Haifa Al Dosari

Haifa Al Dosari

Journalist

Saudi women's stronghold on local hospitality

Only a few years ago, no Saudi women worked in the hotel service sector. However, once women were allowed to enter the field, many have served in a variety of service and administrative jobs. Women have reached the highest posts in hotel management in a very short time.

The first rural inn opened at Unaiza city in 2013, and both men and women worked in room service, cooking, and in other areas. This was the first place in which Saudi women worked and their work was criticized, mostly by people who were negatively impacted by hiring women. Saudi women, on the other hand, had very different opinions, and found in this sector an appropriate working environment.  

Despite the absence of female hotel specialization in Saudi Arabia, women have shown themselves to be as competent as their male colleagues in various hotel service jobs, including serving as waitresses, supervisors, chefs, receptionists, administrators, and managers in five-star hotels. Over time, the negative view of Saudi women working in hotel services jobs has substantially diminished.  

Last year the first female general manager in the Saudi hotel sector was appointed. In March, Rezidor Group announced Maram Goqandi would become the General Manager of Park Inn Bay Radisson in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The group announced this appointment is an important demonstration of empowering women in leadership posts as well as encouraging women to join this sector with its nearly unlimited range of opportunities.

In only a few months, Guqandi has demonstrated her competence, winning the 2017 International Hospitality Award for Best Hotel Manager at the 18th Session of the World Hospitality Awards in Paris last November. She became the first Saudi woman to serve as a general manager in the hospitality industry anywhere in the world. Accordingly, a growing number of management opportunities exist for women in the hotel and hospitality sectors.

In April 2017, Al-Hakair Tourism and Development Group announced the appointment of Hessa Al-Mazroua as General Manager of Sweet Novotel Hotel in Riyadh. Al-Mazroua is the first Saudi woman to hold this position in the Al-Hakair Group in particular, and the hospitality sector in Riyadh in general.

Al-Hakair Group's Managing Director and Chief Executive Sami Al-Hakair said the group aims to empower women in the hospitality industry in the Saudi market, to align with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 that aims to empower women and open new professional opportunities for them.

The hotel service sector provides an excellent working environment for Saudi women who are often eager to gain more training and empowerment opportunities in this vital sector.

A number of decisions were issued by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman designed to improve the status of women, including allowing women to drive, the ability for them to fulfill certain commercial transactions without a guardian’s approval, allowing women to start and own businesses, and to attend football matches at sports fields. These changes are in addition to several other recent decrees enhancing the status of Saudi women.

Women in this article

Maram Guqandi is the first Saudi woman to serve as General Manager at the Park Inn Bay Radisson in Jeddah and in the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia generally.

Hessa Al-Mazroua is a Saudi woman who has served as general manager of Sweet Novotel Hotel in Riyadh since April 2017.

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