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Diaries of an expat who just couldn’t love Riyadh… enough Part 1: The Move

WSB Admin 30/03/2019 0

By Ruba Mahmoud

  • “Mom, why are we here in Riyadh?”
  • “To be with Dad”
  • “That’s it?”
  • “Yes, that’s it, but it’s everything that matters”

That was about all the conversation I had with my -back then seven-year-old daughter- to clarify to myself more than to her about the reason we had to leave our homeland, house, parents, friends, jobs and whole lives behind us and move to a city I couldn’t feel any connection with.

I was supposed to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the move because it didn’t come as a surprise. My husband has already been going back and forth for years, but the gap was only getting bigger, my role was getting bigger and tougher while his was becoming shallower. He was no longer there for birthdays, doctor appointments, first steps and first words. He was missing the milestones of our three children and I was starting to get used to his absence. He was no longer a part of our life. Something was wrong and we had to something about it.

So that was it, the decision was made and we had to be back together before my kids, myself, or even he got used to it. He tried to get me prepared in several direct and indirect ways to the life in Riyadh and I just thought to myself, well, how hard can it be? We speak the same language, same religion, very close culture, same manners and pretty much same history, I thought I got it all figured out despite all his warnings, but THIS I didn’t see coming!!!

It was August 2014, I have already quit my job that I loved so much, said goodbye to my kids’ nanny who left for good, sold my car, and packed what I thought would need for a basic life, because -after all- we’re not supposed to stay for long-or so I thought!

Saying the goodbyes was so hard- especially to my mom and dad, it was the first time to leave my family for a long time. My kids were so young and had no idea what’s going on, just excited for riding a plane with their new “Hello Kitty” and “Dora” suitcases, with all the nice stuff I got them to keep them busy during the flight,

My husband on the other hand was carefully watching; alert toward my reactions, following with anticipation my every move. He had worries, and they were in the right place.

Be it stress, anxiety or my subconscious; I got severely sick and had a terrible headache for the whole flight!  The two-hour flight turned into a nightmare. I’m used to travelling around to short and long destinations, yet never had I got sick or had a headache, but this time the pain was intolerable. Only to make things worse, my little son fell asleep on my lap so I couldn’t move, and my body got numb. Ironically enough the plane staff had no pain killers, and I just couldn’t open my eyes anymore. Law of attraction? I had no clue.

When we finally arrived at the airport, I was still in so much pain and could barely focus on what’s going on around me, everything was so blurry. Trying to pull myself together so we can finish the procedures and get to a place where I can finally rest, I had so much strange feelings and observations!

The only thing I remember my husband saying when the officer wanted to take my picture for the visa was: “smile, because this picture will stick to you”-oh God, nauseous with a smile, it turned out so bad, and yes it did stick!

Reaching the hotel was everything I wanted at that moment, so we collected our luggage, lots of luggage, ordered a taxi, and I finally took my first step in Riyadh, the first step into a lifetime.

To be continued….

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Can practising mindfulness transform your life?

WSB Admin 27/03/2019 0

By Talat Jalali

We’ve all heard that mindfulness is a mental-health holy grail: the answer to lack of focus, a blah mood, and even stress (leading to better sleep and a boosted immune system). But who has all that extra time to sit around being mindful with a schedule full of appointments and social obligations?

Just as not all CrossFit or yoga classes are the same, not all meditation practices are equal. In fact, there are many types of meditation that offer different benefits. Mindfulness meditation techniques are used to train the mind and emotion to work on your behalf.

Sometimes there comes a time when nothing changes, but everything changes. The significant change that happens inside you. You identify with the stressors in life all the more skilfully.

How does this change happen? Unplugging connects you to your surroundings.Follow the steps below indeed, you encounter some really incredible bits of knowledge that lead to some truly astounding movements.

1. Be receptive to your emotions: the best time to pay attention to them is NOW

Mindfulness is a tool to grow full cognizance in the present.

