Columbia Alumni Association UAE Board Members 2021
Tarek Daouk '09 GSAAP, President of the Columbia Alumni Association
Tarek M. Daouk is Founder and Managing Partner at Smartotels Group Holdings, a hotel real estate investment and asset management firm based in the UAE. Prior to founding Smartotels, Mr. Daouk was Head of Hospitality at Goldman Sachs's Realty Management Division in Europe responsible for hotel acquisition, asset management, and divestment activities. Prior to his time in Europe, Mr. Daouk was involved in hotel acquisitions for the Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds in the U.S.
Before joining Goldman Sachs, Mr. Daouk worked at InterContinental Hotels Group in the Development & Investment Analysis Division of the Americas regional office. Prior to InterContinental, Mr. Daouk was a management consultant in the Hospitality & Leisure Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Mr. Daouk received a BSc in Hotel Administration with distinction from Cornell University and an MSc in Real Estate Development from Columbia University.
Anna Schebsdat, ’16 EPM, President Columbia Business School (UAE Chapter)
Anna Schebsdat is a senior executive with 14 years of global work experience, which spans across MENA, UK, Europe and Russia. Extensive consultative sales and business development expertise acquired across emerging and established markets helped her in generating multi-million dollar revenue for global brands and start-up.
Her passion and expertise is in Education Management and Executive Education, to which she dedicated the past 10 years and 5 years in regional leadership roles holding P&L responsibility. In her current pivotal regional role for the leading Cass Business School (City, University of London), she is responsible for the globally ranked Executive MBA covering MENA region.
Anna worked for the top 5 out of the world’s top 10 ranked business schools such as MIT, Harvard and Wharton. She spearheaded first international expansion by opening the GCC office in Dubai to act as exclusive representative for the above brands in the region.
She is also involved as an Advisor of Founder and Chairman’s Office in the Private Office. It includes Abu Dhabi Arts Society (ADAS), UK registered non-profit organisation with the mission to build bridges between cultural organisations from Abu Dhabi to the world, and the Al Suwaidi Foundation to preserve legacy and projects.
Prior to her journey in Education field, at the age of 21 she managed $26 million business category with $3 million budget at the global brand Philips.
Anna currently serves as the President of the Columbia Business School UAE Chapter. She holds Master of Science in International Economics and Business. She is fluent in German, English, Russian and actively learning Arabic for the past year. Lastly, she is part of official Volunteer Team for Expo 2020.
Samer Sarraf '05 CBS, Director of Partnerships
Samer is acting SEO and COO of Amwal Capital Partners and he sits on the Investment Committee of the fund. Amwal Capital Partners was founded in 2015 the year the fund was launched. At Amwal Capital, the fund manages over $450 million in equity. Samer has over 15 years of experience in the financial sector (Private Equity, M&A and Asset Management).
Prior to the founding of Amwal Capital Partners, Samer was a Partner and UAE Country Head for Amwal AlKhaleej, a premier MENA private equity and investment firm headquartered in Saudi Arabia. At Amwal Alkhaleej, Samer led its operations in the UAE and worked on various investments and exits in the region. Prior to that Samer was a Senior Associate at Lehman Brothers, based in its London office as part of the Investment Banking M&A team within its Natural Resources Group advising global oil and mining companies on M&A situations. He was also part of the real estate team responsible for originating and structuring of commercial mortgage-backed securities. Prior to joining Lehman, Samer was a civil engineer with Bouygues Batiment in France and Tahiti.
Samer serves on the boards and committees of various Amwal AlKhaleej portfolio companies including Dubai Contracting Company and previously served on the board of Right Angle and KSAM2 prior to its disposal. Samer also serves on the Investment Committee of the Endowment of Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (a non for profit secondary school). Samer also serves on the board of publicly listed Jordan Oil Shale Energy Company, as well as privately held healthcare company BabyCord Jordan.
