Future of Saudi cinema … gathering of world-class film directors in Riyadh

Saudi women arrive to watch Saudi short movies during the "Short Film Competition 2" festival on October 20, 2017, at King Fahad Culture Center in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2017

Future of Saudi cinema … gathering of world-class film directors in Riyadh

RIYADH: The third “1000 Dialogues” conference on the future of film and filmmaking in Saudi Arabia will be held in Riyadh on Sunday, November 12, 2017, titled “Film and Production: From Viewer to Filmmaker.”

The conference comes in light of the new changes taking place in the Kingdom with cinema as an integral part of entertainment.

The meeting will be held at the Apex Convention Center and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, according to Saudi online newspaper Almowaten.

The meeting, which will feature a number of producers, directors, experts and specialists in the film industry from Saudi Arabia and abroad, aims to improve the national film product in the light of successful international and local experiences for both men and women and the great interest the business enjoys by a wide segment of viewers.

The keynote speaker will be Colin Vaines, the British filmmaker and Emmy-winning television producer whose credits include “Gangs of New York” and “The Young Victoria.”

It will host two Saudi successful filmmakers and YouTube directors: Ali Kalthami, a Saudi director, producer, writer and co-founder of TV 11 and C3 films, and Ahd Kamel, a Saudi actress, director and author participated in “Wadjda” film and won the first gold award at the Beirut International Film Festival 2012 for her short film “Al-Gondorji” which was written and directed by her.

The dialogue will also feature Saudi social researcher, artist and star of “Barakah yoqabil Barakah” (Barakah Meets Barakah), Fatima Al-Banawi. The film won the Best Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival 2016.

“Cinema is one of the latest industries in the Kingdom,” explained Abeer Al-Fouti, organizer of the event.

She also said that a number of its fans and employees have achieved tangible successes in recent years, despite the fact that cinemas do not exist in Saudi Arabia.

“In the event of its recovery, the industry will contribute directly to creating jobs and attracting foreign investment to the country’s economy, as well as informing the world about the culture of this country. We have witnessed the rebirth of Saudi cinema with films that participated in local and international film festivals.”

Many citizens have also recorded great successes in the production of small works on YouTube, with more than one million viewers, often from young people.

“We have been keen to invite a selection of people interested in the film industry to attend the meeting with filmmakers and specialists from the Kingdom and abroad to enrich the discussion and to be more useful, to achieve the meeting’s objectives, and determine the best ways to develop this industry in the Kingdom,” she added.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.