MEA Future Leaders Challenge - Press Release and Pictures

First Edition of MEA Future Leaders Challenge is a Success!
A unique initiative to Inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals and establish the region as a global leader

With the theme “what would you advise different stakeholders to do to enhance the attractiveness of the hospitality and tourism industry for current and future generations?”,seven groups of final-year students from twelve hospitality universities in the MEA Region stunned our judges during the 1st edition of the MEA Future Leaders Challenge (FLC) in Dubai.

The winning team composed of students from SHBM in Morocco, Dubai College of Tourism, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM), Seychelles Tourism Academy, University of Johannesburg, PNU Riyadh and Alexandria University created a unique concept of a platform, DYF Careers, to inspire Gen Z’s, bringing awareness, attractiveness and building passion for the hospitality career. “I always wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could do anything. Being the only man in my group made me realize that women are so powerful and that they are the real future of hospitality” – Mwai Kaunde, from the winning team.

The judging process was conducted by an independent panel of judges, which included the FLCAdvisory Board Members and the Director of Business Stakeholders of Dubai Economy andTourism, Sultan Almteiri, who assessed the competitors based on a set of criteria such as innovation, presentation performance, content, and creativity. The winners were awarded with private consultancy by industry leaders and one-to-one personal development plan, in addition to certificates and trophies. All participants from abroad were provided complimentary flights and accommodation.

“The hospitality industry and the region have faced supply/demand challenges in the past couple of years, while the region has grown tremendously. So this event has been a unique journey not just for the students but for industry leaders, where we got the opportunity to learn a lot from future talents, so it’s a win-win situation.” – Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, Executive Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre and FLC Advisory Board member.

Guided by industry professionals and their teachers, the participants were mixed to create across-cultural experience to understand how to work in an international environment breaking cultural barriers. The students went through a 3-month online preparation which included workshops in personal development, presentation, and leadership skills. During the three-day live event, all contestants, university representatives and Human Resources industry leaders engaged in networking opportunities, mentoring sessions, speed-dating and sightseeing activities, such as visiting the luxurious Burj Al Arab and experiencing the thrills of the Desert Safari.

The MEA Future Leaders Challenge initiative was possible due to the collaboration and trust of its sponsors: Hilton, GameChangers, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Radisson Hotel Group, Accor, Dubai World Trade Centre, Hotel Management School NHL Stenden, Emaar, Topia, Fine Solutions, Al Ain, Diversey, Fresh On Table, Vision, Department of Economy & Tourism in Dubai, Guest Supply, Coca-Cola, Barakat, Pernod Ricard, Julius Meinl and IHG Hotels & Resorts.


  • The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, UAE
  • Dubai College of Tourism, UAE
  • HTMi Dubai, UAE
  • HTMi KSA
  • PNU Riyadh, KSA
  • Alexandria University, Egypt
  • ISIT College, Morocco
  • Seychelles Tourism Academy, Seychelles
  • SHBM, Morocco
  • University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Stenden University, South Africa
  • University of Pretoria, South Africa

Advisory Board members

  • Jochem-Jan Sleiffer – President MEA&Turkey, Hilton
  • Jonathan Sheard – VP Ops Gulf – Midscale and Economy Brands, Accor
  • Tim Cordon – Senior Area Vice President Middle East & Africa Radisson Hotels
  • Judi Nwokedi – COO of Tourvest
  • Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar – Executive Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre
  • Mamadou Kwidjim Toure – Founder Ubuntu Group & Ubuntu Tribe
  • Hala Benlahssen – Managing Director Halo Consulting (Online)
  • Mark Kirby – COO, Head of Hospitality at Emaar Hospitality Group
  • Hubert Ummels – Co-Founder GameChangers Group
  • Stephanie van Oorschot – Industry Relations Officer, Hotel Management School NHL
  • Stenden
  • Jeroen Greven – Managing Director, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality

Press info;
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