An Exclusive Interview with Her Highness Princess Fahda Al Saud – Emirates Woman – Emirates Woman | Dauktion

Inspired by adventures and experiences, Her Highness Princess Fahda Bander Abdullah Al Saud founded The Traveling Panther (TTP) in 2015.

What originally started as a blog quickly grew into an experienced travel consultancy that has enabled Princess Fahda, along with her co-founder Manayer AlSharekh, to share her love of adventure with many others around the world. Emirates woman sat down with Her Highness to learn more about TTP and her love of travel.

Talk to us about your career.

My career started during my final year at university in Lebanon when me and my film project partner started a small production company called Flix Films. Our first project focused on a short film, of which we produced two, which was selected for some European film festivals such as Berlin and Locarno. I concentrated on the manufacturing part of the company and after two years I sold my shares to my partner and continued my education in the UK.

I then had a brief career in my father’s holding company, a great learning opportunity for someone with no corporate experience. It also taught me that this wasn’t the structure I was successful in. I then spent a few years exploring my passions, travel and photography. I took every opportunity I found to visit places I had never seen and learned from great travel photographers on their expeditions. One of my most memorable was going to the Arctic Circle with National Geographic. It was truly an incredible experience that made me go my own way. In 2015 the blog The Traveling Panther was born and became the match that lit the adventure that became The Traveling Panther (An Experience Design & Cultural Advisory Company). My company celebrated its seventh anniversary this year.

You co-founded The Traveling Panther in 2015. What is the story behind the company?

I got back into photography on a trip to Cuba in July 2015 with my co-founder Manayer Al Sharekh and my closest friends. I was inspired by this country that seemed to stand still in time. Every night I showed them the amazing places and people I photographed. My friends kept trying to convince me to show them publicly on social media, but I wasn’t really interested. One night they took it upon themselves to give me a nudge and started a blog called Traveling Panther. My name, Fahda, means panther. Manayer asked if she could post some of my photos on the blog and I was intrigued by the process. On July 26, 2015, The Traveling Panther Instagram account was born. That’s where I recorded our trips around the world and people started asking us for help planning trips. Before we knew it, we had a travel consulting company helping people experience the same adventures we had. We were particularly proud to connect them to the companies, people, photographers and artists we met along the way and who made it so special for us.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I never saw myself as an entrepreneur and didn’t really try to build my own business, but I’ve always loved creating. Be it films, stories or experiences, I have always been fascinated by being able to see something from start to finish. Working with others to make each project the best it could have always been a part of me.

How did your childhood shape your outlook on life and your approach to business?

Growing up, I watched the person I admired the most, my mother HRH Princess Mashael bint Faisal (God rest her soul), on her journey of discovery and love for life. Seeing her build herself, her business, her career and her community not only drives me, but I find myself emulating her in a way. Her adventures and curious nature saw her take us all over the world doing daring things at a young age. white water rafting in America; exploration of volcanic tunnels in Africa; immerse ourselves in global cultures and broaden our horizons by meeting tribesmen on the plains of Africa; Meeting artists and academics in Europe – she was a true lover of life and knowledge to such an extent that this became the basis of who we are as a family. When it came to business, I saw a woman building herself through sheer will and dedication to improve in every way. Whether in the fields of education, business development, community development, and even self-development, she loved to learn and grow in any way she could to better herself, her family, and her society.

Would you say that you are more creative or enterprising – or both?

If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said I was purely creative, but building TTP opened my eyes to a business side of me I never knew I had. I’d say I’m both, and I think it takes a bit of both to see the full scope of the business.

What philosophy do you follow in your professional life?

My favorite book as a kid was Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In it, a conversation from Alice and the Cheshire Cat spoke to me about all facets of my life: “Alice asks the cat, ‘Which way should I go?’ In response, the cat says, “Where are you going?” Alice then says, “I don’t know.” “Then it doesn’t matter which way you take,” says the cat. What I took away from this passage is that you don’t have to commit yourself to the ultimate destination, you never know what the journey will bring, and those unexpected detours are usually where all the magic happens.

There have been major positive changes that have been made for women in Saudi Arabia. What are your thoughts on this?

That’s an understatement in my opinion. The shift in female representation in Saudi Arabia is impressive. Not only are we equal in opportunity, but we now have a presence in industries we’ve never been in before, such as: It empowers and humiliates at the same time.

What do you think are some misconceptions made about women in Saudi Arabia?

Unfortunately, there are many, but they change. I would say the idea that as women we are oppressed and not an equal part of society and that we have no voice is the furthest thing from the truth.

What advice would you have liked to receive at the beginning of your journey to success?

There is nothing shameful about failure, and success is not always admirable. What you learn from them creates growth, and how you act despite them is valuable. So pay attention to your perceptions and don’t be too hard on yourself.

You’ve worked incredibly hard to get where you are today, where does your drive come from?

I am motivated by the opportunities I see and the abundance of opportunities we are blessed to have access to. But none of this would be possible without my family and community, who not only support and challenge me, but work side by side with me.

What three key hurdles have you had to overcome in your career?

One learns about a new industry, tourism, which I’ve never worked in before. The second is running a business and finding my own way of making it successful, and how to run people and not creatives like I did with my film company. Third, as a startup in the tourism industry, you have to grapple with Covid-19 and find ways to pivot and transform in an uncertain climate.

What have been the three most important milestones in your career so far?

We are very blessed with our milestones and the three that come to mind are: First, after launching Vision 2030 in 2017, we were able to establish The Traveling Panther HQ in Saudi Arabia, and in my time being at the forefront of this new industry country. Second, TTP’s first major assignment would be to guest lead the launch of the opening ceremony of DGDA Turaif, leading to many opportunities such as: [the music festival] MDLBEAST and the Royal Commission of AlUla. And third is advising major international companies and corporations in our consulting position on all matters related to Saudi culture and integrating it into tourism experiences that showcase our unique narrative and culture, which I am most proud of.

Do you have any mentors or mentors who have helped you throughout your career?

My mother will always be the most important one, and her advice to always surround yourself with and befriend committed, successful, and accomplished people was the best advice. I am blessed to have these family, friends and co-workers who push me to want to do better and challenge me to do better. These people, most of whom are women, have been the beacon of my success. This is The Entrepreneur Issue – what does being an entrepreneur mean to you? It means I can do what I love and build a legacy I can be proud of. It also means I’m not afraid to try.

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