Cruise Saudi takes home the Executive of the Year Award at the Middle East Management Excellence Awards

The cruise industry veteran executive is recognised for his remarkable leadership and vision in establishing Saudi Arabia as a premier global cruise destination

Cruise Saudi’s Chief Executive Officer, Lars Manuel Clasen, secured the Executive of the Year – Tourism title at the Middle East Management Excellence Awards 2023.

The Middle East Management Excellence Awards is an annual event that celebrates outstanding executives, innovators, and teams, as well as noteworthy HR and company initiatives contributing to the growth and success of organisations in the Middle East.

Lars Manuel Clasen, a seasoned expert with over 30 years of experience in the shipping and cruise industries, has played a pivotal role in guiding Cruise Saudi through its initial exponential growth phase. Under his leadership, Cruise Saudi has successfully developed an ambitious offshore and onshore cruise ecosystem aimed at positioning Saudi Arabia as a leading global cruise destination.

One of the remarkable achievements under Lars’s leadership is the projected creation of 50,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2035, with the majority benefiting the local population. Impressively, Cruise Saudi has already achieved a Saudization rate of 77%, demonstrating its commitment to transferring the international industry know-how and expertise to the local cadre, enhancing employment opportunities for Saudi nationals, and benefit the local communities.

Leading the establishment of an entire cruising infrastructure in a country still in the early stages of its tourism journey has been a formidable challenge. However, Lars and the Cruise Saudi team have risen to this challenge with unwavering ambition, determination, and exceptional work.

Overcoming the initial challenge of changing the international perception of Saudi Arabia as a premier cruise destination, Cruise Saudi welcomed over 195,000 passengers during its last season, including those from major international cruise lines like Viking and Silversea. This adds to the impressive total of over 300,000 passengers welcomed since 2021.

Cruise Saudi’s success can be attributed to its commitment to delivering curated, high-quality shore experiences that exceed the expectations of both cruise lines and passengers. Additionally, the company’s development and operation of quality ports and cruise terminals provide a compelling value proposition to global cruise lines.

To boost visibility and attract cruise lines to Saudi shores, Cruise Saudi has participated in several international and national cruise and tourism events such as Seatrade Global in Miami, the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, and the Saudi Amusement and Entertainment Show, amongst others.
Lars’s vision for Cruise Saudi is rooted in innovation, which is exemplified by the recent launch of Cruise Saudi’s owned cruise line, AROYA Cruises. AROYA Cruises is an autonomous brand within the Cruise Saudi portfolio, offering experiences and services tailored to embrace Arabian preferences, a groundbreaking initiative in the cruise industry. This launch represents a significant step in providing new holiday options for Saudi nationals, expatriates, and regional guests, redefining the meaning of holidays in Saudi Arabia.

As a vital part of Saudi Vision 2030, Cruise Saudi is dedicated to delivering exceptional experiences whilst upholding its commitment to sustainability. The company is firmly committed to preserving the environment and minimising carbon emissions to align with global efforts to combat climate change.

The Middle East Management Excellence Awards is presented by Asian Business Review Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2024 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company’s employee engagements and management initiatives, please contact Jane Patiag at [email protected].

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