Hospitality training programs step up to support Saudi youth

Short Url
Updated 25 September 2022

Hospitality training programs step up to support Saudi youth

Hospitality training programs step up to support Saudi youth
  • Companies throughout the Kingdom are cultivating careers in hospitality through vocational training programs

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector continues to grow, with the Kingdom expecting to attract 100 million annual visitors and creating one million jobs by 2030, building a resilient hospitality industry has become a core focus.

The hospitality sector has risen up to the challenge by ensuring that there is enough qualified manpower to handle the ever-increasing demand by providing training programs for nationals to develop their skills across all career levels. The intention is to equip young Saudis with essential skills in the hospitality, tourism, and travel industries through programs supported by the world’s best tourism training schools.

Companies throughout the Kingdom are cultivating careers in hospitality through vocational training programs that emphasize resource efficiency and provide globally recognized qualifications.

In August, the Radisson Hotel Group launched a training program, A Brilliant Journey of Advanced Development Programme, aimed at developing Saudi talent. The program targets supervisors and equips them with the expertise to fill managerial positions across its portfolio of 26 operational hotels.

“All the programs that we have launched target Saudi employees. And that works well with Vision 2030 offering new jobs for Saudis,” Managing Director of RHG Saudi Arabia Basel Talal told Arab News. 

Talal added that 14 Saudis, over half of them women, are in the program at supervisory and assistant managerial levels.




Basel Talal

According to him, the group remains committed to upskilling Saudi nationals working in the hospitality sector as part of its expansion strategy in the Kingdom.

Talal said that the initiative aligns with the Saudi 2030 Vision, which aims to increase tourism’s contribution to the domestic product to 10 percent.

Among the group’s initiatives is the Concierge Navigation to Success program, which aims to provide Saudis working in the hospitality industry with the tools and resources they need to advance their careers and ultimately enrich customer experiences.

Talal said that five males and two females are currently enrolled in the concierge program. 

The NTS program was launched as a response to COVID-19, Talal said, adding, “As a result of the lack of visitors and business during COVID-19, the Ministry of Tourism advised all hotels to focus on concierge services.” 

The programs will be offered twice a year, “The idea is that we repeat the program every six months, twice annually,” he informed.

To cover certain core elements or pillars, RHG partners with training programs like Atton or Maximus: “We’ve seen that there are parts or gaps in the training program that require us to reach out to third parties,” Talal said.

With those programs, RHG improves employee retention and creates more loyalty to the brand, and to the unit as a whole. “Higher retention or improved retention will only result in a better quality of service, and reduce cost because you don’t get any employees to train them, you just work with the existing employees,” he said. 

RHG employs over 450 Saudi line employees and another 200 are supervisors and managers, he added. 

RHG also has a follow-up process for graduates on their progress, their skill set, and how to improve, which is reflected in their annual performance reviews, Talal concluded. 

Leading the way

The Red Sea Development Co. is also leading the way in establishing undergraduate and postgraduate hospitality programs.

TRSDC, in partnership with the University of Prince Mugrin and the École hôtelière de Lausanne, offers scholarships to high school graduates who are interested in studying international hospitality management, Fadi Alaseri, TRSDC’s associate educational director told Arab News. 

“TRSDC’s transformative education programs are designed to develop the brightest minds in the tourism and hospitality fields, by equipping young Saudis with the needed skills and competencies, allowing them to realize their full potential,” Alaseri said.

There are two tracks available in the program: Fast Track, which is a four-year program with no preparatory year, and Full Track, which is a five-year program with a preparatory year, which qualifies students to begin the major.

TRSDC and its partners will provide suitable job opportunities to graduates upon successful completion of the program, he added. 

“The program aims to prepare leaders and specialists in international hospitality management by providing a curriculum that combines theoretical knowledge and hands-on experiences based on Swiss and international hospitality standards,” Alaseri said

There were 2,653 applicants for the scholarship, 1,883 of whom were males and 770 were females. However, only 26 were selected, of which 14 were males and 12 were females. 

