'Perfumes of the East' exhibition opens to visitors at the National Museum in Riyadh

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Updated 23 May 2024
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'Perfumes of the East' exhibition opens to visitors at the National Museum in Riyadh

Under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Farhan, the minister of culture, the Saudi National Museum, in partnership with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, has unveiled the “Perfumes of the East” exhibition which is making its first international stop in Riyadh.

The exhibition offers an immersive journey through the rich history of the Arab world’s profound relationship with perfumes; it introduces the unique fragrances of the East and the cultural traditions that have endowed perfume with its significant social role. Attending the opening ceremony were distinguished delegates from the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, prominent leaders from the Ministry of Culture and the Museums Commission, and participating artists from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, and France.

Highlighting the cultural and historical significance of perfumes in the Arab world, the exhibition traces its origins to the Arabian Peninsula, a pivotal trade hub that sourced and distributed precious aromatic materials to ancient societies. This trade sparked a profound passion for perfumes across the Arab world, and turned the peninsula into the cradle of a civilization that savored fragrances and used them to enrich human life. Over time, the use of perfumes proliferated as they came to symbolize familiarity, respect, and generosity in daily interactions.

Featuring over 200 archaeological items as well as contemporary artworks, the exhibition is structured around three sections, offering visitors the opportunity to explore different timeless themes.

“Sublime and Generous Nature” delves into the history of perfumes, emphasizing the discovery of the raw materials — flowers, herbs, spices, and fragrant natural resins — used in their creation, and the unique ingredients such as frankincense, amber, and myrrh that contributed significantly to the art of perfume-making in the Arabian Peninsula.

“The Scents of the City” guides visitors through various urban neighborhoods, showing perfumes as a collective experience deeply woven into the fabric of social interactions among friends, family, and loved ones.

Lastly, “Fragrant Courtesy” highlights the social traditions and customs associated with perfumes both in the Arab world and Islamic civilization. It explores practices such as perfuming, fumigating, and scenting guests to ensure that they feel warmly welcomed.

The exhibition routes are crafted to guarantee a balanced blend of olfactory and visual experiences. Innovative devices, carefully placed to release fragrances, offer visitors an immersive olfactory experience curated specifically for the exhibition by internationally acclaimed perfume designer, Christopher Sheldrake.

Complementing the exhibition is a series of workshops and seminars, offering insights into the ingredients of perfume, the art of perfume making, and packaging design.

This educational and cultural initiative aligns with the Saudi National Museum’s commitment to celebrate Saudi cultural heritage and promote the richness of Arab and Islamic civilization.

The exhibition is open to the public until Sept. 14, 2024. Entry tickets are available through the Discover Culture platform: https://dc.moc.gov.sa/home/event-tickets/343/perfumes-of-the-east/


Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups

Updated 16 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups

GymNation, a homegrown GCC fitness brand, has announced record-breaking demand from Saudi residents, ahead of the official opening of its first six gym locations in the Kingdom in August.

More than 120,000 people initially registered their interest in the four Jeddah and two Alkhobar locations, with the first phase of 12,000 memberships selling out in under 72 hours, breaking all previous pre-opening sales records for a gym brand in the Middle East.

Already the UAE’s largest gym brand, GymNation’s launch into Saudi Arabia aligns directly with the ambitions of Vision 2030 and building a strong, happy, and fulfilling society as the foundation for economic prosperity. With physical, psychological, and social well-being at the heart, Vision 2030 aims to promote a society where everyone enjoys a high quality of life, a healthy lifestyle and an attractive living environment.

Loren Holland, founder and CEO, GymNation, said: “The unprecedented number of memberships we have sold in just three days shows the huge demand and interest from citizens and residents in improving their physical and mental health across the Kingdom. At GymNation, we want to provide a far better gym experience at a much more affordable price point than is currently available from the existing operators. We are an inclusive brand that provides a welcoming environment for everyone regardless of ability, shape or size.”

“Our pipeline of new locations across Saudi Arabia is incredibly strong and with the support of our investment partners Tricap Investments and Ruya Partners, we are looking forward to an exciting period of growth and having a similar positive and disruptive impact on the Saudi Arabia fitness scene by breaking down affordability and accessibility barriers, like we did in the UAE.”

