As Saudi Arabia explores the opportunities of obtaining more inbound tourism by relaxation of its visa regulations in keeping with its Vision 2030; Radisson becomes the first group in the hospitality trade to announce the appointment of Maram Kokandi as the first lady General Manager at Park Inn by Radisson, Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Maram Kokandi has been appointed General Manager (GM) of Jeddah’s new Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, setting another precedent for Saudi women as the first to hold such a position in the hospitality sector.
Plethora of opportunities
Kokandi states that she grew up in an open-minded environment where she was always encouraged by both her parents to explore her potential and follow her dreams. “Travel was something I did a lot from my childhood days with my parents, allowing me to be exposed to different cultures – both here in Saudi Arabia and abroad,” she said.
She reiterates, “Landing a job in hospitality was not at all a coincidence. I started off my career as a spa coordinator and moved on to sales manager at Rosewood hotel – again a first as it was when I broke the glass ceiling for the first time and became the first female sales manager in Saudi Arabia. Being appointed as the first lady GM, gave me a chance to hold one of the pioneering positions in the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia and will go down as a remarkable success in the history of Saudi women.” Kokandi wants to maximise her opportunities in the coming years as she derives a lot of satisfaction from empowering the younger generation to excel in the field of hospitality.
Most remarkable achievements in her career
She has already gone down in history as the first female GM in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She shares, “As much as being able to hold the title of the first Saudi lady GM is a remarkable achievement for me, I would consider the upcoming challenges that I will tackle and overcome successfully once the property is up and running, to add to my list of achievements.” Kokandi shared some of the plans for her property. “Having to head the first Park Inn property in Jeddah – which is another first – allows us to position ourselves in the Jeddah market in such a way that makes us stand out in terms of affordability, convenience and being a design-led hotel. My property boasts of 84 rooms, casual dining spaces, meeting facilities, dedicated spa and fitness facilities for male and female separately and a runway lounge with a pool. Perfectly catering to frequent travellers looking for pocket-friendly hotel.”
Passion for culinary arts
We asked Kokandi which career she would pursue if not in hospitality and she replied about her second passion which is cooking. “If this was not an option, I would have ventured in the culinary arts. I’m a very detailed-oriented person and I love to cook. Most of my leisure time is spent trying out new recipes or meeting friends and family over food. Food is always in the equation! So, I guess I would have chosen to pursue a career as a chef.”
Impact of Saudi Vision 2030
Saudi vision 2030 is now on full swing with the relaxation of visa regulations to enter the country, this will create more opportunities for both the tourism and hospitality sectors. Kokandi shared her opinion about the same, she said, “The new visa regulation influences a significant leap on the kingdom’s tourism – with its long-term development goals under the Vision 2030 – to not just boost the religious tourism but increase the kingdom’s appeal as a wider tourist destination.”