Arabic center for International Cooperation had opportunity to talk with Hussain Al Ahmed - member of Saudi Tourism Society and the first Director of Sales & Marketing in Eastern Province hotels from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our interlocutor is the first place holder from the first batch of travel & tourism diploma in Sales & Marketing from National System for joint Training-Dammam- KSA and he is more than 15 years in hospitality industry.
Since this is the first conversation with one of the leaders of Arabic world, Arabic center for International Cooperation had opportunity to find out a large amount of interesting information about Saudi Arabia. Mr Hussain Al Ahmed shares useful and interesting information about his country, traditional clothes, food, business and others. We believe that this story will be helpful to our readers and that people of Serbia will have the opportunity to get a closer look into Saudia Arabia. We are very thankful to Mr. Hussain Al Ahmed for finding the time for this interview and we hope that all our readers will enjoy it.
You are very successful in business. What motivated you to start this business and where did you get your inspiration from?
Thank you for your kindness. The Challenge is what motivated me all the time. Regrading my inspiration I think it comes from my father’s life story and his difficult life, as he was one of the most famous farmers in my village (Al Markaz) in Al Ahsa oasis. He was a hard worker, whose work starts in the sunrise and ends up with the sunset. He used to travel by his car with my grandfather to different cities to sell dates, fruits and vegetables. After they sold everything, they used to come back to my family house with some food for us and for our relatives, so I understood the life so early and I hope my story is worth telling.
Have you had a hard time dealing with the unpredictable situations that business brings (like Covid-19) that greatly affect business?
Of course that situations like this are effecting whole world, but one of our responsibilities as a sales leaders is to know how to deal with it smartly.
What is your definition of success?
Achieving the goals with strategic plans in a time frame.
What is your definition of a really good business team?
A really good business team is a combination of clear vision, common care and perception that success is not a personal goal, but a team one.
What are your business experiences and what are the business challenges that you are facing with?
My experiences in hospitality industry specific (Hotel Sales) is huge and challenges in my career are endless, what is one of the reason that makes me enjoy my business. Some of the challenges are finding new producing clients, achieving the hotel target during low seasons, the war rates with the competitors, dealing with different characters of people, receiving complains, responding to your clients request even after your shift ends and others.
What do you think, what are the key facts for good marketing?
Studying the market, product knowledge, doing the SWOT analysis , market intelligence and focus on your targets.
What are the most famous business events in Saudi Arabia?
International conference on economics & business management (ICEBM), MIA international accountants conference, International Conference on Economics Finance & Accounting (ICEFA), International Conferences on Economics & Social Sciences (ICESS), Arab African International Investment Forum (AAIIF).
What does education look like in your country, are there public schools and private schools?
There are more than 33000 schools in the kingdom and around 15% of them are private school.
We know so little about the tourist offer of Saudi Arabia. At which level is it and how would you rate it?
Saudi Arabia is opening it’s doors to the world through it’s tourist visa. Through the fast and easy-to-use online portal, international visitors from 49 eligible countries can apply for an eVisa and discover the warm hospitality of Saudi people, the rich heritage, vibrant culture and diverse and breathtaking landscapes from the mountains of Abha to the beaches of the Red Sea to the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter .
At which level is tourism developed in Saudi Arabia?
Travel & Tourism total contribution to Saudi Arabia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4.64 % (which amounts to approximately $2.89 billion) between 2009 and 2018. And with 2030 Vision of Saudi Arabia which lead and announce by our prince Mohammed bin Salman –The Crown prince-Deputy prime minister and chairman of the council for economic and development affaires the target to increase tourisms contribution to the country’s GDP by 10 %. And there is a lot of projects handled by Public investment Fund to achieve this target like NEOM, The Red Sea projects, AMAALA, Alula, The Diriyah Gate, Al Sodah and Qiddiya.
What interesting things do you suggest to tourists to buy as a souvenir in your country?
The handmade by wicker and by pottery and some traditional clothes.
Which products is your country specific to?
Crude oil production, petroleum refining, petrochemicals, Ammonia ,industrial gases, Sodium hydroxide.
If you had to single out 5 specific things related to your country, which five items would it be?
The heart of the Islamic worlds because of Makkah and Medina, and also Saudi Arabia traces it’s roots back to the earliest Civilizations of the Arabian peninsulas over the centuries. The largest oil processing facility and the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world, the largest sand desert (Rub Al Khali) the world’s largest oasis (Al-Ahsa).
In addition to oil, what else contributes the most to your country's economy? What natural resources are available?
We are also famous by dates, dairy industry, minerals, gold and pearls.
Can you say to us something more about meaning of traditional Saudi clothes?
The traditional dress in Saudi Arabia is Thobe for meals and Abaya for females; Thobe is a wide dress that fits the environment and the weather. It’s usually white colored, while during the cold seasons people tend to wear darker colors. As for the Abaya it’s a wide dress that covers ladies from shoulders to feet, used to be black. Few years ago colored and different shapes of Abayas have become trending and now ladies wear it based on the occasion with different material and colors.
What are the specialties that are prepared in your country and which is your favorite?
Rice Mandy with lamb, Hasawi Rice, Harees, Moflaq, Qorsan, Asedah and the favorite for me is Hasawi Rice.
How many dialects are spoken in Saudi Arabia and is there a difference comparing to different parts of the country?
From our networks within the kingdom, I can count 10 dialects at least, but as stated by Dr.Faleh Al Ajmi there are more than 60 dialects in KSA.
Horse races is a matter of fun or a matter of prestige in Saudi Arabia?
It is a fun, sporty and traditional activity that hosts some of the biggest horsing events recently in KSA.
In addition to horses, the falcon is the most valued animal in your country, can you explain us more why these animals are so precious?
One of the main reasons that makes horses so precious is recommended by Islam as well. The old Muslims and Arabs were using it in wars, trading and transportation, but today there is an international association for falconry and many Arabic countries are taking care about falcons.
Have you ever visited Serbia and have you had cooperation with any company from Serbia?
No, but I hope I will visit it soon. Unfortunately I didn’t get this chance yet.
Are you familiar with the tourist offer of Serbia?
No I’m not at all.
Are you familiar with Serbian products sold in your country?
I guess so, but I am not aware of any Serbian products in Saudi Arabia. There might be few but I don’t know that they are Serbian .
Which 10 locations would you recommend to tourists from Serbia to visit in your country?
The Historical Diriyah in our beloved capital city Riyadh in Al Ula City(Hegar- Jabal Alfil- Old Town) and also they can explore Al Soudah Mountain-Asir national park- in Asir City, Al Hada & Al Shifa area in Al Baha city, In Al Ahsa Oasis (Al Qarah Mountain –The Yellow lake- Qaisariah Souq) and a lot of amazing places in my beautiful country.
If a Serbian citizen changed his / her place of residence permanently from Serbia to your country, what advice would you give him / her in order to adapt to the new place of residence more easily?
We are a citizens of a country that welcomes all expatriates. We would welcome all Serbians that are looking to consider Saudi as their second home. In Saudi Arabia, if you follow the rules, obey the law and stay away from trouble, you will live a safe, secure, smooth and happy life.
What is your advice for the young people as we believe that they will find inspiration and motivation in your words?
I will tell them to believe in themselves, to follow their passion, not to limit themselves, not to let the opinions of others effect them, since this is their life and their dreams, to accept the challenge to create the opportunity, not to wait for it! A huge energy is inside us and we should not look back to past, our days are coming and we should not be in a hurry or to give up. In the end I would like to add that they should never stop learning because knowledge is power!