Events & Happenings, Sports

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020: Ready, check, go!


More than just an off-road rally.

Saudi Arabia welcomes more than 550 drivers from 62 world countries to experience the spectacular nature and unique terrain of the uncharted Saudi desert. The five countries leading the number of pilots participating in Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 are France, Spain, Argentina, The Czech Republic, and Holland, with several Dakar legends from these countries calling for professionals and amateurs alike to participate in Chapter 3 of Dakar.

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 kicked off in Jeddah yesterday before drivers and crews navigated their way to the north through the challenging trip along the coast, where the drivers pass by Red Sea Project and the futuristic megacity of Neom.

They will then cruise through the sandy hills of Ha’il on the way to Riyadh before taking a turn to the west in the center of the kingdom’s enormous desert and then looping back towards the east to enter the Empty Quarter ahead of crossing the finish line in Qiddiya, a future entertainment, sports, and cultural destination.

By hosting major international sporting events, Saudi Arabia is building a legacy as a world sports and entertainment destination, and an event of the caliber of Dakar Rally would surely cement the kingdom’s status.

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 consists of 12 stages, allowing pilots coming from across 6 continents to discover Saudi Arabia’s rich past, live it’s modernized present, and meet its future as they race through the Kingdom.

The pilots will be driving specially modified vehicles, trucks, quad, SxS, and motorbikes, designed to handle the stages of various terrains.


Events & Happenings, Riyadh Season

RECAP: Beast Mode On!


By Yasmine Mohamed

With captivating performances and liberating beats, the MDL Beast Festival got off to a strong start.

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The countdown finally comes to an end, and the long-awaited MDL Beast Festival opened its doors wide to a massive crowd of around 130,000 attendees on its first day. Imagine! 130,000 individuals from across Saudi and the world, at Durrat Al Riyadh, dancing, dining, delving into retail therapy, getting dazzled by entertaining performances, and having a great time all in all. 


The vibes were totally lit. All five stages were on fire as celebrated local and international Electronic Dance Music artists gave it their all, pumping up the excitement with their catchy beats.

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Swizz Beatz’s performance was blazing as he jammed on stage rocking a “ghotra”, and Hamaki’s performance alongside R3HAB left the venue jam-packed. Local talents like Cosmicat, Dish Dash, DJ Baloo, and others hit all the right notes and took the masses by storm.


B-Side, the retail district at the fest, showcased Saudi and International brands and retailers such as Homegrown, Femi 9, The Pop Up Store and others. Inspired by the 80s, you’d find all sorts of merchandise you can purchase and rock to blend in nicely with the one of a kind fashion scene that was going on, especially with the presence of some regional and local prominent names.

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When your tummy starts growling after all those wicked dance moves you’ve been pulling, pass by the Beast Food Market 60 stands. With Saudi street food and food from all across the globe being brought to the table, the world becomes your oyster and the Riyadh cold will have nothing on you. Steve Aoki brought his pizza place along with him too! It’s called Pizzaoki, pretty neat stuff. 

Is this really Riyadh?”, several attendees shouted in disbelief atop the loud music in videos shared across social media. We say, “Yes ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, this IS the new Riyadh hosting entertainment at its finest.”



Events & Happenings, Riyadh Season

Top Celebrities Spotted At MDL Beast


The three-day revolutionary MDL Beast Festival united the best of local and international celebrities and influencers.

Here are the top celebs spotted at the festival:


Alessandra Ambrosio

Ed Westwick

Winnie Harlow

Negin Mirsalehi

Elsa Hosk

Isabeli Fontana

Scott Disick 

Karen Wazen Bakhazi

And all the way from Bollywood,

Sonam Kapoor

The MDL festival not only hosted these global stars over the weekend, but also made them enjoy a dose of Saudi culture



Events & Happenings, Riyadh Season

Grab the Beast by its Horns!


By Yasmine Mohamed

A guide on how to make the most of your last day at MDL Beast; survival mode.

It’s called MDL Beast but it is massive and there is nothing “middle” about it. If this is your first time attending a festival of this caliber, things can become a little overwhelming if you’re not prepared. The to-the-marrow Riyadh cold, exhaustion, raging crowds, and the distances you have to travel can all team up against you. However, Destination KSA won’t allow the Beast to get the best of us! Here are some tried and tested tips and tricks on how to Beat the Beast.

It can get pretty cold especially, late at night.