“Our talents will run the ground-breaking luxury, regenerative tourism destination in alignment with the Saudi labor market needs within our destination,” Alaseri said.

“TRSDC reshapes educational opportunities by opening new doors and empowering young Saudi professionals with the required skills and knowledge to excel in the hospitality field and tourism sectors,” he added.

Upskilling Saudi youth 

In order to provide students with job opportunities at Hilton Hotels in Saudi Arabia upon graduation, the group entered into a partnership with Bunyan Training Academy in July 2022. 

The training program, which is accredited by the Saudi Technical and Vocational Training Corporation and certified by the EHL, is available to select young Saudi talent, Hilton Group’s Senior Director of Human Resources for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Levant Fawaz Moumina told Arab News. 




Fawaz Moumina

“This is the first time in Saudi that an international hospitality provider such as Hilton is collaborating with EHL to offer this program,” he added. 

Students will receive sought-after theoretical and practical lessons across various functions of the industry, Moumina said.

Furthermore, participants will be able to pursue bachelor’s degrees based on the variety of professions they will be trained in, including culinary, F&B, front office, and housekeeping, if they choose to do so, he said. 

This program aims to identify more than 30 Saudi talents who are interested in pursuing a career in hospitality. “Following a meticulous selection process, Bunyan Training Academy carefully selected applicants with Hilton’s input,” Fawaz said. 

In 2024, students who complete the program will receive a diploma accredited by both the Saudi TVTC and EHL, he said.

As part of its efforts to mobilize the nation’s labor force, Moumina said the group has also established close ties with the King Khalid Foundation, the International Youth Federation, King Saud University and ministries and governmental organizations like the Saudi Tourism Authority. 

Fawaz stated that Hilton has 2,400 team members in Saudi Arabia across 16 hotels, to reach 10,000 by 2030 — half of whom will be Saudi nationals.


Saudi energy minister warns sanctions could result in energy shortages 

Saudi energy minister warns sanctions could result in energy shortages 
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi energy minister warns sanctions could result in energy shortages 

Saudi energy minister warns sanctions could result in energy shortages 

RIYADH: Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman warned on Saturday Western sanctions against Russia could result in a shortage of energy supplies in future. 

In answer to a question over how trade measures would affect the energy market, Prince Abdulaziz told an industry conference in Riyadh: "All of those so-called sanctions, embargoes, lack of investments, they will convolute into one thing and one thing only, a lack of energy supplies of all kinds when they are most needed." 

The prince also said Saudi Arabia was working to send liquefied petroleum gas to Ukraine. LPG is most commonly used as a cooking fuel and in heating. 

The EU has imposed a series of sanctions against Russia, reducing Russian energy exports, and other Western powers have also imposed measures as they seek to further limit Moscow's ability to fund its war in Ukraine. 

Asked what lessons had been learnt from energy market dynamics in 2022, Prince Abdulaziz said the most important one was for the rest of the world to "trust OPEC+". 

"We are a responsible group of countries, we do take policy issues relevant to energy and oil markets in a total silo and we don't engage ourselves in political issues," the prince said. 

OPEC+, an alliance that includes members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others including Russia, agreed last year to cut its production target by 2 million barrels per day, about 2 percent of world demand, from November until the end of 2023 to support the market. 

An OPEC+ panel that met last Wednesday endorsed the decision and the main message throughout the meeting was that the group would stay the course until the end of the agreement. 

Prince Abdulaziz further reiterated that the Kingdom will remain cautious about raising oil production, even as several prominent analysts say rising demand will soon trigger a jump in prices, Bloomberg reported. 

“I will believe it when I see it and then take action,” he added. 

The minister said OPEC+ had been proved correct with its decision in October to cut output by 2 million barrels a day.  

