Saudi women creatives launch model scouting startup to bridge client and talent gap

Although the Clay founders, Lina Malaika (right) and Farah Hammad (left), still consider their business to be a startup, their stellar reputation in Jeddah and the digital MENA space is evident. (Supplied)
Although the Clay founders, Lina Malaika (right) and Farah Hammad (left), still consider their business to be a startup, their stellar reputation in Jeddah and the digital MENA space is evident. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 November 2022

Saudi women creatives launch model scouting startup to bridge client and talent gap

Saudi women creatives launch model scouting startup to bridge client and talent gap
  • Lina Malaika and Farah Hammad seek to boost local careers
  • Clay Models’ vision is to shape a new future for the industry

DHAHRAN: On an ordinary November night in 2020, Lina Malaika and Farah Hammad had a conversation that changed their lives.

In the midst of the global pandemic, the pair decided to embark on a business partnership that they hoped would elevate their communities and carve out a new path for them in the business world.

Both women are established in their own right: Malaika has been in the creative industry for over a decade as a filmmaker, designer and entrepreneur; and Hammad is a fashion designer with an acute eye for color and texture and a repertoire that spans several continents.




Modeling is typically more women-dominant but Clay also has five male models. One of them, Abdullah Ali, was raised in Riyadh and joined Clay after being on the scene
independently. His versatile look and aura of confidence allows him to pull off urban and traditional looks flawlessly. (Instagram: @conceptsirene)

“Basically, me and Lina are talent agents — Clay is the name under us. We are not an agency yet — that’s the plan. Hopefully, we get investors and we become a proper agency. But for now, we are two talent agents,” Hammad told Arab News.

It all started when they met in September 2020, and shortly afterwards decided to launch their business, Clay Models.

It was Malaika’s brainchild. She got her start at Destination Jeddah magazine about a decade ago and then as a creative director at TheLoftMe, a creative studio based in her hometown in the Kingdom’s coastal city.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In the midst of the global pandemic, Lina Malaika and Farah Hammad decided to embark on a business partnership that they hoped would elevate their communities and carve out a new path for them in the business world.

• The name ‘Clay’ was the first one that came to Malaika. She wanted a ‘short, playful and versatile’ name that was flexible like a block of clay that one is able to shape. It is a word that could describe makeup, hair, clothing — or modeling.

• As of now, Clay exists mostly in the cloud, literally. Both women have studios, so it is possible to meet in a physical space, but most of the interactions are over the phone. They currently have 30 models on their books but are looking for more

For each of those roles, she needed models for photoshoots and found it quite cumbersome and daunting to constantly curate a database for locally-based models.

It was nonexistent at the time, she said, because many women still needed approval from their families to be photographed, and to have their images in the media was still taboo in many ways.

Malaika then decided to study film in New York and fashion in London before settling back home. She found that she was constantly faced with the same task of finding models for each of her roles and decided to take matters into her own hands. She had a Rolodex of models but wanted it to be more streamlined.




Saudi model Malak Monzer

“I was just always thinking, I have what it takes … all I need is a partner because I can’t do this on my own. Yeah, I’m a creative person but I’m not necessarily a businesswoman,” Malaika said.

Hammad had a similar hurdle each time she had a shoot for her fashion design business.

Raised in multiple countries, splitting her time between Jeddah, Europe and the US, the globe-trotter has a calm steadiness to her. Her attentiveness and empathy toward those around her makes it seem like she collects thoughts and weaves them into the world with an invisible string. She is a doer.

Joining forces seemed like destiny for the two women.

“We’re on the same page, we more or less share the same kind of mentality. So we really understood each other. I don’t remember exactly the conversation, but I was telling her I have this idea to turn this database into a modeling agency.

“And I told her ‘if you don’t do it with me, it’s never gonna happen because I’ve built so many ideas in my head and they never, never come to life.’ I have like a shelf of unfinished ideas. We complete each other in that sense. She started instantly (and) it came to life. She built the website by the next morning. No joke,” Malaika said.

“I was honestly scared and then a bit skeptical because, for me, when I launched my business, my connections — it took years. So when she approached me regarding this, I was like, I’ll get back to you but I think it’s a yes. Then, I was like you know what, I think this is going to be a great opportunity,” Hammad told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia was opening up so they decided to seize the day.

“This was during COVID, remember? At the time, there was this uncertainty in life and there was also like, a lot of ‘we are gonna die.’ And aside from it being a business, it was great for me, and I would say for Farah, too, as a coping tool because we were dealing with parallel personal transitions, and that helped us. It was kind of escapism,” Malaika said.

