Brazil-Saudi investment forum held in Sao Paulo 

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MAKKAH: The first batch of Saudi students graduated this week from the executive master’s program in international hotel management at Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, in Marbella, Spain.

The program was launched by the Ministry of Tourism last year as part of the Ahlaha 2022 initiative. All 198 male and female graduates expressed their gratitude to the Saudi ministry, which is developing initiatives to enhance the capabilities of workers in the tourism sector, especially in the hotel industry.

The graduates told Arab News that they can now return with a refined knowledge and vision gained from one of the world’s best hospitality institutes.

 198 Saudis graduated from Les Roches Global Hospitality education in Spain, armed with refined knowledge that will take Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality sector to new heights. (Supplied)

Maram Kokandi, the director of Doubletree by Hilton Makkah, said that the nine-month intensive program she enrolled in covered all subjects relevant to hotel management.

She described it as a fantastic program that supported the hotel sector, based on Saudi Vision 2030, and praised the support provided by the ministry to Saudi nationals.

She pointed out that Les Roches is globally renowned for producing the best talents in the field of hospitality, and they were honored to be part of this global fabric.

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed, the deputy minister of tourism, was with us every step of the way, personally overseeing the Kingdom’s vision and the purpose of this program.

Feras Bawareth, Les Roches graduate

Kokandi added that the knowledge they acquired will be valuable in terms of management and localization of the tourism and hospitality sector, and will contribute to the development and progress of the sector in the Kingdom.

She said: “This is a big dream, and everyone is striving to give back to this great nation.

“We are determined to succeed in achieving the hopes and aspirations for our country and benefiting from each other’s experiences.”

Feras Bawareth, Les Roches graduate

Dawla Talal Al-Malki, the front office manager at Hilton Riyadh Olaya, said that the program was one of the greatest offerings by the ministry to the hotel and hospitality sector, and represented an unprecedented step globally.

Speaking about the significance of the opportunity to the future of the Kingdom, Al-Malki added: “Our goal is to represent the Kingdom in the hospitality sector in the best possible way and contribute to creating a new generation capable of leading the tourism and hospitality sector in the country.

“What the ministry has provided will have a lasting impact, and my fellow graduates and I will work on crystallizing this academic aspect to improve services.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Tourism is developing initiatives to enhance the capabilities of Saudis in the tourism and hospitality sector.

• The program includes an intensive training opportunity at Les Roches Global Hospitality Education in Spain.

Al-Malki pointed out essential topics in hotel management such as sustainability programs, financial management, and strategic management, and added: “All of these are essential for us to reach and achieve the Vision 2030’s aspiration to be a leading tourist destination, whether locally, regionally, or globally.

“All of this and more will directly impact our work performance and the sector as a whole, enabling tourism in Saudi Arabia to rise with the highest service standards, reflecting the Kingdom’s generosity and high professionalism.”

Feras Bawareth, who works as the cluster chief engineer at Seera Group, said that the journey was both challenging and enjoyable.

He said: “It began with applying for the program, interviews, and selection. Princess Haifa bint Mohammed, the deputy minister of tourism, was with us every step of the way, personally overseeing the Kingdom’s vision and the purpose of this program.

“We were divided into two groups, one at Les Roches in Switzerland and the other in Marbella, Spain, to pursue the executive master’s degree in hotel management … in the field of global tourism.

“The goal was to prepare us for leading the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia, and I tried to bridge the gap between my engineering studies and hotel management.”

Nouf Aldhahri, an assistant food and beverage manager at Novotel Jazan Hotel, said that her experience at Les Roches was a dream she had never imagined achieving.

She noted that throughout the past year, the ministry had put in tremendous effort, special arrangements, and attention to the smallest details.

She described the program as an enriching experience that allowed them to immerse themselves in a world of knowledge, broaden their horizons, and acquire the necessary skills and experiences for excellence in the tourism field.

She added: “The support (of the ministry) not only empowered us but also reinforced our commitment to contributing meaningfully to the growth and development of our tourism industry.”

Maha Mahdi, who works as the guest relations supervisor at Novotel Jazan Hotel, said that she started working in the sector five years ago in the city of Jazan, where opportunities for development were limited compared to major cities, especially those with international brand hotels.

She added: “Today, I am a graduate with an executive master’s degree in international hotel management from one of the strongest specialized universities, a dream that has been achieved thanks to a great and supportive nation.

“The rapid and numerous developments (in the Kingdom) have attracted global attention. What sets us apart here is that this significant progress is in the hands of Saudis.

“The continuous support and keenness of the Ministry of Tourism to invest in the young people of the nation has multiple positive impacts. The greatest investment was in this wonderful program, which will make the next generation look forward to and be passionate about this sector.

“What distinguishes this program is the diverse selection of candidates, focusing on recruiting from various regions so that the students of this program can better share their knowledge and experiences with everyone.”

 

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