Nada Aboalnaja, 33


Dominance in sport goes beyond the physical; consistent, dedicated training requires mental discipline.

Sport: Squash
No. of years in sport: 10
Stats: First Saudi Open Squash Tournament Champion 2019, Saudi Masters 2017 Champion and Wild Card at the first PSA Women’s Tournament in Riyadh
Training time: 48 hours/ week, 5K runs before competitions, 6 hours strength training or CrossFit

Nada stumbled upon a squash court in 2008 at her local gym. At that time, she was looking for a sport to add to her fitness routine. Little did she know that a decade later, she would become the first Saudi professional squash player in the Kingdom.

Squash ticked off all the checkboxes: she can train alone, it can burn 1,000 calories per hour, and its mental and physical intensity makes boredom unlikely. Nada went from playing for fun to becoming a force on the court when she had her first taste of defeat. “Other players didn’t want to play with me because I was a beginner, so I was determined to be better. Then, I joined the local tournament at my old gym and lost. I didn’t like it, preferred the rush of winning, so ‘become better at squash’ changed to ‘how far can I take this, how can I be the best?’ Yes, I am very competitive,” she ends with a laugh.

This jump-started her quest to learn the finer techniques and movements in squash. Spending a couple of years in France, she got her Master’s degree in Marketing while being a squash player in training. When she returned in 2014, Nada reverted to training solo due to the lack of professional coaches and limited opportunities to compete with other female players.

Training for Nada is systematic and requires discipline, a trait she values in all aspects of her life, “I have a goal-oriented training style, and I’m like that at work, too – I set goals and put in the hours and energy needed; I don’t stop until everything is right.”

In 2017, the country hosted the first Professional Squash Association tournament in Riyadh, giving Nada the opportunity to meet elite players like Nicol David. As a qualifying wildcard, she also played a match with Camille Serme (currently ranked no. 5 in the world). Earlier this year, she won the first Saudi women squash tournament.

Nada has her eyes set on the 2024 Olympics, where squash can possibly debut for the very first time. Wanting to inspire the next generation of women athletes, she hopes to open the first squash academy in the Kingdom. The fact that she can now think of these as possibilities, and the rush of millisecond wins in the box, is what fuels Nada to keep on going and maybe, one day, find herself in the box with Raneem Alweleily.

Instagram: Saudiwomensquash


Saja Kamal: Sports Advocate


Saja started playing football at the age of 4, and now she is the first Saudi female commentator. An influence to the next Saudi generation.

London born, Saudi Arabian women sports advocate Saja Kamel didn’t know that she would become a voice for women’s participation in the social sphere when she first started playing football at the age of 4.

While Saja worked for every achievement under her belt, she realized that growing up she had access to opportunities most of her contemporaries didn’t have. She feels fortunate that her father and mother supported whatever passion, be it football or going on different leadership exchange programs, she wanted to pursue. Recognizing this, she has made it her mission to walk through doors, so that younger women wouldn’t have to open them anymore. Starting as a Saudi female footballer, she attended Arsenal FC’s academy and would move on to participate in the first GCC football tournament for women.

She played in two world record matches, for the highest and lowest altitude football games. On a streak, she was invited to be an Asia Cup Ambassador for 2019 and became the first Saudi female sports commentator. A person who tends to make the waves she rides, Saja also pursued her love of cars and had recently hosted a season of Driven on MBC. When the ban on women’s driving was lifted, Saja decided to be trained as a driving instructor so she can help more women get on the roads.

The former senior government consultant has amassed a strong social media following, and she’s using her platforms to influence the next generation of Saudis to go after their dreams. While there are those who don’t agree with her “live authentically, do what you want (within reason)” philosophy; Saja believes that if what she does inspires a girl to not think twice about taking a shot at her dreams, then yes, it’s all worth it.

Instagram: jajozz


Saudi Hospitality


An Illustrated Guide.

Nothing showcases generosity and indulgence quite like Saudi hospitality. Some attribute it to our bedouin culture, we’re known to pamper our guests to the fullest and are big on customs that make anyone feel welcome.

Azeema 101

Here are some of the things you can expect when visiting a Saudi Home.

