Saudi CEO expects more nationals at senior levels in hospitality sector
RIYADH: Hessa Almazroa, General Manager of Novotel Al Anoud Hotel in Riyadh, shared her thoughts on the country’s growing hospitality and tourism industries.
“I expect that in the next few years the participation of Saudis, even at the top level in hotels, will be high. In 2025, we can see 50 and even 60 Saudi general managers,” she said at Arab News.
Almazroa has over 16 years of experience in the hospitality and management industry. She began her career as a marketing manager in 2004 and rose through the ranks of public relations and marketing communications within the Al Hokair Group.
She went on to manage several hotel properties, including the Movenpick and Novotel in Riyadh, eventually becoming one of the Kingdom’s top Saudi general managers.
I believe what makes the tourism industry attractive to Saudis is that it’s part of our DNA, generosity and hospitality, it’s all part of our DNA.
“My beginnings in the hospitality industry date back to 2015. It was a very new and scary experience, but it always stimulates a challenge in people, and it was a challenge for me. I believe that one of the most important things a Saudi must possess in the tourism sector is to believe in their abilities. His Highness the Crown Prince said the Saudis have the strength and stature of Tuwaiq Mountain.
“Those who come from all over the world are the guests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we are the best and most capable of welcoming and honoring them. I believe that what makes the tourism industry attractive to Saudis, it’s part of our DNA, generosity and hospitality, it’s all part of our DNA.
She said the sector was not easy as it produced many challenges, so a general manager or hotel manager must be passionate about hospitality and generosity and possess these traits themselves.
“I want to succeed in the hospitality industry, and I want to be a good example for Saudi women in this field. When working in the hospitality industry, the challenges and experiences are always different.
She went into the hospitality business and continued due to the challenges and obstacles she faced. She said she loves problem solving and has a passion for pushing barriers and her abilities.
She said religious tourism in the Kingdom had always been a major factor in the hospitality industry and the industry as a whole was still very new and continuously growing to build on religious tourism, expanding to accommodate cultural and leisure trips.
Management positions, such as general managers and hotel managers, are mostly filled by expatriates in Saudi Arabia.
“We still have a very long way ahead of us today,” she added.
She compared the tourism sector to many different sectors that were also once very new to the Kingdom.
“The tourism sector is like any other sector,” she said. “When the banking sector started, Saudi participation was in the minority. Today, the Saudiization rate in the banking sector has reached 90%. The telecommunications sector too, the oil sector. Their numbers were simple.
“Today, the Saudiization rates of these companies reach 70, 80 and 90%. I think it’s a natural sequence of growth and a natural product for the future.
When asked why there weren’t more women in leadership positions in the hospitality industry, she replied that it was not a gender issue, as both genders were empowered and had immense opportunities and support to fill such positions.
“The big changes that Saudi Arabia is witnessing (are) from year to year, not just from 2017 to today. I look forward to the future, confident that the next one will be more beautiful and splendid.
She said the Kingdom was growing rapidly and with the support of Vision 2030 initiatives and the Ministry of Tourism, there was so much potential for career growth and leadership in the hospitality sector.
“We are fast,” she said. “What I imagine will happen in 10 years, I expect Saudi Arabia to do in five years.”