Young Saudi designer produces vegan leather sheets from wasted dates

Qitmeer is a machine that produces vegan leather sheets using damaged and wasted dates. (Supplied)
Qitmeer is a machine that produces vegan leather sheets using damaged and wasted dates. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 January 2024
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Young Saudi designer produces vegan leather sheets from wasted dates

Qitmeer is a machine that produces vegan leather sheets using damaged and wasted dates. (Supplied)
  • The vegan leather-making machine Qitmeer works by grinding the dates, mixing them with additives, then pouring them into molds to start the first half of the drying process before preparing them for the finishing and coloring processes

RIYADH: Curiosity was her guide, creatively unveiling the hidden wonders in the ordinary, and product designer Lamees Alfadhel designed Qitmeer, a machine that produces vegan leather sheets using damaged and wasted dates.

Qitmeer was the young designer’s graduation project. Fascinated by science, creativity, and the ability to shape human interaction with the world, Alfadhel explored several academic paths before discovering her passion and purpose in product design.

“While I may not have realized it immediately after high school, I soon discovered that product design brings together a captivating mix of different disciplines, allowing me to combine my interests and create innovative solutions,” said Alfadhel, a first-class honors product design graduate from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.




Lamees Alfadhel worked on several projects, her first project was an interactive game with topic-based cards, designed to encourage teamwork and engaging conversations. (Supplied)

Alfadhel’s interest in culture, sustainability, and building a greener future through design sparked the young designer to base her graduation research in the natural leather industry in the Kingdom.

“I find inspiration in cultural designs that incorporate elements of my country, such as the iconic date palm trees,” she said.

She found two main challenges facing the natural leather industry in the Kingdom: the chemical damage resulting from the leather processes and the massive amount of wasted dates.

I’m looking forward to producing the most unique leather sheets in the industry. Sustainabilityisacore value guiding my work, dedicated to building a greener future through design.

Lamees Alfadhel, Product designer

“These challenges inspired me to design a machine that combines a solution for both issues,” said Alfadhel.

The vegan leather-making machine Qitmeer works by grinding the dates, mixing them with additives, then pouring them into molds to start the first half of the drying process before preparing them for the finishing and coloring processes.

The vegan leather sheets then become ready for the manufacturing and production operation, which includes the making of leather clothing and accessories.

Fibers are an essential part of the vegan synthetic leather-making process, and dates are the optimal choice for this industry, considering that they have a high fiber content.

“I’m looking forward to producing the most unique leather sheets in the industry. Sustainability is a core value guiding my work, dedicated to building a greener future through design,” said Alfadhel.

Qitmeer has been positively received by people. It encourages others to use elements and sources available in the Kingdom, explained Alfadhel.

Today, young creatives, including Alfadhel, have the opportunity to make their mark on the national and global art and design scene, with the Kingdom’s cultural renaissance supporting and inspiring a new generation, a key part of Saudi Arabia’s visionary economic and social plan to build a creative economy.

“The design community in the Kingdom has witnessed significant growth and recognition in recent years,” said Alfadhel.

“There are numerous initiatives, organizations, and government-backed programs that actively promote and support designers across various disciplines.”

Alfadhel has worked on several projects and her first was an interactive game with topic-based cards, designed to encourage teamwork.

She added: “Among the projects I’ve worked on, I take great pride in highlighting Qitmeer as my most significant achievement so far.”

Qitmeer was selected and featured in Tanween’s “Graduation Exhibition” at Ithra last November. The exhibition highlights the most outstanding work by graduates of design and architecture colleges and universities in the Arab world.

Alfadhel mostly uses Adobe Creative Cloud, Illustrator, and Photoshop for her designs. When sketching the initial idea, and 3D modeling, she uses the Fusion 360 platform.

“Fusion 360 is a fundamental part of my creative process, allowing me to bring ideas to life and refine them with attention to detail,” she said.

“Lately I’ve realized that the most used color in my designs is green, but that relies on the purpose of the product I design. Searching to understand the meaning of colors is an important step of my design process.”

