The Brand Builder: HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud

SOURCE: Entrepreneur

Time: March 24, 2015

“If I’m going to put my name to something, I really feel that it has to be something that delivers on the proposition.”

HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud has extensive executive experience in the realm of luxury large-scale retail, and having founded her own brand some years ago, she can claim luxury startup experience as well. Formerly the CEO of Alfa International, the company that operates Harvey Nichols Riyadh, Princess Reema is now focusing on the brand proliferation of Baraboux, a better leathers line of ergonomic luxury bags that runs the gamut from clutches to shoulder bags, which now boasts of a multinational presence. She currently also serves as a part of the executive committee and on the board of directors of Alfa.

In the realm of luxury, Al Saud’s tactics revolutionized the high-end retailer’s approach to human capital development- Harvey Nichols Riyadh proved that educating and empowering staff members could and would stimulate profits. During Al Saud’s tenure, the staff were taught to internalize luxury product stories and identities (meant for lifestyles remote from their own) thereby bettering their understandingof how to present(and sell) to the niche client. She approached the prestige cosmetic companies that had a presence at the retailer, and requested Arabic-language trainings to bridge barriers and enhance staff product knowledge, and she says the cosmetics companies were proactive in actioning the localization measure. Al Saud also incorporated Western-style retail incentive schemas not only to encourage stronger sales procedures, but also to foster team sensibility and workplace fairness for a group success model. These are only a few methodologies that Al Saud put into place for staff servicing the department store’s niche clients, and it’s fair to say that great luxury sales are often generated by hyper service-oriented environments.

HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud

The Princess points outthat there were two different agendas put into place at Harvey Nichols Riyadh under her leadership, noting that “there was as a difference with what we did before the law was passed and after the law was passed,” in the contextof the evolving nature of the KSA workforce. Cross-selling across departments was taught and rewarded, and both store and individual transaction targets were all restructured and realigned so that staff now looked to the overall healthof the store’s sales instead of just their own areas or product lines. Al Saud has similar innovative ideas when it came down to launching her own brand. To begin with, shedid what the world’s biggest luxury brands do best: define the perfect target market.

“The original client was myself. I say that because at the time thatI thought of the collection, I was travelling a lot and literally in between a move back home from living in the States. I had two children, I was just starting work, and for the way I wanted and need to travel and move, I couldn’t find the bag that fit the lifestyle I had. So I ended up either carrying too much or little, so I ended up sketching and designing the first bag with myself in mind.” Cleverly designed and striking, Baraboux is sported by both MENA region influencers and Western household names (Elizabeth Hurley has been photographed carrying the eponymous Reema Clutch on a night out).


Baraboux campaign image of the special edition collaborative croc Reema Clutch for Harrods

Most recently, a collaborative effort with highbrow Harrods cements Baraboux,a homegrown brand, as a certified international player. Developed in Italy, Al Saud describes Baraboux as “more of an entry level luxury on the edge of contemporary” and says her ideal client isn’t afraid to mix Dior with high street pieces and a cool pair of Adidas sneakers. They are “knowledgeable consumers” who have access to digital media and worldwide trends, and not just because they’re well-traveled (and well-heeled). These days, fashion‘s biggest names are doing just that, and Baraboux is along for the ride. “We’re a small brand, and we’re a niche brand,” she says, but that “small” brand includes some of the most relevant faces in the Middle East, Europe and farther abroad.

Her background in Museum Studies has been applied in her capacity as Creative Director with staging, message crafting and delivery. The bestseller is the Reema Clutch, followed by the No. 6, an autonomous bag that also pairs with the line’s larger totes. One of the Princess’ personal favorites after the Reema Clutch is the Mr. T: “I can roll my abaya up and put it right in there. I’m the girl that travels with socks and scarves and I put it all in the Mr. T -it’s got two detachable pouches- everything we create has a dual functionality to it.” The Baraboux Noush is another top seller- besides being attractive and well-made, the bag is good for both shoulder and crossbody wear and has multiple pockets inside that help brand fans “compartmentalize their lives.”


