Bringing together government leaders, hotel investors, owners, developers and operators at what is set to be the biggest Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) to date, FHS Saudi Arabia will take place from 7-9 May at the Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh.
Launched in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s G20 Secretariat in 2020, FHS Saudi Arabia is the most influential hospitality investment conference for industry leaders and senior decision-makers in the hospitality industry of Saudi Arabia and beyond. This will be the sixth industry conference organised by The Bench for the Saudi market.
“We are thrilled to be back in Riyadh in May following the overwhelming success of our sold-out 2022 edition, and we’re delighted to be in a new and larger venue this year thanks to our host sponsors Al Khozama Investment Company and Al Faisaliah Hotel,” said Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of The Bench. “The demand for our hospitality events in Saudi Arabia continues to grow and with the Kingdom named as the fastest expanding tourism industry within the G20 countries in the UNWTO Tourism Barometer, there will be so much to share about tourism and hospitality investment and development at FHS Saudi Arabia this year.”
This year’s conference theme, ‘Invest in Change’, highlights the importance of the positive change that can be brought forward through the investment in time, intellect and expertise in the hospitality industry to keep up with changing times and trends to better shape the future of the industry.
The action-packed three-day conference agenda will include tracks from the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) and will have a strong focus on sustainability, innovation, start-ups and human capital development.
“Delegates will have over 50 opportunities to network, learn and discuss with sessions that range in format from main stage presentations, ‘hard talk’ interviews and panel discussions to case studies, culinary tours and dedicated networking time,” added Worsley.
The first day is dedicated to the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) focused on F&B investment and development in the Kingdom and beyond. This will include GRIF’s signature Culinary Tours featuring LPM, The Brasserie, Mamo Michelangelo, Meraki and Yauatcha in Riyadh. The main FHS programme will kick off with the opening reception hosted by Al Khozama on Sunday evening.
“We are thrilled to host the next Future Hospitality Summit at Al Faisaliah Hotel. It is an honor to bring together industry leaders and innovators to discuss the future of hospitality and shape the direction of our industry. Our team is excited to showcase our exceptional facilities and provide an unforgettable experience for all attendees. We look forward to welcoming delegates to our property and create lasting memories together,” said Richard Johnson, GM of Al Faisaliah Hotel.
The official opening of the 2023 edition of FHS Saudi Arabia will take place on Monday 8 May with welcome remarks by His Highness Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al Saud, Secretary General of the King Faisal Foundation and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Khozama.
Plenary sessions on Monday 8 May will cover a wide variety of topics including the evolution of the Saudi hospitality sector with a market snapshot in the FHS Intelligence Den, a panel discussion on the reinvention of hospitality space, a panel on the use of immersive technologies such as AI and the metaverse, as well as the business of luxury and wellness in a changing world, and a panel discussion on the main theme of the conference where industry leaders will share their insight on how they are investing in change.
Ian Wilson, Regional Director of Hospitality for THE LINE, NEOM, will be participating in the panel on the reinvention of commercial spaces and how hotel, retail and F&B sectors are merging to provide more value to customers.
In addition, there will be several on-stage interviews including a conversation between Glenn Mandziuk, Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, and CNN’s Senior Reporter for Business Arabic, Widad Taleb, about the hospitality industry’s response to climate change; a CEO Discussion on Real Estate Development and Hospitality Masterplans with Chris Lund, Executive Director, Head of Hospitality & Tourism MENA region at Colliers, and a Hard Talk session with Winnie Chiu JP, President and Executive Director Dorsett Hospitality International; Executive Director, Far East Consortium and Chairman of AGORA Hospitality Group and Oliver Bonke, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Hospitality on the return of Chinese outbound travellers and their influence on the future of tourism.
Also speaking at FHS Saudi Arabia is Eng. Ahmed bin Wasl Al Juhani, Chief Executive Officer of Rua Al Madinah Holding, and he said: “Rua Al Madinah Holding’s flagship project is developing the area on the east of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The project will add 47,000 hotel rooms, ranging from five-star properties that offer direct views to the mosque, to two-star accommodations that cater to various visitors with different needs and preferences. The project aims to enrich the experience of expected 30 million visitors by year 2030 aligned with the Vision 2030 target.”
The first day will conclude with a networking reception at Mansard Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Hotel, hosted by Radisson Hotel Group.
Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Global Chief Development Officer of Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We look forward to welcoming delegates to a networking and relaxing reception at Mansard Riyadh, A Radisson Collection Hotel, our latest Radisson Collection Hotel in the Kingdom. We look forward to seeing everyone there for a memorable evening to relax, have some fun, forge new relationships, and strengthen existing ones.”
The final day of FHS Saudi Arabia will focus on the future of hotel investment and development. Topics that will be tabled include attracting investment in the hospitality industry to accelerate growth and fuel a sustainable future; destination and hotel development in Saudi Arabia; the evolution of investing in holistic hospitality and activating innovation; acceleration and investment and urbanisation, and the development of new cities, to name but a few.
In addition, there will be a panel discussion with industry leaders, including Aseel Bondagjy, Hotel Talent Development Lead at NEOM, and Mae Al Mozaini, Founder & CEO of The Arab Institute for Women’s Empowerment-Nusf, on how to motivate the next generation of employees, where to educate them, and the sources of talent acquisition, as well as two on stage case studies that will cover lifestyle funds in the Kingdom and how the public and private sector are working together to enable Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia.
FHS Saudi Arabia will conclude with a visit to Diriyah Gate, a seven square kilometre mixed-use historic, culture and lifestyle destination, set to become the Kingdom’s historic and cultural heart.
New at FHS Saudi Arabia this year is the ‘Battle of the Brands’, judged by an esteemed panel of judges and a unique opportunity for hotel operators and entrepreneurs to present their new brands to the Saudi market. Research indicates that Saudi hotel owners and developers are seeking fresh brand concepts to complement existing brands that are already in the market.
This will be the ultimate platform for innovative and sustainable hotel concepts to showcase their brands that have yet to launch in the exciting hospitality landscape of Saudi Arabia.
The Bench is passionate about supporting start-ups and providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their business model to a senior panel of judges and investors. Following the success of the Start Up Den at FHS in Dubai last September, this will be the first time that start-ups have the opportunity to pitch their business to industry delegates in Saudi Arabia. Prizes include incubation through STA providing workplaces within the Saudi hospitality industry.