Jeddah Blog

Discover the best of Jeddah!

HOPE Summer of Therapies


HOPE for Exceptional Needs is running a unique pilot program for this summer starting on the 10th of July 2016.

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📍A summer of therapies strictly one-on-one basis offering intensive training.

📍Two months of skill acquisition and development in all therapuetic areas.

📍Call, message or whatsapp on:

056 663 1176

056 695 6887

📍Email:

Info@hopeksa.org

📍Transportation available

 

Educational Mini Conference for Teachers


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Association of Language Teachers (KSAALT) Jeddah Chapter is a non-profit professional service organization for English language teachers, created in 2006 with a handful of dedicated educators who had a desire to serve, educate and connect English language teachers in Saudi Arabia through professional development with interactive and engaging general meetings, workshops, and mini and annual conferences.

KSAALT is inviting proposals for practical workshops and presentations from English teachers and ELT professionals for their conference on 28 May,2016. The theme for the conference is Students’ Motivation: Motivate the Unmotivated. For more information, or to register, visit their Facebook page.

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There’s More to Nespresso Coffee Capsules Than You Think!


After enjoying a delicious cup of coffee how many of us do actually think of recycling the empty Nespresso capsules as pieces of fashion, home decor or stationery? This quirky idea struck Dalia Ghorab, who always had a hard time throwing away the beautiful empty capsules, and hence she decided to give them a new lease of life as bookmarks, jewellery and even home decor accessories.

We at Jeddah Blog fell in love with Dalia’s creativity and couldn’t wait to bring her work to our readers. Jeddah Blog writer Samreen Ahmed promptly got in touch with Dalia to find out more.

nespresso earrings

Earrings made from recycled Nespresso cups.

Dalia introduces herself as an architect who worked in Egypt but quit her job to move to Jeddah with her family eight years ago. She always loved arts and started making handmade accessories in 2012 before she began recycling Nespresso capsules. “I am kind of a hoarder,” says Dalia. “I started saving the capsules not sure of what I’d do with them. Then I started googling and found out that they were collected and recycled worldwide but not in Saudi Arabia.” Dalia contacted the Nespresso team in Jeddah who also confirmed that they do not recycle the capsules, so Dalia came up with her own plan of action and began designing recycled products made from Nespresso empty capsules.

All the accessories she makes are hand-made and it is difficult to imagine that they were once nothing but empty capsules. There is a variety of things you can find in Dalia’s collection but the goth ballerina pendant deserves a special mention.

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Goth Ballerina Pendant with Black Turquoise Stone.

As a passionate art lover and a mother she wanted her children Adam, 14 and Laila, 12 to do something worthwhile and thus encouraged them to join her in this mini project which is also an initiative to save the environment since the capsules are made of aluminium. It is amazing to see how creatively Dalia has transformed plain aluminium pods into rings, earrings, pendants and trinkets and she suggests that the capsules can be used in various art projects in schools to reinforce the importance of recycling in children. Even Dalia’s 4 year old and 2 year old toddler play with the clean emptied cups learning colour recognition, sequencing and counting. It seems the possibilities are endless.

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Dancing Princess Pendant with Pink Garnet.

Schools in general must take up more such art projects that help in bringing out the creativity in children while creating a civic sense in them from a young age. Nespresso capsules particularly make up a huge amount of waste every month and it is high time this waste is put to good use. For the purpose of promoting this idea Dalia, Adam and Laila hosted a stall at the spring fair in British International School of Jeddah.

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Spanish Torero Pendant with genuine pearls.

Dalia believes that not only children, but grown ups too must get involved in collecting and recycling Nespresso capsules and find new ways to reuse them. Dalia’s ideas and collection are becoming popular with Jeddawis and she tells us that within just a week her Facebook page attracted a lot of fans and followers. The innovative team is doing their bit, but they are looking for more support and promotion of their idea to make the concept of recycling Nespresso capsules popular in the country. “It would be lovely if someone can help in holding exhibitions, contests or anything of that sort to promote the idea. We are trying to raise awareness to save the environment with a creative and artistic approach”, voices Dalia.

So if you are a coffee lover and are a part of the huge crowd who throws away coffee capsules, take a peek at Dalia’s work and join hands in saving up the capsules and crafting out beautiful masterpieces which otherwise would harm the environment when discarded in bulk.

Check our the Nespresso Capsules Recycling KSA Facebook Page for more Nespresso creations, set up and moderated by Dalia’s son Adam Abouzeid and their Instagram account moderated by her daughter Laila Abouzeid.

Samreen Ahmed runs a blog called Love.Hope.Dream. Click through to discover her musings.

 

 

Listerine Takes You Inside the Mouth


Don’t we all love a good mouthwash? That sparkly clean feeling you get helps you to feel fresh for longer and protects your teeth and gums from bacteria and decay. Oral health is something that cannot be neglected and a mouthwash is a must to eliminate the unwanted tiny creatures residing in your mouth. The only thing that may discourage me from using mouthwash is the strong, burning feeling I get when I use it. Instructions on the bottle usually tell us to swish the mouthwash around in our mouths for 30 seconds, but at times this can be quite uncomfortable.

Enter Listerine Total Care Zero.

