: Gulf Leaders Circle
, Muscat Media Group’s GCC-wide business networking platform, met Ahmad Arab, CEO of DRB Arabia. Ahmad has held notable positions at renowned organizations such as Saudi Telecom Company, Communication and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia General Authority for Investment, and the Ministry of Tourism, where he served as Deputy Minister of Strategic Planning and Business Intelligence. He speaks to GLC about his journey so far, his ambitions and the incredible potential of tourism in Saudi Arabia.
You founded DRB Arabia in 2023, just 8 months ago. Starting this journey with 16+ years of experience in executive leadership including 12 years working in the government, may you review how your experience has informed your vision for DRB Arabia and also highlight the challenges faced when establishing the company’s concept?
Ahmad Arab: Let me give you a glimpse of my journey so far. For the past 17 years, I have been deeply involved in shaping our nation, with the last 12 dedicated to public service. Even before Vision 2030 took shape, I was on board, witnessing its realization around 2015-2016. I have spent the last six years as Deputy Minister for Strategy and Business Intelligence in the Ministry of Tourism, following prior roles in the Ministry of Investment. My unique perspective has allowed me to watch our country transform from different angles.
My educational background is in electrical engineering, with studies at KFUPM, and I am also a proud alumnus of esteemed institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and INSEAD, which I completed last year. Learning is my passion, and reading is my way of diving deep into it.
But let’s talk about my adventurous side. I am a traveler at heart and a passionate motorbike enthusiast. I love exploring Saudi Arabia on my motorbike, both within its borders and beyond.
DRB Arabia came to life because my partner (Abdulrahman Al Madani) and I saw the incredible potential of tourism in Saudi Arabia. While it officially started in 2019, it faced a setback due to the pandemic. Now, in 2023, it is roaring back to life. This is a new chapter, and we’re building a whole new sector from the ground up. We have learned from other countries, but we have an edge. Many of our breathtaking places are yet to be discovered by the world. I have personally traveled from the southern Jazan region to the futuristic Neom, and from lush Al Hassa to iconic Jeddah, experiencing the incredible diversity from coastlines to mountains, and forests to mesmerizing dunes.
I remember a question that HE Minister of Tourism asked me when I joined – “Why tourism?” My answer was simple. When you travel, you feel the joy of experiencing new cultures. And guess what? Saudi Arabia has all that and more. I’m on a mission to share the happiness of discovering our country with everyone who visits – from coast to dunes, from traditions to innovations. Let’s make Saudi Arabia a place of happiness and adventure for all.
The concept of DRB Arabia seems to encapsulate the idea of embarking on transformative journeys. The term ‘DRB’ symbolizes paths and routes of historical significance. How do you envision merging the rich heritage of these paths with the contemporary travel experiences you plan to offer through DRB Arabia? And, could you review how you plan to infuse the spirit of Saudi Arabian hospitality and chivalry into the experience you curate?