Tamer: Nurturing young talent is vital

Prosperous economy, building human capital and the welfare of the community are four main
concerns of Ayman Maamon Tamer, chairman and board member of Tamer Group.

During an interview with Diana Al-Jassem of Arab News, he said: “The future wellbeing is as important as
the economy. My real concern is to have a geo-political atmosphere with clear policies prioritizing
community benefits and social wellbeing…this is what we are witnessing in Saudi Arabia today.”
Rapid change
What, in your opinion, are changes that would have a major impact on the lives of Saudi nationals
within the coming 20 years?
Major changes that will impact the life of the Saudis within the Kingdom in the coming 20 years will
be the economic development from large economic cities and industrial cities, investment in health
care and education, and encouragement of the private sector. All of this together will maintain the
Kingdom on the right path for development. Saudis in the future will be a more influential society
with education and health care available to every citizen and employment opportunities increasing,
and all these will contribute toward the welfare of the Saudi society.
Role of leadership
What do you think are the leadership roles regarding organizations in the Kingdom? What are the
factors/reasons for their current state?
I believe all leadership roles today need to be multi-tasking while maintaining focus on each event
separately. We have to manage and satisfy the needs and aspirations of our four stakeholders —
shareholders, customers, employees and the community at large. It is the duty of every leader to
have dual responsibility, one for the performance and success of his organization, and the other
for his contribution to the community.Sustainable development
What goals would you set regarding the Kingdom’s development? And how could these goals be
achieved through your current position?
Today, Saudi Arabia is pursuing globalization with different routes from the global agenda. While
Saudi Arabia is joining the global community, there is government intervention and investment
for the welfare of the country. This investment in building the economy, education, health care,
security and other services has proven successful in developing a consistent and growing
economy. The key challenge in Saudi Arabia is development of human capital and talent. Today,
we do not see enough partnership and collaboration between the private and public sectors to
promote and develop talent and consequently improve career opportunities. The private sector
must lead in introducing its training requirements for their respective industries. The government
has already expressed its keen interest to co-finance and endorse the private sector organizations
that are investing in human capital development.
Creative project
Give me an example of the most creative project that you wish to establish in the Kingdom?
Today, the most creative projects would be ones built for developing human capital.
KSA in three words
What three words would you use to describe the Kingdom within the coming 20 years and why
these 3 words?
Dignity, prosperity and equality; what we experience now is development of the Kingdom in all
economic spheres of activity. It will bring economic prosperity to the Saudi citizen in terms of
income and social development and our people will live in a healthy environment.
Regarding the Kingdom’s officials what characteristics do you think are important for such
individuals? How would such characteristics contribute toward the Kingdom’s onward
development?
Every leader of a company or institution should focus on two important responsibilities — first, to
make sure that his company is operating well and second, to spend some time on CSR programs.
It is the responsibility of each public and private institution to serve itself and the society at large.
Human rights
How can we all improve human rights in Saudi Arabia? What are your expectations regarding
human rights practices within the coming 20 years?
It is clear from what we understand and realize under Shariah law that all people are entitled to
have human rights, irrespective of gender, color and race. Furthermore, the world has different
values, cultures and social ideals, and human rights must be adaptive to the values, rights and
needs of every community as it voluntarily elects. In other words, we cannot have one single way
of global governance on human rights that will satisfy the entire global community.
Biggest challenge
What is the biggest challenge facing the Kingdom today?
Developing human capital.
Prominent activities
What are the most prominent economic activities in the Kingdom? What are the ‘neglected’ sectors
that need to be developed?
Today, the government is spending wisely on infrastructure, developing roads, energy, water,
health care and other projects. Our security in the Kingdom is one of the best in the world, and it is
safe and a pleasure to raise the family. What’s needed is more effort and a key challenge to spend
more on the “soft qualities” of developing human capital in all industries.Housing growth
There is a huge demand for housing in the Kingdom because of rising young population. The
government also put an emphasis on this sector as it has allocated SR 250 billion in this budget for
housing. Do you believe housing needs much attention from the government and private sectors?