The Saudi Sports for All Federation recently launched its 2024 summer campaign, “Move Your World,” to help people engage in physical activities. GymNation’s launch supports the federation’s aims to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity and help people overcome barriers to healthy living habits.

As the region’s “movement partner,” GymNation will play a leading role in improving the health and well-being for everyone in Saudi Arabia, by making going to the gym less intimidating, more affordable, more accessible and fun for everyone.


Coworking spaces shift from real estate investment to entrepreneurial enabler

Updated 16 June 2024
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Coworking spaces shift from real estate investment to entrepreneurial enabler

Coworking spaces first emerged as alternative workplaces that reduced fixed costs like rent and utilities. Now, they are undergoing a major evolution to become strategic hubs that foster entrepreneurship and development in communities.

That is a critical development for SMEs, which came under unprecedented pressure during and after COVID-19. The pandemic did not just challenge traditional office-based work models and exacerbate economic uncertainties; it left numerous small and emerging businesses vulnerable, with about 50 percent of SMEs shutting down within five years of starting operations.

Now, the sector is increasingly finding support and the ability to reinvent itself through supportive co-working spaces. One example of this is the Social Development Bank’s Jada30 project, a coworking initiative that is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030. Unlike traditional coworking spaces, which are driven by a real estate investment imperative, Jada30 is an out-and-out enabler of entrepreneurship.

As such, it offers a suite of comprehensive services, including professional advisory services, training, and access to both financial and non-financial products to support the lifecycle of emerging projects. The result of this initiative is a vibrant business community that is both supportive and conducive to sustainable business growth.

Today, Jada30 has expanded to include 11 branches across the Kingdom, with plans to add six more. It currently supports 245 enterprises, providing services to 60,000 beneficiaries. The addition of new branches in Al-Jouf, Makkah, and Dammam earlier this year highlights the initiative’s commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is both resilient and expansive, enabling people to achieve their full potential and ambition.

Ultimately, the value of Jada30 is that it is not just a coworking space, but a dynamic environment that empowers local entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed. By changing our mindset from viewing coworking spaces as simple real estate investments to platforms of entrepreneurial empowerment, we are significantly contributing to the very economic fabric of the nation.

For our economy to reach its full potential, it is vital that we create the optimal conditions for new businesses to flourish and achieve their aspirations. Through Jada30, we are offering a vibrant alternative model for the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial development. This is an approach we can all get behind.

The writer is chief executive of the Social Development Bank.


SADAFCO’s sustainability report highlights progress toward Vision 2030

Updated 15 June 2024
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SADAFCO’s sustainability report highlights progress toward Vision 2030

Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Company has unveiled its latest sustainability report for the year 2023, showcasing its steadfast commitment to sustainability, innovation, and alignment with the ambitious goals of Saudi Vision 2030. Developed under the esteemed Global Reporting Initiative’s Universal Standards and as per Tadawul stock exchange guidelines, this report highlights SADAFCO’s leading role in integrating sustainable practices across its operations, setting a benchmark for the industry.

SADAFCO is dedicated to environmental stewardship, aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. Through initiatives like replacing steam boilers with energy-efficient models, the company anticipates saving up to 2.1 million kg/ year in CO2 emissions. Additionally, SADAFCO plans to offset 40 percent of its electricity consumption with solar power by the end of 2024, while enhancing operational efficiency through its Digital Factory Program.

Working toward a zero-emissions fleet by 2045, SADAFCO is transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and collaborating with NTSC to install EV charging stations. The recent acquisition of the first frozen electric vehicle in the Middle East underscores the company’s dedication to pioneering sustainable transportation solutions.

“We aim to embed sustainability across all facets of our operations. Our alignment with Saudi Vision 2030 is evident in our strategic priorities, which focus on operational efficiency, value chain enhancement, and regional growth,” said Patrick O. Stillhart, CEO of SADAFCO. He added: “Despite a shorter financial year, we have made remarkable progress in fleet decarbonization, digital transformation, and supplier engagement, resulting in significant improvements in our factory operations.”

