Walid Hajjʼs introduction to the F&B industry began when he first worked with United Trading Corporation (UTC), a company established by his entrepreneurial father in 1972, specializing in the import and distribution of branded food products in the Saudi market. He broadened his marketing
skills at Procter & Gamble where he worked as an assistant Brand Manager responsible for globally recognized products like Head & Shoulders.
With international experience under his belt, he then made his way back to United Group – holding company of UTC – as Vice President, where he was instrumental in spearheading the development of a specialized division in restaurants and food service in the UAE. In 2000, Walid bought the franchise development rights for Cinnabon & Seattleʼs Best Coffee in the UAE; and the first store opened in Abu Dhabi a year later.
This milestone was followed by the introduction of Zaatar w Zeit to the UAE in 2005 and KSA in 2012. This development led to the inception of Cravia in 2001, which has grown to become a leader in the franchise community renowned for its strong operations and the highest level of execution. In 2013, Walid brought The Steak Bar to life.
Atila Kurama is currently the Chairman of BRK Bereke Construction Mining and Investment Inc. and has served as the Board Member of Godiva Chocolatier since its acquisition by Yıldız Holding in 2007. Mr Kurama also serves as a Board Member of Fajr Capital and is Chairman of the firm’s Audit and Risk Committee.
He was previously the CEO of Gozde Private Equity Investment Co, the largest publicly listed private equity business in Turkey, and also held several senior positions at the Ulker Group, including Chief Financial Officer of the Group and the General Manager and Executive Board Member of Yıldız Holding until his retirement in January 2014.
In addition to strong insight and connectivity into Turkey and other Muslim-majority markets, Mr Kurama has deep expertise in the financial services sector. He played a pivotal role in the 60% sale of Türkiye Finans to Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) in 2008. He graduated from Bogaziçi University in Turkey with a bachelor’s degree in management and received his MBA degree from Cardiff Business School.
Domenic has had a long and established career in casual dining and food services spanning 35+ years. He initially started his professional career in Australia before taking on roles covering the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region, having managed over 900 outlets & restaurants in 20 different countries. He has most recently been the COO of SSP Asia Pacific, overseeing restaurants in 20 airports across the Asia Pacific region, including brands such as Burger King, Starbucks and Costa Coffee. Prior to this role Domenic was Divisional Vice President of casual dining for Alshaya, overseeing brands such as Shake Shack, PF Chang’s , Cheesecake Factory, Ihop, Texas Roadhouse and many others. By the time Domenic left Alshaya he was overseeing 200+ stores across the Middle East Region.
Louay is a seasoned veteran of the restaurant industry. His career began over 15 years while working in international markets before starting a ten year career with Pizza Hut in Kuwait. His highly responsible position in Pizza Hut involved managing a large team, direct control of sales, key business expansion moves and extensive feasibility studies. His career includes numerous achievements and awards.
he has been with Cravia for over 10 years and his contribution has been seen in the corporate areas as well as in the field operations. Louay has incorporated systems at every level to ensure the processes help elevate the operational standards of the company. “Louay has been instrumental in taking cravia from a good to a great company regionally recognized as the leader in the food and beverage industry. I am confident his impact will be felt for many years to come.” said Mr. Walid Hajj, Chairman of Cravia
Maroun Zeidan is General Manager of Cravia Arabia, where he is responsible for overseeing the operation and management of the group’s much-loved Five Guys and Zataar w Zeit franchises in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He directs all strategy and business activities on an ongoing basis, including the implementation of operating budgets and plans that are consistent with Cravia’s wider objectives and address the key areas of planning and organising, financial and restaurant excellence, people capabilities, business development, and culture and employee relations. His focus is to optimise competitive advantage for Cravia’s brands by achieving greater alignment between corporate culture and corporate strategy, while also significantly enhancing the customer experience and boosting sales growth for the company.
Mr. Zeidan brings 27 years of food industry experience to the role, having managed the multi-million dollar operations of renowned international brands including Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut Delivery (PHD), KanOOn and Dunkin’ Donuts. His 360-degree expertise ranges from developing personnel and ensuring cost-effective operational excellence, to building concepts, leading multifunctional teams and launching new brands. He has played an instrumental role in refining the customer experience offered by restaurants across the MENA region by strengthening their management ethos, transparency, ethical behaviour, sustainability and industry best practices.
Prior to his role with Cravia, Mr. Zeidan acted as the Director of Operations at Mawarid Food Company (MFC) in Riyadh, KSA where he operated and managed 38 Pizza Hut restaurants and 22 PHD units in the region, as well as the Meed Catering Division of MFC. He previously worked with MFC in Casablanca, Morocco as Director of Operations for Mawarid Marocaine, where he was responsible for 28 Pizza Hut restaurants, 9 PHD units and 5 KanOOn restaurants, and also during a variety of roles he held with Wendy’s in KSA including Regional Manager, Country Training Manager, Regional Operating Manager and Restaurant Manager. He began his professional life as Brand Manager for Dunkin’ Donuts in Riyadh, which laid the foundations for his ongoing work in the food industry.
Throughout his career, Mr. Zeidan has been responsible for the training of thousands of employees; he is a Restaurant Excellence Programme Instructor and has delivered numerous workshops and seminars in major cities including Dubai, Beirut and Columbus, Ohio. He is also the Managing Partner and Founder of Lilo’s Resto in Riyadh and launched local concepts including a steakhouse and a Greek restaurant during his time as a Freelance New Projects and Operations Consultant in KSA – an ongoing role that he continues to pursue today.