Listerine Total Care ZeroAfter a regular drill of brushing and flossing my teeth, I gave Listerine Total Care Zero mouthwash a try. This amazing mouthwash tastes mild, minty and very fresh unlike other mouthwashes in the market that leave an intense burning sensation for a long time after spitting it out. I have absolutely no problem gargling with it for even longer than the 30 seconds. This makes it a user-friendly product that you would love to use everyday for a fresh and clean feeling.

Here are the amazing benefits of Listerine Total Care Zero:

• It fights germs

• It powers through plaque

• It prevents Gingivitis

• It keeps teeth naturally white

• It protects against cavities

• It provides long lasting fresh breath

 

The remarkable highlight of Listerine Total Care Zero is that it is completely alcohol free. Now you can include a good mouthwash in your morning routine without worrying about the presence of alcohol in it. For more information and updates on Listerine Total Care Zero you can visit their Facebook page.

Listerine Total Care Zero

You can also watch their 360 view ad on YouTube using Google Cardboard. The Google Cardboard is an amazing gadget that allows you to view 3D videos which become amazingly realistic and lifelike. We became completely submerged in the video and feel that it’s a brilliant way of getting the message of Listerine across. I’ve had a difficult time tearing my children away from the Cardboard!

Click here to view the video in English and here for Arabic.

If you are unable to watch in 3-D, click to watch the video below:

Click here for more information about Listerine.

– Sponsored article

Learning Compassion Through Animals


The decision to adopt a pet is a big one, and should be taken with a great deal of thought about the responsibility involved and the care that has to be provided. The upside is that not only adults but children too learn a lot from caring for a pet. In our latest blog post, Jeddah Blog’s animal lover and Founder of Pets in Need Sonja Svensek discusses the ways in which adopting a pet positively affects the lives of their owners.

What it takes to have a big heart

Two years ago a medium sized Maltese mix was brought to us by a group of workers who had found him and were unable to keep him. Word got round quickly that we are animal lovers and would never refuse an animal in need, so it was common that we were either brought unwanted pets to us or others dumped outside our home. People have always asked me what it takes to have ‘big heart’ to help animals. I never quite understood the question since it’s a natural instinct for me and many other animal lovers to do whatever we can to help a pet in need. “You are a compassionate person!”, they’d say. However people might not realize that compassion can be taught and inspired onto others. The more we instill this in our household especially around younger children, the more they grow up to be more in tune and connected to other beings.

Children and pets

Studies have shown that having a pet at home decreases depression, increases feelings of joy and a sense of well-being. A pet teaches us a lot in relation to responsibility and how someone else’s needs can be fulfilled. A pet also shows us that they have feelings too, they cry, they feel pain and they can feel happy too. It doesn’t become just about ‘us’ but also another beings life that is dependent on us.  Children learn what it means to care for a pet, by feeding it, playing with it and caring for it. They start to learn what makes the pet happy and slowly understand that certain behaviors trigger certain actions.  There are also many health benefits linked to owning a pet. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that children who had a dog during the first year of their life had higher immune response, with 31% fewer respiratory tract infections than those without.

Children with autism, other spectrum disorders or ADHD can experience lowered blood pressure and better cognitive and communication gains when able to participate in therapy dog programs.

Pets and Disabilities

More help centers in Saudi Arabia are introducing animals in their healing programs with children as children respond quicker and show more progress when there is a animal involved in their learning process.

A family I know adopted a disabled dog to teach their children that disabilities are not to be feared, judged or criticized. The children both under the age of 12, bonded with their dog so well that the parents have noticed a change in their view towards other people. These will be children growing up with a better understanding of how we might all be different, but that we are equal.

Though more and more research suggests that animals instill compassion and connection in children, it is important to note that pets should never be bought as a gift for anyone, and should be thoroughly discussed with the person or family in question beforehand. Sadly on the other side of the spectrum, there are also parents who buy a kitten for their child where the child treats the kitty as a toy and instead of learning about responsibilities of caring for him/her, they gain feelings of power and strength over another helpless being. This is where animal abuse and neglect can start-that there aren’t any responsible adults to guide and support the proper caring and nurturing of pets at home.

If you are considering adopting a pet, all family members need to be involved in the decision process to better prepare and understand what each one can do to help and what each will be responsible for. There is no denying that owning a pet is one of the most rewarding things in life but it does take genuine good willed effort. I personally don’t like the term ‘owning a pet’ since they are not objects nor property we can use, so it’s helpful to change our outlook that instead of owning a pet, we choose to care for a pet.

Pets in schools

According to the Tolerance Project website, it’s not only through pets at home that compassion can be taught. Schools should introduce children to pets as part of the curriculum. Children learn about race, how different coloured cats don’t make them any different than another coloured cat and so on. They also learn to develop their curiosity, by learning about pets eating habits, the environment they live in, the care that’s is required and so on.

It is no surprise then that some schools even have their own school ‘pets’ commonly guinea pigs or hamsters in the classroom where the children take it in turns to handle the animal, as well as change its water and give it food. When I was a child our class had a hamster. Over time, we learnt how to trust the pet and being trusted in return, and were allowed to take the hamster home for the weekend. I felt such a sense of pride and responsibility knowing that I was chosen to take the class hamster home for the weekend that I couldn’t sleep; waking up every few hours to check that he was alight.

