Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh set to bring together global investment decision-makers and leaders

The summit will focus on creating job opportunities for young Saudis by fostering the development of a skilled and talented workforce for the hospitality sector. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 07 May 2023

Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh set to bring together global investment decision-makers and leaders

  • Three-day conference will be The Bench’s sixth industry conference for the Saudi market

RIYADH: Global investment decision-makers and leaders are set to gather at the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh to exchange knowledge and explore new partnerships. The summit will be held at Al Faisaliah Hotel from May 7-9.
This year’s conference theme, “Invest in Change,” will emphasize the importance of the positive change that can be brought about by investing in time, intellect and experience to keep up with changing times and trends in order to better influence the hospitality industry’s future.
The three-day conference will be British business events firm The Bench’s sixth industry conference for the Saudi market. It will highlight how to promote the development of Saudi Arabia’s hospitality industry as a vital contributor to the Kingdom’s economic diversification and encourage investment in the tourism industry by showcasing its potential and prospects.

The summit will focus on creating job opportunities for young Saudis by fostering the development of a skilled and talented workforce for the hospitality sector. (SPA)

Furthermore, the summit will focus on creating job opportunities for young Saudis by fostering the development of a skilled and talented workforce for the hospitality sector. It will also emphasize the importance of establishing relationships between the government, business sector and academics to achieve long-term growth in the hospitality industry.
“The demand for our hospitality events in Saudi Arabia continues to grow and with the Kingdom named as the fastest-expanding tourism industry within the G20 countries in the UN World Tourism Organization Tourism Barometer, there will be so much to share about tourism and hospitality investment and development at FHS Saudi Arabia this year,” said Jonathan Worsley, chairman of The Bench.


This year’s conference theme, “Invest in Change,” will emphasize the importance of the positive change that can be brought about by investing in time, intellect and experience to keep up with changing times and trends in order to better influence the hospitality industry’s future.

The event, which will also feature in-depth discussions about the Kingdom’s cultural legacy and natural assets in order to market it as a prime tourist and business travel destination, is expected to draw 750 delegates from 40 countries and 300 companies.
The official opening of the 2023 edition of FHS Saudi Arabia will take place on May 8 with welcome remarks by Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid, secretary general of the King Faisal Foundation and chairman of the board of directors of Al Khozama, Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitality, property investment, development, and management company.
“The Future Hospitality Summit is in a unique standing, as it is the only investment conference focusing on the hospitality and tourism sector in Saudi Arabia,” Jana Bader, general manager at The Bench in Riyadh, told Arab News.
She added: “FHS is a platform that brings international opportunities to the Saudi market, and Saudi market opportunities to the whole world. Of significance is also the fact that, unlike other conferences, FHS is specifically aimed at investors with a networking power to connect them with the right opportunities and to build relationships that last.”
The first day will be dedicated to the Global Restaurant Investment Forum, which focuses on food and beverage investment and development in the Kingdom and beyond.

Unlike other conferences, the summit is specifically aimed at investors with a networking power to connect them with the right opportunities and to build relationships that last.

Jana Bader, The Bench general manager

The first plenary session will cover a wide range of topics, including the evolution of the Saudi hospitality sector with a market snapshot in the FHS Intelligence Den, a panel discussion on the reinvention of hospitality space, a discussion on the use of immersive technologies such as artificial intelligence and the metaverse, and the business of luxury and well-being in a changing world.
“The Saudi market is bursting with opportunities within different sectors; be it real estate, aviation, food and beverage or hospitality. All those sectors work together and create a smart city ecosystem to cater to the next generation as well as to diversify the country’s economic revenue streams,” Bader explained.
Among others, the fully Public Investment Fund-owned Rua Al Madinah Holding’s CEO Ahmed bin Wasl Al-Juhani will join a panel discussion at FHS. “The flagship project of Rua Al Madinah Holding is the development of the area east of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah,” the curtain-raiser press release quoted Al-Juhani as saying.
He stated that the project will add 47,000 hotel rooms, ranging from five-star facilities with direct views of the mosque to two-star lodgings that accommodate a wide range of guests with varying needs and preferences.
“The project aims to enrich the experience of expected 30 million visitors by the year 2030 aligned with the Vision 2030 target,” Al-Juhani added.
A panel discussion on the conference’s core theme will also take place during which industry experts will offer their perspectives on how they are investing in transformation.

