A mentoring platform gives aspiring Saudi designers a leg up in the industry

Through her own love for jewelry design, Princess Nourah Al-Faisal has created Adhlal, a platform to help young Saudis get on in the industry. (Supplied)
Through her own love for jewelry design, Princess Nourah Al-Faisal has created Adhlal, a platform to help young Saudis get on in the industry. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 May 2021

A mentoring platform gives aspiring Saudi designers a leg up in the industry

Through her own love for jewelry design, Princess Nourah Al-Faisal has created Adhlal, a platform to help young Saudis get on in the industry. (Supplied)
  • Princess Nourah Al-Faisal is encouraging and cultivating a generation of local designers
  • She established Nuun Jewels in France in late 2013 before moving back to the Kingdom

DUBAI: As Saudi Arabia aims for its ambitious Vision 2030, one member of the royal family has taken it on herself to encourage and cultivate a generation of young, local designers.

Through her own love for jewelry design, Princess Nourah Al-Faisal has created Adhlal, a platform to help young Saudis get on in the industry while remaining inside the Kingdom.

“I’ve always loved design in all its forms,” Princess Nourah told Arab News. “I grew up in that atmosphere. We have a lot of artists and creatives in the family and it was always in the air we breathed.”

Initially, architecture was her passion and jewelry designing was more of a hobby. Given the dearth of opportunities in Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s and difficulties in traveling for education at the time, she chose to study English literature at King Saud University, as reading was her second love. The idea then was to become a writer or perhaps to work in education.




After studying interior design at Richmond University, Princess Nourah started to see overlaps between architecture and jewelry.

“In those days, not many women traveled for education,” she said. “And there were only a few Saudi female interior designers beginning at that time.”

As she pursued her interests, Princess Nourah experimented with design, which allowed her to explore. After graduating, she flew to London and for a year pursued her passions. From art classes and pottery to glass cutting, she left no stone unturned in her creative pursuits.

After studying interior design at Richmond University, she started to see overlaps between architecture and jewelry. In a twist of fate, she was able to showcase some of her sketchbook ideas at an exhibition given by a friend of her mother’s in London, alongside a roster of international jewelers.

“I got publicity from it and, after that, Guerlain had seen my sketchbook and contacted me to offer me an apprenticeship,” she said.

“My father really supported me. He told me to start my business in France so I could compete on an international level from the beginning.




Following a few commissions for weddings in the Kingdom, Princess Nourah established Nuun Jewels in France in late 2013. (Supplied)

“At the time in Saudi Arabia, things were very different.”

Following a few commissions for weddings in the Kingdom, she established Nuun Jewels in France in late 2013. But moving back to her homeland was always at the back of her mind, especially after getting married that year. By then, Saudi Arabia offered more opportunities, and possibilities started opening up.

“I, like many other designers, was manufacturing outside of Saudi Arabia,” Princess Nourah said. “I thought I could run my production from home, but I found it difficult to get the information I needed. I needed craftspeople and I make a certain quality of jewelry. My market is very niche, so my production had to be of the same quality.”

But finding the right people was not straightforward, especially as she wanted to employ Saudis. The cost of flying staff in to train also did not make financial sense. “I wanted and needed something, so I created Adhlal,” she told Arab News. “I understood that I, and many other designers, didn’t really understand the lay of the land, who the movers and shakers were.

“There were little pockets of activity but nothing connecting them — it was word of mouth.”

BIO: Princess Nourah Al-Faisal

* Studied English literature at King Saud University.

* Studied interior design at Richmond University.

* Apprenticed with Paris’ Place Vendome workshop.

* Founded her first design venture Nuun Jewels in Paris in 2014.

* Established social-enterprise Adhlal in Riyadh in 2018.

Adhlal, which translates as mentors or patrons in Arabic, began with research and, over the past three and a half years, has sought to analyze data generated by focus groups. It has published three white papers, which chart the happenings in the local design community, and disseminated knowledge.

The idea is to replicate the kind of success enjoyed by Saudi couturiers such as Mohammed Ashi and jewelry designers such as Lillian Ismail — but to allow them to develop inside the Kingdom rather than outside.

“We are close to publishing our industry report for free to give an idea on what design is in Saudi Arabia now from the community,” Princess Nourah said. “It gives you a road map of where the gaps are and what we should be focusing on. I believe that we, as designers, need to build our own ecosystem. And I feel like it’s the government’s role to enable, which they’re doing in so many different ways.”

She speaks of a need to focus on what designers need help with, as they are the ones with experience of what is needed and what is not. Accordingly, Adhlal offers a step-by-step toolkit for designers to ensure they structure their businesses correctly.

In parallel, the platform is currently building a learning and development section, which will promote established local designers and provide practical advice to help younger entrants moving up. It helps connect manufacturers to designers, while providing advice from lawyers on copyrighting and contracts, as well as insights on pricing, freelancing, the manufacturing process, and how to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.




