Designer puts life on the line to sell bullet-proof traditional Saudi clothing

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Alnahdi United Defense will open its first Miguel Caballero showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by the end of summer 2019. (Photo: Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Alnahdi United Defense will open its first Miguel Caballero showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by the end of summer 2019. (Photo: Essam Al-Ghalib)
Updated 15 July 2019
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Designer puts life on the line to sell bullet-proof traditional Saudi clothing

  • “We had to adjust to the culture’s needs and the wardrobe. We worked together with the manufacturer for two years, and made bullet-proofs abayas and thobes come to life,” Alnahdi
 said
  • A rough estimate puts the garments well beyond the normal price range of traditional Saudi clothes, but Alnahdi is confident that the demand exists

RIYADH: Saleh Alnahdi trusted his products to an entirely new level when he let a man shoot him in the stomach with a handgun at point-blank range.


He felt that he had to do it in order for clients to trust the what he was about to introduce to the Saudi market — bullet-proof thobes and abayas.


Standing rather tensely at the Caballero factory in Columbia, Alnahdi took what could have been his final breath, held it, and was shot at a distant that would surely have killed him.


“I was taking a risk,” Alnahdi, CEO of Alnahdi United Defense, told Arab News last week. “I wasn’t going to let them shoot me at first, but then I thought that if I tried it, my clients would trust me more.”


With that thought, the young man, then 25, donned a bullet-proof jacket lined with Aramid, the material he uses in his thobes and abayas, and let Miguel Caballero, the inventor of the material, shoot him in the stomach.



“It felt like someone attempted to pinch me,” Alnahdi said. “Not hit me, just pinch me. I was scared and held my breath but really, I did not feel a thing.”


During that visit to Columbia two years ago, Alnahdi partnered up with Caballero to bring a full range of bullet-proof products to the Kingdom, but there was an adjustment that needed to be made.


“We had to adjust to the culture’s needs and the wardrobe. We worked together with the manufacturer for two years, and made bullet-proofs abayas and thobes come to life,” Alnahdi
 said.


“People were very shocked that we actually were able to combine the ballistics material into the clothes in a way that was discrete, while maintaining the garment’s functionality and comfort
while complying with US National Institute of Justice Body Armor
Compliance Certificate requirements.”


As is the case with every expensive new product to hit the high streets of Riyadh, bullet-proof thobes and abayas have the potential of suddenly becoming the trendy item for husbands to buy
their wives and vice-versa, but there are restrictions on who can purchase these products.


“This is for a niche market, it’s not for the general public,” Alnahdi said. “Government, Diplomats, VIPs, these are our targeted clients. It could be that you want one, but not everyone can buy one. These are all custom-made products. You cannot walk in and take one off the shelf.”

This is due to government regulations on who is permitted to possess bullet-proof wear, as well as the costs of the actual garments.


“The products we have are not in salons or small ‘mom and pop’ shops, they are from a brand that kings and presidents around the world are wearing. The quality of the armor we use is not Kevlar,
it is Aramid, which is a little more expensive as it is more flexible, and has different levels of protection.”


When asked what the prices would be, Alnahdi said each was made to order. “We cannot give you a price because it will depend on the size, the level of protection, as well as the material the customer wants.”


Though there is no official cost, the rough estimate puts the garments well beyond the normal price range of traditional Saudi clothes, but Alnahdi is confident that the demand exists.


“There exists a very high demand not just for the thobes, but also for the abayas, especially now that women are working in the forces and can use them on and off-duty. It protects them from all levels of threats, from Tasers, stabbings and from bullets.”


Alnahdi United Defense will open its first Miguel Caballero showroom in the Kingdom, in Riyadh, by the end of the summer.


Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

Updated 22 July 2019
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Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

  • The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms
  • That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897

NEW YORK: Even as Disney confirmed Sunday that “Avengers: Endgame” had become the top-grossing movie ever, film historians noted that “Gone With the Wind” still has a strong case for being the most successful film of all time.
The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms. But that ignores the huge role of price inflation over time.
The epic historic romance, set during and after the US Civil War, sold the enormous 215 million tickets in the United States, far and away the record in that category, according to the Internet Movie Database. It’s box office was boosted by seven national releases between 1939 and 1974.
“Gone with the Wind” would have sold $1.958 billion worth of tickets today in the US market alone, based on what the National Association of Theatre Owners says was an average US ticket price in 2018 of $9.11.
Worldwide, and with inflation taken into account, the film would have taken in a stunning $3.44 billion, the Guinness Book of World Records has estimated.
That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897.
Consider also that the US population in 1939 was a mere 130 million, roughly 200 million less than today.
For some, however, the success of the epic film — it runs three hours and 58 minutes — is troubling.
With a story line based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, some historians see it as one of the most ambitious and successful examples of Southern revisionism.
Immediately after the Civil War (1861-1865), there was a broad push in the US South to cast the formerly slave-holding region in a softer light.
Those purveying the so-called “Lost Cause” ideology insisted that the Southern states had fought not to preserve slavery, but because the North was infringing on their political independence.
Yet in their declarations of secession from the Union, the Southern states were clear about their primary motive: the Northern states’ refusal to extradite escaped slaves and their “increasing hostility... to the institution of slavery,” as South Carolina’s declaration stated.
“Slavery is not even a critical issue in the movie,” said Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help,” about black maids in the South in the early 1960s.
“You have these African-Americans that are working for these white families, and it’s as if it’s just their job... something they chose to do,” Stockett says in the documentary “Old South, New South.”
For Randy Sparks, a Tulane University history professor, “Gone With the Wind” exemplifies the way Southerners were able to impose their version of events.
“There aren’t many cases in history,” Sparks said, “where the losers write the history.”
It was thanks to “Gone With the Wind” that in 1940 Hattie McDaniel, who plays Scarlett O’Hara’s faithful slave “Mammy,” won the first Oscar awarded to a black actress.
But racial segregation was still deeply rooted in Hollywood, as in many parts of American society, and on Oscar night McDaniel had to sit at a small table in the rear of the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel, far from the film’s big stars, Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable.
Producer David O. Selznick had to intervene personally to secure her a room in the Ambassador, which refused to admit black customers until 1959.