Elias Hayek leads our global Hospitality & Leisure Group. He is a widely respected hospitality lawyer with over two decades of cross-jurisdictional professional experience in the hospitality sector, including in sector-specific corporate and commercial transactions; management, licensing, franchising and service agreements; hospitality M&A, joint ventures, leasing, mixed-use and branded residential developments; sale and lease/manage back transactions; and food and beverage, restaurant and health and wellness management and licensing agreements.

    To date, he has negotiated and closed more than 350 hotel and hospitality-related transactions across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean.

    Prior to joining our firm, Elias worked for 17 years at a leading Fortune 500 international hotel brands owner and operator, where his last role was as vice president, Legal – Europe, Middle East and Africa Division. During this time, Elias worked in both the Brussels and Dubai offices and he was responsible for overseeing all regional legal matters in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean, including advising corporate executives and hotel management on operations, acquisitions, development, HR, sales and marketing, dispute resolution, litigation and arbitration. His extensive in-house experience, multijurisdictional exposure, commercial acumen and vast connections in both the hotel operator and owner/developer communities are a substantial asset to clients.

    He is the current Vice Chair of the International Bar Association’s Leisure Industries Section (2018-present) and leads the association’s hospitality and leisure offerings globally. He is the former chair and president of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Middle East chapter, a position he held from its formation and launch until 2017. Elias holds two additional leadership positions in the International Bar Association (IBA): as vice chair of the Corporate Counsel Forum and as an officer of the Legal Practice Division, Arab Regional Forum, where he is jointly responsible for directing strategy of the IBA in the region.

    Elias is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel, the global association of corporate lawyers representing 40,000 members in more than 85 countries.

    He received his BSc in Business Administration from California State University, where he majored in Finance and Economics, and his JD from the University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law, where he was a member of the International Moot Court Honors Board.

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    • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Law Degree, Juris Doctor, 1995
    • California State University, BSc BA, Finance and Economics, 1992


    • California, 1995

    Memberships and Affiliations

    • Vice Chair, Leisure Industries Section, IBA, 2018 – present
    • Vice Chair, Corporate Counsel Forum, IBA, 2016 – present
    • Officer, ARF Legal Practice Division, IBA, 2015 – present
    • President, Association of Corporate Counsel Middle East, 2014-17


    • English
    • Arabic
    • French

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    • Speaker, “Asset Management and Hotel Development Models,” Annual Hotel Conference, Manchester, October 2018.
    • Speaker, “Current Trends in Travel & Tourism Law,” International Bar Association Annual Conference, Rome, October 2018.
    • Speaker, “Hotel, Resort & Casino Transactions,” International Bar Association Annual Conference, Rome, October 2018.
    • Speaker, “Acquisition and Hotel Growth Strategies in Africa,” Hospitality Development Series, Nairobi, May 2018.
    • Speaker, “‘Manchise’ – Benefits of Hybrid Operating Models,” Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Dubai, April 2018.
    • Speaker, “Evolution of the Hotel Franchise Model,” International Hotel Investment Forum, Berlin, March 2018.
    • Speaker, “Hotel Acquisitions,” Gulf and Indian Ocean Hospitality Investment Summit, Abu Dhabi, January 2018.
    • Speaker, “Merger & Acquisitions – Consolidation: Implications And Ramifications,” Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific, Hong Kong, October 2017.
    • Speaker, “UAE Hospitality 2020 and Beyond,” Real Estate & Development Series, Dubai, September 2017.

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