Turkish Soaps
Usually play in the background while our aunties chit chat with some tea and treats. Traditionally, the women sit amongst themselves, and men would also have their own space.1

Bakhoor is part of welcoming guests in Saudi homes. You’ll find people taking the mubkhara, and using its smoke to perfume their hair and clothing when they enter the door.2

Generosity Defines Saudi Culture
From hefty servings to making sure you get offered gahwa, tea, or juice throughout your visit.3

Board Games
They’re part of fun fare during azeemas. Carom, a game where you strike tokens across a board to gain points, is a must try.5

Gahwa Gahwa
Gahwa or arabic coffee is traditionally served with the left hand pouring the dallah, and the right holding the finjan. The guest or the most senior member of the group is served first, before proceeding counter clockwise in the room.6

Saudi  Gestures

When it comes to showing our appreciation, there are no language barriers, keep these gestures and expressions in
your dictionary.8

Bil Afiyah
This is the equivalent of Bon appétit, say it to someone when they’re about to eat.

Teslam Yaddik
The compliment you give to a chef or cook when you love what they’ve prepared.

Min Ayuni
Said with one’s finger pointing from one eye and the other- meaning from my eye, an expression used to say “I’d be happy to, consider it done”

Saudi Greetings

There’s nothing like our endless hellos and kisses.7

Kissing Cheek To Cheek
This is the normal greeting among friends and acquaintances, the number varies depending on the region. Don’t know whether to go left, right, left or right, right, left? You can just lock the handshake, and go for right, right, right then step back, always works.

Nose To Nose Kissing
It’s a practice in certain regions— usually done between close male friends, elders, and family. Some women or even men, don’t shake hands and that’s okay. When in doubt, you can just…lace your right hand on your chest… …and nod as a sign of greeting.

A Saudi Hello is A Conversation On Its Own.
We ask about you, your family, your grandparents, your health, your work, your pet fish, all in one breath.


La Belle Vie Butter And The Good Life


Destination makes its way through the Brittany countryside and onto the cobblestones of Paris to discover the rich history, and culinary tradition of French butter.

Our journey begins in Nantes, a picturesque city in the west of France. It marries its long history with innovation. From reimagined spaces to culinary traditions finding modern renditions; Nantes is the urban nucleus of Brittany culture.

We were already butter believers when we started the trip— what we wanted to understand is the secret behind French butter that makes it a cut above the rest. To get our answers, we had to start from the beginning of the process; the farms.

French Butter at Its Finest

We headed to Machecoul near Nantes, the home of Bellevaire, a family owned creamerie, cheese maker, and cheese monger.

They first brought us to one of the farms that produces the milk they use for making their artisanal butter.

Arriving at the crack of dawn, we were met by Cyril, who together with his three brothers, runs a terroir. Brittany as a region is home to several PDO (protected designation of origin) areas. PDO products are produced and processed within a certain region— where the environment and local traditions play a vital role in the maintaining the authentic flavors of a product.

As a terroir, Cyril’s farm continues to produce quality milk that is unique to its territory. The rolling grass and temperature makes it a conducive place for grazing, with cows given the chance to roam from March to November. Milking is limited to twice a day, and there is deliberate process both in activities and dietary needs to ensure that cows are calm and happy.

Hot milk collection on its own is unique to France. Adding to that, Bellevaire also sets themselves apart as the only brand using unpasteurized milk in their butter and cream. Now at first, one might think that this doesn’t make much of a difference, neither does the 82% legal fat requirement exacted by law in the country. As it turns out, it does.Bellevaire’s butter is as artisanal as they come, their butter master noted that they’re the last folks to use a wood churner to turn raw cream into butter. The latter is also molded by hand. The result of all these elements, from happy cows, select farms, and keeping traditions alive in the family; is butter so good you eat it off a spoon.butter-creamofeurope-travel-julyaug-jp21

We Can’t Believe It’s Butter

One of our favorite stops is the Jean Yves Bordier Factory, where we first got introduced to the wonderful world of flavored butter. From chocolate chips, berry laced, to yuzu infused flavors, our palates took a tour de beurre. Bordier Butter uses traditional kneading with wood to seal flavors within the butter. It also attributes to its silkiness before other ingredients, including customized levels of salt. We were fascinated to learn that renowned pastry chefs from all over the world order personalized butter from them directly.

What’s Cooking?

