Fashion Commission launches costume design training program in Jeddah

JEDDAH/RIYADH: Christmas shopping in Saudi Arabia is unrecognizable from just a few years ago, reflecting both the growing culture of religious tolerance and the speed and scale of social transformation taking place in the Kingdom.

These days, festive gifts and decorations can be found easily in many markets and malls across the Kingdom, with Christmas trees in the capital Riyadh, snowmen in Jeddah and even Santa Claus making an appearance in Al -Khobar.

As more and more foreign expatriates choose to settle in Saudi Arabia, the government’s efforts to move the country towards an “open and moderate Islam” have created a welcoming atmosphere for other religions and traditions.

The transformation has also enabled local retailers and e-commerce platforms to sell a wider range of products to those who wish to join in the festivities.

Festive Kingdom: A Christmas tree in the Saudi capital Riyadh, a snowman in Jeddah and a Santa Claus making an appearance in Al-Khobar. (Provided)

Wejdan Al-Khatabi, a Saudi marketing professional who works at Napco National in Jeddah, told Arab News that Christmas items are selling well this year and are in high demand in Saudi Arabia.

“I work in an environment where 70% of the employees are Christians,” Al-Khatabi said.

“Some of them celebrate in their home country and some of them celebrate here. They were complaining that they couldn’t celebrate here because there was no Christmas party atmosphere or products. However , today they can celebrate with the complete winter set.

Al-Khatabi says she and her daughter enjoyed decorating a Christmas tree at her Christian friend’s house in Jeddah.

“We ordered the tree from Amazon and the rest of the decorations from Noon and Mumzworld and it took a week to arrive as related items are more acceptable these days and ship with no restrictions from what they were before.”

The growth of e-commerce has made it much easier for Christian households in the Kingdom to access gifts and decorations, and to share their traditions openly with their Muslim friends and neighbors.

Nowadays, party favors and decorations can be found easily in many markets and malls across the Kingdom. (Provided)

“We put everything online and enjoyed the preparation vibe,” Al-Khatabi said. “I love it. And for me, it’s a sample of a cozy winter, and it’s really enlightening to be around people with different perspectives.

Alain Karam, a Lebanese expat living in Saudi Arabia, confirms that finding Christmas decorations in stores in the Kingdom is much easier than it was in previous years.

“Decorations were previously available in Saudi Arabia in specific hidden places because it was not allowed, but now they are available in nearby malls or stores,” Karam told Arab News. “I used to go to Christmas markets at embassies where people would buy Christmas decorations.”

These days, some cafes and restaurants in Saudi cities are transformed into winter wonderlands, encrusted with imported decorations and ornaments, and offering holiday drinks in Christmas-themed cups and glasses.

In one of Riyadh’s best-known malls, Kingdom Mall, several stores now sell Christmas decorations and gifts, including French beauty retailer L’Occitane.

“We have a variety of Christmas packages at L’Occitane, including skincare, fragrances and small gift packages,” Wedad Al-Malki, a sales representative, told Arab News.

“Companies celebrating Christmas often place special orders with us in advance. There is a high demand for Christmas packages, especially from companies celebrating Christmas with their employees. »

Bateel, a cafe and store that sells Saudi organic dates and luxury gifts, has launched a new collection of elegant tree- and star-shaped gift boxes containing chocolates or stuffed dates, decorated in red, green, white and gold.

Neama Al-Sabea’s Christmas corner at home. (Instagram)

Lily’s Bakery and cafe in Jeddah also offers Christmas goods and a wintry vibe, with cups of rich hot chocolate decorated with gingerbread men.

Ad agencies have also seized on the Christmas theme, releasing new ads filled with festive scenes and cozy wintry iconography.

Neama Al-Sabea, a Jeddah-based Jordanian, told Arab News that she is welcoming Christmas this year with a full winter-themed installation, including an electric fireplace, snowmen, a traditional tree and sparkling ornaments.

“Special related articles can be found through Instagram accounts, especially those based in Riyadh,” Al-Sabea said.

“This year I have a collection of seven different locations, including red winter candles, wooden deer and tiny snowmen, and I’ve also added Shein’s artificial berry branches next to the pine cones, which is one of the key elements of winter.”

“One of the objects dearest to my heart is the handmade wooden rocking chair, which I placed next to the fireplace with a blanket on it.”

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