Startup of the Week: Building bridges and reviving a dying skill

Photo/Supplied
Short Url
Updated 12 May 2020

Startup of the Week: Building bridges and reviving a dying skill

  • They focused on two types of embroidery; breem, which is done by hand with a silk and cane thread, and sarma, using cane thread and involving stuffing by hand to give the embroidery thickness

Art in any form can serve many different purposes including making money or reviving dying skills. It can also help build cultural bridges and strengthen ties between nations.
Jida Choura’s business not only generates cash but preserves the 200-year-old Syrian embroidery techniques of breem and sarma, which she has been introducing to the younger generation of Saudis.
The 27-year-old’s startup, ByJida, offers products such as prayer mats and tablecloths.
Choura graduated from the University of the Arts London where she studied illustration and design and moved to Jeddah after getting married.
The initial aim of her venture is to raise awareness of the Syrian art in Saudi Arabia and then promote it on a global stage.
She got the idea for her business while furnishing her house in Jeddah with her own decorative designs.
“It is a tradition that when you get married, people come to your house to congratulate you. When my in-laws came over to my place, they asked me about the different decorative items in my house. To their surprise, I told them that I designed them myself,” Choura told Arab News.
Inspired, she started designing and creating different products for family and friends with people asking her to customize items to suit their needs and tastes.
As demand grew, she began looking for opportunities to work with textile companies and to hone her skills went to Syria in search of artisans experienced in embroidery.
However, due to the war in Syria, many people had fled the country and she was only able to find four people in the capital Damascus who still carried on the art. “Trying to find people to work with was the biggest challenge I had to face, as this is a dying art,” she said.
“Also, convincing the embroiders who were all in their 50s to work for a woman of my age was challenging. Some of the embroiders I was working with were called into war and shipping fabric from Syria to here was also a challenge.”
They focused on two types of embroidery; breem, which is done by hand with a silk and cane thread, and sarma, using cane thread and involving stuffing by hand to give the embroidery thickness.
Currently, her products are being sold in Homegrown, Crate, and via Instagram.
Choura said: “Every selection that we put out is something special. We have worked with Zahra Breast Cancer Association to raise awareness. Our collections usually depend on where I get my inspiration from, for instance, we did jewelry pouches which were inspired by the beautiful springs in Montreal.
“The one thing I am most proud of is raising awareness about this kind of embroidery in Saudi Arabia and being able to slowly make my brand grow. Another thing I am proud of is training young embroiders in Syria. In the end, the money that I get from my products, a huge part of it goes to keep the workshop operational and keeping the art alive.”
Choura added that she was hoping to expand her product range to include table runners and jewelry pouches.


Turki Al-Khalaif, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Entrustment and Liquidation Center

Updated 18 min 44 sec ago

Turki Al-Khalaif, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Entrustment and Liquidation Center

Turki Al-Khalaif has been CEO of the Entrustment and Liquidation Center (Infath) since December 2019.

He also worked as managing director at Infath from April 2019 to December 2019.

Al-Khalaif gained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, in 2003.

He received a high diploma in private equity from the London Business School in 2009 and an MBA in general management from the University of Hull in the UK in 2010.

Al-Khalaif also completed a master’s degree in investments analysis at the University of Stirling, Scotland, in 2011.

Before his current position, he worked as a financial analyst at Samba Financial Group, Alkhobar, from March 2003 to March 2004.

He also worked as an accounting assistance manager at Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp., Qassim, between March 2004 and February 2009.

Al-Khalaif worked as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, Glasgow, between August 2010 and July 2011.

He also worked as CFO of the Warehousing & Logistics Services Co., Riyadh, from March 2013 to March 2015, and was an internal audit committee member and investment audit committee member from March 2013 to December 2017.

He was vice president of strategic and business development at Cayan Group in Riyadh and Dubai between March 2015 and January 2018.

Al-Khalaif was also ministerial adviser for the real estate contributions committee at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Riyadh, between October 2017 and October 2018.

He then became chief investment officer of the National Housing Co., Riyadh, from January 2018 to March 2019.