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Grow your own business at SHEWORKS, Riyadh

WSB Admin 27/05/2019 0

By Maha Shirah

Sheworks is a co-working space for women, probably the first in Riyadh. It is licensed by “Monshaat” the Small & Medium Enterprises Authority and Riyadh Municipality.

Our mission is to help all female entrepreneurs, start-ups & and freelancers to start their projects no matter how big or small it is. Whether you are Saudi or not, we are here to offer you our help. SheWorks is not just a co-working space, it is a community of talented women from all over the world where they work, meet & evolve.

To all talented ladies (expats and locals ) SheWorks offer the following services:

  1. Designated desks in our shared office area for rent (per month/ 3 months/ 6 months)

 Note: To apply for a SAGIA license, you need a 1 year contract. You can be a freelancer and still rent an office, no visa/iqama transfer is required as long as your iqama is valid and legal. 

A 1 month subscription includes:

Free membership to all SheWorks events and activities + a designated desk + small cabinet + 12 hours free/ per month in one of our meeting rooms + free access card + free wifi & coffee + access from 9 am – 9 pm+ 15%  off lecture room rent +  usage of mail address + free 1 business consultation session.

15% discount on 3-month contracts and 20% discount on 6-month subscription.

2- Business Lounge subscription: (1 Month/3 Months / 6 Months / 1 Year )

1-month subscription includes: free membership to all SheWorks events & activities

Free seating in lounge + booth ( first come first serve) + free wifi & coffee + access from 9 am – 9 pm

3-Virtual office for rent ( special contract) 

4- Meeting rooms for rent per hour

5- Lecture room for rent (Per hour/Half day /Full day) 

6- Special Discounts on Partner Services

Sheworks customers are eligible for special discounts with some of our strategic partners such as Al-Warefah government agency / Salla online e-commerce app/ Al Aqad law firm

7- Expansion Plans:

We are designing our second office which will include our private offices (that will be available soon and rent per year only ) that will have municipality licenses on them.

* SheWorks are offering WSB members an extra 10% off discount on all services valid until June 31, 2019

Please use the code SHEWORKS-WSB. For more information please contact / English +966-505-71-4747/ Arabic +966-535-94-6054

Options to work in KSA:

  1. Freelance – If you would like to work as a freelancer, SheWorks can help you get a desk, meet your clients, and even market your work. You just need a valid visa/iqama (it doesn’t need to be transferrable because you won’t be under our sponsorship)

You can also host events at SHEWORKS. Bring your talent and skills. We welcome, photographers, graphic designers, interior designers, fashion designers, dancers, yoga instructors, cartoonist, copyrighters.. etc

We don’t accept anything medical or psychological due to their critical cases

  1. MAROOF – if you have your own online store or you sell via Instagram you can register it on Maroof ( a digital free platform to authenticate your existence, it is not a market place). No CR is required only your ID). If you have a CR, you receive the Golden Maroof Membership.


3. Entrepreneur- You will need a contract (an annual or semi-annual contract) with one of the registered licensed co-working spaces that exist in Saudi ( such as SHEWORKS). Then go to SAGIA’s online website Services check Investor manual, we suggest you read it first. Then click E-services, investor registration, quick registration where you will fill your application. Then your documents will be checked. Once approved you will pay SAR. 2000 for the Commercial Record. Then you open an account in other government entities (Ministry of Labour/ Zakat & Tax Authority/GOSI/.. etc). You can also do all this in person at their office.

Regular VAT is applied to those who generate a minimum of $100,000 per year. The entrepreneur needs to register at the Zakat & Tax Authority and pay 5% VAT every 3 months.  If your income exceeds SAR. 1 Million per year, you must pay VAT every month.

For expats, the income taxes are 20% /per year and they don’t pay Zakat.


Address: Takhasusi st., Al-Rabie area, Riyadh


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Visit Bulgaria, the jewel of Europe

WSB Admin 27/05/2019 0

By Rositsa Dorovska

Are you planning a European escape from the upcoming heat, this summer? Sandy beaches, green mountains, hot springs, spa and wellness services, urban vibes, cosy atmosphere…If your vacation dreams are made of these, but you are bored of the cliched destinations, then you have to visit Bulgaria. The eastern European country has even much more to offer for every taste and budget.

Speaking about taste, I mean that literally… You’ll leave forever obsessed, with the local cuisine. The mouth melting rose tomatoes (way better than the Italian ones), the plethora of fresh fruits, the world-renowned Bulgarian yoghurt. Ask the Japanese, who are crazy about that centuries old,  home recipe for eternal youth and health. Thick and creamy, containing the unique flavour of the country – Lactobacillus bulgaricus,  the homemade yoghurt goes best with another secret for long life – the Bulgarian honey and its subproduct. These are just a few of the national superfoods, worth mentioning. You can indulge in a variety of Bulgarian dishes whether somewhere in the countryside, surrounded by breathtaking views in an authentic, village atmosphere, or in the city. The gastronomy scene is booming throughout the big cities, with a modern twist on the traditional culinary, so be ready to eat yourself out.

If you feel like craving more soul food than Bulgaria is the right choice again. Check your history knowledge about the oldest country in Europe. Artefacts, Roman ruins, Thracian traces, archaeological sites are basically everywhere. You’ll stumble upon them, while simply crossing the busy streets of Sofia, the vibrant capital city. Right at the downtown is the biggest open-air museum of the country – the ancient Roman city of Serdica. Above the site are located the main government institutions. Nearby is the Sofia History Museum. You can pay a visit with free Sofia tours groups. Well informed, English speaking and friendly young guides are volunteering to maintain these tours, which cost nothing. Don‘t hesitate to explore the city with them. You’ll be fascinated by the charming streets, the mixture of Austrian style architecture, new office buildings, old fashioned neighbourhoods. Art season is permanent within the numerous galleries, theatres, contemporary spaces.

Apart from the art season, the moderate climate makes Bulgaria a great destination all through the year. Sofia is the only city in Europe with an adjacent mountain – Vitosha. Skiing during the winter, hiking, paragliding, during the spring and name the activity. Many more mountains and picturesque nature are waiting for you to discover them..

If you are longing for the sea, instead, you can even combine it with the mountain at the south, while the north-most part features rocky headlands, where the sea meets grandiose cliffs, some of them 70meters high. In between the north and the southern coastline, there are major cities like Burgas and Varna (the maritime capital of Bulgaria), numerous resorts – some of them,  offering party nightlife, others – calm, quality unwinds for the whole family. And of course, historical sites, ancient routes and villages. The gold treasure, discovered in Varna Necropolis is one of the oldest in the world, dates back, estimated around 5000 BC. Just saying…

Even older is the city of Plovdiv. The second largest town in Bulgaria. This year, the city is the European capital of culture, along with Matera, Italy. The Roman theatre is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Plovdiv and it’s among the best preserved Roman theatres in the world.. For contemporary art lovers, the Kapana creative district is a must see. For the ethnology enthusiasts, highly recommended are the architectural ethnographic cities, like Koprivshtica and Etara (Gabrovo).

Arts and crafts connoisseurs will be delighted by the craftsmanship, well preserved and traditional for the city of Troyan. Named after the Roman emperor Trajan, the town is snuggled in the Balkan mountain and it’s famous not only with the pottery and ceramics but with an excellent spa, village tourism and extreme sports conditions…

Whatever vacation plans you may have, Bulgaria can deliver more than expected. Just don’t forget that compared to the rest of the world, Bulgarians are shaking their heads for approval and are using nodding for “no“.

For visa and travel information about Bulgaria, you can contact the Bulgarian Embassy in KSA. Bulgarian embassy in KSA

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Finding the Joy in a Staycation

WSB Admin 27/05/2019 0

By Lizzie Daniell

Finding the Joy in staying at home and not travelling! You can you know – apparently!

With Eid just around the corner and summer holidays waiting to happen with anticipation; we all love the prospect of looking forward to travels and holidays. The joy of getting together with family and friends, seeing the world, sitting on a beach and travelling high above the clouds!

But sometimes there is joy in deciding to stay put and just being at home (Staycation it’s called in today’s world I believe) … yes really? It’s just about how we look at things and what we want to achieve when we have time off. Probably absolutely nothing 😀

I don’t know about you, but as expats when you whizz back home – which is a wonderful thing to do – we often find there is no relaxation included, probably of our own making.

It’s wonderful to be blessed with family and friends who want to see us, though we spend much of our time whizzing between ‘pillar and post’ to make sure we see everyone within a short timescale. With laughs and joy obviously; but where does the ‘taking time for oneself come in?’ Not that I am at all complaining, one little bit, I am so blessed to have a family – it just means, where do I find me!

It is very rare that I look at not packing that bag for a long weekend back in the UK or further afield. Cramming in so much to do and people to see (not wanting to let anyone down). The bit I find difficult is deciding to just be and enjoy the comfort of my own home and not looking outward.

Note to self: Something I need to look at as I continue to grow up! 

Do you find it easy, or is it just me?

I’m not called Lizzie Whizz for nothing, but as my wonderful friend Barbara reminded me, its all about choosing ‘self-love’ – even if only occasionally.

It’s not easy to say ‘not this time’ or ‘put oneself above others’, particularly our absent families. But this practice is probably down to what we have been taught (which I love), what we know and are expected to do, plus it’s good to do, right? Well… yes and no!

If we choose self-love, it means I choose me this time and want to listen to how I feel or what my body is telling me – under grace and in the perfect way!

If we are visible to ourselves, others will feel and hear what we are trying to say, without judgement or anger – the words have a sense of presence and somehow get heard in the right way. As opposed to saying yes and then resenting the decision, which then trickles down to those we have decided to spend time with. Which do you think people would prefer – honestly?

It also means that our children, should we be lucky to have them, will hear that as they go through life, it’s okay to say… ‘do you mind if I don’t this time, but soon!’

I preach this to others when asked my opinion, but do I practice it myself?… well I’m learning to, which is not always easy as a mother.

As I sit here in our wonderful garden in Saudi, with the sun just above me and a sense of calm all around; it makes me see why it’s okay to have that ‘staycation’ and honour my own wants with joy and love… occasionally at least.

I know my lovely husband Peter would appreciate me staying still every once in a while and looking inward – as would our grown-up kids! I am learning that by being honest, we acknowledge that we are not superhuman and even though we would truly want to jump on that plane at a drop of a hat, sometimes it’s better for all to stop and stay!

So whatever you decide to do with your travels.. may they come from a choice of worthiness, self-love and joy – I’m going to try and give it a go!

Sending so much joy and love until the next time …..

To be part of my community, please view my website or if you would like to share your story, please email





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Al Batha 2019

WSB Admin 27/05/2019 0

By Nyree Cox

The Al Batha neighbourhood is in southern Riyadh.

It’s crowded, chaotic, colourful and comprises different ethnic areas – each exploding with its own cuisine and culture. Nations including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Syria, Yemen and the Philippines are all represented.

There are shops producing everything from camping equipment to discount clothing – hundreds of tailors sitting at their sewing machines overlooking the crowded streets.  These talented men can make literally anything and the workmanship is superb.

Delicious honey from Yemen, head scarfs of every colour and quality, abayas, thobes, the gold souq, ayurvedic medicine stores, my favourite Indian supermarket, mechanical workshops next door to Pakistani restaurants all co-exist within the confines of a few city blocks.

Weekends in the Middle East are enjoyed on Friday and Saturday.  Many work 6 days a week.  Friday is the not negotiable day – everyone gets Friday off.  After lunch on Friday is the best time to visit Al Batha.

Middle Eastern sweet stalls, holes in the wall selling samosa (sambusas) and bhaji’s, roasted nuts and cobs of corn cooked on the footpath.  Blackened woks sit over open flames alongside vendors selling fruit and vegetables from wheelbarrows. Sugarcane juice, fresh coconuts shredded while you wait, cheap electronics, fake everything, handmade musical instruments, baskets and ceramics.

Money exchange offices are prolific with expat workers queuing in long lines to wire money home to loved ones, sidewalk auctions selling second-hand mobile phones, the list is endless…

People everywhere bartering their way through life in this melting pot of nations.

Men prevail in Al Batha but there are women peppered throughout the crowd – all covered in conservative dress and very rarely alone.  Groups of two or three usually.  I never fear for my safety.

Restaurants are overflowing with customers. There are very few knives and forks, everyone eating with their hands, lots of plastic tablecloths and chairs.  No napkins – just a box of tissues on each table should you need one after devouring a tasty Biriyani or curry.  The way these people massage and manoeuvre food around a plate or banana leaf with one hand is poetry.  No Michelin stars here but who needs that.

There is never any aggression, people wave and stand back to let you pass by, no one is impatient while waiting in line, everyone is smiling, there is no road rage (there is a lot of horn honking but it seems friendly and merely precautionary), and I repeat literally everyone is smiling – and that is not because I carry a camera.

Thousands of people just doing their thing and it all seems to work.  Yes, it smells and it’s dirty, you need eyes in the back of your head to avoid the infinite modes of transport but it all hums along.

These are some of the poorest people in our community – they work hard, earn very little, they buy only what they need, have a strong faith and they seem to me to be some of the happiest people I know.

Thank you Al Batha, you are a breath of fresh air in this world of competition and wants and what ifs…

As Saudi Arabia continues with the implementation of Vision2030 and heads towards a more “western” model, I do hope everything that makes this neighbourhood so vibrant, so simple and so wonderful stays exactly as it is.



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WSB Inspiring Woman – Maha Shirah: SHEWORKS

WSB Admin 27/05/2019 0

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Maha Shirah, I am a Saudi mother of two boys. born and raised in Riyadh city. I have an MBA degree in finance and over 15 years of experience in different fields. Currently, I am the Founder/ CEO of SHEWORKS a business incubator for female startups & freelancers. 

What brought you to Riyadh?

I was born and raised here. My parents came from Madina (a small city in the west of Saudi) in the 70s and it has been my home ever since.

How did you get inspired to start Sheworks?

I worked as a freelance photographer and was looking to expand my business so I started to search for a suitable office with good decoration, modern furniture and hopefully some extra services. Little did I know that such offices didn’t exist back in 2013. So I decided to create my own and provide it to other women. and why women, you may ask? Because we are the ones who need these options the most.

What do you do at Sheworks?

Well, I do a lot of things, apart from being the CEO and running the place and checking its day to day tasks, finances, marketing, and PR. I am also the ecosystem manager and business consultant to the ladies at SHEWORKS. I follow up on their business and try to help them whenever they need a helping hand whether it is work-related or a personal matter.

What is a typical day like for you?

I really don’t have a very typical day. It always depends on my calendar, meetings, events, and tasks that I have and what others have for me as well.  For example; I follow up on my client’s legal documentation with the government agent to proceed with their business. I consult with new startups. I plan for upcoming events and meetups at SHEWORKS. I set up training sessions and tasks for co-op trainees and students. I am also a member of two committees in Riyadh chamber and council of chambers so I juggle between them as well.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The satisfaction of helping people, meeting new business owners, building networks, spreading new ideas, inspiring people to be creative in their way. 

What is the hardest part of your work?

Keeping myself motivated when things either go wrong or not according to plan. Because everyone is depending on me.

How do you balance being a mum, a spouse and a working woman? 

This is a challenge that many working moms face regardless of where they live. It depends on the type of job you do, your husband’s type of job, the age of your kids, the existence of available support, and the amount of finance you have. In my case, I  decided to go back to work and open my business only when my kids were old enough to go to elementary school. My parents moved to Madina so I have no family in Riyadh to support me, however, I have a live-in nanny who has been with me for the last 13 years who helps me with house chores and my kids. I live in a compound, therefore my kids have neighbours to play with. My husband is a physician so he is quite busy and away most of the time but when he returns home, I try my best to be home with him and take some time off and postpone any non-urgent meetings to later. I even involve him with some of my meetings and events.

Tell us about your journey of finding a job in Riyadh.

I have created my own job by first starting as a freelancer, then moving on and creating SHEWORKS

What advice would you give women considering starting their own business/  OR seeking employment in the Kingdom?

Study the market really well, and don’t depend on surveys and traditional methods in collecting data but actually monitor people and ask the hard questions. Check the feasibility of the project you want to do, consider whether it’s worth your time and effort. Plan & write a good business plan and focus especially on your financial plan, thus, don’t borrow money unless you know how you are going to repay it. Focus on your partners and team members because they will either help you succeed or drag you down. Get your legal documents & contracts checked. Find your passion and what makes you happy. Finally… remember, business is still very risky, you must be brave, a gambler and a bit crazy to jump into it. it is not for the faint-hearted.

Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh? 

It depends on their creativity and interests. If you are talking about arts such as fine art and photography for example then art galleries, exhibitions, and different entertainment and social events. Some embassies have special gatherings and events. Also, some shopping malls, schools, and universities have them too. Follow artists and influencers on social media who every now and them mention something that might be of interest to you. Just go out there and you will find something. Language may be an obstacle but google translate will help you 70% of the time.

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by? 

“ When performing any task, make sure to make it perfect”  by Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.

Contact Information & Social Media


twitter/ instagram : @mahashirah




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Pera Palace Hotel: An establishment of old and new Istanbul

WSB Admin 25/05/2019 0

By Anne Ching

Vibrant. Breath-taking. Alive. Istanbul has many draws for people from far and wide. As much as the city has a lot to offer, the choice of accommodation is integral in having a fully enjoyable and mesmerising holiday.

For travellers, like myself, who go to Istanbul for its vibrancy and historicity, we chose to stay at Pera Palace Hotel. It is situated in the lively Pera district overlooking the Golden Horn and walking distance to Istiklal Street and Taksim Square. Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, held meetings and stayed at Suite 101, which is now turned into a museum. In its heyday, Pera Palace Hotel hosted kings and queens, movie stars and film directors, for large extravagant parties, official meetings and lowkey quiet holidays. It also boasts guests such as Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway, with The Murder on the Orient Express rumoured to have been written here. Mysteries still surround Room 411, the Agatha Christie room, with a small key found inside possibly to Agatha Christie’s diary. None of this has been proven, however, and the speculation adds to the story of Pera Palace Hotel.

The façade of the building has barely changed since its first opening in 1895 despite major renovations in 2008-2010. This keeps its steadfast authenticity in the landscape of the Pera district as a reminder of its elegance and establishment. Inside, restorations brought back a time when Pera Palace Hotel was the place to see and be seen. Common areas such as the lobby, lounge and bar take guests back to the roaring 20s with luxurious velvet curtains, dim yellow-light chandeliers and plush dark wood cushioned furnishings. Amongst the European design, there are intricate stained-glass windows, ornate domed ceiling and oriental carpets that puts a uniquely Turkish stamp on the establishment. Rooms are arranged around a bright atrium filled with natural light, overlooking the six domes above the lounge.


Pera Palace Hotel is the longest established European hotel in Istanbul and the first building in Turkey to have electricity (apart from the Ottoman Palaces) and hot running water. It also has the first electric lift in Istanbul which can still be used under the supervision of staff. Apart from antique highlights, Pera Palace Hotel also has modern amenities that would satisfy today’s guests. It has a fully equipped spa with a hammam bath and indoor swimming pool. The restaurant and patisserie are gorgeous with menus that are hard to fault. Even the children’s menu is wonderful and, from experience, mother and picky child approved.

Pera Palace Hotel is a highly recommended place to stay with a long list of endorsements from a history of more than 120 years. With attentive and professional staff as well as comfortable rooms and amenities, it completes the Istanbul experience in high comfort

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Tantalising Tanzania

WSB Admin 25/05/2019 0

By Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe

I had been dreaming of an African safari since my teens. Inspired by the many wildlife movies set there, books I had read and pictures I had seen, it was always one of my dream destinations. When I started planning my month-long sabbatical from eBay, I decided to fulfil my African adventure. Starting with a lot of research on travel and wildlife forums, I finally zeroed down on Tanzania for its amazing wildlife.
I bought the Tanzania Lonely Planet Guide and started short-listing safari operators and wildlife parks. Finally, I decided on a 2-week customised safari through four prominent parks: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire In February. My research also told me that February was calving season for the wildebeest, so it was a great time to plan my safari. After a lot of emails back and forth, I chose my safari operator and got them to customise my itinerary, applied for my visa, bought tickets and started with all the vaccinations. Armed with a safari-appropriate wardrobe, binoculars and pepper spray, I couldn’t wait to fly off.
Finally, I boarded a Kenyan Airways flight via Nairobi to Kilimanjaro International Airport and onwards to Arusha, the safari capital of Tanzania. After an overnight rest, Jerard my guide for the next 11 days, came to fetch me in a four-wheel drive with a photo roof and we left for Lake Manyara, the first of the four parks I visited. Lake Manyara National Park is an interesting park, with 100 sq km of the 200 sq km park a massive lake, rimmed with thousands of flamingos. I had a great safari at Lake Manyara National Park and spotted many baboon troops, the blue (sykes) monkey, zebras, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, impalas, warthogs, elephants, mongoose, bushbuck and dik-dik. I even spotted a very far off lion with binoculars. The graceful giraffes were a sight and I could have watched them forever. I stayed overnight at a permanent tented camp (Migunga forest camp) with vervet monkeys frolicking in the forest nearby.

The next day we left for the two-day stay at the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, a world heritage site. An interesting display at the visitor centre explained how this crater was once as tall as Mount Kilimanjaro and is now a large caldera (collapsed volcano). I checked into the charming Rhino Lodge and then set out on safari. The crater is a must-visit and packed with animals. If you can only manage one park, I would choose this over Serengeti. I saw buffaloes, bushbucks, ostrich, giraffes and zebras. The next morning, we headed down into the crater and had a very eventful safari viewing and managed my Big 5 (black rhino, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo). I also saw lions walking in our midst and even saw two large male lions being chased by a buffalo. In addition, I saw a hyena hunt and killing of a baby wildebeest. I also managed to see jackals, Thomsons gazelle and Grants gazelles, antelopes, hartebeest and waterbuck, besides many wildebeests and zebra troupes. This was followed by a tasty lunch at the Hippo Pool, watching them chill in the water. The Masai and their goat and cow herds have grazing rights in the Conservation Area and you can see them striding everywhere in their colourful outfits.

The next days trip was to the famous Serengeti National Park and I was looking forward to the three days we had there to see more big cats. The park is very vast and we were based in the north at Ikoma. The park has got many kopjes (rock outcroppings) that are favourites with cats and geckos. I visited the Simba Kopje and sure enough, spotted a male lion napping on it. I saw many animals I had seen at the other parks and felt like I was starring in a wildlife movie. In addition, I saw the small rock hyrax, who is actually related to the large elephant. As I stepped into the restaurant at Ikoma Tented Camp, the bartender greeted me with a khem cho (a greeting from Gujarat, India). An interesting feature for travellers at the Camps are a book trade corner, where you drop off the books you have read and pick up another one of your choice.

The second day was a big cat sighting – cheetahs, two leopards and many lions, lionesses and cubs. An interesting sighting was of a male lion with a buffalo skull. We headed to the hippo pool, where I saw an exciting hippo fight, lots of open jaws, whirlpools of water and lots of splashing. One of them was defending their territory from the other. In another corner, a mama and baby hippo were spotted and when a crocodile came calling, the mama hippo chased him away. I also spotted the red buck and topis and dozens of interesting birds. I also had a bit of a brush with tsetse flies and was bitten once. We had a blackout for a few hours when an elephant uprooted a tree and brought down the power line.

The last leg of my African safari was a six-hour drive away and downhill to Tarangire National Park. I stopped en route to buy a few souvenirs as gifts for family and a mask for me. Tarangire is very warm and muggy and an avoidable park. I saw the giant Baobab trees, for which it is famous, a few elephants, rock hyrax, giraffes and ostrich. The park was infested by tsetse flies and I got bitten, forcing us to cut short the safari. I had stayed at the Tarangire Elephant Lodge, which has some nice rooms.

The next morning I headed back to Arusha to see a doctor for the bites and for my flight to Kenya for the volunteering stint with Colobus Trust. I stayed at a charming boutique hotel, the Mount Meru Lodge, which has an animal sanctuary on location. Sylvan surroundings, peaceful grazing animals (zebras, waterbuck, peacocks, vervet monkeys and storks) made for a fairy tale ending of my African adventure.



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Thomas the Tank Engine in Saudi Arabia

WSB Admin 30/04/2019 0

By Maryann Horne

They say that people don’t take trips. Trips take people. And if Saudi Arabia is a book, those who don’t travel have only read a page of it.
It was week two of our new Saudi adventure. At a glitzy reception, full of very important people, I felt bored. My fault entirely for not making the most of incredible knowledge as half the room were top specialists in their respective fields. One of them, a banker, noticed and came to my rescue. I told him not to waste his time. All I knew about finance was trying to keep my account out of the red. “You must be interested in something I can help you with?”, he said. “I’m not very good at anything except moving”, I confessed. “I just want to travel and see the real face of Saudi”.

He burst out laughing, lent in and whispered. “Take a train to Al Ahsa”. What a train, a real train, like Thomas the Tank Engine, I mused? Or was it more like the Japanese bullet train? He had me. “You want to see Saudi? Do what the Saudis do”, he advised. “Forget the malls, the markets and the historical sites. This journey will tell you a story full of love, friendship and our Saudi ways”.

And so we did. Ten days later, our little boy could barely contain his excitement as the stripy orange fast train pulled up.  My hubby was suitably backpacked with nothing but essentials and daughter armed with enough popcorn to take us to the moon. The adventure begun as we joined travellers on the 8.05 to Houfouf.
There were students, travelling back to their parent’s homes. Sons checking up on their mothers. Daughters going home to see their relatives. oddly, it felt like taking the train a few stops in Wales or Scotland on a Saturday morning. Minus the rain and delays. Everyone knew each other. Carriages were full of chatter, greetings, hugs and smiles. Within minutes, my daughter was adopted by five children and invited to colour while their mothers exchanged the latest news. My husband was befriended and submitted to a thousand questions within minutes. By the end of the journey, we were invited to many farms and family homes to share the Friday meal. My husband had the full download of interesting sights from several travel companions determined to make our visit memorable. My son, happy as ever, spent most of the journey camel spotting from the window.

We packed the weekend with formidable moments. The lunch at the farm of the grandmother of our daughter’s drawing partner from the train was scrumptious. We feasted on Khabsa while chatting about football. Hanouf and her mother regaled us with tales of Saudi customs. Her brothers filled in the knowledge blanks about Eastern region, it’s trading history and significance for modern day Saudi over green tea. We heard Sunni and Shia call to prayers. The kids saw goats, chickens, dogs, camels and feasted on dates. The governorate of Al Ahsa, listed by UNESCO as the largest oasis in Arabia, harbours so many treasures. We spent the rest of the weekend at natural caves, the old Ottoman style souk, forts, funky cafes and the best women’s clothes shops. Houfouf is, after all, a garrison town and Happy Wife, Happy Life must work with clothes.

The train journey back was less intimate, more crowded but just as enjoyable. This time, women with children returned to the arms of their husbands and fathers in the capital, students swotted and the bohemian vibe was over. The sleepy and peaceful scenery heaved now with activity at every stop.

I have not seen the glamourous banking CEO since the night it all started. But I recall with fondness his words and passion as he spoke about “the real Saudi”. Judging by the car he left in, I doubt he ever took Saudi trains. But he taught me a valuable lesson and one that has been reconfirmed again and again. No matter how well people go on to do, they never forget their roots, their people and where they come from.

It humbled us hugely to be privileged enough to share a bit of love, a few doses of friendship and experience Saudi ways. In the end, it wasn’t just the trip that took us. It was the Kingdom and its people and this feeling has only grown since.


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Recipe – Sambusa and Vegetable Rolls

WSB Admin 30/04/2019 0

By Kelly Downing

One of the hallmarks of an iftar meal is finger food, or small bites, to ease into breaking the fast.  Samboosas are the common go-to and are seen on most iftar tables in this area.  I experiment with different recipes nearly every year, but the recipes I share here are my biggest crowd pleasers.  The veggie rolls are a personal favourite – a treat I look forward to as a vegetarian.


These recipes yield approximately 25 servings each

Cheese Filling:

350g shredded mozzarella cheese

4oz cream cheese, softened

1.5 tbsp feta cheese

Instructions: Combine ingredients so that they’re evenly distributed.

Chicken Filling:

1/3 c olive oil

3 onions, sliced

450g chicken breast, cut in small cubes

1/2 c sumac

1 tsp white pepper

1 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth

1/2 c pine seeds, toasted


Heat oil in pan.  Sauté onions on medium until soft.  Add chicken and sauté until half cooked.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer until chicken is fully cooked.  Allow to cool before filling.

Samboosa Assembly:

Prepared filling

Samboosa leaves

Flour and water mixture, for sealing

Roll a single samboosa leaf into a triangular cone shape.  Fill with one spoonful of prepared filling.  Seal with flour mixture.  Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.  Optionally, you can brush the samboosa with a little olive oil before baking.  Samboosa can be airfried, baked (190’ C), or deep fried, according to your preference.  They are done when filling is heated through and the shell is at your desired crispiness.

Times vary based on the thickness of filling and temperature at the start of cooking.  I pre-assemble and freeze my samboosa ahead of time, so I always bake from frozen.  This requires baking times of around 20 minutes.  Make sure to flip your samboosa halfway through baking time (this is not necessary for deep frier).


2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 onions, finely sliced

1 bag of coleslaw mix*

1 stick celery, peeled and shredded

2 bell peppers, shredded

1 zucchini, shredded

2 cubes Maggi vegetable stock, crumbled

1/4 ts white pepper

1/2 ts sesame oil

Spring roll pastry sheets

Cornstarch and water mixture, for sealing

*Alternatively, you can shred carrot and cabbage instead of using this shortcut


Heat vegetable oil, cook ginger and garlic until fragrant.  Add onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables and stir while cooking until tender.  Stir in Maggi, white pepper and sesame oil.  Allow to cool before filling.  Place 2 tbsp of the mixture onto the pastry sheet.  Roll and seal with cornstarch mixture.  Deep fry until golden brown.

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Information for women entrepreneurs and home based businesses

WSB Admin 30/04/2019 0

By Shaden AlRabiah and Amy Land Pejoska


Shaden AlRabiah
Amy Land Pejoska










This article is a follow up to the presentation at WSB Connect held at SheWorks incubator and co-working space on 20 March 2019 by Shaden AlRabiah, an Associate at Al Tamimi & Company Advocates & Legal Consultants, on options for expat and Saudi women to start businesses in Saudi Arabia.  We have put together a summary of options relevant to freelancers, home-based businesses and entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.

1. Freelance – how to register for freelance and definition. The site to register.

Freelancing is a form of self-employment that allows you to work independently for one or more clients. If you are a linguist or have a skill you can teach, it can be a flexible option to pursue.

It is now possible to apply for the issuance of a freelancer certificate online through quick and easy procedures and to benefit from a range of employment-related services from the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (“Hadaf”). (Arabic website) or (English website) is an initiative from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (“MOL”). MOL launched this portal to motivate and license freelancing work in the Kingdom. This programme is intended to have an impact by creating more opportunities for economic participation for Saudis. Regulations have been issued to provide protection to freelancers as well.

A freelancer can be employed or unemployed, and can even apply for financial support by registering and submitting a request after complying with the rules and regulations.

  1. MAROOF – how to register, the definition of categories and site to register

These days, e-commerce is a new leading way for everyone to sell or buy through online platforms and modern means of communication and women working from home are using social media to seek out a customer base more and more frequently. The use of home-based promotion of wares via social media can often be suitable for business-like activities such as craft production and baking. According to a recent news report in the Saudi Gazette, 27,000 shops are registered on the Maroof e-commerce portal in Saudi Arabia and half of those are run by women.

Maroof is an initiative from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment. It is a new and useful service to all e-commerce participants, whether sellers or buyers.

Benefits of Maroof:

  • registration increases consumer confidence in e-commerce which could in turn increase business volumes for registered sellers;
  • registration makes it easier for the seller to reach out to the targeted customers by providing a central place for customers to look for Saudi e-commerce providers;
  • the service is free and the seller does not even need a commercial registration; a seller can simply sign up at (those merchants who include their commercial registration are awarded a Maroof Golden Certificate);
  • consumers can evaluate e-commerce websites and experiences and report complaints; and
  • sellers can register all their social media locations in one place, adding convenience for both sellers and buyers.
  1. Entrepreneur – Sagia site, categories, costs, CR advantages, time frames for goals.

If your business idea is more substantive and has a real chance of success, like a workable app or perhaps an entertainment-sector related activity, then you should consider formalising it, for example, by applying for an entrepreneur license.

The SAGIA guide sets out the nature of the entrepreneur license and the costs and timeframes for applying for one.

An entrepreneur license allows entrepreneurs to establish pilot projects accredited by Saudi universities or business incubators.

According to the SAGIA Guide, the documentation to be provided includes:

  • the entrepreneur’s Board of Directors decision of its desire to get an entrepreneur license;
  • the invention type, its sponsors and the powers;
  • relevant identification (passport/iqama);
  • a letter of support from the supervising authority (Saudi universities or business incubators) within the Kingdom;
  • a letter of no objection from the Saudi sponsor if the applicant is a resident of Saudi Arabia.

Advantages of the entrepreneur license are its low license fee and its long duration.

The license term is five years and the fee is two thousand (2000) Saudi Riyals annually.

After five years, the entity will need to pay fees for obtaining services from the SAGIA Business Center in accordance with its classification.

Applications can be made through the SAGIA e-services portal. It is possible that applications may be processed within two working days according to the SAGIA Guide.

If you get that far and find that your business is growing, there are certain steps that may also be relevant, particularly if you are looking to develop an app.

  • Preliminary advice on appropriate documentation relating to the App. The type of documentation that will be required can vary, depending on whether you are developing the App yourself, or whether you are having a third party do it for you. Additionally, it will be necessary to consider on-going requirements, such as the need for on-going support/maintenance.
  • Preparing user T&Cs and privacy policy. The content of T&Cs and privacy policy for use with an App can vary significantly depending on the nature/purpose of the App, and its functionality. For example, if the collection and processing of personal data is a fundamental component of the App, then more consideration might be needed than if the processing of personal data was limited simply to registration type details.

If you are looking to develop and protect your brand, then you will need to consider:

  • Preliminary advice on trademark protection. You will need to identify the appropriate classes and descriptions of goods/services and consider the core class or classes on which you should focus in order to ensure suitable protection whilst managing budget. It will be important to consider the ‘distinctiveness’ of the trademarks you are considering.
  • Clearance search in KSA for a trademark in a single ‘class’. Prior to filing a trademark application, you should undertake a ‘clearance search’ to determine whether there are any prior third party trademarks that might act to block your own trademark application/s from being accepted. (A trade mark clearance search is not a strict requirement, but it is advisable as it can reduce the risk of a subsequent application being unsuccessful.)

We wish you the very best in stepping out as a freelancer, entrepreneur or home-based e‑commerce businesswoman or man in Saudi Arabia. Please contact Shaden AlRabiah on about setting up your company or Amy Pejoska on about questions on tech-based business.

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