Nobody is going to focus on our feelings. Even we cannot relocate our feelings and emotions into other parts of brain. We must oversee and take care of these feelings, take control of that internal world and not put it off.

2. You don’t sweat the small stuff

Truth be told, the majority of the things we squander our vitality responding to are little things. Be that as it may, at the time, everything appears to be a huge mess. Scan your mind for stress, identify the cause so it doesn’t spiral, and note how it’s affecting you. You’ll regain control of your feelings and learn how you handle times of unease.

3. Appreciate things more

Meditation is all about the tenderfoot’s psyche. You’ve played a game a million times, yet not on this day as of now with this kid who is somewhat not the same as he was yesterday.

When we focus, we see excellence where we didn’t see it previously. We see development and change and change where before we may have just observed stagnation and everything seems to be different.

4. Develop greater compassion

The more mindful we are of the present minute, the more in order we are with the encounters of others, their satisfaction and their torment. This produces empathy we pretend to help other people not on the grounds that we realize we ought to or on the grounds that it’s what we’ve been advised to do. We help other people since we know that their torment is our agony Doing a good deed boosts your mood (and the recipient’s), infusing upbeat energy into your day.

5. Mindfulness teaches to stop judgmental attitude

Figure out how to carry on with your existence without judging. Individuals have the privilege to experience their lives as they like. Your life is your own, be in charge of it and don’t pass judgemental comments about lives that you’re not living.

6. Put aside “I NEED TO BE” in order to practice “I AM”

We experience the vast majority of our lives being what others need us to be. Let’s change your perspective of living from, “I need to be” for “I am”. Meditation reminds us of our identity and interfacesce with our actual selves in the present.

As science meets spirituality, the road to happiness for the 21st century becomes clearer: be quick to laugh and slow to anger, meditate, exercise, get enough sleep, be compassionate, help others, nurture your social connections, be at peace, comfortable in your own skin, and thankful for all that is happening to you. Wait for science to tell us more on how to live the life we want to live.

Talat Jalali, is a Post Graduate, English and  Social Work with majors in working with youth and adults. She is an enthusiast writing about general wellbeing,  women empowerment, and provides counselling related to family & women.

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Building a community out of your community

WSB Admin 27/03/2019 0

By Rositsa Dorovska

We live in a multicultural world,  whether we like it or not. Travelling and communicating has never been easier, thanks to modern transport and technology. In the morning you can have breakfast in your hometown, but  you may end the day on another continent.

The more you are globetrotting, the more you‘ll feel the need of уour roots and identity. Though not everyone is admitting it, the sense of belonging is very important for all of us.

Life may tear you apart from your family, relatives and friends, but it‘s up to you to turn that situation into a privilege. If you are an expat or on a temporary assignment somewhere, you have to use all opportunities for socialization. If you are open-minded enough, with the time you‘ll feel connected and comfortable within your new “habitat“. This is the best favour you can gift yourself, to overcome the nostalgia and the homesickness. Another possibiltity is to look for your fellows and to create a community outside of your community.

When I first came to Riyadh, I assumed there has to be just a few Bulgarians in Saudi Arabia. A relatively small nation, we are widespread all over the world, so I told myself, I should patiently wait for my compatriots to show up. But instead of just waiting, I have decided to act, with the creation of a facebook group, aiming to gather the Bulgarians in the Kingdom, to network us. We are still a handful, but a consolidated group. We have regular coffee meetings, and we are supporting each other when needed. The outcome of the FB group is beyond positive, the members are getting more active and interested in the events in our community or organized by the embassy. As a wife of the consul at the very first embassy of Bulgaria in KSA, I was excited by my idea to establish our diaspora, with the strong belief that human capital is the most valuable asset. The networking online is just the beginning, because nothing can replace the face-to-face contact. What is best is that you are sharing a common culture and languagе, which can help one a lot in a foreign environment. Knowing you are not the only one, usually brings consolation. Knowing that you are part of a community, makes you more conscious and a responsible member.

