Rania Al-Mashat: “The Egyptian Minister of Tourism” | Talks at Google

Rania Al-Mashat: “The Egyptian Minister of Tourism” | Talks at Google

SELIM EDDE: Welcome, Dr. Rania
Al-Mashat, Your Excellency, the Minister of Tourism
for the Republic of Egypt. Welcome to Talks at Google. Dr. Rania is the youngest
minister in Egypt ever. And she is responsible
for tourism, a very vibrant sector in Egypt. Of course, she has had a
trailblaze of a career– PhD at 25 years
old from University of Maryland in
the US, and worked at the IMF, International
Monetary Fund, and returned to Egypt
to help with the economy as a subgovernor of the
Central Bank of Egypt– very important job– and then
returned back to the IMF. On this trail she was named out
of the 50 top most influential women in the Egyptian
economy, and is also a young global leader, and was
appointed Minister of Tourism in January 2018. So welcome, Dr. Rania. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Thank
you very much, Selim, for the introduction. And thank you everyone
for taking the time to come and listen to me. It’s very honorable
to be here at Google. Of course, all of us
use your search engines more than one time a day. And it’s wonderful to be in a
hub that promotes innovation, that promotes ways,
or finds tools, to actually cope with the
Fourth Industrial Revolution. SELIM EDDE: Thank you
for making the time. I know you have a
very busy schedule. And really, we want to
take this opportunity to know more about Dr.
Rania, your personal journey. You’ve had an
accelerated career. And the question
is, at what time, really, you felt that
there was a turning point, there was this inflection
point, I would say? RANIA AL-MASHAT: OK. Well, first I’m Rania Al-Mashat. I’m the eldest
daughter in a family where I have two siblings– two younger brothers–
and a very proud Egyptian, someone who does not really
see gender differences. I think that was part
of the upbringing. SELIM EDDE: We’d like
to talk about that. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yes, yes. And my journey is
one that started when I was seven years old. I come from a family
where my father is a political scientist. And growing up, the house
was full of politicians and public figures
at a very young age. So I would see all my father’s
friends at home having dinner. And then the following day, they
would either be on the radio, or in the newspaper, or on TV. So I was seven years old. And, you know, so I see
them at home having fun, and having dessert and salad,
and stuff, and discussions. And then the next day, they’re
all over the news and stuff. And the only thing that was
common between all these people was that they all had PhDs. So at the age of
seven, they would ask me, what do you
want when you grow up? What do you want to be? And I said, “dukturah.” In what field? It doesn’t matter,
just– you know? The concept that
through education you are able to have influence,
through being good at a subject matter you are able
to be credible, I think this was really
what shaped my interests from a very young age. So really, at the age of
seven they would ask me, what do you want growing up? And I would say a PhD, because
I want to be influential. And rightly so, growing up
I was always good at school. Came college time, I went to the
American University in Cairo. There’s a funny
story around that, but I don’t know how
much time we have. Because when you
asked about the– you have time? OK. You asked about the
inflection points. There are so many. SELIM EDDE: Always
time for funny stories. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. That is my life. Even though it’s good
positions, successful posts, but there are anecdotes
which leave me believing– and this I always say– we are a mass of energy. And so whatever you think
of, you can really achieve. And the universe conspires
for you, not against you. And when I was around– I was here actually in the
UAE around high school time– I was actually in Al Ain. My father was teaching
at Al Ain University. Dubai was very
nascent at the time, and there was only the
Weir Center and so forth. But I did a foreign
certificate in Al Ain. And in Egypt at the
time, you can actually skip two years of high school
and go to college if you had a foreign certificate. So I finished 10th
grade and was applying to go to university in Egypt. And you know, you’re going
from high school to university, you’re buying clothes,
you’re so excited you’re going to be able to drive,
maybe, to go to college. You have classes, it’s not a
classroom like in high school. And then two weeks
before college starts, the minister of education
with one signature takes out a decree that
says you have to have three years of high school. So like, my whole
concept and dream of going to university
just got shattered. But then– that’s when I tell
you the universe conspires for you– we came back to UAE. I was very upset. Half of my hair fell off– very, very depressed. So my mom told my
dad, [? Monem, ?] you have to go and help Rania. Go to Egypt and find something. He’s like, go do what? She said, I don’t know. She’s upset. You have to do something. So my poor Dad leaves UAE
and goes on a trip to Cairo, asks in schools, files a
lawsuit with other parents, because they cannot do
this, like, you know, two weeks before school
starts, or university starts. And then he met one
of his old friends. And he told him, [? Monem, ?]