From art classes and pottery to glass cutting, Princess Nourah left no stone unturned in her creative pursuits. (Supplied)

“It’s about connecting the community to each other,” Princess Nourah said. “We also hold workshops, and we focus on infrastructure. Saudi Arabia right now is doing something that has not been seen anywhere else in the world — we are creating our own design industry. In France and Italy, it’s part of their identity.”

She highlights the importance of building a thriving design support network, a process that has been held back by COVID-19 and resulting disruptions in imports. The pandemic “has taught us that importing and manufacturing outside is no longer feasible and we need to have our own infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities within the country,” Princess Nourah said.

“And that’s exactly what Vision 2030 is about. It’s about creating different avenues, other than petrochemicals, and design is essential also in connecting us to our heritage. Someone will understand your culture a lot better if they’re drinking from a cup with patterns from a particular region. So, it opens up our culture to the world and it’s tangible.”

With almost 4,000 members on Adhlal’s Instagram account, the platform is growing. A large network of like-minded mentors, who have been working in the area for years, is actively going out and sharing knowledge and experience. “Our focus is to work with everyone else in the field to create our own world.

“We’re in a really special place right now because we have a government that’s really pushing and opening up so many possibilities, from funding to competitions. Even within our educational system, there’s so much going on in terms of supporting local designers and incubators,” she said. “There are many opportunities for young designers to participate in creating their own future.”

She speaks enthusiastically about the position in which Saudi Arabia is today, where young Saudis can design, implement and witness a change in their world as they know it. “That’s a really exciting place to be in,” Princess Nourah said. “It’s like having a superpower.”

She refers to her generation as one that had been waiting for such changes and is now attempting to keep up with them, adding that the younger generation is extremely talented and budding with ideas.

“There are a lot of people like me and all we want to do is ensure they are enabled, getting the right support they need and being pointed in the right direction so they can achieve what we all want,” Princess Nourah said.

“You have a generation now that’s so caught up in Vision 2030 and they are manifesting their reality. What I would have done to have been able to be in their position, at their age, with their energy. The world is open to them.”

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Twitter: @CalineMalek


Saudi FM arrives in Islamabad, discuses with Pakistani counterpart bilateral relations

Saudi FM arrives in Islamabad, discuses with Pakistani counterpart bilateral relations
Updated 14 min 35 sec ago

Saudi FM arrives in Islamabad, discuses with Pakistani counterpart bilateral relations

Saudi FM arrives in Islamabad, discuses with Pakistani counterpart bilateral relations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, arrived in Islamabad on an official visit that Pakistan said provided a ‘timely opportunity’ to deepen bilateral cooperation. 

This will be Prince Faisal’s second state visit to Pakistan in a year. He was last in Islamabad in December 2020.
The foreign office has said the Saudi foreign minister was visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The visit by the Saudi FM “holds significance” in the backdrop of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Qureshi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2021, the foreign office said on Twitter, adding:
“It will provide a timely opportunity to review progress in bilateral coop. in line with vision of the leadership of the two countries.”

“The visit of the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia will further strengthen the ongoing positive momentum in high-level contacts and deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields,” the foreign office said in a separate statement, saying Prince Faisal and the Pakistani foreign minister would meet at the Foreign Ministry shortly.
“After the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers, there will be delegation level talks between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In addition to all aspects of bilateral relations, important regional and global issues will be discussed during the talks,” the foreign office said. “The Saudi Foreign Minister will also meet with senior government officials during his visit.”
Prior to the arrival of the Saudi foreign minister, senior delegation-level talks were held in Pakistan between officials of the two nations.
“Key focus was on Saudi-Pak Supreme Coordination Council, highest level platform to provide strategic direction to bilateral ties,” the foreign office said.

Related


US condemns latest Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, calls for Iran-backed group to return to negotiations

US condemns latest Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, calls for Iran-backed group to return to negotiations
Updated 27 July 2021

US condemns latest Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, calls for Iran-backed group to return to negotiations

US condemns latest Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, calls for Iran-backed group to return to negotiations
  • ‘We condemn the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia following the calm over Eid Al-Adha’
  • ‘Time to return to negotiations and end the conflict’

DUBAI: The US has condemned the latest Houthi attack against Saudi Arabia as the Iran-backed group targeting the Kingdom’s southern region with a ballistic missile and three explosive-laden drones.

The US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs also called for the Houthis to cease its military actions and commit to a ceasefire that would end the conflict in Yemen.

“We condemn the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia following the calm over Eid Al-Adha. The Houthis must stop their destabilizing actions and commit to an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire to help end the Yemen war. Time to return to negotiations and end the conflict,” the US government agency posted on Twitter.

Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, earlier emphasized the importance of resolving the conflict in the war-torn country.

“The US is in this effort to help Yemen truly turn the corner toward peace and security. A ceasefire is only one step. We must continue to build from there,” the envoy said during one of the forums on Middle Eastern security.

