Indonesian products exhibition launched in Jeddah

Ambassador Jamal Balkhoyor, second left, with guests. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 30 November 2018

Indonesian products exhibition launched in Jeddah

  • Indonesian products and services of trade, tourism and investment are being exhibited at the Indonesia Expo this year
  • Exposure of Indonesian products through this exhibition is expected to increasingly attract Saudis to do business with Indonesia

JEDDAH: The first edition of an Indonesian products exhibition was inaugurated by Indonesian Consul General Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin and Vice Chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ziad bin Bassam Al-Bassam, on Wednesday. 

 The four-day exhibition, “Made in Indonesia Expo,” is being held  at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events and joined by 70 Indonesian exhibitors, aiming to increase non-oil and gas exports to Saudi Arabia.

Indonesian products and services of trade, tourism and investment are being exhibited at the Indonesia Expo this year. In addition, business forum and business-to-business meetings on a one-on-one basis are also being conducted on the sidelines of the event. 

“The exhibition being  is held for the first time after several decades as a result of close cooperation between the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah, Jeddah’s Chamber  as well as related Indonesian ministries and institutions in the development of national exports,” said the Indonesian consul general.

PT Wahyu Promo Citra, an event organizer, is hoping the exhibition will bring together Indonesian producers and Saudi  suppliers.

Along with “Made in Indonesia Expo,” the Indonesian government has carried out an official trade mission led by the director general of national export promotion at the  Ministry of Trade.

The consul general is optimistic that the Indonesia expo in Jeddah and trade mission are a golden opportunity for Indonesian entrepreneurs to expand the market for Indonesian products in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

“At (the) least, there are two large market segments here, Indonesian residents and Saudi citizens,” the consul general said, adding that there were more than 221,000 Hajj pilgrims and 1.2 million Umrah pilgrims from Indonesia each year visiting the holy land, not including the more than 350,000 Indonesians living in the Kingdom.

“They are all loyalists of Indonesian products,” said the consul general, adding that the influx of Indonesian pilgrims opened opportunities for local catering and accommodation services that need Indonesian products.

Market potential 

The population of Saudi Arabia, which reaches more than 30 million people, also offered potential market opportunities, he said. 

Exposure of Indonesian products through this exhibition is expected to increasingly attract Saudis to do business with Indonesia and at the same time invite more tourists from the Kingdom to visit Indonesia.

“People-to-people contact of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia has long been established, even before the two countries were formed, which contributes to the introduction of the Indonesian products and increasing interest of the people of Saudi Arabia in the products,” the consul general said.

Saripudin said that the potential of the large Saudi market could be seen from the improving performance of Indonesia’s non-oil and gas exports to Saudi Arabia. At the end of 2017, these exports reached $1.38 billion, up 3 percent compared to the same period in 2016, and there was a trade surplus of $627 million.

The solo exhibition for Indonesian products is a series of Indonesian promotional programs in Jeddah organized by the Indonesian Consulate. Not long ago, the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah launched a technology-based service. 

This platform is a starting point to digitize the Indonesian integrated promotional programs in Jeddah in facing the growing challenges.


Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2020

Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah destination provides a taste of Japan with anime, comics, desserts and films

JEDDAH: Japanese comic books, known as manga, have captured the hearts of some Saudis so much that a 31-year-old citizen decided to give the genre’s fans a specialist Jeddah cafe so that they can pursue their passion as well as meet others who share it.

Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer who spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
Manga cafes can be found in most cities across Japan. They are a place where people can spend hours reading manga, and they are also considered to be a cultural space where people can relax and have conversations about manga.
He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in the Kingdom. As an urban planner, he was able to grasp the Japanese concept and implement it in Saudi Arabia with a few tweaks and changes to suit the local audience.
“Manga cafés are all over Japan, albeit executed differently,” Baghlaf told Arab News. “They’re a little like internet cafés where people can spend the night. Of course, recreating that here doesn’t go along with our culture and traditions, so we recreated the concept in a way that accommodates that.”

Signature drinks
Akiba has only been open for a few months but, by the time Arab News visited the manga hotspot, people have already been flocking to the cafe to try out its signature drinks and read their favorite comics.

We have contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.

Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, Urban planning engineer

Friends and families can be seen relaxing together on the ground floor flicking through the pages of a comic book, or delving into a more accessible e-reading option as manga is still in short supply in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales.
Akiba also airs popular anime and animated films throughout the day, uploading their schedule on their Twitter and Instagram pages.
Baghlaf is an avid gamer, but watching anime and reading manga is definitely on his list of favorite things to do. Keeping up with popular stories also helps him to figure out what manga volumes to acquire and which anime films to screen.
The urban planning engineer noticed the Kingdom’s approach in linking many objectives in the Vision 2030 reform plan to entertainment and, as cafes continue to draw large crowds in Saudi Arabia, he felt encouraged about going for Akiba.
“Specialty cafes are very popular here nowadays, so how am I going to be special? I went for a manga or anime cafe,” he said.
The cafe’s target audience are those who are interested in specialty coffee, manga and anime. For people with a sweet tooth there are Japanese desserts on offer, including cheesecake.

BACKGROUND

• Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer.

• He spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

• He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in Saudi Arabia.

• The name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers.

• It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.

• Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.

Baghlaf has to make frequent trips to Japan to discuss screening rights with creators in Tokyo. “We’ve contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.”
Due to the deals Baghlaf has made with distributors, he receives the episodes prior to their airing date to green-light them in terms of translation accuracy and censorship, in order not to air anything that goes against the Kingdom’s culture.
The same goes for manga. “I would bring in a story with 70-something volumes and, out of those, one book could end up with something inappropriate and I’d have to shelve the whole series.”


Baghlaf believes that the market for Japanese storytelling is massive in Saudi Arabia and continues to grow each day.
“It’s definitely popular and it’s why you see major events happening like Comic Con and Anime Expo, which I’ve been to myself with 200,000 others. It was so crowded,” he said.

Friendship
The Saudis have grown up with Japanese stories for decades, as well as slapstick US cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and the Loony Tunes that lack storytelling or arcs, according to Baghlaf. The Japanese stories have taught generations of Saudis about friendship, brotherhood, integrity and how to deal with others.
“There’s also a huge likeness between Japanese and Arabic culture. Within families, respecting those older than you whether through language, which has levels of formality where elders deserve the most respectable form when talked to and they have a lot of respect for familial bonds as well.”
The cafe owner revealed that the name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers. It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.
Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.