DISCOVERIES AWAIT

Kuwait 2019 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

The Scientific Center Kuwait aims to educate children and families in a fun, interactive way, attracting tourists to learn more about science and technology.

Rana A. Al-Nibari
BIOGRAPHY
An EMBA degree holder from London Business school, Rana A. Al-Nibari is the General Manager of The Scientific Center Kuwait, a center that aims to promote science and environmental education and foster increased understanding through interactive exhibits. She has also represented numerous companies as a board member in numerous jurisdictions including, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Oman. Today, she serves as a member of the Project Evaluation and Financing Committee under the National Fund for SME Development. These experiences gave her a unique skills set that she has echoed in her current endeavors.

What role does The Scientific Center Kuwait play in the diversification of the economy, and more specifically, the tourism sector?

Many things are still at the beginning of the implementation phase or planning phase when it comes to Vision 2030. Tourism is still in the planning phase. If Kuwait is serious about tourism, there are many elements that need to come in to service people and increase the attractiveness of Kuwait within the GCC. There are certain areas of Kuwait that appeal to people, including food and beverage, fashion, and culture. There is enough pull, especially from countries such as Saudi Arabia, where people like to visit Kuwait. In terms of tourism, the Scientific Center Kuwait resonates well with families looking to spend time in a cultural space with their kids. Since its inception, the Scientific Center has had a differentiated standing because of its unique offering on a regional level; there was no other science center. Not only were we the first, but for quite some time the only one. We continue to receive tourists, especially if we develop and change our themes in the center. This would be our contribution to attracting tourists.

What other areas could be further developed in Kuwait to attract more tourists and a wider international scope?

Different infrastructure is necessary. Hotels in Kuwait mostly target regional and Islamic tourists. Another target point is visas and airports. Many countries are not allowed to visit Kuwait without an invitation. Should that change, there are several sectors that could develop positively, the first being hotels and resorts. We have beautiful beaches in Kuwait that have not seen their true potential because there is no infrastructure or strategic development focused on services. Transportation is another sector that needs development in order to impact tourism and the experience of tourists.

In which ways are you showing your rich cultural history to Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis?

When visitors enter the center, they see modernity, though it is deeply embedded in traditional architecture on the walls and in the exhibits in different ways. The arches depict tents, and within the attractions there are other elements from our history. That is fairly uncommon in a science center. When one enters some of the attractions, such as the aquarium, they are taken on a journey through our history.

What are you doing to increase the number of visitors at the center while maintaining a high level of quality?

We are working on many facets, one of which is understanding our customers better. That happens by doing a great deal of analysis behind the scenes. We also conduct surveys; our employees go around with iPads asking visitors about their experience, such as things they want to see, things they would change, and things they already like. From there, we look into the responses to determine any pivots or visitor experience points that need adjustment. For example, it may be via introducing new IMAX films, conducting different kinds of activities, and so on. In the end, our focus is on the customer perspective more than ever before. We want to understand what encourages people to return repeatedly and have a positive experience every time. We emphasize our loyalty and membership programs. Our aim is to have every visitor experience the center three to five times per year. Children who visit science centers when they are young are more likely to understand science, mathematics, and engineering because they have been exposed at an early age.