Jana Bader, The Bench general manager

Wrapping up the first day there will be a networking reception by The Radisson Hotel Group at Mansard Riyadh, which is a Radisson Collection hotel.
Future hotel development and investment will be the main topic of discussion on the last day of FHS Saudi Arabia.
Among the topics to be discussed are attracting investment in the hospitality industry to accelerate expansion and fuel a sustainable future; destination and hotel development in Saudi Arabia; the evolution of investing in holistic hospitality and activating innovation; and acceleration and investment and urbanization as well as the development of new cities.
Ian Wilson, regional director of hospitality for The Line at NEOM, will take part in a panel discussion about how the hotel, retail and F&B industries are combining to provide customers more value.
Furthermore, Aseel Bondagjy, development lead at NEOM, and Mae Al-Mozaini, founder and CEO of The Arab Institute for Women’s Empowerment, Nusf, which is a Saudi-based institute focusing on empowering women in executive positions, will be on a panel discussing how to inspire the following generation of workers, where to educate them, and where to find talent.
Additionally, two-stage case studies will be covered, underlining the Kingdom’s lifestyle funds and how the public and private sectors are cooperating to make Vision 2030 a reality.
The final stop on FHS Saudi Arabia will be Diriyah Gate, a 7 sq. km mixed-use historic, cultural and lifestyle attraction that is slated to become the historical and cultural hub of the Kingdom.
New at FHS Saudi Arabia this year is the ‘Battle of the Brands.’ A platform for innovative and sustainable hotel concepts, the event will be assessed by a distinguished team of judges, offering a special chance for hoteliers and business owners to introduce their new brands to the Saudi market.
“Research indicates that Saudi hotel owners and developers are seeking fresh brand concepts to complement existing brands that are already in the market. This will be the ultimate platform for innovative and sustainable hotel concepts to showcase their brands that have yet to launch in the exciting hospitality landscape of Saudi Arabia,” according to a curtain-raiser press release.
In 2022, the FHS drew over 500 attendees from more than 20 countries, 110 speakers, and 46 sponsors and partners. The Kingdom hosted the first FHS in October 2020, which was organized by the Ministry of Tourism and the G20 Saudi Secretariat, and attended by more than 6,000 people from around the world.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn

Updated 5 sec ago

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its upward trend for the second consecutive day, gaining 9.87 points to close at 12,611.42.  

The benchmark index posted a trading value of SR8.38 billion ($2.23 billion), with 163 stocks advancing and 54 declining. 

Nomu, Saudi Arabia’s parallel market, gained 37.75 points, closing at 26,292.03, while the MSCI Tadawul Index shed 4.96 points, closing at 1,622.75. 

The top-performing stock of the day was Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co., or Avalon Pharma, which made its main market debut on Tuesday. The company’s share price surged by 29.83 percent to SR138.40. 

Other notable performers included Saudi Fisheries Co. and Halwani Bros. Co., whose share prices surged by 9.86 percent and 8.26 percent, respectively.  

Conversely, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. experienced a decline, with its share price falling by 3.18 percent to SR28.90. 

On the announcements front, Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co., also known as Luberef, reported a net profit decline of 23.68 percent to SR1.50 billion in 2023 compared to the previous year.  

In a Tadawul statement, the company attributed this decrease to lower prices for base oils and secondary products.  

Astra Industrial Group also released its financial performance report for 2023, revealing a marginal 0.21 percent increase in net profit compared to 2022. The growth was attributed to higher sales and gross profit in the pharmaceutical and steel industries segments. 

Retal Urban Development Co. reported an 18 percent year-on-year decline in net profit to SR202.4 million in 2023.  

Meanwhile, Alinma Bank initiated the offer of dollar-denominated Additional Tier 1 capital certificates, each with a nominal value of $200,000, to be listed on the London Stock Exchange’s International Securities Market. 

French, Lebanese, and Saudi business ties explored at special forum

Updated 6 sec ago

French, Lebanese, and Saudi business ties explored at special forum

RIYADH: Business ties between Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and France were the central focus of a special meeting held in the Kingdom attended by company executives and government figures.