why are you so upset? Just go to the AUC. They have a system which
is different than– SELIM EDDE: American
University of Cairo. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. American– it’s a system
other than the government universities. So my dad went, and they
told him, yes, of course, she can apply. But the thing is, tomorrow
morning at 8:00 AM, she has to be in Eward Hall
to do her aptitude test and English test. And I was in UAE. So my dad calls, can
you get on a flight tonight to be at AUC 8:00 AM? Because this is like a
test for all applicants. So I rightly do take a flight. And there’s another
funny story about it. On the way from Al Ain to
Dubai to take the flight, Air France, the tire
of the car bursts. And I’m with two of
my father’s friends. And we had to take
a taxi– anyway, and they called my name, I
just made it on the flight. I arrive in Cairo, 6:30 AM
on that Air France flight. And I go take the English
test and the aptitude test. And rightly so, I
get into university at the American
University in Cairo. This was in 1991. And at that time in 1991–
since we’re here talking about digitalization and
Google and all that– computers were very new. At that time there
was a floppy disk. The 5 and 1/2 floppy disk. And in 1991, every
parent wanted their kids to be a computer scientist. And AUC at the time did not
have engineering for hardware, but there was programming– software. So my parents kept
on telling me, you have to be a computer
scientist, you have to be– go into computers. I was like– so
I do my advising. I take 106. I declare computer. I spend two years as a
computer science major, of course acing all my classes,
having the highest GPA. But sitting with
myself, I would say, I would never do anything
related to computer unless I had an assignment
from a professor. So if I graduate, how am I
supposed to show my true self? How am I supposed
to show my skills, if it’s only fulfilling
an assignment? So anyway, I told my professors,
I’m leaving computer science. Of course, everyone
was shedding a tear. How come? You’re the number one? Da-da-da-da-da. Then my parents were like, go
to business administration. That’s the highest
second GPA in the school. So I declare business
administration for one semester, which I
also hated, because it was all about 14 multiple
choice questions, and I always aced that, as well. So then my late father’s
friend, very close to us, he told me, Rania,
economics is a science. It’s a discipline
that has a history. Why don’t you declare economics? So at AUC I spent two years
computer science major, one semester business
administration major, and then 1 and 1/2 year
as an economics major. I graduated from
AUC in June 1995. I was on a plane to
the US on July 4, 1995. Another funny story. So entering university,
I told you the story. Now, during my
graduating senior year, I told my mom and
dad one day, I’m going to go and do my GRE tests. So they said why? I said, because I’m
going to graduate, and I’m going to
go and do my PhD. And my mom looked
at me and said, but I don’t want you to
travel and do your PhD. You work here a little
bit, you get married, and then you go and do your PhD. So then I went to my father
and told him, I want to travel. I want to go do my GRE because
I want to travel and do my PhD. And he said, well,
did you ask your mom? I’m like, guys, I told you
this since I was seven. I was very clear
with what I wanted. So anyway, I got refused from
both parents, no traveling. So then I applied to different,
of course, jobs at that time. SELIM EDDE: In Cairo. RANIA AL-MASHAT: In Cairo, the
best job for any easy graduate was P&G. That was
the number one job, because it was the
only multinational– SELIM EDDE: Procter & Gamble. RANIA AL-MASHAT:
Procter & Gamble. So I got an offer
from Procter & Gamble. I got an offer at the
Social Research Center at the American University. I got a scholarship
to do my master’s at American University. It’s called [INAUDIBLE]
Scholarship. And then, in December
of 1994, my father was asked by the
Egyptian government to be the cultural attache
for Egypt in Washington, DC. So he traveled to the United
States in January 1995. He came, attended my
graduation in June 1995, and then the whole family was on
a plane to the US in July 1995. And I started my PhD in August. SELIM EDDE: So that’s the
universe conspiring for you. RANIA AL-MASHAT: That’s the
universe conspiring for you. So you set your goals. SELIM EDDE: Wonderful. RANIA AL-MASHAT: You
believe in what you want. You close your eyes and you
see that dream, and trust me, it will happen. SELIM EDDE: That’s amazing. So you discovered
economics a little bit late in your university degree. And then you went on to have a
PhD, a doctorate in economics in Maryland University,
which is one of the most famous universities
