Recent News

Organic Foods in Riyadh

WSB Admin 30/11/2016 0

Over the past 5 years, Organic foods in Riyadh have been increasingly occupying their place in the market. The demand has been heard and many companies are ready to meet the need for healthy wholesome food.

When I first moved to Riyadh 9 years ago, there were only 3 stores that carried organic foods, the two on Oruba that carry imported, packaged, and processed foods, Organic Food Center and Nutrition Organic.

Watania carries fresh local food and there are10 locations in Riyadh so you are bound to have one near you.

The pink Tarha have a fantastic article on Nutrition Organic with pictures of all their products that can be found here http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/2014/09/all-organic-nutrition-store.html. They can also be found in your local grocery stores, LuLu, Carrefour, Danube and Tamimi and also in many specialty shops ready to jump on this new business opportunity. Specialty stores like Natureland carry only organic food and specialty items including cleaning supplies, and offers online ordering and free delivery for orders over 500 SAR.

Organic restaurants are also hitting the Riyadh scene with trendy new cafes and even pizzeria’s making their mark. Wellness kitchen offers delivery and home service with specific diet plans to help you lose weight with nutritious organic foods. Some calorie generous organic yums can be found at Oregano Pizzeria, Dukan burgers, and Elevation Burger.

One company that resembles the Wholefoods theme in the states, Abazeer with two stores in Jeddah and one in Khobar, will soon open there doors in Riyadh. The health conscious will definitely find their fix in Abazeer with the vast selection of organic grains, pastas, fruits, vegetables, gluten free products and more, all in one place.

This store is connecting all the channels from operating organic farms and delivery to the marketplace. They are also the sole distributor for many of your favorite organic brands. Keep your eyes and ears open for their Grand Opening, it will definitely be worth the wait.

The biggest challenge I have is finding organic, anti-biotic free, grass fed meat, but hopefully this will be a niche in the market that will be filled soon.

For skincare products you might try Basharacare, an online store here in Riyadh that offers delivery.

The Saturday Market is also a nice option with local meat, fruits and vegetables. Not all of the food is organic, but it is local, leaving less of a carbon footprint on the planet. There are a couple of delivery services for farm fresh fruits and vegetables. Nidal Farms offers farm fresh vegetables and some packaged goods for delivery every Friday. You can contact them for further details at 0539411187.

For the food to be labeled Organic it must be grown in clean soil and have no genetic modifications. Synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based or sewage sludge-based fertilizers cannot be used on the plants or on the food the animals eat. Organic livestock must be given organic feed and have access to the outdoors. They may not be given antibiotics to prevent illness, growth hormones, or animal byproducts. It is important to be able to actually visit the farm to see the circumstances in which the food is grown or where the animals are actually being kept to ensure that the care and handling of the food and/or animal is actually organic and the meat processing hygienic.

According to the Saudi Department of Agriculture (DOA) government site, as of 2012, the DOA has certified 78 organic farms with 280 farmers in the application process. Animal husbandry has still not set it’s stage yet in the marketplace due to the limited availability of organic fodder, thus it’s currently restricted to a small number of farms and animals.

The four certified farms as of 2012 in Riyadh include:

Al Fawaz Farm, producing tomatoes, carrots, eggplants,
Al Shahwan for Organic Farming, producing tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, eggplants, dates, additional variety of 36 vegetables, Sheep
Al Sheha, producing dates, vegetables, fruits, alfalfa, goats
Al Janadriyha, producing dates, vegetables (e.g. jews mallow, red radish, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower)

Most of the fresh organic food in Riyadh is sold from the farm gate or directly to your compound or home directly like Dr. Al Shahwan for Organic Farming and Nidal Farms. The processing side of organic business is still in the early stages. Watania, Al Khaldediah, and Abazeer are the three local companies that are starting to tackle this aspect of organic farming to combine production, processing and trade. From 2012, there were four international certification organizations operating in Saudi Arabia: two from Germany (BCS and CERES), one from France (ECOCERT), and one from Egypt (COAE). The companies who have entered the certification market most recently are TAWTHIQ and OneCert. TAWTHIQ is the first Saudi organic certification body.

