5 Minutes with Marriam Mossalli

This month, we sat with Marriam Mossalli, founder of Saudi Arabia’s leading luxury communications consultancy, Niche Arabia. Recognising Saudi as a region bursting with young creatives, she set up an initiative connecting young local creatives with international brands and companies to accurately portray the Saudi aesthetic and point of view.

Where are you from? 

I’m a proud Third Culture Kid from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

How do you think your early life has affected the goals you have today?

Having lived in multiple cities around the world, from Seoul and Kuala Lampur to Lugano and Washington DC, I have always been inspired by different cultures. Whether it was through my early vocation as an editor for the leading English daily or as the founder of my communications firm, Niche Arabia, my mission has always been to authentically narrate the stories of the Kingdom. 

How did Niche Arabia come about?

Niche was something that started very serendipitously. I was working with a lot of international companies and realized that there was a big disconnect in terms of what they thought of our consumer base and what the reality is. So, my mission at Niche Arabia is to curate and customize strategies for companies wanting to penetrate the Saudi market genuinely.

What would you like your legacy to be?

I grew up in a generation where we had kind of done the whole “first Saudi” thing and for me it’s really important to champion the best. We are now competing globally thanks to how small the world is today. I would love for my legacy to be a supporter of the amazing talents coming out of the Kingdom

Someone/something that inspires you?

The women I surround myself with are definitely my inspiration. Whether its Princess Reema Bint Bandar (Al Saud), or Princess AlJoharah Bint Talal (Al Saud), or Princess Lamia Bint Majed, these are women that have really championed Saudi from the very beginning with all of their endeavors

Book currently sitting on your bedside table?

Is it bad if I selfishly plug Under the Abaya?!

What art do you like to surround yourself with?

Art that makes me happy. Much like fashion, I believe art is personal and emotional and I definitely gravitate toward art that makes me feel something

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

I am super privileged to be able to pick who we work with and therefore, I tend to select projects that really excite me. I always want to push the envelope and I think if you look at Niche’s portfolio, you can see that. Whether it is the first ever female public sports day that saw 10,000 women at AlJohara Stadium for the first time ever in the Kingdom or doing the first ever fashion show with international models in the Kingdom, it’s always about pushing the boundaries of what people think could actually be within the Kingdom.

Are you born with creativity and style or can it be learnt?

I have zero style, but I am very creative therefore, I creatively fake having style.

Greatest accomplishment?

I have had multiple international accolades, such as being listed on BoF 500, being invited as the only Arab by former First Lady Michelle Obama to attend the Gala of Design in Washington DC, or speaking at MIT as an agent of change; it’s seeing how I’ve inspired the next generation of young Saudis and impacted my local communities.

What’s your favourite city to visit?

Absolutely Berlin because the city is always buzzing with life.

If you could change one aspect of your society through your work, what would it be?

I think it would go back to the fact that we need to compete on a global level, and I think to be authentically ourselves. A lot of the times, since the 70s, it’s always been a reaction where we have been juxtaposed against Western values and ideals and I think now, Saudi is finding its own where it is proudly voicing its own point of view.

Something you can’t live without?

The support of my family. It is definitely something that since I was very young, my Dad encouraged me to be a little rebel. Now that I am an adult who is married with a kid, I am happy to have the full support of my family.

A goal you’ve set yourself and exceeded?

Being a female entrepreneur. We’ve downplayed the complexity of it where its either you choose to be a wife, a mother or a businesswoman. To be able to do all three is something that truly, I think, only the female gender can do. We multitask in a way that is quite unique. So, I think that the goal of being an entrepreneur was great but to be a successful one was something I could not foresee.

What are you enjoying about the world currently?

I am enjoying the fact that there is a spotlight on Saudi Arabia, and we are not letting it go to waste. I love the fact that people are wanting to know more about us because for so long, we have been this enigmatic country that was hard to access. For the first time, whether it’s through social media or the fact that the country is opening up, we’re finally allowing the world into our private sphere.

Any exciting future projects in store?

Definitely. We are working with a lot of young Saudi artists which is why we are excited to work with AucArt. Having such collaborative projects is a great way to encourage cultural exchange.