for economics, right? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yes. Economics is– and what
was so fascinating, and why I wanted to
do a PhD in economics is, at that time,
economic development and international trade
were very, very big. This was at the beginning
of the GATS, and the WTO, and countries signing on trade
agreements and free trade zones, and all
that sort of stuff. And the idea of country taking
policies to better the lives of its citizens– openness,
trade, flow of products– these were all very
fascinating topics. So this idea of a Laffer
curve, and how do people become better off, and
what should government do? All of these were very
inspiring concepts to me. So after I finished
that one year and a half as an undergraduate, I said,
OK, the PhD that I want is a PhD in economics. SELIM EDDE: Fantastic. So you sort of experimented,
and it didn’t work, you changed quickly– something that we promote
a lot in entrepreneurship. You know, if you want to
change, change quickly. Or if you’re going to fail,
fail quickly, and then move on. And then you went on– because you were
hired by the IMF, you had a trailblazing career. And then all of a sudden,
somebody said– you know, the home country calls you back. And you were extremely
successful at the IMF, because you went around
the world advising countries in Africa and Asia. I actually read “Daughters
of the Nile,” the chapter that you wrote. I advise everyone to read it. And then when they
called you back home, everybody was worried, right? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yes. SELIM EDDE: And I recall
this from the article that, you’re too young,
and you’re a woman. What are you going to go
back and do there, in a way. And can you expand a little
bit on this, and maybe share with the audience
the four Cs that you list? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yes. Just something about the
US and education and IMF, to me education was
always the means to come back and serve
my country at some point. The IMF was also– while I was doing my PhD,
I did two internships– one at the IMF and
one at the World Bank. And even though they’re
just across each other in Washington, DC,
the two institutions are very different. One looks at financial
stability in the world. One looks at more
different projects and developmental projects. And after doing that
internship at the IMF, I said, the only thing that
would keep me in the US would be if I get
a job at the IMF. To me, it was a
place where you learn how to create comprehensive
policy frameworks, how you sit down with
authorities in countries, whether it’s finance, central
bank, trade and industry, different ministers. And you have to convince
them with certain ways, negotiate and explain how you
better the lives of people. So to me, it was a very
important institution that would, again,
serve an end in my head. But I didn’t know when
that end would come– I mean, how I would
go back, in what form. And then in October of 2004, I
was approached by at the time the minister of
investment in Egypt. And he said, Rania,
why don’t you come back to the central bank? And I said, you know, yeah. When I was doing my PhD in
Maryland, most of my friends from Latin America,
they would either go back to the ministry of
finance or to the central bank. But in Egypt, the
system didn’t allow. You had to be a public servant. You had to– SELIM EDDE: Start from– RANIA AL-MASHAT: –start
from right after graduation. So for the first time in
Egypt’s government history, in 2004, 2005 people from abroad
or from outside the system were allowed to
take key positions. So I was very excited. I was given a subgovernor
for monetary policy. My PhD is on monetary policy
and public debt management. And my friends, as you
mentioned, at the IMF were very worried. They were like,
Rania, we’re worried. You’re going back. You’re a woman. This and that. And I said, this
concept of “woman” is something that I don’t
think about too much. Maybe seniority is more
important given our history. And then comes the four
Cs that you mentioned. And these are
principles of success that I believe in very much. And they are in this order– competence, connections,
confidence, and charm. And let me elaborate
a little bit. You have to be competent
in anything you do. And you gain that competence
from being passionate. So when I take a look
back and I say, OK, I was going to be a
computer scientist, I’ll probably get a very high
GPA, graduate with honors, and then be employed. But I probably would– I did not have that passion
to sit down and program. So you have to be
competent in what you do. And competence
comes by every day you’re learning
something new, and you’re adding to that
discipline, and you’re becoming an expert in
the subject matter. So that’s number one. Number two, connections
