Where We Are Going Today: Crate offers space to startups in Jeddah

Updated 13 April 2018

Where We Are Going Today: Crate offers space to startups in Jeddah

  • Crate offers shelf-space-for-rent to local startups in Jeddah
  • High startup costs make it difficult for new businesses to get off the ground

JEDDAH: Ever had a great business product but lacked the means to properly promote it? Crate is a store in Jeddah that offers shelf-space-for-rent to local startups and online businesses. As online startups in Saudi Arabia increase, Crate is offering an alternative to the increased competition of online businesses found on Instagram. It provides a platform for wider exposure of business brands within the retail-market niche. The aim is to promote and advise online businesses on the appropriate government steps and protocols that coincide with labor laws in Saudi Arabia, while professionally guiding them through the process of establishing, managing and operating their own store independently.

High startup costs make it difficult for new businesses to establish their own store from the beginning. Crates’ business model has been structured to position itself in the middle of a startup’s lifecycle, between the stage of solely being an online business and the opening of a store. Crate has capitalized on the influx of social-media businesses and has found a gap in the market for new businesses to dip their toes into the retail market and get a feel for how their product is received by reaching local consumers on a larger scale.

Location: Al-Salamah, Jeddah

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 14 min 35 sec ago

Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.

Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.

As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.

The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.