(MENAFN - Arab News) Bader bin Khalid bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Hokair has set an example for young Saudi nationals to succeed in business. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in marketing from King Saud University, he took further steps toward improving his skills in marketing, market strategies, hotel management, hospitality, communication and quality excellence.
Today, Al-Hokair is a leading businessman involved in developing tourism in the Kingdom in his capacity as the deputy CEO of Al-Hokair Holding Group.
Al-Hokair showed his interest in developing the Kingdom and his support for women's contribution in social and political life.
He also confirmed the importance of activating the role of Saudi youth in all sectors and decreasing the role of expatriate workers.
What in your opinion are the changes that will positively impact the Kingdom's economy?
Quick changes in the economy will affect Saudi nationals at the individual and society levels. Political changes currently sweeping the world will certainly influence Saudi Arabia. I think these political changes will positively influence the Kingdom's economy. A significant growth in the Saudi economy is expected. The Kingdom's growing role will encourage the private sector to be more active as well as generate more foreign direct investments. Thus, the size of the Saudi workforce will increase and Saudi nationals will compete with expatriate workers in many areas and professions. All in all, I expect more job opportunities and a sustained growth in the Saudi economy.
What do you think is the role of successful leaders in the Kingdom's business organizations?
Leadership plays an important role and the leaders of organizations in the Kingdom have to work honestly to benefit the Saudi citizen. For example, they have to help in creating job opportunities for Saudi nationals, support the Saudization plan, keep pace with changing technology and develop their respective organizations' services. It is also important for a leader to make partnerships with international companies in order to benefit from their experiences.
What steps will further boost the Saudi labor market and increase job opportunities?
There are two main problems we face in the Kingdom - Recruitment of expatriates and job opportunities of women. So, the first step is to decrease the recruitment of expatriates and offer these opportunities to Saudi men and women. Dependence on expatriates should continue in areas where the Kingdom needs their expertise. The second major step that has to be taken is to activate the role of Saudi women in all sectors and allow them to work within the framework of Islamic rules.
What goals would you set for Al-Hokair group's development and how do you propose to achieve them?
Our goals and vision are consistent with the objectives of the five-year plans envisaged by the Ministry of Planning. We believe that through the development of human resources, attention will be given to the private sector. Hence, we are looking to facilitate and simplify procedures to create an attractive investment environment. At Al-Hokair, we are trying to achieve this by launching several improvement plans to boost tourism and provide good services for the citizens as well as tourists.
What measures do you suggest for developing tourism in Jeddah and elsewhere in the Kingdom?
My aim is to establish a series of high-class hotels that make Jeddah an extraordinary city and among the most attractive destinations worldwide. Here I would like to mention that Jeddah already has become an attractive destination in terms of Islamic tourism and as an investment city. As Jeddah witnesses large numbers of local and international forums with a number of experts attending them, we want to develop the hotel sector in order to be ready to hold such international events. I want to see the Kingdom becoming an economic, industrial, and tourism hub. I believe we have all infrastructural elements that should help us in developing the Kingdom's economy. What we need is to dream and believe that our limit is the sky.
What are the most prominent economic activities in the Kingdom and how could you work for developing investment in "neglected" economic activities?
There is no doubt that the oil sector is the one with most active investments in the Kingdom, followed by petrochemicals. Here, we have to say that there is no neglected sector in the Kingdom. Maybe in the past the tourism sector was in crisis, but today with the efforts of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities and the presence of Prince Sultan bin Salman, tourism is developing and has become an attractive investment for many investors.
Do you believe the housing sector needs much attention from the government and the private sector?
I appreciate the Kingdom's efforts to facilitate procedures for citizens and it is important to say that housing is a key sector that must get more attention. We should encourage private companies to participate in building apartments with appropriate fees. Banks also have to activate their contribution in facilitating loans and buy lands for youth to help them own houses. There is a need to boost small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Kingdom, as they create various jobs.
What role do you see for SMEs in the country's economic development?
All developed countries are now offering opportunities for youth to have their own businesses through the SME sector, which is playing a major role in national development. It creates various jobs for Saudi nationals and allows the young generation to start working as soon as they graduate from universities.
What changes do you envisage in the education system to enable Saudi youth contribute toward making the Kingdom a knowledge-based economy?
Officials are required to study the work opportunities available in the labor market and then facilitate university procedures to receive those youth in colleges. The government should pay attention to scientific and technical education instead of studying theories.
How do you see Saudi women's contribution to the labor sector as well as the social and political arenas?
Businesswomen play a significant and influential role in the economic life of the Kingdom, so it is required to increase the participation of women in the Saudi economy. We notice that the role of women is expanding, but we need more efforts to allow them to invest in the Saudi labor market. Women constitute 50 percent of the society, and so they should get equal opportunities like men in many areas. I am optimistic in terms of supporting women to contribute to political life in municipal elections and the Shoura Council. In fact, women have to get equal opportunities as men. Here, I want the government to simplify procedures for women and support their business ventures.
What should leaders in both the government and private sectors do to ensure the Kingdom's growth and sustainable development, especially in tourism?
I wish the private and government sectors have a complementary role and increased cooperation between them and jointly serve the Saudi economy.