Made in KSA — the female entrepreneurs helping to grow Saudi Arabia’s economy

Several women leaders have joined Playbook platform as members to access their masterclass library, engage with a curated network, attend events, access mentorship and much more. (Supplied)
Several women leaders have joined Playbook platform as members to access their masterclass library, engage with a curated network, attend events, access mentorship and much more. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 September 2022

Made in KSA — the female entrepreneurs helping to grow Saudi Arabia’s economy

Several women leaders have joined Playbook platform as members to access their masterclass library. (Supplied)
  • Women are using technology and innovation to make job creation and training their business

JEDDAH: The aim of Vision 2030 is to create one million jobs for women in Saudi Arabia. Here are some of the women and businesses playing a leading role in creating career opportunities in the Kingdom.

Namat, a nonprofit social business by Nesma Holding Co., is aiming to integrate women living outside urban centers into the national economy, enabling them to actively contribute to the economic and social prosperity of the Kingdom by redefining the potential of ‘“Made in KSA.”

Merging lean management, continuous improvement and zero waste principles with a female-centered agenda, Namat is paving the way for socially viable, ethical and customizable garment manufacturing that benefits businesses as well as the wider community.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Namat, a nonprofit social business by Nesma Holding Co., is aiming to enrich Saudi Arabia’s garment manufacturing industry through the deployment and empowerment of women in rural areas, bringing them into the folds of the national economy.

• Playbook, a fully female- founded startup, is focused on supporting working women in the region in meeting their career aspirations.

• Debyazah, a homegrown hospitality concept, is also seeking to promote culinary science and the art of modern food display.

Noura Alturki, vice president of the Nesma Holding Co., said: “My family business, Nesma, established this project for the purpose of bringing jobs to women in the tailoring and embroidery industry. Through our social enterprise, Namat, we aim to enrich Saudi Arabia’s garment manufacturing industry through the deployment and empowerment of women in rural areas, bringing them into the folds of the national economy. This project is inspiring in its inclusiveness.”

“Our vision is to replicate tailoring centers across all of the Kingdom so that women in all 13 provinces in Saudi Arabia have access to employment. I believe an empowered woman is true to herself, silences the voices (internal and external) that doubt her in order to pave her own happiness in the world,” she said.




Noura Alturki

Namat has grown into a world-class garment manufacturing and training program employing more than 150 skilled women across four tailoring centers in the Kingdom.

Playbook, a fully female-founded startup, is focused on supporting working women in the region in meeting their career aspirations.

Several women leaders from Saudi Arabia have joined the platform as members to access their masterclass library, engage with a curated network, problem-solve, attend events, access mentorship and much more.

Members are also drawn to the impact arm of the business where each paid membership (annual fee) is matched to a free-access scholarship for women and students in underserved communities. The platform is soon to distribute thousands of scholarship access memberships through NGOs and universities in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region.

Based in Riyadh, Amal Dokhan, general partner at 500 Global MENA and one of a handful of female venture capitalists in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, delivered a masterclass on the platform titled, “The Investor Mindset.”

The masterclass consisted of 11 episodes with runtimes of more than two hours. Dokhan breaks down her classes into sections that include investment terminologies, investment strategies for angels and venture capitalists, capitalization tables, dilution of shares and growth metrics.

Drawing on her personal experience as an educator, founder, angel investor and partner at a VC firm, Dokhan guides female founders toward understanding how to connect with investors and what they are looking for in a scalable startup.

Our vision is to replicate tailoring centers across all of the Kingdom so that women in all 13 provinces in Saudi Arabia have access to employment.

Noura Alturki, Vice president of the Nesma Holding Co.

Fatima Batook, brand owner, TIMA Sport Apparel and CEO of Switz Group, said that “The Investor Mindset” was her favorite masterclass. “The class opens the doorway for all struggling entrepreneurs trying to exponentially grow their businesses. It’s truly an insightful masterclass that adds a lot of value to many,” she said.

Nourah Feteih, an author, public speaker, environmental advocate and a new member of the Playbook, said: “As an environmental advocate, I always believe in spreading greatness to the world on so many levels. Playbook is doing an amazing job of supporting education for women globally to get access to the most informative and knowledgeable classes while learning from the entrepreneurs and experienced leading business women worldwide.”

“There are many scholarships that will be sent out under the member’s name. Wishing to be a philanthropist, I am glad to have received this opportunity. And, under the Saudi Vision 2030, I believe that passion, productivity and perseverance are keys to unlimited success in anything we do.”

Shreya Rammohan, Playbook co-founder and CMO, said: “Corporates such as Watar partners, Zain Group, Investcorp and other notable organizations have started onboarding their female executives to the platform. This aligns with their gender diversity and inclusion values, and their commitment to investing in relatable learning and development resources that can support their teams to network and build their personal brand. As members of the community, they can get on the app to network, seek out mentors, access learning resources, browse our masterclass library and much more.”