“If people had trusted us then, we wouldn’t have undergone the trepidations that happened,” he said, referring to a spike in prices to almost $100 a barrel after OPEC+ announced its move. 

 


Business confidence hits 2-year high in Saudi Arabia as PMI climbs 58.2 in January  

Business confidence hits 2-year high in Saudi Arabia as PMI climbs 58.2 in January  
Updated 05 February 2023

Business confidence hits 2-year high in Saudi Arabia as PMI climbs 58.2 in January  

Business confidence hits 2-year high in Saudi Arabia as PMI climbs 58.2 in January  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Purchasing Managers’ Index touched 58.2 in January 2023, the second-highest since September 2021, as the Kingdom steadily diversifies its economy in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to a report. 

The latest Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers Index report, formerly the S&P Global Saudi Arabia PMI, noted that the confidence among non-oil private sector firms in the Kingdom climbed to a two-year high in January. 

In December, the Kingdom’s PMI stood at 56.9, while in November, the index hit 58.5, the highest in the last 16 months. 

According to the index, released by S&P Global, readings above the 50-mark show growth, while those below 50 signal contraction. 

“Saudi Arabia is continuing its strong performance and outperformed the global economic trends for activity and demand. The non-oil sector is starting this year with a strong headline growth at 58.2 in January, recording the second highest growth since September 2021,” said Naif Al-Ghaith PhD, Chief Economist at Riyad Bank. 

He added: “This growth confirms the Saudi position as the fastest-growing economy among the Group of 20 countries despite economic headwinds.” 


Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman

Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman
Updated 05 February 2023

Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman

Mideast’s share of renewables in energy mix to double by 2030: SAEE chairman
  • Region plays crucial role as it continues supplying hydrocarbons as the world enters a new energy system

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is committed to driving energy transition using renewables but not at the cost of traditional fuels as the world needs adequate supply to meet its demand, according to a top official of a Saudi energy body.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the Saudi Association of Energy Economics Chairman Majeed Al-Moneef said that the Kingdom, and the Middle East region as a whole, will be at the forefront of both traditional and renewable energy sources, as it steadily progresses in achieving sustainable goals.  

“We will follow the world trend in increasing the share of renewables in our energy mix. But that will not be done by sacrificing our oil and gas sectors, but along with the development of our oil and gas sectors,” said Al-Moneef.  

The chairman of SAEE which works toward building capabilities in energy economics said the Middle East region is playing a crucial role in the energy transition journey, as it continues supplying hydrocarbons which are pivotal as the world enters a new energy system. 

“We have the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative. So, we are an important player in traditional energy sources and renewable energy sources. We will be in the forefront of both.”  

He further pointed out that countries in the Middle East region are now heavily investing simultaneously in traditional fuels like oil and gas and renewable energy sources including hydrogen.  

Al-Moneef expects that the share of renewables in the energy mix in almost all regional countries will double or triple by 2030.  

Talking about Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the SAEE chairman said a massive socioeconomic and institutional transformation is taking place across all sectors including energy as the objective is to diversify the economy. “We have got new energy resources like renewables, hydrogen, carbon sequestration and carbon management. They are the sectors of tomorrow. So, we are investing in future energy.”  

This comes as Saudi Arabia is leapfrogging in sustainable energy generation while setting a net-zero target for 2060. 

Al-Moneef pointed out that the region’s financial institutions including corporates, government financing, and multi-regional financing institutions have a crucial role to play in renewable energy projects to achieve sustainable goals within the stipulated timeline.  

IAEE International Conference 

SAEE which works toward facilitating dialogue among various stakeholders is hosting the International Conference of the International Association for Energy Economics for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa region in Riyadh with the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center. 

Al-Moneef sounded confident that the IAEE conference which begins on Feb. 4 will witness a record number of participants.  

“This conference will have the largest registration in the history of energy economic conferences. This is the first time that such a conference is being held in the region. So, this is a testament to the importance of Saudi Arabia and the region in the global energy sector,” he said. 

