By Shane McGinley
Irish hospitality executive dedicated his award to those in the hospitality industry
Twenty years ago, the world had global landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House, but when the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab opened its doors in December 1999, the world had a new icon, and one that truly put Dubai and the UAE on the global map.
Gerald Lawless, a hospitality executive from Ireland and former president and group CEO of the Jumeirah Group, helped transform this landmark into the epitome of luxury and raised the benchmark for hospitality around the world – with one journalist famously referring to it as the world’s first seven–star hotel.
“It means a lot to receive this award, coming up to the 20th anniversary of the opening of the fantastic Burj Al Arab. It is still the most luxurious hotel in the world. Although I’m well retired from Jumeirah, it is being run by some great people and I’m very proud to have been associated with it,” Lawless said in his acceptance speech.
He paid tribute to his “long suffering wife” Nessa and dedicated his accolade to the team at Jumeirah Group. “We have so many unsung heroes who look after us every day in this fantastic industry that has given me such a lovely life and such a lovely career.”
Speaking in his tribute video, Hatem Farah, chairman and founder of ECC Group, commended Lawless on his professionalism. “Gerald is a man who respected his staff and treated them very highly. He loves his family and I am sure of his future success,” Farah said.
As well as working with the iconic hotel brand, Lawless has also served as the head of tourism and hospitality at Dubai Holding, Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council and is currently a member of the Advisory Board for The World’s Greatest Show - Expo 2020 Dubai.