JEDDAH: Hadeel Al-Obaid, a Saudi artist from Eastern Province, with over 20 years of farming experience, took a leap of faith when she turned her childhood hobby into a unique business idea.
Offering hand-painted pot bags, Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.
She told Arab News: “I inherited the love of farming from my late father — he taught me a lot of gardening skills since I was 13. So, at first, I used to share on social media tips and tricks on how to take care of plants and a few posts of my paintings.”
Al-Obaid has gained extensive knowledge about plants. “I have a good relationship with my plants, I want everyone to benefit from my experience — and I am glad that my art-related business is also related to farming,” she said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Obaid had the time to practice painting styles inspired by Korean and Japanese art, and also by her indoor home garden and flowers. That was when the idea of her project, “Lavender touches,” was sparked.
• Offering hand-painted pot bags, Hadeel Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.
• Al-Obaid says the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.
“As a self-taught artist, in the beginning, I started with painting on the table serving mats, dinner table linens, and coasters, which (was) admired by many. Then, due to the number of indoor and outdoor plants I am surrounded by, I thought of adding a touch of art to these pots by covering them with hand-painted fabric bags to make them look more vibrant.”
Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery. Then she colors it using paints, and finally, she applies an interesting Arabic phrase or a quote.
“I draw only flowers on the canvas bags after I sew them, most of which are inspired by my home garden (plants) such as peace lily, tulip, French hydrangea, common zinnia, Arabian jasmine, lavender, and pansy,” she said.
The name of her project, “Lavender,” is also inspired by her favorite color and flower.
Al-Obaid said that the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.
“I personally think that the idea of gifting a flower bouquet to anyone on different occasions is respected, however, it is over-consumed and it really lacks the element of surprise, and if replaced with a well-decorated plant of any type, it will be more valued,” she said.
Al-Obaid also offers custom-made pot bags with customers’ selection of colors, shapes, types of flowers painted, English or Arabic names, or phrases about different occasions, as well as different types of indoor home plants and flowers.
“Each painting takes from an hour to three hours depending on the flower type,” she said.
The fabric pot bags also feature a water resistant color of a velvety texture, to maintain the beauty of the paintings once the plant is splashed with water, and can be found on Instagram @lavender_touches.
German envoy hosts press conference to highlight talks with Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed strengthening ties, potential partnerships
Updated 17 sec ago
RIYADH: German Ambassador Dieter Lamle highlighted discussions that took place between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday.
“The Kingdom has an active and very important role in this region, just as Germany has an active and important role in Europe, and it is apparent that these two very important countries meet in their region to talk about issues and ways to solve them,” Lamle said.
“The goal is to strengthen and deepen the economic relations between the two countries, as well as in the field of education. What we want is to start a new page in the relations between Germany and the Kingdom, and what we did yesterday is the first step for this new stage,” he added.
Scholz met with the crown prince on Saturday in Jeddah during a two-day tour of the Gulf region.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed potential sectors for partnerships, regional and international political issues, energy partnerships, and ways of contributing to the development of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“The purpose is to deepen the relationship in the field of economy and trade, and not only in concluding deals. We seek a real partnership by exchanging knowledge and experiences. The two sides benefit from each other in the exchange of knowledge, technology, and vocational education,” Lamle said.
“Starting with the bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Germany, there are some people who believe that the German side came to the Kingdom because we have a problem because of Russian supplies, and this possibility is incorrect, because we buy Saudi oil from the international natural resource markets. We can take advantage of this wealth,” he added.
Lamle explained that the chancellor’s intention was to strengthen partnerships in various fields, including energy.
“We did not come here for gas. The goal that was in the field of energy was to talk about green hydrogen and blue hydrogen and partnership between the two countries,” the ambassador said.
He underlined that Germany is pushing for an energy transformation, with 53 percent of the country’s power being sourced through renewable energy. Its mission is to expand energy resources through partnerships with the Kingdom.
“The idea is, of course, that it will be a benefit for the two sides to take advantage of German technology with the great potential in the Kingdom to produce green hydrogen because of the excellent climatic conditions for extracting solar energy to produce hydrogen,” Lamle said.
“The second point discussed during the meeting was in bilateral relations, and ways to strengthen and deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries,” he added.
During the press conference, the ambassador also highlighted the regional and international conflicts including the Ukrainian-Russian and Iranian conflicts.
“They (the crown prince and chancellor) spoke about the Russian and Ukrainian wars that Europe is witnessing today.
