Saudi Arabia Seeing Strong Increase in Women Joining Hospitality Industry

Since the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030 and a renewed and high profile emphasis on job diversification, tourism and women’s access to the job market, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing markets anywhere in the world for the hospitality industry.

Hilton Hotels is one of the companies in Saudi Arabia playing an active role in that. With more than ten properties, in six different cities, and two and a half thousand employees in the Kingdom, Kamal Ajami, Vice President of Hilton in Saudi Arabia told Arabia Now, “We are witnessing more and more females who are interested in the industry and are increasingly applying for job opportunities within Hilton. We believe this is mainly due to better awareness across society of what hotels can offer in terms of careers and also the great efforts from Saudi Commission of Tourism and National Heritage in promoting employment within the industry.”

One of those women is Ghada Alamdar, a banquet manager for Hilton in Saudi Arabia. She said, “The hospitality business is the new trend in Saudi. You better start now to be the future leaders and General Managers.”

Mr Ajami, Vice President of Hilton in the Kingdom told Arabia Now, “We saw a 20% increase in female employment in its Saudi operations between 2015 and 2016. This followed a 35% increase in female representation taking place between 2014 and 2015, and a 50% increase in 2014 compared to 2013. This was also following a strategy to communicate our career offering more effectively. “

Mr Ajami went on to explain to Arabia Now,  “Our strategy generally is to connect, prepare and employ women in Saudi Arabia with the hospitality industry. Connecting with female talent in career fairs, universities and employment avenues.  We invite them to visit our hotels for job shadowing, internships and training opportunities.  We want to empower them to realize their career aspirations.”

Also helping Hilton recruitment in the Kingdom is the fact they have been voted as the number one company to work for in the last two “Great Places to Work” survey’s in Saudi Arabia. The company also places a big emphasis on empowerment of youth, by developing their skills and building their awareness of a career in hospitality. Philanthropy is also important to Hilton, who are involved in volunteering projects improving the lives of young people at over 1,500 global community projects around the world.

During his interview from Jeddah with Arabia Now, Kamal Ajami said, “We are committed to providing our Team Members with the necessary skills and training to realize their potential. Our training and development programs, such as Hilton University which has over 2,500 free online courses, are world-class and industry-leading. Hilton is also focused on building the leaders of the future management development programs which offer fast-paced career progression. We want to help women progress to managerial and leadership positions. At the same time, we are focused on providing an attractive value proposition so that we can attract senior female talent.”

It’s that cross brand spirit which one of their female employees, banquet manger Ghada Alamdar, also embraces, ‘What I like about the hospitality business is the culture mix, the family spirit, and the daily challenge and learning experience. The advantage of working for a multinational company like Hilton is that with expansions happening in the region, that it gives you opportunities to move and grow within.”

With more and more women rising through the ranks for senior level roles across businesses in the Kingdom, Hilton is firmly committed to helping their ambitions be fulfilled. Hilton Vice President in Saudi Arabia, Mr Ajami told Arabia Now, “We are focused on providing female talent with unique on the job experiences, world class education and supporting them to make it happen. Hilton is committed to having female leaders in its hotels and business in the Kingdom – including hotel General Managers roles.” That will be welcome news for the women looking to fill those positions, and for the Saudi tourist industry in general.