Jeddah Blog

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Archive for the category “Retail & Shopping”

Saudi Comic Con from a Teen POV


By all accounts, the first ever Saudi Comic Con was a roaring success. The event was held over 3 days as part of an entertainment initiative by the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment, and according to the Arab News the event received a total of 20,000 visitors.

scc-5For some background and reviews of the Comic Convention, you can always do a quick web search. However Jeddah Blog decided to give you a different perspective. A teenage one.

Jeddah Blog spoke to 4 young teenagers, Musab Ali (13 years), Omar Dada (14 years), Ramis Faisal (14 years) and Hassan Khatri (14 years) who attended Saudi Comic Con on Day 1 and we asked them what they thought of the event.

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From the left: Musab, Darth Vader, Ramis and Hassan.

According to Musab: “This was the best thing to happen in Saudi Arabia. The queue was long, but it was fast-moving. It looked small from the outside, but it was very big once we entered. There were lots of hi-tech gaming consoles, XBox One, computers and PS4s on every corner for people to play on. There was also a comedy show in the evening in Arabic.”

Musab went on to say, “Lots of people were dressed up in costumes. The Joker was clearly the most popular choice. Although we were given free drinks, which was great, there wasn’t a lot of variety of food to purchase, only snacks. Also, there wasn’t enough place to sit if we wanted to take a break. However, there was a VIP lounge for people who had VIP bands.”

When asked about his favourite part of Comic Con Musab said, “The best part was the fighting scene on stage between Thor, Loki, Iron Man, Ant Man and Captain America. The life size Transformer was amazing too.”

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Ramis summarised the show saying, “I think it was a great experience, a large crowd, and very organised with a variety of stuff to do from trying out new games to buying exclusive merchandise. There were a lot of stalls and a show outside.”

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The Boys: [L to R]  Hassan, Ramis, Musab and Omar.

“I thought Comic Con was an amazing experience,” enthused Omar. “It was very organised and full of people and many games to try out, as well as many events. There were also many stalls full of interesting merchandise.” 

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Hassan getting some sage advice from Yoda.

Hassan was pleasantly surprised by the event. “The long-awaited Comic Con finally arrived in Jeddah. People were a little apprehensive and didn’t expect much for a first time in Saudi Arabia, but that wasn’t the case. There were lots of international companies selling merchandise that is pretty hard to find in Saudi Arabia or even in the Middle East.”

However, Hassan was disappointed not being able to attend the meet and greet with celebrities: “Unfortunately, not everyone had the chance to meet the guests as it was very expensive”.

Overall, it seems that the show was a great hit with teens as well as older attendees. The show, games and merchandise were of particular interest to this young group. Definitely a step in the right direction for Saudi entertainment and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Photo Credits: Hassan Khatri and Ramis Faisal

Take a Trip to Jeddah’s Central Fish Market


Is there anything as succulent as fresh fish cooked to perfection? If you’re a seafood lover living on the Red Sea, it is almost a crime to not enjoy the freshest catch available in Jeddah.

If you haven’t already visited Jeddah’s famed fish market, then you might as well handcuff and march yourself down to the nearest police station. On a more serious note, you simply have to make a plan to take a trip there. The market is situated on the Corniche Road, close to the Flagpole in the Al Baghdadiyah District.

When you near the market you’ll see this beautiful mosque.

20161112_113402and then this fishy art piece. That’s when you know that you’re close.

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As you pull into the carpark, don’t be put off by the strong smell. It’s just prevalent outside the market. As you enter it is very clean and there is just the smell of the sea and very fresh fish.

You’ll pass some shops where you’ll be able to buy all kind of fishing paraphernalia. And then you’ll enter the fish market itself. Be prepared to be amazed by all the different kind of fish on display.

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Parrot fish and Groupers…

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Plenty of Hamour.

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Heaps of Squid.

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Pretty pink fish – possibly Bream or Snapper?

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and the most amazing picture of all – Blue Crab!20161112_114823.jpg

So the way it works is, you choose your fish by the kilo…

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…and if you want it cleaned up, head over to the cleaning-up-and-chopping area to the far end of the market. They will descale, fillet, chop your fish and devein your shrimp at a very nominal cost (around SR4 per kilo).

This is where the pictures end. I was to find out later that taking photographs in this area is not allowed, so I was lucky to capture these shots before being asked to put away my camera.