During a special culinary workshop with Chef Tugdual Debethune, we learned how butter can enhance and elevate even the simplest of ingredients. French cuisine is known for its impressive use of techniques, but as Chef Tugdual so wittily showed us—it’s really about how you can pair and play with flavors. Butter can be effectively used for this purpose, plus when clarified correctly, can be withstand higher temperatures while cooking and can even be used to replace oil in confit.francois-robin

Fun Butter Facts from The Lactopole Dairy Museum

  • Butter was first used as a natural skin and hair care product in Europe.
  • Egyptians used butter as a treatment for eye infections.
  • Butter was first used as an ingredient in the 1950s.
  • There are different churners throughout the years, but in the end you can make your own butter at home by simply whisking fresh cream as fast as you can. Strain the liquid buttermilk and the yellow globs left is butter.

Francois Robin’s Butter Tips:

Monsieur Francois was one of the amazing experts who took us on this trip through Brittany and Paris. A passionate cheese monger and hunter, Francois taught us how to get the most out of French Butter:

  • Butter absorbs flavors, which is why it’s great for cooking or if you want to transfer one flavor to another ingredient.
  • Keep your butter tasting fresh! Cover it while in the fridge to maintain its flavor integrity.
  • Experiment with flavored butter, Middle Eastern tastes included. You can start with ground nuts and work your way up to herbs and other spices.


5 Luxury Experiences in Rome And Florence:


Have a glimpse of authentic Italian fashion, culture, and artisanship in these two cities.

Awaken your scent-sibilities
Learn the art of perfumery with Aqua Flor, the experts; and create your own fragrance.img_5652

Appreciate the works of italian masters
Visit the Uffizi Museum, Academy of Florence Art Gallery, to name a few.img_5361

Artchitecture at its finest
Florence and Rome are open museums. From Trevi Fountain to the Spanish steps,you’re bound to get positively overwhelmed by their dazzling architecture.img_2670

Watch true italian craftsmanship at Fendi, Roma
The atelier opens its doors for those who wish to learn what makes Fendi a true haven for fashion lovers.img_1432

I scream, you scream… Gelato!
This is dolce vita in every scoop.


Landmark Arabia Launches ‘Super Kidz’ Initiative in Saudi Arabia


Nationwide online creative contest aims to promote healthy lifestyle amongst children in light of the diabetes awareness month.

Riyadh-KSA: November, 2018  Landmark Arabia, the region’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate, has launched a nationwide initiative in Saudi Arabia titled ‘Super Kidz’. The initiative aims at encouraging kids to eat healthy and adopt an active lifestyle, through an online creative contest. The contest is set to run throughout the month of November, to mark the diabetes awareness month.

The Super Kidz initiative is part of the Group’s global CSR initiative Beat Diabetes’, to spread awareness about the condition. The initiative encourages people that diabetes can be managed by taking 3 simple steps – Take the Test, Eat Healthy & Get Active. This is the tenth year of the Beat Diabetes initiative and the Group aims to reach out to a large audience with the message of healthy living.

The Super Kidz initiative spreads the message of healthy eating and active lifestyle for kids through two superhero characters – Super Sam and Super Sara. The characts have also been illustrated in two digital comic books that chronicle their adventures including their love for sports, reading, exercising and eating lots of healthy food. In the comics, the Super Kidz are seen to receive their superpowers from their healthy lifestyle habits.

During the initiative, kids will have the chance to participate in an online Super Kidz Creative Contest, which will include a drawing and a creative writing challenge. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 can submit a drawing showcasing ways of eating healthy or getting active, while children between the ages of 7and 10 are invited to submit their original stories in English or Arabic on the same topic of healthy living. The entries will be judged for age appropriate creativity and originality.

The winning drawing and story will be included in the next Super Kidz comic. In addition, the first-place winners from both categories will receive an iPad Pro, while the runners-up will receive an iPad. As a gesture of encouragement from the Landmark Group, every submission will get a certificate of participation.

The World Health Organization recognises childhood obesity as a significant challenge of the 21st century. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 41 million. The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has also underlined the high prevalence of modifiable risk factors amongst Saudi youth, and further states that if current unhealthy habits are not reversed at a young age, the burden of disease and illness will rise in the future. Recognising the alarming consequences of such findings, Landmark Arabia is committed to taking necessary steps to address and prevent a surge in the incidence of chronic lifestyle conditions.

Landmark Arabia has always believed in the importance of encouraging the community to live healthy and fulfilled lives. As part of this priority, the Super Kidz campaign ensures that children are included in this conversation on good health.

