Bringing Southern Hospitality to Saudi Arabia
Posted on March 6, 2020 by Megan Layton
Raed Alsulami is one of the first two graduates to receive a degree in hospitality and tourism management at the University of South Alabama. Alsulami was recently promoted to assistant manager for the main restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, called the Al Orjouan, the top-ranked restaurant by TripAdvisor in the city capital of Saudi Arabia.
Alsulami always dreamed of being a leader in the hospitality and tourism industry. He credits a friend who suggested the University of South Alabama when the hospitality and tourism management degree program was first announced.
Even though home was Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the weather in Mobile was familiar and Alsulami was up for the challenge. He moved to Alabama in August 2012 and began his journey as a student at South.
“I felt that majoring in hospitality for me was about merging my Arabian hospitality standard with the the world’s standards,” Alsulami said. “I feel that the program at USA helped me get to where I am today and provided opportunities for me to maximize my goals in the industry.”
Alsulami enjoyed his time at South and credits his experiences as a student for his current success.
“The environment and ambience of the University was very productive for me as a student,” Alsulami said. “I always highly suggest to my hospitality friends to study at South, and I am proud to say that I have recruited more than six students to join the hospitality and tourism management program.”
While at the University, Alsulami knew he needed to gain hands-on experience early on and took advantage of the department’s internship program by working at The Grand Marriott Hotel & Resorts in Point Clear.
“The USA hospitality and tourism management department always recognizes and offers students unique and wonderful experiences,” Alsulami said, recognizing the director of the Hospitality & Tourism Workforce Innovation Alliance. “Dr. (Evelyn) Green invested so much time in my development as a student and professional. I remember one day, Dr. Green extended her office hours just to give me more energy about the field and tell me how amazing I would do.
“Also, I cannot forget when I saw Dr. (Robert) Thompson’s proud look on his face at graduation as I represented one of the first of two HTM graduates. I try to stay in touch with my USA professors, and I always receive positive career mentoring through my LinkedIn platform with Dr. Thompson, even to this day.” Thompson is chair of hospitality and tourism management.
More than 70 students have graduated from the University with a bachelor’s in hospitality and tourism management since the department’s creation in fall of 2015.
“Watching Raed grow professionally and personally has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience,” said Thompson. “Hospitality is truly Raed’s calling, and I believe he is bringing Southern Hospitality to Saudi Arabia.
“Hospitality and tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world, and as a result, there is incredible workforce demand for our industry regionally, nationally and globally. Our scholar-practitioner faculty are focused on imparting workforce readiness education for successful workplace immersion of our students wherever they reside. As a result, our department is one of the fastest growing on campus.”
Alsulami has set an example for current and future hospitality and tourism management students, and it is his passion to encourage others to study hard as he did to become leading professionals across the world.
“The future of leading the hospitality segment globally is on your way down the road,” Alsulami said. “Get ready to accept challenges, and do not forget to have fun.”
Alsulami’s short-term goals include launching a new software called Taskeen, which provides property management capabilities that help reach all operational needs of hotel service.
“My long-term goals include writing my first book that explains how Arabian hospitality-based concepts dramatically enhance international standards with a unique flavor of service,” Alsulami said. “I also hope to become the food and beverage director for Ritz-Carlton by 2025 and expand the reach of the new Taskeen software to more than 3,000 hotels within the Saudi Arabia and Middle East region.”