Client Case Study: Expert Profile
Dr. Fiona Hill - Almanar Consultancy
The story of Dr. Fiona Hill is quite unique and intriguing. Fiona is an owner and Strategic Cultural Advisor at Almanar Consultancy and Victoria State Chair & Board Member of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI).
Self-described as a “Pseudo-Archaeologist turned real-life Anthropologist”, Fiona is curious, adventurous and intuitive. You could say she’s an Indiana Jones who quietly goes native instead of fighting bad guys for antiquities. Fiona is a champion of business, professional, government, and philanthropic engagement with the countries of Arabia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and now the Caucasus.
She’s also the organiser and leader of Professional and Cultural tours to the countries she knows best. #poweredbyyouli
Dr. Fiona Hill about YouLi
Expertise & Projects
Having worked in-depth in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, and even Senegal, Fiona is known for her First-Of-A-Kind projects. She is widely published in mainstream media and interviewed on television and radio in Australia (listen to her on John Faine Feb 13th, 2019) and New York about the conflict in Syria, as well as about the status of women in Saudi Arabia.
For Syria, her special focus is on refugee advocacy and community connections to Cultural Heritage and historic sites. A percentage of her professional income contributes directly to supporting Syrian refugees in Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon.
How Her Trips Started
An anthropologist with special expertise in the Arab countries, from 2002 to 2008, Dr. Hill served on the Australian Government’s Council for Australian Arab Relations. In 2004, when Syria opened its first Embassy in Australia, Fiona was invited to be present as the Syrian Ambassador presented his credentials to Australia’s Governor General. At lunch afterwards, she requested to be seated next to the Ambassador, and before lunch was over they were already the best of friends.
Within a year the Syrian Ambassador was inviting her to lead a women’s delegation to his country. Although Fiona had always lived in villages in Syria, with people who eked out subsistence lifestyles without running water or electricity, she selected a group of professional Australian women, prepared them in every way, arranged all logistics, and landed with them in Damascus.
Suddenly, from being ‘person of interest’ to Syria’s secret police as she kicked about in villages in the northern reaches of the country – because ‘normal’ European young ladies stayed put in Damascus – she was thrown amongst the government leaders and professional elite of Syria, and her group was fully hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism.
In 2007, the Saudi Arabia Ambassador in Australia invited her to do the same in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. So Fiona led a group of non-Arab, non-Muslim leading professional Australian women from all over Australia to be hosted by the King under Royal Protocol. She says she had never worked so hard in all her life – even as a rousabout in the woolsheds of her youth! Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman all followed suit, and later in 2019, she will lead Australian women in the Arts and business to Tunisia.
Fiona continuously refines and perfects the experiences, for her as well as the delegates, and now also takes Cultural Tours to the Arab and Muslim-majority countries that started out as women-only but now sometimes include the occasional male.
Fiona had been going to Syria for 25 years on many projects. Each time she came back to Australia she realized that people didn’t understand the context of what an experience in Syria was like.
She used her expertise to create Almanar Consultancy – a consulting company with the mission to transform cultural etiquette into pragmatic planning for performance by embracing heritage of all participants, honouring relationship, negotiating outside interference, and leveraging what matters most.
- For those INVESTED in Arab and Islamic culture who want to make that count for something in the world.
- For those UNCERTAIN of the Arab and Islamic world who want to get real, see clearly, and discover how good it can be.
- Fiona’s ‘Almanar Consultancy’ is a lighthouse that guides you on the journey to YOUR ideal outcome.
In addition to her core consulting business, Almanar Consultancy runs invitation-only Professional Women’s Missions and mixed Cultural Tours and you can see her latest below. If you think you’re the right fit to join in the fun, fill in the application form and Fiona will be in touch.
In 2019 Fiona will host 2 of her own trips – and in her voluntary roles at AACCI she’s organised all the logistics of their Trade Mission to 6 countries in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) powered by YouLi …
2019 Professional & Cultural Trips
Almanar Consultancy: Professional & Cultural Trips
Australian Women in Arts & Business Visit to Tunisia
The first ever Australian Women in Business & the Arts Visit to Tunisia will be an effective vehicle for creating broader, deeper, and more finely nuanced relations between Australia and Tunisia in business, arts exchange, and beyond – and we’re only inviting Australian women who subscribe to this aim.
Caspian & Black Seas Tour: Azerbaijan & Georgia ( +Armenia Option)
This 13-day Tour of Azerbaijan & Georgia is designed to explore the silk road and see where else the Islam stretched its reach, as well as revel in the complex of Christian history.
Breathe in Caspian and Black Sea breezes, drink Georgian wine, get a feel for Caucasian aesthetics, and be energised by hanging out with intellectually curious and super smart people who know how to live, love, and learn.
Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI)
3 TIPS for other Group Travel Organizers
“Clarity” – you need to visualize exactly what you want to do. It’s got to be something you’re going to get joy out of.
When you’re going to enjoy it, then the right people are going to enjoy it too.
You need to be clear that you are delivering YOUR vision, not what they have in their head. So they won’t be disappointed.
Visualize every single day, every step of the day. From breakfast to bedtime. That means thinking about what could go wrong as much as what will give joy. Because when your planning is rigorous, the doing is easy. You can arrive and let it go, putting all your focus on the comfort and well being of your group, and trust your well-briefed in-country colleagues (local tour operator) to smooth the path before you.
Choose who your customer is.
You only want the right people for what YOU want to do.
When you’re in control of people’s expectations, they’re less likely to give you any grief.