I recommend taking an icebox/container with you to avoid any drips from the bags. If you want the fish cooked, you’ll find restaurants close by that will do so too.

I can guarantee that once you try this freshest of seafood straight from the Red Sea, you won’t want to go back to buying supermarket produce again.

 

**if I’ve got some of the fish names wrong, please leave a comment and I’ll correct it – thanks!.

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

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!

 

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.

Jeddah is Buzzing in the Lead Up to Ramadan


As Jeddah’s weather has begun to heat up with temperatures hovering around 36C or 97F, so has the atmosphere in Ramadan.  With Arab schools out for the year and most international schools wrapping up this week (Conti still has a week to go), Ramadan is about to go into full swing. Delina Partadiredja from amuslima.com writes today’s guest blog on the current excitement and anticipation of Ramadan, and gives us lots of practical tips on what to do if one is not fasting, what to be aware of especially during Ramadan and how to take advantage of certain goods available only in this festive month.

Ramadan in Jeddah 2015

A wide variety of dates become available during Ramadan.

The Islamic months are based on the Lunar calendar, so the time of year when Ramadan falls changes from year to year, moving back 11 days each year.  This year we are very thankful that although it will be a long and hot day, our children will be able to enjoy Ramadan without the burdens of school and the unbearable heat.

While around the city, several large supermarkets around Jeddah, in anticipation of Ramadan have already started the festivities.  Large signs greet shoppers with Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak wishing customers a blessed fast. Colourful ornaments fill the stores and shopping areas.  You should take a moment to enjoy these beautiful decorations!

For those who are new to Jeddah, or are staying in Jeddah for the first time during Ramadan, you may be wondering what is different about this month in comparison to other months on the Islamic calendar. Ramadan (pronounced Ramzan in the Indian subcontinent) is the month where Muslims around the world abstain from food and water from dawn until dusk.  This is the time of abstinence, forgiveness, repentance and patience.  As this is a blessed time, many Muslims from around the world are interested to come for Umrah (the small pilgrimage) to enjoy fasting and praying in Makkah and Madinah.  You may find there is an influx in traffic and visitors from around the world so when venturing out be sure to wear cool clothes, pack water, ice, and wear comfortable shoes.  You may also want to check with the local mosques to find out when prayer starts and ends so that you may avoid traffic.

As a non-Muslim who is not fasting, what should I do?

  • As a mark of respect, please eat and drink indoors and in the confines of your home. Individual muslims usually do not mind if you eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting, but it is considered respectful not to do so.
  • You may want to shift shopping hours to after dhuhur time (around 1pm) mostly until 11 pm where you will find more people and shops open during this time
  • Some of the best dates and sweets are to be found during this time so stock up!
  • This is the time to shop for clothes and other cool things. — You may want to check out deals here
  • For those who are Muslim this is a great time to complete your Umrah.  You may want to check out this travel group.

Heads up!

  • There are many cool items that are for sale only during the time of Ramadan.  These include beautiful lanterns from Egypt.  The cost will vary but averaging around SR 200 + per piece.  Why not join in on the festivities and get one for your own home!
  • As Ramadan is a fasting month, the demand for food actually increases exponentially which in turns drives up the cost of food.  Prices are expected to increase by 30% for typical groceries. For example: SR 5.95/kg is already SR 7.95/kg, lemons were SR 5/kg but now are SR 11/kg, potatoes were SR 3.95/kg and have now become SR 4.95/kg. Meat will see a price hike of about 15%.  You may want to hold off on buying Camel meat as there has been a recent outbreak of MERS affecting camel meat.  The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) is working hard to put a cap on rising food prices. You can check out prices here

Finally, we at amuslima.com wish you and your family a blessed, safe and relaxed Ramadan.

hellofood offers 24-hours premium access to icflix with every meal order


We at Jeddah Blog have used hellofood, the online food delivery service many times, and have never been disappointed. They are prompt, reliable, efficient, and even follow up online orders with a phone call confirming the order and an email afterwards inquiring about the level of service provided. Adding to all this, their service charge is very reasonable. If you haven’t tried them already, I recommend you do so very soon. When you do, leave a comment at the end of this blog post telling us about your experience.

Enjoying a delicious meal in front of a movie is something we all like, therefore the promotional offer that is currently available between Hellofood and icflix might interest the cinema lovers. 

