Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential

Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential
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Forming a community of creatives strengthens problem-solving skills, but no industry comes without challenges. (AN Photo/Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub)
Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential
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Mohammed Al-Ayed, Vice Chairman of Athar Festival and CEO of TRACCS, told Arab News: “It’s always known that a society that’s lost touch with its creative side is an imprisoned society.” (AN Photo/Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub)
Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential
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The diverse panels explore all aspects of the industry, including unleashing creative thinking, making creative impact, navigating the metaverse, potentials in creative careers, influencer marketing, and leveraging the Saudi music industry. (AN Photo/Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub)
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Updated 20 November 2023
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Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential

Athar festival unlocks door on Saudi Arabia’s creative potential
  • With innovation integrated in the heart of many industries, Saudi creativity has become its own brand
  • Forming a community of creatives strengthens problem-solving skills, but no industry comes without challenges

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia in recent years has staked a claim as the world’s latest creative powerhouse, attracting international interest in giga-projects such as The Line and NEOM, winning awards for art festivals such as Noor Riyadh, and developing a growing fan base for its annual Soundstorm music festival.
With innovation integrated in the heart of many industries, Saudi creativity has become its own brand.
Now the Athar Saudi Festival of Creativity, the largest gathering of creative marketing industries in the Kingdom, has brought together leading experts, creators, marketeers, influencers, musicians, and students, from Nov. 13-16 in Riyadh.
Mohammed Al-Ayed, vice chairman of the festival and CEO of Trans-Arabian Creative Communication Services, told Arab News: “It’s always known that a society that has lost touch with its creative side is an imprisoned society. What we’re trying to do today is three things: We are trying to celebrate the past, challenge the present, and co-create the future.”
Forming a community of creatives strengthens problem-solving skills, but no industry comes without challenges. Entrepreneurs may face difficulties with firm direction, adaptation, and proactivity, for example.
To combat this, Al-Ayed suggests that “focus, communication, and depth” are essential to successful creative branding and marketing.
“Creativity is a journey, and it doesn’t stop. Saudi Arabia is a big machine that is generating passion. It’s generating empowerment. It’s generating creativity. It’s generating positivity. And we just have to keep this engine going,” Al-Ayed added.
The festival aims to further the discourse between local creatives and international experts. The diverse panels explore all aspects of the industry, including unleashing creative thinking, making creative impact, navigating the metaverse, potentials in creative careers, influencer marketing, and leveraging the Saudi music industry.
Princess Loulwa bint Yazeed, founder and CEO of +966 and CEO of RiseUp Saudi, kicked off the festival with a talk titled “A New Saudi” in which she discussed the exciting times ahead for the local creative industry, opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups, and her experience as a woman in the field.
She shared advice for aspiring creatives, noting that key values for entrepreneurs include creating connections, harboring patience, and maintaining a clear vision.
“The bravery of taking the first step is what we lack here,” she said.
In line with the country’s vision, the festival is carving a space for students and younger generations to explore the offerings of creative industries. Through the Young Talent Academies program, six schools take part in three days of immersive learning and a 24-hour hack competition to further their drive toward the country’s future-forward economy.
The training program is focused on bridging knowledge and creativity to various fields, including PR, copywriting, innovation, branding and design, social communications, and planning.
Reema Saad Al-Saif and Haya Abu-Ghazaleh, both students from the International American School of Riyadh on the cusp of graduation, said that attending the festival offered a great opportunity to integrate creative aspects into their future fields.
Al-Saif, who is planning to pursue a finance degree, attended a panel titled “Influencers in Saudi Arabia, Best Practice for Brands,” which featured social media personality Ahmad Aljar. The student said that she was drawn to the session for its out-of-the-box account of people as marketable brands or businesses.
“There’s so much going into (influencing) that we don’t see,” she said.
Al-Saif told Arab News: “In our business management class, usually we’re looking into businesses and their products and how creative they are, and that’s also a field I want to go to — maybe open up my business in the future. You have to be creative for that and be different from other competitors.”
The future graduate has witnessed how broadly the country has opened up its horizons for immense economic growth — and more career choices for upcoming talents.
“We’re separating from just relying on oil. We’re seeing different avenues like tourism, new companies brought up. And all that creativity, with The Line for example. It’s such a creative idea and there’s more coming. I’m so excited for the future.”
Abu-Ghazaleh, who hopes to pursue international business with an interest in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, said about her experience at the festival: “You slowly realize that creativity is in everything.”
She told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia has always had that talent, but no one’s really discovered it or talked about it as much. But now everyone’s coming here. I know my country is here to support the coming generations for that, so I feel very hopeful.”
The students were met with a wide range of internship opportunities, alternative advertising avenues, and the incorporation of artificial intelligence and robots into some of the sessions.
Careers that were deemed restrictive in the region decades ago today charter a new age for creative pathways.


Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin in the Belgian capital, Brussels, to discuss developments in the situation in the Gaza Strip and the efforts made to solve the conflict.

During the meeting, they also discussed bilateral relations between their two countries and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of a meeting of the ministerial committee, headed by Prince Faisal, which was assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit with the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

It also comes a day before Ireland, along with Spain and Norway, plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state.


Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
  • Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef’s visit seeks to strengthen ties in industrial, mining sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef traveled to the Netherlands on Monday for an official visit with the objective of strengthening cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The visit aims to explore and expand joint investment opportunities between the two countries.
Alkhorayef is scheduled to meet with several Dutch ministers and senior government officials, along with key leaders from the private sector, to discuss collaboration in the industrial and mining sectors.
The minister’s itinerary will also include several visits to Dutch factories and companies operating within these sectors with the hopes of fostering collaborative ventures between private sector entities in both countries.
The visit underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to diversifying its economy and strengthening international ties, SPA added.
In 2023, the Kingdom’s non-oil exports to the Netherlands were valued at about SR2.6 billion ($706 million), while its non-oil imports from the Netherlands amounted to almost SR8.5 billion.


Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause
Updated 27 May 2024
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Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

RIYADH: The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union has praised the “tremendous efforts of Saudi Arabia, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in supporting the Palestinian cause,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The AIPU released a final statement following the 36th Arab Parliamentary Union Conference, which ended on Monday in Algiers.

A Saudi delegation, headed by the chairman of the Shoura Council, Sheikh Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, took part in the conference alongside heads of parliaments and councils, and several regional and international organizations and institutions.

During its sessions, the conference discussed developments in the Palestinian issue and the current situation in the Arab region.

The statement also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of a number of Arab, Islamic and African summits to support the Palestinian cause and put an end to the aggression against the Palestinian people.

On Yemen, the statement stressed the importance of the initiatives undertaken by the Kingdom, which call for constructive dialogue to achieve sustainable peace and a comprehensive political solution.

The conference endorsed the recommendations of the political committee, “which highly praised the pivotal and leading role played by Saudi Arabia, which has never hesitated in its significant achievements, contributions, initiatives, and authentic Arab stances aimed at unifying Arab ranks and elevating the status of the Arab and Islamic nations in all international forums,” SPA said.

The conference also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of Sudanese talks in Jeddah between the two conflicting parties to consolidate a truce and reach a final ceasefire agreement to end the crisis in a way that preserves Sudan’s sovereignty and unity and enables it to restore its security and stability.


Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim on Monday met Executive Director of the UN Office in Vienna Ghada Waly in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

During the meeting, the two discussed “collaboration between the Kingdom and the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals and other topics of common interest,” the ministry said in a statement.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the minister’s visit to Austria to participate in the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee.

Al-Ibrahim also met Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, president of the OPEC Fund for International Development, to explore the fund’s upcoming initiatives.

He also held talks with Austrian Minister of Labor and Economy Martin Kocher on strengthening trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, and the latest developments of joint interest.

The meetings were attended by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Austria Abdullah Tawlah.


Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state
Updated 27 May 2024
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Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Saudi Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz and his accompanying delegation on Monday at Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

Prince Turki conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They reviewed the strong fraternal relations between their countries and ways to strengthen them across various fields.

The meeting was also attended by Saudi Ambassador to Kuwait Prince Sultan bin Saad bin Khalid and dignitaries from both sides.