For those interested in learning more about certified organic foods within Saudi Arabia and the progress and development that has taken place since the initiation of the Organic Farming project in 2005, please check out their PDF at http://www.moa.gov.sa/files/org/KSA-Studiefor_English.pdf

organic

Useful links:

http://ksa.natureland.net/en/
http://www.wellnesskitchen.com.sa/
http://www.oreganocompany.com/
https://twitter.com/dukanburger

Home – Elevation Burger


http://www.abazeer.com/
http://www.basharacare.com/en_sa/producttypes/index/details/Natural-and-Organic#.WD06zdz6meA

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Why Not?

Marcom 29/11/2016 0

Insight and Wisdom from Evelyne Fallows

Interview and write up by: Maria Cometti

Have you been thinking about pursuing a hobby, finally teaching the skills you have mastered, or going on an adventure to the historical sites in Saudi Arabia? “Why not?” asks inspiring woman Evelyne Fallows. Why Not has been Evelyne’s motto throughout her journey in Saudi Arabia. This motto led her to do everything from organizing a monthly lunch club, to traveling around the country and running two semi-marathons.

I had the pleasure and honor to sit down with Evelyne who is a well-known fitness trainer, third time expatriate in Saudi Arabia, and former WSB board member. Evelyne truly has the mindset and ambition to overcome any challenges that could possibly stand in her way.

In this interview, I ask Evelyne about her journey to becoming a fitness trainer in Saudi Arabia and how other women can maximize their expatriate experience. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

M: This is your third expatriate experience in Saudi Arabia. What brought you to Saudi the first two times?
E: I originally came to KSA in 1990 and 1992 to work for a princess as a French language tutor. In 2009, I returned to the kingdom with my husband and son and spent the first 2 years working at the French school, teaching English as a foreign language.

M: You are a sought-after fitness trainer. Have you always been interested in health and fitness?
E: I was involved in competitive track and field from the age of 10 and always stayed active in various sports and fitness activities. Throughout my expatriate journey in Asia I took up Muai Thai, Spinning, Tennis, Yoga, and Pilates, among many others.

In 2006 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in Hong Kong. In my efforts to recover from the surgery, I met with a phenomenal trainer, Wicky, a Kung Fu specialist, who trained me on core strength and stability. I regained strength and confidence and a few months after the surgery, I went on a hiking trip to Nepal. The whole experience was transformational and inspired me to share my passion for fitness with other women. In 2009, I obtained my certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and began my journey of personal training. I also studied nutrition and became a certified massage therapist. I am now looking into specializing in post op recovery.

M: How did you launch your fitness training career in Riyadh?
E: I was introduced to Sally Kennedy, the founder of WSB. When she learned of my training and career ambitions, she started connecting me with Saudi women looking for a personal trainer. Word started to spread and soon I built a solid client base.

M: How did you become involved with WSB?
E: WSB Board Member Florence Hughes encouraged me to write for the WSB newsletter. After contributing to the newsletter and attending a WSB event, I was so impressed with the organization that I wanted to become more involved with the Board. I expressed my interest in getting more involved with the then director Betsy, and was offered a position on the Board.

M: What advice do you have for women here who want to become more active or lose weight?
E: Don’t let the challenge of life in Riyadh discourage you. Come to the DQ, it is empty on Fridays making it perfect to bike, walk or run (without an abaya!). The whole DQ wadi track is about 16k. Don’t become too dependent on the car, walk when you can. Try something new and find an activity you enjoy. Many compounds offer classes and new gyms are popping up in town. Food is a big part of the local culture, so make wise and healthy choices.

M: What advice do you have for newcomers to Riyadh?
E: Come with an open mind. Do some research before you get here. Be patient, flexible, and tolerant. Respect the rules and make the best of what’s available. Take initiatives, get involved. Learn Arabic, volunteer, or start a group with likeminded individuals.

M: Do you have a motto or mantra?
E: I like to learn, discover, and better myself. My experience in KSA has been amazing and I have done things I would have never done at home. I always ask myself, “Why not?” Being an expatriate in Riyadh is a great opportunity to try new things. For example, I started a lunch group that would meet up at a new restaurant every month. A Breakfast and Books group. I was on stage for the first time ever. I even trained for my first semi marathon in Riyadh! And ran my second here. I wrote a book. I was on TV. I volunteered as goodwill ambassador for an association of disabled young adults. I met amazing people, Saudis and expats.

