TheFace: Reema Al-Mokhtar, head of destination marketing at Jabal Omar Development Co.

Reema Al-Mokhtar and her father. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 15 March 2019

TheFace: Reema Al-Mokhtar, head of destination marketing at Jabal Omar Development Co.

I come from a family that enjoys the art of the written word, a family that reads. As a result, I am inquisitive by nature. As a child, I was headstrong and constantly striving to know more, to inquire and make sure I was satisfied with the knowledge I obtained. This habit grew with me and became a part of my character.

I am the head of destination marketing at Jabal Omar Development Co. I am my own toughest critic but equally passionate and driven, constantly searching for the right story — a path in life that has helped me reach where I am today.

I did not realize that I had a knack for writing when I was growing up, but I loved to read and was ever so curious. I started a blog while studying for a degree in English literature at King Abdul Aziz University in which I would post stories of events that occurred at the university. It was never a “dear diary” kind of blog; I was simply reporting what was going on around me. This caught the attention of Khaled Almaeena, who was at that time the editor-in-chief of Arab News, and soon after I became an intern at the newspaper and then landed a job as a journalist. I had found my niche.

“You have journalistic instincts,” Almaeena told me, and I became even more inquisitive and curious. During my early years at Arab News, I focused on stories about women and youth. I wanted to represent my generation and highlight the best that Saudi Arabia had to offer, not realizing how far this would lead me. Working alongside a colleague, I helped establish a supplement in the newspaper called Life & Style. My focus shifted due to the experiences I had the privilege of having during my first few years as a writer.

As I climbed the career ladder, I landed a position in which I was able to use my background in writing along with my experience of covering a diverse range of topics. It all helped to pave the way to my current job.

Jabal Omar’s goals are pure and I am fully focused on contributing to them. As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Makkah aims to host 30 million pilgrims, and Jabal Omar intends to support that vision and be a major part of the growth of the city. As a go-getter, constantly trying to find the perfect story, this was the perfect combination for me.

I am structured, articulate with my plans, and I like to challenge myself. I was once told that I should “leave it to the experts” and that hurt — it went against my nature and so I used it as an excuse to enroll in various courses until I became a certified marketeer. It is essential to constantly improve, grow and develop. It is a hard habit to kill and an important one if you set goals for yourself.

Jabal Omar Destination aims to develop and deliver an “edutainment” experience to the pilgrims who visit Makkah. Destination marketing is using the products that Jabal Omar already offers and complementing them with additional, dynamic experiences. We want pilgrims to enjoy a personal experience, while exploring Makkah’s culture and beautiful history. By using technology such as augmented and virtual reality, a guest can journey through time and witness the history of the Kaaba’s Kiswa, for example.

As the Kingdom works to diversify its economy, with tourism one of targeted sectors, I want to continue supporting the vision and be part of the brave new Saudi Arabia. I believe in working hard to help my country reach that next level, just as many others of my generation are striving to do as well.

Locals welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 21 min 1 sec ago

Locals welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.