Business Irish

Saturday 7 December 2019

Gerald Lawless

Roisin Burke

THE director of the Maktoum dynasty's giant property conglomerate has been enjoying rather better weather than we're having here at home.

Galway man Gerald Lawless joined the famous Trusthouse Forte hotel chain in the Seventies and worked in its business in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Britain for 23 years. He came back to Ireland to run the Shelbourne for a spell in 1988.

When the Forte group broke up following a takeover battle won by Gerry Robinson's Granada, Lawless met with Dubai's ruling Maktoum family which hired him to set up a luxury hotel business. He developed the Jumeirah group, including the 'world's most luxurious hotel', Dubai's seven-star, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab. Owned by the Dubai royal family's vehicle Dubai Holdings, Jumeirah has 20 hotels worldwide.

Lawless is chairman of Jumeirah and a member of Dubai Holdings executive committee and represents it on the board of Travelodge. He's a director of the United Arab Emirates development group, ENDP. He was recently appointed by the Department of Foreign Affairs as an adviser to the Global Irish Economic Forum to look at how tourism can be powered up here.

He's married to Neasa, a solicitor, and they have three children: two have followed Lawless into the hotel business and the other is a lawyer.

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