Samer holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, double majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship, and he has a B.Eng. in Civil Engineering from McGill University, majoring in Structural Engineering. Samer is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
Marwan Dalloul '08 CBS, Director of Faculty Outreach
Marwan started a career in New York, by joining his family’s business. They owned, managed and sold real estate properties from 1999 to present across the US, focus mostly in Manhattan. In 2008 the family business expanded internationally and purchased assets in Europe and the Middle East. They developed several projects including a recently completed a furnished apartment complex and a tech and accelerator hub in Lebanon which was the first of its kind to help grow the tech movement happening in the market.
In 2011, Marwan started and new F&B venture in Africa and brought US brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Coldstone Ice-cream and Pink Berry.
Mr. Dalloul received his bachelor's degree from American University in Washington, DC and then went on to receive a Major in the Building Management Program from New York University. At NYU, he received honors and the Joseph Fater Award of Academic Excellence. He also received a Masters in Real Estate Development from Columbia University and then a Masters of Business Administration, from Columbia University as well. He is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York and a member of the Young President Organization.
Shahriar Rezvani '16 CBS, Board Member
Shahriar has over 15 years of experience in managing fortune 500 and startup companies with extensive knowledge in Mobility and Fleet management, M&A, Franchise, and partnership. He has helped various startup businesses in the mobility sector to create their strategy and value proposition. Shahriar is an active member of Gerson Lehrman Group INC (GLG Consulting) and Alpha Sights and has helped and consulted various organizations including cooperates and startups with market insight to set up their business in the United Arab Emirates. Shahriar is a four-time winner of DAST (Dubai Award for Sustainable Transport under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum) Awards in the UAE in the fields of Transportation Safety, Mobility Management, and Environmental Protection.
Currently, Shahriar is the partner of Houst (the biggest Airbnb management startup in the world) in the United Arab Emirates and is helping to expand Houst business in the MENA region. He is an Industrial Engineer and Has MBA in International Business and did the executive program in general management at Columbia Business School.
Soraya Beheshti '19, Director of Engagement and Outreach - Board of Directors
Soraya Beheshti is the Regional Director of Crimson Education, a growth stage ed-tech firm. She graduated
magna cum laude from Columbia University, where she received a scholarship and Dean's Honors six times. At
university, Soraya founded a non-profit startup building blockchain-based tech products for refugees. For this
work, her team won the Columbia Innovation Award, among others, and matriculated into the first IBM Blockchain Accelerator. As a student, she was invited to the UAE Mission to the UN to participate in ’think-ins’ on youth issues in the UAE; conducted sustainability workshops for government bodies, and was a member of the UNSDG Media Zone. She is also on the Board of Directors for Columbia Alumni Association, where her responsibilities include outreach and engagement. Most recently, Soraya has released an anthology of refugee stories, poetry, and plant-based recipes from refugee homes, the proceeds for which will go to her foundation.
While at Columbia, Soraya took full advantage of CU’s global opportunities, taking a semester off to research and work with refugee communities in the Middle East and Europe; conduct conservation research in the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil and study Arabic and Migration at Columbia’s Global Centers in Amman and Paris.
Victor N. de Vries '18 CBS, Board Member
Victor has almost 20 years of global experience within the hospitality industry and has worked in various commercial functions (business development, sales, marketing) with Hilton and Expedia in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Shanghai, and NYC. Currently, Victor is based in Dubai and is the Corporate Vice President of Brand Performance & Sales for Rotana Hotel Management Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for the commercial strategy and execution of over 70 properties within Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
He holds a Bachelors in International Hotel Administration from the Hotelschool the Hague in The Netherlands, an Executive Masters in Marketing & Advertising from Solvay Brussels School in Belgium, and did the Executive Program in Management (EPM) at Columbia Business School in 2017/2018.
PREVIOUS BOARD MEMBERS:
Ameera Amir '11 SIPA, Chapter Founder and President 2017-2019
Veronika Rozmahelova '13 SIPA, Director of Alumni Engagement and Secretary-General 2019-2020
Adil Hussain '18 CC, Recent Alumni and Student Chair 2019-2020
Liria Gjidija '11 TC, President 2019-2021