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Hair Health: Inside & Out

WSB Admin 27/03/2019 0

By Sairah Zubair Khan

When I was little, a childhood memory that really sticks with me, to this day is the ‘head massage ritual’, usually before a shower was due. By this I mean, “grab your comb, get a hair clip and come and take a seat”. I would sit in between my Mother’s legs, she would take the tangles out of my curly hair and then proceed to give the most intense head massage!

First came the rhythmic massage on my scalp, then it was the turn of coconut oil, tenderly applied to my head. By this time, I would be falling asleep but then came the best bit! The plaiting and clipping of my hair, up into a twist.

Little could I know or predict, the health benefits of this century’s old tradition.

The science behind this is simple. Massaging the head with the hands or applying a lotion, paste or oil will firstly increase oxygen to the scalp. Secondly it will provide nourishment, if a paste is used. When the hair follicle is nourished, this will in turn stimulate hair growth.

The Indian Head massage that my Mum was doing, detoxified the body by stimulation of lymphatic drainage. Blood flow is improved to the head and neck area; therefore, waste products are eliminated. It is efficient, highly relaxing and a tradition, I take forward now with my own children. They know what’s coming, when I ominously wave my special bottle of homemade oil!

By increasing scalp circulation, we can improve blood circulation to the head, neck and face area. At the roots, healthy hair growth is promoted. Oil such as coconut, is also repellent to dandruff and unwanted visitors like head lice.

Head massage can be an effective method to remove head aches, alongside adequate hydration of the body. It relieves stress, neck tension and anxiety. No wonder Mum’s know best…

That covers healthy hair on the outside, what about the inside? A qualified dermatologist would check for mineral deficiency, as a cause of hair loss. A blood test would check for levels of protein, iron and vitamin D, alongside other indicators of deficiency.

By nourishing our hair from the inside out, we can control hair behaviour to a certain extent. Of course, there are factors which influence hair health, namely genetics, age, hormones and nutritional deficiencies. I would like to focus on the last aspect, being food for hair health.

There are foods that benefit us by consuming them and also applying externally as a hair mask. Almonds are an excellent source of protein, vitamin E and healthy polyunsaturated fat. Almonds ground into a butter can be applied to the hair, for thicker and lustrous strong locks. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, that can actually absorb damaging UV light and protect skin cells. It also repairs sun damage on the scalp, which can cause hair to thin.

Low fat Greek yoghurt is fantastic to eat, being full of Probiotics but it can also be included in a mask to help with blood flow to the scalp. It is rich in Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid).

Biotin is part of the B Vitamin group. It helps in hair growth and strengthening nails. It is found in eggs, almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts, avocadoes and oily fish like salmon or mackerel. Consumed alongside Elastin, which is found in walnuts, hair suppleness is increased, and breakage is reduced.

Some nutrients work alongside each other to absorb efficiently into the body. Iron and Vitamin C, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. Iron is plentiful in lean red meat and spinach. Spinach is known to contain sebum, acting like a natural conditioner. Dark green leafy vegetables contain omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium and calcium. All important to strengthen hair and keep it shiny. Oats are also a good source of iron, fibre, healthy omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. They can be ground into bananas, for a nourishing mask.

Vitamin C is prevalent in citrus but also surprisingly in guava fruit. It prevents split ends, hair breakage and brittleness in hair.

Lentils are packed with folic acid, protein, fibre, zinc and biotin. Folic acid is required by the body to restore red blood cells, to supply the skin and scalp with oxygen.

Tangerines are packed with Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C. Both vitamins work to promote hair growth, reducing hair loss and slowing down the signs of ageing in hair.

Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Sometimes hair loss can be from inflammation in the body, due to allergy or intolerance. Salmon, sardines and mackerel are good sources. Interestingly, female hair loss has been associated with insulin resistance, in new research. Salmon has been shown to help the body process insulin, more efficiently.

Cinnamon improves circulation to the scalp, by bringing oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles.

Lastly Beta-Carotene is beneficial for protecting against dryness and dull hair. It is present in foods that are orange and red in colour; carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe melon, mangoes and sweet potato. It also stimulates glands in the scalp, to produce sebum ( nature’s natural hair conditioner).