Al-Moneef revealed that regional universities will present scientific papers during the event, and added that events like these hold significance as “they will accelerate the participation of more regional research institutions, individuals and students in the energy sector.”  

Majeed Al-Moneef, chairman of the Saudi Association of Energy Economics. (Supplied)

He disclosed that they had two major meetings involving all the universities in Saudi Arabia to encourage them to submit papers. “We tried to have a wide representation of the region. So, we have good numbers. As a matter of fact, something close to 40 percent of papers is from Saudi Arabia and the region.”   

The SAEE chairman pointed out that the purpose of the conference is to encourage research in energy economics in the region. “That was our main goal. The field of energy economics is of crucial importance to the region, and we should have more researchers in the research institutions, individuals, and students who are engaged in that subject matter.”  

He revealed that the conference will hold special plenary sessions on investment and trade in the energy sector, “as the conflict in Ukraine has changed the trade flows of oil and gas globally.”  

Al-Moneef further pointed out that Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole will host more similar events related to energy economics in the future.  

“As a matter of fact, one of the outcomes of this conference will be to have annual regional conferences in the Middle East. So, one of the outcomes will be to institutionalize a MENA Middle Easy symposium to be held every year,” he said.  

Saudi Arabia is leapfrogging in sustainable energy generation. (SPA)

Al-Moneef noted that Saudi Arabia will be on the organizing committee for the MENA Energy Economics conference that will be held every year, and the Kingdom will make sure that researchers from the institutions in the nation will participate in these upcoming events.  

Regional cooperation  

Talking about the necessity to ramp up power generation and increase the efficiency of energy usage, Al-Moneef stressed that sufficient investments are needed to elevate efficiency “so that the production process will be clean, and efficient with the least cost possible.”  

He also highlighted that international and regional cooperation is very crucial to ensure the growing power demand in the future.  

Al-Moneef who had served in multiple high-profile positions including the Secretary General of the Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia, Governor of Saudi Arabia in the Board of Governors of OPEC, stressed the need to create a common grid that will solve power-generating issues. "It will allow countries with power scarcity to secure help from nations that produce excess power.”  

He added that a common energy market will be soon materialized in the Middle East region, supported by a proper regulatory framework.  

According to him, promoting regional cooperation in the energy field is the key to a new Middle East. “And we have to improve the transportation lines.”  

For Al-Moneef, what the region needs is the proper regulatory framework. “Europe has done it. They have put in place the regulatory framework to see to it that there is a common energy market. We can have someday a common Middle East energy market. We are capable of doing it,” he signed off.  


Saudi Arabia, GCC taking holistic, far-sighted approach to city building, expert says

Saudi Arabia, GCC taking holistic, far-sighted approach to city building, expert says
Updated 05 February 2023

Saudi Arabia, GCC taking holistic, far-sighted approach to city building, expert says

Saudi Arabia, GCC taking holistic, far-sighted approach to city building, expert says
  • Mega-projects have massive future benefit, says Daniel Hajjar
  • Architect’s firm has designed iconic structures in Mideast

LONDON: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region have seen a significant shift in the concept of city building with modernized infrastructure plans taking into account ways to improve people’s lives and experiences as opposed to “purely a functional response,” according to a UK-based architecture expert.

“It’s all about how can you create a terrific sense of being in a city and having a great experience,” said Daniel Hajjar, managing principal for Europe and the Middle East at HOK — a global architecture and engineering firm.

“Particularly in Saudi Arabia, you’re seeing a lot more use of those types of facilities, because there’s a lot more encouragement to sort of knock down both physical and figurative walls within the Kingdom. And I think that’s a very good thing, as it’s only a matter of time before you will begin to see, and you’re already seeing it, much more engagement from Saudis in their own country,” he told Arab News in a recent exclusive interview.

