Viral Shawarmer campaign turns into Riyadh street art

Artist Abdullah Al-Othman and Faisal Al-Rasheed, Shawarmer director of marketing, stand next to the artwork in Riyadh.
Updated 10 July 2019

Viral Shawarmer campaign turns into Riyadh street art

The Riyadh street art scene has an unconventional new addition with the unveiling of a new piece of work from popular local artist and poet Abdullah Al-Othman.

What makes this new piece of work so unique? It is a 4-meter by 4-meter monument made up of more than 20,000 cheese graters! Titled “Light Grating,” the artwork was commissioned by the restaurant group Shawarmer after a marketing campaign for a new product became a Saudi viral sensation.

“We were launching a new sandwich in the form of a shawarma with shredded cheese as a key component, we thought it would be fun to give away sandwiches to anyone who brought in a cheese grater. We were expecting maybe 500 or 600 responses. Then it went viral and we were overwhelmed with the engagement of our customers. The next thing we know we have to figure out what to do with more than 20,000 cheese graters,” said Faisal Al-Rasheed, Shawarmer director of marketing.

While the amazing customer response was great for business, figuring out what to do with so many kitchen utensils presented an unexpected dilemma. 

“We couldn’t in good conscience send so many cheese graters to the landfill, particularly for a company that is championing Saudi Arabia’s food waste issue. With promoting local artists being such an important platform of Riyadh culture, commissioning a work of art would allow us to memorialize our Althaiybah promotion while contributing something to the Riyadh arts and culture community,” Al-Rasheed added. “What better artist to take on the challenge of finding inspiration in cheese graters than Abdullah Al-Othman, one of the best-known street artists in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Othman specializes in unconventional and thought-provoking art installations, often incorporating a surprising and unique range of materials to make a statement. The Riyadh-born artist has had his work showcased in exhibits across the Middle East, Europe and the US, most recently participating in the New York-based UN exhibition with the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) and the Paris UNESCO art exhibition with Misk.

“With ‘basher’ meaning grater in Arabic and ‘bashar’ as a homonym meaning people, I wanted to create something that would capture and reflect the thousands of various families, homes and kitchen tables that these graters touched. I’m sure a lot of moms out there were wondering where their cheese graters went. Hopefully now those moms can see the story of their families celebrated in a fun and interesting way,” Al-Othman said.

The Saudi artist worked for more than two months building the structure in his warehouse studio. 

“We are grateful to Riyadh municipality for allowing us to share this new piece with the people of Riyadh. They have been so supportive to our local artist community and I’m proud to be able to contribute my latest work to help spread a new Saudi artistic movement,” Al-Othman added. “We also appreciate Shawarmer supporting the local arts community. It shows that with a little imagination and creative inspiration, even cheese graters can tell a meaningful story.”

Role of Indian engineers in KSA lauded at IEF meet

Updated 17 July 2019

Role of Indian engineers in KSA lauded at IEF meet

Indian Engineers Forum (IEF) Jeddah Chapter recently held its 13th annual general meeting at Hotel Ramada Continental.

Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed graced the event as chief guest and Consul General of India Noor Rahman Sheikh was guest of honor. IEF President Mohammed Sayeeduddin presided over the function.

Expressing appreciation for the activities of the forum, Ambassador Dr. Sayeed recalled its foundation in 2016 during his tenure as consul general of India in Jeddah.

He lauded Sayeeduddin, Amir Khan, Shuja Sheriff and other members and engineers for the activities of the forum and their contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Sayeed highlighted scarcity of water as an acute problem in the world in general and in India in particular. He shared his experience of interacting with engineers in the US, who developed a water condensation machine to extract water from humid air.

Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh applauded IEF for its services to the engineering community in Saudi Arabia. He highlighted how the excellence of Indian engineers in each sector has impacted society. 

“Our zeal to be the best in whatever we do was demonstrated during last year’s Hajj. The mobile app developed by the Consul General of India is going to help the 200,000 pilgrims expected to come this year,” he said.

Amir Khan, founder and chairman of IEF, said IEF provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, and technology exchange. He urged Indian engineers to play a vital role in the development of Saudi Arabia, which he said would help strengthen the relations between India and the Kingdom.

Sayeeduddin thanked Dr. Sayeed for his support in the foundation of IEF. He announced that, having served as founding president for the last 13 years, he is now stepping down and the new president, unanimously elected, will be Khan Mustafa.

Nadeem Ahmed Ali, executive member of IEF, delivered a presentation on digital disruption.

Syed Nasir Khursheed, IEF general secretary, conducted the program.

Indian real estate advisory firm/ institutional channel partner 360 Realtors LLP participated in the event and were the main sponsors. A presentation covering major construction, residential and commercial projects in India was made by S. K. Vivek Kumar, head of international sales, 360 Realtors. Amit Hariyal also delivered a presentation on residential projects across the Indian cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. 

Abdul Rahman, general manager of TA Infra Projects, expressed happiness to be part of the IEF.

Khader Memon made a presentation titled “Special Investment Plan.”

The chief guest, guest of honor and sponsors were presented mementoes as a token of appreciation by the IEF president and executive committee. This was followed by the release of the annual magazine of the forum, Spectrum 2019, edited by Muazzam Sayeed.

A lively session of quiz was conducted by Munnawar Amafh. 

The event was attended by a number of guests from across the Kingdom, including Abdul Haseeb Hazari, Danish Ghafoor, Siadat Ali Khan, Shameem Kausar and Ahmed Omais.

The program started with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Talha Khan. Ashraf Nawaz Qureshi, IEF treasurer, welcomed the guests.

IEF Vice President Abu Bakar Sherkhan introduced the chief guest while Mohammed Shoebuddin, IEF chief coordinator, presented a vote of thanks.