MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA. The Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) has revealed its updated speaker line-up for the MEADFA Conference, which takes place in Dubai on 28-30 January. As reported, the conference, which traditionally takes place in November, was postponed from its original date (20-21 November) due to political uncertainty in the original venue of Beirut, Lebanon.

In the opening session, Dubai Duty Free Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Cidambi will share his views on how the industry can position itself as an indispensable part of the traveller’s journey.

The Jumeirah Creekside Hotel: Dubai Duty Free will host the rescheduled MEADFA Conference at its five-star location

There will be a strong focus on the travel and tourism outlook in Africa. As part of that, the conference will hear from the former CEO of SA Express Airways and aviation consultant Inati Ntshanga, who will offer his perspective on the steps the travel industry needs to take to realise the continent’s potential. Broadcaster, branding and African business expert Victor Kgomoeswana will explore the climate for brands and retailers in Africa amid the rapid growth of the continent’s middle class.

In a session focusing on new airport developments in the Middle East, Oman Airports General Manager Commercial Operations Samer Ahmed Al Nabhani will reveal the company’s ambitious commercial plans for the new airport in Muscat. Counter Intelligence Retail Research Director Stephen Hillam will examine the travelling consumer in the Middle East and will present the findings of an exclusive study for MEADFA.

Richard Dean, presenter of daily radio show Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye, will suggest how the changing business landscape will affect regional commerce in the mid- to long-term.

Dubai Duty Free, which has just revealed annual sales of US$1.93 billion, will sponsor the Gala Dinner as well as hosting the event

The first day of the conference will close with a session entitled ‘the MEADFA Challenge’, designed to showcase initiatives that will help engage the regional traveller in new ways.

Tuesday’s programme will open with an examination of the business outlook for the Middle East. This will feature an exclusive report for MEADFA by Emerging Markets Intelligence & Research, featuring Senior Analysts Gary McFarlane and Samir Sweida-Metwally.

The conference programme will also feature a strong focus on the Middle Eastern consumer, courtesy of Karl Nader, Partner with Strategy& (part of the PwC network) and the co-leader of the firm’s consumer and retail business in the Middle East.

Middle East Airlines Head of In-Flight and Catering Purchases Mounir Seifeddine, Inflight Sales Group Europe President Karen Durban-Villeval and Inati Ntshanga will explore the outlook of the airline industry in the Middle East and Africa.

MEADFA Vice President and Aer Rianta International Middle East CEO Nuno Amaral, ETRC President (and Dufry External Affairs Director) Sarah Branquinho and Dubai Duty Free Senior Vice President – Finance Bernard Creed will discuss regulatory and other challenges facing the industry.

The conference takes place at the Dubai Duty Free-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai. A packed social programme will ensure opportunities for networking outside the formal conference arena. The event will begin on Sunday with the Opening Cocktail on the Nomad Terrace of the hotel, sponsored by Dufry. On Monday, the Gala Dinner, which will be sponsored by Official Host Dubai Duty Free, will take place in the Secret Garden of the hotel.

Roda Al Bustan, Al Garhoud is also an official MEADFA Conference hotel and will provide a regular shuttle service during the event.

The event is managed by TFWA and will be moderated by TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer and The Moodie Davitt Report President Dermot Davitt.

Full details of the conference along with information on how to confirm your place can be found on the TFWA website at www.tfwa.com/the-meadfa-conference. For enquiries regarding registration, please contact Myriem Chalabi at meadfaconference@tfwa.com.