In fact the Middle East and North Africa’s leading Internet streaming service, providing its viewers with access to Hollywood, Bollywood and Jazwood (Arabic) content has lately announced a strategic partnership with hellofood.

hellofood and icflix

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Active in over 40 countries over 5 continents, hellofood have selected the best restaurants in Saudi Arabia, granting customers ordering food online, free unlimited 24-hour access to movies, TV series, documentaries and kids content on icflix.

“The premium access to icflix will give hellofood customers a chance to enjoy and experience the service,” said Carlos Tibi, CEO, icflix. “We want customers to enjoy the entertainment from the comfort of their own home.”

“hellofood represents a complement to icflix’s internet streaming service  and vice versa, enabling users to order food online from more than 500 restaurants and choose from a variety of movies and TV shows at the same time. All customers will benefit from the synergy of this partnership”, said Beschir Hussain, CEO  of Hellofood Middle East.

About ICFLIX

ICFLIX media FZ LLC was established in Dubai in 2012. The company provides its members with convenient access to . It is the first subscription-based online streaming service of its kind and offers movies, TV series, cartoons, and documentaries. The service is currently available on over 900 different mobile and fixed Internet enabled devices including PCs, Macs, smart phones, tablets, smart TVs and gaming consoles. Aside from its UAE headquarters, ICFLIX has offices in Morocco, Egypt and Czech Republic.

You can follow icflix via Twitter and Facebook.

About hellofood

hellofood is the leading global online food delivery marketplace and is active in more than 40 countries across five continents. For restaurants, hellofood promotes their visibility in a mobile and digital world, and provides up-to-date interfaces as technology evolves. For diners, hellofood provides the convenience of ordering food online and offers the widest culinary range to choose their favorite meal from, which can be done via the web or through the app. In the Middle East, hellofood is present in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Qatar. The group recently acquired UAE-based 24h and has raised more than 200 million USD to date.

– Sponsored article

Hamleys Toy Store Comes to Jeddah


The much-awaited Hamleys Toy Store has opened up in the Mall of Arabia. There is a severe dearth of good quality toy stores in Jeddah and we’ve been hoping that this shop will break the mould. Who could be better to review the store than a teenager? Jeddah Blog persuaded fifteen-year old Haris Ali to review Hamleys for us after a recent visit. Read on to find out what this astute teenager thought of the shop, and whether in his opinion, it shaped up to its parent store in London.

A family visit to Mall of Arabia (Mujamma’ Al Arab) today reminded me of a brilliant nostalgia-filled trip to Hamleys Toy Shop of Regent Street, London. Hamleys Jeddah is located on the second floor of the Mall, directly above HyperPanda supermarket, comfortably nestled between Gates 5 and 6.

Hamley's Jeddah, Mall of Arabia

Hamley’s located on the first floor in Mall of Arabia.

As a family including two teenagers and a pre-teen, we were delighted to see the ghost of the world-renowned Hamleys we had visited a couple of years ago in the flesh. The original London store was truly a magnificent toy store unlike any that exists in Jeddah; storey upon storey of toys of excellent quality, interactivity and a sense of excitement for the younger ones.

Hamleys Jeddah, although much smaller in size, spanning maybe four shops in the Mall, has toys for all children; boys and girls alike. Within are Flying UFOs, Magic Blackboards and vintage boardgames like Chess, Chinese Checkers, and Solitaire. There is also a section dedicated to action figures, dolls and laughing Despicable Me’s Minions!

Plenty of variety to choose from.

Plenty of variety to choose from.

Official Lego bricks are sold there too, an unusual sight for Jeddah, apparently, as I haven’t found Lego here for over ten years. One of the coolest tech-toys present was the Hex-Bug, a miniature vibrating coloured insect that zooms around its track randomly, a fun toy to watch.

The store stocks toys and board games of all kinds, and not limited only to Hamleys merchandise, but also includes non-branded foam guns, 3D architectural puzzles and a selection of model and remote control cars and helicopters available at other local toy shops too. There are plenty of Barbie supplies and makeup kits for little girls, but they need to increase their variety for older girls. “Hamleys is a good store for younger children, but not for someone my age,” says Suha, my thirteen year old sister. “I like magic stuff, so I would be more interested maybe if they had better magic kits. The only thing I liked was the ripstick.”

Display Hamley's Jeddah

Display stands.

Display tables spread across the store with some of the Hamleys toys laid out on them for the children to give a try are a great idea, and chairs are laid out around a round table for children to play sitting down.

Guitar lego

How cute is this? Build your own Lego mini guitar, one of the items available for under SR100.

