Royal Conference Centre opening – Saudi Arabia, 2005

How often do you get the chance to work inside a Royal Palace in the Middle East?

Being part of the operational project team in charge of opening King Abdul Aziz Royal Conference Centre truly was a once in a lifetime work experience.

Together with seven other members from the Dutch Starwood properties we were flown into Riyadh for a period of 3 months with the primary objective to make the newly built conference centre worth 1.3 billion dollars ready for operational use. This meant setting up Standard Operating Procedures, Training, Purchasing and Storage Control, Uniforms and Logistics etc etc.

To make the assignment even more interesting the palace flew in another 300 working staff from Beiroet, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines to service in the international opening event of the conference center during the Global Peace Summit hosted by the King.  Unfortunately none of these 300 men had any hospitality experience nor that they had the profile to be one.  A challenge to say it mildly.

The end result was a success, serving a royal lunch for 1200 guests. 3 months non-stop of hard work and commitment for that one crucial moment. Exactly 24 hours after the event we were on a plane back home. I can only hope our contribution reach a bit further than that. Nonetheless it does not make this unique chapter less memorable and I would do it again in a hardbeat.