Baraboux Lucy bag in Charcoal Blue

Does Italian production eat into the brand’s profit margin? Besides prioritizing “good quality and artisanal workmanship”, Al Saud has ‘a-stitch-in-time-saves-nine’ philosophyon this, basically pointingout that Italian production of Baraboux products makes a lot more fiscal sense than products developed cheaply in China. “We look at our market and who we want to sell to when choosing our leathers andour materials. We’re not only choosing the best ones for the market we’re looking to sell to but also the ones that are the most durable.”

Yes, production costs in Italy are higher, but a slew of other areas of the Baraboux business are saving time, money, and preventing logistical issues from occurring. Italy’s proximity to her Saudi Arabian home base makes it easier to travel there four to five times per year, Italian production demonstrates much lower error margins and shorter execution times due to their extreme level of experience with fine goods, and also, Italy being a synergistic hub for better goods means thatall the different production points are situated next to one another and therefore liaise much easier than they would with far-flung locales. “We can literally manage the full cycle in one trip, and it’s more time and cost effective than if I had suppliers in six different countries.”


The Baraboux Noush bag in Sand

In the news, HRH is mostly mentioned for her fashion-based endeavors, despite the fact that she is also a social entrepreneur, founding Alf Khair [Arabic for one thousand opportunities] and as a part of Alf Khair, Alf Dharb. Originally conceived as a retail academy, Alf Dharb as an educational institution is focused on a “readiness for work, core-competency” type of agenda with attendees primarily from two streams of society. The nature of her past and current work in the luxury sector has given the Princess a lot of press focus, and she does leverage that to shed light on her social entrepreneurial endeavors. “When I look back at my career, what really interests me is providing opportunities for other people. And particularly back home, the retailindustry provides a lot of job opportunities, so the more that I dive into that, the more retail ventures that I dive into, I end up being able to create more jobs and that interests me and fascinates me which is where the social enterprise Alf Khair came about. The vehicle seems to be fashion and retail, and I find that intriguing.”


Saudi Princess Reema launches breast cancer awareness

SOURCE: Campaign

Time: March 16, 2015


AUSTIN — Saudi Arabia’s Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud launched a breast cancer awareness campaign at SXSW Interactive on Saturday.

Princess Reema’s goal is to bring together 10,000 Saudi women in Riyadh this October to educate them about breast cancer and other health issues.  If successful, the event would be the largest-ever gathering of women in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in a keynote at the festival, Princess Reema asked SXSW attendees to take their photo in front of a set of neon pink wings in the Austin Convention Center, and then share it on social media with the hashtag #10KSA.  She said she hopes the social media activity will raise awareness of her cause and bring more visibility to the event.

By gathering together Saudi women, 10KSA will aim to form the world’s largest pink humanitarian ribbon on record. That would beat the record that the Zahra Breast Cancer Association previously set in 2010 at a similar event with nearly 4,000 women.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Saudi women ages 20 to 59, but the topic is taboo in Saudi Arabian culture, Princess Reema explained.

“I want to kick [breast cancer] up to be a mainstream conversation,” she said.

The event in October will feature genetic testing, health education, fitness classes such as spinning and Zumba, and food and retail entrepreneurs.

Princess Reema is a founding member of Zahra Breast Cancer Association and CEO of luxury retailer Alfa International, which operates the Harvey Nichols department store in Riyadh. She is known for leading a movement to bring more Saudi women into the workforce. Last year, Fast Company ranked her No. 1 on its Most Creative People list for her efforts, which included ousting several dozen Harvey Nichols salesmen to hire female clerks.

Badreya al-Bishr

SOURCE:Arab Women Writers

28 February 2015


Badreya al-Bishr
 (بدرية البشر)  is a Saudi writer and novelist born in Riyadh. Has a Master of Arts in Sociology from King Saud University and a Ph.D. degree from the American University in Beirut. She currently is a lecturer at King Saud University, Department of Social Studies and obtained.

