FaceOf: Nouf Abdullah Al-Rakan, executive director of the Saudi cyber security federation

Updated 05 May 2018

FaceOf: Nouf Abdullah Al-Rakan, executive director of the Saudi cyber security federation

  • Al-Rakan was appointed executive director of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming (SAFCSP) just recently
  • She began her entrepreneurial career at age 18, trading in leather goods, and has worked in a broad range of industries, including education, journalism, publishing, information systems, banking and telecommunications.

JEDDAH: Nouf Abdullah Al-Rakan has been appointed executive director of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming (SAFCSP), with the unanimous approval of board members impressed by her practical and administrative experience.

Saud bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, adviser at the Royal Court, chairman of the board of directors, SAFCSP, announced the appointment of Al-Rakan, whose many professional roles include being CEO of an educational organization, through his Twitter account, describing her as a great addition to the federation.

Al-Rakan is a graduate of the George Washington University Project Management Program.

She is also a Windsor Leadership Program Alumni. She is the managing director of Alimtiaz which includes Educational Initiatives and Edama projects.

She has more than 14 years’ experience in consulting, project management, communication and light manufacturing. She began her career at age 18 in the trading and importing of leather goods, and has worked in a broad range of industries, including education, journalism, publishing, information systems, banking and telecommunications.

In 2004, she established MITSCo, an information technology company specializing in programming mobile-phone applications, and continued in the technology field by expanding to sports portal programming and creating the Universal Sports web portal. In 2008, Alimtiaz Project Management and Consulting was established to provide consulting and business-advisory services to government organizations and local companies.

In 2010 she established Educational Initiatives to help develop educational and training programs in partnership with leading global organizations, focusing on promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to support Saudi businesswomen and train them in leadership and entrepreneurial skills, as well as technical and managerial training.

She also started an extensive program with leading global institutes and agencies offering extensive on-site research and development programs in support of SMEs.


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.