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MERWAS

SAUDI ARABIA - Tourism

Nada Al-Tuwaijri

CEO, Merwas

Bio

Nada Altuwaijri is a highly accomplished leader, entrepreneur, innovator, and influencer in the global digital multimedia arts, media, and entertainment industry. As a public face and advocate for generation of young Saudis and creators, she is recognized as one of the top talents under 35 in Saudi Arabia, the region, and worldwide. Nada has achieved significant impact in both the private and public sectors. As the Co-founder, CEO, and Board Director of Merwas, a leading global digital multimedia-technology, content creation, and production company based in Riyadh, Nada has been instrumental in shaping the creative landscape of the region. Under her leadership, Merwas offers artists access to top-industry expertise, world-class services, and cutting-edge facilities, driving innovation, collaboration, and production of multimedia content. Throughout her diverse career, Nada has demonstrated exceptional strategic thinking, PR, communication, media, and digital engagement skills in multiple leadership positions. She is frequently sought out for her advice and shares her thought leadership and industry knowledge with key stakeholders and audiences. Before joining Merwas, Nada held prominent roles at Edelman, the world’s leading public relations agency; the Saudi Ministry of Media; and the MiSK Foundation. Nada began her career as a journalist at Al Arabiya, the largest Arab and international news media company in the Middle East and North Africa region. Her globally recognized reporting on Syrian refugees earned her numerous industry accolades and awards. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Government from Kingston University, London, and a Master’s Degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the University of Westminster.

"Our approach to the academy prioritizes addressing market gaps rather than focusing solely on instrumental teaching."
TBY talks to Nada Al-Tuwaijri, CEO of Merwas, about competition, recent accomplishments, and supporting Saudi Arabian artists.
Saudi Arabia is embarking on a journey of regeneration. What are the major opportunities and challenges for Merwas?

Our approach to the academy prioritizes addressing market gaps rather than focusing solely on instrumental teaching. Through intensive gap analysis, we identified a significant lack of technical expertise in the industry, and our curated curriculums and courses aim to bridge this gap effectively. Teaching such technicalities yields three main outcomes: contributing to the Kingdom’s economy, creating job opportunities, and fostering the evolution of the industry. Delving into the record label aspect, our business plan revealed a shortage of labels capable of nurturing the abundant talent pool across the Kingdom, spanning from Riyadh to Jeddah and beyond. With a database comprising 15,000 talents, our label contributes to the broader talent incubation ecosystem. Beyond mere production, we focus on nurturing careers, guiding talents through music selection, composition, image consultancy, and tour management. We prioritize a holistic 360-degree approach to talent management, ensuring sustained careers and safeguarding their IP for posterity. Simultaneously, we align with recent IP legislations, emphasizing legal protections for artists’ legacies. In terms of networking, the Merwas network encompasses diverse content, including podcasts and digital shows, showcasing Saudi talent globally. Community engagement stands as a cornerstone, providing spaces for talents to connect, collaborate, and perform, fostering organic growth. We prioritize nurturing young talents, facilitating their development within our community engagement activities. Pioneering in the region, we combine fashion and music, offering a platform for Saudi designers to collaborate with musicians, resulting in unique products tailored to specific events or projects. This holistic approach underscores our commitment to nurturing talent, fostering collaboration, and contributing to the vibrant cultural landscape of Saudi Arabia.

What key attributes have set you apart from other companies?

Having healthy competition drives the entire industry forward. With our specific business model, we do not have competitors per se. Although there are competitors in certain areas within the business, such as record labels and the academy, there is no competitor with a similar business model, which puts us in a unique position. Merwas’ unique proposition is that it is close to both content creators and the decision-makers. Those two do not meet and talk often; we can be the middlemen. We voice the concerns and suggestions of content creators in an eloquent way whereby the result feeds the talents in the Kingdom.

What have been some of Merwas’ accomplishments or milestones over the past year?

During our first year, we were operating at only 40% capacity, and that gave us some room to test the market. Instead of activating all the subsidiaries at once, we were phasing it out. We started with these studios to test them out and test the appetite of clients before determining where demand stood lies. Further down the line, we activated the workshops and the academy, with certain areas yet to be activated. With 40% operational capacity, we are proud to be recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest music production studio in the world, which entailed a thorough and lengthy process to be validated. One of our greatest achievements is our workshops done in collaboration with the General Entertainment Authority, where we brought in 65 of the most well-known musicians in the Arab region to teach young talents. These two groups would have never been able to meet otherwise, but we successfully did that free of charge and supported by the government. We have gained regional and global recognition for the building design of the studios, and equipment that is in them. We have had A-list muscicans such as Kanye West and DJ Khalid visiting the studio and being blown away. Once the record label is activated, and the incubation process starts, I believe there will be numerous local success stories.

Is Merwas actively looking for new partnerships and collaborations?

Our partnership strategy is multifaceted and tailored to various segments within the industry. Some partnerships, like our collaboration with the Saudi Arabia Intellectual Property Authority (SAIP), focus solely on infrastructure enhancement. We aim to play a significant role in activating collection management offices and investing in the entire IP cycle, aligning closely with industry development goals. Other partnerships are strategic in nature, such as our alliance with Rotana. Here, the objective is to collaborate and provide their top-tier artists access to our world-class recording studios, fostering mutual benefit and elevating industry standards. Additionally, our MoU with Quality of Life, set to launch in mid-2024, underscores our commitment to enhancing citizens’ lives. Recognizing the importance of entertainment in quality of life, we offer various initiatives, including activations and workshops, to enrich the cultural landscape. Our partnership with the Music Commission, a significant player under the Ministry of Culture, is strategic. As it legislates and we execute, this collaboration positions both parties strongly to drive industry growth and innovation. We’re also honored to have signed an MoU with the largest telecom entity in the world, stc, which will solidify the culture of local content creation and creativity being guided academically through collaborations between stc Academy and Merwas Academy. Our partnership with the Cultural Development Fund On the other hand will give local creatives access to grants and investment funds that will support their ambitions. It is also a way for our country to invest in its local talents, both in music and filmmaking. Looking ahead, we remain open to further partnerships with entities that share our vision and mandate. Synergy and alignment of objectives are key criteria guiding our collaboration decisions, ensuring mutual benefit and sustained industry advancement.

How does Merwas support local artists in Saudi Arabia, both domestically and internationally?

My direct answer is the space itself and the access to top-quality studios at low rates. We are following a strategy of “high quality, low rates” in order to make it accessible to everyone, especially young talents. In addition to offering them a space to perform, we provide access to seminars, workshops, and the academy to ensure the sustainability of their careers in the future.
After activated the record label, our focus is to incubate up-and-coming talents, and our plan is to help them elevate from class C to A in the next five to seven years.
Every pillar in Merwas is devoted to talent. If we take a bird-eye view at the conversation between our partners and Merwas, the main investment has been in talent. Before we acquired the facility, the equipment, or anything else, we were determined to know how we can invest in young talents, and how can our business model help them elevate themselves and cover all the gaps in the market.

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