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British Business Forum holds meeting Organisation felicitates Jeff de Lange

KUWAIT CITY, May 18: The British Business Forum (BBF), a non-profit association of British business people in Kuwait held its monthly meeting at the British Embassy atrium Wednesday. During this month’s meeting the BBF felicitated Jeff de Lange, Deputy Managing Director of Gulf Consult with a Lifetime Achievement award. Before presenting the award Graham Kenny, Vice-President of the BBF said “Jeff is leaving Kuwait for a well-deserved retirement in the United Kingdom whose responsibility for business development in addition to his role as Project Director for planning, transportation and BOT design projects at the Gulf Consult has helped not only change the face but the skyline of Kuwait.”

A Chartered Town Planner and Traffic & Transportation Engineer who has been intimately and continuously involved in the development of Kuwait since 1974, Jeff worked originally as a planning advisor to Kuwait Municipality, in 1977 he joined the Beirut Consultancy TEST as Chief Town Planner, based in Kuwait working on a number of development projects across Kuwait, Sudan, Iraq and the Gulf. In 1983 he joined Kuwait Ministry of Public Works as Head of Projects Planning within what is now Special Projects Administration.  From 1990-1994 Jeff worked as a Development Advisor to the Bahrain Royal Family, after which he joined the Gulf Consult as Director of Architecture and Planning.

In accepting the award, De Lange who had been Vice-Chairman of Forum for 10 years and largely responsible for the Scholarship Award initiated by the BBF said, life for him in Kuwait was varied, challenging and lovely. He went on to say, “Ever since my arrival in Kuwait I have been part of the BBF and I really do want to wish everybody and the BBF new committee all success because this organization is very important.” The guest speaker of the evening was Ramy Haykal, General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Kuwait of the Intercontinental Hotels Group. The topic of discussion was the Hospitality Sector in Kuwait.

He began by saying there are about 4,000 restaurants and 125 hotels in Kuwait according to Kuwait government online. The hotels in Kuwait, he said, operate under three types of different operating procedures - independent, franchise and manager. In the independent category, he said, people who got money decide to go into hotel business and some of them become successful and others not. In franchise the owner gives the right to use the name and provides with the knowhow and tools and helps in recruitment of the staff and takes personal interest in the detailed running of the establishment including hygiene and is the power behind the brain.

In the last category the owner hands over the keys to the trusted person to do the business on his/her behalf and the latter has the responsibility to hire and fire personnel, sell the product. In all this, hospitality which he described as a passion plays a vital role, he said. He added, because those who wait on guests have to know a bit of psychology to take care of people who come with all types of moods - sometimes grumpy, happy or sad for some or other reason. The hotel industry workers should have the ability to read their minds and deal with the situation accordingly in addition to adapting to their behaviour.

He added, it is not about putting a plate on the table, because this is the only business which pays after the facility has been used. So, it is very vital that a guest is happy before he leaves the hotel or restaurant.
In Kuwait, he said, hotel industry employees work in a multicultural environment employing and serving scores of nationalities. All these components make someone who is passionate enough to enter the hotel industry. Most failures, he said, are attributed to not doing the homework properly. Haykal, who holds a degree in Finance and Hotel Management and speaks three languages in addition to his native Arabic, began his career within the IHG family in 1996 holding a number of hotel roles in several IHG properties across the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

By Paul Francis X. Fernandes
Arab Times Staff

By: Paul Francis X. Fernandes

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