Khartoum: Abdul Wahhab Juma’a
In only few years, Mazen Mohammad Abdul-Rahman reached a vision backed by creative ideas, which made him an entrepreneur in sustainable tourism that amalgamates tourism operations with the benefit of local communities neighboring tourism sites.
Sudan’s largest initiative
Mazin is the founder and innovator of “Visit Sudan”, which is the largest initiative to encourage tourism in Sudan and is characterized by highly appreciating the sustainable tourism which in practice is the involvement of local communities in tourism industry. He emphasizes that the villages neighboring tourist sites should benefit from tourism income.
Mazin , as an advocate of entrepreneurship tourism culture believes that the problem of tourism in Sudan is related to monopoly by foreign companies, not national ones, and these companies take possession of everything that the tourist pays and transfer the financial gains abroad .He adds: “They leave nothing to the local communities.”
Mazin says that the initiative protects and preserves the Wold Heritage sites in Sudan by making tourism sustainable which means the involvement of local communities in the tourism industry. Here he indicates to the importance of villages neighboring tourist sites having their share from tourism income.
Mazen’s efforts in sustainable tourism come at a time when Sudan is looking for political and economic stability, so Mazin’s efforts reinforce the country’s status as a home of an ancient cultural and historical heritage dating back thousands of years.
Make a brand for youth in society
The twenty-year-old young man who specializes in developing local communities through sustainable tourism provides a solution to this dilemma through (local housing), which is housing and hosting tourists in the homes of local communities individuals . Here the value of hosting the tourist goes to one side, the tourist pays the value of hosting to the residents living next to the site , and the Mazen’s initiative works to help the locals to prepare these houses to receive tourists.
“We are beginning to help entrepreneurs and activists in local communities to have a place in sustainable tourism,” Mazin notes that they are helping young people to create a “brand” for their business to be the biggest attraction for tourists.
Building bridges … between two worlds
Gradually, “Visit Sudan” has turned into a “bridge” between tourists and local tourism companies, says Mazin: “[Sudan Visa] has turned into a platform for tourism companies and local communities working in tourism.”
Mazin, who relied on himself to develop his business, said that the integration of tourism and local communities has brought about a major change in the vision of tourists to themselves and a qualitative shift in the issue of sustainable tourism. He adds: “A tourist can live Sudanese life in all its diversity … from food to camel rides”. Here he indicates to an experience of a Sudanese woman from one of the local communities who invested in putting “henna” at the hands of the tourists, pointing out that the woman earned a considerable income in foreign currency and so raised the living level of her family.
Several handicrafts produced by the local communities involved in sustainable tourism, from bracelets and fabrics to beaded products, have become very popular to tourists, contributing to increasing the income of these communities.
The largest tourism platform in Sudan
Mazin worked hard to develop his idea, and the initiative page on the communication platforms quickly became very popular. On the Facebook platform, “Visit Sudan” page became the largest tourism page in Sudan, and the number of its followers reached more than (230) thousand followers, while viewing reached more than a million watch.
Mazin recently participated in the “African Young Leaders Initiative” in the “Mandela – Washington Fellowship” program, which includes courses for 6 weeks. Mazin says: “I participated in entrepreneurship and business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.”
Mazen notes that he was later chosen in the “Innovation Lab to unleash” program, an initiative to select (1000) talented young people, to work on the field of “sustainable tourism”, which is one of the 12 axes of the sustainable development goals related to “responsible and rational production and consumption”
Mazen says that he spent 9 days there “ It was a wonderful and successful experience I acquired much knowledge from the workshops . I also gained remarkable experiences by communicating with young people from (173) countries divided on several topics”.
Flying by the flying rug of technology
Mazen’s willpower, patience, and diligence pushed the organizers of this initiative to choose him, along with colleagues from Japan, Hong Kong, and Ecuador, to design the “Troy” project that will start from Sudan, which is a participatory platform for sustainable tourism.
