A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

Healthy food are now being offered in schools and day-care centers through Blooming Bs. (Supplied)
Updated 19 October 2019

A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

  • Rihab Hasanain set up Blooming Bs to provide schoolchildren with healthy meals
  • Blooming Bs strives to raise awareness of the obesity problem in the Kingdom

CAIRO: One Saudi woman was so concerned about her children’s unhealthy school-canteen meals that she decided to improve not only her family’s diet but also the eating habits of the entire nation.

Rihab Hasanain, spurred by the Kingdom’s growing obesity epidemic, set up the catering firm Blooming Bs to provide children with healthy lunch boxes and offer them advice on the importance of eating healthy food and being active.

The company’s name originates from the three Bs: Brain, body and box. The healthy boxes are provided to students and children aged two and above at schools, canteens, childcare centers and indoor playground centers.

Saudi Arabia has the Middle East’s second-highest obesity level after Kuwait with a 35.4 percent rating,  according to the CIA World Factbook.

Hasanain said that she wants to raise awareness of the region’s obesity problem, particularly among children.

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest challenges facing health care systems worldwide,” she said.

“A number of factors have contributed to the problem, such as lack of childhood physical activities, and a low awareness around the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases.”

Hasanain said that Blooming Bs’ mission is to combat childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries by promoting healthy eating habits.




Rihab Hasanain

This includes educating children and parents about the importance of healthy food and lifestyles, providing youngsters with healthy food choices, and creating a community of future healthy eaters.

In Saudi Arabia, a major contributing factor to the obesity crisis is the widespread availability of unhealthy food in school canteens, she said.

In 2016, the ambitious mother of two took matters into her own hands by establishing her commercial kitchen in the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh.

Using her personal savings, Hasanain hired a team of 10 multidisciplinary women, including public relations and administration staff, social-work specialists, early childhood educators and drivers.

She also leveraged her international connections to help secure support and endorsement from a number of prominent mentors.

“They are extraordinary individuals with an outstanding track record in social entrepreneurship, hospitality and, most importantly, health promotion and healthy school canteens,” Hasanain said.

Blooming Bs has since grown to cater to more than 20 day-care units and schools, as well as hundreds of individual families. The firm has now sold more than 45,000 items and served over 10,000 lunch meals since its launch.

Hasanain said that the company’s contracts and deliveries vary according to customer categories.

“Our products range from morning, lunch and afternoon meals for children to freshly squeezed juices and individual food items that can be sold individually at school canteens,” she said.

“We take the stress away for parents. Our clients are assured that our products are healthy because the meals are created based on the consultation of our in-house nutritionist.”

While Hasanain is well on her way to transforming the diets of children in Riyadh, she has her eye on the bigger picture.

The Blooming Bs entrepreneur also aims to solve childhood obesity in neighboring countries, such as the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

“During Blooming Bs’ expansion, I have tried to develop a holistic viewpoint on children’s nutrition, leading to improved operation processes and ideas,” Hasanain said.

“Blooming Bs also wants to empower Saudi and Arab women by creating more job opportunities,” she added.

“Ultimately, I see my company becoming an upscale international brand, trusted by parents, schools and governments.”

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• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.

 


Concerns rise over fake gold in Saudi Arabia

Local gold markets have seen stagnation in recent times, because of the increasing price of gold on international stock markets. (Photo/Shutterstock)
Updated 22 February 2020

Concerns rise over fake gold in Saudi Arabia

  • Accusations fly as pilgrims targeted by sellers of counterfeit precious metal

JEDDAH: A video posted on Twitter by a member of the Precious Metals Committee explaining the ways some gold manufacturers manipulate weight of gold and diamonds has attracted significant attention in Saudi Arabia, raising the question of the authenticity of gold in the Kingdom.

In the video, Mohammed Azooz said cover-ups have made many Saudi gold sellers lose power over the market, and that industry was being controlled by non-Saudis.
In the video, he explained how some people circumvented customs and sneak gold into the country, especially during the Hajj season to target pilgrims.
The Arabic translation of #cheating_in_jewelry has been trending in Twitter for a few days, and several people posted about the issue, blaming those who were selling fake gold to pilgrims as pure gold.
This is not the first time the fake gold issue has been raised. The World Gold Council previously suspended its activities in the Kingdom following claims that some jewelry manufacturers mixed glass with gold. Former Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Zainal rejected the accusations at the time, described them as “grave and dangerous.”
Local gold markets have seen stagnation in recent times, because of the increasing price of gold on international stock markets.

FASTFACTS

• Types of gold depend on the percentage of gold per kilogram. For example, 24k gold, which is considered the best in quality, is 99 percent gold mixed with 1 percent of precious metal such as silver or copper. This type of gold is considered pure, and not used for adornment.

• For a kilogram of 22k gold, 125 grams of precious metals are added to 875 grams of pure gold; 150 grams of precious metals are added to 850 grams to make a kilogram of 21k gold, and 18k gold has 250 grams of precious metals per kilogram.

The price of one kilogram of 24 karat (k) gold in the Kingdom can reach SR185,000 ($46,700).
Gold and economic experts say that the movement in gold prices depends on numerous factors such as political and economic events around the world, the price of the US dollar in banks, black markets, as well as the supply and demand trends in global stock markets.

Types of gold depend on the percentage of gold per kilogram. For example, 24k gold, which is considered the best in quality, is 99 percent gold mixed with 1 percent of precious metal such as silver or copper. This type of gold is considered pure, and not used for adornment.
For a kilogram of 22k gold, 125 grams of precious metals are added to 875 grams of pure gold; 150 grams of precious metals are added to 850 grams to make a kilogram of 21k gold, and 18k gold has 250 grams of precious metals per kilogram.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The Kingdom has launched an initiative, the first of its kind, authorizing authorities to launch a Shariah-based gold investment fund to enrich investment products through the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul).
Moath Alkhasawneh, CEO and board member of FALCOM Financial Services, said the FALCOM Gold Fund was officially licensed by the Capital Market Authority. The fund aims to add value to Tadawul through a Shariah-based investment fund, as gold trading transactions are considered a good investment and a high-quality commodity with low risks in investment portfolios.
“Gold retains its value compared to banknotes — their value decreases because of inflation. The high demand on gold in light of the shortage of supply can drive the prices of gold higher in the long run,” said Alkhasawneh.
“The gold investment fund focuses on investment in pure and precious gold, and the investment transactions will take place at the Switzerland Gold Market under the supervision of the higher authorities in Switzerland. This will make it safer and more flexible.”