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Board of Governors

Strong and robust governance and compliance are critical pillars of a successful educational institution. Dubai College of Tourism has a diverse Board of Governors with representation of Industry, education, technology, government, law and tourism.


Chairman of the Board

Helal Saeed Al Marri

His Excellency, Helal Saeed Al Marri is the Director General of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. He is a member of the Executive Council of Dubai and also the Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA). Al Marri is accountable for the planning, over-sight, and delivery of Dubai’s vision and aspirational targets for the sector. His responsibilities span both leisure and business aspects of the city’s value proposition.

Helal Al Marri also leads DWTCA, which encompasses the UAE’s leading event venue and the largest event and exhibition centre in the whole region. Alongside this, he serves as a member of the Supreme Committee of the Expo 2020 and board member at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Emaar Malls PJSC, ICD and Taaleem PJSC. 

Al Marri holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the London Business School (LBS). In addition, he’s experienced as a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and previously worked at consulting firms, McKinsey and KPMG. 

Laila Suhail

As Chief Executive of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships, DTCM, Laila Mohammed Suhail oversees relationships with Dubai’s largest strategic partners.

As a key member of the DFRE since its formation, Laila became CEO in 2008. Under the DFRE umbrella, Laila Suhail was responsible for a team that manages the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), Ramadan in Dubai, Eid in Dubai, to name but a few.

Her experience of working with the leadership of Dubai has helped her gain the insight and know-how to become recognised as a “Retail Festivals Expert”. Outside her “Festivals” work in the retail sector, she is also a Board member of both the Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG) and the Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group (DGJG). Laila has served as Board Member of the Dubai Sports Council, member of its Executive of-fice and President of the Women’s Sports Committee. 

Sahia Ahmed

CEO, Regulatory Policy and Governance, and past president of the Association of Corporate Counsel, Middle East, Sahia Ahmed has vast experience of working in the private and government sectors.

Skilled in M&A, Investment, Regulatory and Legislation, Data and Digital Partnerships, Sahia has served as General Counsel of Emirates Investment Authority and Dubai World and as Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee of Gulf Navigation Holding PJSC, as an Advisor at Dubai Land Department and as Partner at Reed Smith LLP.

Sahia Ahmed is a graduate of King’s College London and of the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn as a Barrister of Law. 

Tarek Magdy

With expertise in Strategy Implementation, Business Model Design, Corporate Performance Improvement and corporate transformation projects, Tarek Magdy fulfils the COO role for Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing. 

Tarek was the CEO and Key Founder of Intellect “Performance Improvement Hub” established in April 2012 providing advisory and executive coaching services for companies to reach peak performance through enabling their employees.

Prior to establishing Intellect, Tarek spent over ten years with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where as a Partner and led the Public sector and education consulting division to provide governments with solutions focused on Organizational Transformation, Business Process Improvement and Strategy Implementation. 

Oscar Ibrahim

Oscar Ibrahim joined Dubai Tourism in 2014 from the Management Consulting firm PWC where he worked within the Government, education and Non-Profit sectors on strategy implementation. In his previous role within the project management office at Dubai Tourism and Economy, Oscar was instrumental in implementing the strategic vision for Dubai College of Tourism and ‘bringing the vision to life’. 

Oscar is now Associate Vice President, Marketing Strategy and Media at DET, building in-depth relationships with global partners such as Google, Visa and Facebook. His ability to develop deep partnerships and solid infrastructure is well-recognised. With a BSc in Foreign Service, Economics, International Politics and Philosophy from Georgetown University, Oscar brings a wonderful blend of people skills, global perspective and technical expertise to his role. 

Dr. Ziad Azzam

Dr. Azzam started his career as a teacher to later become head of an international school based in Dubai. After three years as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, he was inspired by his passion for education and founded Beacon Education (now Taaleem), a school management company that develops and manages international schools in the UAE. Dr. Azzam served as Chief Executive Officer of Taaleem from 2003 until 2013.

He now serves on two committees of the Board of the company, and advises schools and colleges in the public sector. As an independent consultant, Ziad was instrumental in guiding the Academic Direction of the Dubai College of Tourism providing the team with counsel and direction. 

Dr. Azzam has two Bachelors degrees, one in physics and the other in electrical engineering, as well as a Masters degree in theoretical physics from MIT. In June 2019, he completed a Doctorate in Education from the University of Bath, England. 

Dr. Craig Thompson

Dr. Thompson has been the CEO of THE-ICE since 2018, where he had previously served on the Board of Directors from 2015. He has been an active member of THE-ICE Assessment Panel, leading audits in Europe and Asia, and has undertaken audits on behalf of a number of national accreditation organisations including New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Lithuania and Latvia. 

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Thompson worked in both the public and private sectors of the tourism industry, as a Tourism Development Officer in the UK and as a Resort Manager in France and Spain. 

Craig is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and the Higher Education Academy, and is a member of the editorial board for the journal of Research in Hospitality Management and Journal of Tourism Futures. Through his varied academic career and latterly with THE-ICE, he has become completely committed to enhancing the quality of tourism and hospitality education internationally. 

Dr. Thompson holds a BA (Hons.) Humanities from Bristol, and an MSc in Tourism Management and PhD in Entrepreneurship from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 

Emma Banks

Ms. Banks currently leads the F&B Strategy and Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa for Hilton having transitioned from the role of Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurant Group in 2019 having established some of Dubai’s most iconic restaurants.

She brings a deep and passionate understanding of the hospitality industry having crafted an extremely impressive career in food and beverage. Recently, she has been voted as #1 Woman in Middle East Caterer power list and one of the 2019 ‘Woman to Watch’ in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Index.

Having graduated from University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature, she rapidly progressed through some of the UK’s largest food and beverage service companies including Allied Domecq, Yates Group PLC, TCG and G1 Group where she led over 1,700 people across 43 units. She transitioned to the Middle East via Kuwait where she developed the Dean and Deluca brand for MH Alshaya before transferring to Dubai to lead the Jumeirah Restaurant Group in 2013. 

General Manager DCT

Essa Bin Hadher

Essa Bin Hadher has always been involved in the service industry. From his time leading the commercial division of passenger ferry and marine services within the Gulf, he transitioned into the hotel business. He played a key role in the concept, construction and as Director of Operations of a 54-story mixed-use development including the signing and implementation of a management agreement for globally branded serviced apartments, residential sales and commercial leasing. 

At the same time, Bin Hadher was among the Board of Directors at Dubai Autodrome. The track quickly became recognized as a world-class circuit, attracting 24 hour races and becoming an emerging source of talented racing drivers. 

Essa is a graduate of Franklin University, Switzerland (BA, Intl. Business) and of the Business School Lausanne (MBA) and brings a depth of knowledge to his role at DCT.



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