RIYADH: Riyadh’s Toy Festival began yesterday, taking place in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
Regardless of the growing challenges facing the toys industry in an increasingly digital world, the event’s major organizing partners say that such an issue is not considered a threat to the local market.
Abdulrahman Al-Qahtani, general manager of Hwadi Events, the festival’s organizing company, said that the increasing involvement of technology in children’s entertainment is inevitable.
“We cannot deny that technology has played a huge role in transforming many games to a digital platform, but most of it began with real toys, and later on, it went to the digital world. That situation now is reversed.”
He said the importance of the event comes from the essential role toys play in educational development.
“We tried to reflect that in this festival, we came up with five different zones for children in their different ages.”
Toys help children learn to socialize and think constructively. “The event includes many interactive corners, where children learn new hobbies such as cooking, crafting and more,” Al-Qahtani said.
For Hwadi Events, facing the technology revolution challenge is necessary: “You have to ensure the integration between modern technology and the toys sector,” a Hwadi spokesperson said.
“We have set technology-based interactive corners, to create integration between what happens online and on the ground while they play.”
As an organizing entity that is involved in events targeting children, Al-Qahtani said that the company mainly focuses on edutainment: Education through entertainment.
The festival comprises more than eight days of fun at Riyadh Front.
More than 40 entertaining corners across five major zones were set for children and their families across 20,000 square meters.
It includes a variety of options such as shopping, playing and watching exclusive international live shows along with contests and giveaways around the clock.
Ahmad Weiss, general manager of SpaceToon Events, said that their company was in charge of communicating with international companies and attracting them to the Kingdom and finding the best 10 toys to launch for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
SpaceToon consists of geographically diverse group of companies specialized in child edutainment. It began with a children’s television channel established in 2000. It is one of the largest and most successful child entertainment conglomerates in the Middle East.
Weiss said that SpaceToon has had a lengthy partnership with toy companies and currently has consulting contracts with considerable companies in the toys industry in the Kingdom.
“The challenge of technology is a hot debate these days. However, I would say from our long experience as a company, numbers prove that sales are growing on the international and local levels,” Wiess said.
He continued: “The digital transformation had its influence on boys more than girls, boys are more addicted to digital games, but it is different with girls. Toys targeting girls continue to grow, and we are now launching a new toy by Barbie here in Saudi Arabia during this festival.”
He added that parents will continue to appreciate physical toys because they understand their value on child development.
The event, which continues until Oct. 31, will witness the unveiling of more than 500 new toys launched in the Saudi market.