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Tue 31 Dec 2013 03:09 PM

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Rotana's co-founder steps down from CEO role

Selim El Zyr will be replaced by current COO but will retain consultancy role at UAE hotel operator

Rotana's co-founder steps down from CEO role
Selim El Zyr, president and CEO of Rotana.

The co-founder of UAE-based Rotana Hotels, Selim El Zyr, is stepping down from his role as CEO.

El Zyr, who has dedicated the past 40 years to the Middle East hospitality industry, opened his first hotel with Rotana, Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, in 1993.

He will be replaced by the current COO Omer Kaddouri, effective from Wednesday, with El Zyr continuing to sit on the board of the company in a consultancy role.

Speaking to Hotelier Middle East, El Zyr said: “I’m going to be here to answer any questions he (Kaddouri) wants. And I’m going to probably look at unconventional deals that the company makes with third parties. I want to spend four to five hours a day [with Rotana] for the next couple of years until things are smooth.”

Speaking about his successor, El Zyr also stressed his confidence that with Kaddouri, Rotana Hotels is being left in safe hands.

“I discovered my successor maybe ten years ago. I discovered in him the drive and the energy, the intelligence and the fairness; he was fair, he was correct,” said El Zyr.

A Lebanese national, El Zyr first started working in hotels in 1964 before graduating from renowned hospitality school Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland in 1970 and becoming chief steward at the Waldorf-Astoria New York.

In 1973 he came to Abu Dhabi, where a 12-year career with Hilton ensued, followed by a brief stint founding fast food chain Juicy Burger in Lebanon in 1982, before returning to the UAE with Abu Dhabi National Hotels.

El Zyr founded Rotana Hotels with life-long friend Nasser Al Nowais, chairman of Rotana, as a local hotel group that was capable of competing with international operators, and has since taken the brand to emerging markets, launched a loyalty programme, made in-roads with on.

El Zyr was also the first ever hotelier to score the top spot in the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 in 2009 and since then has remained in one of the top six positions every year.

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Zainuddin Diwan 5 years ago

I have high respect for Mr. Selim El Zyr. The art of management is beyond expectation. All the best for the year 2014

Zain Diwan

Percy 5 years ago

Having worked under him in Abu Dhabi Hilton, in late 70's, I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for him, which in my humble opinion was the one man who knew F & B as none other in those days and clearly had a vision and understood the industry well.
Wish him and his family all the best in future too.
God Bless Him.
Percy DSouza.
(Still an admirer).

Rajesh Thampi 5 years ago

Best of Luck Mr.Omar Kaddouri. I have worked with him during his tenure as the General Manager of Beach Rotana. Wish him all the best.
Rajesh