The name “Clay” was the first one that came to Malaika. She wanted a “short, playful and versatile” name that was flexible like a block of clay that one is able to shape. It is a word that could describe makeup, hair, clothing — or modeling.

“We had (a) lawyer that helped us with the contracts. We wanted the contract to be very flexible, just so it’s fair for everyone and not to stand in the way of the model’s project and life. It was very important for us so the model feels that they can trust us because we’re not there to dominate, we want that relationship with our models and to maintain it, and with our clients, as well,” Malaika told Arab News.

Modeling is typically more women-dominant but Clay also has five male models.

One of them, Abdullah Ali, was raised in Riyadh and joined Clay after being on the scene independently. His versatile look and aura of confidence allows him to pull off urban and traditional looks flawlessly.

“As a self-established model, one of the obstacles that I faced in my early career was the linking point between the talent and the client. Luckily, Clay stepped up and became one of the leading modeling agencies in Saudi Arabia. Even though I had my client base, working with Clay was an advantage to elevating the local industry standards collectively,” Ali told Arab News.

It was important for Clay to offer clients options and to not box any model into any category. Their website has a section for Saudi Arabia, international and male models, with all their specifications. They do not represent anyone under 21.

“Keep in mind, prior to the new Saudi vision, most brands — all luxury brands — would shoot products dedicated to us in the GCC using foreign models. Shots in foreign locations that do not represent us, it does not appeal to us. And slowly, the brands started noticing, like, we need to speak to our clients.

“A lot of them started going to Dubai; it wasn’t acceptable to have models shooting in Saudi Arabia. Brands finally started wanting to use local models in Saudi Arabia, so again, I want to highlight that was very important for us to start this here — it was nonexistent,” Malaika said.

While models are notorious for being divas, they have only encountered one model who misbehaved and disrespected the client by being tardy and having an attitude on set.

They have zero tolerance for unprofessional behavior and they issued a refund to the client with an apology and the model was swiftly fired after giving her a second chance, which she also abused. The brand did return as a customer and it is a testament to their commitment to taking care of the relationship.

“They come back to us because of the type of professionalism we offer and we provide,” Malaika said.

Although the Clay founders still consider their business to be a startup, their stellar reputation in Jeddah and the digital MENA space is evident.

As of now, Clay exists mostly in the cloud, literally. Both women have studios, so it is possible to meet in a physical space, but most of the interactions are over the phone.

“We want to expand and we want to find more talents. (If we) can find more we can find investors to grow … like the sky’s the limit,” Malaika said.

For anyone hoping to land a coveted spot at Clay, professionalism is a must but also an online presence is key. In the digital and social media saturated world, every aspiring model has the ability to open up an Instagram account and share photos.

“It’s very important to have a portfolio. With stylists, designers, photographers — see how they look behind the camera. They might not be photogenic. They should do some research, look at YouTube videos of models, how they pose. To some, it’s just a hobby and they don’t really take it seriously,” Hammad said.

While they do the bulk of the work for quality-control assurance, they have a few freelance agents who help when necessary. So far, they have the same instincts when deciding to let a model join the Clay family and have not yet disagreed on who to sign up.

They currently have 30 models on their books but are looking for more.

The women say they are not doing it for fame but to fill a gap and serve as a platform to elevate the industry.

“Other agencies take a percentage from the model’s rate, we don’t do that, we add our percentage to the model’s rate. The model pays us to do the dirty work — like we’re their agents. We make life easier for the client because everything is done, they don’t have to deal with anything. All they do is book ... So everyone is happy. It’s a win-win situation for the models, and for us and for the client. It’s like a perfect recipe,” Malaika said.

 


Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh
Updated 02 December 2022

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh
  • “I have been here since it all started in 2019, and every year I am surprised by the changes, and this year we noticed a better organization in the parking area,” Nana, who was visiting the music festival with her friends, told Arab News

RIYADH: As the mercury dropped in Riyadh, thousands of music enthusiasts flocked to MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 on Thursday in Riyadh sporting hoodies and jackets in a variety of colors and designs.

Nana, a 22-year-old, was spotted in the Dance Tent (one of MDLBEAST’s stages) wearing a colorful 70s style jacket with ripped jeans and glitter around her eyes.

“I have been here since it all started in 2019, and every year I am surprised by the changes, and this year we noticed a better organization in the parking area,” Nana, who was visiting the music festival with her friends, told Arab News.

