Saudi entrepreneur promotes talent through unique initiative

Saudi entrepreneur promotes talent through unique initiative


Faiza Rizvi
Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — There was a time when Saudi women were perceived as oppressed and were known to be hidden behind the veil. But the last few years have witnessed an elevation in the status of Saudi women, who are boldly stepping up and challenging social norms to make a mark for themselves in the society.

When Lulwa AlSoudairy, launched 4 months back, with her cofounders Leena Al-Aufi and Marwan Cheguenni, she had an exceptional vision of promoting Arab designers and artists, which she is now determined to turn into reality. After graduating from Dar AlHekma University, she went on to pursue her MBA from Babson College. Artistia won the second position in the startup track with great appreciation from the judging panel at the recently concluded MIT Enterprise Forum, competing among 1000 entries from all over the Kingdom. is an online social marketplace where one can directly purchase diverse items such as jewelry, clothes, Abayas, furniture and other unique products directly from their favorite artists and designers from the Middle East. “Western brands sell most in the Kingdom, while local designers have limited platforms to showcase their talent. They either create social media accounts to promote their creations or look for local bazaars,” AlSoudairy told Saudi Gazette, adding that she wanted to create a medium where Arab designers would get a chance to reach customers with their creations easily, because they analyze and understand customer preferences and taste in the Kingdom more than international brands do.

“It is an excellent platform where these designers can showcase and sell their art, collaborate with one another and get access to experts who can help them grow professionally,” said AlSoudairy. What’s unique about this online marketplace is the creation of a centralized hub for artists, where they can easily register, get to sell their artwork and collaborate with each other through a customized app on the website. As the sales will increase, this will gradually lead to an increase in demand for their goods, both locally and internationally, which will trigger growth in local production, thereby leading to a productive economy. Artistia aims to build, on a historical heritage, a modern platform that fosters the new generation of artists and designers. The inspiration of manifesting local creations on an international platform came from her mother, who has been a handicraft artist for over 10 years, but faced numerous challenges of selling her products due to absence of concrete media back in those times.
Her website has already registered over 60 professional designers in just a span of 4 months, to whom AlSoudairy eventually wants to expose to international recognition.

Giving her opinion on the changing status of Saudi women, AlSoudairy remarked: “Last 5 years have been a time of transformation for Saudi women and studies reveal that 40% businesses are owned and managed by them. I’ve noticed that Saudi women love to challenge themselves and are very hard-working and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them.”

AlSoudairy is supported by an inspired team of young hardworking individuals who are working to fulfill the vision of Artistia, including Hassan Cheguenni, Nermeen Ekramy, Shahad Qari and Noura Al-Aufi.

Picture Caption: Lulwa Al-Soudairy and Nermeen Ekramy receiving their prize at the recently concluded MIT Enterprise Forum for