Discount stores helping Ramadan shoppers to stock up

Discount stores helping Ramadan shoppers to stock up
The discount “abu riyaleen” outlets are as important as supermarkets to many citizens during Ramadan. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 May 2019

Discount stores helping Ramadan shoppers to stock up

Discount stores helping Ramadan shoppers to stock up
  • In 2017, local newspapers reported that abu riyaleen stores cost the Kingdom around SR50 billion ($13.3 billion) a year through lost revenues
  • The first of the one-stop shops opened in Madinah in 1999

RIYADH: With Ramadan underway, Saudis have been busy preparing for the holy month of fasting.
From fervent pantry stocking to the mad rush for decorations, people in the Kingdom have been scrambling to get their homes and kitchens in order for not only fasting, but spiritual cleansing and feasting with friends and family.
However, as well as supermarket shopping another type of store is just as important for many citizens in the run-up to Ramadan: The discount “abu riyaleen” outlets.
Similar to US “dollar stores” or European Kik shops, the Saudi versions have been steadily spreading throughout the nation.
The first one-stop shop opened in Madinah in 1999, close to The Prophet’s Mosque, and targeted pilgrims. With everything from gifts and souvenirs, to clothes, accessories, cookware and utensils, the store was a trailblazer in terms of the variety of items for sale, at fixed and very cheap prices.
Originally aimed at low-income families, the cut-price stores have now established themselves as popular among shoppers regardless of income or social class.
In recent years the number of stores has multiplied considerably, with Arabian Business magazine reporting a doubling of outlets in the past five years alone.
Marketing specialist Essam Al-Kardawi told Al-Arabiya that discount shops are the product of a widespread consumer culture among Saudis, who are accustomed to excessive purchases of various consumer goods, satisfying a need to buy and spend.
Al-Kardawi said the business model worked because the stores offered the lowest prices by controlling fixed and variable costs.Wholesale product purchases were made in very large quantities, and because of their popularity the shops did not need huge advertising budgets.

Strong appeal
Stock was often sourced from China, making items easily accessible, cheap to produce and import, and available in abundance.
However, there was always the issue of sub-standard quality which could lead to items have a short lifespan.
Tahani Abdulsamad, a teacher and mother-of-four, said she had developed a keen eye for which goods were worth buying. “I would never buy electronics as they often aren’t even worth the effort it takes to lug them home,” she told Arab News.
“Things like clothes hangers, laundry hampers, and glass vases are examples of good items to buy from there. Things that are sturdy, have a single purpose, and are easily replaced. But anything you might cook or eat with, I don’t trust,” she added.
However, Abdulsamad still champions the stores, saying that there have been countless occasions when her local shop has come to her rescue. “Some items you just can’t get anywhere else, especially at short notice.”
But while many housewives are devoted fans, some finance and economy experts are not so convinced.
In 2017, local newspapers reported that abu riyaleen stores cost the Kingdom around SR50 billion ($13.3 billion) a year through lost revenues, and in 2018 the Ministry of Commerce and Investment launched a crackdown on hundreds of the stores, forcing many to dispose of faulty items and some to stop trading.
Nevertheless, due to their strong appeal and status in Saudi society, it is unlikely the stores will ever disappear. If the experts are to be believed, and Saudi society is truly addicted to spending and consumerism, it seems that as long as there are people who will buy from them, there will always be abu riyaleen stores.


Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
Updated 19 min 31 sec ago

Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
  • With determination and consistency, Khulood Al-Fadli continued her work ‘and never gave up’

JEDDAH: Khulood Al-Fadli, a school principal in Jeddah, has joined the ranks of Guinness World Records holders by creating the planet’s largest mosaic using plastic bottle caps.

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250-square-meter map of the world using 350,000 plastic bottle caps. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94-square- meter crescent mosaic in Miziara, Lebanon.
“I feel beyond the moon. I really felt my work had paid off,” Al-Fadli told Arab News.
“The image doesn’t matter as the size determines if I’m breaking a record and Guinness World Records had so many requirements to break a record or set a new record,” she said.
Meeting the requirements to break the record proved especially difficult due to turbulent weather conditions affecting her outdoor mosaic.
“I went through difficult days of the wind blowing all my water caps away, which delayed the project for a week. But with determination, consistency and with the help of my volunteers and most of all my family and husband, I continued my work and never gave up,” she said.
The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering. Al-Fadli said that all three world days met Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its sustainable goals.