That sense of purpose instilled in me affected me in a beautiful way that few months later upon insisting to my parents that I wanted a hamster of my own, I got one. Gizmo was my first pet and I loved nothing more than playing with him and being with him whenever possible. I also got used to the tough side of things, the parts most children and some adults alike find tedious, though very necessary; like the part that involves cleaning its cage, and changing the water and so on but over time I learnt about cause and effect, responsibility and the fact that this live and breathing creature was relying completely on me.

Having a pet as a child also taught me about detachment; that even though I gained a best friend in my pet, I didn’t own him, and that one-day he too would pass away. It was a difficult time when my furry friend passed away, but I was blessed to have had the year that I did with him. The pain never gets easier when another pet dies, but I have been able to deal with the situation more realistically in my adult years thanks to the very first pet I had when I was a child. 

There is still a stigma attached to having a pet at home, but it’s positive to see this slowly changing in this society. Owning a pet is a big, and sometimes a costly, responsibility. A pet should always be treated as part of your family and not just for when it’s convenient, cute or small.

While not every child who is cruel to a pet grows up to be a criminal, there is a strong correlation between cruel behavior toward animals and lack of empathy for human beings

Learning Compassion in Adulthood

Even if a household doesn’t consist of children, it is never too late to learn compassion in adulthood. Psychology reviews state that it is possible to change our mindset and learn to care and feel empathy for others even in later years. Just like we can train people to hurt, injure or abuse an animal, we can turn this around to train them how to be more caring. But learning about suffering is not enough. It’s important that children and adults alike, talk about their feelings and understand what they are feeling to better understand feelings of others.

It is far more complex and very different from individual to individual as to why they abuse animals, but the notion that it can be stopped and at times even trigger guilt and remorse in them is possible. According to the American library Association article entitled ‘Be kind to Animals’, it is more beneficial to start inspiring and teaching the young in being kind to animals, because ..”By the time they exhibit cruel behavior toward animals it is often very difficult to change that behavior, making it essential that adults in every part of the community help children learn to treat animals with kindness. While not every child who is cruel to a pet grows up to be a criminal, there is a strong correlation between cruel behavior toward animals and lack of empathy for human beings.”

Compassion starts at home, and animals should not be used as punching bag or experiment tool for this. Education, love in action and getting children as well as adults involved in the process of caring, rescuing and helping animals can grow more compassionate beings.

Selflessness, Gratitude and Appreciation

The more we, as a collective society teach our children, our neighbours and perhaps our elders too, that animals have a soul, feel pain and should not be treated as ‘things’, the more we will have a better understanding of ourselves and each other including the environment we live in. This brings forth gratitude, the appreciation of helping a helpless being at the mercy of your hands, the gratitude in knowing that this is not being done for any monetary, status or ego driven rewards, but rather much deeper and bigger more meaningful act of kindness, which can inspires compassion in other too.

Watch ICFLIX on the New Apple TV and get 1 month’s FREE Streaming Access


Great news for ICFLIX subscribers who have the new Apple TV at home. ICFLIX, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading movie streaming service is now available on the Apple TV App Store, joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers.

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Built from the ground up by an expert in-house team, the new ICFLIX app for the new Apple TV will allow users to sign up for the service.

“ICFLIX is all about convenience; being able to watch the entertainment you love whenever you want, at home or on the go. The new Apple TV is a great way for viewers to watch the best of Hollywood, Jazwood (Arabic) and Bollywood content. Whether you love movies, TV show, documentaries or kids animation, ICFLIX has something for everyone,” said Carlos Tibi, founder and CEO, ICFLIX

Available to download from the Apple TV App Store, the new app has been designed with a refreshed and simplified look for a more engaging user experience with enhanced search and navigation. The new interface also features sleek design elements optimized for the new Apple TV viewing experience, and will be the best way to watch ICFLIX’s vast library of content from any new Apple TV device wherever you are. 

Everything from the sign-in screen to the browsing experience has been taken into account to make it smoother, more responsive and overall easier to use. 

To celebrate the launch, ICFLIX will give Apple TV users one month of free unlimited streaming access to each person who downloaded the App here.

For more information about ICFLIX visit their website. You can follow ICFLIX on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

ICFLIX provides a value-for-money entertainment experience with many movies, TV series, documentaries and cartoons, available in high-definition and Dolby® Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound where available.

 – Sponsored article

Top Tourism Attractions in Jeddah!


Jeddah, the wonderful city of Saudi Arabia, is steadily growing in stature as the commercial capital and a gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The most easygoing city of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah has a rich history of trade and commerce through its port, in the bygone era.

Today, Jeddah is changing its image with innovative architecture and design. The Corniche and seafront has been tastefully developed along with interesting public squares and upscale shopping malls. It also has a reputation of serving delectable, fresh, sea food and international cuisine. There is lots to do in Jeddah and Saurabh Das gives us his top tips on what to see and where to go in the city.

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Corniche at Sunset with King Fahd’s Fountain in the background. Photo Credit: Tim E White

King Fahd’s Fountain

King Fahd’s Fountain is the world’s largest water fountain, and is located on the newly decorated Jeddah Corniche. Visit the Fountain in the evening to see its wonderful lighting effects. The fountain was constructed between 1980 and 1983, and was inaugurated in 1985. The Fountain jets water to a height of 853 meters with a maximum speed of 375 kilometers per hour, and is visible throughout the city of Jeddah!