Rammohan said that Playbook rethinks and redefines accelerated career growth for women through curated learning resources and an engaged community.

The platform is launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

For the first time, female founders in the region are finding a bridge between tactical content on how to fundraise and access capital by learning from the masterclasses, connecting with the masters 1:1 and networking with other entrepreneurs within the community.

Lessons at Playbook grow in volume each month as the platform’s developers and founding team strategically include multiple masterclasses on decision-making, leadership, empathy, mental health, team-building, scaling, trusting your intuition, knowing your rights, maintaining a legacy in a family business, and running growth experiments.

Each of these masterclasses is led by women leaders across more than 17 industries that build their legacy and reverse-engineer their Playbook to success in the format of a masterclass. These are in Arabic and English and subtitled accordingly. It is further complemented by networking features, live event access, 1:1 mentorship and coaching opportunities, job boards and other benefits.

Nouf Masoud, CEO of Debyazah, a homegrown hospitality concept, is also seeking to promote the science of the culinary and the art of modern food display, and be Saudi Arabia’s first inclusive hospitality ambassador.

“We aim to showcase the Kingdom’s hospitality standards to the world and support the country’s vision through investing in opportunities that will nourish the local market and elevate the hospitality industry,” she said.

“We created a series of residential hospitality workshops for females in Riyadh and Jeddah to create a hospitality operation system in their own residence, making their home look and feel like a boutique hotel in addition to developing a career in the hospitality industry. At Debyazah, we aim to provide hospitality programs and short courses dedicated to individuals working in the hospitality field to develop the ultimate customer and guest experience.”

Masoud believes to achieve success as a woman entrepreneur, it is vital to surmount all odds and gain support from other companies to help the business grow.

“To create impactful momentum on a national scale, it is important to collaborate with multiple companies and organizations as they are seeking women to achieve leadership roles and are supporting them to achieve its objectives.”

 

 


Saudi Arabia condemns the attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran

Saudi Arabia condemns the attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran
Updated 27 January 2023

Saudi Arabia condemns the attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran

Saudi Arabia condemns the attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran
  • On Friday morning a man armed with a Kalashnikov-style rifle stormed the Azerbaijan Embassy in Iran’s capital

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia on Friday condemned an armed attack on Azerbaijan embassy in Teheran that killed one security personnel and injured others.
In a statement the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s complete rejection of all forms of violence and voiced solidarity with the Republic of Azerbaijan and its people, calling for the respect of diplomatic missions and punishing the perpetrators, reported state agency SPA.  
On Friday morning a man armed with a rifle stormed the Azerbaijan Embassy in Iran’s capital, killing the head of security at the diplomatic post and wounding two guards, authorities said.


Woman arrested in US accused of murdering Saudi student in knife attack

Philadelphia police arrested Nicole Marie Rodgers on Friday for the murder of Alwaleed Algheraibi
Police found the body of Alwaleed Algheraibi, 25, inside a property on Hansberry Street, in Germantown Philapdelphia. (Internet)
Updated 27 January 2023

Woman arrested in US accused of murdering Saudi student in knife attack

Philadelphia police arrested Nicole Marie Rodgers on Friday for the murder of Alwaleed Algheraibi

DUBAI: Philadelphia police arrested a 19-year-old woman on Friday in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Saudi student, local US media have reported - it is understood the woman was the victim’s neighbor.

Police found the body of Alwaleed Algheraibi, 25, inside a property on Hansberry Street, in Germantown Philapdelphia, he had suffered a knife wound to the neck on Monday at about midday local time.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigating officers told local press that the victim’s phone and other valuables were taken.

Police confirmed Friday that Nicole Marie Rodgers was in custody following a week-long manhunt.

She faces charges of murder, robbery, burglary, theft, and possession of instrument of crime, police said.

Alwaleed Algheraibi was nearing the end of his studies and was due to return to Saudi Arabia.

The victim’s uncle told local Saudi media that his nephew’s suspected killer was a neighbor who lived in the apartment opposite.


Study on Saudi workplace wellness identifies key challenges, suggests solutions

Study on Saudi workplace wellness identifies key challenges, suggests solutions
Updated 27 January 2023

Study on Saudi workplace wellness identifies key challenges, suggests solutions

Study on Saudi workplace wellness identifies key challenges, suggests solutions
  • Report by Tuhoon, a Saudi tech startup founded in 2021, incorporates feedback from 4,000 employees
  • Culture surrounding mental health in the Kingdom appears to be improving despite limited available data

DUBAI: Although mental health issues present a significant challenge to productivity, a benchmark survey in Saudi Arabia has revealed yawning gaps between the services that human resources departments claim to provide and what employees believe is actually on offer, with employees largely unwilling to discuss workplace stress.