are extremely important– extremely important. You can be competent. But without connections, you
may not get to different places. You may not have networks. You may not have exposure. You may not be referred to
go and speak at a conference, or go and be nominated
for something. And just to have connections
without competence will never work, also. It’s not going to be a
sustained path whatsoever. The third is to have confidence. And there’s a very thin
line between confidence and arrogance. You’re only confident if
you’re competent in what you are doing. But if you’re not
competent, your confidence becomes arrogance. And that’s very easy
to be discovered. And that’s why
the order matters. And then the last thing
is to be charming. And charm is to
have this intuition on how to deal with people
in different circumstances. So for example, when
I was subgovernor at the central bank, I was
the youngest subgovernor. And I had subordinates
who were double my age. So there were moments you
had to be extremely firm. And there are moments where
you have to crack a joke. When you’re in a
meeting room and you’re the youngest, most
competent female, with many senior people, and you
have to grab their attention, they have to listen to you, and
there’s just a way, a demeanor, of how you present
your ideas, how you become very firm
at certain points, how you become more
malleable and more flexible. So charm is– how
I would describe it is, how you deal with
certain circumstances. So these are my four Cs. And that’s what I told
my friends at the IMF. These are my principles
that I believe in. And I’ll be applying
them when I’m back home. SELIM EDDE: So this is
a secret sauce, right? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah,
so these are the four Cs. SELIM EDDE: [INAUDIBLE] formula
that helps you accelerate. And then after
that, actually you were entrusted with the
ministry of tourism in 2018. You had a lot of
things in between. But we’re really eager to
hear about tourism and Egypt. RANIA AL-MASHAT: So it’s
very counterintuitive when you think about it. I was a PhD in economics,
spent five years at the IMF, spent 11 years at the
Central Bank of Egypt, seen different phases of the Egyptian
economy, the revolution, after the revolution. And then I went back as advisor
to the IMF’s chief economist. I went back to the
IMF in August 2016. And then in January
2018, while I am on mission in Jordan
for monetary policy and financial stability– and this is also
another funny story. So before going to Jordan,
which was on January 9, I spent two years in Siwa. And since I am minister of
tourism, I can promote Siwa. Siwa is one of the most
fantastic places in the world. SELIM EDDE: Where is it? RANIA AL-MASHAT:
It’s in the desert. And if you go to the northern
coast from Marsa Matruh, it’s an oasis. And again, I don’t know
how much time we have. But there is a place in Siwa, if
you make a wish, it comes true. OK. I guarantee it. So anyway I did my New
Year’s Eve in Siwa, and then went to Jordan to lead
this mission on monetary policy and financial stability. And from Siwa you take
salt. It’s for detoxing. So, you know, I take a very nice
bath on that Wednesday night– that was the 10th of January– and sleep at 9:00 PM. Wake up in the
morning, and I have 700 missed calls on my phone. Of course, the first thing
that comes to my mind, I call my mom in the US. Are you OK? Yes. What’s wrong? She’s like, call your dad. I called my dad. Are you OK? This is 5:00 AM Cairo time. And he says, yeah,
where have you been? I was sleeping. He’s like, Rania,
call this person. Egypt is looking for you. I was like– [INAUDIBLE]. So anyway, I call this person. He’s like, we want you
to come to be sworn in. And I said, sworn in for what? And he says the
minister of tourism. I said, guys, you
know my career– you know, banking,
central banking, international institutions,
economics, finance. Tourism? He said, yes. The president thinks
that this sector needs to be run from an
economic perspective. SELIM EDDE: Interesting. RANIA AL-MASHAT: And this sector
represents 20% of Egypt’s GDP. Globally, tourism represents
10% of global GDP. One in every 10 jobs
globally is in tourism. 30% of exports and services
comes from the tourism sector. So this was– SELIM EDDE: This is
in Egypt, as well? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Globally. SELIM EDDE: Globally. RANIA AL-MASHAT:
This is globally. So the impact of this
sector on a global scale is a very big one. And it’s a service sector. And given everything that
we’re seeing today with respect to services, the way
they’re being changed, the way digitalization
is making everyone from their home being
able to provide a service, it’s just a very impactful
position to be in. So this was on that Thursday
that they gave me that call. They changed my flight
from [? Amman ?] Washington on Friday morning to [? Amman ?]