M: How can an expat women find a job or create opportunities for herself in Riyadh?
E: There are many opportunities here for those who give Saudi a chance. Start a home business or discover self-employment through a blog or tutoring for example. I would encourage women with a skill or training to work as a self-employed consultant or tutor. There are also many opportunities to work as embassy staff. It’s important to overcome your fear to take the first step.

M: What are your favorite places in Riyadh?

E:

The Acoustic Tea Lounge (read my review here https://www.wsbksa.com/2016/03/30/review-acoustic-tea-lounge/), try their rose latte!
Bateel café and restaurant, I’ve been so many times and have never been disappointed
Nozomi for outstanding Japanese food
Tamimi for healthy, gluten-free food, Lulu for exotic products, I love Thai food!
The DQ for walking my dog, running and biking
Luthan for my haircut and the beautiful spa

M: How can we learn more about your life journey and experience in Saudi Arabia?
E: I’m working on my second book that is pure fiction (in French) but the first one is partly about Saudi Arabia and partly my own story, in English, it will be edited and published next year I hope.

M: Thank you Evelyne for the opportunity to learn about your journey in KSA and for the helpful tips and advice. Thank you also for all your work and contributions to WSB! We are looking forward to the release of your book and to hearing about your next journey in NYC!

Follow Evelyne on Instagram evfallows

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Seafood Night at Flavours, Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana

WSB Admin 29/11/2016 0

Even the hottest, driest of places has its sheltered, welcoming haven. So it is in Riyadh – hidden in the heart of the Kingdom, about as far as you can get from the coast – Rosh Rayhaan for Rotana nourishes and refreshes with its sumptuous seafood buffet.

True to Arab hospitality, guests are welcomed from the bustle of popular Olaya Street with a refreshing thyme and lime sherbet. This is a moment to rest, observe your fellow diners, and prepare for the lavish feast ahead.  Expect to find yourself amongst Saudi dignitaries sampling the bouillabaisse gregarious groups of young women taking selfies of themselves and their food, and business partners ruminating over the deals of the day.

flavours-rosh-rayhaan-rotana-freash-fish-live-cooking-station-3

Start with a meze of orange blossom-infused moutabel, pomegranate-bejewelled hummus and generous portions of delicately-smoked, meaty, creamy salmon. No campfire ashes here.

Now, as for that lobster bouillabaisse – unless my trawling skills were woefully lacking, all the best bits seemed to have been plundered, leaving tomato-flavoured seawater. Either they were not there in the first place or previous guests’ trawling was inspired by the benefits of lubricating the wheels of business.

Thankfully, every other imaginable seafood is also available and displayed artfully at the live cooking station, from where the chef prepares the fish of your choice on the spot. Perfectly accompany your red snapper or meaty hammour with his mellow, liquorice-scented roasted fennel.

However, available is not necessarily accessible. Without a fish knife, crab mallet or lobster cracker, you have to wrestle with a traveller’s dilemma of how to eat cleanly and elegantly– go native using your primal instincts to extricate the delicious, succulent meat from the nooks and crannies, or criminally leave many of the tasty, (but tantalisingly unreachable) morsels untouched and unappreciated. Happily, the appearance of the genuinely warm and smiley Sri Lankan waiting staff offering to make a personalised fresh juice helps (have you ever seen a grumpy Sri Lankan?) – frothy, creamy, orange with mint sweetened only with pineapple – this juice not only aids digestion but also soothes any irritation at not being able to fully do justice to the chef’s superb skills.

flavours-rosh-rayhaan-rotana-crab-claws-1

Desert dessert, of course, offers endless, inevitably sweet variations with dates, cream or chocolate. But really, there is no merit in looking any further than the comforting, familiar arms of Umm Ali. Liberally sprinkled with crunchy purpley-green pistachios this soothing dish, steels you for the return journey home and the onslaught of Riyadh’s roads. Gaze up at the iconic Kingdom Centre as you leave replenished, appreciate its colored glow, muse on its rather curious accolade of being the world’s third tallest building with a hole, and be amazed that excellent seafood can indeed be found in the heart of the desert.

Olaya St, Al Olaya, Riyadh 12241. 011 447 9888.

Seafood buffet every Wednesday, 7pm to 10:30pm. SAR 249 including water, juice, tea and coffee.

