GEMS Education KSA and Hassana acquire Ma’arif

From left, Ahmad Al-Qahtani, CIO of Hassana; Saad Alfadly, chairman of GEMS Education KSA; Sunny Varkey, founder of GEMS Education; and Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education, during the signing of the deal.
Updated 27 August 2019

GEMS Education KSA and Hassana acquire Ma’arif

GEMS Education KSA, a joint venture company owned by the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) and GEMS Education, and Hassana, an investment company, have completed the acquisition of Ma’arif Education and Training Company. 

Ma’arif private schools, established in 1971 in Saudi Arabia, have more than 40 years of experience in school management, with more than 13 campuses across the Kingdom and more than 20,000 students enrolled.

In line with Saudi Vision 2030, the commitment of the new shareholders to improving private education in Saudi Arabia, together with Ma’arif’s long-standing reputation for high-quality education, made for an attractive partnership in Saudi Arabia. 

Saad Alfadly, chairman of GEMS Education KSA, said: “We look forward to working with teachers, students and parents who are currently enrolled in Ma’arif schools and we are excited about welcoming new families. We are confident that combining the experience, reputation and track record of Ma’arif and GEMS Education will ensure that our schools remain leaders in academic excellence and the development of our students.”

Dr. Mohamed Al-Arfaj, CEO of Maarif Education, said: “We are excited about this partnership, as it is unprecedented in the region, to contribute to raising the quality of education within the Kingdom, and raise the share of Ma’arif in the private education sector in the Kingdom. We look forward to many successes ahead.”


Four Seasons inspires travelers to value time

Updated 25 February 2020

Four Seasons inspires travelers to value time

In a year where we have been given one extra day (Feb. 29), Four Seasons set out to discover what is most meaningful to travelers, looking at both the value of time off and how we choose to spend that time. 

According to a new global study commissioned by Four Seasons, almost everyone surveyed, across geographies and age groups, valued more vacation time over more money if given the choice. The study of adults from the GCC, US, UK and China revealed that more than half of millennials (54 percent), Gen X (53 percent) and Boomers (56 percent) would opt for more vacation days over more compensation. Only Gen Z — many of whom have the luxury of more time yet seek financial independence — value a raise (62 percent) over more days off.

Christian Clerc, president, global operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, said: “Today’s travelers are seeking purpose through authentic experiences, returning home with a different understanding of the world around them. As a luxury hospitality company, we are at the forefront of this shifting consumer desire, and it inspires how we curate the guest experience, ensuring travelers leave Four Seasons with a sense of deep connection to the community and the destination’s culture.” 

The survey found that younger travelers — millennials and Gen Z — are bigger risk-takers compared to boomers; however, nearly all (95 percent) respondents agreed that a vacation is when they would be most likely to step outside of their comfort zone. In fact, more than a third of travelers have done something while on holiday that they did not know they could, like trying a new sport or learning a new skill to challenge themselves mentally and physically. This is particularly true for respondents in China, where two-thirds (66 percent) of Chinese adults surveyed said their travel style is better described as “getting out of their comfort zone” versus other markets (45 percent).

The most popular travel takeaway? Universally, the most common new interest across age groups and regions is cooking or eating new foods (56 percent), reinforcing the importance of unique and authentic dining experiences, something that Four Seasons claims to offer.

This leap year, Four Seasons is inviting guests to take a pause with their “Take Your Time: Daily Discoveries,” a curated collection of Four Seasons experiences that require no more than 1 day, 1 hour or even 1 minute:

1 Minute

Hoi An, Vietnam: A Goodnight Kiss

The body resonates with healing vibrations during the spa’s nightly ritual. Set your intention in writing, and then release a wishing candle onto the lotus pond as you say goodnight to the earth.

Baku, Azerbaijan: Taste of Tradition

You will never forget your first bite of the fresh-baked local tandir bread from the hotel’s clay oven or at a café in the historic Old City.

1 Hour

Budapest, Hungary: Take Tea at the Palace 

Sit back and taste lavish cakes and savory delights served on hand-painted Herend porcelain as live piano melodies fill the air in the hotel’s historic Peacock Passage.

Desroches Island, Seychelles: Walking With Giants

Cycle over to the island’s tortoise sanctuary to meet with an island conservation officer and say hello to baby Aldabra giant tortoises. George, a 120-year-old Aldabra, will be waiting for you too, ready to munch on his favorite snack — apples.

1 Day

Bali, Indonesia: High-flying Surf

Where are the best waves? TropicSurf pro Blake McKinnon shares his secrets as you ride a private helicopter to the otherwise difficult-to-reach surf off the coast of neighboring East Java. No crowds, just waves.

Megève, France: Helicopter Gourmands

Hop aboard the helicopter for a culinary expedition to nearby Thônes. Shop for the region’s famed Reblochon and Chevrotin cheeses, and then savor an artfully prepared meal by the fire in the historic Ferme des Vonezins chalet.