First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise

First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise
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The drive to develop the Saudi tourism industry is one of the main pillars of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy. (Supplied)
First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise
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The drive to develop the Saudi tourism industry is one of the main pillars of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy. (Supplied)
First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise
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The drive to develop the Saudi tourism industry is one of the main pillars of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy. (Supplied)
First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise
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The drive to develop the Saudi tourism industry is one of the main pillars of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 April 2021

First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise

First Saudi to work in Maldives hospitality sector brings home her expertise
  • Sara Al-Marghalani wants to play her role in introducing the Kingdom’s hidden treasures to the world

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan celebrates its fifth anniversary, citizens nationwide are looking at the many ways the ambitious plan has affected their day-to-day lives.

The overarching goal of the plan, to move the Kingdom away from an oil-based economy, has had the entire nation looking toward new industries and re-evaluating their perceptions of how Saudi Arabia could achieve success, and one of the biggest and most successful industries has been tourism and hospitality.
For some Saudis, working in the hospitality sector is a dream they have harbored for a long time, and they have taken great pains to find ways to break into the field. But some, like industry pioneer Sara Al-Marghalani, just “stumbled” into the industry almost by accident.
Al-Marghalani initially dreamt of a career in academia, even going so far as to obtain a master’s degree in linguistics to achieve that goal. However, things changed when she became the first Saudi to land a job in the hospitality sector of the Maldives.
An unexpected interview for a banquet coordinator position with a local hotel group started what would become her new passion, working in a field that very few Saudis had ventured into.
“I didn’t anticipate how fast-paced and dynamic life would be working with hotels and the hospitality industry, or how much my life would change during my career in tourism,” she told Arab News.
Within a few months of landing the job, she found her ambitions shifting focus, especially after a rapid promotion to sales executive as a result of her newfound passion. And when her direct manager applied for a general manager’s position in the Maldives, he asked her to join him as part of his team.

FASTFACTS

• A recent research study found that 90 percent of Saudi youth surveyed were interested in tourism and hospitality jobs.

• The study also stated that Saudi youth were starting to acknowledge the vital role that tourism and hospitality will play in the country’s new diversified economy.

“I received notice from the Maldives government and the Saudi Embassy that I would be the first Saudi citizen to work in the hospitality industry in the Maldives,” she said. “I lived and worked as a guest relations officer on a small island with a respected Maldivian hotel company called Coco Collection for nearly two years.”
Al-Marghalani said that the experience seemed to trigger “endless opportunities” for learning, and she continued to climb up the hotel management ranks.
She was later promoted to front office supervisor at the German hotel company Seaside Finolhu, where she spent a further 18 months.
One of the highlights of the experience for her was introducing herself to the guests at the resorts, who came from many countries worldwide. Most reacted with amazement when she said she came from Saudi Arabia and they asked a lot of questions.
“I told them of the Kingdom’s hidden treasures and its natural beauty, as well as its significant tourism potential,” she said. “This was before Saudi Arabia announced plans to economically diversify into tourism and promote its beautiful destinations. Tourists in the Maldives were eager to know what was hidden in Saudi Arabia and were enthusiastic to discover it for themselves.”

It is a dream to play a part in the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project and support the growth of Saudi tourism.