Balad, The Historic District. Photo Credit: Joanna Browne.

Balad, The Historic District.
Photo Credit: Joanna Browne.

Balad

Balad is the old part of Jeddah and reminds one of the bygone glory of the city. This is the location where the first settlement of Jeddah was established by fishermen over 2,500 year ago. The port of Jeddah received millions of devotees, who arrived in the country via sea, to visit the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. The architecture in Balad mainly showcases traditional coral stones and woodwork of Roshan which helps to regulate the flow of air.

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The Floating Mosque (halaltrip.com)

Floating Mosque

The beautiful Floating Mosque is located on the North Corniche, jutting out from the Red Sea. Its unique architecture and positioning gives out an illusion as if it is floating on water. The interiors are wonderfully decorated, made of shining white marble. The mosque is also a favourite spot for Mecca bound pilgrims during their stay in Jeddah.

Medina Gate

The Bab Medina Gate is a part of the old city wall that used to enclose the old historic neighbourhood of Balad on all sides. Today, the city gate is the only remaining part of that wall. The Medina Gate is an imposing city gate, made up of limestone and embedded with corals, and is wonderfully illuminated in the evening with stunning lighting effects.

Makkah Gate

Makkah Gate

Makkah Gate

Makkah Gate, one of the oldest structures in Saudi Arabia, also known as the “Quran Gate”, is located on the Makkah Mukkarram road of the Jeddah-Makkah highway. It is the official entrance to the holy city of Makkah and the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad. The gate was designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, and the structure is an elegant representation of the Holy Quran resting on a book stand.

Jeddah Corniche

The Jeddah Corniche is an amazing waterfront which has been redeveloped into a contemporary Red Sea playground. The Corniche runs all along the waterfront for over 60 kilometers. The north and south of the Corniche has good beaches and coral reefs, which can be best explored by scuba diving and deep sea diving.

Fakieh Aquarium

Saudi Arabia’s only aquarium for public, the Fakieh Aquarium is an amazing destination which offers a comprehensive insight into the marine biology of the Red Sea, as well as from other seas and oceans from all over the world. Close to 200 species of sharks, dolphins, sea lions, groupies, sting rays, napoleon wrasse, sea horses, Murrays, and sea dragons, among others.    

Silver Sands Beach Photo Credit: Joanna Browne

Silver Sands Beach
Photo Credit: Joanna Browne

Silver Sands Beach

Silver Sands beach is an exclusive, well-maintained beach in Jeddah, which is a hotspot for expats living in the city. The beach has lovely palm trees amidst the backdrop of the shimmering Red Sea. It offers excellent swimming and water sports facilities, along with a restaurant, an exclusive club and many more amenities.

Mall of Arabia

The Mall of Arabia is a highly popular shopping mall located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and is located on the eastern side of Medina Road. The mall is located close to the King Abdulaziz International Airport, and features Kidzania, Billy Beez and Vortex – three amazing kid’s entertainment zones.

Souk Al Alawi (Getty Images)

Souk Al Alawi (Getty Images)

Souq Al Alawi

The Souq Al Alawi is one of the traditional souqs of the country, and is located in the heart of the old city. This place is an amazing destination, if you’re looking to buy genuine Arabian jewelry, Islamic art, and traditional dresses. Bargaining is encouraged by the local merchants here, and the souq is extremely pedestrian-friendly, giving you a great shopping experience without the disturbance of bikes and cars.

2nd Annual Pediatric Screening


Project Mercy of Madinah and Hope Center are teaming up for the Second Annual Pediatric screening event to be held in Madinah on the 25th and 26th of December, 2015.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to go to AdDaar hospital right across from Masjid Quba, and enquire about their child’s development, regardless of whether they have already been diagnosed or not. The screening is completely free of charge.

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Uzma Raheem, director of Hope Center says, “Residents of Madinah, here is your chance to avail diagnostic and therapeutic consultancy for free for your child. If your child has problems in behaviour, speech, reading, writing, walking, medical or psychological, join the event at Al Daar Hospital, opposite Masjid Quba.”

 

 

 

A Review of Tuesday in Love: the Breathable, Peelable, Halal Nail Polish


How excited were we when Tuesday in Love, a Canadian company specializing in water permeable nail polish were kind enough to send us some of their gorgeous nail polish colours to try out and review! It didn’t take long for me to sit down with my very close friend and beautician Sonja Morgan from Skin Deep, and try out their beautiful shades.

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We loved the colours; Cotton Candy, (YOLO) You Only Love Once and Applause, with the topcoat on the far right.

Coverage

Firstly, what we noticed was that overall the nail polishes provided great coverage. They went on very nicely and gave decent cover in one coat. The colours are funky, bright and young. Perfect for young girls and teens. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was no strong chemical smell emitting from the nail polishes (unlike Inglot, which has a very strong smell).

Brush Size

The brushes are quite small and hence ideal for smaller nails and for painting neat edges.

