The inaugural HI Design MEA event took place on the 1st to 3rd March at the Shangri-La Barr al Jissah in Muscat, Oman.

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Buyer Breakdown
162 senior position delegates attended HI DESIGN MEA, comprising Buyers, Suppliers, Speakers and Media Partners.


Buyer delegates are Interior Architects, Interior Designers and Hotel Project Leaders responsible for hospitality interior design developments across Middle East and Africa. They are drawn from architect and interior design practices, hotel owners and operators, and procurement companies operating in the region.

61 buyer delegates representing 42 companies from 12 countries attended HI DESIGN MEA 2017




Supplier delegates are manufacturers of a wide spectrum of FF&E products and services applicable for hospitality interior specification across more than 50 product categories.

94 supplier delegates representing 57 companies from 17 countries attended HI DESIGN MEA 2017


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This year an incredible 1,014 private, face-to-face meetings took place. These were conducted between the Buyer and Supplier delegates who had pre-selected whom they wished to meet in advance of the event.

When it comes to learning about new products and suppliers, it's the single best use of your time all year.

Most important is the opportunity of meeting many suppliers in a short timeframe.


We gained very good contacts to decision takers who we did not know before.



The 2017 programme consisted of two sessions on both days and this year’s line up was as follows:

MEA Market Update: what’s happening and what’s driving it?

STR are the global hotel performance data people. They have the barometer on how markets are doing at the global level right down to neighbourhoods within cities.

The hotel project landscape in the Middle East and Africa has changed beyond recognition in the last decade, with unprecedented development. There have been consistent regional hotspots but even the most resilient investors are subject to the pressures of global financial shifts and other factors which ultimately control the timing and nature of the hotel projects you need to know about. The right regional insight is critical for developers, architects, hoteliers and manufacturers alike as they decide how to best direct their regional strategies.

Philip is uniquely placed to provide this understanding. Having spent two decades in hospitality at a senior level before joining STR, he understands that our audience wants more than just figures. Expect a compelling session that reveals the true factors influencing and shaping the projects in the region so you know exactly where to invest in the quest for new business...

Keynote Seminar

Jean-Michel Gathy is consistently associated with some of the most successful hotel resort designs in the world. Exemplar properties from Denniston include several of the most recognized Aman Resorts, the Cheval Blanc Randheli and One & Only’s Reethi Rah in the Maldives, The Setai in Miami and for GHM, Chedi Hotels in Andermatt and in our host city, Muscat, Oman – with it’s fabulous 103-metre long pool. Gathy has proven to be a man for all geographies and all operators. Ski-resorts, urban escapes and beach properties are all easily within the remit of the multi-disciplinary international team of 140 based in Kuala Lumpur. Operators include Hyatt, Raffles, Jumeirah, St Regis, Banyan Tree, Armani and Fairmont.

An entertaining conversationalist with a deeply founded belief in the power of design and designing for the guest experience, Gathy has strong views: “It doesn’t matter what the architect thinks, as long as the guest likes it…” Come and join the conversation as we open up to the floor for you to put questions of you own.

2017 is set to be the most dynamic year to date for Gathy as Denniston marks its 31st anniversary. New projects announced include the Aman in New York, two new Cheval Blanc’s, the Mandarin Oriental Bali, the development of One & Only Sanya and Montenegro and Four Seasons Hotels in Tokyo and Bangkok...

Scenarios 2018 – preparing for the future

A psychologist in the world of 3-D is an interesting proposition. Oliver Baxter is just that providing insight into the changing ways in which we live and work. Taking just three concepts - Polarized World, New Normal and Data Sphere – Oliver will explore scenarios looking at creativity and how we can all be better at it. Scenario planning is one way to understand and learn about the changes in the world. Explore how tools such as scenario planning will help you better anticipate change, respond creatively towards those emerging user needs and problems, and be better prepared for the future. Oliver shares findings as diverse as algorithm-assisted decision making, cultural tectonics and swarm-focused work in this enlightening session.

Discover about ideas of reduced attention spans and how this segues well with designing Instagram / Selfie ‘moments’, questioning the idea of the longevity of design over the ‘wow’ factor. And the blurring of boundaries between the self, the group, and the organization and the influence this has on interiors – the changing use of the hotel lobby or the rise of the open kitchen being obvious examples.

Oliver also has an active interest in social media and technology. His valued insights can be found at @HMInsightMEA

Food, Glorious Food - the rise and rise of F&B - Panel Discussion

Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal now and then? Being pampered, savouring delicious treats, soaking up a unique atmosphere - yes, it all makes you feel great. Hotel restaurants are eagerly tapping into this with innovations that are generating an increasingly large part of their revenue - particularly in the Middle East. We hear from four experts in their field, who are creating new spaces for such subliminal experiences. Discover how they deliver their concepts - fresh as a green salad - time after time; how their designs differentiate F&B choices within and between hotels and how design can make a venue not only more attractive but also more profitable. What are the most innovative techniques and materials, lighting and furnishings they are considering?

Be ready with your point of view to join in the discussion. As usual it will be an open house aiming to get you the trends information you always ask for.

Supplier Showcase

In one dedicated session, each of the 57 supplier companies had tabletop space to present more of their products. The showcase allowed buyers to further browse and experience products as well as providing an opportunity for additional meetings outside of the pre-scheduled meetings programme.


Breakfasts, lunches, evening functions, excursions and free time periods provided abundant opportunities to network for the benefit of the delegates’ business. All delegates attended the Welcome Dinner, Middle Night informal dinner and a Farewell Dinner on the three evenings providing a means for everyone to relax and enjoy networking with their peers in a way simply not possible at traditional trade shows.

We also hosted our Buyers Only Networking session, which allowed the Buyers to mingle with each other exclusively, exploring mutually interesting opportunities. The Suppliers also had the opportunity to network with each other at the Supplier Networking session.

It was great to meet a lot of new people in a more relaxed environment getting to know more about what everyone is working on.


We managed to speak with key people we had wanted to see for some time.


Pre-event excursion

The pre-event tour started bright and early on Wednesday morning with thirty-five delegates taking the opportunity for some early networking whilst getting a flavour of some impressive Islamic architecture in the form of the Grand Mosque of Muscat, second in size only to Abu Dhabi and a truly awe inspiring building and surrounding grounds. From there, they headed for a nearby harbour to board two boats in the hope of seeing some of Oman's famous spinning dolphins. In the event, luck was not on their side, and the only aquatic creature spotted was a solitary turtle! Undeterred, and anyway enjoying the experience of speeding around and exploring the beautiful coastline, it was back to the harbour for a short trip to the Muttrah Souk for the opportunity to haggle for some local bargains, before returning to the hotel in good time for the Welcome Dinner.

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Facts and Figures

We asked all delegates to tell us about their experience at HI DESIGN MEA to ensure that we continue to provide a quality, successful event for all those who attend.

100% of Buyer delegates agreed that HI Design is an excellent investment of their time.

93.33% of Buyer delegates agreed that HI DESIGN helps to identify new design solutions/partners for their upcoming projects

100% of Buyers rated the quality of the Suppliers met during the meetings programme was above expectation or as expected.

96.88% of Buyers said they are definitely or likely to be specifying some of the suppliers they met.

100% of delegates thought the organisation and operations of the event were excellent or very good.

70.97% of Suppliers said they are definitely or likely to be specified for future projects.

96.3% of Supplier delegates agree that HI Design provides a really effective platform for doing business.

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