Mr. Zeidan graduated in Business Administration from the Etablissement Libanaise du Commerce (ELC) in Beirut, Lebanon and is professionally affiliated with the American Association of Advancement of Science, the National Restaurant Association and Harvard Business School. He brings a wealth of regional experience to Cravia and is fluent in Arabic, French and English.
Tony has extensive experience in the field of financial control. In the role of Chief Financial Officer, he provides the board with timely and accurate financial reports, ongoing cash flow projections, feasibility studies, accounting oversight, legal reports and design of financial reporting structures.
In addition to his financial oversight responsibilities, Tony’s role includes offering broad internal control and strategic advice to management. His multi-industry experience has been proven to greatly accelerate a company’s efforts to establish working business procedures and frameworks for corporate governance.
Tony’s previous positions encompass an array of different industry sectors, including, External Auditing, FMCG, Manufacturing and Oil & Gas.
Tony’s educational qualifications include a BA in Business Administration, a BA in Law, a Master’s in International Business and a Master’s in Finance. He is currently undertaking his Certified Management Accountancy. He speaks fluent English, Arabic and French.
Jirar has more than 19 years of rich experience of establishing and implementing quality approved HR systems whilst imparting extensive knowledge of recruitment processes, staff development and corporate policies and procedures.
Prior to joining Cravia, he has worked in Greece and in the UAE for multi-national, large and complex organizations; Qaiwan Group as HR Director, Morganti Group Inc. as Human Resources Manager, Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCIC) as HR Generalist and his last employment with Bloom Holding as Director of Human Resources.
Jirar has successfully completed his Bachelors’ Degree in Entrepreneurial Management from Royal Roads University, Canada.
Fahd Nazir has been leading the IT Administration team at Cravia since 2005 as IT Manager. He is responsible for building and developing the IT infrastructure to support the current and next generation of services and technologies in Cravia.
Since first joining the company, he has established an in-house development section, a state-of-the-art help desk and a delivery call center. He is actively involved in designing and planning IT infrastructure in all Cravia’s outlets. His focus is also on the Point of Sales systems of Cravia, designing and implementing a unified system and utilizing all the latest technologies in POS systems.
Prior to this role, he served as System Manager for Port and customs providing expert solutions and support in information security, technology, availability and storage.
With a Masters in Computers Sciences and as a holder of various leading IT Certifications, he also carries 13 years of experience in Information Technology and system analysis with him.
Ahmed Saeed is Cravia’s Purchasing & Warehouse Manager, responsible for supply chain management across the company’s brands.
Joining the company in 2001 as a General Accountant – handling cash flow and cost control – he was then promoted to Purchasing & Warehouse Supervisor for all brands, and now holds his current role as Manager handling new and existing brands across the UAE and the KSA.
Having been with Cravia for over 12 years and overseeing all supply chain and purchasing aspects of the company, Ahmed has provided outstanding support to several departments and outlets through his direct work with suppliers. His management of three main warehouses has ensured smooth operational flow and cautious maintenance of materials.
Ahmed holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Finance & Accounts from Philadelphia University – Jordan; and a diploma in Computer Office Automation.
Marwan Kandeel is Director of Operations at Cravia, responsible for keeping the integrity of all brand names associated with the company. Prior to taking up this role at the start of 2014, Marwan was Senior Brand Manager, a position he held since 2007. Marwan has been with Cravia for over a decade, having worked his way up from Store Manager in 2001, then Area Manager in 2004. Before joining the organisation, he worked with the Alfredo Italian Chain and with Sheraton in Amman, Jordan. In 2007, he was honoured as Cravia’s Best Employee of the Year. In both 2002 and 2003 he was named Best Assistant Manager of the Year.
Moussa Tarhini is the Senior Operations Manager of Zaatar w Zeit KSA at Cravia. His is responsible for generating strategies that grow market share and brand’s reputation, improve customer experience and drive growth. Moussa has a Bachelor Degree in Management Information System but his commitment and dedication to the company led him to pursue his goals in the restaurant industry. Mr. Tarhini has been with the company for 13 years, starting in 2004 as Delivery Supervisor in Lebanon and walking his way up the hierarchy by achieving many promotions such as Floor Manager, Branch Manager, Area manager and Operations Manager in Dubai in the year 2009. In 2012, Moussa was given the opportunity to move to KSA, become the Brand Manager of Zaatar w Zeit and most importantly launch the first outlet in the region. Moussa believes that without his team he wouldn’t have been where he is now. He claims that “Successful Leaders should go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their team. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish”.
Chadi has 17 years of experience in the food and beverage industry.
He has been with Cravia Arabia for over two years as a Senior Operations Manager for Five Guys.
Before joining the organisation, Chadi worked with different brands across GCC and Iraq; starting back in 2000 as manager in training, proceeding to become a field trainer, after which he became a training manager and got promoted as the operations manager and director of operations.
Talal Kreidieh is Procurement Manager for KSA at Cravia. He joined the company in 2015 and has since put his extensive background in supply chain, warehouse management and competitive pricing to the service of Cravia’s brands.
Prior to his career with Cravia, Mr. Kreidieh worked across a diversity of industry sectors in all of the GCC countries, building a solid professional track-record; building skills in supply chain, sourcing, and entering new markets; and acquiring valuable experience with multi-national companies including Al Shaya International Trading Company.
Mr. Kreidieh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality & Hotel Management.
Alaa Sadek is Cravia’s Project Manager. He has been with the company since September 2016 and is responsible for new sites and construction across the company’s brands.
Previously Mr. Sadek worked as a consultant in private sectors on a variety of projects, proven track record of delivering projects on time and within budget. Solid experience in project management provides him with the capabilities and experience to successfully fulfill this position
Mr. Sadek holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from BAU University in Jordan.