Tokyo-based Saudi consultants thrive through cross-cultural innovation

The 10th Floor has served many Saudi and Japanese startups, public and private companies, nonprofit organizations, universities, government sectors and embassies. (Photo Supplied)
Updated 03 September 2018
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Tokyo-based Saudi consultants thrive through cross-cultural innovation

  • The 10th Floor, Inc. is a group of Saudi consultants based in Tokyo which operates between Saudi Arabia and Japan
  • Ir was officially established in March 2015

JEDDAH: The 10th Floor, Inc. is a group of Saudi consultants based in Tokyo which operates between Saudi Arabia and Japan. They have taken on many different projects over the years, from simple translation to communication management, creative video projects, all the way to bringing people from Saudi Arabia on business tours to Japan. 

Their areas of work are operation support, media support and cross-cultural support. Their services include research and marketing, overseas training, media and public relations, coaching and advisory work, project management, design and products. 

The company is run by chief executive Mutaz Arif, a 29-year-old Saudi, and his co-founder Abdullah Al-Khatib. 

Arif attained a bachelor’s degree in international development engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2013.

“I was a student in a Japanese university — everything was in Japanese. I thought first about exploring the Japanese society more, understanding it better,” said Arif.

His journey started in 2007. “We were the first batch of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program to Japan. I went to study Japanese technology and as our generation was mostly brought up by “made in Japan technology” I studied engineering for a while and looked for a job in Japan.”

Arif worked as a project manager at Japanese software testing company Shift  from April 2013 to July, 2014. “I worked for an IT venture company which was in the field of software testing, that was a bit far from my degree. It was quite an experience, it went on for a year and a half. I did the whole nine yards for the Japanese experience, working with them on projects with Japanese clients and clients abroad.”

After leaving Shift, Arif took on an entrepreneurship program at Draper University in California, USA. “I went to the States for something called Draper University of Heroes. After I came back, I thought that it was about time I started something, some sort of business, so I and a few friends started what is now called The 10th Floor,” Arif told Arab News.

With energy and vision, Arif took the initiative and put his plan into action.

“I was 25 at the time, and I thought maybe it’s time to start doing something with a group of friends. We were all around the same age and thought that it’s only these few years that we can try something new instead of just being locked up in a company and working — although the companies we all worked for were all good companies.”

The 10th Floor was officially established in March 2015. Arif explained that the name behind the company holds nostalgic value for him and his group of friends.

“We came as the first batch to Japan and we were placed in Osaka, some of us in Tokyo — there were, I think up to 75 students from Saudi but we called our group The 10th Floor because we lived on the 10th floor of the building, and we turned it into the company’s name,” Arif told Arab News.

The 10th Floor has served many Saudi and Japanese startups, public and private companies, nonprofit organizations, universities, government sectors and embassies. They include include Panasonic, Tokai University, Dar Al-Hekma University, JETRO, Seikei University, Chiba University of Commerce, the Saudi Ministry of Education, Uber, Watanuki, Badir, the Capitol Hotel Tokyu, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The 10th Floor’s experience with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) included creating a manga. 

“They wanted to create a manga to present to the higher-ups in Saudi, to explain the good parts about Japanese small and medium enterprises that they could transfer to Saudi.” 

The manga was inspired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit in 2016, followed by King Salman’s visit in 2017 and the announcement of the Saudi-Japan Mutual Vision 2030. 

“We worked with them on this manga from the beginning, starting with the story and the cultural perspective.”

We went really deep with them on how to draw the Thob and Shimagh (Saudi men’s traditional wear). You won’t find many mangas in the world written with this accuracy. And on the cultural perspective, on how to overcome cultural barriers and express their story appropriately to Arabs, Saudis in particular,” Arif told Arab News.

The group of young Saudis have acquired a deep understanding of Japanese business customs, and function with both cultures in mind.

To have a look at their work visit their website


Prayers performed for Jamal Khashoggi in Makkah and Madinah

Updated 16 November 2018
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Prayers performed for Jamal Khashoggi in Makkah and Madinah

  • A funeral prayer was held for Khashoggi at the Grand Mosque in Makkah after Friday prayers
  • Another service was held for him at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah after the dawn prayer

JEDDAH: Funeral prayers were performed for murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah Friday.
The congregation prayed the absentee funeral prayers for Khashoggi at the Grand Mosque in Makkah after Friday prayers, and another service was held for him at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah after the dawn prayer earlier in the day.
The prayers came a day after Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said it was seeking the death penalty for death five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2 by a lethal injection after a struggle, and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, Shalaan Al-Shalaan, deputy public prosecutor and spokesman, told reporters in Riyadh on Thursday.
The investigation into Khashoggi’s death will continue and Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Thursday that the Kingdom is committed to holding those involved in the murder accountable through the judiciary.