al Majali, President of MEADFA
A personal welcome to delegates from Elie Saab, Chairman & President of the ELIE SAAB group, world renowned fashion designer who projects a vision of positivity from a contemporary Lebanon to the world, bridging distances, bringing people together, and celebrating Lebanon’s talent and name worldwide.
Phoenicia Trading Company, both through its cigar retail business and through its long-standing partnership with Aer Rianta International in Beirut Duty Free, is one of the pioneers of quality retailing in Lebanon. Chairman Mohamed Zeidan has been confronted by most challenges during 40 years of doing business in the country and he will explain to delegates the challenges that the duty free in Lebanon is facing and how the company is prepared to face them.
Despite severe pressures and constraints on its ability to operate, Middle East Airlines celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2015 as a thriving, profitable business. The MEADFA Conference will hear from Middle East Airlines Chairman-Director General Mohamad Abdul Rahman El-Hout on what the future holds for aviation in the Levant and the broader region, including the role of retail in the passenger services mix.
According to the confirmed 2017 sales figures from Generation Research, the inflight market is back into growth after several years of decline. The Middle East and Africa regions are home to some of the airlines driving that growth, although familiar challenges remain – notably, how can the inflight sector provide a truly differentiated retail experience for increasingly sophisticated consumers? This session will feature insights from Middle East Airlines Director of Purchasing Mounir Seifeddine and Qatar Duty Free Vice President Thabet Musleh.
Airports across Africa are increasingly aware of the need to develop their commercial revenue, if they are to make the investment needed to improve infrastructure and to become profitable. In this session Ali Tounsi, , Secretary General of ACI Africa, will explore the current climate for African airports, and discuss the steps they need to take to exploit the continent’s undoubted potential for duty free & travel retail.
The ACI outlook will be followed by a discussion featuring some of the travel retailers shaping the industry’s future in Africa, including Dufry Group Managing Director Africa Isabel Zarza, Lagardère Travel Retail COO Europe, Middle East & Africa Frédéric Chevalier and Tourvest Ground Duty Free CEO Blacky Komani.
The second day of the MEADFA Conference will begin with a report on the current business climate and how to succeed in the region amidst constant technological disruption and geopolitical change. The session will hear from Beirut-based economist, journalist and broadcaster Maurice Matta on how businesses in the Levant and beyond can benefit from the rapid changes taking place in the Middle East, with regard to technological advances and new modes of consumption.
Spending via blockchain in the Middle East and Africa is expected to double in the coming years, according to the International Data Corporation. The database technology behind cryptocurrency bitcoin is gaining ground, driven by the need for organizations to improve efficiency, agility, security and transparency. Blockchain is also predicted to be a weapon against counterfeit goods.
The MEADFA Conference will hear from one of the region’s experts on blockchain and bitcoin, and author of “The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking” Saifedean Ammous, Professor of Economics at the Lebanese American University and Columbia University. Prof Ammous will evaluate the potential of blockchain technology and how it will both assist and disrupt the world of retail.
The world’s largest travel retailer in a single location, Dubai Duty Free (DDF), remains on course to reach US$2 billion in sales this year, amid significant upgrades to commercial facilities at Dubai International Airport. DDF Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Cidambi talks about recent and upcoming retail developments at DXB, as the retailer adapts its offer to a changing customer profile.
A detailed look at the latest emerging trends and destinations in the region, courtesy of ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager. Olivier will look ahead to what the booking situation tells us about travel to the region at year-end and beginning 2019.
From tax regimes to tobacco, packaging and regulatory issues, this session will explore the most significant issues affecting duty free & travel retail in the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Featuring European Travel Retail Confederation Secretary General Keith Spinks and MEADFA Secretary General and International Duty Free Trading & Agencies CEO Sherif Toulan.
Brands and retailers across the Middle East and Africa are adapting to radically different customer profiles, in part driven by the influx of tourists and travellers from East Asia. This session will study the emerging traveller in detail, with a particular focus on Chinese customers courtesy of an exclusive study for the MEADFA Conference presented by Counter Intelligence Retail Research Director Stephen Hillam. Also sharing their insights into the region’s most significant customer trends will be Shiseido Group Travel Retail Europe Middle East and Africa General Manager Olivier Decazes and Habanos Vice President Jose Maria Lopez.
President Haitham al Majali