Global Game Jam: The UAE’s 48-hour race to develop a game

Global Game Jam will run from Jan 30. to Feb. 1. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 January 2020

Global Game Jam: The UAE’s 48-hour race to develop a game

  • The Global Game Jam will give fans a chance to build a game that focuses on a secret theme — announced on the day — within a 48-hour condensed development cycle

DUBAI: With an array of festivals and events lined up this season, there is something rather intriguing scheduled for game creators in the UAE. 

The Global Game Jam is being held in Dubai from Jan. 30 to Feb.1 and will give fans a chance to build a game that focuses on a secret theme — announced on the day — within a 48-hour condensed development cycle. 

“Once the secret theme of the game is disclosed on the day of the event, participants will start searching for the team members and should immediately brainstorm and filter all the ideas based on their skills,” Ahmed Fouad, a game development lecturer at SAE Institute, told Arab News. 

“At this stage, the team will also schedule their sleep hours and divide the work among the members — artists will work on the characters and environment and programmers will start prototyping the game mechanics,” he added. 




The competitors will have to create a game within a 48-hour condensed development cycle. (Supplied)

Usually, the game development process can take years and so one of the biggest challenges of the event, according to Fouad, is the time limit and the fact that participants are designing and developing a game with people they have never met before.

“But during the game jams we have witnessed fantastic ideas and with the help of good team members, it can be brought to fruition as well,” he said. 

Another challenge faced when designing a game, according to Anna Tookey — a member of the Dubai’s SAE Institute student council — is when to say no.

“Often, we will find an idea that we love and cling to it thinking that nothing could beat this idea and it’s my ticket to fame. Turns out your first idea is usually your worst, the more times you scrap the idea and open your mind to others, (the more likely you are to) find something that truly works,” she told Arab News. 


Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

Updated 27 May 2020

Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

DUBAI: In 1999, Syrian-Palestinian fragrance connoisseur Hana Debs Akkari pursued her passion project in Lebanon by founding a sophisticated soap company called “Senteurs d’Orient,” or “Fragrances of the East” in French.

Akkari envisioned that her handcrafted soaps would symbolize the beloved floral essences of the Middle East, particularly the Levant, which is reportedly the world’s oldest soap-making region.

With the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Akkari’s small, family-run luxury soap business has witnessed an increased demand in their natural products nearly twenty years since its founding.

Portrait of Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d’Orient. (Supplied)

“Since the pandemic was declared, we saw a spike in our online sales,” said Lebanese-Canadian and New Yorked-based Sarah Akkari, Hana’s daughter and CEO of Senteurs d’Orient, to Arab News. “People are washing their hands more often, and their hands are becoming drier as a consequence. So, they’re also looking for a natural soap, such as the ones we offer. Our antibacterial soaps are packed with different nourishing ingredients like glycerin, Shea butter and Vitamin E.”

Operating from Lebanon, Senteurs d’Orient’s factory is run by a diligent team of chemists and artisans, many of whom are women as female education and empowerment in the workforce is at the heart of the company’s ethos.

Engraving soaps at the Lebanon factory. (Supplied)

After mixing the chemical-free ingredients by hand, the soaps are air-dried for 10 ten days and later machine-molded and carefully hand-wrapped. True to the company’s name, the delicate floral scents of gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, and rose of Damascus draw their inspiration from eastern gardens.

To show support for the selfless medical workers, some of whom reached out to Akkari and expressed interest in Senteurs d’Orient’s soaps, she recently donated nearly 500 packages to doctors and nurses from four American hospitals — two in Los Angeles, one in New York and another in New Jersey.

Each package is an ‘Oriental Trio Box’, containing three bars of soap, the shapes and engravings of which are inspired by the decoration of ‘maamoul’, the Levant region’s quintessential pastry.

“When you’re facing this type of crisis and you’re receiving emails from doctors and nurses or anyone on the frontlines, it’s a not a request you can reject,” explained the 32-year-old entrepreneur. “It’s something that we really wanted to be part of and it brought us much satisfaction knowing we could contribute in this way.”

The company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves. (Supplied)

Under the leadership of Akkari, the company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating Mediterranean orange blossom bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves of amber and tea flower.

It is the authenticity of Senteurs d’Orient’s products that Akkari hopes will come through.

“You feel the fragrance is coming straight from the flower,” she said.