Daniel Hajjar

HOK, which has been engaged with the Kingdom since the 1970s, has designed several iconic projects, including the 80-story PIF Tower, which is the tallest of the five structures that make up the financial plaza of the King Abdullah Financial District and symbolizes “the dawn of a new era of financial leadership” within the Saudi capital.

A lot of the architecture that is being produced, within Riyadh and perhaps within the Najd area in particular, this whole aspect of Salmani architecture or Salmani expression, seeking an expression that is genuine for the region.

Daniel Hajjar, HOK managing principal for Europe and the Middle East

The US-based firm, which was founded in 1955 in Missouri, began to officially expand its footprint in the Middle East in the early 1980s, and the first major project where the company brought a lot of its talent to complex designs was in Saudi Arabia. It was King Khalid Airport, King Saud University and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran that changed the way it operated as a firm, Hajjar explained.

“Those were sort of the first two institutes of higher education within the Kingdom that really propelled Saudi on the international stage that they began developing this fundamental infrastructure, and as a result, HOK was instrumental in delivering that, as well as the airport,” he said.

Cities mature when they begin introducing large-scale infrastructure projects that help people live in it, and a decade in terms of the city’s life is not a very long time at all, Daniel Hajjar said. (Supplied)

The company also developed other high-profile projects, among them King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia. Others included the National Assembly building and the Central Bank headquarters in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company corporate headquarters, Dubai Marina, and the masterplan for Dubai Expo 2020.

Hajjar said that the Kingdom’s projects have always challenged the company to develop the way they work, and have invested heavily in technology to deliver massive and complex Lead in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum projects within months, and the first of their kind in the region.

Focus on future generations

Saudi Vision 2030 “is incredibly ambitious, and because of that, it raises the bar significantly in terms of what is it that’s going to drive that economy, post-oil, or post-hydrocarbon, because that is going to happen, and this diversification of the economy,” he said.

FASTFACT

HOK, which has been engaged with the Kingdom since the 1970s, has designed several iconic projects, including the 80-story PIF Tower, which is the tallest of the five structures that make up the financial plaza of the King Abdullah Financial District and symbolizes ‘the dawn of a new era of financial leadership’ within the Saudi capital.

“Those master plans that are being done now are not necessarily for the generation today, but they’re for future generations to use, and master plans, by their very nature change and evolve over time. So as a result, we believe that setting a framework in place where you have the ability to engage people along the journey is incredibly important, because … they’re part of that evolution (and) it is part of their genetic DNA, if you will, but within the country,” Hajjar said.

When designing projects, Hajjar said it was important to ensure they had cultural or physical relevance, and to interpret natural and heritage aspects into a modern form.

Cities mature when they begin introducing large-scale infrastructure projects that help people live in it, and a decade in terms of the city’s life is not a very long time at all, Daniel Hajjar said. (Supplied)

“A lot of the architecture that is being produced, within Riyadh and perhaps within the Najd area in particular, this whole aspect of Salmani architecture or Salmani expression, seeking an expression that is genuine for the region, as opposed to looking at something in a pastiche manner.

“So as a result, you’re beginning to see much more authentic architecture, without copying the past, and look at a modern interpretation of those historic principles behind the architecture has a tremendously valuable proposition.”

Comparing Riyadh and Jeddah, he said that they were two totally different cities because they grew based on different parameters when they were established.

“If you look at Jeddah and the way the Al-Balad part of Jeddah has sort of grown out further from the original port, and then if you look at Riyadh as being the capital of the Kingdom, very much different in terms of the approach to city building between the two of them, and it doesn’t mean that one’s necessarily better than the other.

“Because there wasn’t as much of an economic boom in Jeddah, it sort of boomed and then it slowed down and then they didn’t simply just build. I think Riyadh now is looking at the various initiatives, in terms of greening Riyadh, public art, and creating that level of richness, while Jeddah has had international art exhibits along the Corniche,” he said.