Solution

The red solution was the thinnest and the pink was quite thick. The blue (we would describe it as Air Force Blue) was a smooth solution, whereas we tend to find that usually blues are quite thin. The colours had quite a nice sheen to them, and the nails appeared to be evenly coated, covering over imperfections and ridges. The solutions were opaque and just a minimal amount is needed on each brush.

We felt that they took a little longer to dry, but this can be an advantage as it is very forgiving; it is quite easy to correct any mistakes. The red was the only one which we felt really needed two coats.

The topcoat went on opaque, but dried as clear.

Bottle Size

We felt that the bottles are a great shape. They are smaller than others you will see on the market and very young and hip looking. The bottles are very easy to carry around, similar to Chanel bottles in fact. They are solid, and not tapered hence they are not easy to knock over.

To remove, simply peel off!

Removal

The most amazing thing about the Tuesday in Love nail polishes is that nail polish remover is simply not required. The solution, once dried, is completely peelable, and comes off in one piece.

The Halal Factor

One of the most important aspects for many Muslim women is that this nail polish is water permeable, and therefore halal. For those who are not already aware, Muslims must perform ablution for prayers five times a day, and the water must touch every part of their body. Regular nail polish does not allow one to do that and blocks the water out. Tuesday in Love is great for those who want to wear a nail polish temporarily – just for a lunch date, for example, and then peel it right off.

You can take a look at their halal certificate on their website. The company even give you instructions on how to test the ‘halalness’ of the product yourself.

Longevity

We felt that this was a disadvantage for Tuesday in Love. The nail polishes are not very hard wearing, and tend to chip and dent even when a topcoat is applied.

Price

At just over $12 per bottle, Tuesday in Love is quite competitive and even a touch cheaper than their rival Inglot.

Conclusion

Overall, we loved the nail polishes and feel that they are great for casual wear especially for younger girls and teens. The brush and bottle sizes are tailor-made for smaller hands, the colours are young and vibrant, and the ease of application and removal are perfect for girls who go to school and want to wear nail polish on the weekends.

The nail polish emits a soft sheen, rather than a high gloss finish, so for adults we recommend Tuesday in Love for casual events, and not necessarily for formal wear. I would definitely use Tuesday in Love nail polishes simply due to their stunning colours and peel-ability. You can’t really go wrong!

 

TaskSpotting – Make Money While You Shop!


When the nice people at TaskSpotting contacting us at Jeddah Blog and asked us to take a look at their app, I was quite intrigued. The concept is so simple that I was surprised as to why no-one had come up with it before. Shop, complete missions and earn cash. Read on for details on how to sign up and how it works.

Task Spotting Jeddah BlogAlthough new to Saudi, TaskSpotting has been around for over a year, with thousands of app users cashing in and making money while shopping, eating out, and going about their usual errands, basically without having to go out of their way at all.

The concept is simple. Brands place ‘missions’ on the app, which app users can accept and complete. Missions could be as simple as taking a picture of a supermarket shelf or checking the price of an item at a store. Once completed, missions are submitted and approved and the cash appears in your e-wallet! One couple in Dubai made 1000 Dirhams in one weekend through the app.

Task Spotting app Jeddah BlogTaskSpotting has recently launched in Saudi with missions all over Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. The missions are simple; such as price checks for washing powder take literally 5 minutes per mission, and pay 50SAR each. App users are allowed to complete 10 missions each so they could earn up to 500SAR in a day. Hard to resist!

Download TaskSpotting now and start making money!

How to Shop for Video Games in Jeddah


Tamim Kashgari and Ahmed Jadaa are two people who take their gaming seriously. After spending a decade outside the Kingdom, Tamim returned to an unfamiliar gaming market. He tried asking around and searching online, but says that he found the information “superficial at best”.

To rectify this situation, Tamim and Ahmed began The Mouse and Controller, a blog dedicated to their love of gaming in 2012. The duo have teamed up to write this guest post, exclusively for Jeddah Blog, to give our readers the low-down on the gaming market in Jeddah. They answer crucial questions such as, who are the best and the worst retail outlets for video games? and are there any used games stores in Jeddah?

Read on to discover their top tips on how we can get the best deals on our games, and their secret to escaping the high prices and poor customer service so rampant in the Jeddah gaming market.

So you have your eye on the latest release and you’re wondering where to buy it from. Let’s take a close look at all the video game retailers in Jeddah and give them scores based on a tier system. The grid we have formulated scores the stores on a scale of 1 to 10 and is based on the following factors:

  • Convenience of store location (how many stores do they have and where are they located?)
  • Size of inventory (do they have a wide variety of games?)
  • Relevance of inventory (do they have the latest games?)
  • Customer service (attitude and knowledge of sales staff)
  • Prices (are they overly priced or reasonable?)

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Let’s discuss each of these stores in detail:

S-Tier: Tokyo Games alone at the top

With a total score of 36, Tokyo Games is pretty much sitting pretty with a fairly large gap.

Mediocre customer service and high pricing, with games at around SR 250 each, is pretty normal in Saudi Arabia as a whole and Tokyo Games is no exception. The sales representatives are a tad more informed at Tokyo Games, but they are by no means helpful. The big glaring flaw at Tokyo Games is the fact that they sell no PC games at all, or any accessories that a PC game can actually use. They are entirely a console-focused business. 

