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Brits Abroad: Anna-Marie Dowling

02 August 2016 by
Brits Abroad: Anna-Marie Dowling

The complex general manager splits her time between two hotels in Bahrain and talks to Janet Harmer about networking and having a three-minute drive to work

Can you describe the style and setting of the two hotelsyou are responsible for?

and swimming pool and eight meeting rooms. Le Meridien has a restaurant, bar and eight meeting rooms.

How is your role split between the two properties?

Although my office is based in the Westin, I try to give equal attention to both hotels. They are located very close to each other, so this is not too difficult. The hotels are connected together back of house, so a lot of the departments involve one team serving both hotels.

Why did you decide at this stage in your career to work overseas?

I have always had a desire to get some international experience and, last year, when I was thinking about my next career move, I realised that if I did not fulfil this ambition now, then maybe I never would.

What attracted you to Bahrain?

I initially decided I wanted to work in the Middle East, but I was very open-minded about where that might be. But fate stepped in and happily brought me to Bahrain.

What are the differences between your current role and your previous role as general manager at the Sofitel London Heathrow?

I have not had to deal with any delayed flights in Bahrain so far!

What do you like about working in the country?

Bahrain is an extremely friendly and inclusive country - I have found it easy to make friends here. It is a market where networking and strong working partnerships are important. And I love the fact that I live on an island and only have a three-minute drive to work.

What do you dislike?

So far, nothing!

What are the key challenges of working in Bahrain?

Like many areas in this part of the world, the market is tough and very competitive - largely we are all very reliant on the gas and oil industries for our core business and they have not bounced back from the downturn
they experienced last year.

Are there any other British staff working at the hotel?

No, but there are a number of Europeans. The majority of our workforce are from India or Asia and, of course, we are always focused on trying to develop local Bahraini talent as well.

Is there a British expat community in Bahrain?

There is a large expat community, but there are also expats from many different countries. I really enjoy mixing and working with people from many different cultures and countries.

How widespread are opportunities for British staff to work in the hospitality industry in Bahrain?

Bahrain is very similar to many areas in the Middle East where there is a large pipeline of development of new hotels opening in the market over the next few years, so there will be a lot of opportunities for British staff at
all levels to work here.

How long do you intend to stay in Bahrain?

I have only been in Bahrain for six months, so I am still living in the moment and enjoying every day as it comes - I certainly hope to stay here for a good few years.

Is there anywhere else in the world you would like to work?

I always thought I would like to work in Asia, but for now I am enjoying learning all there is to know about working in Bahrain.

CV

2016-present Complex general manager, the Westin and Le Meridien, Bahrain
2013-2016 General manager, Sofitel London Heathrow
2010-2012 General manager, the Royal Horseguards, London
2008-2010 Managing director, Grand Jersey
2003-2008 General manager, Le Meridien Piccadilly and Café Royal
2000-2003 General manager, London Marriott County Hall
1998-2000 General manager, the Brewery, London

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