MORE THAN 40 heads of state and government, including President Shimon Peres, will be among some 2,500 participants from 91 countries at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week. The Forum, founded by Prof. Klaus Schwab, is one of the most prestigious gatherings of its kind. Peres has long been Israel's most consistent representative at the Forum, which presents him with a vehicle for important meetings with other world leaders as well as with presidents and CEOs of the world's foremost companies. It will be interesting to see whether there will be major changes this year among the 1,000 companies represented, given that some of those initially invited have lost their luster and have even gone bankrupt in the interim. While in Davos, Peres will have substantial meetings with political and business leaders from China, Japan and South Korea, with the aim of expanding binational research and development with scientists in these countries and creating additional binational R&D foundations. Peres, who has developed a close relationship with Chief Scientist Eli Opper, is adamant that Israel's economic future lies in science and hi-tech. At a meeting he held last week in Jerusalem with an AIPAC delegation, Peres was reminded by delegation leader Ed Levy that he had spoken some years ago to another AIPAC mission about nanotechnology at a time when no one else in the room had heard of it. Peres immediately took the cue and told his guests about nano-nose, which, when fully developed, will be able to detect diseases including cancer. AFTER MONTHS of reports in the Hebrew press about his dwindling fortunes, business tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva proved that he has not yet lost his Midas touch; his shares in the offshore natural gas reservoir near Haifa that was discovered in recent days will enable him to finance many more projects. Now it remains to be seen whether fellow tycoon Lev Leviev, whose losses in the global economic meltdown have also been well-documented, will demonstrate that his Midas touch was also temporarily on hold and is bouncing back to the forefront. APROPOS LEVIEV, Africa Israel Hotels, one of the subsidiaries of Africa Israel, of which Leviev is chairman and holds the controlling interest, has a new general manager. Africa Israel CEO Izzy Cohen announced this week Ya'acov Sudri, 52, has been appointed to head Africa Israel Hotels. Sudri started his hotel career in 1979 as a security guard at the Dan Accadia. He then worked in a number of capacities in hotels in Israel and abroad, including the Fairmont in San Francisco, the Golden Tulip in Holland and the Charles in London. He also studied hotel management at Cornell University. On returning to Israel, in 1990, he was appointed general manager of the Dan Caesarea and has enjoyed a long relationship with Dan Hotels. On receiving his new appointment, Sudri thanked Mickey Federmann and Ami Herstein for the confidence they had placed in him and for the opportunities they had given him as a member of the Dan Hotel Group. He also thanked Leviev and Cohen for entrusting him with the management of Africa Israel Hotels. Africa Israel has been selling some of its prestige properties in an effort to recoup some of its fluidity. Cohen and Leviev's daughter, Tzvia Leviev Elazarov, who is Africa Israel's vice president of marketing, have taken 10 percent pay cuts, in line with the company's cost-cutting and efficiency measures. THE CHANGING of the guard at the Inbal Hotel Jerusalem was finalized when outgoing long-term and highly popular general manager Rodney Sanders gave his successor, Bruno de Schuyter, the key to the door. It was more than just a changing of the guard. Over the past year or so, Sanders has also undergone a change of image, shaving off his moustache and replacing his colorful signature bow ties with regular ties. De Schuyter began his hotel career at age 16 as an entertainer at a hotel in Majorca owned by British hotelier David Lewis, who has invested heavily in Eilat's hotel industry as well as elsewhere in Israel. He has a BA in hotel management from GLTT Adult Education Center in Brussels. After coming to Israel in 1992, de Schuyter continued his association with Lewis and was entertainment manager for hotels in the Isrotel group: Royal Beach, King Solomon, Laguna and Riviera. From 1998-2006 he worked abroad and was general manager of the Holiday Inn in Venice and the Holiday Inn in Barcelona. After coming back to Israel in 2006, he was appointed deputy manager at the Inbal, serving simultaneously as rooms manager. IT IS always a feather in Israel's cap, as well as that of the local appointee, when an Israeli is appointed to a senior executive position at an international firm or company operating in Israel. Neil Corney, a member of the local board of management of Citibank, has been promoted to managing director. This is a senior rank held by less than 1% of Citi's employees worldwide. The only other Israelis who have attained this rank are Itay Makov, the director of Citi's investment bank in Israel, and Ralph Shaaya, the managing director of Citi Israel. Corney has worked at Citi for more than four years.