Entries can be submitted via the official SuperKidz website:

About Landmark Arabia:

Landmark Arabia, Middle East’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate, was launched in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1994. Since its inception, the Group and its brands have created exceptional value for communities across the region, with its presence in GCC, Lebanon, North Africa and India.

Landmark Arabia’s retail offerings include more than 10 homegrown brands such as Centrepoint, Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Lifestyle, Splash, Max, Home Centre, Home Box, Shoexpress, Iconic and hospitality brands like Fitness First – all of which are household names in Saudi Arabia. The company also owns three Oasis Malls in the Kingdom. Along with own brands, Landmark Arabia also franchises international brands such as Koton, Reiss, Carpisa and Nandos among other global brands in the region.

Landmark Arabia currently operates over 850 stores spanning more than 11 million sq ft of retail space and employs over 6,800 Saudi employees of whom 66% are Saudi women.

The Group is proud of having one of the largest loyalty programs in the Kingdom with over 10 million customers.


Chef Nour Al Zaben


Conceptual Dining.

Chef Nour’s 2019 Food Trend Predictions:
Vegan pop ups and speciality restaurants that focus on one thing, often artisanal, and doing it exceptionally well.

Jeddah born Nour Al Zaben discovered her passion for cooking at a young age. At 14, she moved away to boarding school, where meals lacked a touch of warmth and comfort. Wanting to feel closer to home, she found herself in the kitchen, recreating familiar dishes and discovering new flavors along the way.

However, her transition into a culinary career didn’t happen until she finished her degree in Banking and Finance:
“In those days being a chef was a bit of a taboo, it was not a career path that Arab parents pushed for. However, after finishing my degree in banking and finance, I managed to do a cooking degree instead of a masters. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and did a full degree in French cuisine.”

When she returned to Jeddah, Chef Nour gained experience and understanding of the local palate by joining different culinary brigades—making her way through the kitchens of Toki and AlMultaqa; and eventually collaborating with another restaurateur and worked on the menu of Soli Sushi.

“I took a break after that and helped in our family business. I made a deal with my mom to do it for a year, then afterwards go back to my first love.”

Indeed, when Chef Nour made her comeback, she went all-in. Together with her partners, they opened Urb Kitchen, one of the trendiest restaurants in Jeddah right now.

“URB kitchen was previously called urban diner, the restaurant and the menu lacked creativity, and the atmosphere was almost nonexistent. With that said we still saw potential. Deciding to revamp the place, we took on the restaurant and managed to give it a full face lift. We worked day and night on a creative menu to cater to the masses, our prices are reasonable but never once did we compromise on ingredients. URB Kitchen was our first local concept and we are truly proud of that,” said Chef Nour.

The dishes are innovative, yet feel homey and inviting. It reflects food you grew up loving but with a twist. Take for example the beet hummus topped with quinoa falafel. The food is also aesthetically pleasing, Chef Nour and her partners believe that people eat with their eyes first and that’s what makes URB kitchen stand out.

Social trends are developing and people are looking to try new things, URB Kitchen is setting the standard of casual dining, it is a melting pot of traditional ingredients and modern techniques. This reflects Nour’s guiding principle as a restaurateur and chef:

“Have a strong concept first, the rest will follow. You can tweak dishes along the way, crafting a menu is a process, for it to be great, you have to be building upon a solid concept.”

Currently, URB Kitchen is looking forward to providing an all-day dining service, and welcoming guests to their new outdoor terrace.

Instagram: chef_nz


A Brave New Saudi: Ahmed Al Omran


Writing on the Margins.

While boys his age were playing on the streets of Hofuf, Ahmed Al Omran would be reading the Asharq Alawsat, a pan-Arabdaily newspaper— his youthful mind already enthused by politics and current affairs.

His love for reading quickly diversified into a passion for writing. The latter caught the attention of a teacher, who further challenged him in class and gifted him with his very first dictionary. However, instead of jumping into journalism after High School, Al Omran first pursued a degree in Pharmacy at King Saud University, Riyadh to satisfy his father’s wishes.

Al Omran started the “Saudi Jeans” blog in 2004 as a way to practice writing in English. He was one of the first Saudi bloggers in Saudi Arabia whose writing was accessible to an international audience due to its linguistic medium. It remained an outlet for Al Omran throughout his university years. After presenting his diploma to his family, Al Omran finally followed his true calling. He acquired a scholarship and finished a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York.

