Saudi Arabia’s construction industry is thriving, ranking first in the MENA region, and the Real Estate Development Summit (RED) provided a venue for companies to present their specialist products and hold face-to-face meetings, ensuring a human touch to building meaningful business relationships between buyers and suppliers and creating potential business possibilities. Expert-led panel discussions with thought leaders, as well as keynote events, highlighted the most recent market trends, educating and inspiring change in the real estate industry.
Leading architects, interior designers, developers, hotel operators and owners, consultants, and investors working on a variety of luxury housing, hospitality, and mixed-use projects in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East meeting with renowned manufacturers and solution providers from around the world.
Saudi Projects was present, including our own Laura Wojciechowski, who hosted the event for the two days. “RED was an important platform to establish a business network between people in the industry, as well as to facilitate the sharing of experiences and future strategies. The two days were filled with tailored face-to-face meetings, presentations by major brands, effective knowledge sessions and panel discussions, and many energetic yet down-to-earth networking opportunities.
“It is dangerous to generalize about a whole country, and yet this event confirms my sense that Saudi Arabia is building something different.”
With over 60 suppliers, 100+ buyers, 25+ speakers, 1200+ face-to-face meetings, and 800+ minutes of networking, RED enjoyed a number of keynote presentations, including Turab Saleem, Partner – Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure, MENA, Knight Frank, who said: “These are exciting times in KSA, a lot is happening. In my view, this is one of the golden eras for KSA – these times will not come again. The value of projects in KFA right now has reached over $1.5 trillion.”
“In my view, this is one of the golden eras for KSA – these times will not come again”
A lot of this success, of course, is being driven by technology, but it’s not everything, as Oliver Harnisch, Ministry of Tourism Saudi Arabia, explained: “Technology is not the only component of innovation in the hospitality industry. What strikes me is that when I joined this industry back in 1986, hospitality was seen as an innovative industry, so a typical hotel room, for example, was more modern in terms of technology than an average home. And the industry has lost some of that edge.”
He went on to explain some of the technologies that will propel the industry forwards over the next few years, with things such as the Internet of Things and robotics, and how that will put it once again at the forefront. What was particularly interesting, though, was that Oliver said that the skills required by employees would change, explaining that while technology will provide most of the knowledge required, the kind of staff working in hospitality will need personality and a commitment to exceeding expectations, character traits that are so important in a hotel environment. So, while technology will fuel growth and improve services for customers, people skills will be just as important when it comes to working within the hospitality industry.
“The value of projects in KFA right now has reached over $1.5 trillion”
In a packed agenda, other notable presentations included ‘Modular Construction in KSA: Opportunities & Challenges’ by Fayssal Nachi, General Manager of NewFab, a Saudi company that provides prefabricated buildings; Rui Fonseca, Manager – National/Global Key Accounts & Consultant Team, Daikin, who spoke about strategies for the future, lower carbon emissions and their impact in the HVAC industry; and Vincent Tiberghien, Vice President Development EMEA, HBA, the world-famous design firm, talking about creating unique spaces and telling stories through design.
“Few have defined the Kingdom’s development and hospitality industries in the modern era quite as successfully as RED, and we now look forward with anticipation to the Hospitality Innovation Summit in Dubai in March of next year. The whole region is on a journey and all stakeholders are continually evolving to ensure that everyone reaches the desired destination. I can speak for everyone at Saudi Projects when I say that Saudi Arabia has often left us speechless, but it is the kind of speechless that is both inspirational and stimulating,” Laura concludes.