What went down at Day 1 of Athar Festival


Ian Fairservice, Chairman of Athar Festival and Managing Partner & Group Editor-in-Chief of Motivate Media Group (L) and Mohamed Al Ayed, Vice Chairman, Athar Festival And CEO, TRACCS.

Over 700 creative minds from the Kingdom and beyond converged on Riyadh as Day 1 of Athar – Saudi Festival of Creativity kicked off its inaugural edition.

Organised by Motivate Media Group and TRACCS, the event drew a diverse pool of international and local industry experts, young Saudi talent, along with some of the top brands from across sectors.

In the opening ceremony that kicked off the festival, Ian Fairservice, Chairman of Athar Festival and Managing Partner & Group Editor-in-Chief of Motivate Media Group, said: “The industry has witnessed some staggering changes over recent years, with creativity becoming a key focus and contributor to advancing the future of the Saudi economy.

“Staying at the forefront of these developments is pivotal to the whole creative marketing industry, and Athar Festival has brought all of us together to realise that vision.”

Joining him to welcome the gathering, Mohamed Al Ayed, Vice Chairman, Athar Festival And CEO, TRACCS, said: “Today, we are all witnessing the transformational stage of the collective creative industry, much of which is driven by innovation that creates impact.

“That innovation is inherent to the ever-expanding Saudi story as the Kingdom writes the next chapter in the future of its economy.

“As Athar Festival begins, let us pool our thoughts, expertise, rich experiences to bring about the evolution of Saudi Arabia’s creative landscape.”

The first session of the festival began with a fireside chat with Her Highness Princess Loulwa bint Yazeed Al Saud, who highlighted the importance of creativity for entrepreneurs.

Fernando Machado, Global CMO of NotCo and winner of over 200 Cannes Lions awards took centre stage to deliver a keynote that encouraged creatives to take risks with unique game changing ideas.

Next panel discussion which saw the participation of FIRE, the first-ever AI panellist in the Middle Eastalong with experts such as Nadeem Ibrahim, Head of Digital KSA, and Vishal Badiani, General Manager of Atomic Digital Design.

The panel focused on AI and the impact of technology on supplementing creativity.

At the same time, another fireside chat that took place featured Saudi entrepreneur and influencer, Ahmed Aljar, as well as Karl Mapstone, Head of Middle East at Vamp.

The two discussed the key factors that are attracting global brands to the Kingdom and the balancing act of meeting brand objectives while maintaining creative freedom of content creators.

Also spread across the festival’s four zones were ten experiential booths that represented key contributors to the industry.

These included creative agencies, institutes, consumer brands, media companies, and other organisations such as  SCEGA, Saudi Ad School, Noug, Tajalla, Teeb, UTURN, Let’s Poze, MBC Media Solutions, SSUP, Lampaah, Bassmat, the Bold Group, Publicis Groupe and Nuss.

More sessions, firesides chats and panels will follow on Day 2 on 15 November, complete with the industry awards on  the final day, 16 November.