Cairo on Friday morning. I was sworn in on Sunday. And 10 days later, I had to go
to the US and do my settlement and ship my stuff. And I didn’t even have
clothes to be sworn in. It was just a nightmare. So all my life– when you say
“inflection points,” I have like plenty of anecdotes. SELIM EDDE: That’s quite
an inflection point. RANIA AL-MASHAT: But I
took over the sector. And when I look back at this
year and three months or four months, I feel very proud to
be able to impact individuals, to be able to use
skills that you’ve learned in driving policy,
in designing policy, in creating buy-in from
different stakeholders. I think all of this, even
though it’s not your discipline, but the skills that
you gain definitely equip you to be
able to apply that. SELIM EDDE: Can you tell us a
little bit more about that– I mean, economist, doctor,
and strategist background– you’re a strategist definitely. So what’s your vision
for tourism in Egypt? It’s a large portion
of the economy. Everybody here has visited
Egypt, I hope, right? AUDIENCE: Yes. SELIM EDDE: So we all have,
at least more than once. And it’s actually a
dream for every person in the world to [INAUDIBLE]
Egypt and the pyramids. So what’s your vision,
practically speaking? RANIA AL-MASHAT: So
when I took over, I felt that the way the sector
was handled traditionally was from a very
piecemeal approach. So something happens and
we try and go and fix it. An issue here, we
try and contain it. I wanted to apply
newer concepts. I wanted to change the
narrative on the sector. And something very
significant about this– SELIM EDDE: In what way, when
you say change the narrative? RANIA AL-MASHAT:
Change the narrative. I wanted to show that we are
applying modern thinking when we think of such an
important and vital sector for the country. So I put together the ETRP. ETRP is short for Egypt
Tourism Reform Program. And it’s a structural
reform program that addresses different
pillars required to put this sector on
a sustainable path– so legislative reform,
institutional reform, new ways of promoting
and marketing the country, investments
and infrastructure, and international trends. So for example, having the
sustainable development goals as the heart
of what we apply, having an overarching
objective which is not counting
number of tourists, but making sure that every
Egyptian household has at least one person
working in tourism, that is a goal that I
believe we can achieve. And it’s a way to mobilize
everyone around the sector. Our promotion campaign, for
example, just to give an idea, has three key elements. The first one is– when you’re mentioning the
narrative– is [? P ?] to P– People to People. We want to show
Egyptian people are people of pride, peace,
positivity, progress, productivity. It’s the power of P,
people above politics. And the idea is, when you’re
talking about travelers today– and all of us
travel, and we like to engage with communities–
so it’s people and places. And we are very blessed to
have so many destinations in our country. And every destination has
its food, its handicrafts, its clothes, the traditions. So we want to showcase the
people in different places. We also want to showcase
contemporary Egyptians. The perception that
people have sometimes– women maybe staying at home,
not educated, et cetera. We have women who are in sports. We have women who
are in painting, I mean, in arts and music. We have very skilled actors
and actresses and so on. So it’s showing the
contemporary face of Egypt. So that’s the
[? P to P ?] campaign. Then we have the Grand
Egyptian Museum, the GEM. It’s going to open in the
fourth quarter of 2020. And– SELIM EDDE: In 60
seconds, what is the Grand Museum [INAUDIBLE]? RANIA AL-MASHAT: The Grand
Egyptian Museum is a $1 billion museum. It’s on the plateau of Giza. And it is going to be the only
museum in the world dedicated to one civilization. So all the pieces in the museum
are from pharaonic Egypt. And it will have the full
collection of Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun is the most
famous pharaoh, globally. And 5,000 pieces of his
collection are in the museum. And even though you
have Egyptian artifacts in different places
in the world, this is the only museum that has
the pyramids as its backdrop. So you can take a
selfie with Tutankhamun and the pyramids
at the same time. So very tough to beat. SELIM EDDE: We could do that. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Very,
very tough to beat. The other thing that
this museum holds– and it’s just so breathtaking
you just pass by it– it has all these ancient
monuments inside. But the facade is
very contemporary. And this is the story
we want to tell. When we say the narrative,
you have the history, but also you have
the contemporary face of the country. SELIM EDDE: And it’s
meant to open in 2020. RANIA AL-MASHAT: The
fourth quarter of 2020. SELIM EDDE: Great date. So this is fantastic. But practically
speaking in real life is that we have challenges. And when it comes to Egypt
and tourism, you know, everyone thinks the stability,
the security, et cetera, these are challenges. How do you deal with this? How do you address
issues like that? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yes. We have been through
different episodes. And I think lately the
government has invested so much in the infrastructure
related to security, and our numbers are
back up, and people have been voting with their feet. And also, internationally
for the steps that the government has taken
with respect to security, with respect to