I hope you have had some ‘food for thought’. Time to raid the pantry, larder or fridge for the good stuff…

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Store Review: Organic Store

WSB Admin 27/03/2019 0

By Kelly Downing

My family values natural ingredients and, as such, I travel around town to re-stock some of our healthier food choices.  Over the past year, I have eagerly eyed the Organic Store as its storefront took shape in Aqeeq.  Its modern design and large size signalled it might be a good spot for a cosmopolitan family to do a major grocery haul.  The good news is that the doors officially opened this past week.  The better news is what lies within promises to deliver organic variety at prices that are kind to a family budget.  As the executive manager, Mohannad, shared, they operate with the goal of making organic foods available to everyone.  A 375g box of cornflakes runs SAR12.

Organic Store is owned by Alhagbani Group.  This is their first venture into organic foods and they are determined to get it right.  Their product mix is deliberate. Extensive varieties of pasta, flours (including gluten-free), coffee, nuts, sauces, spices, canned goods and spreads are currently available.  A wide range of olive oils incorporates many origins and price points. Eva’s Walk, an award-winning Greek EVOO, is one that they showcase.

This is the first organic store in Riyadh that feels like a full-fledged grocery store.  Stand out features include a bakery (currently producing breads and manaeesh; pizza is coming soon), an ice cream station (with Danish ice cream and Italian toppings), as well as an extensive produce section (sourced from five organic-certified Saudi suppliers).  A salad bar will serve fresh cheese and olives. 

New items arrive daily, so if you are looking for a specific item, you may want to wait for shelves to fill.  Or, better yet, call to ask their English-speaking employees.  This week I spotted only two kid-specific items: juice boxes and shaped pasta.  Yet, an extensive line of products is expected, including organic baby formula.  By the end of the year, 1,700 products will be offered and departments including home cleaning and personal hygiene will be added.

Organic Store is located in Aqeeq. The Location is between King Fahad Road and the first circle on Prince Saud bin Muhammad Road.  Opening hours are currently from 4 to 10pm.  An app is in the works that will provide delivery services.  In the meantime, check their Instagram (@organicstoresa) for updates or call the store directly at 0114012282.

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Me & Social Media

WSB Admin 27/03/2019 0

By Anne McGrath

Like many foreign nationals living abroad, I am dependent on social media to keep in touch with friends and family. It is really something of a lifeline when you’re living so far from home. I also have friends and family who are on one platform but not another so I spend a lot of time flicking between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – and then there is also my blog, Facetime, Whatsapp and now on my Saudi phone, my new Saudi Whatsapp groups.

I am never far from my phone/tablet/laptop and my phone is the first thing I reach for in the morning to check updates, likes, comments, messages and I think that is the norm for most people.

My favourite platform is Instagram. It’s often referred to as the most positive social media platform, because generally photos are of uplifting and positive images and of course that’s what social media should be, enriching and connecting.

However, it’s not all positive.  As we all know there is a downside to social media whichever platforms you are on. I follow some inspirational women on Instagram (interior design, fashion, beauty, lifestyle etc) and they have all spoken about how trolling and comparing their content to others has had a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. First there is FOMO (fear of missing out) and then the fear that your content is not as good as your peers. Even for those who do not making a living as an influencer, all those beautiful photos and insta shots of people at glamourous parties and launches can make it easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.

Most of my accounts are set to private which limits the trolling aspect but I have had some experience in the past. I received negative comments to an online article I wrote and a facebook post on a news site, related to a previous workplace became the subject of some vicious trolling by so-called key board warriors. It was astonishing, how nasty and personal it became so quickly. We had to take the post down and remove the comments. Both of these instances were over quickly and were not personal to me, but they were a glimpse into what it is like if you do become the victim of online bullying. It can be really upsetting, have a negative impact on your self esteem and can make you paranoid wondering was it the person sitting next to you in the café who posted the comment…?

