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SAUDI ARABIA - Economy

Ghada Al Rashid

CEO, Gexpo Events

Bio

Ghada Abdulrahman Al Rashid is a seasoned professional with 20 years of experience in management and operations, specializing in driving growth and profitability for businesses. She holds an MA and MBA, showcasing her commitment to continuous learning and professional development. She has established herself as a serial entrepreneur, demonstrating a keen understanding of the business landscape. Her journey in the corporate world has been marked by numerous achievements and milestones, reflecting her dedication and expertise. She is the Managing Partner and CEO of Gexpo, an events management company that she co-founded. Under her leadership, Gexpo has flourished, becoming a prominent player in the industry. Her strategic vision and hands-on approach have been instrumental in the company’s success, delivering exceptional events and experiences to clients.
Her commitment to excellence, coupled with a set of core values that guide her decisions, has earned her a reputation as a leader who not only achieves results but also fosters a positive and collaborative work environment. She continues to be a driving force in the world of business, exemplifying the spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership.

"Incorporating technology has been a focal point for us, especially in the rapidly-changing post-pandemic landscape."
TBY talks to Ghada Al Rashid, CEO of Gexpo Events, about the group’s activities in Saudi Arabia, other regional markets, and priorities for the coming year.
Can you provide an overview of Gexpo’s journey in Saudi Arabia since its inception?

Gexpo stands as a distinguished events and entertainment agency in Riyadh, propelled by a resolute vision and determination to make a mark in the dynamic events industry. Since our inception, we have witnessed remarkable growth and success in the local market. We started as a small venture in Riyadh focused on understanding the unique needs of the Saudi market. The fusion of local expertise with international standards became our winning formula, customized to meet the needs of both our clients and the country. Saudi Arabia, with its unique cultural context, presented an interesting challenge that became a focal point for an events company. Our steadfast commitment to delivering exceptional and innovative event experiences swiftly gained recognition, enabling us to expand our presence across the Saudi landscape and venture into the regional market, encompassing the UAE and other Gulf countries. Significantly, we have been entrusted with organizing numerous events for governmental entities within the Kingdom. Gexpo has established itself as the go-to partner for a wider range of events and services.

What makes Saudi Arabia unique from other regional markets?

There are several factors that contribute to this uniqueness. First and foremost is the cultural richness and diversity within Saudi Arabia. Each region in the country exhibits variations in terrain, habits, and overall culture. The catalyst for unification and progress is the ongoing process of change. The people’s strong will, passion, and enthusiasm are key characteristics defining of developments in the Kingdom. It almost feels like we are endeavouring to compress the achievements of the past 40 years into a relatively short span of time.

How would you position Gexpo within the local events landscape?

Gexpo’s success is attributed to its agility and ability to stay abreast of market trends. Renowned as miracle workers, we have gained a reputation for pulling things off last minute, making us the preferred choice for complex projects. Dedication and consistency play a pivotal role in our achievements, and continuous learning is a core value for us. Having worked across diverse sectors, I personally ensure to grasp the nuances of each event we undertake, be it gaming or the inaugural sneaker culture festival. In both my personal approach and the company ethos, learning is paramount. This philosophy extends to events—there is no point in executing something without a comprehensive understanding. Our success is further anchored in our dedication, consistency, and meticulous attention to detail, a strength amplified by our status as a female-run company. Being hands-on is integral to our work ethic. Whether in the office, at venues, or overseeing the installation of events, I am consistently involved. This hands-on approach has been ingrained since our humble beginnings with a three-person team. Today, with 70 full-time staff and additional part-time support, we proudly position ourselves as one of the leading event agencies. And I can proudly say that our work promotes the company itself.

Can you share some of the latest initiatives that you are working on?

Incorporating technology has been a focal point for us, especially in the rapidly-changing post-pandemic landscape. We have delved into more intricate audiovisual and lighting (AVL) setups and VR and AR technologies, which have become integral elements in the majority of our events. Our portfolio is rich with experiential and immersive events, and we leverage technology extensively for crowd management and security, employing smart solutions across the board. Notably, we have ventured into the realm of AI and its plug inns. However, it is not about just technology; creativity is crucial. Whenever we offer a project, we offer new concepts that resonate with the Saudi audience. Each event is uniquely tailored for the Saudi market, the response thus far has been exceptionally positive, reflecting the successful fusion of cutting-edge technology and creative innovation.

Which specific sectors are you focusing on?

As boutique agency, we established ourselves as a comprehensive 360-degree solution provider, offering a complete suite of services for all aspects of event management. We offer a turnkey solution, that spans everything from inception and planning phase to delivery, execution, and post-event. We specialize in diverse segments, including exhibitions, summits, conferences, and governmental events. Our expertise extends to handling special and intricate projects characterized by multiple stakeholders and a high degree of creativity. Examples of such ventures include the first sneaker culture festival, gaming festival, Riyadh fashion week, and live shows. All of these projects are particularly complex due to the involvement of numerous stakeholders, and managing everyone under one umbrella offers the best outcome.

What have been the most requested requirements or targets from your clients when engaging your services?

Currently, our primary focus is on collaborating with governmental entities. Our clients highly value agility, emphasizing the need for swift and efficient delivery. The speed and prompt execution are crucial, given the rapid pace at which the country is progressing. We have been actively engaged in various new initiatives, and sustainability has emerged as a key consideration for many entities. For example, our collaboration with LEAP involved incorporating a sustainable approach into its branding and design, aligning with the broader trend towards environmental responsibility. It was the same with Riyadh Fashion week, centered around the theme of sustainability. Technological advancements have led to increased automation, and we have positioned ourselves strongly in this landscape. Notably, our proficiency extends to logistics, which entails managing the complete logistics ecosystem, including hospitality riders. When we have international guests, we handle everything from booking and protocol to meet-and-greet services, stage arrivals, hotel arrangements, and transportation. During Riyadh Fashion Week, where we hosted over 500 international guests, our commitment to impeccable service was evident. Beyond the events themselves, our personalized approach extends to intercepting guests, ensuring that every aspect of their stay in Saudi Arabia is thoughtfully attended to. This shows the image of the new Saudi Arabia and provides guests with a memorable and enjoyable experience.

What is your vision for the company in the coming years?

With a solid foundation already established in Saudi Arabia, our vision is to further capitalize on the opportunities presented by Vision 2030. We aim to solidify our position here as industry innovators and creatives leaders within the country. The plan includes expanding our international footprint and enhance the sustainability initiatives because that is where Saudi and the vision is headed. Additionally, a key focus will be on cultivating talent, recognizing the significance of cultivating skilled professionals. As a company, we aspire to stay at the forefront of the industry.

What are your key priorities for next year?

Looking ahead, my main priorities involve achieving more goals and make more of my dreams into reality. Coming from a fashion background, the realization of hosting the first ever Riyadh Fashion Week in Saudi Arabia was a monumental accomplishment and a dream come true. This milestone marked a key moment in my whole career, considering that just a few years ago, it seemed like an improbable and inaccessible venture. Now, with the accomplishment of having successfully hosted Fashion Week, an iconic event that garnered significant international coverage, it stands as one of the most rewarding achievements in my career.

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