Saudi sisters work to bring bright ideas into fun and entertainment

By Hanan Alnufaie, Saudi Gazette for Al Arabiya English

Saudi sisters Saja and Sadeem Alhosainy, along with Haifa Alsharif, are founders of a company called The Gathering KSA. (Photo courtesy: The Gathering KSA)

Saudi sisters Saja and Sadeem Alhosainy, along with Haifa Alsharif, are founders of a company called “The Gathering KSA”, which organized four successful outdoor events in the Kingdom recently.

The four public events, namely “Art Day Out”, “National Day Out”, “Winter Day Out” and “Equestrian Day Out”, gained public attention and support from the General Authority for Entertainment for their creativity.

Saudi Gazette met with Saja Alhosainy to explore this female partnership, their work and dreams.

“We started at the beginning of 2016. My sister Sadeem and I have our own businesses and Haifa has hers too. The idea came when we were together on a business trip outside the Kingdom to promote our businesses and participate in several events,” she said.

“We started wondering why Saudi Arabia did not have open areas for entertainment just like other countries. Saudi tourists are always attracted to these places but unfortunately, we do not have any here. So we thought, why not take the initiative and do something different and new for society,” said Saja.

She continued, “Therefore, we decided to make our first project an outdoor gathering for families to entertain them in a classy way. We took 40 days to work it out. We believed that we had nothing to lose if we failed. We went through lots of difficulties because it was the first outdoor event that targeted families.

“Despite the challenges, we were persistent. After 40 days, our idea became real. We named it Art Day Out, which was held last February in Albujairi Square in Diriyah, which is a great historic place that reflects our past and time-honored traditions. Besides, it is located on the outskirts of Riyadh away from the city.

“Due to our frequent visits to many countries abroad, we cared a lot about details. That is how we achieved unmatched success in this event.

“Our target was the entire family, so we were very careful in having many sections to make the entire family happy. We did not want them to come to just eat, we wanted them to enjoy and get inspired by artists, cooks, creators, and inventors we had, especially that all of them are Saudis and of young age. Our goal was to spend a full enjoyable day that is memorable.
All the products showcased in the event were sold out. The participants’ business cards were finished and the participating families were very happy.

“We had 72 participants of varying talents. We never expected the number of visitors to reach 15,000 over the course of 3 days. We saw with our own eyes that the line was 10 meters long. The streets near the event were extremely congested. To us this was proof that our society needs such fun events and we were on the right path.”

Speaking about the cooperation with the General Authority for Entertainment, Saja said, “During the event, there was an individual who is involved in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program, and he was literally amazed at what he saw. He invited us to workshops related to the Vision 2030; tourism and entertainment are significant components of the reform program. Then they offered their cooperation in order to make our events bigger and attract even more visitors. We felt that The Gathering KSA was established due to demand from society before anything else.

“Later, Sadeem, Haifa and I were invited to a very big meeting, which was attended by representative from many concerned governmental authorities. We did a detailed presentation on Art Day Out, and everyone was impressed. Then the General Authority for Entertainment said it would support and sponsor our company — the first company to get their backing. After that, we did National Day Out on the Kingdom’s National Day.

“This event was our first event in cooperation with Authority for Entertainment. Its impact was great. We had 70 participants. In just two days we had 35,000 visitors. The Authority helped us in getting the permits required from all departments. We first write a proposal, and then they study it very closely before giving the go-ahead. They are very selective in choosing what proposal to support and sponsor.”

Saja commented: “In our events, we attract all types of arts and artists of all ages. We had an artist who is 45 years old and has done her PhD, but she has impeccable talent at sculpting by using stones. But honestly our main aim is to support young artists who have yet to make a name for themselves. We in The Gathering KSA are so proud at giving these young people — whether gifted artists or cooks or designers — the opportunity to sell themselves. We not only care about the in-impact during the event, we also care about the post-impact after the event. We want our participants to be well known even after the event. To us that is another success.”

Saja said, “We, at the Gathering KSA, are very careful about the name of our outing because it usually reflects the main theme or concept of our event. We also choose to make our outing on specific occasions and seasons, for example, the National Day Out was on the National Day, Winter Day Out was at the beginning of the winter season in Riyadh. We always try to be creative and change the main theme of our events.”

With regard to the choice of places, Saja said, “We usually choose either the newest places that people are not aware of, or the old and beautiful one that are not tapped properly.

“National Day Out was held in Old Diriyah Street near the tallest Saudi Flag in Riyadh while Winter Day Out was held in Masharef Hills, which is a huge land that has many villas and has a big open green land. And our fourth outing, “Equestrian Day Out, was held in Nofa Resorts last month.”

When asked about the objectives of The Gathering KSA, Saja said, “First, we want to create a good atmosphere for new talents to express themselves and be visible in society. Second, we aim at creating unforgettable events for all family members to enjoy. Third, we want to add our own insights to the Saudi entertainment industry, meaning that we want the families to enjoy their lives here without insisting on frequent travel to other countries. One of our main goals is to support young Saudi talents and to introduce them to society.”

Highlighting the features of The Gathering KSA, she said, “In each event, we have 5-6 elements, which are art, food and beverages, retail, kids, entertainment and charity. What we change is the theme and accordingly the design. We tell all our participants about this in advance.”

On the prices of entry tickets, Saja said, “It is very nominal compared to the services provided.”

Saja concluded by saying, “We are very happy for the fast-paced changes happening in the Kingdom. We have finally started to see new concepts about entertainment industry. The obsession of traveling abroad is coming down due to many events being held for both families and singles. We are planning 10 events across the Kingdom for this year.”

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.