the reform program, with respect to
changing this narrative, we have been awarded
several prizes lately. So from the World Tourism
and Travel Council, Egypt received
the Champion Award for Resilience and
Tourism, particularly for the topic you mentioned. And again, the idea that
people come, have a good time, write about this,
reflect it, encourages other to come as well. So the government mindfully
puts all its resources to ensure that everyone
has a safe and secure trip. SELIM EDDE: Fantastic. So we were at the World
Economic Forum in Jordan. And I was really looking
forward to your session, which was entitled “Tech in Tourism.” And we know a little
bit about tech. So really, we want to
hear your point of view on how tech can transform,
accelerate tourism, shape the tourism industry in a
country as important as Egypt. RANIA AL-MASHAT: So
in our reform program, the final pillar is called
“international trends.” And in there, there
are three areas– green tourism, women
empowerment, and digitalization. And I remember the days when
I would be traveling in the US and we would have to go
to AAA to get the maps. You’d open up the map. And you know how use our
pin, and then, you know, have these markers,
and so forth. Today you want to
travel, on your phone you choose the location,
you choose the restaurant, you have a translation of this. You have a trans– so really, and that’s why
I started by saying tourism is a services sector. And the ease by which
automation has helped services be delivered to customers in
an easy and more accessible way means that if you are not
joining this Fourth Industrial Revolution as it’s called,
or this innovative move when it comes to an important
sector, such as tourism, you’re going to be left out. So everyone makes their
decisions, where to eat, where to travel, how
to travel, who to meet, who’s in a certain place,
all through the devices that companies like yourself
very skillfully make available and make accessible to
all of us as customers. So the other thing
is, when I say– SELIM EDDE: We try be
useful, as you say. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. So when I say that our
overarching objective is to have at least one individual
in every household in Egypt working in the
sector, this can be possible by people contributing
one way or another, by providing services in an
automated, in a digital way. So this is a very
important scope, where you ease the
experience of a visitor. And at the same time,
you’re able to get many and more people
involved in providing that service in different ways. SELIM EDDE: Fantastic. We will watch this
space very carefully and hope to learn together on
how this is going to transform the tourism industry in Egypt. There are a lot of questions. And we really need to sort of– I have a question to ask,
and everybody’s– you know, what’s your favorite
site in Egypt? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Well, to
be politically correct, every place in Egypt is– SELIM EDDE: We know about Siwa. We just discovered Siwa. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. Yeah, Siwa is very
special, because– I don’t know if people know
about this– but Alexander the Great in one of his
expeditions passed by Siwa. And he asked the priests
in the temple there– SELIM EDDE: The Oracle. RANIA AL-MASHAT: It’s called
the “temple of the Oracle.” I want you to go and ask
if I’m the son of Amun. So the priests go
into the temple. And there’s a secret
chamber there. And they go. And of course, they
talk to the god Amun. And they come out
with the verdict, which is, yes, of course,
you’re the son of Amun. So Alexander the Great
discovered that he was the son of Amun in Siwa. No, every place in Egypt
is extremely special. I don’t say this because
I’m the minister. But even the seas. I mean, you have
the Mediterranean, you have the Red Sea. And in the Red Sea, you
have different places– [INAUDIBLE] Sharm Al Sheikh,
Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Sahl Hashish. It just keeps going
on and on and on. Dahab. If you are a backpacker,
you can have fun. If you want to be on a
cruise, you can have fun. If you want to spend a lot
of money, you can have fun. If you’re on a budget,
you can have fun. So you have the history, you
have the beach, you have the– many areas are known for
only one type of product. In Egypt you can combine
different things. The Grand Egyptian
Museum is going to have Sphinx Airport
30 minutes away from it. So you can see the museum and
then go to Sharm Al Sheikh, continue your leisure and
sun and beach holiday. So I think that everyone
in the world being a kid is fascinated by the pyramids
and wants to come and take a picture with a monument. There’s so much that can happen. And the first people to use
Instagram were the pharaohs. Every wall– SELIM EDDE: How is that? RANIA AL-MASHAT: They
have so many stories. They’ve posted all
their stories already. So it’s said the more you
learn and the more you see– and of course, now that I’m
a minister I get to spend more times at temples– the genius behind
this civilization is a testament, not
just to the Egyptians, but to all of humanity. The genius of humanity
is really something that needs to be celebrated. And you can celebrate
it in Egypt anywhere. SELIM EDDE: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Dr. Rania. We open the floor for questions. Please state your name
and what you do at Google. I had the– Pierre, go ahead. AUDIENCE: Hi, my name is Pierre. I’m part of the Cloud team. AUDIENCE: Wait, wait. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SELIM EDDE: Oh, right. RANIA AL-MASHAT:
