Increased meetings demand in Saudi Arabia

Over the past few years Riyadh has seen significant growth as a meetings destination, according to Four Seasons general manager Rami Sayess.
Increased meetings demand in Saudi Arabia
By Louise Birchall
Mon 24 Nov 2008 03:34 PM

Over the past few years Riyadh has seen significant growth as a meetings destination, according to Four Seasons general manager Rami Sayess.

“More conference planners are choosing Saudi Arabia because the government has made the visa process easier and even more importantly, female business travellers no longer require to have their husbands staying with them on a business trip,” said Sayess.

The process of flight booking has also been improved as Saudi Arabian Airlines has just announced an overhaul of its website, designed to provide a one-stop shop for bookers by offering flight information, ticket booking, car hire, hotel information and destination weather reports.

However, Sayess said that it was important that planners book well in advance so that they can get to grips with the local culture.

Four Seasons claimed to make the process easier by sending bookers a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ and arranging for guest relations to meet travellers at the airport.

“There are certain things different here which must be realised when booking,” said Sayess. “For example you can’t have mixed meetings between men and women unless you have pre-authorisation from the authority, there’s no alcohol, during prayer time all the shops are closed and a lot places will not play music.”

Despite this Sayess said that when the hotel had pre-authorisation meetings behind closed doors this should not be largely affected.

“A lot of investors from around the world are coming to Saudi Arabia looking for investments and this is a good place to find them,” added Sayess.

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