By: A Layla Wa Layla

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Moving Women with Purpose

WSB Admin 31/10/2016 0
Women Skills Bureau Riyadh launches a volunteer program for expat ladies

VolunteerWSB is a project, from Women Skills Bureau Riyadh that connects skilled professional women from different nationalities and backgrounds with volunteer opportunities in the Riyadh community. VolunteerWSB aims to contribute to those local organizations and communities in need of professional support.

 

MATCHING VOLUNTEER INTERESTS TO NONPROFIT NEEDS

VolunteerWSB believes that every expat living in Riyadh has a lot to offer to the local community and should be able to contribute to the community with their professional skills. At VolunteerWSB we help connect good causes with the expat community.

mov-1Volunteering can take many different forms, from spending time with kids with disabilities, to helping out at cats shelters. From teaching art to kids with Down syndrome to teaching how to cook healthy food…Every single skill is more than welcome.

 

 

PUTTING THEM TOGETHER…

In order to create the best connections between volunteers and nonprofits, we have an online platform with specific tools that help to match the non-profits needs with the volunteer’s skills.

We encourage all expat women to visit our web page and join us and keep an eye on all the news regarding the nonprofit organizations that matches with their needs.

THE POWER OF VOLUNTEERING

mov-2At Women Skills Bureau (WSB) we know that the action of volunteering has surprising benefits for the volunteer, for the nonprofit and for the community. And thinking about how you want to benefit from volunteering is a good start to finding an opportunity that’s right for you.

  • Gain confidence:  VolunteerWSB can help you gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement.
  • Make a difference: Volunteering can have a real and valuable positive effect on people, communities and society in general.
  • Meet people: Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people and make new friends.
  • Be part of a community: Volunteering can help you feel part of the local community.
  • Learn new skills: Volunteering can help you learn new skills, gain experience and sometimes even gain qualifications.
  • Take on a challenge: Through volunteering you can challenge yourself to try something different, achieve personal goals, practice using your skills and discover hidden talents.
  • Have fun!Most volunteers have a great time, regardless of why they do it.

 

 ABOUT WSB

WSB Riyadh, inspires and empowers women of all nationalities living in Riyadh by providing them with the tools, resources and career guidance to allow them to thrive in all aspects of their lives. By creating a community that connects experience, knowledge and skills with individuals, the WSB supports women and enables them to realize their potential both now and in the future.

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The Power of Intention – Advice and insight from entrepreneur Princess Dena Bint Nahar Al-Saud

WSB Admin 31/10/2016 0

Advice and Insight from Entrepreneur Princess Dena bint Nahar Al-Saud

Interview and write-up by: Maria Cometti

Have you ever been unsure whether to move forward with an idea? Have you let fear of failure keep you from pursuing your dreams? If so, Riyadh based entrepreneur Princess Dena Bint Nahar Al-Saud has some advice for you! Princess Dena is the co-founder of both the Empowerment Hub and the boutique consultancy firm Neat, and founder of Yummy Tummy Bakery.
I had the pleasure and honor to meet Princess Dena at her Neat office. Have you ever met someone who both inspired and informed you, while at the same time made you feel right at home? That was how I felt during our interview. Princess Dena is someone I wish for all women to meet at some point in their lives. Until that time comes, I hope this interview leaves you feeling empowered and inspired to get out there and make your mark in the world!

M: Have you always known that you are an entrepreneur? What inspired you to go into business?
D: I haven’t always known. I feel that what inspired me was making the right decision at the right time. It is all about trusting your gut & good timing. I love to bake and Yummy Tummy started as a home business. Friends of friends started coming to me with orders and soon it was too much to manage out of my home so I expanded into a retail location.

M: What is the most import lesson you have learned about starting or running a successful business?
D: Trust your gut always and do everything with love and good faith. Look at failure as a learning milestone and nothing else, if anything, you will learn more out of your failures than appraisals. Your intention is what is most important.

M: How did the Empowerment Hub come into existence?
D: It came to life when 5 like-minded Saudi females were approached by one of the co-founders to bring to life the concept of mass fitness events intertwined with giving back to the local community.

M: What are your goals/plans for Empowerment Hub?
D: Our main goal is to revolutionize what women feed their minds and bodies. We aim to strengthen women’s health and fitness awareness in the Kingdom by creating active, social, and educational events. More importantly, we want to give back to the community. All proceeds will go to different non-profit organizations and charities in the Saudi…Fitness4aCause!

