Jumeirah chief to leave after 18 years, to take up new tourism role

Dubai hotel giant appoints new CEO as veteran Gerald Lawless moves into new role with Dubai Holding

Dubai Holding on Monday announced the transition of Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah Group president and CEO, to a new position responsible for tourism and hospitality in the company's corporate office, having served 18 years at the helm of Jumeirah Group.

Stefan Leser has been appointed as new chief executive of Jumeirah Group, effective from February 1 and joins from Swiss travel business Kuoni.

Lawless first came to Dubai in 1978 and since then has devoted almost 30 years of his professional life to the city.

After a 23-year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah Group in 1997 and since then has built the company into one of the best-known luxury hospitality brands in the world.

As well as leading the drive to establish Burj Al Arab Jumeirah as a symbol of Dubai as a luxury destination, Lawless spearheaded the expansion of the company’s portfolio, which now includes 23 hotels in 12 destinations.

Jumeirah Group also operates over 100 restaurants, the Wild Wadi Waterpark and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management; where Lawless will remain Chancellor. The Company has also launched Venu, its contemporary lifestyle hotel brand.

Mohammad Abdulla Al Gergawi, chairman of Dubai Holding, said: “We appreciate the role that Gerald has played as the founding CEO of the Jumeirah Group and its subsequent expansion.

"As a tireless ambassador for tourism and hospitality in Dubai, he is a leader admired across the industry for his commitment to innovation and excellence in the field of luxury hospitality and has been an inspiration to Jumeirah employees, to guests and to other stakeholders in the sector.

"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 benefiting 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 Chancellor of the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.”

Commenting on his new role, Lawless said: “It has been an immense honour 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 for giving me this opportunity, to Dubai Holding for their 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, and also to assuming the chairmanship of the World Travel & Tourism Council in April 2016.”

Leser, the new CEO, added: “It's a great honour to join Jumeirah; one of the world’s most prestigious hospitality brands and a major contributor to Dubai’s phenomenal success story. I look forward to working closely with Jumeirah's talented team as we continue to grow our international portfolio, build our range of brands and deliver ever better services to our guests and business partners.”

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Posted by: johnny ching

Congratulation to Gerald Lawless who I vividly remember as GM Diplomat Hotel during the 80's. Very gentleman, sincere and with a beautiful heart. More power to him, God Bless

Posted by: priya

I remember when he was GM Diplomat Hotel Bahrain in the late 80's early 90's. The Jumeirah Group is a fantastic example of Dubai's meteoric growth.

Posted by: Veronica Chapman

Congratulations Mr Lawless for great achievements in your work
Wishing you all the best for your future.

Posted by: Olivier Heuchenne

Congratulations to Gerald Lawless for achieving so much in the growth of Jumeirah and best of luck to Stefan Leser in his new role. Surely it will be a great transition and passing of the baton, with more successes in view! Well done to both gentlemen!

Posted by: James Magee

One of Dubai's founding partners Gerald is a true Icon in Dubai and famous Worldwide as a superb Ambassador for the UAE. His achievements will be a hard act to follow and we wish Stefan all the very best of continued success with the Jumeirah Group. Best wishes in the new role Gerald from James Magee, Kristina Hall and the team of Global Event Management Group.

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