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Omani Hospitality Champions 2022 announced

26 Oct 2022 hospitality champions By OUR CORRESPONDENT

The third edition of Oman Hospitality Champions – 2022 turned the arc-lights on a vibrant batch of young Omani professionals who, apart from ascending their own career ladders with sheer determination, also unveiled a new chapter in Omani hospitality

Here are the champions of Omani hospitality for 2022! Deployed in a range of roles in different establishments in the hospitality industry in the sultanate, they all seemed to exhibit one common quality – sincere service from the heart! And this was the time for them to celebrate, not just individual success, but also the collective glory of Omani hospitality.

Oman’s Hospitality Champions – 2022, who were shortlisted and handpicked for excellence and dedication from among the scores of employees in different hotels, resorts and establishments in the hospitality sector, were felicitated at a special function held at Sheraton Oman last evening.

The event, organised jointly by Apex Media and National Hospitality Institute (NHI), was held under the patronage of H E Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, who presented the awards as the chief guest. Also present were H H Sayyid Tarik bin Shabib bin Taimur al Said as guest of honour and H E Dr Rahma bint Ibrahim al Mahrooqi, Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, as special guest.

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At the outset, Saleh al Zakwani, executive chairman and editor-in-chief, Apex Media, greeted the gathering from prestigious establishments from the hospitality industry and upheld the fact that, after a gap of two years, they were finally able to celebrate together the achievements of Omani staff in various roles.

“I am sure, job creation is important to all, and the tourism industry is a great player in this sector,” he said, commending the efforts of all Omani awardees from the hospitality industry who have set an example for others to follow suit.

Rob MacLean, principal of NHI, acknowledging the ‘great partnership’ from Apex Media, pointed out that the awards have been growing from strength to strength over the past three years, and this year, 110 nominations were received from 18 properties in the hospitality industry.

“Oman Hospitality Champions was launched with an objective to open the windows to Omani talent in the hospitality industry and to award that talent,” he said, adding that he was also happy to welcome a large number of NHI alumni who have achieved great heights of success over the years.

Spread over 27 categories, the awards for meritorious service were presented for outstanding performance to Omani employees on different rungs in the hospitality industry. While dedication and sincerity on the job were the most common virtues cherished by all awardees, what made them stand out was their unflinching resolve to accord top priority to guest comfort at all times.

Awards were given for not just front office, housekeeping, or mastery in the kitchen, but also for ‘Unsung Hero’, ‘Team Champions’, as well as for ‘Young Hotelier of the Year’, all of whom went an extra mile in upholding guest needs and with it the prestige of each establishment. Each had interesting stories to tell of how they went out of their way to make their guests comfortable.

Sharing his views on the ‘promising future’ for the hospitality and tourism industries, H E Mahrouqi told Muscat Daily, “I am delighted to be part of this celebration and I take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have made it to the final. The tourism sector has very rewarding opportunities in terms of employment, and therefore, I do encourage and ask our young men and women to join this sector given the fact that it is very promising in terms of rewards and contribution to the sector – definitely, the prospect of growth is much bigger and promising. There is no need to hesitate as there are platforms for training and to equip youth with necessary skills in order to move forward.”

Commenting about the success of Omani Hospitality Champions 2022, Nabil al Zadjali, general manager of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton hotel, said, “It’s impressing to see such a large number of winners and it’s encouraging for the future of the hospitality and tourism industries in Oman to see how proud people are in this profession. This job needs passion, and if you do it with passion, you enjoy every day at work, no matter which department you are in. This is a peoples’ job, and the professionals in this industry are ‘people’s people’.

Samir Messaoudi, general manager of Sheraton Oman, said, “Today’s event is a great opportunity for us to thank our Omani colleagues and associates in different hotels. It is also a great opportunity to highlight Omani hospitality and how we can improve it in future. What distinguishes Omani hospitality from the rest of the world, is that it comes straight from the heart and the guest can experience it right when he/she arrives at the airport itself.”

The awardees were commended for their striking contribution in many different roles to uphold Omani hospitality. If Maryam al Balushi, salesperson with Sheraton Oman, used gaming to connect with clients, Hamed Awlad Thani, an HR assistant with Mysk Al Mouj, said his presence of mind helped the hotel avoid a whopping RO45,000 electricity bill – something that came quite naturally to him.

Jamal al Jahafy, a laundry employee at Crown Plaza Sohar, exemplified sheer honesty with high value items, while Huda al Busaidi, a sous chef at Bait al Luban came trumps up in an all male environment with her passionate service. Abdul Aziz al Balushi from Intercontinental Muscat, who was awarded as the IT person of the year, said the award gave him great joy as well as motivated him to do better in future.

The award ceremony was compered by Mohammed al Sabbagh, winner of the ‘Young Hotelier of the Year’ award in the first edition of Oman Hospitality Champions 2020.

What the judges have to say:

The judges: (From left) Laila Zakwani, Richard Weetch, Othaila al Saifi, Abdul Aziz Abdul Salam and Robert MacLean

Encouraging Omanis in hospitality – Laila Zakwani, Executive Director, Apex Media

Apex Media is proud to be associated with Oman Hospitality Champions, as through these awards, we are not only promoting and acknowledging excellence in the hospitality industry, but also encouraging Omanis to take up diverse roles in this profession. The three successful years are indicative of the growing dedication in this field as well as the enthusiasm of young Omanis to compete with the best in the industry. I’m sure, many youth now feel inspired take up careers in hospitality, which is a very promising field.

High standard of entries – Robert MacLean, Principal, NHI

NHI is delighted to be once again working with its partners Apex Media on the Oman Hospitality Champions 2022. It has been designed to raise awareness of the great Omani talent in the hospitality sector in Oman. This year, we are having an actual ceremony where all winners will come together in celebration. The quality of entrants has been once again a high standard, giving the judges a difficult challenge. We congratulate all those who have won and we thank their properties for nominating them.

Elevating standards of hospitality – Abdul Aziz Abdul Salam, judge

The Oman Hospitality Champion awards is playing a vital role in elevating the hospitality service standards in the country. I personally have seen tangible changes in my personal interactions with some of the properties I’ve stayed in or visited since the programme first launched. This programme is very much aligned with Oman’s vision 2040 and its diversification plan, and I look forward to seeing this programme flourish across the whole of Oman very soon.”

Pride in service, a tremendous asset – Richard Weetch, judge

I have been honoured to play a small part in the Oman Hospitality Awards since it was launched. Having met award winners at many hotels, there is no doubt in my mind that the pride they show is a tremendous asset to the nation and a huge inspiration to colleagues. The awards have a huge role in encouraging Omanis to enter into and flourish in the hospitality industry.

Outstanding talent in hospitality – Othaila al Saifi, judge

The calibre of talent in the hospitality industry is made apparent through the submissions for this prestigious award. It was awe-inspiring to read through all the details of the hard work and dedication each of the candidates have put in to ensure their guests enjoy excellent service at every interaction. Omani Hospitality Champions awards have been put forth to encourage the recognition of these talents and inspire those wishing to enter the industry.

The interviewers: Ayesha Godinho, Abdullah al Balushi, Gina MacLean and Freddy Hines

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