The Business Year

Bassam Zakaria

UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Tourism

Talent Magnet

General Manager, Dusit International

Bio

Bassam Zakaria is currently the Cluster General Manager of dusitD2 Kenz Hotel Dubai and Dusit Princess Dubai Marina of the highly successful Thai multinational hospitality company. French-Syrian, Bassam graduated from renowned University of Damascus and the Cyprus Institute of Marketing and with an MBA in Business Administration and Management. Since then he has gained a wealth of experience in various fields of hotel management and has worked with major hotel chains such as Hilton Worldwide, Rotana and Millennium Hotels and Resorts over the past 19 years. His extensive knowledge and innovative approach have been critical to the success of Dusit’s projects. His vast commercial background, expertise on cost management and his continuous focus on guest and team satisfaction have been the core drivers of elevating the property to a whole new level. He joined Dusit as the General Manager of dusitD2 Kenz Hotel Dubai. In the following year, he took on the role of Cluster General Manager and is now in-charge of overseeing the operations of dusitD2 Dubai along with the re-opening Dusit Princess Dubai Marina. He has been the driving force behind the improved profitability and service standards of both these hotels. He has led many positions involving various management-oriented roles such as Director of Sales and Marketing, Director of Rooms, Deputy General Manager, as well as General Manager at Dusit, spanning his illustrious career where he has played instrumental roles in driving the growth and expansion of these organizations. His result-driven style of management has helped him lead multi-talented teams and led to him receiving critical acclaim during his tenure. He has been notably been honoured with several prestigious awards for his out-of-the-box and result driven approach, such as the €‹ Youngest GM Award, Authentic Leader of the Year, the Livcom Organization Award and many more. He is also an individual who naturally serves as an inspiring mentor for all staff. With a strong hospitality background in operations, he exhibits excellent skills and a unique endless capacity for empathy. His great belief in people has moved the company forward with its investment in staff and guest experience.This confirms his belief that Human Resources will remain a key factor in the growth of the company.

“We keep close tabs on millennials needs and expectations so we can always provide a valuable and relevant product to this market.“

What makes Dusit stand out in the increasingly competitive Dubai tourism market?

The international brand DusitD2 reflects the needs and desires of the second generation traveler. We offer a refreshing take on destination chic, and we’re a contemporary and trendy hotel, perfectly suited for the savvy-modern traveller. Currently, around 76% of travelers are millennials, and as we represent this market, we keep close tabs on millennials needs and expectations so we can always provide a valuable and relevant product to this market. This can be seen in all aspects of our business, from the hotel’s strategic location in Barsha, close to offices and universities, to our minimalistic design, staff’s friendly approach and casual designed uniforms, to the various second gen-catered philosophies of our F&B outlets. Millennials are the next generation of tourists, the biggest demographic travelers. One of our strategies to stay relevant and one that sets us apart from other similar properties is that we hire young. Young staff members bring about fresh ideas, passions and motivation which only add more value to our brand offering.

How do you seek to expand the dusitD2 brand and other Dusit brands in Dubai?

The first dusitD2 facility established in 2002 was received extremely well and spiked interest about the brand all around the world. We plan on developing another in Dubai soon, and there are plans to open another dusitD2 in Bahrain by 2020. Our facilities will also expand to other GCC countries, including in Saudi Arabia in 1Q 2020. The other brand that is currently
expanding is Dusit Princess, a classy and functional hotel, best suited for the no-nonsense traveler, offered at affordable rates. This brand has been expanding significantly in Asia, and we have just introduced it in Dubai. Our first introduction of Dusit Princess in Dubai will be in the Marina; we are currently in the final stages and aim to open in October. We have refurbished the residences from top to bottom with a touch of luxury in all the details. Moreover, we have big plans for Dusit Princess Dubai Marina. The property at its core will be a health-frantics dream fitness hub; for starters, we are bringing the flagship KO8 fitness studio focusing on suspension & resistance training to operate at our property and the head office of SwitchDXB, a popular application that has been in the market for the past two years, offering users to discover everything Dubai has to offer from leisure and fitness, to wellbeing. We will be hosting a launch and reception for all our fitness partners at Dusit Princess Dubai Marina. We also have a unique eatery, Bakers Kitchen, that is focused on wholesome, organic and healthy food. All of our innovative partners combined with the Dusit Princess brand will make this property one of the most unique healthy-focused destinations in Dubai.

How do you anticipate Expo 2020 impacting both tourism and the overall economy?

We are watching the developments for Expo 2020 closely. We seek to ensure that we position ourselves correctly in order to attract our share of the 25 million expected visitors. We are working to become one of the official hotel partners of the Expo, though this is not yet an official designation. The tourism and hospitality sector is looking forward to EXPO 2020 by announcing more projects to meet the rising demands of tourist inflow; but this means that with an increase of demand, comes an increase in the supply of hotels, keeping the industry competitive as ever.

What else is in the Dusit pipeline?

dusitD2’s architectural design and interiors were carefully hand-picked and curated to build the D2 brand that exists in Dubai today. For a while, dusitD2 was considered to be an art-hub for many artists, and we’re currently working towards reviving this status. We will be hosting an Art Week in October, dedicated to reactivating the art community in Dubai and going back to our roots of being an art-focused hotel. As part of this interactive Art Week, we are organizing multiple workshops, hosting some major artists who will be live painting at the property, as well as dedicating a day for kids to get in touch with their artsy-side and giving talented, young individuals the opportunity to display their skills and learn more. More on our expansion, we plan to expand into the UK and are extremely excited about this! Dusit is strong in Asia, and it is growing rapidly in the Middle East and the GCC; We are hopeful that Europe will be our next big destination.

Have you noticed a shift in the composition of tourists to Dubai?

When I first arrived in Dubai in late 2002, 70% of tourists were from specific European countries. Today, Dubai’s popularity as a must visit tourist destination is only set to grow in the upcoming years with all the year-round calendar of festivals, events, shopping experiences and the city’s rapid expansion. Dubai is no longer just a beach or luxury mall destination, it’s a talent magnet. Now, a visitor can engage in new and diverse activities with the innovative tools and skill building opportunities that Dubai has to offer, such as Dubai Creative Zone which provides the perfect entrepreneurial-spirited environment for tech innovators and startups. A great deal of focus of Dubai’s Tourism and Destination Management is now on the Asian markets, which represent a large portion of all global tourism. China would be the number one source, with Japan and South Korea following; these nationalities travel frequently as well. The GCC also represents a great deal of travelers and we are the regional hub for short- to medium-term trips for travelers around the GCC. Our properties also focus on attracting
travelers from CIS countries, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. In addition to millennial business travelers, our target audience comes to Dubai to be culturally educated, inspired and enriched by discovering new regions and learning new things. Many major universities around the world have opened campuses in Dubai, and this attracts numerous millennials who end up staying with us on a long-term basis; they are the marginal percentage of our overall occupants. The average stay period ranges across different areas of the industry.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

You may also be interested in...

Pierre Santoni, MEA President, Parsons

UAE - Economy

Pierre Santoni

Interview

MEA President, Parsons

Christer Viktorsson

UAE - Energy & Mining

Christer Viktorsson

Interview

Director General, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR)

Almudena Maillo

UAE - Tourism

Almudena Maillo

Interview

Councilor for Tourism and Moratalaz, Madrid City Council

View All interviews