On the road from Riyadh to Macau to Brisbane

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

This Blog begins in my carefully cocooned China Eastern Interim Bureau, open for business 36,000 feet above Kunming, en route to Shanghai and onto Hong Kong.

I’m sipping on my third Coke Zero of the journey, balanced out with a couple of orange juices. China Eastern flights in and out of Riyadh are dry, in respect to Saudi Arabia’s laws, so the nicely chilled Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc I’m looking forward to will have to wait.

That Sauvignon Blanc is highly likely to be Cloudy Bay, given that my next stop a day after arriving in Hong Kong is Macau for the annual DFS Masters of Wines & Spirits, one of my favourite occasions in the travel retail calendar. After that it is down to Brisbane on Monday for another key gathering. More of that in a subsequent Blog.

I have been in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the ACI Asia-Pacific and Middle East and ACI World Annual General Assembly (WAGA) Conference and Exhibition this week, an important gathering of airport sector leaders from around the globe.

The event represented a welcome chance to catch up with many colleagues from the Saudi and Middle East travel retail sector, including Riyadh Airports Company Chief Commercial Officer Abdulaziz Al-Asaker and Matarat .

There is so very much going on in the Saudi aviation, tourism and travel retail worlds and it’s little wonder that WAGA attracted such a big audience. I will be spending a great deal more of my time in the Kingdom going forward and I will not be alone within the travel retail community.

As mentioned in my last Blog, besides supporting our long-term Trinity Forum partners ACI World and ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East, I had the privilege of moderating on-stage discussions with Avolta CEO Xavier Rossinyol and IPP Travel Retail CEO Phillip Nguyen (IPP Group is co-hosting this November’s Trinity Forum alongside Airports Corporation of Vietnam).

You don’t meet a more dynamic duo than this in our industry. Xavier is cleverly, ambitiously and strategically fusing the formerly disparate Dufry and Autogrill components into an increasingly harmonious whole. The 20 minutes or so we had together on stage left no-one in the audience in any doubt about the strength of his consumer-centric vision and his determination and ability to deliver it.

And Phillip? Let’s just say if we could bottle his enthusiasm – it would be an EDP(hillip), of course – and spray it liberally over our industry, things would get done at twice the pace they currently do. The Ho Chi Minh City Trinity Forum promises to be a hell of an affair. Do not miss it.

With Avolta CEO Xavier Rossinyol (left) and IPP Travel Retail CEO Phillip Nguyen at WAGA 2024 in Riyadh
Phillip Nguyen (above) joins me on stage for a preview of what is to come this November in Ho Chi Minh City

Riyadh Airports Company Chief Commercial Officer Abdulaziz Al-Asaker (above and below) has some exciting plans to be unhatched at King Khalid International Airport
I say a warm thank you to Abdulaziz Al-Asaker, pictured here with Riyadh Airports Business Development Senior Manager Dakhel Aldakhil. Abdulaziz will be a star turn at The Trinity Forum 2024 due to be held in Ho Chi Minh City on 5-6 November.
Avolta may yet lack a footprint in the Kingdom but that will surely change soon if the company’s expansive exhibition presence at WAGA is anything to go by. I am pictured with (from left) Avolta senior executives Luis Marin, Isabel Zarza, Freda Cheung, Alexandre Tabacoff and Pedro Castro
I swear I did not photoshop (in or out) the purple blotches in this photo but you have to admit that the Avolta hue does get (just about) everywhere. Pictured left to right are Gebr Heinemann Senior Business Development Manager Björn Buddenbohm; Aer Rianta International (Middle East) Chief Executive Officer Rob Marriott; Aer Rianta International Global Business Development Manager James McLean; Lagardère Travel Retail Middle East EVP Commercial and Business Development Jacqui Davies; me; Lagardère Travel Retail Middle East Chief Executive Officer Munif Mohammed;  Riyadh Airport Khaled Alangari; and Matarat
With Matarat Holding General Manager Marcus Spahn and Non-Aero Business Development Director Saltan Alsaltan
How nice to catch up with Changi Airports Group Chief Executive Officer Lee Seow Hiang, who will step down on 1 July after 15 years in the role. You can read my tribute to this remarkable man here.
I was delighted to meet Guangdong Airport Management Group Company Deputy General Manager Yang Xijiang during the spectacular WAGA Gala dinner
(Left to right) Maponya Group Director and Chairperson Chichi Maponya; Aer Rianta International (Middle East) Chief Executive Officer Rob Marriott; Aer Rianta International Global Business Development Manager James McLean; Lagardère Travel Retail Middle East EVP Commercial and Business Development Jacqui Davies and her fellow flying Kiwi, a certain well-known travel retail publisher

Do not try this at home. An aerial ballet performer welcomes guests to the WAGA Gala dinner
Checking in at King Khalid International Airport Terminal 3 and a chance to peruse the Aelia Duty Free store, still work in progress but with some satisfying spends in key categories
Nice new branding from Riyadh (RUH) Duty Free

With Maher and Khaleel, top professionals helping to drive spend in Aelia Duty Free

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