100+ speaker lineup to spotlight the transformative power of creativity in Saudi Arabia at Athar Festival 2023
Posted on 2023 Oct,12

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With a little over a month to go for Saudi Arabia’s largest, most vibrant, and dynamic festival for the creative marketing industry, Motivate Media Group and TRACCS, organisers of Athar – Saudi Festival of Creativity, unveiled an impressive four-day programme and exceptional speaker lineup of over 100 national and global industry strategists, innovators, and experts.

The announcement was made in the presence of key representatives from Saudi Conventions & Exhibitions General Authority (SCEGA), a strategic partner, and MBC Media Solutions (MMS), a co-partner of the festival, which promises to be a groundbreaking event that celebrates and nurtures creativity in the Kingdom.

Held from 13 to 16 November 2023 at the Hotel Crowne Plaza Riyadh RDC, Athar Festival will be able to accommodate around 1,500 delegates from across the globe, including participation from some of Saudi’s top companies such as Saudi Tourism Authority, Red Sea Global, STC, Saudi Aramco, SAUDIA, HungerStation amongst others.

Athar Festival will feature 12 academies for young professionals, along with CMOs and the Maheerah Women’s Programme which is open to 10 high-potential women in the creative marcomms industry. The festival will culminate with the Athar Awards Gala Dinner, which will feature the Legacy Awards of the Decade and Special Awards, which will be presented to the agency, network, brand, creative leader, and marketer of the decade among others. The awards will also feature the winners of the 24-hour hack competition part of the young talent academies.

Amjad Shacker, Acting CEO of SCEGA said, “Creativity and innovation are at the core of Saudi Vision 2030, and as part of our ambition and role as a facilitator of global business collaboration and partnerships, it is our responsibility to attract and support new and high potential industries. Identifying new business streams is imperative to the Kingdom’s thriving economic growth, and we believe that unlocking the full potential of the local creative industry is vital for Saudi Arabia to achieve its transformation aspirations. As a strategic partner of Athar Festival, the first and largest of its kind in the country, we are realizing our goal of truly attracting high calibre international events.”

Emphasising the festival's significance in promoting creativity across various sectors, Ian Fairservice, Chairman of Athar Festival and Managing Partner & Group Editor-in-Chief of Motivate Media Group, said, “Athar Festival will be the largest gathering of the creative marketing industry ever staged in the Kingdom. Our main objectives are aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, focusing on enriching the local innovation, advertising, and creative ecosystem. We are thrilled to bring together the best minds and talents from all over the world, creating an environment of collaborative learning and innovation, showcasing the boundless potential of creativity as a force for business, for change, and for good."

Citing the recent description of Saudi Arabia as the biggest success story of the 21st century by the Kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohamed Al Ayed, Vice Chairman of Athar Festival and CEO of TRACCS said, “For centuries, Saudi Arabia has been the global epicentre for trade, shaping its identity with a distinctive blend of culture, commerce, and creativity. Time is rife for us to truly celebrate and recognise the power of creativity as a key accelerator and enabler of the Kingdom’s sustainable, thriving, and future-forward economy. Athar Festival is a unique platform where imagination will flourish, industry aspirations will be renewed, and new collaborations will be forged, creating infinite possibilities for Saudi Arabia and its people. I am positive that Athar Festival will leave a lasting mark on the Saudi landscape.”

Ahmed Al-Sahhaf, CEO of MBC Media Solutions (MMS), added, “It is our great pleasure to be a part of Athar Festival as it brings together the region's most influential brands and individuals to foster connections and spark creativity. Athar Festival allows us to showcase our creative solutions and connect with creative individuals and make a difference. Being a part of Athar Festival is not only an exciting experience but also a testament to our commitment at MMS to push innovation and growth."

Attendees will have the opportunity to take part in an engaging agenda that features a distinguished lineup of speakers who will deliver thought-provoking insights across six content themes, namely, Technology as a creative driver; Strategies that help grow brands; Inspiration and idea generation; Work culture and talent; Bringing a positive change to society; and Saudi Arabia - a thriving market for the creative community.

These themes and the main lineup of activities will be divided across two primary stages which will run in parallel and feature two days of inspiring content including a series of keynotes, in-depth panel discussions, informative talks, fireside chats, and engaging and interactive workshops.

The Cultivation Stage, themed 'The Impact of Strategy,' will spotlight the transformative power of strategy and technology in the creative marketing sphere. Meanwhile, the Momentum Stage, themed 'The Art of Creativity,' will delve into the realms of inspiration, culture, and talent, exploring how these elements contribute to groundbreaking creativity.

The festival promises to showcase a diverse lineup of speakers to learn from, including creative business leaders representing some of Saudi’s top companies across myriad sectors.

Attendees can expect to hear from the likes of Princess Loulwa Bint Yazeed Al Saud, Founder & CEO, +966 And CEO, RiseUp Saudi; Asmaa Quorrich, CMO of Saudi Tourism Authority; Mohammed Abaalkheil, Vice President Corporate Relations, STC; Tracy Lanza, Group Head of Global Brand Development, Red Sea Global; Khaled Tash, Group CMO of SAUDIA; Mohammed Jifri, CMO of Hungerstation; and Kirk Collingwood, Director of Brand & Communication at Saudi Aramco, to name a few.

Creative industry veterans and representatives of the foremost creative agencies in the region and beyond, such as Fernando Machado, Global CMO of NotCo, USA; Khalid Abdulaziz, Head of Strategy, The Fullstop; Dani Richa, Chairman and CEO, Europe, Middle East and Africa at BBDO; Bassel Kakish, CEO ME and Turkey of Publicis Groupe; Elda Choucair, CEO, Omnicom Media Group; Mohamed Sehly, Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett; Mohammed Bahmishan, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, FP7 McCann KSA; and Rayyan Aoun, Executive Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson among others, will take to the festival’s stages to share their invaluable insight.

Offering a broader perspective on commerce and creativity at the global level, some of the world’s most recognizable companies and brands will also partake in the festival and will be represented by their most creative thought leaders. Some of them will include Ali Cheikhali, Creative Strategy Lead at Google; Garrett Olexiuk, Campaign & Creative Manager at Amazon; Hala Zgheib, Head of Retail at Snapchat; Sasha El Jurdi, Head of Content Programming, TikTok; Jacqueline Bourke, Senior Director, Creative, Getty Images; and Aamir Allibhoy, Regional CMO, Tim Hortons MENA to list a few.