Organized by the Saudi-French Business Council and CCI France Liban – which promotes Franco-Lebanese enterprise – the Riyadh-based event incorporated a delegation of various companies from several sectors, including IT, telecommunications, and healthcare.

In a speech, Lebanon’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fawzi Kabbara, said the presence of such firms, including Beirut-based companies Kawas Consulting, Man Enterprise, and Medischool, underlined the deep-rooted economic and commercial ties that exist between his country, the Kingdom, and France. 

He added: “This event serves as a platform to showcase the innovative products, services, and expertise that these companies offer. 

“Our objective is to introduce French-Lebanese companies to the main actors of the Saudi business community and to facilitate the establishment of significant links and collaborations between the two parties.”

Speaking to Arab News, President of CCI France Liban Maxence Duault, told Arab News of the importance of understanding the rapidly evolving Saudi ecosystem before establishing long-term partnerships. 

He stressed the need for instilling sustainable business practices and suggested that fostering positive developments in the Lebanese market would help support the formal economy.

 “The objective of the Chamber of Commerce in Lebanon is simply that of building, building economic relations, creating business for the benefit of Franco-Lebanese companies that are currently suffering and finding themselves in a crisis situation,” Duault added. 

One firm to be represented at the meeting was consulting and financial advisory company Symphony Business and Finance Consulting Sarl. 

Elisabeth Prigent Olaussen, director of strategy and business development at the Beirut-based firm, told Arab News her firm had specialist expertise in the insurance sector, which she was keen to bring to Saudi Arabia.

“There are huge real estate development projects (in the Kingdom), magnificent infrastructure projects. For us who have this activity in fact to intervene in the event of disasters, an expansion such as this fully justifies our arrival on the market to assist in case of disaster,” she said.

According to Marie Harfouche, founder and managing director of Travel Story, the Kingdom is very much the place to be when it comes to expansion in her sector.

She told Arab News: “As a member and a major player in the travel and tourism industry, I started in Beirut, then in the UAE. I think everything that’s happening today is in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is also making changes. I am open to any type of partnership, whether at the individual level or as part of a larger group with an investor, a Saudi partner.”

The meeting was not purely focused on non-Saudi companies looking for opportunities in the Kingdom. There were also executives present seeking to bring French and Lebanese firms into their projects.

Ronald Michel Gharib, chief financial officer of transportation company RATP Dev, said: “We are present at this event to make contacts with French institutions and Lebanese companies that can be useful to our projects. 

“We are metro and bus operators and we anticipate very great opportunities along AlUla and Riyadh and all the investments that are coming into the Kingdom. All the business opportunities that interest us mainly concern transport services.”

Gharib also highlighted that the company is actively involved in mobility solutions and engaged in technology integration for innovative transport systems. 

He added: “We meet with universities and training centers to develop our resources and determine our training needs. We are here at this event because we are planning more partnerships with contractors, subcontractors, wherever they can help us improve our supply chain.”

Future global challenges requires human capital building, says expert panel

Updated 3 min 6 sec ago

Future global challenges requires human capital building, says expert panel

RIYADH: Economic development, conflict resolution, and future resilience are all rooted in cross-border human capital readiness, a panel of experts claimed during the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh.

As the global community grapples with an ever-growing climate crisis, geopolitical tensions, and an imminent “fourth” industrial revolution, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Haifa Al-Jedea, emphasized the need for accelerated access to essential human capital. 

For this to happen at the required scale and speed, she affirmed the necessity for multilateral efforts involving governments, multinational entities, and the private sector. 

Al-Jedea raised questions about whether sufficient investment and attention are being directed toward human capital within the existing global systems. She highlighted that the current frameworks may fall short in addressing future global challenges. 

She said: “Are we using the same priorities that are being applied in the private sector to UN organizations in our peace efforts? Are we investing in the same way that we are in our war efforts toward peace that includes human capability development, but also the application of different kinds of tech?” 

Al-Jedea said she echoed the need to adapt international organizations to focus on future skills, adding: “The system that is created today was created in the post-World War II environment. Are we ready? As the UN, as the European Union, as any other international organization, together with governments, are we ready to tackle future issues? Do we have the human capabilities within our organizations and governments to be able to tackle these future challenges?” 