SADAFCO’s sustainability strategy is centered on product innovation, focusing on crafting healthier options by introducing new non-dairy alternatives and reducing sugar and salt content. The recent launch of the Mezete brand by Saudia range products exemplifies this commitment, offering natural and preservative-free alternatives to consumers. This dedication to providing healthier choices is rooted in SADAFCO’s philosophy of prioritizing consumer delight and ensuring the delivery of innovative, high-quality, and safe products while empowering consumers through transparent communication and responsible marketing practices.

In tandem with its sustainability efforts, SADAFCO actively engages in social responsibility initiatives such as the Saudia Falcons program, aimed at nurturing and empowering youth. Additionally, the company’s consumer education campaigns play a pivotal role in promoting healthy food choices and fostering informed decision-making among consumers.


AMUOBA Jeddah Chapter elects new team

Updated 15 June 2024
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AMUOBA Jeddah Chapter elects new team

The Jeddah Chapter of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association held its installation ceremony recently at a local restaurant. More than 150 Aligarians gathered to celebrate the newly elected committee for the 2024-2026 term.

The election process began with a general body meeting on May 24 and concluded on May 31. The entire process, from nominations to results, was overseen by senior members Dr. Syed Hamed and Mahfooz Hussain, both of whom were appointed election commissioners.

The newly elected committee is led by Aqeel Jamil as president, with Asim Zeeshan Ali Khan as vice president, Prince Mufti Ziaul Hasan as general secretary, Mohammed Shahnawaz Alam as joint secretary, and Rabnawaz Khan as treasurer. Elected Cabinet members include Mohammed Sirajuddin, Athar Rasool, Mohammed Omais Ansari, Mohammed Danish Khan, Fahad Ayub Zinjani, Abid Hussain Aftab, Sardar Masood Khan, Abrar Ahmed, and Fahad Afridi. Outgoing President Ateeq Siddiqui, whose term saw immense social and cultural activity, will serve as an adviser.

Jamil introduced his team, and the induction process was completed by pinning AMU badges on the sherwanis of the executive committee members. The pinning was carried out by former Presidents Farzan Rizvi, Azizurrab, Nooruddin Khan and Siddiqui. Senior advisers honored the election commissioners and the outgoing president by presenting them with mementos.

In his inaugural speech, Jamil pledged to focus, with his team, on youth empowerment through training in public speaking and leadership, career guidance, and financial support for students via the “each one teach one” program. 

The new president emphasized the role of the Aligarh community within the broader Indian community.

Founded in the 1980s, the association’s Jeddah Chapter serves the educational, social, literary, and cultural needs of AMU alumni in Jeddah and surrounding areas. The chapter always seeks to promote the vision and educational ideals of AMU and its founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.


‘Saudi100 Brands’ returns to Paris for Men’s Fashion Week

Updated 15 June 2024
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‘Saudi100 Brands’ returns to Paris for Men’s Fashion Week

The distinguished Saudi100 Brands program, a flagship initiative by the Saudi Fashion Commission, is returning to Paris for the third time, spotlighting fresh talent at the SS25 Men’s Paris Fashion Week.

This year, 11 standout menswear brands, which have been carefully selected to represent the best of ready-to-wear and streetwear from Saudi Arabia, will be showcased: KML, Hindamme, Noble and Fresh, Noura Sulaiman, Not Boring, RBA New York, Uscita, 1886, Awaken, House of Cenmar.

On June 19, a spectacular fashion show will feature these designers, accompanied by exclusive visuals from acclaimed Saudi artist Rex Chouk and music by the leading Saudi DJ duo DishDash.

The festivities continue on June 20 with a cocktail party to mark the opening of the Parisian showroom. Key fashion figures, including editors, influencers, and buyers, are invited to mingle and engage with the designers, fostering valuable connections.

From June 20 to 22, the 11 brands will present their latest collections in a dedicated three-day showroom. Each brand will have its own space, welcoming buyers and press for an in-depth look at their innovative designs.

“Paris Men’s Fashion Week offers a unique opportunity to witness how Saudi heritage seamlessly translates into modern silhouettes and styles,” said Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Saudi Fashion Commission. “Fashion holds significant cultural importance in Saudi Arabia, and the local brands’ participation highlights the dynamic evolution of our streetwear culture. This event will spotlight emerging talents, showcasing the innovative spirit and creative energy that define Saudi fashion today.”