For the report, entitled “State of Wellness at the Workplace,” researchers talked to 4,000 employees in the Kingdom’s public and private sectors to assess where challenges arise in the workplace and how to fix them.

The study, which was compiled by Tuhoon, a Saudi tech startup founded in 2021, was carried out in collaboration with the Saudi National Center for Mental Health and the Ministry of Health. 

“The surveys were filled out anonymously, which made workers more receptive to talk about their issues,” Tuhoon CEO Fares Ghandour told Arab News.

“We found females are more willing to talk on a personal level but they opt out of discussing their mental health in the workspace as they do not wish to be perceived as weaklings. We also found workers above the age of 45 are less likely to talk about their mental health than younger generations.”

Tuhoon recently launched a smartphone app designed to help users improve their mental health, manage stress and get better quality of sleep through personalized, culturally relevant audio content.

This content includes meditation and mindfulness exercises, sleep stories, masterclasses, book summaries, deep-focus music, and emergency playlists. It is curated by doctors, clinical psychologists, and certified meditation and self-awareness coaches.

The study indicates that more than 80 percent of Saudi workplaces have no budget to support the mental health of their employees, despite the rising number of workers reporting a decline in their well-being.

The report says that the lack of mental health monitoring has taken a significant toll on the cultural and economic performance of many organizations, and the private sector is perceived as offering less assistance than the public sector.

According to the report, most workplaces are failing to prioritize the mental health of employees. It says that 78 percent of organizations do not measure their workers’ mental health at all, 82 percent have no dedicated resources for mental health services, and 52 percent do not provide health insurance cover for mental health.

It also says that at least four out of five employees experienced at least one mental health problem in the past year. The most common symptoms were anxiety, burnout and stress, as well as depression, relationship challenges and loneliness.

The available data on the issue of wellness in Saudi workplaces, including details of programs and benefits employers offer their workers, remains limited but the culture surrounding mental health does appear to be improving.

However, the Arab world in general lags in this regard which Ghandour says is why he founded Tuhoon.

“I have been investing in tech businesses for nine years,” he told Arab News. “I decided I wanted to build and invest in something I am passionate about, and the mental health cause is dear to me.

“I approached Dr. Naif Almutawa, a clinical psychologist, and Aymane Sennoussi, who became co-founders, and I put my time, energy and effort into making Saudi Arabia and the Arab world a happier and healthier place.”

Mental health problems are among the leading causes of disability worldwide, with depression topping the list. They can affect people regardless of age, culture and socioeconomic status.

The World Health Organization estimates a quarter of the global population will suffer a mental health issue at some point during their lives, and that about 12 billion working days are lost each year to depression and anxiety at an annual cost of $1 trillion in lost productivity.

The Tuhoon survey of Saudi workplaces posed the question: “How would you rate your mental health over the past 12 months on a scale, from 0 to 4?” It found that 24 percent of respondents ranked their mental health as below average.

Almost a quarter of respondents ranked their mental health below average, with 44 percent of Saudi women and 32 percent of Saudi men in the workplace prone to burnout. (Shutterstock)

Among the respondents, women were 62 percent more likely to develop a mental health problem than men, while 44 percent of women in work were found to be prone to burnout and anxiety compared with 32 percent of men.

The research also revealed that 57 percent believed work-related stress affected their mental well-being.

Of the 50 human resources departments that were surveyed, 59 percent said their organizations did not provide mental health insurance coverage, and 82 percent said their companies did not have an employee assistance program. EAPs are designed to help workers resolve professional and personal problems that might be affecting their productivity.

The results of the Saudi surveys compare with the findings of a 2022 workplace report entitled “Mental Health in America” in which one-third of HR professionals said their organization provided no mental health services to employees, 27 percent said their organization was not sure of the proper benefits to provide, and 18 percent said their organization was unsure of what plan or insurance to offer workers.

In the UK, according to a 2022 study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, there is weak leadership on the issue of mental health in the workplace, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures show that only 29 percent of employers are able to spot early signs of mental health problems in their workers. Less than half (42 percent) of employers said that their leaders focus and encourage positive mental health by actions and behavior.

Good mental health is viewed as a key measure of prosperous and successful nations and organizations.

The Kingdom’s public sector scored higher (45 percent) than the private sector (36 percent) in terms of the proportion of employers that offered health insurance coverage that includes mental health services. Ghandour believes this is because the public sector plays such a major role in the Saudi economy, and so employees are looked after relatively well in an effort to maintain high productivity levels.