Yemeni government troops and allied tribesmen, backed by Arab coalition jets, on Sunday repelled the “biggest and most fierce” Houthi assault of Marib since February.

More than 200 Houthi militants were killed in clashes during recent days or in Arab coalition strikes during recent days, a Yemeni army commander said.


Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds

 These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector. (Supplied)
  • Offering people easy ways to learn new skills, explore methods to promote self, business

JEDDAH: Online platforms are helping smaller creative businesses to pass on their knowledge to interested parties. Two such platforms that have been attracting attention from Saudi locals are Suplift and Upgrade.

These online platforms began popping up on social media a few years ago with experiences and activities offered with a registration fee.
Fadi Yahya, the founder of Suplift, told Arab News that the question that inspired Suplift was “How can I ask people with skills to share them with other people who are interested in learning?”

I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities.

Fadi Yahya, Founder of Suplift

“I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities,” he said. “It was extremely hard for an average person to try any activity they like.”
This led to Yahya giving over a few years of his life to build a business from scratch that allowed profits to be given back to a talented person rather than an organization. “Our job was to make the structure simple.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.

• Upgrade-sa.com’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.

He said there were many challenges as the team was building a new market. “We are not running away or finding the easy way out. One thing we had trouble with was the lack of experience.”
Yahya said that to enable the experiences, the team had to find locations, work out the structure, marketing, customer service, technology, management, as well as ways of working with the government.
The aim of Suplift is to promote the idea of having hobbies. “The thing I am most proud of is that we help so many people make money. Many people say that passion can not help you make money, but I think it is needed in order to help the Saudi economy move further.”
Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
“Now that people understand that they can make money doing what they love, we will have more artists, golfers, divers, archers and so many more,” he said. “This makes me proud of my team and myself.”

When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things.

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com

Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com, told Arab News that their platform’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
The early days of the business were very challenging, Mujahid said. “When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things. So now when the trainers or upgraders, as we call them, come to us, we provide them with guidelines so they can spread their knowledge.”
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector — supporting Saudi economic diversification objectives and building a prosperous future.


Virus recoveries pass half-a-million mark in Saudi Arabia

The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
Updated 27 July 2021

Virus recoveries pass half-a-million mark in Saudi Arabia

The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community. (SPA)
  • More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered so far at a rate of 288,858 per day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has reported 1,299 new recoveries from COVID-19, raising the total number over the course of the pandemic to 500,428, passing the half million mark.

The Kingdom’s recovery rate now stands at 96.3 percent and rising.
Community response in coordination with the Kingdom’s health authorities has helped stabilize the daily confirmed case count through precautionary measures and high immunization rates. As a result, the number of recoveries has continued a steady rise in recent weeks.
On Monday, the Saudi Health Ministry announced 1,252 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of cases over the course of the pandemic to 519,395.
The Makkah region topped the case count with 316 cases, while the Riyadh region reported 265, the Eastern Province 169 and Asir 145. Jouf remains the region with the lowest case count, recording only three cases on Monday.
The number of active cases continues to fluctuate between the 10,000-11,000 mark. With today’s numbers, there are now 10,788 active cases, 1,424 of which are in critical care, a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom’s recovery rate now stands at 96.3 percent and rising.

• On Monday, the Health Ministry recorded 1,252 new COVID-19 cases.

• The number of active cases continues to fluctuate between 10,000 and 11,000.

• There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Monday.

There were 12 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Monday, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll to 8,179.
As part of precautionary measures, 90,510 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number completed to more than 24.4 million.
More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered so far at a rate of 288,858 per day. So far, 71.8 percent of the Kingdom’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 18 percent have received both doses.
Ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline requiring visitors and employees of government, private and commercial entities and establishments to be immunized by at least one vaccine dose or recovered from an infection, the number of registrations for vaccine appointments has surged.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said in Sunday’s press conference that more time slots have been made available for appointments.
The ministry urged all residents eligible for the vaccine to register and receive it as a necessity to not only protect themselves, but ensure the safety of the community.


Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay
Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief delivers COVID-19 medical aid to Uruguay
  • The supplies included 53 respirators and more than 2.3 million surgical masks
  • The aid also included protective clothing, medical gloves and other preventive supplies

RIYADH: Medical aid from Saudi Arabia arrived in Uruguay on Monday to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The equipment, sent by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSrelief), included 53 respirators and more than 2.3 million surgical masks, in addition to protective clothing, medical gloves and other preventive supplies.
The aid was delivered on behalf of KSrelief by Raed Al-Harqan, the acting charge d’affairs at the Saudi Embassy in Uruguay. It was accepted in the capital, Montevideo, by Pablo Picabea, the Ministry of Public Health’s deputy director of general inspection.
Al-Harqan said the assistance reflects the Kingdom’s relationship with Uruguay and its pioneering humanitarian role, and the desire of King Salman and the Saudi government to help alleviate the suffering of people affected by the pandemic.
It is part of the aid being provided by Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, in support of international efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.