Saudi doll maker’s business idea

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Doll-making is entrepreneur Ola Almehdar's answer to a lack of diversity in the children's toys market. (AN photo by Lojien Ben Gassem)
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Doll-making is entrepreneur Ola Almehdar's answer to a lack of diversity in the children's toys market. (AN photo by Lojien Ben Gassem)
Updated 04 February 2019

Saudi doll maker’s business idea

  • Almehdar plans to produce dolls that represent the heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Entrepreneurial Saudi doll maker Ola Almehdar believes she may have hit upon the perfect business model.
The 26-year-old art graduate has set up her own enterprise creating dolls in the image of their owners.
She is already looking to the future with plans to recruit and train her own workforce to mass produce the toys.
Almehdar, who gained her art degree in Madinah, told Arab News: “The idea is to create custom-made dolls that simulate the personality of their owners, which includes their skin color, length and color of their hair, and their style of clothing.
“I have customers of all ages but generally it tends to be adults who buy the dolls for their kids,” she said.
Almehdar had the idea for her business after noticing a lack of diversity in the children’s toys market. At first, she struggled to source some of the necessary raw materials locally, but eventually managed to find what she needed online.
Her dolls take two days to create and up to five days to deliver to customers.
Almehdar said she had always been inspired by photos of Russian dolls, but when she was unable to order one for herself, she decided to make her own. She reckons her business idea could tap into a niche market in Saudi Arabia and her aim is to start teaching and training other people to produce the toys.
“I am aiming to establish a factory with professional workers who can create large and diverse numbers of these dolls,” she added.
Almehdar is also a talented painter and enjoys crocheting, sewing and other handicrafts.
She sells many of her products via social media platforms and at exhibitions. One of her most popular creations is a family portrait with 2-D dolls that pop out of the frame. Almehdar also plans to produce dolls that represent the heritage and culture of the Kingdom.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”