Many clothing stores at the event focused on selling hoodies and comfortable streetwear.

MDLBEAST also has a customization station where visitors can have pictures or letters printed on their hoodies and T-shirts.

FASTFACTS

• Many clothing stores at the event focused on selling hoodies and comfortable streetwear.

• MDLBEAST also has a customization station where visitors can have pictures or letters printed on their hoodies and T-shirts.

• Another Saudi brand that took part in the festival was Rich/Anonymous.

Reshma Choudhary, manager of the MDLBEAST store, said that people like to buy souvenirs from the festival so that when they return home, they can treasure a piece of MDLBEAST.

“The MDLBEAST brand is growing now, and it’s really good for us to have personalized merchandise, especially for people here who come here to have fun; it’s good to take it as a souvenir now, and I think it’s a good collaboration with the Saudi artists to do something cool,” Choudhary said.

Another Saudi brand that took part in the festival was Rich/Anonymous.

Founder Abdullah Marwan said: “I think it’s important to participate in MDLBEAST as it gives exposure because there are thousands of people here, and it fits our niche in terms of consumers … and the Riyadh style has gone hardcore into hoodies in the last couple of years, so this is why we have special edition hoodies in our brand inspired by MDLBEAST.”

Fahad Al-Qahttani, an Emirati citizen who came all the way from Dubai to attend the festival, wore a leather jacket, sunglasses, bandana and 70s-style colored pants.

“I visit Riyadh often because of all the activities that I find here, and I didn’t miss the MDLBEAST last year … and I love what people are wearing tonight,” Al-Qahttani said.

 


Socrates Cafe founder stresses power of philosophy at Riyadh conference

Socrates Cafe founder Christopher Phillips. (Supplied)
Socrates Cafe founder Christopher Phillips. (Supplied)
Updated 32 min ago

Socrates Cafe founder stresses power of philosophy at Riyadh conference

Socrates Cafe founder Christopher Phillips. (Supplied)
  • During an interview with Arab News, Phillips discussed the power of philosophical thinking as well as the importance of listening to other people’s thoughts and beliefs

RIYADH: The Riyadh Philosophy Conference on Thursday featured a powerful discussion on the power of philosophy to transform humanity by Socrates Cafe founder Christopher Phillips.

Socrates Cafe is an international gathering concept that encourages individuals to come together and explore timeless and timely questions as well as share their viewpoints on different topics. It can be held in any place, from cafes to meeting areas or any space that invites thinkers to share their thoughts.

“There is a beautiful window here (Saudi Arabia) of flourishing desire, almost a hunger for the discovering, cultivating the art of sort of questioning, to look at what speaks for and against a wide variety of views,” Phillips told Arab News.

“At a time when so many places around the world are building walls, not just literal walls, physical walls — walls between one another, existential walls — there are so many people in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East who truly want to build bridges. They want to be less impatient. And they understand that this form of philosophical inquiry is one way to hear somebody out,” he added.

The Saudi Literature, Publishing & Translation Commission is hosting the second edition of the three-day philosophy conference from Dec. 1-3 at the King Fahd National Library.

There is a beautiful window here of flourishing desire, almost a hunger for the discovering, cultivating the art of questioning, to look at what speaks for and against a wide variety of views.

Christopher Phillips

The second edition of the Riyadh Philosophy Conference has welcomed a wide variety of speakers and experts from around the world to hold lectures, discussions, seminars and workshops focused on philosophy as well as issues affecting humanity.

Speakers include scientists, writers, historians, professors and philosophers from around the world.

Phillips spoke during the first Riyadh Philosophy Conference and has returned for the second edition to host an in-person Socrates Cafe event that give people the opportunity to interact and explore ideas as well as different perspectives in a relaxed setting.

The Philosophers Cafe will explore questions surrounding the conference’s theme of “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”

Phillips said: “It celebrates the right to inquire, the right to frame your own questions, and that’s a tradition of philosophy.

“What’s interesting is that lots of the discussions right now seem to be from a dark place — questions about whether are you born evil or is this something that you can become or is it something that’s innate. On the other hand, they are also asking ‘can I be the change that I want to see in the world?’”

During an interview with Arab News, Phillips discussed the power of philosophical thinking as well as the importance of listening to other people’s thoughts and beliefs.

