How are you working toward making Riyadh one of the top MICE destinations globally by 2030?
As His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman stated in the last Future Investment Initiative in January, the ambition for Riyadh is to become one of the top 10 largest city economies in the world by 2030. Strategically, the MICE sector plays a pivotal role in bolstering the economic footprint of Riyadh by creating platforms, such as conferences, tradeshows and exhibitions, to attract C-level executives from leading blue chip companies as well as international exhibitors and visitors keen on discovering business opportunities in the capital, unanimously acknowledged as the hottest regional hub. Within my strategic remit, I contribute to the creation of a future proof, globally competitive strategy for the sector of the capital which capitalizes on the lessons learned in 2020 and 2021 on managing disruption and adapting to the digitalization of the sector. Finally, I am tasked with the attraction of top conferences, exhibitions and tradeshows to the capital. My ambition is to strategize and deliver a truly globally competitive strategy at the intersection between government, private sector and industry associations that can not only attract FDI and generate jobs in the capital but also gather the global intelligentsia to co-design solutions for the pressing issues of our time.
What does your role as the only UFI Certified Advisor to the Saudi government encompass?
I am beyond honored to serve the government as an advisor with a decade of experience as executive conference producer for leading PCOs and PEOs and international organizations in the Middle East and Europe. From a strategic viewpoint, capitalizing on my experience in both private and public sectors has given me a multifaceted understanding of the extremely crucial role all segments of the MICE value chain play in contributing to the city’s GDP. Beyond strategy, one of the most crucial elements of my role involves creating synergies with government stakeholders, industry associations such as UFI – the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and the private sector – which I thoroughly enjoy, as it reminds me of the collaborative DNA of my industry, where collaboration is paramount to success. Becoming the only UFI Certified Advisor has dramatically shaped my professional development during the pandemic as it allowed me to connect with industry veterans and senior decision makers across the world and staying up to date with the reopening strategies across different continents.
You have organized more than 50 high-caliber events across eight countries. What can you tell us about them?
In the last decade, I was fortunate enough to produce different events, such as highly strategic meetings for international organizations (European Parliament, the UN-Habitat, WHO), invitation-only strategic meetings for royalty and dignitaries in the Middle East, ministerial conferences in the MENA region (covering Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain) and Europe (Italy and Belgium), B2B conferences in MENA and Europe (Technology, Construction, Sustainability, Foreign Direct Investment, Desalination), leadership trainings on women empowerment with leading female leaders in the US, China, Germany and France and high-level charity events (for VVIPs) in the United Kingdom. I have loved every single event I have produced, but to date the closest to my heart is the female empowerment leadership series. I feel a deep sense of pride in seeing women rise to the top through real mentoring provided during our events.
As an accomplished conference speaker, which topic do you most enjoy talking about?
Women empowerment and youth issues (specifically unemployment and education) are the two dearest causes to my heart. I am forever grateful for all the opportunities I have been given to represent youth on some of the biggest platforms in the world. For instance, when I was interviewed by Becky Anderson on youth unemployment in Europe on CNN in 2011. This naturally represents only one perspective of a given issue, but I endeavor to consult as many peers as possible to provide a holistic overview on a certain subject.
How did you manage to build such an impressive network of royalty, VVIPs, heads of state, investors and influential individuals?
Your network is net worth. I was fortunate enough to gain access at a very young age to international organizations, government entities and foundations through my activism. It all started when I was awarded by the European Parliament the Charle Magne Youth Prize for Italy, Europe’s most prestigious award for young people, by Angela Merkel in 2008. Getting involved in EU institutions as a youth advisor and later on as a youth leader in networks such as the Women’s Forum for Economy and Society, the British Council, TED, One Young World and others allowed me to connect with royalty, prime ministers, VVIPs and influential individuals. Throughout my career, I have further developed my rolodex of contacts, which to date I consider one of my biggest assets.
To what do you accredit your success?
My definition of success is about leveraging influence to create a sustainable impact. I believe my journey has been successful to date because I have a vision to serve governments and decision making in designing a more collaborative and livable world for future generations. It is never too early to lead, to get involved, to offer your talent for the greater good, so this would be my advice: to have a bigger vision beyond rampant careerism. The MICE industry, as well as other industries, needs people that see the bigger strategic objective, to have a more sustainable, collaborative world.