Saturday, July 20, 2024

I’m on a mission to share the happiness of discovering our country with everyone: Ahmad Arab, CEO, DRB Arabia


I’m on a mission to share the happiness of discovering our country with everyone: Ahmad Arab, CEO, DRB Arabia

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Ahmad Arab, CEO, DRB Arabia
Ahmad Arab, CEO, DRB Arabia

CEO Profile
Ahmad Arab is a distinguished executive leader with 17 years of experience in both the public and private sectors.

He is a multi-disciplinary engineer and an alumnus of prestigious institutions like KFUPM, Harvard, and INSEAD.

Ahmad has held notable positions at renowned organizations such as Saudi Telecom Company, Communication and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia General Authority for Investment (SAGIA/MISA), and the Ministry of Tourism, where he served as Deputy Minister of Strategic Planning and Business Intelligence.

He excels in fostering innovative cultures, driving organizational transformation, and implementing effective corporate governance. With exceptional communication and relationship-building skills, Ahmad establishes strong rapport with stakeholders at national and international levels.

His expertise in market trend analysis, data management, and leading organizational improvement projects makes him a respected and influential business leader known for his innovative approach and exceptional leadership abilities.

“When you travel, you feel the joy of experiencing new cultures. And guess what? Saudi Arabia has all that and more. I’m on a mission to share the happiness of discovering our country with everyone”

Ahmad Arab

You founded DRB Arabia in 2023, just 8 months ago. Starting this journey with 16+ years of experience in executive leadership including 12 years working in the government, may you review how your experience has informed your vision for DRB Arabia and also highlight the challenges faced when establishing the company’s concept?

Ahmad Arab: Let me give you a glimpse of my journey so far. For the past 17 years, I have been deeply involved in shaping our nation, with the last 12 dedicated to public service. Even before Vision 2030 took shape, I was on board, witnessing its realization around 2015-2016. I have spent the last six years as Deputy Minister for Strategy and Business Intelligence in the Ministry of Tourism, following prior roles in the Ministry of Investment. My unique perspective has allowed me to watch our country transform from different angles.

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My educational background is in electrical engineering, with studies at KFUPM, and I am also a proud alumnus of esteemed institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and INSEAD, which I completed last year. Learning is my passion, and reading is my way of diving deep into it.

But let’s talk about my adventurous side. I am a traveler at heart and a passionate motorbike enthusiast. I love exploring Saudi Arabia on my motorbike, both within its borders and beyond.

DRB Arabia came to life because my partner (Abdulrahman Al Madani) and I saw the incredible potential of tourism in Saudi Arabia. While it officially started in 2019, it faced a setback due to the pandemic. Now, in 2023, it is roaring back to life. This is a new chapter, and we’re building a whole new sector from the ground up. We have learned from other countries, but we have an edge. Many of our breathtaking places are yet to be discovered by the world. I have personally traveled from the southern Jazan region to the futuristic Neom, and from lush Al Hassa to iconic Jeddah, experiencing the incredible diversity from coastlines to mountains, and forests to mesmerizing dunes.

“Let’s make Saudi Arabia a place of happiness and adventure for all”

Ahmad Arab

I remember a question that HE Minister of Tourism asked me when I joined – “Why tourism?” My answer was simple. When you travel, you feel the joy of experiencing new cultures. And guess what? Saudi Arabia has all that and more. I’m on a mission to share the happiness of discovering our country with everyone who visits – from coast to dunes, from traditions to innovations. Let’s make Saudi Arabia a place of happiness and adventure for all.

The concept of DRB Arabia seems to encapsulate the idea of embarking on transformative journeys. The term ‘DRB’ symbolizes paths and routes of historical significance. How do you envision merging the rich heritage of these paths with the contemporary travel experiences you plan to offer through DRB Arabia? And, could you review how you plan to infuse the spirit of Saudi Arabian hospitality and chivalry into the experience you curate?

Ahmad Arab: DRB Arabia embodies the essence of a journey, a path that each of us walks through life. Our name reflects this meaningful concept – the idea that everyone is on their own unique journey. Just as a journey begins with a single step, our logo, resembling a footprint, signifies the first steps we take toward our aspirations. This resonates deeply with our values and honors our rich culture.

“Our name reflects this meaningful concept – the idea that everyone is on their own unique journey”

Ahmad Arab

Our name pays homage to historical paths like DRB Zubaidah, which has witnessed pilgrimages since ancient times, and others like DRB Al-Jamal and DRB Al Bakour, all intertwined with our heritage. By embracing these roots, we symbolize respect for our culture and traditions.

The letters D, R, and B represent our core values. D stands for Discovering – whether it’s exploring yourself, places, or the realm of tourism. R embodies Reinventing – constantly renewing yourself, places, and the tourism industry. To achieve these, we need the courage to be Bold.

In DRB Arabia, we are merging the extraordinary facets of our country. We understand that people desire experiences that transcend mere possessions. They yearn to skydive, hike, and explore new horizons. By fusing adventure with our culture, heritage, and hidden treasures, we’ve concocted a recipe for triumph.

