It’s been a great ride serving as the Expedia local partner for a decade. The journey started 10 years ago with a combination of luck and timing; I was at the right place, at the right time with the right intention.
In 2009, visiting Dubai, I met the Expedia Representative sitting behind a 1 meter desk. ‘You must come to Jordan, a peaceful country with authentic sights and sounds yet not known to the Americans and other Western Markets’ Expedia also was very interested to enter the Middle East especially after Petra won the New Wonder of the World. The meeting was meant to be and the rest is history.
Fast forward, a decade later, this year’s Partner Conference Bring the World within Reach was the theme with an all-star line- up, inspirational talks, leadership advice, and networking opportunities. The 2019 Expedia Leadership meeting was one of the best corporate conferences and a turning point for me and for Jordan. The conference was an investment in time and energy but an awaking of the many women and men in remarkable positions who have had hurdles some bigger than others but have put drive, hard-work, faith and moved-on and moved-up, truly an inspiration.
The conference open up with Expedia’s CEO, Mark D. Okerstrom who gave the audience a positive and progress look on travel and hospitality, only growing and getting stronger. After many years, seeing Melissa Maher, Vice President of Expedia, on stage, reading news release and admiring her tenure and moving up the ranks, I had the pleasure of meeting her and sharing Jordan and more importantly me and my passions. My take away from the conference is that Jordan's Tourism is a focus and only going to grow and be a positive indicator for jobs for our youth-both male and female, our GDP, and the creation of Ambassadors for the Kingdom.
The first opening session started with General Colonel Powell sharing his views in 'Hospitality' with stories and experiences with the Marriott Hotels and then gave his candid feedback to the boss, Bill Marriott. Though, General Colonel Powell lasting impression was his story on ‘Immigrants’; an immigrant himself who assimilated into the US system, served his country, rose the ranks to become the Secretary of State and served under 4 Presidents..... An American Success Story.
Robin Roberts who co-anchors ABC’s “Good Morning America” and created Rocken Robin Productions, was so kind, energetic, and engaging with the audience when she interviewed Barry Diller, Chairman of the Board and Senior Executive of Expedia Group. Robin had her back to some of us and was so polite to say ‘sorry, I'm from the South and we do not like to have our backs to the audience’ Robin, a breast cancer survivor acquired a new fan and a new viewer to Good Morning America.
And the finally, the courageous Billie Jean King , one of the 20th century’s most respected and influential people, and a champion for social justice and equality. She has created new inroads for both genders in and out of sports during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today. A day before I was to depart from Amman to Las Vegas, her movie Battle of the Sexes was aired in Jordan, a great flick starring Emma Stone who portrayed the legend.
What this all means to me is the inspiration, the courage, the strength, the guidance, as a woman and a ‘foreigner’ who many times is viewed as ‘OH the wife with little to say or seldom measured on merit’ a comment always under the breathe of many, use to put a hindrance on my ambitions but now that comment is buried in my book. In closing, the new decade is upon us and as a focused American-Arab women working and living in the Middle East, the new journey begins taking my profession, my passion, and my pain to a new age.
A firm believer in taking care of my home first, I try to choose products made in Jordan by Jordanians to share when I travel and be relevant to my new home. A special Thanks to the talented and forwarded thinking Jordanian entrepreneurs: Petra Orfali , Nosa Nasser, and JoBedu.