48 Hours in Riyadh

Two of my favourite words in business have to be: innovation and opportunity. 

Well, if there’s one place right now that has this in abundance, it’s Riyadh.

Rather surprising, considering this city is in the heart of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country that didn’t allow women to drive until 2018.

So when I decided to host a Personal Branding event, I was curious to see how the place had come on in recent years. 

As an entrepreneur, I believe that innovation and opportunities are the lifeblood of growth. It’s the reason why I moved to Dubai, way back in 2003. The land of dreams. A place where an idea can become a reality.

I launched my first ever business in 2005, the region’s first ever personal shopping and style agency. This became the start of many, many firsts. I was first to launch a podcast in 2010, then a shopping app. I first visited Riyadh in 2008. I had noticed a gap in support of women in style and made it my mission to take a business trip. It’s been a joy to return often over the years, too, styling the local Royal family.

I found myself back there again last week! Only this time, I was wearing my Personal Branding hat. I hosted my first Personal Brand workshop in the region  for women in business.

Ambitious women attended, including those working for PWC, Unicef, and Google to name a few, not to mention an inspiring number of women in the tech industry. 

I gave a talk about my experiences as an entrepreneur in the Middle East and globally, how I sold my styling agency and moved into Personal Branding before it was the hot topic that it is today.

So what does Riyadh 2023 look like? 

Still rich in historic wonder, I visited the town of Diriyah with the impressive At-Turaif World Heritage Site and Al Bujairi Heritage Park. After browsing the most beautiful boutique – owned by a woman – I was spoilt for choice in Bujairi Terrace with the amazing eateries on offer. In a midst of hustle and flow, you will find upmarket and world famous restaurants here, such as Angelina, Chez Bruno, Hakkasan and Joe and the Juice. 

Luxury hotels are popping up all over Riyadh too, including 5-star resorts by Anantara, Armani and Banyan Tree, amongst many others. Also coming soon is the Clinique La Prairie Health Resort. This resort is focused on sustainability and will run on 100 percent renewable energy. The design and interiors will be a delightful blend of Islamic architecture and modern craftsmanship, and you can expect to find wellness spaces, a diagnostic lab, and other facilities.

The best part of my trip though, was the people. I received the warmest of welcomes… and that isn’t related to the climate! The local Saudis were incredibly generous and hospitable, they simply couldn’t do enough for me.

Whether it was driving me to see an historic site or try a delicious bite, there was a sense of pride about their homeland and they were keen so showcase everything that was on offer. 

A positive vibe is certainly echoing all over Riyadh, of new horizons, and I felt this in abundance.

So, is Riyadh on your travel list now? For me, it’s still a business hub, whilst I didn’t miss my glass of rosé (nobody was drinking) on holiday, I know I would. 

How to get there:

  • Flights with Emirates
  • Visa online: $199 for multiple visits within 12 months
  • Hotels are not cheap in Riyadh; with it still being a business hub and companies paying, they can still charge a premium.
  • Conservative clothing: Abaya’s not required but I still loved wearing mine.

Drop me an email if you are interested in booking me for your next personal branded workshop.

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