From 1991 to 1993, she had a weekly column under the title (Half Noise) in AlYoum news paper in Dammam. Later she wrote for al Riyadh newspaper and then for the Middle East newspaper. Currently, she writes for the daily Al Hayat..

She is married to renowned Saudi artist Nasser al-Kassabi. She has two sons.

A first for conservative Saudi Arabia: a female newspaper editor


Time: February 18, 2014

Like other Saudi women, she’s not allowed to drive or move around freely. But Somayya Jabarti will soon be setting the news agenda for thousands of readers in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
In what appears to be a first for male-dominated Saudi Arabia, Jabarti has been appointed editor of a major newspaper, the English-language Saudi Gazette.
She will take over as editor-in-chief from her longtime mentor, Khaled Al Maeena, the outgoing editor said in an article published Sunday on the newspaper’s website.
“I’ve had the goal almost as long of wanting to see a Saudi woman enter the male-dominated bastion of editors-in chief,” Al Maeena wrote. “It was not a question of gender but of merit that decided and earned her this opportunity.”
Jabarti’s appointment has generated praise on social media. But it remains to be seen how it will be received by the larger public in the conservative kingdom, where religious interpretations impose a de facto ban on females driving, among other restrictions involving women.
Women detained for defying ban on driving

“This is a totally new step for Saudi Arabia,” Saudi journalist Essam Al Ghalib told CNN. “She is very qualified and it’s about time. But how will people react, we’ll have to wait and see.”
“The biggest challenge she may face is being accepted by the male-dominated circle of journalists,” he said.
Jabarti told CNN that she is unfazed.
“It is a male-dominated field, like many media in the world,” she said. “There will be challenges, but there is ground to be broken. This is just the starting point.”
Jabarti began her career in journalism in 2003 as a reporter and translator for the Arab News, then headed by Al Maeena. She eventually rose to deputy editor-in-chief at the newspaper in 2011 before joining the Saudi Gazette with Al Maeena.
The Saudi Gazette has a circulation of about 47,000, Al Maeena told Al Arabiya News in September.
Jabarti will take over the newspaper amid significant challenges to press freedom in Saudi Arabia.
Reporters Without Borders recently said Saudi Arabia ranks near the bottom of countries around the world in press freedom.
The organization cited the arrests and punishment of journalists who wrote about sensitive issues in Saudi Arabia, including religion and the ban on women driving.
On Sunday, the Saudi Gazette also carried a story citing a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information threatening to shut down online news sites that “publish offensive material about Islam, the country, or traditions.

Saudi Arabian female researcher Hayat Sindi to be appointed UNESCO advocate


1 October 2012

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, today nominated Saudi Arabian researcher Hayat Sindi as a Goodwill Ambassador to support science education, especially among girls.

Ms. Sindi’s nomination comes “in recognition of her work to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in the Middle East and beyond, her efforts to bring the youth closer to innovators and her dedication to the ideals and aims of the organization,” the Paris-based UNESCO said in a news release.

Born in 1967 in Mecca, Ms. Sindi has made major contributions to point-of-care diagnostics, medical testing at or near the site of patient care, specifically designed for the vast number of people who do not have access to hospitals and medical facilities.

She made this contribution through the invention of a biochemical sensor with thermo-elastic probes and her development of the Magnetic Acoustic Resonance Sensor (MARS), UNESCO said.

In her capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Sindi will support science education, especially inspiring more girls to enrol in science subjects, and the visibility of UNESCO’s natural sciences programmes, particularly those pertaining to life science education.

As a member of UNESCO’s impressive roster of renowned personalities who spread its messages and ideals, Ms. Sindi will also help mobilize funds through her professional network to support the agency’s priority activities.

Among UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors are Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela of South Africa, United States jazz musician Herbie Hancock, Cuban ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso, and Dubai-based philanthropist, educator and entrepreneur Sunny Varkey.