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According to studies by the Arab Barometer research network, however, more than half of residents in the Arab world find it hard to find decent mental health services. And globally, organizations struggle in the execution of HR policies designed to support mental health.

In 2019, the Saudi National Mental Health Survey found that 34 percent of people had experienced a mental health issue at some point in their lives, with blue collar-workers more open to reporting the challenges they faced than their white-collar counterparts.

It also found the most prevalent mental illnesses in the Kingdom were separation anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder, social phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Better-educated Saudis were more prone to such conditions.

Some 80 percent of respondents afflicted by a serious mental illness said they had not sought any treatment, while 8.9 percent said they had gone to a religious adviser or non-medical healer for help.

Experts say that to promote a healthier work culture, employers need to prioritize well-being, work to reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, and provide mental health coverage for employees.

Tuhoon believes workplaces need to start viewing mental health as a collective issue rather than an individual problem. It recommends nine cost-effective steps to improve workplace mental health and, as a result, boost productivity.

These steps include workshops to raise awareness of the issue, and webinars on topics such as stress management, dealing with burnout, and increasing connectivity between workers. It also suggests offering additional days off to increase morale, training managers to spot mental health problems in workers, and creating a more welcoming and trusting work environment.

I decided I wanted to build and invest in something I am passionate about, and the mental health cause is dear to me,” said Fares Ghandour, CEO of Tuhoon. (Supplied)

Furthermore, Tuhoon urges employers to promote workplace behaviors that reduce burnout by encouraging workers to take time off if needed, offering a more flexible work environment, promoting a healthy balance between work and personal life, and creating a “check in” culture.

Additional recommendations include encouraging employers to use mental health assessments as a tool to measure stress and challenges, and to connect workers with helpful resources if needed.

Tuhoon says mental health “first aid” courses could also provide staff with the skills they need to detect the early signs of stressors and provide solutions and rapid responses to help distressed workers.

This could further reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. Appointing “mental health ambassadors” would also contribute to more open and supportive conversations in the workplace.

Regarding the well-being of women in particular, Tuhoon urges employers to adjust workplace policies and encourage female employees to report harassment and sexual assault through the provision of a proper platform for doing so. Salaries and promotions must also be fairly determined regardless of gender.

Finally, employers and employees are encouraged to show gratitude in the workplace and introduce mechanisms through which workers feel able to talk about things or people they are grateful for inside and outside of work.

Tuhoon believes this could lead to enhanced job satisfaction, fewer sick days, the promotion of a positive and more trusting work environment, and increased productivity.


Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors
Updated 27 January 2023

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

Saudi heritage event in ancient Uqair port attracts more than 60,000 visitors

RIYADH: The “Uqair Inscriptions” event held along the banks of the ancient seaport city in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province concluded on Wednesday with more than 60,000 visitors attending, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The event, organized by the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission in cooperation with the Culture and Arts Association in Al-Ahsa, included heritage and folklore performances and traditional handicrafts unique to Al-Ahsa through dramatized scenes of life from the past in the historic port.
The scenes also depicted its position as an important commercial gateway on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, from the arrival of sailboats to the port to loading the camel convoys with goods headed toward Al-Ahsa and Najd.
The event also included a photographic exhibition displaying pictures of the founding king in Uqair in 1915.
Uqair is the first seaport in the east of the Kingdom on the Arabian Gulf coast, the economic gateway since the beginning of the establishment of the state, and the main port to reach the east and center of the Kingdom.
During that time, the state worked to develop the port by establishing customs, passports, a principality building, and fortress, and goods and foodstuffs were brought to the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and the capital, Riyadh, through this port.


Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy
Updated 27 January 2023

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

Saudi chief of the general staff meets number of officials in Italy

ROME: Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Fayyadh Al-Ruwaili on Thursday began an official multi-day visit to Italy, where he is scheduled to hold talks with a number of high-ranking Italian officials.
Upon arrival at Ciampino Military Airport in Rome, he was received by the Italian Chief of the Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone.
Al-Ruwaili met with Italian Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto and discussed bilateral cooperation and opportunities to bolster joint military coordination.
Al-Ruwaili visited the headquarters of the Defense Staff, where he met with Dragone and discussed a number of topics and means to enhance that cooperation.
The Saudi commander then met with Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments Director Lt. Gen. Luciano Portolano.
During a meeting with Gen. Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, commander of Italian Joint Operations Headquarters, Al-Ruwaili also discussed bilateral relations as well as means to enhance defense cooperation with him.
He also toured several companies linked to the Italian defense industry, including Fincantieri shipbuilding company, electronic-warfare specialist Elettronica, Leonardo Defense, and European multinational developer and manufacturer of missiles MBDA, where he was briefed about their military and defense products.