“The federal chancellor said very clearly that it is important for Germany to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and we will continue to support this country … the important thing is that this war does not lead to famine or problems in other parts of the world or raises energy prices to a level that some countries cannot pay these prices.
“They agreed frankly that it is the most important thing for this war to end as soon as possible to end the catastrophic repercussions all over the world that result from this war,” he added.
In addition to the war in Ukraine, the two leaders also discussed Iran.
“Iran poses a threat in the region, similar to the Russian-Ukraine war in Europe. Two sides are of course aware of Iran’s regional hegemony policy, and we have been working so far to re-conclude the nuclear agreement with Iran,” the ambassador said, adding: “Here, as two countries, we seek the stability of the region.”
He continued: “We know, of course, that the Kingdom is a leading country in the Arab world, and the Kingdom is a member of the G20, and in this way, it has great weight in the region, and without the active supervision of the Kingdom in all issues, it cannot be resolved.”
Two additional Saudi aid planes arrive in Pakistan
The aid will be delivered to 8,424 beneficiaries across Pakistan
Updated 26 September 2022
RIYADH: Two additional planes carrying 60 tons of humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia arrived in Karachi to help those affected by Pakistan’s worst floods in decades.
The 6th and 7th flights to be dispatched by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) delivered tents, blankets, shelters, and food baskets for 8,424 beneficiaries, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The batches of aid were received by the National Disaster Management Authority to be distributed in several regions across Pakistan based on the need.
KSRelief earlier established a Saudi air bridge to deliver urgent aid to Pakistan amid the floods, which drowned third of the country, killing over 1,300 people and displacing millions more. The first two batches of Saudi aid arrived earlier this month.
“The aid reflects the Kingdom’s mission to help people in need across the world in various crises,” read the SPA statement.
Health ministry transfers child to Saudi Arabia after heart attack in Kuwait
Updated 26 September 2022
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health transferred a Saudi child to the Kingdom after he suffered from a heart attack in Kuwait, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.
In cooperation with the Saudi Embassy in Kuwait and other stakeholders, the child – who was on life support – was transferred on board a medical evacuation plane that belongs to the defense ministry, according to SPA.
He is currently being treated at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh.
Saudi podcaster amplifies voices of local, regional creatives
Hatem Alakeel partners with Harrods to build a community of likeminded individuals, bridge generational gap
Updated 26 September 2022
DHAHRAN: Hatem Alakeel is the most immaculately dressed Saudi podcaster with a heart of gold.
His podcast, Gems of Arabia, which aims to highlight “all the shimmering hidden gems of the Arab world,” recently launched its third season with a big change — he is partnering with world-famous UK-based luxury department store Harrods.
This is the first official Middle Eastern collaboration between Harrods, established in 1849, and an emerging podcast launched in 2021.
I’ve been doing this all my life, like being in a boarding school (in Europe) and being the ambassador to Saudi Arabia representing my country. I hope to continue with what I’ve been doing over the past years and change the perception-based stereotypes and elevate the Saudi culture and Arab culture.
“Harrods and Gems of Arabia are partnering on a podcast series, themed on bridging the generations through culture,” Alakeel told Arab News. “As two established institutions in their own regions, our podcast and Harrods hopes to facilitate conversations between guests who are excelling in their field, and to provide a bridge between both generations in both the UK and the Middle East.
“We are hosting these special editions of Gems of Arabia from inside Harrods, Knightsbridge,” he said.
A softly spoken and articulate host, Alakeel has found some of the most interesting UK-based Saudis and other Arabs to interview. The new season offers plenty of surprise guests from within the MENA region.
With 18 years of experience, Alakeel first started as a fashion designer with his label “Toby,” modernizing the traditional thobe, and has been elegantly sashaying into each endeavor he has embarked on ever since with his brand consultancy Authenticite.
Although Alakeel is proud of his Saudi heritage and his Jeddah roots, he is mostly based in Dubai. But no matter where he is geographically, he is always passionate about amplifying narratives in the region regardless of where they are from.
For the past four years, he has been writing an online column where he highlights change-makers in the region who are shaping the Saudi landscape in a positive way. He knew it was time to try a different platform to further amplify the voices of those individuals to build on the conversations, so he started the podcast.
• The new season offers plenty of surprise guests from within the MENA region.
• Hatem Alakeel lived a significant portion of his life abroad, his mother constantly reminded him not to stray too far away from his heritage and to never compromise on his values.
• This is the first official Middle Eastern collaboration between Harrods, established in 1849, and an emerging podcast launched in 2021.
