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RAKAA

SAUDI ARABIA - Economy

Hamad Mousa Al Malik

Vice President, Rakaa Trading Holding Company

Bio

Hamad Mousa Al Malik has been the VP of Rakaa Trading Holding Company since 2012. He graduated from Leeds Beckett University, with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. He also has an experience as a Relationship Manger in Alawal Bank for four years.

"When we started, the company was focused on military supplies, which remain our main sector to date."
TBY talks to Hamad Mousa Al Malik, Vice President of Rakaa Trading Holding Company, about the defense sector, maintaining a diversified portfolio, and goals for the coming year.
Rakaa Holding has traditionally been known for its involvement in the defense and military sector. Can you elaborate on the evolution of Rakaa Holding?

Rakaa Holding was established in 1981 by my father and uncle. When we started, the company was focused on military supplies, which remain our main sector to date. We started supplying the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior at that time until the Gulf War in 1991. At that time, we were one of the main suppliers of the Saudi army. After the Gulf War, the business environment in Saudi changed drastically: everyone was trying to enter the military sector. AT the time, there also weren’t many regulations to protect investors. For that reason, in 1992 my father decided to diversify into other sectors such as water and power, real estate infrastructure, medical supply, and operational maintenance. Wherever we see opportunities in line with Vision 2030, we get the right people to operate the business and capitalize on what the market has to offer. Our newest and most recent business lines are F&B and sports. In line with the company’s principles, we will continue to open new businesses based on the national vision.

Over the years, Rakaa Holding has successfully diversified its portfolio into various sectors. What is the common denominator that unifies all its business activities?

Since our inception, we have always sought to think and do things differently. One great example of this is represented by our malls. The malls in Saudi Arabia during the 1960s and 1970s were extremely outdated, and Rakaa was the first company in 1997 to open the first strip mall in the Kingdom. We got designers from Los Angeles to develop a design that was completely unique in the market. It was the first strip mall to have a standalone supermarket, a McDonald’s, and cafés. The same principle applies to gyms and how we entered the market with UFC gyms. Saudi Arabia and Riyadh are full of gyms comprising both local and international brands; however, in the past five years, the fighting sector has continued to boom. The Crown Prince himself attended the first UFC fight in Saudi Arabia three years ago. Rakaa Holding owns various spaces, which gives us greater flexibility in designing and developing innovative concepts. People here like new and exciting concepts, and we came in with a specific vision that targeted different segments. UFC is the only gym where the entire family can come in to train. We designed our gyms with the mindset that the country would soon allow mixed gyms, and we have been able to capitalize on the progress there.

How would you characterize the F&B business in Saudi Arabia, and what opportunities do you see here?

The company’s business approach laid the foundation of its success in F&B, which is characterized by fierce competition and several complexities, especially in the fields of branding, location, and operations. We entered the F&B just three years ago, and when we were doing our research, we saw that every main restaurant chain from around the world was opening up in Riyadh. Still, I saw a gap that we could fill: most restaurants did not have any entertainment. People like to smoke shisha in Saudi but the quality, design, and vibes of those establishments were below average. We decided to enter the market with an upmarket Lebanese concept and invested heavily to offer the best Lebanese and Egyptian cuisine. We even partnered with a well-known restaurant in Egypt called Balcona to bring its concept to Riyadh. We brought in this unique concept and started operating last year. Since the beginning, we have secured regular customers who visit us regularly. This is important and affirms the success of our vision and business.

The Quality of Life Program aims to create the necessary environment to develop and support new livable and lifestyle options in Saudi Arabia. How is Rakaa Holding positioned to support and add value to this program?

Everyone now seeks a higher quality of life, and this includes various segments under the quality of life umbrella, such as healthcare, the F&B, entertainment, education, landscaping, infrastructure, and more. Rakaa Holding’s malls and F&B investments are also an excellent example: in the last two years, we have constructed 11 entertainment venues. We always strive to focus on three key assets: landscaping, lighting, and music. The majority of our venues are open air, and visitors can hear nice music from the moment they walk in. They immediately feel as though they are in a spa or the lobby of a hotel. Lighting and landscaping are also vital. We believe all these elements are extremely important for visitors looking for entertainment options. They all seek something attractive and unique that can entertain them. We provide visitors with landscaping, lighting, music, entertainment, cinemas, and restaurants, all of which are directly linked to people’s quality of life. We are also introducing innovative solutions in the real estate and construction sector by building an entirely new district, adding value of an area of 20 million sqm. This new, modern neighborhood will have a sale price that is 30-40% lower than its neighbors. For this project, we are focusing heavily on infrastructure to ensure residents have a high quality of life.

What are Rakaa Holding’s main goals for the coming year?

We have many green energy projects in the pipeline that we will focus on given that the Crown Prince has made green energy a priority for the Kingdom by 2030. One of our biggest projects now is a green energy project in Saudi. We also plan to continue to diversify the business by looking at future developments and ensuring we do not miss any opportunities in sectors that align with Vision 2030 and the evolving landscape in the Kingdom.

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