A fun addition is the track painted onto the floor for kids to whizz around the store on one of Hamleys two wheel skateboards or tricycles. Prices are a little high for most items, but there are lots of pocket-money items children can pick up for SR75 and under. The test to differentiate Hamleys from local toy shops will be in the quality of its products.

Hamley's customer Jeddah

A very satisfied customer.

All in all, I feel it is a definite improvement on the general standard of toy shops in Jeddah. Even though I would have liked to see many more toys and board games for older children, it is still a great addition to the Mall of Arabia, making us feel one tiny step closer to the World’s Finest Toy Store.

Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed


For a very good cause, obtain your very own signed copy of Reclaim Your Heart, personal insights on breaking free from life’s shackles, by Yasmin Mogahed.

All funds will be used for children with special needs at Hope – for Exceptional Needs.

Hope Centre Yasmin Mogahed book

 

 

 

CH Grand Tour Limited Edition Fragrance


Carolina Herrera Golden Age of Travel

The new Grand Tour limited edition fragrances for men and women by Carolina Herrera, will take you on a tropical journey through South America. Composed of aromatic scents of Brazilian citrus fruits, iris flowers and orange blossom, this mesmerising fragrance for women will allure everyone around you.

The male version is composed of vibrant incense, along with hints of deep mahogany and suede leather. Its black crocodile skin bottle is reminiscent of an old suitcase, designed for men who appreciate classic, vintage designs.

Carolina Herrera Grand Tour Fragrances

There is much more to this limited edition collection than meets the eye. Carolina Herrera is giving people the chance to enter an exciting competition! Users just need to access the CH Grand Tour homepage and they will be presented with two universes of the Grand Tour experience: the Grand Tour and the Blue Train.

The Grand Tour experience consists of an online game about a suitcase robbery, in order to win a special Carolina Herrera gift. Once the game is completed, the user needs to fill in their personal details, which will then direct them to a list of nearby Carolina Herrera stores where their gift can be collected.

The Blue Train contest involves purchasing a Carolina Herrera perfume in order to win a trip to South Africa. Users need to fill in an online form of their purchase details of the fragrance by entering an EAN code. People will then have the opportunity to visit the breathtaking cities of Pretoria and Cape Town, as well as enjoy a memorable safari.

Carolina Herrera always knows how to turn a simple product into an exciting adventure. So, hop on board the train and experience the imaginative world of Carolina Herrera’s Grand Tour.

– Sponsored article

Top Facts to Consider Before Buying A Car Online In Saudi Arabia


Readers, we’re back after a great summer break. I’m hoping you all are well-rested with lots of energy to face the joys and challenges of the rest of the year.

Increasingly, all kinds of shopping is now being done online, from groceries to books and even fast food. Did you know that shopping for a car has also caught on via the web? To shed more light on this, we’ve asked Mr. Fathy Abdelmonam who has a keen interest in the online cars market to give us his top tips on purchasing a car online. If you have any questions for Mr. Abdelmonam, leave a comment at the end of this blog post.

buy a new car in Saudi Arabia

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Most car buyers worldwide prefer to buy cars offline from the traditional car markets. However, there are a good number of buyers that are now switching to buy or sell cars and vehicles online allowing them to get a better response, beneficial offers and great deals. The advantage that online car deals have over the traditional offline car markets is that it provides the buyer with the opportunity to look up many car deals at the same time with a few simple clicks rather than going through individual offline deals that take up a lot of time. However, there are a few things you need to consider when you’re looking online for the right car that suits you the most in Saudi Arabia.

Site Reputation

The first and the most important thing you need to take into consideration when buying a car online is the reputation and quality of the site that you’re using, as it should be a trusted website that offers you the right deals without any kind of fraud or hidden costs that you will be obliged to pay later. For instance, Carmudi that operates in Saudi Arabia and all of its services are free of charge and J. Motors that operates in Jordan.

Variety and diversity

Whenever you decide to give the online car marketplace a try, you have to pick the one that offers you a better variety of cars and wide range of brands like Toyota, Honda, Audi, BMW and many others. When looking out for the right deal that will match your needs such as; the model, the price and many other factors.

Customer Service

When you’re looking for your dream car online, you have to pick the website that offers a high quality level of customer support as you might need their assistance if you’re dealing with the site for the first time. It can also help your questions to be answered on time and to complete your car buying deal without any problems.

