Sami Nasser has come full circle. After 25 years of experience with AccorHotels, in 2013 he moved to Fairmont Raffles Hotel International (FRHI) as its SVP operations for Middle East, Africa, and India. And with the acquisition of FRHI by AccorHotels in July 2016, he’s back on familiar ground.

Once the acquisition process was complete, Nasser was appointed the COO of the new luxury brands division for AccorHotels, and he now helms seven brands — and two sub-brands — for the Middle East.

With more than 30 hotels scheduled to go live within the next five years, the luxury brands division is set to double in size. Openings within the next year include Fairmont Amman, Fairmont Riyadh, The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, and Fairmont Abu Dhabi Marina Resort.

And projects have also been revealed, including Egypt’s Fairmont Fuka Bay and Swissôtel Fuka Bay, and Fairmont Cairo Pyramids Hotels & Residences, along with the Sofitel Wafi Dubai and MGallery Jeddah King’s Walk.

The division is also seeing entry into the branded residential business, with about 70% of Fairmont, Raffles, Swissôtel development pipeline offering a mixed-use component. Reflagging and rebranding is another area the operator is dipping its toes into in a bigger way than ever before. Just before going to print it was announced that AccorHotels signed an agreement with Al Ghurair for the rebranding of a former Rotana-branded property consisting of 428 rooms and 192 apartments located at Al Ghurair Centre Complex. Both properties will be managed as part of the group’s upper-upscale Swissôtel & Swissôtel Living portfolio, representing the brand’s first foray into the UAE.

All this means one thing: Nasser is an extremely busy hotelier right now.

Speaking to Hotelier Middle East at his headquarters in Dubai, Nasser says that the luxury division worldwide has some 527 hotels across 72 countries, and adds: “Since Accor has taken over, the development team has been working like crazy. We will double the network in the region in five or six years.”

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