Emerging Youth : Saudi Arabia

sector - youth
type - market focus
Market Focus
Driving a shift from collectivism to individuality, young Saudis are at the forefront of their country’s major sociocultural, economic and progressive changes

As the Crown Prince's ambitious plans for Vision 2030 draw closer, Generation Z will be the first to experience the country's unorthodox new reality.

Saudi Arabia’s sense of optimism appears to be infectious – while much of the world deals with the negative shocks of the pandemic, young people are highly positive about the future, with 98% saying the Kingdom’s economy is heading in the right direction (source: Asda’a BCW).

This puts great pressure on brands operating in the country, as the need to create spaces for youth culture to flourish becomes increasingly crucial. As Sunil John, president of Burson, Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) MENA region, points out: ‘Regional decision-makers have a tremendous responsibility to ensure the ambitions of their young people are fulfilled.’

Slower consumption

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest oil giants, possessing about 17% of the world’s petroleum reserves (source: OPEC). Although the nation recently pledged to become net zero by 2060, it has no oil exit plan, making it a country with a complicated relationship with sustainability.

It's also the country with the lowest penetration of ‘eco-active’ shoppers, at just 7% of households, according to a global study by Kantar. But with a new generation on the horizon, sustainability attitudes are poised to change as worldly, social media-savvy teenagers establish retail solutions designed to slow down consumption habits.

The Kingdom’s antique and vintage market is on the rise, challenging the convoy of fast fashion that recently entered the market – including Shein, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing. While second-hand items would normally be recycled through charities, young people are now spotlighting forgotten fashion, accessories and homeware on Instagram stores. ‘Perhaps the severe pandemic period inspired people to work creatively to counter the difficult circumstances imposed by the pandemic,’ explain cousins Ghaida and Ghadeer Alaliwi, founders of Le Rovine Concerto, a vintage gallery shop.

For Reem Aba Alkhayl, a fashion design graduate and owner of La Reema vintage boutique in Jeddah, second-hand shopping is part of her identity. ‘While an appreciation for design, history and individuality sparked my initial interest in vintage, I’m also drawn to the sustainable attributes as an added step toward supporting the environment.’

Published by:

2 December 2021

Author: Holly Friend and Livvy Houghton

Image: Aesthetic Relativism by Mouaath Moh


Left: Aesthetic Relativism by Mouaath Moh. Right: Saudi-British couple Sara Teymoor Banaja and Mansoor Banaja hope to make luxury consumption more sustainable with new platform Amused.

Glocal hangouts

Young Saudis are embracing an international food and hospitality scene, headed by a generation of chefs who are breaking away from Middle Eastern tradition to introduce new cuisines – from Japanese to Israeli. More than 90% of the capital of Riyadh’s 7.8m population eat out at least once a week, according to research by real estate consultant JLL.

This is being buoyed by Generation Z women, for whom eating out has traditionally been an uncomfortable experience but who are now enjoying the benefits of a more equal hospitality sector. Now women are able to work as hostesses, baristas and waitresses, the dining experience has become more welcoming to all. ‘We’re much more relaxed and really enjoying this new culture of meeting for coffee and celebrating birthdays and promotions in public,’ Laila, a 26-year-old receptionist, tells Bloomberg.

As the food sector embraces international cultures more, larger hospitality complexes are also taking inspiration from abroad. Providing Saudi audiences with an immersive channel for experiencing music, the music streaming platform Anghami is opening a series of Anghami Labs – venues with a lounge, stage and studio where creators can experiment with and co-create music inspired by both Arab and international cultures. By merging entertainment with cuisine, Anghami is using various channels to appeal to a globally minded audience.

‘While an appreciation for design, history and individuality sparked my initial interest in vintage, I’m also drawn to the sustainable attributes.’
Reem Aba Alkhayl, fashion design graduate

Want to read more?

Sign up to our trends intelligence platform LS:N Global and get unlimited access to a hive of insights - from microtrends and macro trends to market reports, daily news, research across eight industry sectors and much more.

Members of LS:N Global can now also access our new Youth & Media Futures 2021 report.


Already a member? Click here to login