The Socrates Cafe founder said that he has seen a growing will to ​​proselytize in countries around the world. However, in the Kingdom, Phillips described the trend in thinking as “very much a breath of fresh air right now compared to so many other parts of the world where that tradition of careful listening, of inquiring together, of framing thoughtful questions has gone by the wayside.”

He added: “If you take that time to understand where another human being is coming from and why their story is different from yours, it’s something much more often than not to celebrate.”

Phillips said that many people no longer celebrate the idea of having differing opinions or viewpoints.

He added: “If somebody has a point of view that differs from our own, a person might just be ready to jump down from that other person. So why?”

Rather than pointing fingers and siloing ourselves and viewpoints, Phillips said “we can look at ourselves and say, well, what modest talent might I contribute to be more part of the solution than the problem.

“It’s about cultivating the art of listening at a time when people are screaming at one another, at a time when there’s too much holier than thou to cultivate the Socratic virtues of humility, the sense that ‘I may be wrong.’”

Phillips said he is unsurprised that people in the Kingdom are so willing to hold philosophical discussions and actively listen to opinions that differ from their own.

“I’m not surprised, and I will tell you why, because the Socratic tradition, the tradition originated by Socrates, it’s right on the cusp of the East and the West, the Middle East and the Western world. I think Socrates himself was influenced by Middle Eastern thinkers, and that this is something that comes naturally,” he said.

“There’s the receptivity here in Saudi Arabia that there was when I first started Socrates Cafe in 1996 in the US, and it’s no accident that there’s the spontaneous flourishing of Socrates Cafes and so many diverse types of communities, cities and groups all throughout Saudi Arabia,” Phillips added.

Through holding philosophical discussions and sparking curiosity, people can not only learn from other’s experiences and knowledge, but can also discover a lot within themselves.

“It’s about listening, truly asking why, especially when someone has a view that’s alien to your own, to want to know their story as a way of becoming more connected. It’s transformative when you really give someone that gift of listening to them, you’re going to be changed,” Phillips said.

The Socrates Cafe founder stressed that a lot can be learned from the way children philosophize. “I believe in breaking down categories of learning and knowledge — disciplines of thinking in colors like kids do.”

Phillips has a series of 10 children’s philosophy books. One of them, “Worlds of Difference,” has been translated into Arabic.

“It’s written by the kids. They are not yet cubbyholes; we haven’t yet tainted them so much with our adult-made very unimaginative categories. So they help me. They help me think more fully and deeply, and colorfully,” he said.

“And believe it or not, even though they’re fidgeting around, they really listen to one another until they’ve unlearned it from older folks,” he added.

Phillips is set to travel around the Kingdom, holding Socrates Cafes events throughout the week. He said that there are now 10 Socrates Cafe locations in Saudi Arabia, including in Jubai and Dammam. On Dec. 6 he is set to hold a Socrates Cafe event in Riyadh.

“I feel like this is almost a second home to have been back three times now, and not as a tourist, but as somebody who feels like these are fellow kindred spirits who want to engage in this beautiful thing called Socrates Cafe,” he said.

“It’s such an honor for me to be part of that and to know that there are still places on Spaceship Earth that celebrate the art and science of careful listening, and thinking and inquiry. We all are inquirers, but it tends to get shunted off as we get older.”


Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News

Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News

Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many development priorities in common, President Hussein Ali Mwinyi tells Arab News
  • Both nations have commonalities in tourism and economic diversification, says leader of Tanzanian province
  • Mwinyi says sustainability, heritage, renewable energy and agriculture are areas of potential cooperation

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar have many priorities in common concerning economic diversification and investment in tourism, renewable energy, and agriculture, according to Hussein Ali Mwinyi, president of the semi-autonomous Tanzanian province, off the coast of East Africa.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News in Makkah on Wednesday, where he performed Umrah during a visit to the Kingdom, Mwinyi said Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar share a number of concerns over sustainable tourism and the promotion of heritage sites.

“In Zanzibar, we have two main types of tourism,” said Mwinyi. “We have beach tourism, because it’s an island with sandy beaches. But we also have old towns, such as Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Those are commonalities where we can learn from each other. 

“But we also have differences. For example, I’m told the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a good number of tourists coming for sports tourism, like Formula One and such. So those are things that we can learn from the experience here.” 

The tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean is a veritable crossroads of cultural influence, where Africa meets Arabic history and Indian flavors; the fabled “spice islands” synonymous with abundant production of cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon. 