However, looking beyond those flaws, Tokyo Games is the most successful retail company that sells video games in Jeddah. The fact that they are the most widespread company in the city with almost a dozen outlets means that you are never that far away from a store. However, not all branches are created equal. There is a clear lack of quality maintenance across all stores with the ones in the more high profile locations having better maintained stock.

Tokyo Games focuses on the sale of video games which means that their inventory is usually fully stocked. You can be assured that when it comes to video game systems and their games, if an item isn’t at Tokyo Games it most probably won’t be found anywhere else. You can even order a specific game that may be out of stock via their website and pick it up at one of their outlets which is a unique feature among all retailers in Jeddah. They are also beginning to sell licensed collectibles and models, branching out into a more holistic geek store.

A-Tier: Jarir winning the battle for second place

Jarir is also a long-standing retailer in Saudi Arabia, much like Tokyo Games. The difference between them, however,  is that Jarir is more of a general store selling all manner of school supplies, books, board games, electronics and electronic accessories in addition to video games. Due to their longevity and success in the market, Jarir has many locations within Jeddah.

Due to Jarir’s nature as a general stationery store, they aren’t always up to date when it comes to getting hold of the latest games. The games do seep in eventually as they are one of the biggest retailers in the country, and no distributor will exclude them. They are better stocked when it comes to hardware. Controller accessories, extra wires, etc are easier to find in Jarir compared to other stores.

PC gaming isn’t ignored in Jarir as it is in Tokyo games, so it’s a more holistic experience when it comes to video game shopping.

Unfortunately, and quite typical in KSA, the sales experience and pricing is mediocre. Their sales representatives are neither interested in selling games, nor as informed as a Tokyo Games representative would be.

B-Tier: An Oldie, that is still something of a Goldie, Eagle Games

Now, while nostalgia might be a reason that Eagle Games ended up placing this high. There are some pretty factual realities that ensure the place it holds is deserved. Lets start off with the bad to get it out of the way.

Eagle games is the smallest of these retailers with just a single store in Rawdah, and its not very fancy. Its stock is also quite small. But, what it has going for it is that its stock is relevant even if it does take a little longer to restock if something sells out. Also they sell games at the lowest price of any video game retailer in Jeddah, averaging a price that is at least 40 riyals less on any game.

Eagle games is the only retailer that accepts used games and buys them back from the consumer for a trade in. This alone makes the store a really attractive place to visit if you’re looking to get rid of old games.

C-Tier: Everyone Else

Extra, Computer House and Virgin Megastore occupy the third tier. Extra is primarily an electronics and appliance store with video games being a secondary priority. However, they do have dedicated sections for consoles. Virgin is more of a cultural store selling smaller electronics, novelty items, books and some clothes, along with video games. Computer House is the only store in this group which is a dedicated video game retailer. None of these stores stock new games and Virgin doesn’t stock gaming hardware.

All of them share the uniform subpar customer sales experience and pricing with games almost always being priced at SR 250 regardless of their release date. A game I recently saw at Virgin released back in 2013 was still retailing at full price.

D-Tier: Oh wait, we almost forgot one!

Bringing up the rear, we’ve got Sony World in a league of their own. While Sony World does have three stores in Jeddah, that is about all they have going for them.  Their sales experience and pricing like everyone else, is aggressively mediocre at best.

Sony World’s biggest disadvantage is that they sell only Sony products and goods. The Playstation consoles and games in the shop make it the most limited inventory in the entire market. Since they have no exclusive rights to selling Playstation goods, it makes it pretty meaningless to go here when you go video game shopping.

E-Tier: The jokes, hovels and places you really shouldn’t be going

This bunch of stores is really the bottom of the pile. Outlets such as Mickey Games and X Games have not only outdated designs, but also five year old games. These places can barely be considered real stores. The only reason they do exist is because there aren’t many copyright regulations here that are enforced, so they basically sell pirated material.

Retail can't compete with this.

Retail can’t compete with this.

Is this good news for the Consumer?

With a complete absence of marketing efforts, there are massive opportunities for video game retail stores to leverage their positions. Currently, both retailers and consumers are losing out.

For example, none of these stores make much of an effort to clear their inventory once new stock comes in. On the rare occasion when they do decide to hold a clearance sale, customers are the last to know. I once walked into Tokyo Games shop to be told that it was the final day of their summer sale with games selling at 75% discount. It’s good they are doing this, but with the lack of any kind of effective communication the consumer will only find out about the sale if they are lucky.

Sales are not only for the benefit of the consumer. It is important to move old stock as it gives a bad impression to see outdated games on the shelf at full price or even at a higher price than newly-released games.

Buyers can take advantage of these lazy marketers though. As there is no competitor monitoring between any of these companies you can see some hilarious price disparity regarding some games. When I went to buy Dead Rising 2 I found it retailing for around SR 200-250 at major stores. Walking into Sony World I found the same game being sold for SR 50!

Most games seem to be priced randomly, so for the more thrifty gamer with time on her hands this means that a substantial amount of money can be saved through scanning prices at the stores before buying.

Coming to some of the more underhand tactics of retail stores in Jeddah, price gouging is quite rampant as there is no real consumer protection in Saudi Arabia. The release of Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain is a great example with Tokyo Games selling copies for as much as SR 450 – nearly double the already high average price.