The world has witnessed influential product designers who have set new standards in place, leaving a mark behind, and Alfadhel’s passion for design and unwavering commitment and determination to contribute to the design industry mark her out as a possible addition to the growing list.

She is currently working as a graphic designer and a marketing specialist in Riyadh and aspires to collaborate with local talents to foster the growth and development of young Saudi creatives in the Kingdom.

 


56th International Chemistry Olympiad begins in Riyadh

56th International Chemistry Olympiad begins in Riyadh
Updated 37 sec ago
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56th International Chemistry Olympiad begins in Riyadh

56th International Chemistry Olympiad begins in Riyadh
  • Some 333 students from 90 countries to attend

RIYADH: The 56th edition of the International Chemistry Olympiad got underway in Riyadh on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The annual event is renowned as one of the largest international chemistry competitions for students in general education.

The IChO 2024 will bring together 333 students from 90 countries, who will be judged by 260 chemistry experts.

The event has been organized by King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, known as Mawhiba, in strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education, and King Saud University. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation is the exclusive sponsor.

Competitors will challenge for 35 gold medals, 70 silvers and 110 bronzes, along with 10 honorary certificates. The final results will be announced on July 28.

Established in Prague in 1968, the event is hosted by a different country each year.

Saudi Arabia first attended as an observer in 2004 and 2005, and subsequently entered students in 2006 and 2007.

After observing again from 2008 to 2010, the Kingdom has been actively participating with students from 2011 to the present day.
 


Variety is the spice of life as Saudi Arabia ushers in dining renaissance

Variety is the spice of life as Saudi Arabia ushers in dining renaissance
Updated 42 min 2 sec ago
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Variety is the spice of life as Saudi Arabia ushers in dining renaissance

Variety is the spice of life as Saudi Arabia ushers in dining renaissance
  • Local eateries are nurturing a sense of community, providing valuable job opportunities to Saudis

RIYADH: In the bustling heart of Saudi Arabia, a culinary revolution is unfolding. Restaurant entrepreneurs are launching new coffee shops and fast-food restaurants that are redefining the dining landscape by offering high-quality food and drinks at accessible prices. The cherry on top? They’re hiring local talent, bolstering both the community and the economy.

Imagine walking into a newly opened coffee shop or fast-food joint with modest expectations, only to be pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of your order. This is the new norm sweeping across the nation. These establishments are quickly earning reputations for delivering great food and drinks without the hefty price tags.

As more restaurant entrepreneurs enter the market, the competition is driving everyone to elevate their game. (Instagram/sawada.ksa)

“Honestly, I always look for a fair price when it comes to my coffee, and this place fits the bill perfectly,” frequent customer Khalil Al-Azwari told Arab News. “This coffee shop is one of my favorites, and they serve the best V60 for only SR10 ($2.67). It’s great value for money.”

A cornerstone of this transformation is the focus on employing local workers. By prioritizing job opportunities for Saudis over expats, these businesses are not only boosting the economy but also fostering a stronger sense of community.

Establishing a new business requires a deep and thorough study of market needs, sound management, and dedication to the business.

Talat Hafiz, Financial analyst

“Working here has been an amazing experience,” said Ahmed Saleh, a barista at a prominent coffee shop in Riyadh. “I get to work with top-notch ingredients and learn new skills. Plus, it’s great to see familiar faces enjoying the coffee and food we prepare.”

The allure of these new dining spots extends beyond just offering great food and drinks. By prioritizing local hires, these businesses are nurturing a sense of community and providing valuable job opportunities. This approach represents a refreshing change in a country where the service industry has traditionally been dominated by foreign workers.

As more restaurant entrepreneurs enter the market, the competition is driving everyone to elevate their game. (Instagram/sawada.ksa)

Local customers are equally thrilled with the shift. “I love that these new places are hiring people from our own cities,” said Bashayer Mohammed, a regular patron. “It makes the experience feel more personal and connected to our community.”

