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Alfaisal University Students Win Shawarmer “Save It!” Food Waste Marketing Competition

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Promoting “Personal Responsibility” the Inspiration Behind Creative Campaign to  Tackle Saudi’s SR 12 Billion Food Waste Issue.


We all share both a responsibility and opportunity to help eat into the massive problem that costs Saudi more than SR 12 billion in wasted food going into trash bins every year. That’s the central message of the new national awareness campaign created and led by Ryanah Alsaif, Afnan Alhabib, Reem Shaibah, and Shaden Aldayel, Alfaisal University students and winners of the Shawarmer “Save It!” competition.

The objective of the “Save It!” challenge is to harness the creativity and energy of Saudi’s best young marketing minds to raise awareness of a serious social and economic issue challenging the nation’s limited food and water resources. More than 150 Saudi students submitted ideas to participate in the competition to earn the opportunity to participate in a three-day intensive boot camp that ended with the teams facing off to select the ultimate winner. 

At the end of the three-day event, it was the Alfaisal University team, led by senior marketing students, that stood out for both its creative approach as well as an empowering central thematic, earning them the unique opportunity to lead a national food waste awareness campaign funded by Shawarmer. While there are multiple media and social media components to the integrated national market education program, the centerpiece is a moving film that brings to life how simple everyday decisions and actions can make a difference.

“You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and we believe young people across Saudi want to be part of the solution,” the Alfaisal University team said. “That’s why we chose film as our primary platform to reach and inspire young people. We wanted to create a dystopian alternative universe focused on creating a sense of personal liability we have through simple everyday decisions and actions that contribute to the greater food waste problem. And to send a message we can change our individual behaviors to make a real difference.”

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 “Working closely with the Shawarmer team, we were encouraged to bring forward our most outrageous and creative ideas that have the power to inspire action while matching the youthful tone of the Shawarmer brand,” added the university marketing students. “They helped us take our core idea and channel the boot camp experience as well as what we learned in our university marketing courses to develop a campaign we feel is creative and engaging while using a wide range of tools, media, and vehicles to reach our target audience and encourage people to change their behavior.”  

In recognition of its 20th-anniversary celebration, Shawarmer, one of the fastest growing and largest Saudi owned and operated restaurant groups, launched “Save It!” in March as the first of a series of initiatives to champion reducing food waste across the Kingdom. Saudi ranks number one in the world in total food wasted. Statistics released in a new survey by the Saudi Grain Organization estimates that 33% of all food in the country ends up in garbage bins. That’s more than 4 million tons annually with a value of SR 12 billion.

The “Shawarmer for Social Responsibility Save It!” campaign is a year-long initiative designed to draw attention to and provide actionable solutions to Saudi’s food waste issue. The program will engage youth, families, the restaurant industry and stakeholders across the entire “farm to table to landfill” ecosystem to take responsibility for helping tackle a serious issue that has a far-reaching impact on Saudi society.

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