Treasure Island Festival


A Jeddah Blog reader has sent in the below information about a festival taking place from the 2nd day of Eid until the 11th day of Eid.

Be sure to book your tickets now as seats are limited.

The Treasure Island Festival will include daily gifts and a lucky draw and a treasure hunt. There will be special surprise gifts for the first 50 passes. Activities include: jet ski, banana boat, desert bikes, segmented shopping arcade and a night to remember featuring national and international artists.

It sounds like a fun day to be enjoyed with your family and friends.

Treasure Island Festival, Durat ul Aroos

Contact 0563235353 for tickets.

Camel Cuteness: Souvenirs from Jeddah


Having been in Jeddah town for around five years now, and having gone back at least eight times, I was fast beginning to feel like I had exhausted all options for my ‘Arab souvenirs’. Friends and families back home had had just about enough of our regular take-homes of assorted dates and fancy nuts from Roasters. Most of the souvenir shops at Jarir Mall and Red Sea Mall were drastically over-priced.

When I come back to Jeddah, I often bring back traditional stuff for my Arab colleagues, something deeply traditional, with a strong feel of place, like Ajrak-printed bedsheets, embroidered cushion covers, and winter shawls.  It leaves them elated and asking for more. I was looking for something along those lines, something that makes a very strong statement without necessarily inducing bankruptcy.

As they say, if you’re not a Muggle, magic finds a way to happen. So, where do I hit upon this goldmine of cuteness? In the departure lounge at the airport. Yes, apparently a new or a very recent addition, because I did not see this before, a brand called The Camel Company, which operates from Dubai UAE, has a whole range of souvenirs including notebooks, pens, wallets, cups, decorative plates, cushion covers, key chains, mouse pads, coasters, fridge magnets, paper weights and such.

The motifs are very Arab with a strong dash of color and spunk. The most refreshing part is definitely the colour palette, with bright and deep colours that just leap off the racks and beg purchase. The images for the brand are mostly clichés of the Arab landscape and way of life, but they are very artfully appropriated for a fun effect. They would have to be Arab in the broadest sense of the word, not necessarily Saudi per se, but I don’t think the benefactors of these souvenirs would be overly fussy about that.

Camels and more camels

Camels and more camels!

I don’t know what takes the cup for cuteness, the multi-hued camel with the drooping lower lip, the palm-sized Bedouin girl and boy in authentic Bedouin costume, the mosque sprouting out of desert ground on a set of coasters, the notebook with the ornate calligraphy or the fridge magnets that look like little jewels. For the moment, they look like they’re all winning, and I’m taking them all!

 

11 Scrumptious Jeddah Breakfasts


Are you and your friends planning a breakfast morning and can’t decide where to go? Jeddah has some awesome places for a wholesome and healthy breakfast plan, and even those who wake up with a sweet tooth. Zareen Muzaffar and Ayesha Nigar take up this delicious task with gusto and present their choices of early morning haunts that will not just satisfy your food cravings but will also charge you up for an active day.

Delifrance

Although they have branches in Attalah Center, the Corniche, Malik Road, and Prince Sultan Street, I frequently visit the one on Prince Sultan Street. Delifrance offers a range of breakfast options and lunch/ dinner meals. Besides the traditional eggs, you can have your sandwiches made according to your particular preference. The tuna and chicken paninis are delicious, and don’t forget to gobble up try their mini chocolate croissants. Their freshly baked whole wheat bread is also something you would want to take home.

Paul

The atmosphere is enough to make you feel you made the right decision to come here. Situated off Tahlia Street (behind Coral Mall, next to Sands Hotel) Paul is a great place for a cozy family breakfast or one that includes your group of friends. Their cheese plate comes with walnuts, bread, raisins, variety of cheese and salad. Great start to the day, right? Their display of baked goods is mouth-watering and makes it difficult to choose from. It’s like picking one piece from a box of chocolates. Who can resist when there’s so much to choose from?

Don’t miss their melt-in-the-mouth almond croissants though. They are so moreish, they’ll have you hooked. For salmon lovers, their potato pancake topped with smoked salmon is simply divine. I guarantee that their hot chocolate is the richest and thickest you’ll have tasted yet. On Fridays, they are open from 8-11 am and from 1 pm to 1 am. It’s busy though on weekends, so try to get there early if you want to be seated quickly.

Update: Paul now have a brighter, better, newer branch in Mall of Arabia. Under different management, they have a different menu too. The best part is the friendly service and no queues!

