Robert Geneid is an entrepreneurial businessman and civil engineer who resides in Sarawak, Malaysia. Born in Sydney, Australia in 1954, he obtained his BE (Civil Engineering) from the University of New South Wales in 1976, before again taking up studies at UNSW in the 1980s, completing his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) there in 1985.
A high achiever, Robert was one of the youngest ever Fellows of the Institution of Engineers Australia, and one of a relatively small number of people at that time who had degrees in both law and civil engineering.
In terms of his legal career, Geneid was previously a Solicitor with Freehill, Hollingdale and Page where he was responsible for looking after the legal side of major construction projects such as the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and the Channel Island Power Station. The law firm was also active in Singapore and gave Geneid his first real opportunity to become acquainted with and work in Southeast Asia.
As well as working at Freehill, Hollingdale and Page, his dual interests and strong academic background in both sectors have led to a successful career with several of Australia’s and Southeast Asia’s top legal, property development and tourist entities. For example, Robert Geneid was a partner at the leading Australian law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, where he held responsibility for the commercial side of the firm’s project and construction portfolio in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Few can match his breadth of business and legal expertise in Southeast Asia, which includes responsibility for all the documentation underpinning Indonesia’s largest coal mine and, in contrast, the intricacies of investing in that country’s pharmaceutical and industrial sectors. He played a prominent role in the setting up of Jakarta’s first commercial TV station and served as legal advisor for a joint venture in Malaysia that developed the Malaysia Peninsular Gas Utilization pipeline.
Today, the main focus of Robert Geneid’s work is overseeing his company which acts as the state appointed tourism agent for the Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Robert lives in Kuching which is approximately 1 hour flight from Mulu and the national park is somewhere that holds a special place in his heart. Renowned for its unusual wildlife, breathtaking scenery, amazing underwater cave systems and tropical jungle, the national park is becoming increasingly popular with international tourists.
However, as someone who believes in the need for ecofriendly tourism, Robert fully understands and actively promotes the importance of safeguarding destinations such as the Gunung Mulu National Park from environmental harm. In addition, whilst Robert has played an important role in promoting tourism in Mulu, he is also eager to ensure that the region’s indigenous communities are safeguarded from potential displacement and development brought about by the increase in tourism.
An example of Robert’s work to promote ecotourism in Mulu can be found at the Royal Mulu Resort, where he has helped to develop the resort into a first class, international standard destination in its own right and one that is committed to ecotourism and sustainability. Currently, the Royal Mulu Resort is being redeveloped as the Mulu Marriot Resort & Spa, which signals the next exciting chapter in the history of the resort and further reinforces the resort’s reputation as a leading ecofriendly destination.
Due to be completed no later than the beginning of 2014, the Mulu Marriot Resort & Spa will feature 101 rooms authentically designed to blend in with the local surroundings. Each room will also have its own balcony which will overlook the Melinau River. The Mulu Marriot Resort & Spa will then become the first nature resort in the Marriott hotel portfolio.
Throughout the renovation of the resort, Robert Geneid has remained a key figure in assisting in all aspects of the project, in order to make sure everything falls within the strict boundaries associated with creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly tourist destination.
Whilst there are obviously a large number of benefits to creating a resort such as the Mulu Marriott, at the top of Robert’s agenda is ensuring that the resort has a positive impact on the indigenous community and local economy. He anticipates that once the resort has been completed that it will become a focal point for ecotourism not only in Mulu but throughout Malayasia.
Robert Geneid’s expertise and success in establishing Mulu as an ecofriendly resort for tourists hasn’t gone unrecognized and he is currently a serving member of the Sarawak Convention Bureau. He also sits on the board of Tourism Malaysia and since 2010 has been an active member of the Malaysian Convention and Exhibition Bureau. These advisory roles are something that Robert is only too proud to be a part of since he is always more than willing to help promote tourism in Malaysia in any way he can.
Outside of work, Robert likes to relax by playing tennis or cycling. However, the Gunung Mulu National Park remains his biggest passion.