The government should continue with its focused attention on housing. Today, it is important that
economies like China, India and Saudi Arabia have met with successes, and government should
place a lot of effort in welfare programs. Government has to invest in education, job creation,
housing, and career opportunities. Saudi Arabia is following the right policy. The overall economy
does well when the social economy does well. The economy is strong when the government is
strong.
Role of SMEs
There is a need to boost small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector in the Kingdom as it creates
various jobs. What role do you see for SMEs in the Kingdom’s economic development?
SMEs will develop in a healthy regulatory environment, and today this is available in Saudi Arabia.
What is lacking is mobile human capital, and I refer back to my answer to question 1 that business
and industry leaders must co-invest in partnership with the government to develop human capital.
They should also develop human capital beyond their current needs to allow sufficient resources
to develop their business and to provide credentials and mobile educated labor that can choose to
work in SMEs and the community at large. It has been in every country that the SMEs have played
a major role in the economic development, and in Saudi Arabia we need to encourage these
establishments and help them grow. The SME can create jobs and bring down the unemployment
numbers and thus help in developing our economy.
Knowledge hunt
Education is always a priority for the Saudi government. What changes do you envisage in the
education system to prepare Saudi youth for knowledge-based economy?
Academic education is available in both the private and government sectors. Education alone is
not enough to create job opportunities. This is because businesses and industries have become
highly specialized and knowledge-based. In the Kingdom, we have to establish many training
programs where colleges also have to contribute. We need private-public partnership in every
industry be it energy, health care, transportation or otherwise. We know what young Saudis need
to succeed in business. I won’t criticize the Saudi education system, where there is scope for
improvement. We need to improve social education. Social education is to teach Saudis how
to respect other people’s opinion, respect their religion and values, and they must show their
willingness and determination to accept this change.
Fair opportunities
How do you see Saudi women’s contribution in the labor, social and political areas in the coming
20 years?
Women have started contributing in designated areas and will play a larger role in the Saudi
economy’s labor sector — in social and political areas — in the coming 20 years. Women can add
value to any enterprise by being employed in the area they can excel mostly education and health
care, and that will bring a major contribution to the country in terms of social development and
economy.
What’s required in order for Saudi women to actualize your future vision?
There requires a change in culture, understanding and compassion that women have equal
rights to earn their future. Women have to have the facility and mobility to achieve their career
aspirations.
Saudi media
What measures and standards are yet to be applied to Saudi media? What are your expectations
in the next 20 years?I believe that in the past there were some limitations on what could be announced in media.
On other hand, today there is a lot of misinformation in both traditional and social media. Such
misinformation, mistakes and apologies shouldn’t appear in media anymore. Media should work
toward regaining its credibility.
What impact will social media have regarding change in the Kingdom?
Social media can have a big impact on driving social and cultural change. We have to be careful
on subjects and the way they are addressed so that credibility is ensured. Media can address
subjects related to health care, women, education, youth, etc. Media can raise the voice about the
issues and cases in the society to be transferred to the business people and officials so they can
work and invest to develop our community and economy.
Learning from the past
What are the three or four mistakes that have been repeated in the Kingdom during the past 10
decades? And how could we eliminate these mistakes in order to develop the Kingdom?
Mistakes make us a better person, better institution and better government. This is a learning
process. What is dangerous is to repeat our mistakes. We are progressing in our way, and we are
learning from our past mistakes. I see positive changes like females joining work community and
Saudi Arabia joining World Trade Organization. I am for joining the world globalization but without
negatively impacting my society. The future of my society is important. I am pleased to see that our
geopolitical atmosphere has a clear positive policy toward welfare of the community.
Message to youth
Given that the youth make up the majority of the Saudi population, what message would you want
conveyed to them? And what else would you say to the rest of the population?
Although I sympathize with the new generation, with job opportunities being scarce and requiring
a degree of specialization, I urge every young man and woman joining the labor force to seriously
think that his/her career can only be built through self-determination and choice. Whatever effort
the government will do in collaboration with the private sector will not succeed until such time as
the individual has serious determination about his/her future interest.
*Published in Arab News on the 16th of October 2012.