Our unique essence lies in crafting tailor-made, unparalleled experiences. Even a repeated activity like skydiving becomes a fresh adventure for us. Think of the allure of rewatching Game of Thrones – fans crave to relive that first experience. This is precisely what we’re crafting with DRB Arabia – an enduringly distinct encounter each time.

It’s important to note that we’re not your typical tour company. We transcend the boundaries of conventional tourism. Our pioneering approach births a novel concept in the industry. Anchored in discovery, reinvention, and audacity, we’re Tourism Experience Operators (TEO). Unlike traditional tour companies that coordinate with various entities, we hold the reins of the entire journey. Even before you set foot in Saudi Arabia, you’ll be immersed in a one-of-a-kind encounter. From transportation to gastronomy and activities to cultural immersion, we orchestrate the entire spectrum.

This holistic approach ensures an unwaveringly exceptional experience, setting us apart from the rest. For us, the experience is paramount, and that’s precisely what our integrated approach promises.

“We are dedicated to serving the heart of our nation – our fellow domestic travelers”

Ahmad Arab

Regarding positioning your brand in the market, what is your strategy for positioning DRB Arabia in Saudi Arabia and in the GCC region as a whole? Who are your target audiences?

Ahmad Arab: Our strategy is refreshingly straightforward: We are dedicated to serving the heart of our nation – our fellow domestic travelers. They’re our central focus, and there’s good reason for it. Let’s dive into the numbers. Before 2019, approximately 40 million people embarked on domestic journeys each year. Astonishingly, last year saw that number swell to an impressive 80 million. That’s an enormous market potential that we’re excited to embrace.

By extending our authentic Saudi experiences to our own people, it becomes a seamless transition to share these offerings with visitors from abroad. Our products are a genuine reflection of Saudi culture. So, as locals relish in these experiences, it naturally paves the way to introduce them to others as well. This strategy aligns both economically and ethically, a responsible approach that resonates deeply with me on a personal level.

“Our products are a genuine reflection of Saudi culture”

Ahmad Arab

Allow me to illustrate with an example. Last February, I orchestrated a journey for friends hailing from around the globe – a Spanish, a German, a person from Hong Kong, a Latvian, and a Moroccan. We ventured to a mesmerizing locale called Wadi AdDisah, a scenic valley nestled near Tabuk, reachable within 2 to 3 hours from AlUla. I can vouch for its allure, having explored countless corners of the world. This particular outing stood out as a pinnacle.

Picture arriving on a tranquil Friday afternoon, just a few hours before sunset. It was a marvelously enchanting experience, a convergence of elements in perfect harmony. The landscape was poetry – mountains, dunes, trees, all framed by flawless weather. The ambiance was positively rejuvenating, to put it mildly. Even my wife took notice, remarking that she had never seen me smile so consistently for two hours straight. That experience is what I aspire for everyone, not solely those within our borders, but also for those venturing in from other lands. This anecdote represents just a fragment of Saudi Arabia’s allure. Our nation has an abundance to offer, waiting to be explored and cherished.

The diversity of landscapes mentioned in the company story, from deserts to mountain peaks, appeals to a wide range of adventure seekers. Could you give us a glimpse into what adventurers and explorers can expect when they embark on a journey with DRB Arabia? Moreover, what unique elements will set your experiences apart from other travel offerings?

Ahmad Arab: Our visionary approach as a Tourism Experience Operator centers on crafting experiences that are truly one-of-a-kind. And guess what? We are thrilled to unveil something extraordinary this upcoming winter, around November – a captivating lifestyle resort right in the heart of Riyadh. But this is not just any resort; it’s an Adventure Lifestyle Resort, a pioneering concept not just for Saudi Arabia, but likely the entire GCC region.

“Sustainability is not an afterthought; it is woven into the very fabric of our venture”

Ahmad Arab

Now, what sets our resort apart goes beyond its uniqueness. Sustainability is our watchword. This haven is off-grid, meticulously handling waste and water, and is powered entirely by solar panels. Even our fleet of vehicles, or as we affectionately call them, “toys” – motocross, UTVs, ATVs – are all EVs and powered by clean electricity. The sun fuels our every endeavor. Sustainability is not an afterthought; it is woven into the very fabric of our venture. But it is more than that – it is a commitment to enhance the destination, to be custodians of the experience, and to leave a positive mark on the environment and local community.

Speaking of community, our dedication extends there too. We champion hiring and training locals, igniting a positive ripple effect. And we are not stopping there. We are contributing to “The Environmental Offset,” a concerted effort for conservation. Think of it as a way to give back to nature – planting trees, nurturing flora and fauna, and harmonizing with the environment.

Yet, this resort is only part of our grand tapestry. We’re reimagining the classic Arabic travel experience, infusing it with modern flair. No more conventional hubs and venturing outward. Our aim is grander – to encapsulate the essence of Saudi Arabia in a single, authentic journey. The kind that resonates with your heart and soul, echoing the stories of old while carving new tales of adventure.

Your DRB starts with a step…We wait for you in DRB Arabia, and let’s take that first step together.

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