So this is the mic? AUDIENCE: This is the mic. Hello, my name is Pierre. So as part of your path,
you joined networks like Young Global Leaders. How has this type of
network and focus groups helped you in your four Cs? And now, do you still feel that
if you had not joined, would you have had the
same trajectory? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. No, thank you for that question. Of course, Young
Global Leaders, this is with the World
Economic Forum. This is a fascinating network. And you know, no one
can do it on their own. To succeed, you need
people around you to celebrate with you,
to compete with you, to help you grow. Networks like this provide
you with a very robust support system. If I have personal
problems, I call. If I am in a country,
in a city, and I want to reach out and have
dinner with a friend, I call. If there’s a conference I want
to attend and I can’t get in, that’s the connection
that will get you in. So these networks are extremely,
extremely, extremely important. I remember I did a
leadership course at Harvard with my YGL group. And it’s a very
interesting concept. There, they split
us up into LDGs. LDGs are Leadership
Development Groups. And they put five people
from the network together. And we signed
confidentiality agreements, because it’s really like
a psychological group. We basically pour out all
our problems and emotions and so forth. So you have the CEO
of this company. And everybody is
really successful. And at the end of the day,
you discover that everyone is very vulnerable. Everyone has a weak point. So as much strength as
you need to succeed and go forward and so forth, it’s
normal to have pitfalls. It’s normal to feel vulnerable. It’s normal to need support
from different groups. So I mean, at the
end of the day, human interactions
are what last. Your title is going to go away. You might lose a job
today, stay for a while before you get your next job. But really what matters
at the end of the day is the human interaction. That’s why in a workplace,
whether you’re a boss, you’re a colleague,
you’re a subordinate, the human interaction
is what lasts. So always invest in it. So definitely YGL
groups are extremely– I mean, it’s a
fantastic network. It has served me tremendously. There are other networks
that I’m part of. And always look out
to becoming a mentor. Always look out to be mentored. There’s a lot to be
gained on both sides. SELIM EDDE: Great. Fareed is over there. AUDIENCE: Yeah. My name is Fareed. I’m a customer engineer
on the Cloud team. To go back to your roots,
I guess to economics a little bit, amongst
the general public, there’s a lot of
ambiguity and lack of clarity about how our
financial, and especially our banking systems, work–
things like fractional reserve and debt creation. Do you think that is just the
result of lack of curiosity, or is it by design? And the second part
of the question– fast forward 50,
100 years, do you think we’ll have moved to a
radically different system? Something potentially better? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Economically? AUDIENCE: Yeah, economically. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. You know, when you look back
at the global financial crisis in 2008, why did it happen? It happened because
the regulator was slower than
the market when it came to innovative instruments
that were made available– mortgage-backed securities,
all that sort of stuff. So given the technology,
given the innovation, definitely the speed by which
markets are internalizing all this innovation
is much faster, sometimes than the
regulator, regardless of where the regulator is. The regulator could be the IMF. The regulator could
be a government. The regulator could
be a central bank. The regulator could be in
the US, could be in the UK, could be in a
developing country. It doesn’t matter. But the speed by which
things are moving are definitely faster than the
way regulation is keeping up. And so by design, there is
going to be some sort of wedge. And the idea is, how do
we minimize the damage from that wedge? So all the regulations
that are happening today, and everything that
is being thought of, and all the discussions
and the panels is, how do you really try
and close that gap between the pace of
innovation and the way that you regulate
that innovation? A few years ago, who would have
thought Brexit would happen, and the implications and
the fallout from that? So there is definitely a
change in cryptocurrencies. So much going on. And the idea is regulators have
to be open to include ideas, and to include– you take a look at
the IFIs today– International
Financial Institutions. For example, at the World Bank
and the IMF annual meetings, there’s always
someone from FinTech. There’s always someone from the
“atypical” institution sitting on a panel, because
the regulator needs to understand how
the systems are evolving. They’re evolving at
a very fast pace. So absolutely. 2050, I don’t know
where we’ll be. But I hope it’s a better world. SELIM EDDE: Great. Last question, though. Where is the camel? OK. Victor. AUDIENCE: Hi, Dr. Rania. So I’m proud AUCian, too. You reminded me of
computer science 106. I remember that class. But you mentioned something
critical about people in tourism– people
being the core, right? And if you go to,
like, Sinai, it’s amazing how experience
sometimes trumps education. You see hotel workers
speaking Italian. In Hurghada, they speak German. And I’m wondering– you know,
