DUBAI: A year after Lego Group opened their first store in Saudi Arabia, the toymaker has decided to expand its presence in the Kingdom by opening up a store in Riyadh on Jan.
30 — and they’ve tapped a 9-year-old super fan to dream up Lego creations for the shop.
In a video interview with Arab News Wesam Banabilah’s mother, Mirvat Farrash, said that his love for Lego started at a very young age.
“Lego has been in our life since he was three,” Farrash said. “His teacher told me that Wesam always goes to the building corner. He spends most of his time there. Then we went to Turkey and that was the first time we saw a Lego store.”
Banabilah, who was sitting against a backdrop of Lego creations, said: “First, I thought it was only a toy store,” before his mother added that he got his first Lego set from there. “It was a brick box for engineering,” said the young boy.
He has built about 15 models for the new shop — on average, it takes him around an hour and a half to create his complex Disney characters, architectural structures and robotic creatures. He starts off his creations by following the guides that come with the sets, but then dismantles them and lets his imagination take over.
The young talent has developed quite a fan base through Instagram — managed by his mother.
“We are getting requests on Instagram from people asking if Wesam can help build models. Wesam, his dad and I thought of offering instalment services. So anyone who needs help with building a set, Wesam can help them,” said Farrash.
The Lego-lover’s parents have worked on business cards for Banabilah, who is interested in giving lessons and workshops to other children.
“Everyday he tells me: ‘Mom, please take me to the store. I will give advice to people on what to buy,’” she said.
As we bring the play experience to more Lego fans, we want to also establish a strong connection with the local culture.
Urszula Bieganska, head of marketing at Lego Middle East
Banabilah said he is excited to be at the store, but a little shy to meet everyone there.
The family, who lives in Riyadh, are thrilled to have the store open locally.
Before that they either ordered sets online from the US or traveled to Jeddah or Dubai to buy Banabilah his blocks.
The head of marketing at Lego Middle East, Urszula Bieganska, said: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach more families from across the region. As we bring the play experience to more Lego fans, we want to also establish a strong connection with the local culture.”
Bieganska also said that the group will introduce the first and only Lego Mosaic Maker in the Middle East.
“Anyone who has ever wondered what their face would look like made out of Lego bricks can have their picture taken and purchase their very own personalized mosaic portrait to take home as a keepsake,” she explained.
According to Bieganska, the Kingdom’s market is “future-focused.” “In Saudi Arabia, innovation is seen as key to the country’s social growth and prosperity.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to spearhead innovation and future-focused entrepreneurship, spurring a renewed focus on nurturing creativity in schools.”
“In fact, based on the results of the Lego Play Well Report 2018, 57 percent of Saudis rate creativity as the most important 21st century skill for their children’s future — the highest of any country polled,” she said.
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