Participation in the initiative enabled Mazin to launch an idea with colleagues on another important project designed to be implemented in the state of Vietnam. He says that the application allows tourists to know which tourism sites are overcrowded during their tours, which helps them to avoid these sites and shift to similar sites. He commented “The project won financial and technical support”.
The story of Mazin is more like the flying rug story, as he ends with an initiative only to find himself eager to start a new idea in entrepreneurship to serve his country. Mazin says that he participated in the “Young Professionals Forum for the Protection of World Heritage” in the State of Tunisia, under the auspices of the United Nations Culture Organization And science “UNESCO”, and indicates that the forum helped conduct a “networking” process with young people from Arab countries known as “heritage protectors”.
Introducing the other side of Sudan
Mazin, with activists and decision-makers in the field of tourism, fought the “travel permits” battle, which was undermine the fans of tourism, and indicated that they had won that battle.
But winning a battle is not enough for mazin . Rather, he is always in the event of fighting a war for tourism. He says that they have started a new issue in “Visit Sudan” by producing a series of episodes on YouTube and on social media platforms.
He refers to the beginning with an American traveler named “Druinsky”, a roamer who visited (178) countries around the world. Mazin produced 5 videos about the American roamer between the cities of Khartoum and Meroe. He refers to the videos that they received 5 million views, and adds “Because of Druinsky’s videos, hundreds of tourists arrived in Sudan, following ” The impact of the steps of the American tourist ”
Mazen is now working on preparing videos with the participation of an Arab traveler named Ibn Battuta, who has 500,000 subscribers, along with another traveler from the Sultanate of Oman with 2 million subscribers.
Mazen explains the importance of these videos with these travelers by saying that they are promoting Sudan in a different way. He was silent for a while , then laughingly said : “It is a million times better than the conferences, forums and festivals that take place.”
The entrance of people to the economic cycle
Mazin, who has a leadership spirit as well as the entrepreneur’s, believes that participation awarded him how to rehabilitate, protect and reconstruct World Heritage sites and how to insert new sites in the list. Mazin concludes that it is essential to raise awareness of the local population besides the government’s role in introducing new sites to the World Heritage List and to preserve these sites.
Mazen believes that policies must be changed to support tourism, pointing to the importance of tourist visas, adding, “We are suffering in the field of tourist visas,” pointing to the lack of unified information on visas in Sudan’s embassies abroad.
The entrance of people to the economic cycle
Mazin studied entrepreneurship in Malaysia, but when he returned to Sudan with creative spirit, ideas and great ambitions, he was very disappointed, saying: “I was very disappointing … everything is difficult … permits and ratifications … even filming.”
He believes that the launch of the national economy requires speed in registering companies, noting the importance of startups besides giving legal awareness, and he believes that facilitating the procedures means that “many people will enter the production cycle”, pointing to housewives who want to increase their income by doing business from within their homes, however the complexities of the procedures prevent them from that
Mazun ,The young entrepreneur ,suggests that the state should initiate reforms in policies and legislations besides facilitating the start of business. Mazin gives an approach to other countries that speed up the business by conducting company registration licenses in one day, and he called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay attention to tourist visas, and indicates the role of large companies in supporting entrepreneurs, pointing out that most entrepreneurs do not receive financing, he adds: “Without financing, there is no business … Young entrepreneurs depend on family financing.”
Outcome of efforts .. changing people’s perception
Mazin ,the young entrepreneur who deeply believes on change , sends several messages. He says that entrepreneurs in the tourism field must be taken care of. He notes that the number of workers in the tourism sector in Sudan is small in respect to number of the population.
He sends his second message in “Community Post” and says: “Society should not despise those in professions” and refers to the professions of hotel and tourism.
He sends his third message to his counterparts ,the entrepreneurs, and says: “Enter the field of sustainable tourism … change the view of local communities … break the monopoly of big companies.”
With the start of the new year (2020), Mazin is preparing to continue his work in sustainable tourism, driven by the spirit of entrepreneurs after refining his talent and his ideas have matured and his knowledge has increased .. Mazen’s steadfast spirit will not stop as it was created to bring about change among local communities for a bright future without pains.