you’re mentioning that in every family you want to have someone
in the tourism sector, so– how are we enabling, how are we
empowering these people to be– and I’m not talking
about [INAUDIBLE].. I’m talking about the
larger tourism industry. So what are we doing
in that regard? And do you see a role in tech,
for example, in helping them? RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. You know, it’s very
unintuitive that Egypt, with all its riches– and I was just telling
this to colleagues, I have never engaged
in a lunch or dinner conversation with my
parents, with my relatives, with my friends, and
anyone telling anyone, get a job in tourism– be a restaurant owner, be
an Egyptologist, be a guide, go and open up a hotel. It never happens. I have never, ever in
my different circles– my friends, my cousins–
nobody has this on mind. And this is very strange, right? It comes as a no-brainer. We have all these beaches
and all this history. Why don’t we capitalize
and leverage, and actually get people interested,
and trained, and dreaming of being
part of this sector? So we’re doing many things. Through the reform program,
when you take a look at it, in schools we’re going
to start competitions on ethics of tourism. And we’re going to try and see
how we can bring role models– hotel owners, company
owners, restaurant owners, startups who work
in the sector– how can they become advocates
of more people wanting to work in the sector. Because unfortunately,
the perception is always, we’re going to be a
concierge in a hotel, you’re going to be a waiter. The idea that it’s an export,
you’re going to be an exporter, you can be a businessman
or a businesswoman, you can be an entrepreneur,
you can create an application, you can sell that application
for a lot of money and be a millionaire. So there’s so much that
is not internalized, because it’s not advertised. I think that’s– and that’s
when I say we’re changing the narrative on tourism– I think that was the key. And when I do
interviews and I post it on Instagram or
Twitter, the feedback I get from Egyptians living
all over the world who say, we want to come
and work with you. We want to be on your team. We want to participate. What can we do? I want to do this for free. It’s just creating that whole
interest and hype about it, and then try and channel
through different partnerships how we can utilize what has been
successful in other countries, and apply it. We have a very vibrant youth. We have a very engaging youth,
people who are extremely smart but they want the opportunity. And I think through tourism– SELIM EDDE: [INAUDIBLE]. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Yeah. Through tourism,
there’s so much you can contribute to
that there can be an opportunity for
everyone who’s interested and who’s serious. SELIM EDDE: Changing the
mindset is critical with respect to the youth in
Egypt for tourism. By the way, my
personal favorite– it should be on
everyone’s bucket list– is the Nile Cruise. Who has done the
Nile Cruise here? Why the rest haven’t done it? You have to do it. AUDIENCE: Because [INAUDIBLE]. SELIM EDDE: It’s
absolutely wonderful. Dr. Rania, thank you
so much for your time. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Thank
you for having me. SELIM EDDE: And it’s
really been inspirational. And thank you for taking– I know you were
attending conference, you came here especially to have
these meetings and interaction. This is wonderful. Thank you very much. RANIA AL-MASHAT: Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

15 thoughts on “Rania Al-Mashat: “The Egyptian Minister of Tourism” | Talks at Google

  1. I went to the King Tut exhibit in Dallas several years back and apparently there was only enough travelers insurance in the world to cover his grandmummy and her collection of crap to come over but not enough insurance to cover his trip. I'm pretty sure he can't die again so I'm not sure why he needs insurance, unless it's to call Dallas out for the false advertising and/or being sexist because they had his face on all the banners and flyers for the exhibit to make more money, rather than his grandmummy's face. (Probably cuz it was creepy?)

  2. The IMF doesn't seek to better peoples lives they seek profits they're fraudsters' they'll make people debt slaves forever competence is not necessarily good, take Nazi for instance. And being educated isn't the best way to decide credibility either I'dve asked if she's a Zionist but her scewed expectations for human development discredits her enough.

  3. Rania Al-Mashat is a LIAR! I live in Europe and nobody wants to VISIT, travel to Egypt. The Egyptian people are starving, no money, no jobs. Society is totally collapsing. Roads are dirty. The food has no taste. People's morals are at the bottom. The criminality is high. Egypt is in total catastrophe. That's the truth.

  4. Rania Al-Mashat is a LIAR! I live in Europe and nobody wants to VISIT, travel to Egypt. The Egyptian people are starving, no money, no jobs. Society is totally collapsing. Roads are dirty. The food has no taste. People's morals are at the bottom. The criminality is high. Egypt is in total catastrophe. That's the truth.

  5. Rania Al-Mashat is a LIAR! I live in Europe and nobody wants to VISIT, travel to Egypt. The Egyptian people are starving, no money, no jobs. Society is totally collapsing. Roads are dirty. The food has no taste. People's morals are at the bottom. The criminality is high. Egypt is in total catastrophe. That's the truth.

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