Budget Saudi President and Group CEO Fawaz Danish’s career path started off very differently – he wanted to be a lawyer. Yet, after many years spent studying the subject in both the US and Saudi Arabia, he realised his heart might not be in it.
His family had spent decades working in the travel and tourism industry, specifically assisting people with the Hajj – the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca – and Fawaz had always played a role in the family business.
Perhaps it was his childhood experience in helping customers travel that led him to first walk through the doors of Budget Saudi.
Whatever it was that led him there, it was obviously a good decision, as he’s now been with the company for almost 20 years. The CEO Magazine spoke to him about the company’s plans for the future.
You’ve been working with Budget Saudi for the past 18 years. What has kept you there so long?
I started working with Budget Saudi back in 2002, when it was still a family-owned business and built on strong ethical standards and credibility – which it still is.
Within five years of my joining the company we, as a team, took the company forward to even greater success and Budget was listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange in 2007.
Today, Budget Saudi boasts a SAR3 billion (€738.1 million) market cap and a turnover of more than SAR1.5 billion (€369 million) per annum. It has been these kinds of success stories that have kept me with this organisation for nearly two decades.
What do you find most meaningful about your job?
Making a positive difference in the way we do business with transparency, ethics and commitment, and serving our nation by creating jobs, aligning with Saudi Vision 2030 and contributing to a better society and environment.
Budget is one of the largest car rental companies in the Middle East. What key factors have contributed to its success, and how do you stay on top?
Our focus has always been on our customers and continuing to deliver a world-class service. We do this by ensuring our vehicles regularly undergo ISO quality standards for cleanliness, mechanical reliability and professional services.
We have also invested heavily in our infrastructure development to ensure reliability in our services, and have built our organisation on the fundamental principles of trust, good corporate governance and dependability.
How are you helping Budget overcome some of the biggest challenges for car rental companies in the Middle East today?
The challenges are mainly the market disruptors that have entered the MENA region with no inventory at all. We are innovating our products, upgrading our technology and ensuring we deliver a digital transformation to enable our customers to reach us at their convenience.
Budget Saudi has already initiated steps towards energy conservation by launching hybrid cars into our fleet.
What are some of the unique opportunities for car rental companies in the Middle East that are not available anywhere else?
There’s no doubt car hire is undergoing a transformation in our region. The authorities are making it mandatory to comply with global standards, which gives a unique advantage to fundamentally strong organisations like Budget because we already have well-established quality standards.
Having spent 18 years in the industry, you will have seen enormous changes. What are the most significant to date? The technological transformation of our industry has been the biggest change.
It has led to a change in customer renting habits and we’ve seen that more corporate customers are opting for car rental services. Customer expectation has also grown over the past decade, which is why keeping pace with customer expectation and adding value to their rentals is our number one commitment.
How do you predict the industry, and Budget, will evolve over the next five years? We’re expecting to see car sharing gain momentum, as well as car rental companies looking at better ways to contribute to environment conservation efforts.
Budget Saudi has already initiated steps towards energy conservation by launching hybrid cars into our fleet. We are also in discussions to launch electric cars into our fleet, and moving towards ensuring zero CO2 emissions.
What is one thing you would like to change about the industry? Our industry lacks uniform standards. I would like to see every company in our industry follow the same safety and quality standards that we do. However, it needs the commitment of industry leaders.
Which is your favourite car in the Budget fleet and why? That’s a difficult question because I love all cars. Toyota and Hyundai are definitely the most preferred brands in our fleet. Nevertheless, my preferred choice for personal use would be a Mercedes-Benz. The safety standards and elegance of these vehicles are top class.
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