• For Alakeel, authenticity is the keyword. He is now trying to facilitate opportunities for local creatives to showcase themselves — without excluding Saudis living abroad.
That is something Harrods was attracted to.
“For me, Harrods has been an institution that I’ve always looked up to ever since I was a kid. It really has this kind of nostalgia feeling for me. I believe that the way we have been able to connect was through my podcast during my second season, which I did on the Saudi Cup — it was about heritage,” he said.
As Alakeel become recognized online and offline, he felt a sense of responsibility to help foster a thriving ecosystem for creatives in or from the region. He wanted to create the type of community that he wished he had when he was starting his career.
An un-ironic instagram influencer, he makes sure that his posts are both in English and Arabic. He also genuinely tries to bring out the silver lining in every situation.
The person who has been his anchor is his late mother, Seham Arab, who recently passed away.
Although Alakeel lived a significant portion of his life abroad, his mother constantly reminded him not to stray too far away from his heritage and to never compromise on his values.
His beloved mother’s scent lingers in Alakeel’s life — literally. Every night, he spritzes some of her favorite perfume onto his pillow so he can fall asleep to her memory. However, the bond between mother and son goes well beyond smell, which is known to be the strongest sense tied to memory.
She was the inspiration for his life’s work and the reason he began on his journey trying to uncover hidden gems and treasures within the Arab region. Alakeel calls her his first gem. She also introduced him to Harrods.
“My recollection of my first experience with Harrods was when I was in boarding school and my mom sent me a box of riding gear — it was shoes, a hat, and it was the most immaculate riding gear that I got, because I was horseback riding. So from there, it snowballed into me always going there and appreciating them. I was over the moon to have the opportunity to actually do something with them,” he said.
She would have loved his collaboration with Harrods and how he decided to approach the partnership.
“The approach that I proposed to Harrods is generational and cultural — there’s also a generational bridge that’s being built. And we need to recognize that a lot of the younger generation, Generation Z, for example, is very much inspired more than ever with vintage. Millennials were always so brand-obsessed,” he said.
“So, this is kind of the movement that I’m creating with the podcast — what we’re going to be doing with Harrods — is to highlight the generational bridges existing between both cultures. You know, an idea of how progressive Saudi designers are becoming, how much more exposed they are and how much more we need to kind of see where it’s heading. And this is the kind of conversation we want to have,” he said.
For Alakeel, authenticity is the keyword. He is now trying to facilitate opportunities for local creatives to showcase themselves — without excluding Saudis living abroad.
He wants to try to bridge the different generations that seem somewhat disconnected. A podcast felt like a natural progression to merge all of these elements together. It is a conversational vehicle that will allow different members of communities to express themselves.
It is all about creating a community and building it up.
“I’ve been doing this all my life, like being in a boarding school (in Europe) and being the ambassador to Saudi Arabia representing my country. I hope to continue with what I’ve been doing over the past years and change the perception-based stereotypes and elevate the Saudi culture and Arab culture,” Alakeel said.
Saudis, and indeed Arabs, have shopped at Harrods in London for generations. It is a trusted place to find curated and well-crafted goods. This season’s podcast promises the same.
“Harrods is partnering with game-changers in the local market; trailblazers, designers and entrepreneurs based in the Middle East. The goal is to build a community of likeminded individuals, to provide them with a global platform and wider network of contacts, while allowing Harrods to build relationships with and support the next generation of talent. Harrods’ partnership with Gems of Arabia is a perfect alignment and a brilliant example of this work, ensuring their position in these foreign markets is meaningful and built on cooperation,” Alakeel said.
Tap into season 3 of the Gems of Arabia podcast empowered by @harrods by connecting to @authenticite_by_hatem_alakeel.
Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Wasaidi appointed vice president of Saudi survey, geospatial information authority
Al-Wasaidi has more than 25 years of experience in aerial surveying, remote sensing, and geospatial information
Updated 25 September 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince approved the appointment of Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Wasaidi as vice president of the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
The authority oversees work in the field of surveying, map production, geographic information, and marine surveying. It also produces and markets geospatial information and services.
Al-Wasaidi holds a MSc in Geospatial and Mapping Sciences from the University of Glasgow, Scotland and another Master’s degree in aerial surveying and remote sensing from the University of Twente, the Netherlands.
He has more than 25 years of experience in aerial surveying, remote sensing, and geospatial information.
Al-Wasaidi has previously worked at the Ministry of Defense and as a general supervisor of geospatial services and surveying at the GASGI.