    • Wear appropriate winter clothing in layers so you can adjust when it gets too cold or too hot.
    • Stay active, jiggle and wiggle. It will burn those fat cells and keep you nice and toasty.
    • Eat up warm foods to remain energized and to ward off unwanted hunger aches. Pizzaoki is a winner for us. Give them a try.
    • Several heaters are installed throughout on-site. Shake off the chills and huddle around them.

It’s a jungle out there and you wouldn’t wanna get lost!


    • Stay in groups as much as possible. Don’t wander off alone and follow the lights when tempted to.
    • Agree upon a designated area at the event where you and your friends/family would know to meet up at if anyone gets lost at any point.
    • Memorize your parking space or write it down on your phone. At the end of a long night, ain’t nobody got time for that!
    • Internet connectivity may be a bit wishy-washy. Areas where there is the best internet connection are obviously at STC booths, at the Media Center, and near the VIB area. Get connected and get found!

Here’s the map to navigate around the festival:

FOMO is one thing, but fear of running out of cell phone charge is another thing.


    • Get a fully charged long-lasting power bank with you.
    • If you run out of power, fear not, STC has charging booths at several locations. Ask for them.
    • Don’t forget to activate the battery saving mode on your phones at the beginning of the evening.

If you’re not much of a party animal usually but decided to party hard and go all out this time, do the following and thank us later:

    • Stay hydrated as much as possible and don’t worry about needing to go to the bathroom. There are plenty of those and they are quite clean.
    • Stretch/warm-up before your party stunts so you’re not really sore on Sunday when you have to go to work.
    • Head to the General Admissions area if you feel beat and get some rest on the benches. Avoid sitting on the floor in crowded areas so that you wouldn’t get trampled upon. 

We wish you a beast of a night. Be ready, be safe, and enjoy it to the max!



Fitness, Healthy Living

Let’s Build A Parkour Park in Aloula


Saudi Parkour is a fast-growing sport that elevates overall fitness, builds athletic strength, speed and increases self-confidence.

To promote and support parkour in Saudi, Spoonfed launched the first Saudi parkour academy called Flite Freerun in Jeddah and has been steadily developing the sport and raise the standards of coaching since 2017.

Founded by Jon Dean and Heba Faqih, the main gym in Vision tower on Prince Sultan and Kayaal was the first indoor built parkour space in Saudi Arabia and the home of #SaudiParkour. Jon has worked in the sports and physical education industry for 20 years and created sports curriculums for schools, universities, hospitals, private academies, and the national school sport strategy.

To further develop the training system for the coaches and the student curriculum, parkour champion Ed Scott has joined hands with Jon; developing the first Saudi parkour qualification program. This program will enable coaches and teachers to maintain a high level of safety and effectiveness through expert training and

Jon and Heba met Dania Al Maeena, the CEO of Aloula and were inspired by what they saw at the organization. Aloula is the first registered nonprofit organization in Saudi Arabia that has been able to improve thousands of lives through the 57 years of service. Their commitment to the community remains strong in helping families break the cycle of poverty; a phenomenon that remains for at least three generations. Aloula’s strategy is built on early intervention through educational, professional, and physical training.

Utilizing an outdoor space that wasn’t being used, Jon and Heba collaborated with Dania to build a parkour park and develop local coaches to give classes. They had the winning formula for building the park, developing the coaches and brainstormed an exciting way to fundraise.

On 20 November, during the occasion of the National Children Day, Spoonfed hosted an event to virtually build the park live through donations. The guest of honor and parkour champion, Ed Scott gave a speech about his optimism for the future of Saudi parkour followed by an acrobatic performance by the Spoonfed coaches and students.

The fundraising achieved the first goal of 50,000 SAR to lay the foundation and flooring of the park that is planned to start in December. Heba AlFaqih said, “Our goal is to raise another 50,000 SAR to put into coach development, training & additional equipment to create a sustainable project that will continue to grow and flourish,”photo-2019-11-16-17-33-45-copy

Spoonfed is reaching out to the government for discussions on building public parkour areas that will offer a place for people to stay active, play or train outdoors in the safety of quality parks.

“We believe Flite Freerun will become the leader in parkour in the Middle East and inshallah we will see young Saudi champions emerging in the near future, ” said Jon Dean.

The successful fundraiser showed how much the community cares; giving everyone the assurance that more parks will be built in the near future, elevating Saudi Parkour to be a leading sport in the country.

InstagramAloula | Spoonfed


Events & Happenings

Showcase Your Startup at the Largest Startup Gathering in the Kingdom!