The Crêpe Café

I went to the one in Mall of Arabia and I must say their menu impressed me. We tried the spinach and cheese omelet and my taste buds suggested it was definitely made with fresh ingredients. If you are in the mood for something sweet try their Canadian style waffle which is drizzled with maple syrup and topped with ice cream of your choice. They also have a wide variety of crepes and waffles, and the Vanilla Chai Latte was simply amazing.

One should not attend even the end of the world without a good breakfast. ― Robert A. Heinlein.

Teayana

Regular Teayana visitors know by now about the variety of tea available at the restaurant. Healthy herbal teas, as well as Chai Latte and Caramel Latte are some of the delicious drinks that will wake you up. Try their fresh manaeesh with your choice of drink or go for some wholesome egg dish. Great for brunch as they offer hot sandwiches and bagels too.

Update: Sadly, Teayana is now closed. Hoping it will open up again in the city.

Le Croissant Shop

This place is really good if you are in the mood for some croissant sandwiches; otherwise also known as“crois-sandwiches”. They have a variety of muffins, sandwiches, pastries and croissants that you can have at the restaurant or just take home for tea time.

Kalila

Situated in The Courtyard on Rawdah Street, a beautifully open and bright location for many eateries, Kalila is a wonderful addition to cosy cafes in Jeddah. Their rustic decor is a delight in the mornings and outdoor seating is lovely when the weather is cool. Must-haves are Sajj with feta dip and their fresh pomegranate juice. Open from 8am. Perfect!

IKEA

Who would have thought that IKEA would become a popular spot for breakfasts and other meals, but you’d be surprised. Their restaurant section is often jam-packed and their traditional Saudi breakfast is a big hit with families in the mornings. I’m quite partial to their salmon salad and can never say no to sausages. The prices are very reasonable and the seating plan is open, perfect for an early morning get-together. And you can even walk it all off with a trip round the store.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” 

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” 

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”

IHOP

IHOP (International House of Pancakes) just opened its doors to the people of Jeddah, who appreciate a good cuisine wholeheartedly. Located in a prime spot on fashionable Tahlia Street (opposite Debenhams), this international franchise is a paradise for breakfast lovers.

The size of the restaurant and the proximity between the tables is a little downside, but as soon as you take that first glance at the menu your mood brightens up. They have a tremendous variety of breakfast options the likes of which I have never seen in Jeddah before. From omelets to sandwiches, pancakes to waffles and crepes, they have everything that one can desire at breakfast time, all under one roof.

I would recommend the steak omelet and the hash browns with turkey. If you’re going as a family, try their fresh orange juice jug.

Portion sizes are quite big. Nearly all breakfasts come with a complementary plate of pancakes and the blueberry ones were packed with their namesake. Four delicious syrups are provided at each table: Butter Pecan, Blueberry, Strawberry and Regular.

The staff is highly professional and competent, and will even help you to decide your order – a must try!

Average per person SR 65-75 including drinks.

Insider tip: If you’re heading there on the weekend, get in early to avoid the queues.

Amara

The quote “You first eat with your eyes, then your nose, then your mouth” is quite true for Amara, an international cuisine presented with a twist to treat all your senses. The ambiance is fresh, classy and comfortable. Amara welcomes its guests from 8 am till 1 pm for breakfast daily, with an amazing view to enjoy. The menu explains the dishes very nicely and one can feel that due attention is given to each and every small detail.

My friends and I were perplexed as to what to order, as everything sounded so tempting. At long last, we mutually decided to go with French Toast with Peanut Butter Sauce, Eggs Benedict (English muffin served with layers of spinach, poached eggs and smoked salmon and finished with Hollandaise sauce), Black forest waffles, two-eggs your way (choice of boiled, fried and poached eggs served with potato wedges and bread), a platter of European cheese and fresh orange juice. The juices were served instantly and were followed by the rest of our order. The food was spectacular, really a feast for our eyes and taste, and we enjoyed every bit of it. We finished off our breakfast with a cappuccino.

Average per person: SR 120

Tim Hortons

Are you annoyed when you’ve arrived so early at the Mall that even the shops haven’t opened? Now, at the Mall of Arabia, the best part of arriving before 10am is being able to saunter into Tim Hortons with a friend or two, and enjoy a light and tasty breakfast bagel before beginning some serious shopping.

