In Saudi, things are getting pretty creative

Creativity. It’s a serious business in Saudi. The creative industry is evolving and it’s grabbing attention - and attracting investment.

April 21, 2020
Mohannad Alnabulsi

The government is committed to creating awareness with the goal of changing the mindset and perception toward creativity. But we’re a little bit behind the rest of the world. But, slowly through government programs and investor attention, it is happening.

The truth is, the creative startup eco-system in Saudi is still young compared to other parts of the world, but there is a big push toward growth (supported by the government). In Saudi, we are making a pivot from an oil-based economy toward a more diverse economy. Creativity is part of that effort.

Recently, the ministry of culture started a scholarship program for young Saudis who want to have a career in more creative sectors — such as writing, acting and, even, cooking.

On a personal note, I have worked with startups for eight years. I am a big believer in the cultural and economic impact startups have on different regions of the world. I now work with the first corporate scale-up program in Saudi (IKEA Forward Accelerator), which focuses on four main areas — disruptive technologies, customer experience, food innovation and sustainability.

It’s a remarkable program that follows a traditional and in addition the program is pilot-based program, which means each startup will get a chance to pilot their startup inside IKEA stores where IKEA is opening its customers’ base for those startups. This provides startups with a unique opportunity to scale in partnership with IKEA and at the same time will help improve IKEA’s customer experience. In fact, IKEA Saudi is among the top 10 IKEA stores worldwide, the same people who are keeping IKEA Saudi in the top 10 are the same people who the startups will work with during the 4-month program.

Working with startups is a passion more than a job. Every morning, I wake up excited to get to work knowing that I will make a difference and impact a startup, create jobs, and change the trajectory of an entire industry.

I love creativity and new ideas that help make our lives better.  Meeting people from different countries and learning how creativity disrupts – is truly inspiring. CBC and Bright are the perfect platforms for our creative initiatives in Saudi where its creating awareness and at the same time giving an opportunity for the Saudis share and learn from others.

While the creative industry is young in Saudi, it is growing quickly and there are initiatives to support and encourage this sector.

For reference and as a guide to the developing creative economy in Saudi, check out this website. It truly reflects Saudi’s dedication to the creative industry and the creative economy. It’s an amazing story that involves archaeology, design, writing, and every other nook and cranny of creativity.

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