What better space to delve into new markets, meet industry leaders, and gain exposure than at the largest startup gathering in the Kingdom!

This year, Arabnet Riyadh, the Kingdom’s largest technology event, is expected to convene over 2,000 corporate executives and senior government leaders and 4,000 entrepreneurs, youth, and students under one roof.

Do you have a startup and wish to gain exposure, venture into a new market, distinguish it from competitors, and display your latest products and/or services?

Arabnet Riyadh this year offers you an exhibition space to showcase your startup and connect with industry experts and more than 100 GCC/regional investors in its Startup Showcase.

The Startup Showcase is the largest convergence of young and rising digital enterprises in the MENA region. The Showcase is expected to bring together 300 startups as a key platform to expand their business and partnerships.

You may be wondering: What is in it for my startup?

Well, having a space during the event will expose your startup to a huge number of investors, industry leaders, and participants from different regions and industries of whom you may build new relationships with or may be offered the chance to enter into a new market.

Countless networking possibilities await you at the event with the opportunity of having 1-on-1 closed-door meetings with investors and industry leaders in the Investor Lounge.

Not only will your startup be exposed to investors and industry leaders, but the massive number of brands, publishers, media agencies, banks, and telecom operators present at the event will be in favor of your startup on many levels providing your startup with marketing, tech, and financial benefits.

Visit our website to learn more about the packages we offer that will help you benefit the most out of this experience.

Book your startup’s space now and be a part of the Kingdom’s largest startup gathering!


Events & Happenings

Women Running Entrepreneurship and Digital Innovation in the Kingdom!


The entrepreneurial scene in Saudi Arabia has been on a roll in the past few years with an increase in startup investment.

This entrepreneurial growth could be attributed to its Vision 2030 objective of achieving a thriving economy through fostering and investing in startups.

Saudi’s 2030 Vision does not only focus on expanding entrepreneurship and enterprise opportunities per se, but it also aims at more female inclusion and participation in different aspects of the economy.

The Kingdom believes in the importance of investing in Saudi women’s capabilities and enabling them to strengthen their future and contribute to the development of our society and economy.

16% of founders in Saudi Arabia are females whereas the rest of the 192 founders are men, according to Arabnet’s “State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013-2018” report. It seems that tables are starting to turn in the once male-dominated business environment in the Kingdom with the proliferation of women in the startup scene.

This is the result of giving women the necessary space and tools to thrive in order to lead entrepreneurship and digital innovation in the Kingdom.

This year’s Arabnet Riyadh conference, taking place on December 10-11, will feature several female industry leaders and entrepreneurs that have been driving growth and disrupting the entrepreneurial scene in the Kingdom such as Nejoud Almulaik, Director of Fintech Saudi.

Aside from Nejoud Almulaik’s experience in building client relationships and portfolios, she was appointed in October 2018 as Fintech Saudi Director – a government-led initiative to support the efforts around enabling Fintech ecosystem development in Saudi Arabia.

Deemah AlYahya is a digital transformation and innovation advisor who launched the “Women Spark” initiative in 2015 in order to provide women with the necessary technical, soft, and business skills they need for success in the digital industry. With that, Deemah aims at supporting the rising number of female entrepreneurs to use their full potential in driving growth in the Saudi economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Tuba Terrekli is yet another Saudi woman who is leading entrepreneurship and digital innovation in the Kingdom. As an international business development and investment expert with a focus on futurism, innovation, tech development, and equity investments, Tuba has founded Qotuf Al Riyadah Development Company and established Flat6Labs Jeddah among many other initiatives that provide support to SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Such initiatives help several female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom kick-start their careers such as Ghazael Al Dossary, founder of Oriental Promises Trading. Aside from being the first Saudi female entrepreneur to operate in the recycled industrial waste sector, Ghazael was among the “Top Ten Innovators”  to win the Merit Prize at Shell LiveWIRE’s global competition.

Seeing women strive in such an innovative yet competitive ecosystem is an indicator that women have the potential to scale and accelerate their business and the whole economy once given the right means and space to do so.

For more information, please visit




6 Forums Towards A New Digital Era In the Kingdom


The Kingdom’s largest technology gathering is back for its 8th edition on December 10-11 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

For the second consecutive year, Arabnet will host 2,000+ corporate executives and senior government leaders, 4,000+ entrepreneurs, youth and students, a showcase of 300+ startups, and bring together 250+ experts and speakers from around the world, with full tracks of programming covering a range of topics in 6 forums:

Inspire Saudi

According to Arabnet Business Intelligence, more than $950M were invested in MENA tech startups in 2018. Inspire Saudi will gather key regional investors, government leaders and successful startups to highlight the changing tech landscape and emerging trends and opportunities. It will also feature investors from around the world highlighting the latest trends in the global technology sector.