However, there is always a balance, and as I started by saying social media is something of a lifeline for keeping connections while you are living away from your family and friends. It has the ability to be inspirational, uplifting and thought provoking. It is also pretty much impossible to ignore. The key is awareness and making informed choices.

Maybe for me it’s time for a digital detox??

Insta: anne.mcgrath248

https://ourbigarabianadventure.com/
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Dining on a slice of Italy Restaurant Review: San Carlo Cicchetti Riyadh

WSB Admin 25/03/2019 0

By Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe

Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting San Carlo Cicchetti in Sulamaniyah for a food tasting with one of my foodie friends, John. We had a wonderful dining experience and enjoyed our conversations with the knowledgeable restaurant general manager Mr. Cosimo Butuc as well as head chef Mr. Enrico Schiavon and sous chef Mr. Giacomo Basile.

San Carlo Cicchetti has restaurants across the UK and Middle East, all with the Venetian concept of a sharing menu and small platters (Cicchetti). It is a vibrant, authentic Italian dining experience complimented by Italian staff and original ingredients. All the recipes are original San Carlo Cicchetti dishes made as the Italian grandmas did.

We ate and drank our way through a delicious gustatory menu over a couple of hours. I had a tasty martini to start off with as the food started arriving. The fresh burrata cheese was complimented by the roasted tomatoes and is one of their signature dishes. They serve Fritti (traditional Italian fried street food) and we tried a yummy buffalo mozzarella fried in light white bread with a spicy tomato dip. As we took a break to talk to the chefs, they served a delicious mushroom soup with a delicious earthy taste.  The chefs talked passionately about how the freshest ingredients imported from Italy or made with love in their kitchen are used in the dishes they serve. They make their own pasta, burrata and gelato. They take pride in using a variety of pastas to introduce their guests to new flavours and have chosen to not feature spaghetti on their menu.

Next was the Melanzane Parmigiana made with aubergine, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese which absolutely melted in the mouth, another signature dish. The delicious truffle and pecorino ravioli was delicately flavoured and possibly my favourite dish of the evening. And then we were served a thin crust sliced pizza with mushroom, truffle, rocket, parmesan and mozzarella, it was definitely something to order again the next time I dine here.

My friend John was tasting the non-vegetarian dishes for the food review and loved the veal in tuna sauce. The mains were a carne-carnival, in his words. The sea bass was a good example of the devotion to making something simple spectacular by the care and love with which it was prepared. It was a showcase to see how thickly it had been crusted with the volcanic salt and to watch the waiter carefully remove it to reveal the fish underneath. And that is where the effort pays off – the fish was beautifully cooked by itself but the infusion of the crust into the flesh was delicate and subtle but hugely impactful. The beef rib, too was spectacular. On the outside it had that delicious crusty caramelised taste, presumably from searing, but the meat itself was uber-tender and just slid off the bone. It just fell apart on the tongue. And my, that sauce was amazing.

It was now time for desserts and the manager had recommended the salted caramel cheesecake which was outstanding. John had the tiramisu as he is tasting his way through all the tiramisus in Riyadh. We had some delicious gelatos to finish, including a unique wild-cherry gelato which will soon feature in the menu.

San Carlo Cicchetti will soon introduce terrace dining and regularly introduces new specials. They have about 110 covers and I loved the simplistic décor of the table setting with a lemon on each table. Go to San Carlo Cicchetti to enjoy a vibrant atmosphere and great food with friends and family. Celebrate a bit of Italy here and embrace the organised chaos, the waiters singing happy birthday in Italian, the music, staff calling across to each other and dishes arriving continuously as they are ready in the kitchen, true to the chicchetti concept.  As the chef said, we are doing things our way rather than comparing ourselves with other restaurants. I really enjoyed my dining experience and will definitely be going back for some Italian flavour soon.

