Start-up of the Week: Young Saudi impresarios put reputation before earnings

Bukhari said the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) was very cooperative.
Updated 01 May 2018

Start-up of the Week: Young Saudi impresarios put reputation before earnings

  • Bukhari said that the main goal is not to make money but to bring the name of their company to the frontline
  • Bukhari and his partner allocated SR200,000 ($53,333) for this three-day event in Jeddah's Al-Rawdah neighborhood

JEDDAH: Two young Saudi men have set up an event management business with a philosophy of gaining credibility before thinking of making money. For the next 10 years, they just want to make their company a brand name in the growing local event-organizing industry.

First result of the partnership between Feras Bukhari, a 21-year-old industrial engineering student, and his electrical engineering student co-partner, Abdul-Majeed Al-Mazroui, was a success but not on the revenue level, despite the 600-700 visitors who attended the first day of the event they recently organized.

Bukhari and his partner allocated SR200,000 ($53,333) for this three-day event in Al-Rawdah neighborhood, where they hired a venue of 1,200 square meters for about SR30,000.

“This is a big amount for an event like this, but the market is inflated. The wages designers, photographers and performers demands are sky-high. We can say that the wages are high and the quality is below expectations,” he said.

Bukhari added that an organizer could bring a professional performer from abroad for nearly a quarter of the money they pay here for a local performer. He said that airfares and lodgings might cost him much more. “If he were living in the UK, for instance, he would have hired 10 times better-quality performers dirt cheap.” 

Bukhari told Arab News that he tried to reduce the entrance fees as much as he could. Consequently, he found himself losing money. “But it is not a loss in the long run,” he said.

“The event is inspired by the American carnival theme with red and white. We developed it and added the musical part to it. Moreover, we were able to provide different music such as classical, traditional and electric guitar and Oud (lute).”

Bukhari added that they also provided visitors with an indoor Arabic song platform along with outdoor space for musical performance.

“In addition, we made seven carnival games available, with a thousand gifts to be given out to contestants. Our main idea was to look different from any other event in the city. We believe that a good event is not only where food trucks and rented booths exist,” he said.

Bukhari, who supervised the whole event so that every single activity was in compliance with organizing policy, pointed out that the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) was very cooperative with them.

“We had to apply for an organization license to run this event a month before holding it,” he said. “The GEA gave us the initial permission. After that we had to go through long processes, beginning with having permits from the local departments of civil defense, police and many others,” he said, adding that a GEA staffer was in contact with them to make sure that everything went in accordance with the official procedures.

Bukhari said that the main goal is not to make money but to bring the name of their company to the frontline to gain credibility.

“We want people to realize that whenever we announce certain events and activities, they see that in reality in front of them,” he said. 

“We insist on being honest with our visitors. For that reason, we are hoping we can make a big name in the field of organizing entertainment events.”


Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

 

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