Elias Hayek leads our global Hospitality & Leisure Group. He is a widely respected lawyer with over two decades of cross-jurisdictional professional experience in complex commercial transactions, with a specific focus on the hospitality, leisure and entertainment sectors, including in sector-specific corporate and commercial transactions; management, licensing, franchising and service agreements; hospitality M&A and joint ventures, hotel project leasing agreements, 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.

    His clients include multi-asset owner/developers, private equity funds, brand owners and third-party operators. To date, Elias has closed more than 380 transactions in more than 40 cities across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with underlying asset and transaction values amounting to billions of dollars.

    Elias is the current Co-Chair of the Leisure Industries Section of the International Bar Association (IBA), leading its hospitality and leisure initiatives globally. He has also held several other leadership positions with the IBA: as vice-chair of the Leisure Industries Section (2016-2020); vice-chair of the Corporate Counsel Forum (2014-2018), and as an officer of the Legal Practice Division, Arab Regional Forum (2012-2016). He is also the former chair and president of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Middle East chapter, a position he held from its predecessor formation in 2010 until 2017.

    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, the Middle East and Africa Division.

    Elias was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award awarded by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Global Board. The ACC is a global association of corporate lawyers representing 40,000 members in more than 85 countries.

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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

    • Co-Chair, Leisure Industries Section, IBA, 2020 – present
    • Vice Chair, Leisure Industries Section, IBA, 2018 – 2020
    • Vice Chair, Corporate Counsel Forum, IBA, 2016 – 2019
    • Officer, ARF Legal Practice Division, IBA, 2015 – 2019
    • President, Association of Corporate Counsel Middle East, 2014-17


    • English
    • Arabic
    • French

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    • Expert Observer, “Third Meeting of Experts on Tourists and Visitors Dispute Resolution Project,” Hague Conference on Private International Law, October 2020.
    • Speaker, “Hotel leases and operating agreements – key developments,” ADRIA Hotel Forum, Zagreb, Croatia, February 2020.
    • Speaker, “Driving a Hard Bargain – Transactions & Asset Value,” Annual Hotel Conference, Manchester, October 2019.
    • Speaker, “Managing the Management Contracts: Do We Need To Simplify?,” International Hotel Investment Forum, Berlin, March 2019.
    • 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.

    Award Mouse thought multimedia interface book medal screen monitor