How to find

San Carlo Cicchetti Riyadh

Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Musaid Ibn Jalawi St, As Sulimaniyah, 12241 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

+966 9200 10679

Social Media

https://www.facebook.com/pg/sancarlocicchettiriyadh
https://twitter.com/cicchettiriyadh?lang=en
https://www.instagram.com/cicchettiriyadh/
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Finding the joy in doing nothing!

WSB Admin 25/03/2019 0

By Lizzie Daniell

Actually harder than it seems I think, or is that just me?

Lizzie whizz, the busy bee is one of my nicknames! I apparently arrived on this earth – bouncing, waving my hands and clapping. Which was followed by being part of a large wonderful family – always being active and looking after all – under grace and in the perfect way, obviously!

Are you able to relax?

When I got married to the lovely Peter in 2006, he talked about how he likes to sit down, put his feet up and chill (wonderful), a concept a little new to me after bringing up two busy girls with all the activities that that brings, plus running my own business. Relax and let go … hmm. How could I train myself to joyously and happily do the same, when seriously not part of my DNA.

I knew I should, I talked and suggested to others about doing it, but interestingly I didn’t practice what I preached – until now…

I think living in Saudi Arabia over the last few years has naturally started me on this new path (though Peter might say differently). Partly due to the peace of the country and all you are able to do.

Plus this journey has been without our children this time, so there has been more time to step back, put myself first and learn to chill! I think my age helps too – lol!

Having just returned from a wonderful holiday in Antigua with my gorgeous friend (JoJo) I believe I have achieved it – yup, in fact I know I have 😀

It was a great place to learn to be in my head and comfortable with it – which came to light by doing nothing, literally nothing – and being okay with it.”

Thoughts to self:

“Realise that life goes on when we step away and that is as it’s meant to be.”

“Let go of everything and trust – is truly a wonderful feeling.”

“Remember to enjoy the “here and now” without looking backward/forward (otherwise we negate the present).”

“Is it our place this life time to assume we make such an impact to all and that our absence will affect the status quo? No, probably not – that’s the ego talking.”

Life goes on whether we are part of it or not. I think we just need to believe that what we have put in place before we step away, will be okay and if not – hey ho, not our business!

I’ve recently realized that we can’t always change the world, it’s not our place to do so! Just being happy, joyous and kind in all we do – from the heart – will have impact and leave a ripple. When we sit in peace and love wherever we are, at any given moment, that’s where the joy and acceptance comes of doing nothing!

For those who are still looking… here are some tips on how I found ‘joy’ in doing nothing (in the real world, outside of Antigua):

“Give yourself at least half and hour each day (or more) dedicated to you – not easy I know, but try it!”

“Light some candles and those lucky enough to have a bathtub – have a bath surround by light!”

“Open that magazine that’s been sitting on your coffee table and cut out those interior design inspirations (You know who you are 😉).”

“Binge watch some Netflix goodies….”

“Leave the kids with a friend/hubby, for at least one hour and go do something that makes you smile.”

“Put on that apron and cook cook away.”

“Have a glass of wine, whilst sitting on the comfy sofa, lights low and chilled music in the background.”

“Girlie chats with friends.”

“Retail therapy (always a joy)”

“Mediate, meditate, meditate!”

… and above all, believe you are worth it! We are all worth the world and so much more 🙂

With so much love and joy – from a rather relaxed Lizzie – until next time!

To be part of my community, please view my website http://findingthejoy.info or if you would like to share your story, please email lizziefindingjoy@gmail.com

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WSB Inspiring Woman: Jou Pabalate

WSB Admin 25/03/2019 0
  • Tell us about yourself?

Manila born, Riyadh bred—I’m a third culture kid who considers the capital as my hometown. I consider myself an urbanaut, cities keep me curious, food, creativity, spaces, people; it gets my wheels turning. I’ve been in Saudi Arabia for almost 30 years, I’ve seen it evolve, and some days it surprises me still.

  • What made you start Destination Riyadh & all the other editions?