Used games are ignored by almost all retailers even though they can be a huge part of the business plan of any video game retailer as it is a revenue stream with almost no cost to them generating repeated profits as games can be bought and returned multiple times. GameStop in the US is a great example of this generating nearly 50% of its total revenue from used game sales.

Used games, trade ins and customer loyalty programs. Things that no retailer in Jeddah does.

Used games, trade ins and customer loyalty programs. Things that no retailer in Jeddah does.

The Best Option for Gamers

What with outdated stock, high pricing and poor customer service, is there no way out? What can enthusiastic gamers do to get their latest fix?

Gone are the days of Playstation 1 and 2 when there would be lines outside your local Tokyo Games and Computer House asking for the latest Final Fantasy or the newest Resident Evil. With increased internet speeds, acceptance of the use of credit cards and the wider availability of the cash cards that can be purchased and used in online stores, none of us are forced to have to deal with these substandard retailers.

For those who are willing to make the shift, online stores and services are the future, and they are run to a global standard by all major companies like Microsoft (Xbox Marketplace), Sony (PSN), Nintendo (eShop), Valve (Steam), EA (Origin), Ubisoft (Uplay). They offer regular and massive discounts and their customer service is significantly better and more informed than anything that is locally present in the market. It is ironic that not only are local stores being undercut by the very same people that supply their products, but they are sounding their own death knell by selling the same cash cards to be used in these online stores.

You can follow the authors on Twitter as follows:

Tamim Kashgari: @tamimlane

Ahmed Jadaa: @AhmedJadaa.

Umrah Trip and Qur’an Classes


Join the IEF’s umrah trip on Saturday, 14th November 2015 with Dr. Lamya Shahin, and below you will find details on the IEF’s weekly Qur’an sessions.

IEF Umrah 2015

Dr. Lamya Shaheen Classes

Join Technovation: Inspiring Girls in Science and Technology


tech

Do you have an enduring passion for learning and technology and willing to share your knowledge with the younger generation? Do you want to see a world where more girls and women pursue a technology field? Do you want to help youth transform their societies through technology in KSA? Do you wish to give back to your community and help self-empower girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in KSA?

Join Technovation Challenge !

TechnovationKSA will be launched in January, 2016 and is currently open for school team registration and mentor/coach registration.

The Technovation Challenge is a global program for girls aged 10-18 providing girls with skills and confidence to engage in computer science and entrepreneurship to solve real world problems in their own communities.

The program is seeking female mentors and male/female coaches to mentor girls throughout 3 months (Feb-April) twice a week for 4 hours – a total of 50 hours.

Technovation Challenge is partnered with UN, UNICEF and Google.

tech1

How Does it Work?

This program aims to inspire and educate girls and women to solve real-world problems through technology.

Students work in teams to develop mobile app “startups” to solve real problems in their communities. Technovation Coaches (teachers, parents, or community members) and Mentors (women professionals in technology or business) lead the teams as they compete for a part of $20,000 in awards.

To learn more, watch the Technovation Challenge Mini Documentary: Entrepreneurs in the Making:

Be a Student

  • Are you a girl aged between 10-18?
  • Would you like to learn coding for free?
  • Would you like to develop a mobile app for a social cause?
  • Are you passionate about technology and social change?

Become a technology entrepreneur and develop a mobile app prototype that solves a real problem in your local community. Teams of up to 5 girls work together to research, design, and build a mobile app prototype, working with a female mentor in technology or engineering. Then they pitch their apps to prospective investors and receive feedback and ideas from technology industry professionals. Most teams use MIT’s App Inventor to build their prototypes.

No prior coding or app development experience is necessary. Register here.

·  Participants

Teams of up to 5 girls in middle school, high school, (up to age 18)

Middle school age : 14 and under

High school age : 18 and under

·  Commitment

40-60 hours: 4 guided hours per week from Feb through Apr 2016

Be a Coach

Coaches might be school teachers, after school program leaders, parents, or community leaders. They recruit teams of young women to participate in the program, provide a safe space with internet access where they can work, coordinate with the teams’ mentors, and supervise their teams throughout the 3-month program. Coaches who are also school teachers often supervise their teams in the classroom after school.

No prior coding or app development experience is necessary. Full training and support available

·  Participants

Teachers in any subject or other adult supervisors, both men and women

·  Commitment

60 hours: supervise students, coordinate mentors and meeting space, ensure internet and computer access, and oversee teams as they complete the curriculum

·  Responsibility

Recruit teams in local schools; 15-25 girls per school recommended in the first year

Be a Mentor

Mentors are professional and postgraduate women/men  who are passionate about helping younger women be successful as they work in teams and learn to become technology entrepreneurs, and who feel comfortable learning new technologies. 

Mentors act as guides and role models during the 12-lesson curriculum which runs from January through April. Participants look to their mentors for guidance on how to overcome obstacles and solve problems. Some mentors choose to work in teams of two and alternate attendance from one week to the next.

Mentors are not expected to know about mobile app development in advance of the program — instead, they learn together with their teams and help their teams to persevere when they encounter difficulties. Mentors might not know the answer to every question their teams will ask, but can guide the teams through the problem-solving process. After young women observe how their mentor works through challenges, they will be more confident overcoming similar challenges by themselves in the future.