 Rama, a kite surfing teacher, surfs in Paje beach, Zanzibar. During high season, Zanzibar’s beaches attract thousands of people for kite surfing, economically benefitting local businesses. (AFP)

Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, but has a culture, heritage and geography distinct from the mainland. It is also pursuing a strategy of economic diversification that takes into account its geographical advantages and multicultural strengths.

Zanzibar’s economy has traditionally been underwritten by tourism. Visitors from colder countries are drawn to its year-round tropical climate, stunning white-sand beaches, and many cultural and heritage sites. 

The tourism industry directly employs around 60,000 people and contributes almost $900 million to Zanzibar’s gross domestic product each year.

However, like many nations and regions reliant on tourist traffic, Zanzibar’s economy has suffered as a result of lockdowns, closures and travel bans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has underscored the necessity of rebuilding the tourism industry while diversifying the economy across other, more shock-resistant industries.

“The mainstay of the economy of Zanzibar depends very much on tourism,” said Mwinyi, who attended the 22nd World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh this week. “Tourism is contributing to about 30 percent of our GDP.

“We are looking forward to growing the sector following the pandemic and luckily the numbers are coming back. We are almost back to pre-pandemic numbers and we are hoping to have more visitors than we used to have before the pandemic.” 

A tourist dives at Matemwe’s reef. Zanzibar's clear waters and lively reefs attract scuba diving tourists from all over the world. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector is likewise enjoying a post-pandemic boom. The Kingdom’s investments in leisure and hospitality have created thousands of jobs, setting it on course to emerge as a global destination welcoming 100 million visitors per year by 2030.

Data published by the Saudi Tourism Authority shows that the Kingdom had already received 62 million tourist visitors by late August this year, placing it well on course to meet or even surpass its target by the end of the decade. 

Heritage tourism forms a major part of the Kingdom’s strategy. The Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace developments were officially unveiled on Monday at a gala event during the WTTC Global Summit.

Zanzibar is also promoting its heritage sites. Stone Town, its administrative capital, features distinctive architecture, much of it dating back to the 19th century, reflecting native Swahili culture and a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European influences. For this reason, the town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.

However, COVID-19 is not the only threat facing the tourism industry. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and damaging valuable land and ocean habitats, especially in low-lying island regions. 

During the UN Climate Change Conference — COP27 — held in Egypt’s coastal resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh last month, delegates from climate-vulnerable nations called on the international community to do more to help them mitigate the effects of global warming. 

Dago Roots (R) performs a set with other artists at the International African music festival “Sauti za Busara” at the Old Fort in Stone town. (AFP)

Several governments, including Zanzibar’s, have recognized the urgent need to make their economies more sustainable, resilient and diverse, and to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. 

“Luckily, we haven’t been affected so much when it comes to climate change, but we are mitigating the effects by specific policies that were put in place,” said Mwinyi. 

“For example, the tourism we are talking about in Zanzibar is high-value, low-volume tourism. So we want quality tourism, few numbers but high quality, as opposed to mass tourism, which is devastating to the environment. 

“And we also have put down policies to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the use of renewable energy, the recycling of solid waste and such measures. So, in effect, we are hoping to make sure that we are not affected as other island nations have been affected by climate change.”

To avoid potential economic setbacks in the long run, Zanzibar is looking beyond tourism as a primary source of revenue, by embracing agriculture and the “blue” economy, which sustainably utilizes maritime and marine resources.

This includes the establishment of new fisheries, the development of seaports for travel and trade, off-shore renewable energy, seabed aquaculture, and other extractive activities, all under the umbrella of the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050.

Through its Blue Economy Policy, Zanzibar’s government has focused on strengthening the aquaculture sector with investments in seaweed farming, which offers local women economic empowerment and farming communities sustainable livelihoods.

Hussein Ali Mwinyi with Arab News’ Rawan Radwan. (AN photo/Maher Mirza)

“Since Zanzibar is made up of islands, we have to utilize ocean resources for economic development, but in a sustainable way,” said Mwinyi.

“So other than tourism, we are looking into fisheries. It’s an important industry for us — not only fishing but also fish farm aquaculture. We are looking at other sectors like seaweed farming. But we are also developing infrastructure like seaports so that we can have more maritime trade and transportation.”

After meeting with business leaders in Riyadh, Mwinyi is more confident than ever that Tanzania and the province of Zanzibar can enjoy reciprocal trade and cooperation in a wide range of industries.