Sara Al-Marghalani

It was this passion that prompted her to return to the Kingdom and join up with the Red Sea Development Co. as a hotel front office assistant manager, something she said makes her incredibly proud and excited.
“It is a dream to play a part in the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project and support the growth of Saudi tourism,” she said. “I had planned to continue my work abroad in the Maldives, but after hearing about this luxury project and understanding its high standards in sustainability, as well as the regenerative approach to tourism, I had no other option but to come back and be a part of this ambitious team.”
Al-Marghanlani said that after several years working in the Maldives, one of the top luxury travel destinations in the world, she has brought back “endless emotions of passion and drive” and believes that she can be a driving force of change in the Kingdom’s hospitality sector.
“I have the experience to further the vision of the developer in creating a new luxury resort destination here in our Kingdom. I think I’ve grasped the concept of what a luxury resort is, what it means and how it operates. I gained invaluable insight into what guests need and how can we meet the high expectations,” she said.
Al-Marghalani also said that the tourism and hospitality industry has the potential to boom here in the Kingdom.
“As we become a globalized society, more and more people find passion in traveling. We are one of the few countries left which, up until now, has been relatively unexplored and I believe this is an advantage for us. Saudi Arabia has an incredible history and countless hidden treasures, which include the Red Sea itself, our unexplored massive deserts, and our extraordinary and hospitable people,” she said.
The Ministry of Tourism said in December that domestic tourism had exceeded expectations, despite the pandemic and 2020 being, in the words of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), “the worst year on record in the history of tourism.”
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb told Bloomberg in September that a sudden surge in domestic travel — 50 percent more than officials had projected — helped to save businesses and jobs, as well as boost the economy.
Saudis’ attitudes toward the industry are beginning to change as well. A December research study commissioned by the Red Sea Development Co. found that 90 percent of Saudi youth surveyed were interested in tourism and hospitality jobs.
The study also stated that Saudi youth were starting to acknowledge the vital role that tourism and hospitality will play in the country’s new diversified economy.


Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings
  • The two sides discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation, and issues related to security and police cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Jordan on Sunday held talks on ways to facilitate the passage of citizens of both countries through land and air crossings.
Jordanian Minister of Interior Mazen Al-Faraya met with the Kingdom’s ambassador to Amman Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, in the presence of the Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al-Fayez.
Jordan on Tuesday reopened two border posts with Saudi Arabia and Syria after they were closed in August for nine months due infected coronavirus staff, 
The two sides also discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and issues related to security and police cooperation and ways to support and enhance them.
Al-Sudairi called for uniting efforts, especially in security aspects and the exchange of expertise, in order to achieve security and stability in both countries and the region.
The two sides agreed to continue coordinating and consulting, and to activate the partnerships in various fields. 


Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,064 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 334

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,072.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 942 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 426,384 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,572 remain active and 1,336 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 334, followed by Makkah with 286, the Eastern Province with 112, Asir recorded 50 and Madinah confirmed 40 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,064 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 409,740.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said on Sunday it has prepared 3,156 mosques and chapels in the Makkah region to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayer this year, which will be held 15 minutes after sunrise.
It also announced it has completed preparing and equipping 1,074 in Madinah and its affiliated governorates for the Eid prayer.
The Ministry of Interior said 25,672 violations were committed against precautionary coronavirus measures in the Kingdom from May 2 — 8, with the capital, Riyadh, recording the highest with 8,909 violations, followed by Makkah with 4,556, and the Eastern Province with 3,805 violations.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 158 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.29 million.


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Khan also visited and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
  • The premier also met with head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah on Sunday.
Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, Khan was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the special force for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In Makkah, Khan met with Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen to discuss the Islamic world and issues on the OIC’s agenda, particularly combating Islamophobia and the situation of Muslims in non-OIC countries.
Al-Othaimeen praised Pakistan for leading OIC members’ efforts at the UN to present a draft resolution to the next session of the General Assembly concerning adopting an international day to combat Islamophobia.
During the meeting, they stressed the need to strengthen joint Islamic action, cooperation and solidarity among member states.
Al-Othaimeen praised relations between the organization and Pakistan, as well as the country and the prime minister’s contributions in developing and strengthening cooperation between member states and defending the issues of the Islamic nation in various international forums.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan left Madinah headed for Jeddah, after he visited the Prophet’s Mosque and performed prayers there.
He was seen off from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah by a number of senior, civilian and military officials.


Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
  • Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims
  • Health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to preserve human health

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday it would announce operational plans for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage soon.
The ministry said the details would be determined by COVID-19 health controls and standards.
The Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims and enable them to perform their rituals “easily and in a safe environment,” the ministry said.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the statement said, adding “the Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
The ministry said that Saudi health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to ensure the preservation of human health.


Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
  • Supreme Court calls on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has called on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Tuesday evening. 

The court said if the moon is seen with the eye on Tuesday May 11, which corresponds to Ramadan 29, 1442 H, the committee will announce the end of fasting month and the start of Eid Al Fitr.

The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony, or report to authorities in their area.