With over 25 years of experience, Fredrik Jonsson has worked for sovereign-backed asset owners, blue chip development companies, international hotel operators, and independent hotels, as well as for the entertainment industry, which has given him the ability to truly have a global understanding of all angles of the real estate lifecycle, both at an asset as well as corporate levels, with a special focus on hospitality. Since 2017, as Founder and Managing Partner of MEREHA, Fredrik has led the company’s advisory practice providing bespoke and tailored services to its clients in the Media, Entertainment, Real Estate, and Hospitality sectors. Prior to establishing MEREHA, Fredrik was a Senior Vice President of the Investment Corporation of Dubai and Head of Asset Management Hospitality.
Fredrik Jonsson’s journey in the hospitality and services industry has been shaped by a series of valuable experiences that have taught him important lessons about leadership, teamwork, and the significance of mentorship. Reflecting on his past experiences, Fredrik highlights the impact of a decision made by his father when he was 14 years old. He says, “At the time, most of my friends chose a 2-year practical program which would not allow students to access university on completion. I initially planned to attend the same 2-year program, and my father had a very stern discussion with me then, directing me to apply for the 3-year economic program instead.”
This pivotal decision served as a launchpad for Fredrik’s personal and professional growth, imparting a valuable lesson about the significance of seeking guidance from mentors and sharing knowledge with others.
Building on his formative experiences, Fredrik then joined the mandatory military service, where he served as a sergeant and quartermaster responsible for overseeing the logistics and food supply of the battalion. Reflecting on this experience, he says, “At the time, five corporals reported directly to me with a platoon of 40 soldiers. The challenging environment, with limited resources and harsh weather conditions at minus 30 degrees Celsius, taught me the importance of effective leadership. Balancing time-bound objectives while motivating my team members to perform their duties, even without sufficient sleep or food, was a valuable experience.”
He continued, “Through this experience, I learned that leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Effective leadership requires understanding how different individuals respond to various approaches and tailoring my leadership style to bring out the best in each person.” Fredrik also realized that the team’s success was more important than individual performance. A cohesive team effort, where each person is working towards a common goal, is essential to achieving collective success.
These invaluable lessons have stayed with him throughout his professional career, as he strives to be a leader who inspires, guides, and empowers his team to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.
Reflecting on his career trajectory, Fredrik recalls how he was first drawn to the hospitality and services industry. “Between completing my high school economics degree and military service, I had a gap of 6 months. During this time, I commenced working at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, which became my first entry into the hospitality and services industry. At the time, I worked in Room Service, Catering, and Reception, and I started to enjoy the hospitality industry,” he says. This experience later set him on a path to pursue further education in tourism and hospitality after his military service, when he enrolled in a three-year hotel management school program in Switzerland.
His experience in the industry includes roles as General Manager Development-Hospitality at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, overseeing land acquisitions and development activities for its hospitality division across GCC and the Levant, as well as with Melia Hotels International where he was based out of Spain and responsible for the group’s development activities across Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.
Throughout his illustrious career in the hospitality and services industry, Fredrik has held several key roles that have allowed him to hone his skills and expertise. After his time at Melia Hotels International and Majid Al Futtaim Properties, he became the Director of Operations – Asset Management at Qatari Diar, where he had the challenging task of managing the company’s asset management activities across all asset classes, as well as its hospitality division. At the time, Qatari Diar’s portfolio included 49 projects under development and operation in 29 countries with a combined value of over US$35 billion, and Fredrik’s role involved managing the company’s 40% shareholding in Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI), representing Qatari Diar’s interest as a member of the board, and serving as a committee member.
After his time at Qatari Diar, Fredrik served as a Senior Vice President of the Investment Corporation of Dubai and Head of Asset Management Hospitality, where he established and led the asset management function for the hospitality division. He oversaw a portfolio of 2,200 keys with a value of US$2.5 billion, including iconic properties such as Atlantis the Palm Dubai, Mandarin Oriental New York, and W Washington DC. Additionally, he was responsible for strategically implementing and developing ten pipeline hotels with approximately 2,500 keys in Dubai. These experiences have equipped him with a deep understanding of the industry and the skills and expertise necessary to establish his own company, MEREHA.
With MEREHA, Fredrik is able to bring his wealth of experience and expertise to provide personalized and customized services to clients in the Media, Entertainment, Real Estate, and Hospitality sectors. As the Founder and Managing Partner of the company since 2017, he has used his extensive industry knowledge to deliver valuable insights and solutions to clients. Through MEREHA, Fredrik aims to empower businesses to achieve their goals and reach their full potential, drawing upon his experiences as a hospitality and services industry leader to guide and inspire others.
According to Fredrik, the MEREHA team brings a deep multiyear sector understanding to their clients, with senior executive experiences gained from working with blue chip corporates and operating companies. He says, “Our expertise spans across all stages of the real estate asset lifecycle, from acquisitions to disposals, giving them a unique perspective on the strategies and levers that drive real estate values and returns. As a result, MEREHA provides advice and management that allows our clients to make informed decisions based on facts and economic cycles that support asset value creation.”
Fredrik’s organization, MEREHA, has been recognized with numerous awards, including Best Hospitality Real Estate Advisory 2019 in the MENA region by Lux Review and Most Innovative Real Estate & Hospitality Advisors in the UAE for 2021 by MEA Markets. Additionally, Lux Life named MEREHA the Best Boutique Hospitality Advisory Practice in the MENA region for 2021, and Corporate Live Wire recognized them as the Real Estate & Hospitality Advisors of the Year for both 2021 and 2022.
With his extensive industry knowledge and expertise, Fredrik advises aspiring leaders, “In a fast-paced world, the key to growth and success is to never stop learning. Stay curious, seek out diverse opinions, and appreciate the thought leadership of your team. It’s a recipe for personal and professional advancement.”