Saudi rises from cleaner to top young hotelier

Mohammad Sharaf receives the Young Hotelier of the Year at the Middle East Hotelier Awards for 2014.

Mohammad Sharaf receives the Young Hotelier of the Year at the Middle East Hotelier Awards for 2014.

A young Saudi citizen has shown it is no shame to take on an unskilled job and then work hard to achieve one’s dreams.

Mohammad Sharaf started out as a cleaner and dishwasher at a restaurant in 2004 and now 10 years later has been crowned the Young Hotelier of the Year at the Middle East Hotelier Awards for 2014. He is the first Arab in a decade to win the award.

Sharaf started out selling cups of tea near the Makkah central area when he was 18 years old. In 2004, he answered an employment advertisement and secured his first job as a “restaurant waiter” at a fast-food outlet, which involved cleaning dishes and the toilets.

“While I was working there, I often visited a friend who worked at a local hotel. I liked the work and tried many times to get into the sector but wasn’t accepted because I didn’t have a secondary school certificate,” he said.

He eventually persuaded one of the big hotels to take him on and worked there for seven years. He got his secondary school certificate, a degree from King Abdulaziz University and a diploma from the American Society for Training and Education. “I traveled for five years between Jeddah and Makkah for this and gradually moved up the ranks at the hotel,” he said.

After graduating in 2010 he continued to the top and supervised more than 14 hotels in Jeddah, Madinah and Makkah as a marketing and sales director for the group. He has visited more than 12 countries and held more than 10 marketing campaigns in African and Asian countries.

In 2012, he got the best award for tourism sales in the Kingdom and was honored by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. In 2013, Sharaf joined the Freemont Hotel Group in the Clock Tower in Makkah and was also awarded prizes there for his service.

He conducts many training sessions at colleges and universities for students to develop their personalities and expertise.

 
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