Enterprising Saudi businesses, citizens have market for cloth face masks sewn up

The rising demand for face masks has provided opportunities for Saudis to make and sell cloth masks. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 June 2020

Enterprising Saudi businesses, citizens have market for cloth face masks sewn up

  • Many Saudis have set up their own mask production lines in the booming market

RIYADH: An industrious army of Saudi businesses and enterprising individuals has got the Kingdom’s booming new market for cloth face masks all sewn up.

Since wearing masks in public areas and workplaces became mandatory in the country on May 30 as part of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), demand for the face gear has rocketed.
And the situation has provided opportunities for online stores, small businesses, families, and individuals to manufacture and sell the masks.
The Ministry of Interior has introduced fines of up to SR1,000 ($266) for people failing to wear face masks in public places and penalties of SR10,000 ($2,666) for workplaces breaching the new COVID-19 rules and precautions.
At the end of last month, the Ministry of Health announced that citizens should wear a cloth face mask “at all times” when leaving the house and in public places, and provided detailed online video and written instructions on how to make them at home and the types of fabric to use.
“During this time, especially for those that need to leave the house, the nose and mouth must be covered. This can be done with a cloth mask to limit the chances of the spread of saliva to others, and vice versa,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly.
“However, social distancing, washing one’s hands and washing them well, avoiding touching one’s face, and staying away from social gatherings of any kind is still crucial. Our safety lies in adhering to all of the necessary preventive measures,” he added.
Using the ministry’s instructions, YouTube videos, written tutorials, and other sources, many Saudi business owners, productive families, and amateur sewing enthusiasts have set up their own mask production lines.
Tulay Emel Cagatay, the founder of Tulaila’s Academy, a sewing business based in Jeddah and Riyadh that offers lessons to children and adults interested in learning the craft, has switched her focus from making bags and plush toys to concentrate on creating face masks.
“At the beginning of the pandemic I donated over 200 masks, however when it became mandatory to wear the masks my family and friends asked to buy them from me since they wanted large quantities,” she said.

HIGHLIGHT

The Ministry of Health announced that citizens should wear a cloth face mask ‘at all times’ when leaving the house and in public places, and provided detailed online video and written instructions on how to make them at home and the types of fabric to use.

On the academy’s Instagram page, Cagatay has shared a tutorial on how to make a cloth mask in less than 10 minutes.
“I encourage all people to make homemade masks if they are capable of sewing. For the most part people have the basic materials to make a mask right now. Wearing a homemade mask alone will not guarantee protection against COVID-19, but its effectiveness is better when combined with a filter and basic safety precautions, such as regular hand-washing and social distancing,” she added.
“People need to ensure the space they are using to make their masks is clean and disinfected, they must use 100 percent cotton fabric, and try to make a pocket in order to put filters in the mask for more protection.

At the beginning of the pandemic I donated over 200 masks, however when it became mandatory to wear the masks my family and friends asked to buy them from me since they wanted large quantities.

Tulay Emel Cagatay, Founder of Tulaila’s Academy

“I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and received pictures from random strangers, in addition to children that I have taught sewing to, of the masks they made for their families. It brings me joy knowing I have helped in some way,” Cagatay said.
Hessah Al-Hudaithy, a financial adviser who makes clothes in her spare time, told Arab News that she had been “overwhelmed” with requests from friends and family for her home-produced masks.
“I made a couple of masks out of spare fabric at first just to see if I could. It turned out a bit easier than expected and it was a good way to use small pieces of cute fabrics that would otherwise have gone to scrap,” she said.
To date she has made 30 but is considering making more for sale.
“I want to give back to the community and help keep people safe, but there’s many things to consider. Getting materials delivered, but also getting the finished products delivered to buyers. I also want to learn how to properly sanitize my space. But it is definitely something I’m considering,” she said.


Gold a safe bet for Saudis despite VAT increase

Despite the hike in prices after the increase of the VAT to 15 percent, customers are still flocking to gold shops in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 1 min 36 sec ago

Gold a safe bet for Saudis despite VAT increase

  • Gold surged to its highest price in nearly 8 years and is expected to reach new record highs

JEDDAH: Gold plays a dual role. It is an investment and luxury commodity in times of economic prosperity, but also a haven in times of crisis.
Gold may be able to play a role in restricting the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as precious metals are considered a tool for hedging against inflation and depreciation.
Unlike other commodities like oil, gold has been universally accepted as a form of payment and has a power surpassing that of any other commodity. It has the ability to control the expansion of credit and is a favorable hedge against inflation. It can also function as a safe bet against declining currencies.
Salah Salem Al-Amari, general manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co., has more than 35 years experience in the world of gold and jewelry. He spoke to Arab News about the importance of gold and its significance in these turbulent times.
“The global gold market has been significantly affected this year due to the pandemic, especially since shops remained closed for a long period of time and salaries had to be paid. But in Saudi Arabia, our government stood beside its people and supported us through the SANED insurance program and helped mitigate the effects and restrict the losses caused by the virus,” said Al-Amari.
Despite the lockdown, sales have dropped since people have become more aware and careful while under lockdown. However, a scramble to spend has been observed since restrictions were eased and many people are buying ingots for investment as well as Saudi gold guinea coins.
“The coronavirus has hit our high season, including summer vacations, festivals, weddings, Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr,” Al-Amari said, adding: “However, thanks to the government’s decision to increase the VAT to 15 percent, which coincided with the decision to lift the curfew throughout the Kingdom, shoppers rushed to buy gold before the introduction of the VAT and we made great sales.”
Al-Amari said that those who wished to buy gold with minimum loss tended to opt for low-cost jewelry as gifts for others or for themselves and are more likely to buy the jewelry available in their stores.

In my experience, people should buy gold as a safe investment despite the increase in prices, especially since coronavirus is not going away anytime soon and trade disputes between China and the US will weaken the global economy, which would significantly affect the price of gold due to the currency depreciation and devaluation of international stocks.

Salah Salem Al-Amari, General manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co.

“In my experience, people should buy gold as a safe investment despite the increase in prices, especially since coronavirus is not going away anytime soon and trade disputes between China and the US will weaken the global economy, which would significantly affect the price of gold due to the currency depreciation and devaluation of international stocks,” said Al-Amari.
He added that people are more likely to sell stocks and bonds and rush to buy gold in times of disaster, crisis and conflict. This is why gold is considered a safe investment.
Saudi shoppers and investors are not the only ones rushing to buy and invest in gold. This same scenario is replicated all around the world and experts, economists and analysts are encouraging people to invest in the precious metal during these difficult times.
Gold surged to its highest price in nearly 8 years and is expected to reach new record highs.
“Market prices for gold have reached $1,810 an ounce and I expect it to reach $2,000 before the end of 2020,” Al-Amari said.
While in lockdown and to ensure sales continue despite the situation, Al-Amari’s company utilized the power of social media, where it played a significant role in marketing their products and customers were able to buy their products online and receive them through home delivery.
“Gold is still people’s favorite metal to invest in or own as jewelry,” he said.
Despite the hike in prices, customers are still flocking to his shop.
Talas B., a Syrian resident in the Kingdom and a frequent customer of the shop told Arab News that he has been shopping there for 7 years. “I came today to buy jewelry for a special occasion despite the increase of prices,” he said.
Others are disappointed by the price increases in gold.
Um Abdullah, another customer at the shop, said the VAT increase and gold price hike has affected her shopping.
“The VAT has affected my purchases. I used to buy whatever I like before, but today I have be to very careful. Sadly, I cannot even buy a ring,” she said.