10 Minutes with Denis Sorin the Arabian Hallmark maker

Denis Sorin, the president of Amsa Hospitality, is more than a hotelier. As an entrepreneur and advocate of Arabian hospitality, he tells us about his vision and aspirations for KSA

What can you tell us about Amsa Hospitality?
Amsa Hospitality is a Saudi-born startup that aims to redefine the hospitality industry as a whole and Arabian hospitality in particular. We remain true to our motto of being the hallmark of Arabian hospitality.
Together with our partners, we seek to find solutions to the countless challenges the hotel industry is facing post Covid-19. We are also working to introduce the first lifestyle hotel brand that is motivated by the age-old Arabian tradition of hospitality and generosity.
Today’s hospitality industry features great Western, Asian, and African hotel brands that boldly display their native cultures, but the Middle East is absent. We are currently developing a huge project, a midscale hotel brand that we will take abroad, one that focuses on service, sustainability, simplicity, comfort, adaptability, pleasure and discovery.

How is Amsa Hospitality bringing Arab cultural heritage to the modern-day guest?
To translate age-old Arabian hospitality culture into a hotel design and operation, we first had to describe and comprehend it. Our new brand needed to be a lifestyle one, and the way we serve guests needed to be rethought if we were to succeed.
Undoubtedly, it is essential for a brand to function in the modern age and offer all the services that guests expect, along with the IT and tech solutions. However, rethinking service standards was difficult because we had to create new ones that were both respectful of the past and responsive to customer expectations.
Back in the 1980s, I was part of the so-called “re-creation team” of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express. We carried out a similar exercise at the time by studying the factors that made the Orient-Express famous. Based on what we learned, we developed new standards. I remember a passenger saying that he traveled on the “original” Orient-Express in the 1930s and recognized the best of the past, while today’s experience was much better.
This is what we are currently doing, at Amsa Hospitality – recognizing the best of age-old Arabian hospitality cultural heritage and adapt it to the 21st century expectations and ways of life.

What were some of the greatest highlights for your business in 2022 and what are you looking forward to?
In 2022, we opened the multiple award-winning Radisson Riyadh Airport, worked on that new Arabian brand I mentioned earlier, all of that sustained by an innovative organizational structure based on trust, empowerment, accountability, sustainability, innovation, efficiency and teamwork.
Now that we are ready, 2023 could be described as our launching year.

What are your expectations for KSA?
I truly believe in the kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Saudi Arabia of today is a dream come true for entrepreneurs, as many projects and plans are in the pipeline, with the goal of turning the kingdom into a world leader.
Amsa Hospitality actively supports the kingdom’s vision by aiming to increase our local footprint as part of the nation’s development strategy and by promoting the kingdom internationally through the growth of our Arabian brand. I have been involved with Saudi Arabia in one way or another since the early 2000s, because I recognized the country’s enormous potential when I first visited.
This is the reason why I was asked to create the first-ever Saudization strategy for the kingdom after the successful Emiratization of the hospitality industry.
I could never have achieved success in the UAE and KSA without partnering with John Mowatt.
In late 2022, I was asked to join the board of AMFORHT, the tourism and hospitality education and training arm of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), where I am responsible for the Middle East. As such, I believe it is my duty to help the kingdom realize its hospitality potential and Saudization efforts. The country is already doing a great job, but I think AMFORHT, with its specific know-how, my 20-plus years of knowledge of the region’s unique challenges and the kingdom’s will to become a major tourist and business destination, can make the difference.
Needless to say, Amsa Hospitality will also benefit from this plan, as we see our global development only possible with primarily great Saudi nationals managing our properties and regions worldwide. 

With Saudization and women empowerment in mind, how are you promoting diversity in your business?
Saudization is a must. At Amsa Hospitality, we look first and foremost at hiring Saudi nationals.
Being the best candidate doesn’t necessarily mean having only the best technical knowledge but also the proper mindset for the position.
Therefore, the best candidate can be either a man or a woman. We don’t discriminate and strongly believe in empowerment as it is at the heart of Amsa Hospitality’s DNA.
What matters to us is how much a candidate is an open-minded, good-spirited team player. We are after all a “citizens of the company.” Celebrating diversity, developing Saudization and promoting women in the workplace are at the heart of Amsa Hospitality’s core values.