TheFace: Dalal Al-Afaliq, Saudi designer and entrepreneur

Dalal Al-Afaliq with her family. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Updated 07 February 2020

TheFace: Dalal Al-Afaliq, Saudi designer and entrepreneur

I am an interior designer and entrepreneur. Driven by my passion for furniture, I found Villa Style in 2015. It is an interior design business and furniture store based in Alkhobar.

My professional journey was not smooth, but my passion has always helped me overcome obstacles. 

I have only one child, Abdullah, and our life as a small family has been eventful, and not always happy, but we were patient, determined and supportive of each other.

Soon after my graduation with a degree in administrative information systems, I endured a chronic health condition, which thankfully I was able to overcome. 

After that, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. His illness has been a major hindrance in our family.

During that period, I insisted on finding employment, which my father supported. My first job was at a local bank, where I worked for two years. I began as a bank teller and ended up as a branch manager two years later. However, though I was happy and fully satisfied with my progress, I had to resign to move with my husband to the US.

We lived in the US for three years where my husband worked. It was a fruitful experience, I was keen to educate myself and enrolled in several courses, including some in self-development.

After our return home, I wanted to go back to work, but my husband opposed the idea, he was pushing me to start my own business and warned me about trapping myself in the golden handcuffs of employment.

“You are a wasted energy,” he would say, “if you get employed, you wouldn’t be able to express your creativity as you wish.”

I decided to study business and began researching how to establish my own. My furnishing and design enterprise was inspired by my childhood dream to become an interior designer.

Whoever wants to start a business the right way should look up to the best establishments in the industry. My research showed that the best furniture galleries in Europe are located in Milan and Paris.

I started my company from scratch while studying business, without any experience or background in the industry. After I worked from home on my brand, my elder sister Halah and I traveled to France and Italy to explore.

After roaming around with nothing to show but our business cards, we returned home with agreements from seven different companies and placed orders for furniture to be manufactured.  

Back in the Kingdom, I managed to rent a gallery, design it and put furniture in place. I then realized I needed more people with me for help. Gradually, we added interior design services for our customers. I began with one female designer, and thankfully the office kept expanding.  

Our reputation grew rapidly throughout the Kingdom, but at the peak of my career growth, I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2018. 

I found myself in the hospital for dialysis three times a week.

The illness slowed down the business because I could not dedicate myself to work, but I tried my best. I used to have my laptop with me in the hospital to answer my emails and sometimes I was receiving checks to sign during the dialysis.

The disease did not stop me from making my business trips. I remember going from the hospital to the airport and vice versa. It did not hold me back, even though it limited my progress, but it was not as bad as someone would imagine.

I believe I got my persistence and ambition from my father, who used to tell me as a child about his bakery business, which he started more than 45 years ago and is now one of the biggest in the region.

In March 2019, I had a transplant procedure when my brave brother Hassan donated one of his kidneys to me.

After the surgery’s success, I was able to solve all the deficiencies and fill the gaps caused by my absence during the year and a half period in just five months.

I came back with great passion and rebranded my company. I am blessed with an understanding family, my husband and son appreciate both what I do and my career’s transitional period.

My soon-to-be-achieved goal is to set up my own furniture factory, where I can design and implement what I want following my way and my style, then display my work at the best galleries in the world. I am sure it is going to happen.

MoU signed to facilitate investment in Saudi Arabia

Updated 35 min 53 sec ago

MoU signed to facilitate investment in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to step up cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Under the MoU, the two authorities will establish a joint working group to boost cooperation in several areas including facilitation provided to investors, conducting economic studies of the market, building partnerships with commercial and industrial bodies and local companies, launching businesses, promoting the ease of doing business, providing logistic support, participating in local and international exhibitions, forums and special visits and exchanging knowledge and information.

All this will predominantly be in aid of attracting local and foreign investors. 

“SAGIA believes in the importance of such cooperation that can unify and multiply the efforts in a way that sets the world’s attention on the Kingdom’s cultural and heritage treasures and investment opportunities,” said SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar.

“This is done through close cooperation with DGDA to highlight these opportunities and market them internationally and locally. This MoU is a step in the right direction to achieve the objectives and directives of both bodies.”

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the DGDA, said: “Cooperating with SAGIA is one of the most important international investment motors to attract local and international investments to the Kingdom. This comes at a time where developing the Kingdom’s investment infrastructure is found within the objectives of its Vision 2030.

“At DGDA, we aim at attracting the best technologies and regional and international investments to the Kingdom. This will contribute to the improvement of the local economy and promote our objectives seeking to turn Diriyah into the Kingdom’s gem and an international economic tourist destination,” he added.