M: Tell us about your recent acceptance and plans for study with THNK School of creative leadership?
D: I am still overwhelmed, being one of the youngest they have ever accepted. I believe in design thinking method, and apparently the THNK method expands on that way of thought and help leaders develop and strengthen their skills in an innovative way. I look forward to implementing my learnings to my current business and my country.

M: What is your primary role in your bespoke consultancy firm Neat?
D: I am the co-founder, and I usually take care of everything involved with creativity and thinking outside the box. From brainstorming new business ideas, to conceptualization and to ideation, to fulfill yearly high-level marketing strategies.

M: What motivates you to do what you do?
D: I have a love for learning, and my main motivation is mainly that! I like exploring new ideas, concepts, places, cultures and cuisines mainly to learn. I also have a huge heart and an open mind.

M: What work are you most proud of?
D: Summiting Kilimanjaro, I know it’s not “work” per say but it is what I am most proud of. The experience changed my life in making me realize that everything is overrated. When climbing the mountain, you are stripped of everything and left to rely on yourself and the people around you. It was a profound experience.

M: Do you have a motto or saying that you live and work by?
D: “To Each His Own”
Intention is most important

M: Do you have any advice to women coming to live in Riyadh for the first time?
D: Come with an open mind, a huge smile and an empty stomach. It is just like anywhere in the sense that once you have a good group and know your way around you will be fine.

M: What are your biggest goals or aspirations for the future?
D: To be part of the positive change in my country, to launch my business successfully, and to travel the world.

M: Do you have any ideas on how Saudi and expatriate women can collaborate for the greater good of society?
D: There are many charities they can volunteer with at any time or specific projects or just your usual “random acts of kindness”

M: Can you recommend any of your favorite shops, restaurants, or places to visit in Riyadh?
D: Acoustic lounge – breakfast
Tao bistro – brunch/lunch
Nozomi or Entrecote – dinner
Maison BO-M
Draft in Centria mall
I also love going around Diriyah & Wadi Haneefa

M: Thank you Princess Dena for this lovely interview and best of luck with all your goals and Dreams!

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Working with difficult personalities

WSB Admin 31/10/2016 0

By: Amee J. VanNorman

Often times we spend more time with work colleagues than we do with loved ones. Personalities and attitudes can make a workplace fun and exciting, or it can make going to work a miserable experience. I am sure most people had a terrible boss/colleague story to share at some point in their careers (and if you don’t, I am seriously jealous). My terrible boss story involves a supervisor from early in my career. Her frustrated sighs, or worse – her yelled questions that highlighted how inept you were, would echo across the office when someone did not complete a task to her liking, in spite of the fact that she was incapable (or uninterested) in clearly explaining her expectations from the start.

In hindsight, her continual derogatory attitude to my work really affected my professional      self-esteem. It was only after I had left that position, and worked with a supportive and amazing supervisor, that I was able to realize that her negative attitude and inept management had negatively impacted my professional development. In an article for Psychology Today “Ten Keys to Handling Unreasonable & Difficult People” Preston Ni lists strategies for dealing with people with difficult personalities. Among his ten great suggestions he notes that you need to “Fly Like and Eagle”. No matter what other approaches you take in interacting with a difficult personality, remember to not let their issues bring you down. Step away, limit interaction, and try to never let someone else’s poor interpersonal skills, or worse – abusive workplace behavior, lessen your self-confidence.

Another coping mechanism I would add is to seek out a mentor or a confidant. Try to find someone who you can work with to develop coping mechanisms, or just privately vent. While it is not beneficial to dwell on the negativity, it does help to occasionally talk about issues. A good listener may even have some input that will help you navigate an upsetting situation. It is important in this situation to know your value, to have confidence in your abilities, and to make sure you do not let a difficult personality bring you down.

 

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VolunteerWSB – Coffee & Conversation with Saman Ansari

WSB Admin 01/10/2016 0

Location: Bateel (Olaya street)

Anna : Diet Pepsi

Saman: Mint Lemonade

Recently I had the opportunity to have coffee and conversation with Saman at the new Bateel Cafe on Olaya Street. For the last few months I have had the pleasure to both work and learn from Saman in WSB and I can not begin to stress on how lucky I was to have had this opportunity. Her vast experience in volunteering has not only enriched my knowledge in this field personally, but has cemented an area in WSB for volunteering.

Anna :  Saman, How long you have been in Riyadh? How was your arrival?

