With a history of more than 126 years featuring thousands of issues and millions of readers spanning the globe, Vogue is the world’s leading fashion magazine and authority on style, creating quite a name for itself both within the industry and out across its 25 international editions. The key to this success? Building a cohesive brand with a vision extending far beyond its iconic logo and a consistent DNA weaving throughout its far-reaching ecosystem, according to the Vogue Arabia team at this year’s Misk Global Forum 2019.
Managing editor Alexandria Gouveia, commercial director Rana Hatem, and fashion director Katie Trotter discussed how to create engaging content for multiple platforms, understand the types of interested consumers using data analytics, and determine a brand’s unique value proposition to attract advertisers during a Vogue masterclass on day two of the three-day conference.
On the main stage, Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut moderated a session on “Facts, Figures & Fashion” with panelists Renad Hefni, founder and designer of Saudi fashion brand Royaled by RH, and Dennis Du, vice president of Jollychic, a Chinese e-commerce platform sharing their insights on the business skills required to build a fashion company and how to balance it with the creative side of designing as well as the rising influence of social media and sustainability.
The Misk Global Forum, the flagship conference of the non-profit philanthropic organization The Misk Foundation established by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is centered around empowering local youth to become active participants in social, economic, and cultural world development while encouraging open discourse between the leaders of today and tomorrow. Focusing on future skills, entrepreneurship, global citizenship, and employment to help drive positive widespread change, the forum aimed to cultivate the more than 4,000 young leaders from 85 countries through exciting talks, workshops, and majlis-style group discussions.
“We give them a stage, we give them connections, we give them an audience to tell them, ‘yes this is possible,’” explained Shaima Hamidaddin, executive manager of the Misk Global Forum. Although the event began as an extension of Misk’s overarching mission with a focus on Saudi youth, it soon expanded to an international platform. “We saw an opportunity to impact the global youth, not only local youth.”
This year marks the fourth edition of the annual forum, bringing 140 renowned speakers from around the globe to Riyadh on November 12-14 for this interactive platform, including HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, HE Shamma bint Sohail Almazrouei, the UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs, actors Adrian Grenier and David Oyelowo, co-founder of Tesla Motors JB Straubel, and spoken word artist Prince EA.
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, also shared her global philanthropic efforts for children and her hopes to return to the Kingdom to help build government health centers in remote areas.
“I love the feeling of kindness that I’m getting from the people of Saudi Arabia,” she told Arab News. “Everyone has been so nice here in Riyadh; I think that comes from good leadership.”
With the theme of the foundation’s 2019 flagship event being Work Reworked, the forum explored upcoming transformations in the workforce pool, how developing technology will affect the current workflow, and implementing new trends to redesign the workspace in an effort to equip youth with the skills needed to tackle the changing professional realm in whichever industry they enter, from financial and business to education and entertainment. Although the Global Youth Index portrays an optimistic youth, Hamidaddin fears it’s because of their lack of awareness about future challenges.
“During our forum, we want to highlight challenges, but more importantly shed light on solutions and opportunities,” she said. “Yes, there’s a roadblock here, but there are so many ways to go around it; it’s not the end of the world. We just have to shift towards an entrepreneurial mind-set and channel our creativity.” Technical skills must go hand-in-hand with artistic and soft skills in order to succeed, she adds, as “being a tech-savvy person on its own will only get you so far.”
Finalists at the Entrepreneurship World Cup, the largest global start-up pitch competition that welcomed 102,000 entrepreneurs from 180 countries vying to be the world’s best young entrepreneur, already recognize this. Of the 107 global finalists, six were from Saudi Arabia, including third-place winner Red Sea Farms, a saltwater agricultural firm that received USD 150,000. While second place went to American neurotechnology business Koniku Inc., the USD 500,000 grand prize was awarded to NERv Technology Inc., a Canadian company specializing in digital post-operation monitoring systems, on the final day of the forum. However, all EWC finalists walked away winners.
“This year at MGF, we’re also announcing a USD 250 million fund for our top 107 winners, who will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kickstart their start-up ideas,” said Hamidaddin.
In an effort to enhance the vibrant local startup community and support emerging entrepreneurs in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Abu Dhabi tech accelerator, Hub71, at the time of the forum.
The next generation of changemakers is rising as we speak and Saudi Arabia is already taking action to invest in their future and support their endeavors of professional, social, and technological global progress, especially the Kingdom’s own youth where almost 70% of the population is under the age of 30.
“For years, we are pioneering, giving youth a platform, developing young people, opening up new opportunities and avenues for them to participate in,” explained Hamidaddin. “Now, my aim at Misk is to more bring diversity, to bridge the gap between female and male representation, and to connect young people with experts.”