No prior coding or app development experience is necessary. Training and support available

·  Participants

Professionals or postgraduates in the technology, engineering, or business fields – women only

·  Eligibility

Comfort and confidence in learning, especially for technology products

·  Commitment

25-50 hours: 2 hours per week for 12 weeks from Feb through Apr 2016; or co-mentor and share the commitment with another mentor.

For more information and registration visit the TechnovationKSA website or Facebook page.

Village Tots Mummy and Me Playgroup


Village Tots Mummy and Me Playgroup

Village Tots has resumed its weekly sessions at the British Consulate Jeddah. Village Tots are a mummy and me playgroup for ages 0-3, run by volunteer mums and they come together every Wednesday from 9:30-11:30 at the Village Hall in the British Consulate. They are open to all nationalities.

Village Tots offer free playtime in a big play area with lots of different activities that they like to change around. Some of these are big cars the kids can sit in, small cars, blocks, baby toys for a separate baby area, etc.

Every week they have a group activity (arts and crafts, fun with food, parachute fun), snacktime, reading and singsong time. They ask a very small fee of 20 SAR per family.

For more information kindly email them at villagetots@outlook.com

Rozabee – The Art of Being and Doing


Anousha Vakani, our wonderful contributor who has a way with words, has written some of my favourite articles on Jeddah Blog. For this latest blog post, she sits down with life coach Rozana Al-Banawi, to talk about her practice and her thoughts on art, beauty and humans.Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 1.13.35 PM

“I am Rozana Al-Banawi and life is only beginning. Growing up as a teenager, I was curious about ‘change’, and about how our relationship with it is a love/hate one. Life is about change and I assumed as a young girl that it is a given that we all want to improve ourselves for the better, that change is part of our DNA. Little did I know back then that I would be an expert in change and transformation. I like to see my work as an experience that you co-create what you want for yourself. The most fulfilling image is seeing my clients embarking on the first steps of change and transformation, like a caterpillar getting ready to become a cocoon and inevitably a butterfly. Once a client starts that process, there is no turning back.”

What is Rozabee?

Rozana’s practice is aptly named ‘Rozabee’ as a play on both her name and the beauty of being and doing at once. The connotations of her chosen name are more beautifully explained on the homepage of her website, with a note from her and a quoted poem by Khalil Gibran to sum it up. I decided to connect with Rozana and explore her thoughts on art, beauty and humans.

We talked about some important things: about art, beauty, relationships, books and life in general and I thought it would be best to quote her thoughts on each topic, as an insight into her as a person and her philosophy as a life coach.

Rozana’s take on art and beauty:

“God, Allah Almighty, has created a beautiful world for us; beautiful oceans with beautiful sea creatures, of all shapes and colors, of different kinds and species. We find all kinds of purposes within each of them. God created art from day one; we, human beings, are pieces of art, in our exterior and interior worlds. And by art I mean more than the tangible parts. I look at the synchronicity of our lives, the connections that take place and our relationships with almost everything around us (our homes, people, mother earth and our inner selves). It is so intricately simple and sophisticatedly multifaceted.”

On people, connections and relationships:

“With every human being I work with, I see a part of myself in them, whether it’s in the way of thinking, a specific phrase they use, a certain vulnerability they are choosing to show, or a dream that they strive to make happen. I always connect to that. No matter what it is, our inner worlds are very similar. It is like we are the same prototypes.

I also like to look at archetypes with clients, and explore inner energies. We have access to a huge reservoir inside of us, and we only know a little chunk of it. Once we are curious about that world of resources, we find whatever we need: certain energy, a unique vibe or a different voice – we will find it there. All we have to do is create a channel to access it, and by channel I mean the tools that enable us access: such as holding a beginner’s mind, a curious being and a loving graceful soul.

I asked for her favorite quote, and this is what she had to say:

‘I believe that in every stage in our lives, we connect with one quote more than another. For now, I love the quotes that my clients come up with in our sessions. Sometimes they blurt out the wisest things, and that inspires me. When that happens, I usually ask: “Did you hear what you just said?”

Rozana’s favourite books:

“Same with quotes, when I was a young girl, Anne Frank’s Diary was the ‘wow’ book. Then it was Malcolm X. When I started grad school, ‘Broken Open’ helped me grieve some heavy losses that I had to come to terms with. Later, reading Eckart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ made me aware of my ego for the first time in a very conscious way and that opened doors for my inner child healing. After that, Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly’ started me off on the process of vulnerability and wholeheartedness, and led to my leadership work that I did last year. Now, I am in love with Reinventing Organization’s ‘human consciousness movement’ by Frederick Laloux. Next, I want to immerse myself in ‘Rising Strong’ by Brene Brown, I have a feeling it will create something new for me.”

I summed up with a time capsule question and asked her what she would tell herself ten years from now: “ten years from now?! Gosh, that is a stretch since I am working on living the present moment and being here now. So this is the first thing I would tell myself then. Also, to keep slowing down. If I haven’t had the guts to get that book published or that TV show aired, then I would tell myself: do it now – what have you got to lose? Nothing. My kids are old, I am happy with my life, so just do it for the fun of the process, and mostly for the long term impact that it will bring to the world.”

Rozana can be contacted through her website, email, Instagram or Twitter.

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