Regional funding to fintech companies hit over $250M between 2012-2018, according to Arabnet Business Intelligence, and based on KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech, global fintech funding reached $111.8B end of 2018.

Technology has been deeply impacting financial services, urging banks to adopt new strategies to stay innovative, and to partner with fintech startups to develop and deliver new service offerings.

Finverse will explore trends in fintech, rise of challenger banks and cutting-edge technologies that are transforming the customer journey, as well as the next wave of innovation in digital payments. It will also dive into some of the strategies that regional banks are creating to compete in the digital banking era.


While advertising campaigns are increasingly powered by data whether brand-collected, agency, or third-party, technology in marketing has become critical in targeting, reaching and engaging consumers – and driving sales.

Not only are brands affected through advertising and marketing, but so are streaming platforms facing the real challenge in keeping the crown above their heads.

Voice technology, on the other hand, is on the rise and has been for a while. Machine learning has come hand in hand with voice recognition and AI, to create the ultimate robot friend. Current predictions indicate that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice, forming an opportunity for brands to become part of the conversation in the new “voice-search-to-purchase” consumer journey.

The Ad/Edge tackles how brands, agencies, and publishers are adapting their strategies to keep up with cutting-edge technologies, consumer behaviors, and the structural changes that are reshaping the industry as a result.

CIO Forum

Technology has remarkable effects on business operations. Technological infrastructure affects the culture, efficiency, and relationships of a business.

Arabnet Riyadh 2019 will host an exclusive half-day session for CIOs, CTOs, and senior IT decision makers. The session will explore the changing role of the CIO given the increasing strategic importance of tech disruption, digital transformation, and innovation.

Digital Policy Forum

This newly introduced forum is an invitation-only roundtable for senior government leaders focused on digitization, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Policy makers will share insights and best practices, and explore opportunities for collaboration.

Investor Summit

Another invitation only forum, this one-day summit focuses exclusively on tech investors, from angels to growth capital. The Investor Summit will feature master classes, investor matching, connections with LPs, and interactive discussion sessions.

Register and secure your spot so you won’t miss out on this experience!


Events & Happenings

The Kingdom’s Largest Technology Event Returns in Riyadh for its 8th Edition


The Kingdom’s largest technology gathering is back for its 8th edition on December 10-11 and has moved to a new venue, the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

For the second consecutive year, Arabnet will feature two events taking place simultaneously under one roof: Arabnet Riyadh for 2,000+ corporate executives and senior government leaders, and Inspire Saudi for 4,000+ entrepreneurs, youth and students.

The two concurrent events will bring together 250+ experts and speakers from around the world, with full tracks of programming covering a range of topics: Inspire Saudi for startups and investors, Ad/Edge for digital media and advertising, Finverse for digital banking and fintech, Digital Policy Forum for senior government leaders, CIO Forum for CIOs, CTOs and senior IT decision-makers, and Investor Summit for Investors.

The event will also bring together 300+ exhibiting startups in the largest tech entrepreneurship showcase to take place in the Kingdom and the region, alongside more than 150 investors representing more than $1B in the capital for startups seeking investment.

This year’s program is also decked out with various initiatives and activations bringing together inspirational and successful leaders and entrepreneurs through The Academy, workshops on entrepreneurship, marketing, and e-commerce; Women Mentoring Women, bringing regional women leaders to mentor ladies who are just starting out; Investor Lounge, a series of one-on-one meetings between startups and top business executives; Sawalif Riyadiya, gathering successful GCC founders to share their journey and lessons learned with aspiring entrepreneurs; Future Zones & Stage, showcasing the future of industries; and Arabnet’s long-running competitions: Ideathon and Startup Battle.

During the Startup Battle, entrepreneurs will present their startups in front of investors, incubators, media and digital professionals. The top 3 startups will get to compete against the best in the region at the Startup Championship. Apply before October 31st for a chance to battle it out!

Ideathon is the go-to destination for your brilliant ideas. The best regional entrepreneurs will get to showcase their great ideas in front of an enthusiastic crowd of investors, incubators, and media and digital professionals for a chance to win a $5K prize. Submit your idea before October 31st for a chance to pitch on stage at Arabnet Riyadh.