Saman : I have had the pleasure of being here for almost 2 years and ever since my arrival I have known I wanted to volunteer in Riyadh. I had researched a great deal prior to my arrival for volunteering opportunities but came up empty handed. The impression I had received was that there was no means of volunteering in Saudi Arabia for expats.

Anna : and you found Women’s Skills Bureau..

Saman: Once I arrived in Riyadh and began to search for expat groups I came across WSB which seemed to actively represent all expatriates. Almost immediately however, I noticed that there was an absence of volunteering opportunities being posted and greater attention was being paid to job opportunities. Through the recommendations of some of my friends I was able to contact the Director of WSB, Betsy Sharma.

Anna: I recall you mentioning that there was a lack of volunteering opportunities for expats, even in WSB.

Saman, Yes, when I met Betsy there were no volunteer activities taking place in WSB at the time. I am very passionate about the need for volunteering in a community, and therefore began to tell her about my experiences in volunteering.

Anna : Speaking of your experiences, would you please tell us about some of them.

Saman: Ofcourse. Professionally I am a graphic designer but I have been involved with volunteer work for a long time. While in college I began volunteering with the Special Olympics in Lahore, Pakistan. My job was to stand at the finish line and encourage and motivate the children to run towards me, and reward them with a hug once they did. I loved their smiles and excitement at their achievements. This was a pivotal moment for the rest of my life, as it inspired me to pursue a future in volunteer work. Having a brother with Downs Syndrome myself, I had always wanted to be involved. From then on I have always made an active effort to dedicate my time to worthy causes regardless of where I have lived.

During my time in the Philippines I spent five years working for an organization helping wheelchair users. I utilized my experience as a graphic designer to handle the communication for the foundation for wheelchair users, and aided in designing the exterior of their first taxi service. Along with this, I also had the honor of teaching art to a girl who was confined to a wheelchair. Every week for three years she came to my house and learned to paint as a mouth painter. Every so often we would arrange to have her paintings sold at the expat bazaars which aided in earning her livelihood. Occasionally I also conducted art classes for children, from children in my daughter’s fifth-grade class as well as special needs children with different challenges.

When my family and I moved back to Pakistan I collaborated with some friends of mine to launch an online volunteering platform which would connect willing volunteers to worthy causes across Karachi. This was one of two extremely intensive projects I took part in. The other was a global initiative in the educational sector which I aided in implementing in Pakistan as a core team member. Apart from this I had my professional commitments as a freelance graphic designer. I also was able to conduct private art classes for a special student suffering from a medical condition whose paintings(all twenty-two of them) were sold at the end of our classes.

Anna: Awesome! So this wide range of experience aided in launching the WSB volunteer area.

Saman: Yes, when I joined WSB as a board member I immediately knew I wanted to work on developing the volunteering area. Being a board member of WSB has opened doors everywhere I have gone.  I have been introduced to great people doing wonderful work here. I have conducted art classes at the Down’s Syndrome Children’s Association in Riyadh. The girls I have taught have worked very hard and have done some amazing work. They are now selling canvas prints of the paintings and at a recent event, a number of these paintings were sold. I am so happy that I got a chance to do this during my stay in Riyadh.

With another board member at WSB, we are working on establishing an online volunteering platform for the expat community to give back to the country we are living in.

Saudi Arabia has a lot more to offer than one thinks, you just need just to explore your options.  We realized that we could work on connecting some great nonprofits with expat professionals. We hope we are able to use the knowledge and expertise that the expat ladies have in a constructive way in these non- profit organization.

Anna: How would you summarize your experience in Riyadh?

I feel that in the 2 years I have spent in Riyadh I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of a side of Riyadh few expats are lucky enough to see. I have been lucky to meet wonderful Saudi ladies who have become like family.

Anna: Unfortunately you are now leaving Saudi…

Saman: Yes, I will move back to Pakistan this summer. I will miss my students at the Down Syndrome Association, my friends from WSB, all the expats I have been meeting, as well as the Saudi ladies community with their hospitality and kindness a great deal.

Anna: From your experience, what would you recommend to an expat lady, thinking of joining a nonprofit project?

Saman: Women’s Skills Bureau will change her life in Saudi by providing a fresh and unbiased perspective on Saudi Arabia. They will not regret it one bit.

Anna : Any other recommendations?