Destination Magazine was the brainchild of Rumman Company, and our publisher Ms. Enas Hashani and Editor-in-Chief, Maria Mahdaly. I joined Destination Riyadh when it first launched in the city 6 years ago and ran the operations/editorial team here as the regional editorial manager. I joined the magazine because of its vision; it wanted to show the sunny side up of the country. I particularly was keen to give a voice to Riyadhis and honestly, I wanted to be able to whip out a copy whenever I hear the words: “Riyadh is so boring” in a conversation.

We used to be three magazines, Destination Jeddah, Destination Riyadh, and Destination Sharqiya; serving as lifestyle magazines and city guides. In September of last year, we combined into one national title: Destination KSA, aligned with the vision 2030 and wanting to serve the entire Kingdom. When we relaunched, they offered me the role of Managing Editor.

  • How long have you been in business in Riyadh?

I returned to work in Riyadh back in 2009, but didn’t get back to copywriting until 2012. I joined Destination in 2013, after being a freelance writer for various agencies.

  • Have you had formal training in Journalism & Publishing or are you self-taught?

I’m a bit of everything, I’ve taken Journalism as early as high school, I was the editor of our school paper. When I entered the University of the Philippines, I opted to take up Philosophy as a pre-law plus, it was still a chance to read and write a lot. I took up a hodgepodge of electives in communications, semiotics, and social studies, which became a good foundation for when I decided to become a non-fiction writer / get into publishing. I also received a lot of mentorship over the years. Even now, as a managing editor, there are areas of it, I’m learning from others. I’m thankful and absorb random advices from others, mentors who’ve been in the industry longer than me, and well, even the tough love I get that make me better at what I do.

I also believe in self-development, with our access to information these days, there’s no excuse for not trying to get better at your chosen craft. I read and research a lot about the areas I work in and my projects, and make time to take courses even if they’re self-paced.

I don’t consider myself a journalist though, I look up to journalists that report on hard news and do in-depth reportage. I would want to do so one day but right now, I’m a curious content producer, sometimes writer, sometimes editor who enjoys orchestrating creative endeavors. I also enjoy spinning stories and letting people see things in a new light, and that’s the PR/Communications person in me, I think.

Tell us about your passion projects?

Right now my passion project is Saudi Design Week (SDW), where I’m currently part of the organizing team. I’m handling the Press, Communications, and Outreach arm but I honestly enjoy dabbling here and there; whether it’s logistics or doing research on our next edition. SDW is a collaborative endeavor, which is something I love, you see different people, different communities gather every year to build something awesome from the ground up.

  • How did you get involved with Saudi Design Week?

I’ve always been drawn to creative projects, and have always thought Basma and Noura Bouzo, the founders behind it were doing something great and can have lasting impact in the Saudi creative scene. I’ve kept tabs on their works and projects. How I got involved was through a good friend, Wided Khadraoui, who worked with SDW and introduced me to the team back in 2016.

I started by heading the volunteers mobilization team, which was an amazing experience—working with different youths and just being in the middle of the action. I was hooked from there on out.

A bit of promotion here, if you don’t mind; our 2019 edition of Saudi Design Week is happening this year. If people want to get involved too, as exhibitors, volunteers, etc, send me an email.

  • What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t have a typical day, *laugh*, there’s a loose structure there but it really depends on what step of the publishing cycle I’m in. We’re either preparing for an issue, developing it, or on our deadlines, rushing to send it to print. In the past months, with my new role, I was between Riyadh and Jeddah often so having a flexible routine worked better for me.

There are fixed moments, It always starts with coffee and catching up with catching up with my team: writers, teammates, contributors, (Destination has offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, and desk in Sharqiya—yes, we’ve embraced the remote working setup to an extent and it works for us). Running the operations, which also means doing the research, you need to consume content to make it.

I usually have an interview, meeting or an event a couple of times a week— if I don’t I’d probably be catching up on work and projects for a couple of hours at night (with Netflix playing on the background). I do make time for other things, I play squash, read, go on walks, travel when I can.

  • What do you enjoy the most about your work?

The rush, the hustle, and seeing it make even an inch of a difference in the end.

