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Maram Kokandi in KSA’s Hospitality Hot Seat

Saudi Arabia’s Maram Kokandi made headlines when she was appointed last month as the first female general manager of Rezidor Hotel Group in Saudi Arabia.

A trailblazer for women in the senior ranks of the hospitality industry, Kokandi set another milestone for Saudi women as the first to hold such a position in the Kingdom’s hospitality sector.

Kokandi, who will head the pre-opening Park Inn by Radisson in Jeddah said, “I’m looking forward to leading a successful launch of the hotel.” Park Inn by Radisson is part of the Rezidor Hotel Group which is scheduled to open later this year.

Some years back, the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia was exclusively a male-dominated sector but in recent years has seen more women working in the field.

"We have already come a long way, from six female employees in 2014 to 84 today, with 12 in leadership positions in Saudi Arabia," said Mark Willis, the group’s area vice president for Middle East and Turkey. "The hospitality sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Saudi Arabia and female participation as industry leaders is essential for its growth."

Kokandi studied hospitality management in the United Kingdom and has worked in various hospitality roles in the Kingdom prior to her appointment as General Manager.

Rezidor Group runs a program called “Balanced Leadership” to support female employees. Kokandi’s appointment complements the objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to increase the presence of female in the job market.

“We are proud to be part of this historic appointment which is an achievement not only for our group but for the hospitality industry worldwide,” said Wolfgang M. Neumann, President and CEO of Rezidor Group commenting on Kokandi’s position as the general manager. He said his company is committed to empowering women in leadership positions and hopes it will inspire women across the region to pursue their career aspirations in hospitality.

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