Saman : Be ready to have amazing experiences, be open to different cultures, and take in what the Saudi society has to offer. Be respectful with the local customs and overall enjoy their rich culture and traditions.

Anna : It has been a pleasure to have this interview. We hope your life will be as fulfilling as it has been so far.

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Becoming an Award Winning Blogger (Interview Part 2 with The Pink Tarha)

Marcom 01/10/2016 0

Have you ever dreamed of writing a blog? Have you thought about detailing your expat journey in Saudi Arabia? Maybe you are passionate about food or travel and have toyed with the idea of publishing your stories.

According to Blogging.org, WordPress currently hosts 42 million blogs! With so much competition for readership, you may wonder what makes a winning blog?

In this insightful interview we bring back the ladies of the highly popular and award-winning blog, The Pink Tarha. In part 1, which can be found on wsbksa.com, The Pink Tarha gave their tips on making the most out of life in Riyadh. In part 2, we explore the makings of a successful blog. If you are an aspiring blogger, do not miss The Pink Tarha’s time-tested advice and insight into the world of blogging.

You started your blog in 2009 to chronicle your trips around the city. At what point did you realize the magnitude of what you created?

Reina: I think when things started to go viral, that’s when we knew. Our #SALEALERT tend to be our most popular and tangible measure of impact and we’ve seen how powerful it has been, not just through the online stats but even from companies’ feedback as well. On the other hand, there was this time when we were nominated for the Expats Blog Awards in 2010 and there was a section of testimonies from our readers and supporters that really proved how far our reach has gone in terms of making a positive impact on the lives of others.

Janelle: We realized that its becoming known when we began receiving many comments and feedback. As for tangible signs, we take our win from the PEBA 2009 Awards as a sign of things becoming bigger than we expected it to be.

Is writing your passion? You are both working full-time jobs in addition to writing the blog. If you could make the Pink Tarha your full time career, would you? Why or why not?

Janelle: Writing is my passion; it’s something I like doing. That’s why its hard for me to see this as a full-time career because I write without the pressure of having to do it for something in return. I blog because I want to continuously hone my writing skills. I also like finding the balance in my family, work, and blogging.

Reina: Writing was something I was always into but never really considered it as my forte. Having started in a blog format eased me into it and somehow made me confident that my writing can be “acceptable” in terms of light reading. It’s good to challenge yourself with something that you can improve on and for me, it’s something I still experience every time I write.

What are the biggest challenges you have experienced in building The Pink Tarha, and how have you overcome them?

Janelle: One of the biggest challenges in making The Pink Tarha was being the pioneers of blogging in Riyadh. We are not claiming to be the first bloggers in Saudi Arabia (because we’re not), but we like to believe we are the first of our kind that spread positivity and see the goodness in living and working here.  When The Pink Tarha came about in 2009, there weren’t any blogs like it. We didn’t know what rules we should follow or what we could write or not write about. So we just went with our gut feel and general knowledge of the local policies.

Reina: We have had our share of challenges over the years. Since we’re doing it out of our own initiative, there have been times when our commitment would dwindle. The lesson we learned however, at the end of the day, is we didn’t give up on the blog.

If someone wants to become a blogger, are there any important things they should consider before starting? Any advice on connecting with your audience?

Reina: For me, I’ve always stuck to the concept of “write what you know”. I think it’s a good stepping stone for someone who wants to venture into blogging. Rely on the details of your experience, your observations, and how it affected you. If you have that, then you definitely have something to write about.

Janelle: First and foremost, you have to blog for yourself. You shouldn’t blog thinking of what it might bring you. When people see and read that you love what you’re doing, they also start to appreciate you and your blog by reading, following, and liking. Have the patience also to see your blog through. Don’t give up! Enjoy writing! Find your voice and find your niche. Produce good content (do not copy/plagiarize!). Concentrate on one aspect and start from there. For the Pink Tarha, we chose to write about lifestyle topics and from there we wrote about categories under the lifestyle umbrella. We refined our writing and defined our boundaries.

Interview and write up by: Maria Cometti

 

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Nepal

WSB Admin 01/09/2016 0

Although destroyed by the huge earthquakes of 2015, Nepal is a must go for any mountain enthusiast and is not (too) far away from Riyadh.

 I went there some years ago and dedicated my entire stay to a huge walk that brought me up to 5000m : the Kanchenjunga base camp.

