MythBusters’ Adam Savage steals the show at Tanween festival

Tanween kicked off on Friday with Awesome Science, an interactive chemistry lab experience. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 14 October 2018

MythBusters’ Adam Savage steals the show at Tanween festival

DHAHRAN: MythBusters’ Adam Savage, a creative Jack-of-all-trades who has worked on special effects for movies like Star Wars Episodes I and II and The Matrix, was easily the highlight of the second day of Tanween’s creativity festival organized by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

On Friday evening, Savage talked with the audience about the way his obsessions lit the fires of his inspiration, taking him through a career as a prop designer and host of the TV shows MythBusters and now MythBusters’ Jr. “It turns out that all I’ve ever been doing is telling stories — it is one of the single pleasures of my life,” he said.

Savage toured the audience through photos of his recreated spacesuits and model maze from “The Shining,” directed by Stanley Kubrick. “I collect collections,” he said.

Speaker Clive Rohald, who was part of creating iconic brand names and identities in the Kingdom since 1991, expressed his thrill to be part of a huge artistic event like Tanween. 

Rohald spoke about the “remarkable” impact festivals like Tanween can have. “Last night, a 10-year-old girl came up to me after my talk and I was shocked she was asking questions about branding and what it means in communication, and it was the moment I realized what impact Ithra actually has in culture, community and people here. There’s such a desire to learn and to enrich and to inspire.”

That’s part of the festival’s intention. “Ithra is a journey that helps young Saudis to excel in what they like — Tanween is our flagship program, that supports our pillar of creativity,” said Ithra’s director, Ali Al-Mutairi.

“We take the young generation’s creative products and we provide them with channels to display them, either here in the Kingdom or through our Bridges project, where they get to share it with the world. I want Tanween to turn Dhahran into the center of all creative industries.”

Abdullah Alrashid, head of learning at Ithra, told Arab News: “Tanween is a multi-disciplinary initiative that cuts across all three of our pillars with a focus on creative innovation. The youth will find value in our speaker series and highly immersive and intensive workshops. Our art exhibit is very interactive, with a lot of science and art and philosophy and sociology behind each piece, which will communicate with professionals and also families.”

VIEW OUR TANWEEN GALLERY 

Tanween kicked off on Friday with Awesome Science, an interactive chemistry lab experience, during which the BBC presenter Greg Foot partnered with chemistry lecturer Will Stockburn to shoot off flying rockets (made from colorful plastic bottles) and turn coins into gold.

Professor Mark Mon-Williams, the chair in cognitive psychology at the University of Leeds, gave a talk about how culture can be connected to immersive technologies. “Ithra encapsulates everything that’s wonderful about cultural transmission,” he said. ‘This place is connecting various bits of the world so that at the end we can learn from one another and share the skills that we possess, and so that the children across the whole world would have the skills to give the best possible outcomes in their life,” Mon-Williams said.

Alongside the talks, many workshops were taking place, including one by Seetal Solanki, which explored her studio’s sustainable materials library, including mussel-shell ceramics and knitted milk-fiber.

Winding down the day on a musical note, Ahmed AlShaiba played a Middle Eastern version of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” on his oud. Born and raised in Yemen and now living in New York, he spoke to the audience in between songs about how his geography shaped his music, when he moved from Yemen to Cairo and then New York.

 “I was curious how this instrument was going to sound in different types of music,” he explained. His 15-minute performance delighted adults and children, who eagerly jumped up and down to ask him about the history of his relationship with the oud afterwards.

The 17-day festival, with more than 60 guests from around the world, 45 workshops and 15 installations, runs until Oct. 27.


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.