HOSPITALITY FIRST

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE & SPORTS | INTERVIEW

The hospitality sector anticipates a boom in business thanks to reforms oriented around the opening up of Saudi Arabia. InterContinental is no exception.

Mohammed Al-Refai
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammed Al-Refai is the executive assistant manager at InterContinental, Jeddah. He has held this position since 2015, but has worked for InterContinental in various capacities since 1995, from receptionist to executive. Al-Refai has a degree in business administration from King Abdul-Aziz University.

Where do you see major potential for growth in Jeddah's tourism and entertainment sector, and what role could the city play within the country's broader strategy?

Jeddah is in a great location, along Saudi Arabia's west coast and the Red Sea. There is a major port, bringing trade and travel from across the region and the world. Of course, there are also the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Our international airport serves as the main gateway to this region, the Hijaz, a major trading route between north and south since ancient times. Jeddah is the main tourist and economic capital of the Kingdom, home to national and international companies as well as major consulates. We are at the center of efforts to expand tourism into Saudi Arabia through the building of new entertainment facilities. After all, we are the second-largest city in the Kingdom. This is why InterContinental is so optimistic about the city and its future.

How should high-profile hotels in Jeddah adjust in line with the expected increase in the number of international guests?

Given the large number of national and international businesses in the city, hotels in Jeddah have been host to thousands of business travelers over the years. Part of Vision 2030 is to increase travel to the Kingdom for leisure as well as spiritual purposes. We play a key role in that plan.

Where do you see the biggest gaps in the Saudi hospitality segment?

Every challenge is an opportunity. We do not know the meaning of the word “gap." Any shortfall in services is an opportunity to be resourceful and think outside of the box. The growth of the hospitality sector is extremely promising, as it reflects Vision 2030 itself. We want to grow alongside Saudi Arabia.

What are your strategic priorities for 2020?

Our strategy is to build strong relationships and partnerships with local and international companies. By offering more entertainment services, we hope to create a demand that we will later serve. We need to make customers first before we can profit from their business.