However, not everyone is embracing this wave of new dining options. Some local business owners are feeling the heat as these large restaurant entrepreneurs gain popularity. Many local establishments, which often have higher prices, are struggling to compete.

“It’s tough,” said Saad, who used to own a coffee shop in Alkhobar. “We can’t match the prices of these big traders, and people are noticing. We’re losing customers, and it’s affecting our livelihood."

Saad opened his coffee shop in October 2021 with high hopes for success. “In the first month, the numbers were doing great,” he recalled. However, as the months went by, business began to decline steadily. Despite his efforts to adapt, the situation worsened. “It was surprising because it got way worse each month,” Saad said.

Determined to save his business, Saad tried everything. “We changed the menu, collaborated with coupon companies, and partnered with delivery apps. We even invested in advertising,” he explained. Despite trying every strategy he could think of, nothing seemed to work. “None of it made a difference,” he admitted.

On top of these challenges, Saad faced unexpected financial burdens. “The rent was much higher than I expected, and I didn’t fully account for staff salaries and insurance,” he said. These expenses quickly added up, straining his finances.

The increase in costs has led most merchants to reduce expenses, cut salaries, and lay off employees. “This is a sign of failure,” Saad added. “Successful merchants invest in the human element and intellect to create and innovate solutions for survival. The general public has a consumer mentality, not a problem-solving one.”

Desperate, Saad even tried to sell the coffee shop to investors. “It just didn’t work,” he said. Ultimately, the mounting losses forced him to close the coffee shop in 2023. “It was a huge loss for me,” Saad reflected.

As more restaurant entrepreneurs enter the market, the competition is driving everyone to elevate their game. Local businesses are starting to take notice and are striving to match the quality and affordability that these new players offer, although it remains a challenging transition.

In an interview with Arab News, financial analyst Talat Hafiz emphasized the crucial role that small and medium enterprises play in the Saudi economy: “SMEs in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere around the world are the backbone of the economy and business activities.”

Recognizing this, the Saudi government has been proactive in fostering the growth of these enterprises. It has made significant efforts to facilitate the growth of SMEs and enhance their contribution to the Kingdom’s non-oil gross domestic product from 20 percent to 35 percent by 2030, Hafiz added.

The establishment of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, also known as Monshaat, in 2016 is a testament to these efforts. “Monshaat was created to regulate, support, and develop the SME sector in the Kingdom,” Hafiz said.

Additionally, the Loan Guarantee Program, established in 2006, aims to overcome financing obstacles for economically viable SMEs lacking the necessary guarantees. Despite these avenues of support, many SMEs still face significant challenges. “There are still some companies that fail to continue their businesses successfully and close their doors within the first year or by the third year of operation,” he said.

Hafiz has identified several reasons behind these failures. “Most complaints from SME owners are due to various fees imposed by the government, especially violation fees,” he said. However, he believes that the primary reasons for failure lie elsewhere.

“The main reasons behind the failure of SMEs, especially startups, include a lack of careful consideration of market needs and different consumer preferences, lack of management experience, technical and professional expertise, and the imitation of adding value to the market,” Hafiz added.  

He also highlighted the importance of management dedication and sufficient financial resources. “Establishing a new business requires a deep and thorough study of market needs, sound management, and dedication to the business. It also requires specific talents that allow the company to respond quickly and effectively to market and economic changes,” he noted.

While the Saudi government has regulated fines to be more transparent, fair, and progressive, Hafiz stresses that the focus should not be limited to government fees. “The focus on business failures should also address the main and real causes of businesses’ failure. The government fines are transparent and progressive, and it is also not permissible to impose them the first time, as there is a warning that precedes the violation.”

 


Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival

Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival
Updated 42 min 18 sec ago
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Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival

Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival
  • Abdullah Al-Khazzam highlighted the distinctive features of the Najdi door, which typically incorporates three crossbars, in contrast with the traditional Hail door’s four-crossbar design

RIYADH: The third Beit Hail heritage festival, themed “Your Home Away from Home,” is a vibrant display of Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage, with traditional craftsmanship taking center stage.