HIGHLIGHT

The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering.

She said that her target volunteers were children, “since they are the future generation.” Al-Fadli was first inspired by student responses after she introduced the topic of global warming and recycling to children at the school.
Al-Fadli said that one pupil had asked: “’Does that mean our earth will die?’ She continued: “He questioned angrily, almost saying how dare people do this to our only planet.”
She told him that people could start change with themselves and a simple step to save the earth was to “collect plastics and make a humane project out of it.”
With the help of her students, family and friends, and the growing number of plastic bottle cap donors, “within 40 days of work, the news kept spreading and people from all over Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Taif came to donate.”
She said that the donors were eager to see the outcome, with even the youngest of volunteers excited to see the end result. “They were amazed by how lovely and huge the map is, they promised to save plastics and reuse them or donate it to me for the sake of the Earth.”
Al-Fadli said that creating art out of recyclables was a fulfilling experience — and that she had always had an affinity for maps while growing up.
“Since I was a child, I used to love drawing maps. I don’t know why but it feels like I’m flying. Seeing a huge map was like a dream,” she said.


Saudi students honored for innovation award wins

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
Updated 3 min 55 sec ago

Saudi students honored for innovation award wins

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
  • Among students honored by the governor was Amjad Al-Baqami for his “Your Stick Guides You” project for blind people

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal congratulated students from Umm Al-Qura University following their awards success at the international Geneva Inventions Fair 2021.
Passing on his best wishes to the students for the future, the prince also commended university president, Dr. Mudi Al-Qahtani.
Among students honored by the governor was Amjad Al-Baqami for his “Your Stick Guides You” project for blind people, which incorporates a GPS feature and can be used with sensors or headphones.
The prince also praised Ziad Al-Mateen for his project “The wonderful glove,” which translates sign language into audio language transmitted through an external speaker in the glove, to improve communication with people with hearing disabilities.
And Dalia Abu Raya won Prince Khalid’s approval for her “Medical Self-Service” project device for dispensing painkillers.
He also honored Jihad Felimban and Khalil Mijaan for their “Mobile Sunstroke Unit” project, which is a bag that helps provide emergency medical care to treat sunstroke and avoid dangerous complications. SPA Makkah
The bag contains a foldable stretcher, which is easy to use to protect the patient from heat strokes, and water sprays that help cool and hydrate the body to avoid complications. 


Who’s Who: Maha Al-Shunaifi, director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral

Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)
Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)
Updated 15 min 35 sec ago

Who’s Who: Maha Al-Shunaifi, director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral

Maha Al-Shunaifi. (Supplied)

Maha Al-Shunaifi is the director of marketing and corporate communication at Intigral.
She was born in October, 1981 in Riyadh, and has an interest in reading, sports and traveling.
Al-Shunaifi completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Marymount Mount University, the US, in 2002.
She has more than 10 years of expertise overseeing high-impact PR, marketing, and general internal and external communications projects in her role as a goal-driven and passionate communication professional. Al-Shunaifi is also a longtime campaign manager and employee engagement expert. She is keen to continue to develop her career path, emerging as a self-built female leader and a role model for ambitious Saudi women.
Prior to joining Intigral, Al-Shunaifi held several leading positions in local and international organizations, where she served as marketing and corporate communication manager at Najm for Insurance Services for two years, and as senior corporate communications manager at Jawwy from STC (Saudi Telecommunication Company).
She also served as an integrated brand and communication manager at Philips KSA and held several positions at Ericsson between 2009 and 2013, as regional public and media relations manager in Dubai and communications manager in KSA. In 2012, Al-Shunaifi moved to Sweden where she lived and worked for one year, serving as global brand engagement manager and as global brand manager within the corporate communications department at Ericsson in Stockholm.

Inspired by the Kingdom’s leadership and its role in empowering female leaders across various sectors, Al-Shunaifi has successfully contributed to the success of the organizations she has worked with, adding value to their communication operations and supporting the creation of a positive work environment by encouraging staff to share expertise and collaborate to gain new achievements.


Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
Updated 30 min 5 sec ago

Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market

JEDDAH: Out of the many growing industries in Saudi Arabia, the gaming industry is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, with developers taking standards to the next level in an exciting new territory.
In 2020, the Saudi gaming market was estimated to be worth SR2.6 billion ($690 million), with various platforms being launched to give confidence to developers, entrepreneurs and investors so they can continue building the industry.
The Kingdom, home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market.
Mohammad Waleed Hashim, a 30-year-old indie game developer, is currently producing a game the revolves around a player who needs to find his way through the deserts of Saudi Arabia, training herds of camels, befriending desert folk, fighting off predators and navigating the mysteries of the desert, just like his grandfather once did.
“The Shepherd” is set to be released soon on the Steam platform for $10 with no additional in-game purchases, a plan he says will allow gamers to enjoy it more.
Indie games are made by a small group of people, or in Hashim’s case, a single developer.
Apart from occasionally hiring freelancers for the art and design, Hashim said: “The game focuses more on the mechanics and the story and less on the graphical aspects.”
The developer said that the game was meant to be a small hobby, but it rolled into a bigger project and became the detailed product it is today. “The Arab touches were very important to me because I wanted something the players could relate to,” he said, adding: “I found a picture of my grandfather wearing traditional clothes and that’s where the inspiration for the character design started.”
Abdullah Bamashmoos, founder of Jeddah-based game development studio Hakawati, said games that allow children to build their own in-game worlds — such as Minecraft and Roblox — can influence young children to jump on the bandwagon.
“That opens the possibility of one day creating their own games in Saudi Arabia, the generation that grew up playing the games that enhanced their creativity are now learning to develop actual games,” said Bamashmoos.
The 31-year-old developer said that there were a small number of gaming studios a few years ago, so he could not pursue his passion for developing games right away. He faced opposition from his community when he started investing his time and money into development.
“What kept me going is that all crazy ideas start somewhere and although things like augmented reality were once believed to be science fiction stories, it became a profitable reality years later. So, I figured that the technology here in Saudi Arabia will advance far enough and I was able to foresee a future in what I was investing in.”
Bamashmoos said that his journey was one of trial and error: “I would create files, scavenge the internet for solutions to some of the software issues, delete files, and start from scratch.”
According to the developers, it is not just the software skills that aspiring developers need to work on, Bamashmoos said that they also need to work on their team-building abilities and finding efficient developers who are willing to work hard throughout the development stage of their games.
“Another thing that Saudi developers need to do is keep practising and learning additional talents so they can gradually progress in the industry.”
When the two developers started on their journeys over 10 years ago, the internet was not as rich with information as it is now, which has been a game-changer for developers.
They can now find a treasure trove of information for free or very low prices, which Bamashmoos said could ease the production pipeline.
“Developers in the country are also helpful since the community is small, the ones who are interested can get help from the professionals easily.”
Despite Hashim’s struggle with the industry, he is hoping to build a small gaming studio.
“I have so many ideas for more games after this one, seven to be precise. I look forward to hiring people who can work with me.”


Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
  • Al-Swaha met COO of French National Center for Space Studies to discuss potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier in Paris on Monday.
Acting CEO of the Saudi Space Commission Dr. Mohammed Al-Tamimi and President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Dr. Munir bin Mahmoud El-Desouki also attended the meeting, along with a number of Saudi and French officials.
The two parties spoke about enhancing bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom and France in technical and digital transformation, space and innovation.
The meeting outlined stimulating the growth of the digital economy and the innovation system. It discussed accelerating the adoption of modern technologies in the Middle East and North Africa by relying on the digital and logistical platform provided by the Kingdom as a hub connecting continents, in addition to the Saudi Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which was recently inaugurated in Riyadh.
Al-Swaha, also the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Space Commission, met Lionel Suchet, the chief operating officer of the French National Center for Space Studies, in Paris.
They discussed cooperation in the space sector and its technologies, including the potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields.
They also talked about technical cooperation and ways to stimulate innovation and investment in the space sector, which is experiencing significant growth globally, along with the development of human capital and capacity building.
This meeting took place during a tour by Al-Swaha that includes visits to institutions and companies involved in the space sector in the UK and France. It aims to enhance the work of the Saudi Space Authority and its cooperation with international bodies specializing in space and its technologies.