Meet Kiran Jay Haslam, the Chief Marketing Officer for the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, establishing Diriyah within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and re-establishing its position internationally, not just as the birthplace of the Kingdom but also as a center for heritage and culture in Arabia.
Kiran started his journey as a young man intrigued by nature and the underwater world of oceans and the Amazon. So, he joined the university to study Marine Biology due to his fascination for Ichthyology, but it quickly morphed into engineering and technology, where he completed his graduation. In his early days, Kiran toured the entire world as a jazz musician and composer, performing at concerts and festivals and writing and performing compositions for film and television programs. Kiran describes himself as a true nomad, fully dedicated to chasing discomfort and forever on a mission to experience new things and shift into new roles. He has worked in public relations, advertising, and media. Kiran has also worked as an editor and writer focusing on art, travel, and automotive. Recently he has also authored a couple of story books for children to raise funds for conservation.
“From a young age, I was exposed to the world uniquely and powerfully due to my expatriate family life. In my youth, we lived in Penang, Singapore, and California for several years, exposing me to different sounds, sights, smells, and tastes. At a young age, I took an anthropological leap into the work of Joseph Campbell, and that is probably where the first burst of marketing kicked into play to complement the understanding of human behavior I garnered from being a professional musician and entertainer. Campbell also joined the dots for me on Carl Jung’s “archetypes of the collective unconscious,” which is where my marketing approach tapped into the essence of branding.”- Says Kiran.
Kiran feels his most significant achievement at DGDA is bringing together one of the most talented marketing teams. This team has a unique Saudi voice with a global understanding and is motivated to take everything to the next level – even when levels don’t exist!
On the personal front, he feels his greatest achievement would be bringing a unique creative voice and touch to a corporate table and bringing significant change, which is hard to do in most corporations due to the ‘play it far too safe’ stance and lack of understanding on how creative arts can drive innovation in an organization.
A different Organization
Kiran knows everyone at DGDA truly believes in Diriyah, making it far less daunting to realize that nothing like this has ever been created or delivered. Especially nothing in terms of the scale or complexity, with the added layers of traditional architecture and mud-brick construction techniques, a truly smart city, and pedestrianized urban living, all of which are community-centric.
Kiran and his team are also enthusiastic about the fact that they have a significant role to play in Vision 2030, and thanks to the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and of course the amazing Jerry Inzerillo help them make enormous strides towards building a vibrant society with a thriving economy are taking place across the Kingdom. “Diriyah is unique in the rate at which it is coming to life and its significance being a human-scale development in the capital city of Riyadh.”– He says.
What Success Looks Like
Success for Kiran would be changing people’s misconceptions about the Kingdom. “Stereotypes in films and popular culture have fed into a very shallow understanding of Saudi Arabia for many people worldwide over several decades. They don’t know Saudi yet, but more and more people are visiting Saudi for themselves, engaging with real people – Saudis from all walks of life – and traveling across the Kingdom to see breathtaking environments.”- He states.
Being the 15th largest country on the planet, with so much to offer visitors, Diriyah will soon be a focal point for this visitation, and Kiran feels the project has a unique ability to remove all prejudices, misconceptions, and narrow-minded views, leaving all those who interact with us with a real understanding of the culture, customs, traditions, and warmth that are entirely unique to the Kingdom.
For DGDA, success can be measured over time by its contribution of over $7.2 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP, creation of over 55,000 jobs, and the attraction of visitors across the world to increase the tourist footfall in the Kingdom to over 27 million each year by 2030.
Kingdom’s At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site stands at the project’s centerpiece and serves as the inspiration for what Kiran and his team do. DGDA’s aim for Diriyah to return to being one of the great gathering places in the world, with the same status that the Acropolis has to the Greeks or the Colosseum has to the Romans.