Dubai hosts first edition of the MEA Future Leaders Challenge

To boost hospitality talent in the region
Dubai hosts first edition of the MEA Future Leaders Challenge
Future Leaders Challenge

The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, one of the founding partners of the MEA Future Leaders Challenge along with GameChangers Community and Hilton, is hosting 60 students from 12 schools across the region to compete for the live finals of this competition. The Challenge will kick off today, Monday 16th January, and will run until Wednesday, 18th January 2023.

The MEA Future Leaders Challenge (MEA FLC) is a new initiative that creates a community to tackle future challenges in the hospitality industry and aspires to develop the MEA Region as the best talent developer in the world. The platform brings together industry leaders, students, and universities; and focuses on game-changing collaborations and initiatives between these stakeholders, to enhance the quality of education, talent development, and human capital focus. The overarching goal is to attract and inspire talent to choose hospitality and tourism as their choice of careers.

Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, president, Middle East, Africa, and Türkiye at Hilton; and founding partner of the program, underlines the importance: “As the hospitality industry continues to witness rapid growth across the Middle East & Africa, it is crucial that we have a strong pool of diversified talent to resource this exciting new era of travel and tourism. The MEA FLC promises to be a hive of activity, with an action-packed program, top-level coaches, and a challenging live event. I am looking forward to starting the live event!”

Jeroen Greven, Managing Director of The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management also shares his thoughts: “Events like the Future Leaders Challenge are vital to solidifying the region’s position as a key talent builder for the global hospitality industry. Transferable skills like creativity, communication, problem-solving, social intelligence, and sense-making are the key to professional success in the hospitality industry, especially when intertwined with relevant hospitality management know-how and business acumen. The Future Leaders Challenge provides the movers and shakers of tomorrow the perfect opportunity to cultivate and showcase those talents, all while solving real-world challenges.”

The Challenge


The program’s objective is to include final-year students in strategic issues the industry faces. 12 schools from all over the MEA Region have selected 5 of their best final-year students. In an online 3-month curriculum, presented to them via the MEA Future Leaders Challenge team, the students are being prepared for the live event’s final presentation. Guided by industry professionals and their teachers, they are being prepared to take the most out of the challenge.

The students, mixed in international groups so they learn international cultures, economic backgrounds, different perspectives, and more, all get one strategic topic appointed by the advisory board. Their aim is to answer them strategically and present their answer during the live event in Dubai (January 16,17,18 2023), The team that does best wins the challenge.

“The MEA FLC allows us the unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals and establish the region as a global leader and catalyst, for cultivating a highly skilled workforce and uplifting leaders of tomorrow”, says Hubert Ummels, Chairman and Co-Founder of The MEA FLC.

 MEA FLC Welcomes Advisory Board


The MEA FLC is thrilled to announce its Advisory Board, comprised of hospitality and tourism leaders around the MEA Region. The board is appointed to advise the Future Leaders Challenge team on strategic topics and relevant issues on behalf of the sector.

“We are very pleased to welcome our Advisory Board members. Since the start, we have captured countless ideas and such important and meaningful advice to start this exciting journey,” said Marvy Rieder, Director of the MEA Future Leaders Challenge. “Our Advisory Board includes senior-level industry leaders from at least 8 different countries over the region, who are passionate about talent development and showcasing the relevance of our industry.”

The Advisory Board members include:

  • Jochem-Jan Sleiffer – President, Middle East, Africa and Türkiye, 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 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

Side Programs


During the live event in Dubai, the organising committee of the MEA FLC has created side events such as:

-Hospitality and Tourism school directors’ annual meeting.

-HR executives brought together with the objective of initiating projects to enhance the attractiveness of the hospitality and tourism Industry.

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