A recent report on the prosperity of nations revealed that about 80 percent of a country’s wealth is generated from human capital, as stated by Fadia Saadah, the World Bank’s regional director of human development in the Middle East and North Africa. 

In less developed nations, this figure decreases to around 40 percent, as outlined by Saadah, thus affirming that in order to advance development, more specifically inclusive development, “we cannot do so without the adequate human capital.”  

At the core of building the necessary talent, is a grassroots approach, she noted, saying: “Whenever we talk about human capital, you really have to work with local institutions and with local capacity. I prefer to say unleashing the capacity rather than building it because I think there’s a lot of capacity that sometimes we just need to direct it and invest in it. So working and joining hands with local institutions is critical for any initiative that’s looking at human capital.” 

The World Economic Forum’s managing director Saadia Zahidi, speaking alongside Saadah, highlighted the organization’s efforts to implement concrete examples of localized re-skilling and up-skilling.

These initiatives aim to serve as scalable models on a global level, addressing the human capital deficit. 

Among them is the “reskilling revolution” initiative, which seeks to better educate and train a billion people over the span of 10 years, with a target of completion by 2030, Zahidi said.  

“In 20 countries, we have helped set up education, skills, and jobs accelerators. And together, this set of work has already reached 600 million people, well ahead of the target that we had set for ourselves. So, I believe, at least, that it’s very possible, from the experiments that we’ve done so far, that we can actually surface the best-in-class knowledge and get countries to put some of these in place,” she added. 

Managing the vast array of transitions that the world is witnessing in an equitable manner requires an inclusive approach that “makes people feel like they are participating in economic opportunities in the world,” said Kai Roemmelt, the CEO of Udacity, while speaking on the panel. 

He attributed much of the tensions witnessed in many communities — whether terrorism, extremism, or poverty — to a lack of equal access. Roemmelt praised the technological surge of the fourth industrial revolution as an asset, rather than a detriment to human capacity building. 

“So, we need to make sure that that we give people access to opportunity, and I think AI and online learning are ways to do that. There are a lot of programs; we have a program that we do together with Google for Palestine. We have programs for underprivileged youth in many parts of the world. And I believe that allows people equal access to these opportunities, regardless of where they are, regardless of whether they are in a city in a rural area,” he said. 

Saudi Arabia unveils plans for national academy to nurture human capital

Updated 28 min 53 sec ago

Saudi Arabia unveils plans for national academy to nurture human capital

RIYADH: In a bid to boost its efforts industrialization efforts and develop human capital, Saudi Arabia will launch a training facility, a top government official disclosed on Wednesday.

The National Academy for Industry will help boost capabilities and become a leading hub in collaboration with various training providers, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef said at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh.

“In support of our sector’s goals, the academy will be a world-class leader enabling regional capabilities, becoming a regional hub. It will act as the ecosystem enabler, being an overarching ability for different capabilities, capturing value of existing players and filling the gaps in the training ecosystem,” he said.

The minister also unveiled the Human Capital Development Strategy for mining and industries with four key objectives.

“The first is to cultivate, grow, and attract the right talent, second is to empower the talent and leadership, create and complement the culture and environment for competitive human capital, third, boost innovation, productivity, and future readiness of the human capital,” Alkhorayef said.

He continued: “Finally, drive a collaborative ecosystem where the ministry will orchestrate and build the regulatory foundation and the private sector will lead.”




Riyadh forum to elevate Saudi, Turkish economic partnerships

Updated 34 min 29 sec ago

Riyadh forum to elevate Saudi, Turkish economic partnerships

RIYADH: The Saudi-Turkish Business Forum, expected to take place on March 4, represents the significant advancements boosting economic cooperation between the two nations. 

The conference, which will be held at Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, will continue to strengthen commercial and economic ties between the business sectors of both countries, following the successful edition of the forum held in Istanbul in October 2023, which attracted over 700 companies.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the program will include a parallel exhibition displaying Turkish products, in addition to bilateral meetings between Turkish companies and businesspeople from the Kingdom.

SPA added that the forum seeks to enhance commercial ties and initiate several joint investment ventures, capitalizing on the promising economic prospects of both nations and the keen interest demonstrated by their leadership.