As seen from the pictures, the higher we were the more clothes we had on. Our Diet consisted of dahl bat (rice with lentils) during the 16 days trip. And again, the higher we got the less vegetables we had in our rice…

It all started with a gruesome 18 hours jeep trip through roads that I wasn’t sure were actually roads… We arrived back broken at our starting point and began walking straight away to get some fresh air from the nature and put this 4*4 as far away as possible from us.

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Most of the trip, we ate and slept in people’s houses which gave us a glimpse of their lives although the conversation was quite limited due to the language barrier.

The landscapes were breathtaking all along and reaching the 5000m was a unique experience. I was out of breath, feeling like a 60 years old heavy smoker.

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We went down to 3500m, only to go back up to 4000 for another incredible view!

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After that we went downhill, the weather got warmer and we reached the tea plantations:

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Anyone that likes extreme situations that pushes your limits would have loved the trip. But Nepal offers plenty of other easier and more comfortable treks. Don’t doubt it: just book your ticket!

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Discovering Ottoman Cuisine at Tugra Restaurant

WSB Admin 01/09/2016 0

Written and reviewed by The Pink Tarha

Would you care to dine as the sultans would have during the Ottoman Empire? Please join us at Tugra Restaurant at the Burj Rafal Kempinski Hotel in Riyadh to enjoy just that. Tugra offers fine and meticulously composed recipes that are rich and diverse, in Ottoman traditions that are different from today’s Turkish cuisine.

Lush shades of red and brown with subdued lighting welcomes you to appreciate the night’s view of the city from afar. Their main dining area has live stations on one side with a brick oven and copper accents. I also noticed their private banquets can take a larger number of people.

Our server for the evening was named Eslam, along with the generous presence of the Head Chef, Chef Ziyat. Together, they introduced us to a gastronomical journey dating back to the 1400s, before any other civilization’s cuisines rose to popularity. In each course they served was a hint of history that Eslam and Chef Ziyat were more than happy to tell us about.

We began with a lovely looking selection of “Mezze” or bite-sized appetizers called the Dolma Medley. Dolma is a traditional, Middle-Eastern reference to stuffed vegetable dishes. Just like the notes in a song, they sang together with their delicate flavors and smooth textures. Accompanying them was two different soups, a colorful plate of their Sultan Salad and signature mocktails.

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Following suit, we were treated to one of their stone-oven specialties known to be the “Mother of all Pizzas,” called the Tugra Pide. It had a piquant taste at every bite with the combination of lamb cubes, pastrami, sausage and kashkaval cheese. Noticeably, there were no tomato base pizzas as Chef Ziyat told us because it wasn’t until decades later that the Italians and Americans discovered tomatoes. Isn’t that a piece of trivia?

After the appetizers, salads, and soups we cooled down with a serving of some rose water and pomegranate juice.

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One of the main highlights of our main course was the Kulbasti. A selection of beef tenderloin and organic chicken thigh that was served on a bed of smoked mashed eggplant, roasted tomatoes with pomegranate and red onion relish. At first glance, the perfect grill marks on the meat are noticeable yet you wouldn’t really think much about this dish until you bite into it. It was like butter, melting in our mouths! The beef and chicken were both ultra soft that it sent us to a point of bewilderment on how they were able to achieve this kind of texture on the meat. The chef later on explained that the meats have been marinated in a special fruit and seasoning mixture that led to the wondrous state. Other items on our main course were the Finger Kofta and the Stuffed Chicken.

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At this point, we were already feeling just as stuffed as those dolmas we had earlier but the charming serving of the Baklava with Ice Cream and the hot plate of Kunafah was just too hard to resist, especially for me (a die-hard fan). The balance of crisp and smooth to the sweetness and cheesiness was perfection. As we indulged in our dessert, Eslam prepared some Turkish coffee and tea right in front of us. If you’re wondering if our dessert was any good, my emptied plate and extra take home bag of another serving should tell you that it was the best Kunafah I have ever had, and growing up in Riyadh…I’ve tasted a lot!

The traditional Ottoman cuisine presented in this modern-day and age was a refreshing insight to us as professional diners. Every dish came with a story that complimented our dining experience and the impeccable service coupled with the ambiance was definitely value for your money. Tugra Restaurant definitely shines with its distinct Middle Eastern flair and flavor.

 

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