  • What is the hardest part about your work?

I thought it was chasing time, and sometimes it is. But one of the harder things I learned lately, is having uncomfortable conversations— as a result of decisions you have to make; and being in a way, okay with that discomfort because you see the bigger picture.

  • What advice would you give women considering starting their own business in the Kingdom?

I don’t have my own business but I think I tend to have what others call an entrepreneurial spirit— which I prefer calling “having hustle”.

My advice is to seek out others, and have conversations, you need to bring your idea out into the world to know if it works. Be okay with the word, NO— follow it up by asking Why?

If you still think it’s worth a shot, take it. Businesses like projects need to be agile these days— fail fast, fail often, fail better. It beats not trying at all.

  • How can people find opportunities in Riyadh?

In groups, social media, and events. I believe in the power of networking and fostering connections. When opportunities don’t come to you, make them: Host your own gig fest or do a work hangout in a café, it’ll also attract others.

  • Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh?

Work remotely in random hotspots around town. Visit places of interest to your field. If you’re an artist, do walk-ins in a gallery. Inquire about exhibitions, talks, or even community events happening around you. Explore your other interests, including having a hobby and find like-minded people— Recently, we joined a little dog club for our two dogs; and in the last session I ended up getting a few story leads from people within the group.

Opportunities come from everywhere, you just need to be open enough to spot them and follow through.

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

Live what you love.

Be a verb, know your Nouns, live your story.

Contact Information & Social Media

Instagram: jou_issance

Email: jou@destinationksa.com | jou@saudidesignweek.com

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Cherish your children

WSB Admin 26/02/2019 0

By Kiran Akthar


“ Mama you don’t spend time with me anymore ! “ The one sentence I had dreaded so much ever since I became a mother, had become a regular occurrence over the past few weeks.

It had all started after the birth of my third child. My oldest daughter had been an only child for 6 years and therefore had been the centre of our “undivided attention “. My husband and I fussed over everything related to her; everything from her homework to her school projects, from her after school activities to reading bed time stories, from watching her favourite cartoons with her to taking her to the play areas and parks on the weekends…everything was about her.

She really wanted to have a sibling so when her sister was born, she was overjoyed…atleast for the time being 🙂. But she soon realised she would have to share her parent’s attention with her sister and she was kind of ok with it. Raising two kids was a little harder than raising one but it was not something we couldn’t handle. My husband and I still managed to spend some “ one on one time “ with both our girls. However things got harder with the addition of baby number 3.

Now we had a 10 year old, a 4 year old and a new born on our hands. Of course now we had a more diverse list of “ things to do “, throughout the week. Moreover, there were more fights over which cartoon channel to watch, which play area to go to, where to hangout on the weekends. Yes, things were crazy at times but we were still able to manage most of the stuff. The only problem was, there was no more of that precious “ one on one time” with each one of the kids. The younger two didn’t seem to mind but it was my oldest who still remembered what it was like when she had that, before her siblings decided to grace us with their presence.

Any mom can well imagine how hard it is to find that “ one hour a day “ for each one of your children, specially when your toddler is always on the move , your kindergartener always wants to be included in everything ( even your trip to the bathroom ) and your 10 year old is simply too old for all the kiddy stuff her little siblings find so interesting to do.

So after much deliberation and a lot of careful planning; we were able to come to a solution. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night; when my younger two kids have gone to bed, my “ firstborn “ and I paint together (not very well I might add 😊), we also try our hand at different arts and crafts or if we are too lazy for that, we simply sit together and watch animated movies. This is the time when we have most of our “ heart to heart “ discussions.  We talk about everything; from her day at school to discussing the books she is reading,  from why there is never any snowfall in Riyadh 🙂, to if she can have a puppy or a pony for her next birthday ( the answer to which is always “ we shall see “ 😊).

So if you meet me on a Sunday, you will see dark circles under my eyes and a mug of very strong tea in my hand but this lack of sleep is only a small price to pay for not having to hear those dreaded words “ you don’t spend time with me anymore “ .

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