Ali Al-Zahrani, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sun, 2007-03-18 03:00

RIYADH, 18 March 2007 — Creative spirit and beauty blossomed at the Arab Floral Design Contest held at the Marriott Hotel here recently. Now in its ninth year, the contest pitted 14 expert flower arrangers, including four Saudis, against each other in an exciting contest.

Taking first place this year was Lebanese expatriate Sultan Novel of Nardin Flowers in Riyadh. Lebanon’s Georges Shehada of Art Floral came in second place. The UAE’s Baha Abdul Baqi of IKA Flowers was the second runner-up.

Out of four Saudi contestants, Moayad Gusti of Quasar Designs in Jeddah, won the prize in the Best Dried Flower Arrangement category while Mohamad Al-Dusary of Lilies in Riyadh won the prize for his entry chosen by the public.

The contestants came from the Kingdom, GCC and other Arab countries, according to Akram Sharafuddin, the head of the contest’s organizing committee and director general of Al-Zanabiq International Trade Est., which co-sponsored the event with the Agriculture Office of the Netherlands Embassy.

While flower enthusiasts enjoyed seeing the magnificent styles of floral designs of the contest participants, they will have more opportunities through Sunday to see more at the Kingdom Tower where there will be a daily floral demonstration after Isha prayers. Visitors to the Kingdom Tower will be taught how to make attractive floral arrangements. Five of the top participants in the contest, including the three winners, will host various interactive demonstrations of their artistry at work.

Since the inception of the contest, the Embassy of the Netherlands has collaborated in organizing this event. The Netherlands is still the world’s leader in floriculture, accounting for a quarter of its 18.3 billion-euro agricultural production in the EU. It also is the major floral exporter to the Kingdom.

In an interview Sharafuddin said: “We are very proud that we could create a Saudi florist, which is unknown to Saudi society. This year we have four florists who can participate in an international contest.”

The Zanabig Floral Design Contest (ZFDC) is an entirely Saudi initiative by Al-Zanabig International Trade Est. and was first held in 1998. Its goal is to enhance the artistic use of flowers in Saudi Arabia specifically, and in the Arab world in general. In the first year, finalists only were selected from the flower shops in Riyadh. Gradually over the years, the ZFDC developed into a high standard competition between floral artists from all over the Arab world.

By the ZFDC, the organizers aim at stimulating the sale of flowers in the region. It is remarkable that over the past five years a considerable increase is noticed in number of flower shops in the Kingdom and the total import of flowers to the region has reached around 8000 tons yearly.

The quality of the arrangements and the contest is increasing every year. Today, we can proudly and with full confidence say that ZFDC is the largest and most prestigious international floral design contest in the Arab world.

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