Riyadh to host 2019 MEPRA Leadership Majlis

Jonty Summers
Updated 20 October 2019

Riyadh to host 2019 MEPRA Leadership Majlis

RIYADH: The 2019 MEPRA Leadership Majlis will be held on Oct. 21 in Riyadh and is themed “Impact and Influence.”
Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Chair Jonty Summers said: “It’s our first leadership conference in Saudi Arabia. By bringing together leading figures in communications, both from the Middle East and internationally, we hope to spark a discussion around ideas as we address some of the most pressing topics facing the profession of public relations in the region.”
In an interview with Arab News, Summers said the event has lined up a range of interesting speakers, including a number of international and regional governments and organizations such as The Red Sea Development Company, Center for Government Communication, Saudi Arabian Airlines, YouTube and Page.
Summers, who has been based in the Middle East for the past 10 years, is the managing director of Hanover Middle East, a corporate and health care communications agency. He said MEPRA is the largest public relations industry body in the region serving the needs of communications professionals in the government, corporates and agencies.
“As an industry body we exist to promote professional standards and best practice in public relations and to build the skills of its professionals. I was voted in as chair by members of MEPRA for a two-year term last year,” he added.
According to Summers, the MEPRA Leadership Majlis aims to bring together senior communication leaders from across the region to uncover the industry’s biggest challenges, trends and opportunities.
“It’s a core part of our work to build understanding of public relations in the Middle East, both as a profession and as a driver of organizational reputation and sharing knowledge and thought leadership is one way we do that,” he said.
He said after successfully holding the MEPRA Leadership Majlis in Abu Dhabi for the past five years, it was only natural to create a forum in Riyadh for communicators here to come together and share their thoughts.

Saudi Arabia is on a journey to modernization, socially and economically. There have been a significant number of reforms recently and these domestic changes certainly play a part in how the country is now perceived.

Jonty Summers, MEPRA chair

Summers said the public relations industry in the Middle East is extremely vibrant.
“There are a lot of agencies — large and small, international and local — and there are a lot of specialist agencies, for example, broadcast, digital or measurement specialists. Some countries in the region have a larger and more developed, more competitive agency environment than others. Like any industry, it will cluster where there is interesting work to do,” he said.
According to Summers, Saudi Arabia does not have as many agencies as it needs to achieve its long-term ambitions.
“Saudi Arabia is on a journey to modernization, socially and economically. There have been a significant number of reforms recently and these domestic changes certainly play a part in how the country is now perceived,” he said.
“But the big change from an international perspective is going to be investment in tourism and the opening up of the country for international visitors to experience Saudi Arabia, its people and culture for themselves.”
MEPRA’s monthly podcast — The Brief — is fast gaining popularity in the region.
“We have a really wide range of guests who address key issues, challenges and trends for communications professionals in the region. Last week we had a conversation with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas about the publication and its upcoming launch in Japan and the cultural similarities between Japan and Saudi Arabia,” Summers said.
The podcast is available to download on mepra.org/podcasts/


Michelin-starred chefs delight Riyadh foodies

Guests at Taste of the World, Riyadh, a six-day extravaganza featuring some of the world’s best restaurants in the capital’s Digital City, sipped mocktails while listening to live acoustic music on the Music Stage.
Updated 17 November 2019

Michelin-starred chefs delight Riyadh foodies

Taste of the World, Riyadh has been heralded as a great success by both event organizers and the 14,000 visitors that attended the six-day extravaganza in the capital’s Digital City.
Commissioned by the General Entertainment Authority, this bespoke edition of the festival, created especially for the Riyadh Season, featured 14 of the world’s best restaurants, boasting a combined 13 Michelin stars.  
Throughout the festival, the participating restaurants featured an exclusive menu of three dishes, served in taster-size portions — two of each restaurant’s signature dishes, as well as a Saudi-inspired dish that the chef had exclusively designed for Taste of the World, Riyadh. Visitors looking for a more exclusive experience were welcomed to The Taste Residence where they were treated to a four-course dining experience with Michelin-starred chefs.
Another major attraction that drew large crowds was the Fire Pit, where local star chefs Areej Al-Shareef, Abdelelah bin Jarid and Fahad Bokhari showed off their talents alongside the global superstars. Hosted by Saudi culinary star and presenter Rakan Aloraifi, spectators enjoyed cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions and a live DJ.
In another area of the festival, guests sipped mocktails while listening to live acoustic music on the Music Stage.  
Award-winning chef Shane Osborn from Hong Kong’s Arcane said “Taste of the World, Riyadh has far exceeded my expectations. I have been fortunate to have experienced many similar events around the world but this one in Riyadh is both very unique and very different to anything that I have experienced before. It is the people of Riyadh who have really made it special and welcoming.”

NUMBER

14,000 - of the capital’s cosmopolitan citizens visited the six-day culinary festival, featuring 14 of the world’s best restaurants and boasting a combined 13 Michelin stars.

Pascal Aussignac from London’s Michelin-starred Club Gascon said: “The smiles of the people whilst trying my food and their inquisitive questions about the meals prepared made it truly very special. I am
very happy to be here in Riyadh and to have taken part in this exciting event.”
Saudi chef Al-Shareef said: “I am very happy to be here and taking part in Taste of the World, Riyadh. I am also very proud in being the only female Saudi chef taking part and my experiences at the Fire Pit were very exciting and fun.”
Chef Aloraifi said, “This is the first time that Taste of the World has taken place in the Kingdom and people have been very excited about the occasion, the activities and the cooking demonstrations ... Hopefully next year we will be back again and will be able to add more local touches to the program.”
Based on the overwhelming enthusiasm and fast-selling ticket sales that has greeted the Taste of the World experience, organizers said they are looking forward to announcing a 2020 event soon.