These also differ from new developments such as the NEOM megacity project or Diriyah Gate, which is the birthplace of the first Saudi state and now everything is leveraging off that historic core as they begin to build out from there, he said.

The big challenge with Saudi Arabia is it is so geographically diverse from one region to the next, so how do you begin bringing those cultures together within the Kingdom and ensure “the richness that occurs in one region should be introduced to the richness from another in order to create this fantastic mosaic that is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Another major challenge is the future of transportation, and there will be a strong focus on linking cities together within the Kingdom and the Gulf region and cutting down on air travel carbon footprint.

“The irony behind all of this is pre-World War I, there was a railway in the Kingdom, and now there is no railway. So I think you’re going to begin seeing a lot of that, particularly GCC-wide (and) it’s going to serve the function of transporting commodities and everything else, but at the same time, they have the ability to encourage people to travel by rail and I think that will come,” he said.

Cities mature when they begin introducing large-scale infrastructure projects that help people live in it, and a decade in terms of the city’s life is not a very long time at all, Hajjar said, as the Vision 2030 target ambitions rapidly approach.

“Ultimately, a city has a continuum to it,” he said, “because when a city stops to develop and stops challenging itself, it slowly begins to lose meaning to people within the city. You have to continually reinvent the city, bring new things into the city, and have people engaged in different ways.”


UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap
Updated 04 February 2023

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

UAE, France, India to cooperate on energy, climate and adopt implementation roadmap

LONDON: The UAE, France and India have established a tripartite cooperation initiative in several areas including energy and climate change, the Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.

A joint statement, which came following a phone call between UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, and their Indian counterpart Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, affirmed that the trilateral initiative will promote the joint design and execution of projects in various fields, including solar and nuclear energy, combating climate change, and protecting biodiversity, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

“For this purpose, the three countries will explore the possibility of working with the Indian Ocean Rim Association to pursue concrete, actionable projects on clean energy, the environment, and biodiversity,” the statement said.

The initiative will also serve as a platform to expand cooperation between the three countries’ development agencies on sustainable projects, as well as to organize a range of trilateral events in the framework of the Indian presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s hosting of COP28 this year.

“It was agreed that the three countries will seek to ensure greater alignment of their respective economic, technological, and social policies with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” the statement added.

The countries also agreed to expand cooperation through initiatives such as the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, led by the UAE, and the Indo-Pacific Parks Partnership, led by India and France.

“It was agreed that the three countries should seek to focus on key issues such as single-use plastic pollution, desertification, and food security in the context of the International Year of Millets, 2023,” the statement noted.

The three sides also underlined their desire to adopt a circular-economy model under the aegis of India’s Mission LiFE, which aims to bring individual behaviors to the forefront of the global climate-action narrative.

The three countries stressed the need to strengthen defense cooperation and agreed to increase efforts to further promote compatibility and joint development and co-production, whilst seeking out avenues for further collaboration and training between their defense forces.

They pledged to strengthen communication on emerging threats, including infectious diseases and measures to combat future pandemics.

“In this regard, cooperation with multilateral organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi — the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund, and Unitaid will be encouraged,” the statement said.

They also agreed to cooperate on the implementation of WHO’s “One Health” approach — to achieve optimal health outcomes that recognize the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment locally, regionally and globally, and to support the development of local capacities in biomedical innovation and production within developing countries.

“As countries at the very forefront of technological innovation, the development of trilateral cooperation between relevant academic and research institutions and efforts to promote co-innovation projects, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship will be encouraged,” the statement said.

This will include organizing trilateral conferences and meetings on the sidelines of high-level technology events, such as Vivatech in Paris, Bengaluru Tech Summit in INdia, and GITEX in Dubai, to support such cooperation.

The UAE, France and India said they will ensure that the trilateral initiative will be used to promote cultural cooperation through a range of joint projects, including heritage promotion and protection, “in recognition of the critical role social and human bonds play in their constructive partnership.”