“Business Opportunities in Saudi Arabia” An Interview with Mario Diel, Founder, Chairman and CEO of IKAR Holdings, London

London, United Kingdom Aug 29, 2023

(MENAFN- Ikar holdings) IKAR Holdings is a multi-tiered group headquartered in London, majority owned by entrepreneurial partners, encompassing more than 40 companies – spanning across diverse sectors and geographical regions. Its structure is reinforced by a network of external global partnerships and steered by a leadership team composed of accomplished business executives with established track records of success, united with the insights and expertise of senior figures from the political and public sectors.

**Your holdings became one of the fastest growing groups in Europe, why you are now expanding to Saudi Arabia?

For me it was important to establish at first a solid and unique structure in a region familiar to my background and my experiences and this was clearly Europe. Having three vertically operating Holdings in place which cover from matured industries to the startup world and impact driven activities every field of modern entrepreneurship, I was confident that we are prepared to the next level of expansion, which leads us to the establishment of IKAR Arabia British-Saudi Investment Group.

**What in particular attracts you about the Saudi Arabian market?

First of all I am impressed about the vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud. How he is executing the transformation of his country from a oil depending country into a globally leading economy has my deepest respect. And I believe he is focusing on exactly the right sectors as he wants to become a leading player in renewable energy, environment, infrastructure, digital transformation, tourism and investment, and global sports with a concentration on football. And he is doing this driven by the establishment of mega projects and always thinking big. This is how I am thinking about IKAR and as an entrepreneur as well: think big as that’s the only way to create a real impact in your business.

**Why do you believe that Saudi Arabia is an interesting market for your group, beside all the major projects they are launching?

As the country is focusing parallel on the development of so many different industries, I believe that my group is perfectly prepared for it.
We are active across more than 14 different sectors, we have a strong leadership and best in class executives in place, which are looking back to decades of impressive track records and experiences in each of these sectors. We know what we are talking about and believe that we would be a preferred partner for every local partner but also western investors.

**Let’s talk about your leadership team, what makes your group so unique?

This is indeed something really unique about our group. Each of our holdings is chaired by a former government leader. Our matured industry focused holding is under the leadership of the former Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat, our impact driven holding, is chaired by the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Prof. Hassan Diab, our startup focused holding is chaired by the former deputy Minister of Tourism of Albania, Dr. Ornela Cuci and the newly formed IKAR Arabia is chaired by a former top UK diplomat and Ambassador, Edward Oakden. I never saw a second group which has such a strong leadership in place. And having operational CEOs beside them who have a successful background as entrepreneurs or executives makes it a powerhouse of human capital.

**What are your next business steps in Saudi Arabia?

We are already in the process to bring our knowledge, experience and our products to the Saudi Arabian market. This spans from e-mobility, construction and education to sports and hospitality. On the hospitality side with have two world renowned hoteliers on board who served in the past as CEOs for leading hotel groups such as Le Meridien or Mövenpick. On the sports side we have the former legal counsel of FC Barcelona, FIFA and UEFA as partner with us. And in construction we are currently in negotiations with a strong and reputable player out of the GCC region to establish a partnership.

**Your group is indeed different compared to most of the others; are you open for strategic partners, who would like to join your journey?

Yes, I am very much open for strategic partners and let me explain you why: I believe that the setup of IKAR is totally different in todays global business world. It’s the structure, the business approach, the focus on human capital, the geographical outlook, the integration of young talents, having more than 20 nationalities in our group, bridging the western with the eastern world and finally being the Worlds first Humicorn in the business world. This mix makes us unique but also lays the ground for unlimited growth. To achieve our aims in the upcoming next decades I want to have strong strategic partners with me. Financial strength is one criteria but having the same mind set and bringing additional value to our overall group are the criteria for me when defining the ideal partner. And given our strong set up in Europe and the Western World and looking into the enormous potentials in Saudi Arabia, my preferred strategic partner would come from there as I believe it would be a win-win partnership.

Editors Note
Prior to forming IKAR Holdings, Mario Diel was looking back to more than 30 years of entrepreneurship across various industries. He lectured for many years at private Universities about business and leadership.

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