Embracing Change: Riyadh’s Vibrant Business Landscape

Related Blogs

Energi People Insights | Engineering News | Market Insights

Posted 17.05.23

Riyadh's Vibrant Business Landscape

I recently embarked on a five-day business trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s vibrant capital. I was met with a series of revelations that challenged my perceptions and showcased the city’s remarkable evolution. From the climate to cultural dynamics, and the progressive mindset of the younger generation, Riyadh’s vibrant business landscape left a lasting impression.

Defying Perceptions

Riyadh, in contrast to its neighbouring city Dubai, pleasantly surprised me with its hot but less humid climate. However, it was the stark contrast between perception and reality that truly amazed me. Prior to my visit, I assumed there would be a significant expat presence and a more conservative dress code, expecting to witness a strict adherence to traditional customs at every turn. To my surprise, Riyadh showcased a blend of cultures, with locals and expats alike embracing a modern and cosmopolitan lifestyle. The city’s diversity was a testament to its openness and evolving nature.

One of the most memorable aspects of my trip was the extraordinary hospitality extended by the people of Riyadh. From the locals to the expats, business people to taxi drivers, I encountered an overwhelming sense of friendliness and genuine warmth. The community proved to be inclusive, fostering an environment where connections could be formed effortlessly. Despite my initial expectation of a predominant expat bubble, Riyadh showcased a refreshing integration, creating an enriching and authentic experience.

Embracing Change: Paving the Way for the Future

Riyadh’s skyline is a testament to its rapid growth and ambition. The city is heaving with construction projects, symbolising a forward-thinking approach and an huge opportunity for business. Reports suggest that the cost of construction in Saudi Arabia amounts to a staggering 3 trillion dollars, emphasising the country’s commitment to progress and future-proofing its infrastructure. This bustling construction industry serves as a beacon of change, signalling Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a modern economic powerhouse.

I was very lucky to be offered a visit and project review of Exit 10 Al-Hamrah Project, a huge entertainment complex, before the M & E is being installed. Seon Waterman, Health & Safety Manger with Shapoorji-Pallonji showed me around and introduced me to its workers, the site as a whole, as well as explaining the various stages done and to be completed.

Networking and Collaboration

With 25 meetings scheduled throughout my trip, I had the opportunity to meet both familiar faces and new contacts, solidifying connections and expanding my network. I managed to meet up with many old friends such as Adil Huzain, a Recruitment Manager for a leading main contractor who was one of my very first clients in the MENA region 17 years ago! It was also great to catch up with Harris Qureshi, who recently started at Cundall as MEP Associate Director.

During my visit, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the launch event for Cundall’s brand-new office in Riyadh. I feel incredibly lucky as I had previously attended the opening of Cundall’s fantastic WELL office in Doha back in 2018. It’s truly awe-inspiring to witness how this remarkable company, a valued partner of Energi People, continues to flourish worldwide! The event, held at the British Embassy, was more than just a wonderful celebration; it created a valuable platform for connecting with influential individuals and forming new professional relationships. Very much confirming Riyadh’s vibrant business landscape. It was a genuine honour to be a part of it and highlighted the growing significance of Riyadh as a vibrant hub for business and innovation. A huge thank you to everyone at Cundall for an amazing event, namely:

  • Faiyad Peterson, Country Lead
  • Carole O’Neil, Global Managing Partner
  • Mr Abdulaziz Albassam, MABconsult and Cundall Board Member
  • Richard Stratton, MENA MD & Partner
  • Olga Litkovets, Director of Business Development and Marketing
  • Anabelle Morris, Marketing Executive

One of the things that made this trip so exceptional was getting to meet colleagues that I have worked with for years but had never met face to face. For example, I have known Carole O’Neil for over 10 years, but this was our first actual meeting in person!


Riyadh’s vibrant business landscape was a pleasant surprise! The city was full of life and progress. Riyadh’s mix of cultures, friendly people, and energetic younger generation show how the city is changing for the better. It’s a great place for business too, with lots of construction projects and networking possibilities. As I say goodbye to this exciting city, I’ll have fond memories of the amazing people, the opportunities, and the strong drive for progress that make Riyadh special.

My business trip to Riyadh unveiled a city that defied expectations, showcasing a vibrant and progressive landscape. Riyadh’s unique blend of cultures, warm hospitality, and the enthusiasm of its younger generation reflect the city’s ongoing transformation. With its thriving construction industry and ample networking opportunities, Riyadh emerges as a compelling destination for business ventures. I will definitely carry fond memories of the people, the opportunities, and the unwavering spirit of progress that define Riyadh.

Further Reading

  • Take a look at our latest roles in the Middle East
  • Talk to one of our consultants about opportunities in the Middle East
What it like to Live and work in the Middle East?

Living and working in the Middle East has its definite pros and cons. Watch our webinar, Building a Career in the MENA region, where we talk to clients and candidates about the region.

Share This Article