Saudi fast food favorite Al Baik ahead of Samsung, Google in brand ranking

Al Baik is one of the major vendors of fried chicken in Saudi Arabia, with over 40 outlets in Jeddah alone. (Photo: Al Baik)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Saudi fast food favorite Al Baik ahead of Samsung, Google in brand ranking

LONDON: A handful of homegrown Saudi companies have again trumped some international heavyweights in a ranking of popular brands released by YouGov.

Dairy company Almarai topped the list of most positively perceived brands in the Kingdom, appearing ahead of WhatsApp, Apple and iPhone.

Al Baik, the local fast-food outlet beloved of Saudi diners, came fifth in the ranking, ahead of Samsung, YouTube and Google.

Polling firm YouGov uses “buzz” scores to compile the listings, based on consumer feedback on the brands during a two-week period.

Al Baik — which is one of the major vendors of fried chicken in Saudi Arabia, with over 40 outlets in Jeddah alone — has maintained its position in the top 10 for the past six years.

A number of Saudi companies also featured in YouGov’s top 10 “most improved” listing, with Al Rajhi Bank in fourth place and construction giant Binladin Group coming eighth.

“Buzz scores show how brands are resonating with consumers on a daily basis, and ultimately indicate to marketers the level and direction of recent brand exposure. In a market increasingly edging toward a digital-based economy, digital devices and media platforms form an integral part consumers’ daily lives,” said Scott Booth, YouGov’s regional head of data products.

“This trend is highlighted by the seven digital brands heading into 2018 in a strong position among consumers. However, Almarai, Al Baik and Dettol are proving you don’t have to be a digital brand to produce and execute a winning strategy to positively connect with consumers in today’s tech-savvy market, and they too have a strong start to the year.”

Technology brands featured prominently in the listings, with Nokia topping the list in improved brand perceptions in Saudi Arabia, followed by Samsung Galaxy at No. 6 and Huawei in seventh.


Western Union and Facebook also showed signs of positive feedback, occupying second and fifth place respectively.


Gaza fisherman battles poverty with plastic-bottle boat

Updated 17 August 2018
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Gaza fisherman battles poverty with plastic-bottle boat

  • A broad slab of wood lashed to the top serves as a seat, allowing Abu Zeid to row a few hundred meters out from shore — far enough to go fishing.
  • Many in Gaza depend on fishing for a living, despite Israel enforcing a fishing zone limited to 9 miles in the south

GAZA: With hundreds of empty plastic bottles collected from the shores of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, fisherman Muath Abu Zeid has turned litter into a floating source of income.

The Palestinian father-of-four used glue and old nets to bind the bottles into a small fishing boat that he hopes will help him support his family.

Simple but effective, the 700-bottle craft is capable of carrying up to eight people out to sea, according to its 35-year-old skipper.

A broad slab of wood lashed to the top serves as a seat, allowing Abu Zeid to row a few hundred meters out from shore — far enough to go fishing.

It takes him about eight hours to pull in between five and seven kg of sardines, mullet and other small fish with his rod.

He sells his catch to passersby on the nearby corniche, making between 20 and 40 shekels ($5-$11) a day. Muath’s two younger brothers — Mohammed, 23, and Ashraf, 20 — accompany him on his daily excursions. Neither were able to find work elsewhere.

“I’m a house painter but because of the difficult situation I’m unemployed,” said skipper Muath, a descendent of refugees from a village near Jaffa in present-day Israel.

“So this boat has been a lifesaver for me and my family.”

Under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade, Gaza suffers 44 percent unemployment, rising to a “staggering” 60 percent amongst the young, according to 2017 World Bank figures.

The coastal enclave’s electricity crisis means sewage is often pumped directly into the sea, leaving its 40-km coastline heavily polluted.

Yet many in Gaza depend on fishing for a living, despite Israel enforcing a fishing zone limited to nine nautical miles in the south of the enclave and just six nautical miles in the north, near Israel. Muath picked up the idea for the boat on YouTube, where he saw hobbyists designing boats using plastic bottles discarded by holidaymakers on beaches.

“I appreciated the idea and said to myself, why not preserve the environment and create a living for me and my family — and that’s what happened,” he said.

The craft cost him about $150, borrowed from his father.

He hopes to buy a fishing net soon, “so that I can pull in larger amounts of fish, sell them and live a decent life”.

The craft is fragile and he’s hemmed in by the frontier with neighboring Egypt, but he says the waters along the border have plenty of fish waiting to be caught.