Being quite partial to bagels, I order a different one at each visit – the BLT is an all-time favourite. Their hot chocolate is rich and satisfying and the chocolate doughnut deliciously light.

The downside is the close seating space. Getting in early ensures one gets a table.

Average per person: SR 25

Papaya

With a huge seating area, awash in beautiful, natural light flooding in from the high glass ceiling, Papaya is simply breathtaking. I have never seen so much greenery in one space before in Jeddah with foliage growing abundantly throughout the restaurant. Add to that the sounds of trickling water from various water features scattered within and the sounds of birds chirping – it was like stepping through a portal and walking straight into a tropical rainforest.

My friend and I ordered a stack of cinnamon pancakes which were topped with just the right amount of cream cheese frosting and extra pancake syrup on the side. They were the fluffiest pancakes I have ever eaten and we both agreed that they were delicious.

The cheese and zaatar manaeesh was very fresh-tasting and the flat bread was soft and not dry as I have found to be the case in many other eateries. With just the right combination of pineapple and coconut, the pinacolada was refreshing and hit all the right tastebuds. One of the best I’ve tasted here in Jeddah.

The service was very good with waiters greeting us as we entered and making sure we had everything we needed. Prices were very reasonable at SR 60 per head. Portion sizes were generous, as we even had some pancakes left over to take away. Will definitely go back.

Do you think we’ve missed a great breakfast spot?Leave us a comment or write us a review, and let us know.

Roat ur Resalah: Beauty of the Message Art Expo


Roat ur Resalah, or Beauty of the Message, is an Annual Arabic calligraphy exhibition organised by the Consulate General of Pakistan, Jeddah, from 1 to 4 May 2014 at Red Sea Mall, Jeddah.

The timings are 11 am to 11 pm. Calligraphy workshops will also be arranged during exhibition. An event not to be missed.

Photo: Artists will be also be working live

Artists will be working live.

Roat ur Resalah is the name of this Art Expo which will exhibit vibrant and distinctive features of Islamic art as developed in various Arab and Islamic lands. The appeal of this art transcends time and space regardless of the country where it was created.

Calligraphy
Arabic script has been an important constituent of Islam’s cultural heritage. Among Muslims, the art of lettering is connected with religious emphasis on reading the scripture. With this emphasis, the artistic expression of Arabic script has attracted all segments of Muslim societies throughout centuries and across the Islamic world. Arabic script has been an important constituent of Islam’s cultural heritage. The understanding and appreciation of this form of art was not, however, limited to Muslims. In later centuries, the Christian kings of Europe used Arabic inscriptions and calligraphic designs to decorate their palaces, furniture and coins.

The exhibition will highlight the continuity of tradition of calligraphy which goes back to the time of Caliph Umar Ibn Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) and Caliph Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). In various Islamic lands this tradition has been carefully nurtured and enriched, particularly in Pakistan where it constitutes country’s primary cultural identity and heritage.

Islamic Architecture

Majestic domes and minarets, ornamented pulpits of mosques and religious schools, palaces, courtyards, beautiful gardens with water fountains and fragrant roses, spacious caravanserais and tombs decorated with patterned brickwork, tile mosaic often in blue, golden and green, splendid molded mihrab facings with columnar bands of Quranic inscriptions, sophisticated geometrical and floral engravings and high ramparts. These features characterize magnificent Islamic architecture. Today, this architecture constitutes identity of Islamic civilization. The Art Expo will celebrate the glory of Islamic architecture in beautiful paintings.

Islamic Miniature

The origin of miniature art is attributed to the Umayyad doctors who had commissioned painters to develop illustrated training manuals for scientific explanations. Miniature illustrations were, inter alia, utilized to show important scenes as well as acts of war and peace in popular legends and stories such as Alf Laila wa Laila, Dastaan Amir Hamza, Qissa Yusuf Zulaikha etc. With the passage of time, miniature became an integral part of Arab, Persian, Turkic and Pakistan’s Islamic art traditions. In Pakistan, it has acquired the status of national art under the rubric of the Mughal Art. The Art Expo will showcase this cultural delicacy in its true colours and technique.

Furniture

In many Muslim lands, craftsmen treated wood as a precious resource. They learned to use small pieces of it to great artistic advantage, elaborating such techniques as carving and marquetry, in which a surface is entirely covered with little pieces of wood veneer laid side-by-side to form patterns. Roat ur Rasalah will showcase some of the exquisite pieces of furniture as developed in South and South East Asia.

 

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