Malika Favre: Artist who put Saudi women in the driver’s seat 

Updated 24 June 2018

Malika Favre: Artist who put Saudi women in the driver’s seat 

  • In September 2017, King Salman issued a decree declaring an end to the decades-long ban from June 2018
  • Some three million women in Saudi Arabia could receive licences and actively begin driving by 2020

French artist Malika Favre has created iconic covers for “The New Yorker” magazine, with animations that have gone viral online. So she was the natural choice for Arab News to illustrate our souvenir edition commemorating the day when women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
As Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, explained: “Our website and newspaper — which today features a striking cover illustration by artist Malika Favre — will provide comprehensive coverage of both the immediate impact and wide-reaching, long-term social benefits of this move.”
From her base in London, Favre explained why the idea immediately appealed. “For me, it’s exactly the kind of subject that I want to work with and tackle today. I’ve been increasingly involved with women’s issues over the past few years, with The New Yorker as well.
“These stepping stones are extremely important, and they should be celebrated. It’s also something that as a woman I feel very strongly about.”
What made our global creative director, Simon Khalil, think that the in-demand artist would take his assignment on? “As a champion of women for years through her unique creative style, Malika Favre was the obvious choice,” he said. “Her illustration brilliantly captures the significance of this moment on the day Saudi Arabia changed forever.” 
For the illustration, called “Start Your Engines,” Favre began with the idea of “something quite subtle, not aggressive, something celebratory,” coming up with an image of a “beautiful, Arabic woman” that tells a story within a story. 
“So, basically, I had this idea of looking at the car from the point of view of the woman who is driving, and so maybe the first thing you see is a woman with a headscarf and quite a colorful image, but then on the second layer you see what’s happening and you see that she is driving the car,” Favre said. 
The image of her hands on the wheel, and that iconic Gulf vehicle, a white SUV, are reflected in her sunglasses. These are animated online. “I really like the idea of this woman being on the road, because I think symbolically it’s about going forward,” she said. “That is also a positive element, to create a positive image of what this historic moment will change.” 
The topic also resonated with Favre because her mother, while she was born in France, is Algerian. “For her, she always wanted to have the same rights as everyone else. She was a big advocate for that. She raised me in that way as well. So for her it’s also an important cover on a personal level.” 
When asked about her favorite assignments, Favre referenced “Operating Theatre” for The New Yorker’s “Health, Medicine & the Body” issue last year. 
“It was an extremely important project because it went totally viral.” 
In her illustration, female surgeons are arranged in a circle looking down, as if the viewer is on the operating table. In the animation, the image is viewed as if through a blinking eyelid. Women surgeons around the world started re-enacting Favre’s cover, sharing more than 5,000 photos, with the hashtags #NYerORCoverChallenge and #ILookLikeASurgeon. 
“For me, it was a very important moment,” Favre said. “It reached out to an audience that wasn’t design-focused. It was something very profound that spoke to these women, and they took it as a very strong statement of let’s celebrate women surgeons.” 
Does Favre think the women of Saudi Arabia are up for such an assignment? “I think it definitely has the potential to do that as well,” she said. Challenge accepted. 

• Download our free #SaudiWomenCanDrive mobile phone background designed by renowned artist Malika Favre:

Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

Updated 29 September 2020

Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

  • Business aims to provide brands with the tools to boost revenues from online sales to 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey

DUBAI: Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has officially launched in the Middle East, with its regional headquarters in Dubai.

The agency said it is the first independent global Amazon services provider to offer end-to-end marketplace marketing solutions to international and local brands in the region. As e-commerce grows rapidly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Amazon is the leading player and presents a formidable sales channel for brands that establish themselves early, it added.

Research conducted by Podean this month found that 45 percent of adults in the UAE regularly shop on Amazon. The most popular category is food and groceries, which 26 percent of respondents said they had shopped for in the past month, followed closely by electronics and home appliances, which 25 percent had purchased.

The research also found that the benefits consumers value most are best prices, speed of delivery and range of products — all of which are factors that play to Amazon’s strengths.

Podean said its arrival in the region will provide brands with the tools they need to drive incremental revenues among a combined population of 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey.

In the UAE alone, e-commerce is expected to grow by 30 percent from 2020 to 2021, and consumer confidence in Saudi Arabia ranks as the second-highest in the world.

Podean boasts that it can offer brands strategic consulting and holistic Amazon retail and advertising solutions, supported by its global network of experts. Internationally, the agency said it counts more than 80 leading brands among its clients, who can leverage the company’s experience across all categories and facets of marketplace marketing, including retail, analytics, logistics/supply chain, creative, content, voice and media management.

The agency said it can also provide non-endemic brands — which don’t sell physical products in the marketplace — with the ability to drive optimal marketing results by leveraging display and video advertising through Amazon’s demand-side platform.

“We are excited to be launching in the Middle East, a sophisticated consumer market experiencing strong e-commerce growth,” said Podean founder Mark Power. “While the world continues to face uncertainty due to COVID-19, we know that Amazon’s model will meet these changing consumer needs.

“Our company is uniquely positioned to help brands grow their revenues in the Middle East, and to support their global ambitions. The addition of this office further reinforces Podean’s reputation as the leading global Amazon agency network.”

Paul Hart, described by Podean as an experienced business leader who has been building partnerships with brands in the region for 13 years, is the managing director of the business’s new MENA operation.

“I am delighted to be joining a dynamic company (that is) shaking things up in the Amazon services space and running at the speed of Amazon,” he said. “Through Podean’s global network we are able to provide the experience, expertise, specialist resources, tools and technologies to our MENA clients that no other agency in the region has access to. I cannot wait to drive incremental sales for the many great brands in the Middle East.”

Podean said it will also be launching in the region a number of proprietary tools, including JourneyTM, which it says is the first Amazon media-mix-modelling and channel-planning tool that optimizes investment across all Amazon advertising products.

It will also launch ProphetTM, which it describes as an analysis framework that optimizes brands’ Amazon business beyond just return on ad spend/advertising cost of sale, and addresses all critical elements to drive success, from strategy to supply chain to content and media.

Podean said that the combination of both platforms has helped clients increase revenues by upwards of 40 percent and profits by 60 percent.

Podean’s global headquarters is in New York City and, in addition to Dubai, it has offices in Los Angeles, Sydney, London and Singapore.