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.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”