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.


Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

Updated 22 May 2018
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Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

PARIS: The hotly hyped “British jazz invasion” has been the toast of international scenesters for some months now, with breathy adjective-heavy sprawls penned on both sides of the Atlantic paying tribute to a fresh generation of musos who grew up not in the conservatoires but the clubs, channelling the grit and groove of grime into a distinctly hip, 21st century strain of freewheeling, DIY improvised music.

Now the Arab world has its own outpost in the form of Chip Wickham, a UK-born flautist, saxophonist and producer whose second album grew out of extended stints teaching in the GCC. “Shamal Wind” takes its name from the Gulf’s primal weather patterns, and there’s a distinctly meditative, Middle Eastern vibe to the title track, a slow-burning, moody vamp, peppered with percussive trills, with hints of Yusef Lateef to be found in Wickham’s wandering woodwind musings.

There’s rather less goatee-stroking to be found across the four further up-tempo cuts, which swap soul-searching for soul-jazz, soaked in the breezy bop of a vintage Blue Note release. Recorded over a hot summer in Madrid, a heady Latin pulse drives first single, “Barrio 71” — championed by the likes of Craig Charles — with Spanish multi-percussionist David el Indio steaming up a block party beat framing Wickham’s gutsy workout on baritone sax.

Having previously worked with electronic acts, including Nightmares on Wax and Jimpster, one imagines the dancefloor was a key stimulus behind Wickham’s rhythmically dense, but harmonically spare compositional approach. Phil Wilkinson’s sheer, thumped piano chords drive the relentless nod of second single “Snake Eyes,” Wickham’s raspy flute floating somewhere overhead, readymade to be skimmed off for the anticipated remix market.

In truth, Manchester-raised Wickham is both too thoughtful, and too thoughtless, to truly belong to the London-brewed jazz invasion — Shamal Wind yo-yos between meditative meandering and soulful strutting with a wilful disrespect for trend.