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The Saudi Design Industry’s Shifting Expansion

Recently, 500 designers and experts came together in Riyadh for the inaugural Designathon competition to address pressing challenges affecting the design industry, such as social impact, health, and sustainability. It was planned by the Architecture and Design Commission and took place on February 2 and 3, bringing together regional artists to compete for prizes totaling more than SR500,000 ($133,000).

Sumayah Al-Solaiman, CEO of the commission, said: “It is the designer’s role to really advocate for not just themselves but also society and the planet. We made sure that we have that responsibility reflected within the three tracks.”

Team "Sabeel" won the wellness track, with team "Mumtir" coming in second and team "Khutwah bi Khutwah" taking third.

The winning teams in the sustainability design track were "Wasm" in first place, "Table Mo1" in second place, and "Waste No More" in third place. Finally, team "Dreams" took first place in the social impact track, followed by "Rans Team" in second, and "Hayyak" in third.

The program intends to promote emerging designers to think about actual contemporary design difficulties that have a meaningful impact on community members, raise awareness of participatory design ideas, and emphasize the importance of design in resolving global issues. In order to better understand, address, and occasionally anticipate their demands, participatory design includes all stakeholders (such as customers, partners, employees, citizens, and consumers) into the design process.

Al-Solaiman wants to employ the design approach and get feedback from all participants on how things can be improved for subsequent iterations.

Huda Al-Qahtani, a participant who is a senior architecture student at Prince Sultan University, is intrigued by the creative process behind design and how it affects the microclimate. Al-Qahtani told Arab News she was thrilled about the innovative efforts supporting the expansion of the regional design scene.

One of the sustainability track mentors, Raghad Fathaddin, said that in order to realize the Saudi Vision 2030 and sustainable development goals, they are calling upon new ways of thinking, which the Designathon is demonstrating to all of the country's residents. He finds the concepts he is hearing to be quite impressive and is eager for what lies ahead for them.

Al-Solaiman mentioned the potential for future expansion on the three tracks, an increase in participation, or even a move to a different location.

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