At the heart of the festival is the “Hail Wooden Door Making and Plaster Engraving” exhibit, which has drawn crowds to the Aja Park Entertainment Center where the techniques and tools used in crafting intricate designs are on show.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

Abdullah Al-Khazzam, a Hail native and registered artisan with the Saudi National Handicrafts Program “Bari,” began his journey into the world of intricate woodworking with a childhood fascination for mud construction, which evolved into a passionate pursuit of mastering the art of wooden door-making and engraving, Saudi Press Agency recently reported.

At the festival, Al-Khazzam showed his expertise, demonstrating the nuanced differences between regional door styles. His specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

He highlighted the distinctive features of the Najdi door, which typically incorporates three crossbars, in contrast with the traditional Hail door’s four-crossbar design.

Festivalgoers seemed captivated by Al-Khazzam’s craftsmanship, marveling at the intricacy of his work, SPA reported.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

Beyond door-making, the booth displays a range of related crafts. Islamic plaster engravings, integral to Najdi architecture, adorn mock-ups of building entrances and the majlis (reception rooms).

Visitors were drawn to the elaborate engravings, patterns and motifs that offer a glimpse into the social fabric of bygone eras. The festival has reported a surge in demand for these traditional designs, with many visitors expressing interest in buying replica doors and decorative pieces for their homes.

Al-Khazzam’s repertoire extends to other traditional items, such as replicas of historical water-raising devices, an ornate camel saddle that was once a common sight in the region, and recreations of the decorative elements that once adorned traditional mud houses.

Some of these designs incorporate Qur’anic verses, proverbs, and ornamental patterns while others incorporate motifs based on local flora.

 

 


Attempt to smuggle 160 kg of qat thwarted in Jazan

Saudi authorities have arrested individuals carrying illegal drugs in Jazan. (SPA)
Saudi authorities have arrested individuals carrying illegal drugs in Jazan. (SPA)
Updated 42 min 36 sec ago
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Attempt to smuggle 160 kg of qat thwarted in Jazan

Saudi authorities have arrested individuals carrying illegal drugs in Jazan. (SPA)
  • Three expatriates have been accused of fraud involving expired food products from unknown sources

JAZAN: Eight Yemeni nationals were arrested by Border Guard patrols in Al-Dair, Jazan for attempting to smuggle 160 kg of qat into the Kingdom.

The suspects, who were apprehended for violating border security regulations, have been processed according to initial legal procedures. Both the alleged smugglers and the seized substances have been handed over to the appropriate authorities for further investigation.

Separately, three expatriates have been accused of fraud involving expired food products from unknown sources. The investigation revealed that the suspects stored over 55 tonnes of expired chicken meat from unknown sources, changed their packaging, and placed false commercial data on them, providing inaccurate expiration dates and places of production.

The suspects have been arrested and referred to the criminal court to demand the penalties prescribed against them under the anti-commercial fraud and commercial data regulations.

 


Partnership deal signed to support talents in KSA

Partnership deal signed to support talents in KSA
Updated 42 min 42 sec ago
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Partnership deal signed to support talents in KSA

Partnership deal signed to support talents in KSA
  • Dr. Amal Al-Hazzaa said that the agreement enhanced bilateral cooperation while benefiting the students of Mawhiba, adding that the field of health was of the utmost importance for students at the foundation

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, and the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity on Sunday signed a partnership agreement to support talented individuals.

The ceremony, which was held in Riyadh, honored 18 talented men and women from several scientific fields.

Dr. Aws Al-Shamsan, the secretary-general of the commission, spoke of the body’s pride in supporting talent and creativity, as well as partnering with Mawhiba in exchanging expertise and knowledge in science and research, implementing innovative projects, and raising students’ awareness about the importance of health-related sciences.

Dr. Amal Al-Hazzaa, secretary-general of Mawhiba, said that the agreement enhanced bilateral cooperation while benefiting the students of Mawhiba, adding that the field of health was of the utmost importance for students at the foundation.