To learn more, go to arabnet-riyadh



Applications Done Right with YOUni

Jad Abdul Jawad (right) with his good friend Daniel Izu

Meet Jad Abdul Jawad, a chemical engineering student at Stanford University who grew up in Jeddah and went to BISJ. Jad formulated a startup which seeks to empower and help students from Saudi apply to international universities.

Here’s his story behind the initiative:

Tell us about the startup and the idea behind it?

Applying to universities in the U.S as an international student is played out to seem like an intimidating task. However, going through the process myself I realized that it really didn’t need to be. Like any system, there are flaws. Flaws which most people don’t choose to exploit making the application process seem much more daunting than it truly is. Flaws which international students should take advantage of especially when admission rates continue to hit all-time lows.

Do you know what sucks though? (sic) That I’ve seen countless people seek help but end up getting discouraged because they get 50 different answers for the same question. Why? Because international students should, and are handled differently. Most services and people neglect the global experience that one needs to help them. This is evident through the huge gap between the US and international college services. A gap that really needs to be addressed: Firstly to encourage students to feel confident enough to apply to elite schools. Secondly, to dispel much of the myths and worries that people have been misguided to believe. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen friends applying to the US getting mislead by counselors, teachers and other services.

I want to believe that I went through the process, so others don’t have to. Empowering students, especially in Saudi Arabia, to compete on the world stage is what further education is about. Most schools will teach you the same things, but the people you surround yourself with influence you much more than we’d like to think, why wouldn’t I want my hometown to send its youth to the most progressive, forward-thinking universities?

So what led you here?

I applied to 23 US universities. I learned the trade the hard way from creating a theme for my app to dealing with alumni interviews. I went through it all. Bad advice, good advice. I’ve heard it all. I took what worked and made sense and compiled it into a system to give students their best chance at getting admitted. The lack of consolidated information in the international industry and number of misguided people is what essentially motivates this project. This, coupled with the fact that admissions rates keep decreasing every year makes me almost certain that many students are undervaluing their potential – removing themselves from the opportunity to take advantage of their untapped reservoirs.

Why now? 

Ever since junior year (IB1) I wanted to do something about it. But I never saw it as a need, up until now. I wanted to create a painkiller, something that people needed. Not just something you take on the side like vitamins. My time at Stanford and away from home has made me realize that as a nation we could represent ourselves much better than we have already – a call I am passionate about.

Did you start the venture alone?

I started this venture alone, at the notorious Coupa Café outside Green Library on campus. I started servicing students near the area first. Talked to multiple admission officers. Read my OWN admissions file and the reasons why I got in. This past year has been a successful pilot. One with many difficulties but fulfilling, nonetheless. In this pilot, I formed partners with key individuals in Nigeria, Lebanon, and of course Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  Although it may have started alone, this is far from an individual project but rather multiple teams situated in strategic locations.

What was the hardest part in the growing stages of the startup?

The hardest part of the startup was deciding what tips and advice were based on fact, and which are based on opinion. I wanted to ensure that when we created our formula for international students, nothing we would suggest would come from speculation or belief. Reducing the waffle around admissions is one of our goals so we needed to ensure we were robust at the core. This involves months of research and rewriting the startups manual consistently. Talking to multiple admissions officers, parents and teachers to pinpoint the exact problem. Of course, as we grew the main challenge was to get people to believe in the philosophy we created. Naturally, we had no track record and therefore no credibility. Building trust was vital and I spent most my time ensuring that there was a clear understanding of the wants, needs, and expectation of every client.

What steps have you taken to develop a significant audience?

We are tailoring our services to specific types of people. That is what is working so we keep on doing it! In this industry, results are the only thing that matters. Not a fancy website or a clear-cut formula to get into your “dream school”. That’s what we aimed for in this first year. With our service, we have had students get accepted into Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton as well as other top tier universities! Now that we know our system works, our audience continues to grow. This has helped us deal with the credibility issue we faced earlier since now we have raw results, which can attest to the validity of the system we created.

How can students access the services?

As of now, we’re in the final stages of creating our website. Over here there is a myriad of different services which all begins with a free consultation. These consultations have two outcomes. We either suggest the correct type of service you need depending on where you are in the application process or refer you to proofreading services. This ensures that you won’t be taxing your time and money for things you don’t need! 

The best way to contact us is through or texting/calling/Whatsapp +1 909 551 9381. Through this, Skype and one on one meetings are arranged.