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In conversation with: Hatem Alakeel – Saudi designer, empowerment enthusiast and so much more

Hatem Alakeel is perhaps one of the most empowering personalities in the region. The creative force (and shall we add, award-winning designer) behind Style by Ha and Toby by Hatem, Hatem has also been dubbed as an empowerment enthusiast and rightfully so, given his appetite for empowering others — especially those in the region.

His latest business venture, titled Authenticite, goes far beyond brand consulting and content creations. Through his latest platform, Hatem orchestrated a business model that focuses on a range of conceptual communications and production specialists, to help empower those in his network.

His approach to connecting Saudi culture with the world is what made him a unique columnist on Buro. Middle East with his successful ‘Gems of Arabia‘ column, and we couldn’t be more proud to speak to him today about his latest business venture.

Can you tell us a little more about Authenticite?

Founded on the principle that “art and fashion are the world’s common languages”, Authenticite is a consulting and creative production agency, specialized in bridging the Saudi culture and vision with the world. It brings together a vast range of conceptual communications and production specialists, to guide and enhance the efforts of inspirational artists, fashion designers and brands from the Arab world and the international scene. Aiming to connect the Saudi ethos, historic and contemporary affluence with the global perspective, Authenticite aspires to be the stage of brands’ success and recognition.

How did you come up with the name, Authenticite?

I used the word “Authentic” in French because of my French education and Asalah in Arabic to celebrate all of the “authentic” talent that I would like support, celebrate and bring forth.

What services are you currently offering?

We create “authentic” content with the motif to always highlight all of the amazing Saudi/Arab talent that we are not aware of. From profiling to creating collaborations, from identifying topics and key themes of relevance, to bringing them to life in a creative and engaging manner.

Why did you feel like it was the right time to launch Authenticite?

Many local and international brands want to adapt to the Saudi market in a more credible and less cliche manner. The time has come for brands to take their content to the next level with a more local perspective.

With over 15 years of experience in the fashion and art scene, the Authenticite team offers deep knowledge in production, from concept to 360 execution. Always aligned to the Saudi cultural status and market forward needs, Authenticite is the “stop-shop” to support brands in producing films linked to Art and Fashion in diverse and tailor-made solutions to profiling “authentic” personalities.

What were some of the principles you follow when you first launched?

Profiling individuals of substance, who are dedicating their life in shaping the Saudi and Arab world future landscape, remains a key priority and scope. From collaborations with some of the most significant online portals and publications, to 360 support and guidance on the different components of precise profiling and executive identity is one of the key services of Authenticite.

Authenticite believes in the power of knowledge, experience and entrepreneurial thinking.

With your extensive experience in Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East, can you describe what a “Saudi Centric” manner is?

Brands, both local and international, must take the time to do the proper research before entering the Saudi market. From working with local talent and creating effective collaboration. It’s important that the right approach is considered prior to market penetration. It’s a question of understanding the local mentality and way of thinking

What are your thoughts on the wonderful developments taking place in Saudi (before the pandemic hit)?

We are all thrilled by the amazing progress that is taking place in KSA.

“There may be a pandemic, but we are all given the chance to explore our beautiful country and its spectacular natural habitats. It’s time for us to start shedding more light on the beauty of our country, its amazing talent and this is what Authenticite is all about.”

Whilst tourism and culture is booming in Saudi (again, prior to COVID-19), the fashion industry has dramatically changed too. Can you talk us through this?

We have all had to make drastic changes — some of us have had to close down our retail and re-strategize. It’s a time for us all to get out of our comfort zones and start thinking of innovation. Even prior Covid-19, all markets  were  already taking a different turn. It’s time to escalate the online process and head towards new strategies, both in business and social media content.

Here are some of the artists that I am promoting. It’s important to use humour in the hard times that we are currently living in. It’s only through local artists, designers, strategies and personalities can we effectively impact our markets. I personally curate all of my collaborations.


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Gems of Arabia personalities

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You can now discover Hatem Alakeel’s platform, Authenticite, here. You can also visit the Authenticite Instagram page and Hatem Alakeel’s personal account for more information.

Also, head to Gems of Arabia to browse through a plethora of must-read interviews with the region’s leading voices.