Al Omran is one of the few international Saudi journalists. Predecessors like Fazia Ambah, who worked at the Washington Post, highly influenced his path. He spent a year working for NPR, before returning to Saudi Arabia to be a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. His writing has also appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, and now he works for the Financial Times.

When asked what led him to a path in international journalism, Al Omran replied, “The way Saudi Arabia was being reported on included many examples of poor writing in the post-9/11 period. I believed that I was in a unique position to provide insight into my country because as a citizen I would have far better access to the people and their stories.”

“We are living in a special time, seize that moment to create important and valuable work.” – Ahmed Al Omran

Twitter: ahmed


A Brave New Saudi: Arwa Banawi


Bedouwins and Silhouettes.

Ever since she debuted the Suitable Woman collection in 2015, we, and everyone else it seems, have not been able to take our eyes off Saudi fashion designer, Arwa Banawi. Her creations have graced the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and came to life on the runways of Dubai, Paris, and of course, the Kingdom. She has caught the attention of stylists the world over, and most recently, Jessie J opened her concert in an Arwa Banawi outfit.

In less than three years and without missing a step, Arwa has set the barometer for the Saudi fashion industry. What makes her stand out as a Saudi designer is her ability to match her sartorial creativity with entrepreneurial astuteness. She comes in with passion, as many do, but then pairs it with a think big strategy— and so, when she says, “our vision is to export Saudi culture”, it’s more than a statement, it’s a prophecy.

A penchant to capture what’s real, and an ability to come up with collections that are multi-versed— universal on one hand, unmistakably Arab on another, makes her a force for representation. Her style is best described as androgynous, and her successful attempts at designing for pluralistic identities may just be what attracted collaborators to come knocking at her studio’s doors.

Adidas Originals paired up with Arwa to create “P.E,”, the first among her contemporaries to do so. The capsule collection consisted of athleisure wear and her signature suits. Levi’s Middle East tapped her to create a customized trucker jacket. At every turn, the persona she designs for is tangible and clearly defined: the modern day creative woman, transcending borders, turning boundaries into silhouettes.

“Our Saudi fashion community is growing, it is making a strong case to be recognized as an industry hub in the middle east. I want to be part of this reality, I have always been proud of my roots and in the near future, I want my first flagship store to be in my country. Saudi is cool, we got this.”

“I grew up in a creative household, fashion was part of my childhood. I was heavily influenced by baba’s Versace suits, and mama’s modest couture. I would take all the Sufrat Salat I’d find around the house and drape them over myself, looking at the mirror. I knew this wasn’t child’s play for me, this is who I wanted to be, what I sought to create.” – Arwa Banawi



A Brave New Saudi: Rakan Al ORAIFI


Fervour and Flavors.

“Sometimes, your passion is ignited when you get thrown into the fire, that’s how I discovered mine —I opened a restaurant straight out of college, and one day, I found myself without a cook, and all I could do was put on an apron and brave the heat of the kitchen.”

From a down on his luck restaurateur to becoming one of the Saudi chefs to prepare a Saudi lunch for over 5,000 guests at DAVOS, World Economic Forum 2018, there is no doubt that Chef Rakan has come a long way.

Long hours, knife cuts, and skating through slippery kitchen floors is what it took for him to be named Best Saudi Chef 2018 by the Saudi Tourism Excellence Awards, and to be nominated in the Middle East Excellence awards this year. And if you asked Chef Rakan, he’s looking forward to more of it: “Passion gets you started, hard work is what moves you forward. Being Saudi is part of who I am but we (as Saudis) are more than the word itself, it is important that we represent our culture, for me I do it through food and how I act as a chef. Be professional, be willing to put in the long hours, keep learning. I am honing my techniques—French, Japanese, Chinese, I come in every kitchen to serve good food but I am also there to become better.”

This year, Chef Rakan starred in two cooking shows, for an Abu Dhabi channel as well as the recently relaunched Saudi Broadcasting Channel (SBC). Prior to these, he also competed in Top Chef Middle East. Chef Rakan is working towards one day becoming an executive chef, and eventually opening a restaurant with him at its helm. He is currently a Senior Chef De Partie at Four Seasons, Riyadh.

“Don’t do it for the money, if you do that you will not make it. Cooking requires passion, being a chef needs dedication. It’s not easy, you will start from the bottom, bruises, cuts, burns– but I can tell you this, it’s worth it.” – Rakan Al ORAIFI

Instagram: raloraifi