Against a backdrop of mounting tourism, transformative design policies, and a positive economic outlook, the Hotel & Hospitality Expo, INDEX Saudi Arabia and the Lighting Design & Technology Expo, revealed future trends from experts and moved the needle forward following its successful three-day stretch in Riyadh early September.
The shows, which ran from the 10th - 12th September at the Riyadh Front Exhibition & Conference Centre, saw over 23,700 visitors, 500 exhibitors from 35 countries, and over 165 speakers across all three summits, illustrating the demand in the hotel and hospitality sector, the architecture fit-out and design industry, and the burgeoning lighting sector.
According to Elaine O’Connell, Vice President of Design and Hospitality sector at dmg events, all three shows witnessed a 30% increase in visitors compared to its 2022 edition.
“Our aims and goals with all three expos were to curate shows that spoke directly to industry needs and challenges, all while reinforcing goals under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and we are pleased that it exceeded our expectations. The response from our visitors, exhibitors, and speakers illustrates the evolution of these industries and the seismic shift that the Kingdom is currently experiencing as it transforms into a hub for tourism, design and culture. And the exciting part is, that this is only the beginning.”
Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman, CEO of the Architecture and Design Commission at the Ministry of Culture, Saudi Arabia, officially opened the shows, and delivered a keynote address at INDEX Design Talks revealing the outlook for the Kingdom’s architecture industry and the pivotal role it plays in the country’s transformation story.
“The Architecture and Design commission has been eager to develop community engagement and participation, in addition to activating programs and initiatives related to the sectors, in order to advance the sector and accomplish our ambitious objectives,” she said. “Since 2021, we have launched the commission's strategy with its ambitious vision and mission (the North Star), to advance and develop the sector, which affects all the sectors in which the commission specialises in its various regulatory, economic and educational aspects, and the enrichment and development of content and community engagements; to contribute to the development of the sector, support practitioners.”
According to Dr Al-Solaiman these initiatives aim to raise the sector to meet the ambitions of the architecture and design community through supporting, empowering and developing notable local talent.
Among this year’s highlights included the Saudi Hospitality Talent Awards, which recognised talented and hardworking individuals from across the Kingdom’s hospitality sector. Notably, this year nine out of the 14 award categories were won by women in the hospitality sector demonstrating the increase of women in the country’s hotel and hospitality industry, and aligning with the Kingdom’s goal to increase the rate of women in the workforce by 30%.
Winners included Makkah Hotel and Towers, who walked away with three awards for Sales & Marketing Star of The Year, Front of House Star of The Year and Housekeeping Star of The Year, while Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower walked away with the Hospitality Woman of The Year and Finance Star of The Year award. Other winners were from Raffles Makkah Palace; Holiday Inn The Business District; Centro Shaheen Hotel by Rotana; Contemporary Food Company Ltd.; Accor, Rosewood Jeddah; Ibis & Adagio Hotel; Centro Olaya by Rotana; and Boudl Hotels & Resorts.
With culinary skills in the Kingdom growing rapidly, the event also saw all-star chefs in go head-to-head in the 5th edition of the Mystery Box Challenge. Set across the three days of the Hotel & Hospitality Expo, the Mystery Box Challenge was supported by Chef Yasser Jad, Founder & President of the Saudi Arabian Chefs’ Association and sponsoring equipment and supplies were Raqtan and RAK Ceramics. This year’s Challenge featured seven participating teams from prominent hotels in Saudi Arabia and nabbing top honours were the winning teams from Voco Hotel Riyadh, Marriot Courtyard Olaya, and Shaza Riyadh Hotel.
Another successful show highlight this year was the INDEX Design Talks, which had over 90 speakers from some of the biggest design disruptors in the industry including Red Sea Global; Diriyah Gate Development Authority; Roar; Accor; Royal Commission for AlUla; Kristina Zanic Consultants; Ink Design studio; KOHLER; LWK+Partners.
“The INDEX Design Talks were a great way to connect with the local design community and local design colleagues to talk about important issues affecting our industry. It is a great opportunity to connect!” said Marc Cerone, Senior Interior Architecture Director, Red Sea Global speaker at the INDEX Design Talks.
Featuring a theatre designed by Kristina Zanic Consultants, Unidecor and Advance Furniture, the INDEX Design Talks theatre design was inspired by Saudi Arabia’s diverse landscape and was used to elevate attendees' experience.
Finally, the Lighting Design and Technology Summit, the first of its kind dedicated lighting summit in Saudi Arabia, brought together thought-leaders to explore cutting-edge strategies and gain industry insights through focused sessions around the importance of quality lighting, challenges, and the future business outlook.
This year’s speakers included those from CD+M Lighting Design Group; ZKLD Lighting Studio; Light Fusion; Diriyah Gate Development Authority; Lutron Electronics; SAZAR DESIGN; dpa lighting consultants; HLB Lighting, and Light Bureau.
According to Giovanni Zambri, Project Design Director at SMITH TAIT, one of the speakers at this year’s Lighting Design & Technology Summit, the summit proved to be an educational and inspiring experience for professionals in the field, paving the way for a brighter and more sustainable future in lighting design.
“The Lighting Design & Technology Summit was an enlightening gathering that highlighted the industry's cutting-edge innovations. Focused on sustainable and visually appealing lighting solutions, the summit provided a platform to showcase the latest technological and design advancements. Renowned industry leaders offered valuable insights into the integration of smart lighting systems, with a strong emphasis on energy efficiency and environmental awareness. Attendees left with valuable knowledge on creating captivating and efficient lighting designs.” he said.
The Hotel & Hospitality Expo, INDEX Saudi Arabia, and the Lighting Design & Technology Expo is back in the Kingdom next year, taking place from the 17th – 19th September at the Riyadh Front Exhibition & Conference Centre.