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Breaking Travel News explores: Future Hospitality Summit to return to Saudi Arabia
Al Faisaliah Hotel in Saudi capital Riyadh will host the Future Hospitality Summit

Breaking Travel News explores: Future Hospitality Summit to return to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will this week welcome the return of the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS), with the event headed for Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh.

Launched in partnership with the G20 Secretariat in 2020, FHS Saudi Arabia is the most influential hospitality investment conference for industry leaders and senior decision-makers to discuss investments, entrepreneurship, sustainability, innovation and human capital in the hospitality industry of Saudi Arabia and beyond.

The event has a number of aims, all closely tied to Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 – a plan to overhaul the economy over the coming decade.

FHS works to promote the development of the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia as a key contributor to economic diversification, while also seeking to attract investment in the sector by showcasing tourism potential and opportunities.

There are plans to enhance the competitiveness of Saudi hospitality by promoting the adoption of new tech, innovation, entrepreneurship and best practices, while FHS hopes to create job opportunities for young Saudis by supporting the development of a skilled and talented workforce for the hospitality industry.

Finally, the event aims to promote the kingdom as a premier destination for tourism and business travel, by highlighting cultural heritage and natural attractions, and strengthen the relationship between the government, private sector, and academia to drive sustainable growth of the hospitality industry.

More than 1,000 delegates from the Middle East and beyond will converge in the Saudi capital for three days of networking, panel debates, announcements and experiences.

Organised by the Bench with the support of host sponsors Al Khozama Investment Group and the Al Faisaliah Hotel, FHS Saudi Arabia will feature an opening address by prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al Saud, secretary general, King Faisal Foundation (KFF) and chairman of the board of directors at Al Khozama.

FHS Saudi Arabia features an action-packed schedule – covering everything from the future of hospitality to franchising, sustainability to staffing and destinations to design – as well as exciting new features and industry announcements, all under the theme ‘Invest in Change’.

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of the Bench, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be back in Riyadh and beyond privileged to welcome prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al Saud to the stage as he officially opens FHS Saudi Arabia 2023. 

“Featuring our strongest, most impactful programme to date, FHS Saudi Arabia features 150 speakers and over 50 opportunities to learn, deliberate, invest and network through main stage presentations, workshops and unique experiences, shaping the scene for the future of the region’s world-leading, ever-growing hospitality and tourism sectors.

“We look forward to welcoming our distinguished guests, speakers and delegates as we embark on this top-flight, highly influential event.” 

Ahead of the event Breaking Travel News explores Saudi capital Riyadh – which blends medieval and millennial to make a beguiling cultural union.

Here, Arabia’s first roots can be traced, and its bold future can be envisioned.

The city’s fascinating, centuries-old history can be found within its atmospheric souqs, compelling museums, and ancient architecture, but it’s also a modern metropolis, with glittering high-rises and a burgeoning contemporary art scene.

The winter months are an ideal time to visit Riyadh.

Although average high temperatures in the summer can reach 44C, the top temps in December and January are in the low 20s.

So, what to see while you are in town?

Built in 1865 and superbly preserved, Al Masmak Fortress is a vast clay and mud-brick citadel that’s a favourite among tourists wanting to step back in time and explore Saudi’s roots.

In 1902, King Abdulaziz captured the fortress and took control of Riyadh (his ancestral home) after having lived in Kuwait.

From this fortress, Abdulaziz Al Saud conquered and united the different kingdoms and provinces that make up the Saudi nation as we know it today.

Another must-visit location is the Saudi National Museum, which has more than 3,700 antiquities on display, documenting the grand history of Arabia over millennia.

From ancient labyrinthine souqs to luxury malls and quirky boutiques, Riyadh sets the standard for a destination shopping city.

The city’s most famous market is the Souq Al Zal, which remains as noisy and vibrant as when it first emerged in 1901.

Everything from gold coins to quirky handicrafts and dusty antiques can be found here, including traditional Saudi items such as dallah coffee pots and mabkhara incense burners.

For more modern shopping venues, choose from Riyadh Park Mall, with an IMAX cinema and arcade under its palm trees and wave-like glass roof; the open-air precinct the Zone, where stores and restaurants are clustered around a main plaza; or the shops at the Kingdom Centre, which are almost as impressive as the shiny skyscraper itself.

One of the best ways to experience Riyadh’s cultural fusion is through its cuisine.

Najd Village combines the dining and heritage experiences, with faithfully re-created Najd architecture and authentic recipes such as kabsa, jareesh and hashi.

More contemporary takes can be found at the sophisticated Takya, serving Saudi fusion food inspired by the country’s regions, and Suhail, with its modern spin on traditional Saudi favorites.

Established in 1988, King Fahd International Stadium (KFIS) has been an iconic landmark, both in design and events it hosts.

Besides holding local and international high-profile sports events, such as WWE’s Crown Jewel 2019, KFIS was part of the rapid strides taken by the Kingdom’s entertainment industry as it hosted K-Pop sensation BTS for a massive concert on its 500.000 sqm stadium in 2019, along with a showing of Cirque du Soleil.

With its glinting skyscrapers and sparkling nightscapes, the metropolis of Riyadh is the ideal choice for a weekend of luxury.

Relax and rejuvenate at the city’s opulent spas, including Maison de Joelle and Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA, or go from serene to cerebral with a visit to its boutique arthouses, where the likes of Naila and L’Art Pur galleries showcase Arabia’s best emerging artists.

Add in an array of fine dining choices, upmarket malls and curated boutiques, and Riyadh is a city that can be embraced at any pace, before unwinding in one of its many five-star hotels.

For something different, head for an early morning game drive at Riyadh’s exclusive Nofa Safari to experience a piece of Africa in the Arabian Desert.

There are over 700 animals on show at this lodge-style resort that doubles as a conservation project, and its guided safari drives promise glimpses of giraffes, oryx, wildebeest, hippos and impalas, set against a horizon of apricot-hued dunes.

More Information

Saudi Arabia is currently in the running for the title of Middle East’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards.

Find out more about voting here.

Find out more about visiting the fast-emerging Saudi tourism scene on the official website.

Images: Saudi Tourism Authority

Chris O’Toole