“Tanzania and Saudi Arabia have had longstanding diplomatic relations. We have embassies on both sides. And now we are trying to strengthen that by encouraging investment from the Saudi side into Tanzania by sending some products from Tanzania to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“I had a good conversation with the Federation of Saudi Chambers, where members discussed a lot about food security. And as you know, Tanzania is a huge country, we have almost 1 million sq km of fertile land. 

“So, we are an agricultural nation. We can send in a lot of agricultural produce to Saudi Arabia, and we can also send livestock to Saudi Arabia. And it has started actually. We are hoping to increase that. 

A spice tour guide holds a a Ylang-ylang flower on a spice farm outside Stone Town. (AFP)

“On the other hand, Saudi Arabia can send Tanzania products from the hydrocarbon industry, from plastics and fertilizers, including oil and gas itself. So there’s a lot of room for cooperation and strengthening our economy. 

“But on the investment side, I know there’s a lot of Saudi business people who would like to come and invest in tourism in Zanzibar, but also fisheries and livestock keeping. So, we had a good discussion. And I’m sure the cooperation will be further strengthened.”

Mwinyi believes Saudi expertise and interest in Zanzibar as an investment destination will benefit its environmental agenda and bodes well for future cooperation. 

“There was a lot of interest to come and invest in Zanzibar in areas where they have already invested here and which have shown success. One of them is renewable energy. We are an island so we need to have renewable energy. And it has been done here to great success,” he said. 

“Businessmen here are willing to come and share experiences with us and invest in Zanzibar, but that is only one sector. We spoke about a lot more sectors and I think we have huge potential for cooperation in different sectors.”

 
 


Misk turbocharges 19 Saudi startups

The entrepreneurs are from areas including technology, finance, aerospace, tourism, education and retail. (Supplied)
The entrepreneurs are from areas including technology, finance, aerospace, tourism, education and retail. (Supplied)
Updated 02 December 2022

Misk turbocharges 19 Saudi startups

The entrepreneurs are from areas including technology, finance, aerospace, tourism, education and retail. (Supplied)
  • Graduates ready for next step after completing Misk Accelerator Program

RIYADH: Nineteen entrepreneurs are taking the next step on their business journey after graduating from the Misk Accelerator Program, a partnership between Mohammed bin Salman Foundation and innovation specialists Plug and Play.

The new graduates are from Cohort 3 of the scheme, which offers emerging startups from around the MENA region the chance to turbocharge growth with a 12-week program of training, mentorship and business tools.

The entrepreneurs are from areas including technology, finance, aerospace, tourism, education and retail.

Demo Day, the final event in the accelerator program, ended yesterday. All graduates are now eligible for the accelerator alumni program.

Misk Director Nasser Almutairi and Plug and Play Saudi Arabia Director Henrik Baerentsen delivered welcoming speeches. The 19 participating startups then proceeded to pitch their businesses to investors.

The Misk Accelerator Program has become one of the region’s most productive. It has supported more than 60 startups that  have created around 275 jobs, raised $40 million in funding and reached a combined market valuation of more than $300 million.

The program has also contributed to the objectives of the entrepreneurship arm of Misk, which seeks to enable the creation of 10,000 jobs.

“We are delighted to see so many aspirational entrepreneurs successfully conclude Cohort 3 of the Misk Accelerator Program,” said Almutairi.

“Through our strategic partnership with Plug and Play, we are moving further and faster to create a new generation of homegrown unicorn companies in Saudi Arabia that can contribute to Saudi Vision 2030 and to the Kingdom’s rapid economic growth.

Baerentsen said: “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Misk Foundation and to conclude successfully, our third edition of the Misk Accelerator Program.

“We are looking forward to continuing our support to all of the program alumni post program. This program generally has accelerated the growth of more than 60 unique talents and high-caliber startups who were selected in our cohorts.”

Misk and Plug and Play announced that applications have now opened for Cohort 4 of the accelerator program. The deadline is in January.

 

 


Saudi minister receives French diplomat in Riyadh

Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji hold talks with Anne Gueguen in Riyadh. (SPA)
Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji hold talks with Anne Gueguen in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi minister receives French diplomat in Riyadh

Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji hold talks with Anne Gueguen in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • They discussed issues of common interest and went over the bilateral relations and ways to develop them

RIYADH:Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji has met Anne Gueguen, director of the North Africa and Middle East department at France’s Foreign Ministry, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest and went over the bilateral relations and ways to develop them.

The meeting was held in the presence of the adviser at the Saudi Royal Court Nizar Al-Alula and the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille.