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Forte Village on Sardinia’s southern coast

WSB Admin 30/05/2018 0

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EXCITING SUMMER EXPERIENCES FROM THE TRAVEL COLLECTION – As many of you are planning to escape the Saudi summer heat, we are pleased to share some interesting and fun travel options for all the family this summer.     

Forte Village on Sardinia’s southern coast is gearing up for a fun-filled summer for all the family. There is probably no other luxury beach resort in the Mediterranean quite like Forte Village. You choose the pace and Forte Village offers the stunning rooms, suites and villas – coupled with an amazing stretch of beach, water-sports and children’s academies from Chelsea Football to Magic, biking and Tennis. With 21 restaurants, some with Michelin stars and a calendar of amazing events, including Sting in Concert on the 26thJuly, what better place to spend a memorable family holiday.

lrs-picnic-during-our-donkey-trailwww.fortevillage.com

Belmond La Residencia on the island of Mallorca offers a peaceful and luxurious setting to explore all that this vibrant island has to offer. With beautifully spacious rooms and suites, La Residencia offers a wealth of exciting family experiences.  The Resort has its own much-loved donkeys –  Pancho, Luna and Alba – they will accompany you on a tour through the hotel’s olive groves, admiring the tranquil landscape before stopping for a freshly prepared picnic lunch in a stone shepherd’s hut. – Just one of the tours on offer.  www.belmond.com

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Are you planning to travel to South-East Asia this summer? – COMO Point Yamu on the island of Phuket offers incredible one and two-bedroom private pool villas and ‘Play by COMO’ – the resort’s own children’s facility. Kids love it so much they just want to stay and enjoy all that’s going on. While Mum and Dad relax by their pool or enjoy the COMO Shambhala Spa, the children will learn how to make pizzas, play games in the oversized swimming pool or even take an excursion to their own Beach club just across the bay. www.comohotels.com

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For those of you planning to head west to the USA, The Surrey in New York has been voted the No1 hotel in New York City by Conde Nast Traveler for the second year running. A luxury home away from home with spacious rooms and suites, the hotel is only one block from Central Park with lots to do for all the family. Take the hotel’s bikes for a ride, or navigate model sail boats on the lake. The kids will never get bored on the city’s Upper East-Side. www.thesurrey.com

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These are just a few ideas for this summer. For more information on these or any of our other amazing summer holiday experiences, contact mark@thetravelcollection.me   www.ttc.ae

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Publicity & Social media 101 for Mompreneurs

WSB Admin 29/05/2018 0

This article is mainly aimed at Mompreneurs (Women who run their own small businesses) but I think it could be helpful to any start up, which is beginning its business journey.  I was inspired to write on this topic by the many talented entrepreneurs I met at the recent WSB Connect Networking event, many of who run businesses from home and may therefore be classed as Mompreneurs.  So here is some useful advice to create awareness and build your brand.

  • Embrace Social Media: Many Entrepreneurs are facing a time crunch and in the case of Mompreneurs perhaps multi-tasking raising their families along with running their business. Hence, they need to make the most of the limited time at their disposal. Enter Social Media. It is a very relevant way to reach your target audience at a time when they are relaxed and hence most receptive to your messages. Don’t try and be on every social media channel, instead pick 2 or 3 that you can leverage well. My recommendation: Choose Twitter, Instagram & Facebook. Now, set some goals for your social media activity – it could be increasing traffic to your website, growing your newsletter subscriber list or growing your social media followers.
  • Host a blog or a website: Today, you can set up a blog or a website very easily and for little more than the cost of the domain and the platform. There are many choices out there. Choose one that you find easy to work and is mobile responsive. This website and /or blog is a way to promote your business offering, yourself as the service provider and how to find you. As you build up a customer base, you can request happy customers for testimonials, which can also be featured on your blog. A lot of your social media activity should ideally link to your website and drive traffic there.  Over a period, your articles will be indexed with google and other search engines and more people will find you when they are searching for the products or services you provide.
  • Be an Expert: While you may have more than one service or product category you offer, you should ideally position yourself as an expert on a single subject. For eg, if you are a pet photographer, then stick to this for everything you communicate. Let people associate you strongly with this single subject and eventually that will be what you will be known for. This will draw you many customers in the long run.
  • Build a Community: Now that you are on social media, it may be worth considering building a community of your social media followers. This will involve you creating a Facebook group where they can interact with both you and each other. For example, our pet photographer mompreneur may like to consider creating a ‘Pets of Riyadh or Saudi Arabia’ Group.  The majority of posts by you should be helpful advice, which is useful for owners of pets.  Once in a while, you can put up posts about your recent shoots or your services.  But never oversell or be pushy. Remember social media followers are there to relax and to engage with their friends and will not appreciate being marketed to.
  • Curate or Create Compelling Content: Develop a content strategy. Think about what you will post which would be most helpful to your followers. A good mix of original & curated content is best. Original content can be social posts, images, short videos, infographics. Many of these can be created easily with free online templates and your smart phone & laptop. Our pet photographer could do blooper videos of trying to pose pets. Don’t be afraid to curate content as well, for eg, maybe our fictional pet photographer Mompreneur may like to post celebrity pet photoshoots from around the world (with the appropriate credits) or collaborate with a vet or animal behaviourist either in the Kingdom or their home country who can create content on pet advice. Keep it short and relevant.
  • Tap Local & National Media: While we would love for the media to come to us, often we need to tap them and let them know you exist. You need to have a good elevator pitch, which you can use to pitch them a story on your business. You would also need to identify various media outlets – digital, print, tv and google them to get their contact details. Don’t ignore radio, which can be a powerful channel too. Once you have your media lists, send them an email or linkedin request to let them know how your story can help their readers or viewers. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get an immediate response. You may need to try another angle or a seasonal story. Eventually, you will get a response from media and then you can keep in touch and be a regular source.
  • Share the Love: Reach your subscribers with a weekly or fortnightly newsletter that provides them with content that is useful and engaging. Some of your newsletter content can overlap with your social media content but at least part of it must be original. Can you collaborate with a non–competing but allied local business to do a joint newsletter? For eg. Our pet photographer may like to collaborate with the animal behaviorist or vet or even a pet shop for content for their newsletter.
  • Network: While you build your online image, do make the time to regularly network. It could be a forum like the WSB Connect or a Chamber of Business. It may even just be a community gathering or your child’s school events. This will enable you to spread the word about your business and increase your awareness. You may even like to offer a free or paid taster workshop at these networking forums so potential customers can get a flavour of your services.
  • Learn some tricks of the Trade: Don’t hesitate to learn some handy hacks to save yourselves time and money. Think about scheduling your social media posts for twice a day so that you don’t actually need to be online at that time. Do consider spending time on your analytics and measure how your posts are doing. Consider which ones are doing well and how you can tweak your content to get a similar response. What days of the week and what times of the day do you get the best response. That will give you pointers for optimum times to post. You will also find some interesting sources for the curated content that you can visit weekly and choose your posts. Just google for the subject you are keen on and then book mark the sites you like to visit regularly.

These are a selection of ideas that I would recommend for Mompreneurs to consider implementing to build their brand and business.

Read on to hear more about the world of branding & reputation in future WSB newsletters or reach out to me and we can have a chat over coffee. If there is a particular subject of interest that you want me to write about, do let me know.

Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe is a storyteller & career communicator. She is available to consult with businesses of all sizes across the GCC during her tenure in the Kingdom. She lives in the DQ with her diplomat husband. You can visit her profile on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/deepamthomasor email her on deepathomas@gmail.com

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Home Business Spotlight: Um Saboon Soap

WSB Admin 29/05/2018 0

Interview by Maria Cometti

um-saboon-home-businessI’m often on the look-out for unique local items to gift family and friends. It was at the last Kingdom Coffee Morning that I was introduced to Um Saboon Soaps. Beautiful soaps, thoughtfully displayed, really caught my eye! Wow! Though I didn’t have time to shop that morning, I was impressed with the soap and later placed an order via whatsapp.

One of the ultimate joys in life is to find work or a hobby that lights passion inside of you. When you meet someone who has found it, you can almost tell by their spark.  Chacha, the founder of Um Saboon, certainly has that spark! In the interview below, Chacha tells us about her journey to create Um Saboon.

Can you tell us us about yourself?

I came to Saudi Arabia eleven years ago, from Spain, due to my work in Aviation.  I consider myself a very active person. That can be both an advantage or a problem, especially when you have a lot of time off. So in order to stay busy I had been in a constant learning mode, from painting walls and canvases, gardening, learning Arabic and more. Then, I found what really makes me happy, and that is the art of soap making.

Why did you start Um Saboon Soaps?

I had always loved natural soaps and I could not pass in front of a shop that had them without taking a huge bag home, so I decided to study and make my own.

As mentioned before, this started as any other hobby would, but something was different. I found myself empty when I did not have a batch of soap to cut. So I started gifting them to friends and family as they started to take up a lot of storage space at home. Their feedback was astonishing so I felt like I could share them also with other people that have the same attraction for handmade natural soaps.

How long have you been in business?

I have been sharing them with other people for around four months, so we can say that my project is still in pampers, but I have plans to grow in the future.

What make your soaps unique?

Well, Um Saboon is a reflection of me, in constant change trying to be better everyday. Um Saboon is not pretentious; they are simple soaps made with love.

I have said many times that the best food I had ever tried did not come from a Michelin star restaurant, but from someone that cooks with love, without the commercial pressure and just wants to share with others, because cooking is their passion.

What is the hardest part of your work?

The hardest part is those days where I cannot find time to dedicate to soap making. It is definitely my favorite activity and I really crave it!

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

Each piece of soap is almost like a baby to me. I like seeing how they change from the moment I make them until they are finally ready to be used. Each recipe is different than the next, because I follow my mood to mix the ingredients every time. I love the whole process, from the design of the recipe, to choosing the colors, essence and decoration, to the packaging and delivery.

Where are Um Saboon soaps sold?

I am proud of my soaps and therefore It makes me very happy to attend events where I can show them and share what I had learned. So far it has been mostly in compound coffee mornings, but I had also take part in some private company events. I also take orders from the Um Saboon Instagram page which I am hoping to develop more and more over time.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting their own business?

I will tell them, once they find out what they really like, to be patient, persevere, embrace and learn everything about it. Surround yourself with good people that advise you and give constructive criticism. Be humble. It is a long path, but if you really are passionate and believe in your idea, you can overcome any difficulties and in the end, it will all be worth it.

Contact information and social media:
You can find me in Instagram as #Umsaboon , in Umsaboon@hotmail.com  or call me on 00966563166254.

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Restaurant Review: Yokari By Maria Cometti

WSB Admin 29/05/2018 0

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Real foodies know that the place to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine in KSA is Yokari Restaurant in Centria Mall. Chef Taki Sato, Executive Chef at Yokari Restaurant, is the only Japanese Chef in Saudi Arabia (apart from the Japanese Ambassadors personal chef). Yokari has made a name for itself here in Riyadh by delighting guests with friendly service, delectable Japanese dishes, in a cool, relaxed atmosphere.

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A couple of weeks back, my husband and I were on the hunt for a new restaurant to try on our weekly date night. We eat Italian food most of the week, and wanted to try something new. Although we weren’t terribly hungry, friends recommended Yokari Japanese Restaurant and the google reviews looked promising, so we decided to give it a try.

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Yokari is located on the second floor of Centria Mall in Olaya. Centria mall ( kitty corner to Narcissus Hotel) is home to many high-end fashion houses and some of the best restaurants in the city.

When we arrived, the Yokari staff, led by Restaurant Manager Ben Mhassoun Mohammed, were welcoming, professional, and friendly. The chill-out music created a cool vibe and the restaurant was filled with couples and groups (not the place for children in the evening). We started the evening with a couple of Yokari’s popular mocktails; the ginger bellini and strawberry mojito. They were tasty and refreshing. After some conversation, we looked over the menu. The Soft shell crab maki roll was calling my name and did not disappoint. The ingredients are bursting with flavor and freshness. We also tried the shrimp gyoza, true Japanese comfort food. I certainly recommended both those dishes and just writing about them makes me want to return for a second round!

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Since my husband had another eating engagement later in the evening, we kept our fare light on our date. However, I was so intrigued by the cuisine, I later returned to meet the chef and learn more about Yokari.

Chef Taki Sato started his culinary career in Japan. The son of carpenters, he describes building his own furniture as a child. One day, he decided to trade the hammer and saw for a spatula and knife. The rest is history. He worked his way across the world, from New York to Dubai, and now in Riyadh. Chef Taki views himself and Yokari as ambassadors of Japanese culture and global restaurant trends. He aims to position Yokari as not only the number 1 Japanese restaurant in KSA but also as the leading contemporary cuisine in Riyadh. A few times each year, Chef Takil travels the globe’s culinary capitals to discover new trends and bring them back to Riyadh. He also leads a meet-up group called RIyadh Fine Dining Night (you can join via meetup.com). Each month he and his fellow food enthusiasts dine at a new fine-dining establishment in Riyadh.

Since my first dining experience at Yokari was limited, I asked for Chef Taki’s recommendations of must-try Yokari menu dishes. I can’t wait to get back and try them all! Here they are:

Beverage: Asian passion mocktail

Appetizer: Beef taco

Rolls: Spicy Tuna roll

Main dish: Grilled Chilean Sea bass

Dessert: Date Pudding or Hazelnut chocolate crunch

There you go WSB readers. Maybe we will run into each other sipping an Asian passion cocktail and sampling the Chilean Sea Bass at Yokari.

Yokari Restaurant

2nd Floor Centria Mall, Olaya Riyadh

Ramadan Hours: Sunset – 2:30am

Regular Hours: 1pm-11:30pm

0112886999

https://www.facebook.com/YokariRestaurant/

IG: yokari_restaurant

 

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Seeing is Believing The ‘Eye See… Eye Learn’ program

WSB Admin 29/05/2018 0

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One only has to gaze upon a beautiful mountain vista or marvel at the iridescent rainbow captured in a tiny drop of rain to realize the joy in having clear vision. We often take this gift of sight for granted, but for those unable to manage their day to day requirements with visual clarity, it is of inestimable value. Eighty percent of learning is achieved through our eyes; a truly significant factor for children entering the school system, as in order for them to maximize their educational capacity it is imperative that they clearly identify letters, numbers and symbols. Sadly, far too many children begin kindergarten with an undiagnosed vision or eye health problem, which can impede their ability to learn during those first critical years in school. 

In 2003, Dr. Dorrie Morrow, along with the Alberta Association of Optometrists in Canada, partnered with various local health and school authorities and the Alberta government’s Ministry of Children’s Services to launch an innovative pilot program called ‘Eye See… Eye Learn.’ It is estimated that a phenomenal 14% of school-aged children experience some form of vision dysfunction and the ‘Eye See… Eye Learn’ project was designed to ensure that neither vision deficits nor eye health problems were issues preventing children from reaching their full learning potential. Parents with children entering kindergarten were encouraged to obtain comprehensive eye and vision examinations provided pro bono for their child by local optometrists and ophthalmologists. As well, through the generous donation of participating industry sponsors, those children subsequently found to require eyeglasses were given them free of charge. 

Increasing vision-health awareness through education is a pivotal element of the ‘Eye See… Eye Learn’ program. In conjunction with the pre-school eye examinations, a set of books called the ‘Bright Eyes’ series has been distributed to every elementary classroom from kindergarten to grade six, as well as every pediatrician and optometrist’s office within the province. The books are based on six of the most common vision concerns such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, amblyopia and eye safety in sports, as well as one emphasizing the correlation between vision and learning. Written in an entertaining style with beautiful illustrations; the goal is to provide accurate, age-appropriate wellness information to young readers. The educational component also extends to adults, as each Bright Eyes book contains a section called ‘Stuff for Grown- Ups;’ a parent and teacher’s guide to signs, symptoms and treatments for each condition. 

The inaugural year of ‘Eye See…Eye Learn’ was deemed an unmitigated success, and raising awareness around the importance of eye health examinations resulted in more than 30% of Albertan children having their eyes examined prior to starting school. Every elementary school across the province of Alberta has now adopted the Eye See…Eye Learn program, with roughly 56,000 parent information packages being sent out to Albertan homes every year since the pilot and in fact, this incredibly beneficial program is now in place almost Canada-wide. 

In June of 2015, the Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists followed Alberta’s lead and distributed the Bright Eyes series to over 700 locations throughout their province. This very generous initiative provides vision-health education to every school, library and day-care setting within Saskatchewan, and in combination with early childhood eye examinations takes aim to rectify vision deficits before they can impact a child’s potential to learn.

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D. Lesley Leslie is the author of many health and wellness books for children as well as the adult fiction novel, KAVLA. Born in England to South African parents, she was raised in Canada and now resides in the Middle East. She welcomes all suggestions, comments and questions.

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Verdure – Restaurant Review

WSB Admin 30/04/2018 0

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By: Maria Cometti

International French Cuisine, fresh truffles, and a former Michelin Star Chef make for an exceptional dining experience at Verdure Restaurant.

There has been a lot of social media hype about the new Mediterranean restaurant Verdure. Lucky for me, I had a meeting scheduled at Verdure and was excited to sample their celebrated cuisine. Turns out, I showed up to the restaurant on the wrong date for my appointment (lack of attention to detail and the result of over scheduling!) Nevertheless, I decided to stay to enjoy a solo lunch, and I’m so glad I did!

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Verdure is located on the trendy Tahlia Street, adjacent to Urth Cafe. Like many others, I had been to Urth cafe but hadn’t noticed there was a restaurant beside it. Apparently, many customers find the exterior misleading and think Verdure is a hotel. Don’t let these misconceptions deter you, or you will miss out!

The staff at Verdure was friendly and attentive. When you are dining alone, this is especially important. I really enjoyed the atmosphere created by the pleasant staff and interesting decor. The restaurant was designed by top international designer, Yves Lecourt. The main dining area is topped with a wavy blue cloud with symmetric lighting and European artwork brightens the walls.

When I dine out, I like to know the specialities of the eatery and try the chef recommendations. Verdure’s manager Mohammed was quick to guide me and asked me if I’d preferred meat or fish. I opted for the latter.

For starters he brought out the Verdure Salad. It looked simple, but tasted delightful. The salad was crisp and fresh, with endive leaves, tarragon and apple, and a flavorful mustard

dressing. Following the salad, I sampled the whole sea bass with roasted vegetables and chermoula. The fish was fresh and delectably prepared. It was the perfect lunch; light and delicious.

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After such a wonderful dining experience, I was sure to visit Verdure again. On later visits I’ve tried the Verdure crispy fried prawns, Kobe beef slides, and the baked heritage beetroot salad;  all these specialities were amazing and I highly recommend trying them.

Whether you are planning a lunch date with your girlfriends, a romantic evening with your spouse, or are in the mood to treat yourself, Verdure is awaiting.

Verdure Restaurant

Tahlia Street at Sulmaniyah, Riyadh

International French Fine Dining

Open 7 days a week 12:30pm-12:00am

@verdure_riyadh

0112932664

Fresh baked bread made in house.

Bright, artwork,  plants and greenery

Friendly attentive staff that you would expect from fine dining establishment.

 

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Discovering the UAE by Road

WSB Admin 30/04/2018 0

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by Sairah Zubair Khan

Mama, Baba….. We are going to be so bored over Easter! What are we going to do?! Thus began our holidays from school. Two weeks of discovering the UAE by road. We had kept it secret from the kids but now was the time for the big reveal!

Mama, you always take us to places for learning…… It’s our holidays, we don’t want to learn! I compromisedknowing full well, museums and outdoor historical places were top of the list. “How about you take the tablet and camera for photographs and note books to record your adventures”? Ok sounds like fun, they chorused uneasily…….

Our journey started bright and early, we hit the dusty road and admired the black camels, the grey camels, the red sand, the caramel sand, the brown camels……. There is a theme here! Luckily the children were occupied with electronics, music, books and some sleep.

A change of border and almost seven and a half hours from leaving Riyadh, we arrived at Qatar. Beautiful flowers greeted us with models of boats. They had markings on the roads! The weary travellers arrived at our hotel near the Corniche. We were welcomed ‘Qatari’ style, beaming grins, steaming coffee shots, dates and chocolates for the kids.

During our four day visit, we had packed in quite an itinerary. The first day of arrival, we strolled at the Corniche in Doha and took a Dow Cruise. The cleanliness of the place and friendliness of the local people really impressed us. Doha is quite a happening place with regular festivals throughout the year. We were in time for the Mother of the Nation Festival at the Corniche but missed the International Food Festival at various sites.

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The next day was spent at the MIA (Museum of Islamic Art). The children were awed by the beauty of the Museum and gardens but also by the interior. A World Class facility for generations to come, it has been designed with beauty and care. The exhibits were cleverly shown, the history and artefacts were breath taking. The afternoon was a short stroll away, to Souq Waqif and Fanar. The Souq is a new development in an old setting. It is designed to be a place to sit, watch the world go by and relax in Middle Eastern hospitality. Every half an hour, local guards would pass on horses on the cobbled streets, a tea or coffee seller would attract your attention.

The children saw an animal market with flying squirrels, chicks and kittens. There was a gold souq, art gallery and models of boats to show off a fishing heritage. Fanar in Arabic is a light house. A helter-skelter shaped iconic building which houses the Islamic Cultural Centre.

After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to explore Villagio. This is a mall that is famous for a gondola ride through the middle of it. The ceilings and interior depict Venice and European shop facades. Coming from Riyadh, malls are common place but it was an interesting feature. The children were able to watch a movie. As a family we were very impressed, with an indoor skating rink that doubled as an ice hockey stadium. Every half hour, local children would play in teams. A fun way to keep fit during a weekend. We moved on to Aspire Park for some fresh air after being inside for so long! Public Health notices greet you in this very green and lush park. Outdoor gyms with guidelines for use, exercises and calorie breakdowns available, running tracks, basketball courts…. Clearly citizens and their health is valued here.

On the last day of our stay in Qatar, we explored Katara Cultural Village. This was the setting of the International Food Festival to be held the next day. A small historical setting with shopping huts, beach areas and lovely Middle Eastern cafés and restaurants. In the evening we headed back to the Corniche for The Mother of the Nation Festival. This was based on family activities, painting and crochet with the kids, mini-golf and archery amongst many other things.

Our journey continued, back into KSA and then across to UAE. From Qatar, it took almost five hours including the border crossings. Abu Dhabi was our destination for the next part of the trip. We had a family birthday to celebrate at Yas Island. The water world and Ferrari world were huge hits with the kids. The weather in March also was suitable for outdoor play.

On one of the days, we ventured to the Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park. My son was the Captain and he was in charge of a solar powered doughnut boat. We saw local birds and even a huge jumping fish! The mangroves were so tranquil at sunset. A nice alternative to the modern gizmos and gadgets of the day before.

In the evening we ventured to the Corniche for a stroll in the cooler air. Plenty of families and a nice, relaxed atmosphere. It was Easter time and the hotels had provided various activities for the kids. As we dined at Terrace on the Corniche, the kids had fun with face painting, Easter egg hunts and plenty of chocolate animals in many forms!

We decided to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at prayer time. The call to prayer sounded melodious amongst the ethereal coolness of the Mosque.

It is all white from the exterior, leading into cool colours on the painted floral floors. The pillars are marble with inlay of mother of pearl. One of the most stylized but also peaceful places of worship I have ever visited. Outside are gardens, arches and water passageways. A true vision of Paradise on Earth.

From our week in Abu Dhabi, we headed to Dubai. Three short hours later we had arrived! We were due to meet with some family who were flying in from the UK.

The first few days we revisited the fountain show at Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. Pretty much the same fare, as one would find back in Riyadh. The two new places for us to visit were The Global Village and Miracle Gardens.

From the outside, The Global Village doesn’t really make sense! A bigger version of Janadriah Festival, you might think. As you wander round, it becomes clear as to how to approach each area. We started at 4pm and ended at mid-night with a few things left.

Each country provided us with smiles, warmth and energy. Children were especially welcomed, they were handed food to try, drinks and small gifts! It is culturally and informatively enriching at the ages of 11 and almost 10!

They were with tribal people from Botswana, musicians from Karachi (Pakistan), dancers from Bali, funny ice cream sellers in Istanbul!

The Miracle Gardens were more sedate but a venue for plenty of pictures, looking at wacky floral displays and a relaxing walk. We allowed the kids to wander and find their way back, otherwise boredom started to creep in.

At the start of our trip, we had planned every day for an activity. Unexpectedly we were guided to an Arabian Wildlife Centre in Sharjah. Sometimes it’s good to re-invent the wheel and try something you hadn’t catered for.

Sharjah is about 45 minutes from Dubai. The Centre is a complex, housing a children’s farm and petting zoo, Islamic Botanical Garden and a Natural History Museum. For a minimal cost you can enter all four places with a single entry.

The Wildlife Centre has been designed with flair. The best part of our visit was a 360 degree circular café. Surrounding us were desert animals and birds, feeding and in a ‘live’ setting. It is all indoor, handy to escape the heat of the day. Once you have seen the exhibits, you may not look at the desert in the same way! Obviously the creepy crawlies were a highlight for some members of our family.

On our way back home, we drove from Dubai back towards the UAE-Saudi Border. Just before the border, about an hour away is a Resort called Dannat Jebel Al Dannah Resort. After a weary six hour drive, we were greeted with cool drinks and high tea. The resort is based opposite Bani Yas Island.

There are pools and a beach area to enjoy water sports. We enjoyed a good night’s rest and were refreshed for the drive back into KSA. In Riyadh we are blessed to be able to travel to most places. Sometimes it’s good to venture in your own backyard for a change!

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Getting bang for your buck!

WSB Admin 30/04/2018 0

23031352_10154751309925981_6791347335885527924_nby Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe

Making An Announcement Count

You or your company have a big announcement scheduled and you are considering how best to leverage it.  There are many things to consider – timing, content or messaging, channels of communication etc.

Timing is crucial as your aim would be that the many other announcements in similar or different industries should not drown your announcement out. Think about what you are announcing, a financial announcement – the first half of the week would be ideal as less people read financial news on a weekend.  For a lifestyle announcement, target the weekend papers & features. Are you targeting an international audience – you need to consider US & EU timezones as well. You don’t want your big announcement going out at midnight in an important time zone and possibly getting lost or replaced by other headlines by the time your customers wake up.

Content is king or queen of your plan as you would need to consider the important messages to convey to your target audience and also consider what partners (if any) need to be incorporated in the message. These partners can also be a useful way of expanding your audience for the message but more on that later in the article.  One way to form key messages is to think of WIFM (What’s In It for Me) for each of your target audience. What action or intent do you desire your target audience to take on reading your key messages? Think of three things to frame your key messages – Claim, Fact, Example. For eg. Claim – We are the Kingdom’s largest retail chain, Fact – We have over 500 local stores across KSA Example – We set up stores in your neighbourhood so it is convenient for you to visit us plus you can use our app or website to have your favourite products home delivered.  Create a pack of assets to convey your message – think press release, blog post, visuals, banners, video, infographics etc. This will ensure your message is easily digested and understood by different audiences.

Channels: Now that you have framed your message, decided on timing, it is time to leverage every channel at your disposal to get this message to the world. Depending on the nature of the Announcement and your budgets, you can consider a press conference or an event to launch it. If you are a start up or an entrepreneur with tight budgets, you may like to have a digital launch or be innovative and host an event for the community you are going to serve with your product or service.  Use the relevant asset with your social media posts, customer mailers, on your website.  Ask your partner to use their channels to make the announcement. If it’s a significant announcement, ask employees to post about it on their social channels and networks. What influencers or advisers are relevant for the announcement, can you network your way to requesting them to post on their social handles? Are there industry forums or business networks that your announcement is relevant for? Think of every possible avenue to get your message out.

Get the word out there in a focused way and make sure that you have really leveraged your announcement to benefit your awareness, reputation, business enquiries to name a few.

Read on to hear more about the world of branding & reputation in future WSB newsletters or reach out to me and we can have a chat over coffee.  

Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe is a storyteller & career communicator. She is available to consult with businesses of all sizes across the GCC during her tenure in the Kingdom. She lives in the DQ with her diplomat husband and two fur babies Sandy & Puppichino. You can connect with her on https://www.linkedin.com/in/deepamthomasor email her on deepathomas@gmail.com

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Why everyone needs Buzz

WSB Admin 31/03/2018 0

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by Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe

Regardless of how small or large your business is you need buzz.  If no one knows you exist, or what your brand signifies, then it is unlikely you will find customers. But to get started with buzzing your business, you need to first define what your brand should stand for and define your ideal customers.

Defining your brand can be done independently but it helps to call in an expert who can advise you and also provide you with an industry landscape so you know best how to position yourself.

Very simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what to expect from your product or services and it also differentiates your offering from the competitors’ offerings. Your brand is thus derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be?

An individual consultant may want to be known as a speedy worker who can meet tight deadlines and is always reliable. Or she may like to be known as an innovator who is very creative.  A product may be the high cost, high quality option or the low cost, high value option or the niche option or the fashionable option etc. You can’t be all things to all people.  A branding expert can help you define your business or service best and then help you shape your buzz campaign to target the right audience.

Of course you need a powerful, compelling logo and tag line, which tells a story about your brand. This can be done best after you know what your brand signifies and what values it must convey.

As part of the branding exercise, you and your expert would have defined your ideal audience. Go beyond the basic demographics and even psychographics and build a profile of Tina or Sara or Robert or Abdul who is your ideal customer. Where does he or she work, what do they do for entertainment, imagine their hobbies, their family & their influencers etc.

Once you know what your ideal customer doing, you can plan your buzz campaign. A young college student is best reach via social media campaigns, contests and instagram and facebook posts. An mid 30s office going professional could be targeted via business magazines and newspaper articles and linked in posts. A young mother may be pressed for time and may prefer an article in a women’s magazine or facebook group for mothers or a short informative newsletter.

Read on to hear more about the world of branding & reputation in future WSB newsletters or reach out to me and we can have a chat over coffee.

Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe is a storyteller & career communicator. She is available to consult with businesses of all sizes across the GCC during her tenure in the Kingdom. She lives in the DQ with her diplomat husband and two fur babies Sandy & Puppichino. You can visit her profile on linked in. https://www.linkedin.com/in/deepamthomasor email her on deepathomas@gmail.com

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Hobbies keep you happy…by Sameera A.Ansari

WSB Admin 31/03/2018 1

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I believe it is very important to have a hobby, learn an art or a skill/skills in life as these keep your mind and hands busy in creating something that might be useful to you or someone else. It also uplifts your self-esteem and establishes pride in oneself.

It can be something as simple as an art project for your child’s school or as complicated as an intricately knitted baby blanket.

While growing up I always saw my grandmother busy making something. She made lovely dolls from scraps of cloths, tea-cozies, purses and many such beautiful things which she use to gift to family and friends.

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My mother who was a teacher by profession would stitch lovely dresses for my sister and me as kids. Knitting, crochet, embroidery, baking, gardening were a few other things she would do in her free time. Although I believe her all time favorite hobby was reading the News, and I call it a hobby because she really enjoyed herself as each morning she would up dated herself with the current news on all matters be it Politics, History or Entertainment.

Creating objects with your hands researchers say not only keeps you healthy and depression free they can also help you earn a little extra pocket money if you choose to turn your creativity into a business.

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A few years back after enjoying glass painting, gardening and baking I decide to teach myself knitting and instantly fell in love with it. Today, not only do I knit baby booties, blankets, bibs, bookmarks, headbands, coasters, scarves etc. on order but I also offer knitting classes for beginners.

The clam and soothing effect Knitting has on me is amazing. Each time I complete a project I’m astonished at the gift of creating something from nothing that God has given us humans!

img_8812My Facebook page:

https://m.facebook.com/KnitKnots-1596882890621636/?ref=ts&fref=ts

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