A Saudi Arabia Mobile Primer

In 2014 Studio D was asked by a Saudi client, mobile operator STC, to explore undercurrents in Saudi youth culture. They were planning a new youth targeted service, and needed to understand what their new brand should stand for, and what the service should include. In May this year, the region’s first digital-first service Jawwy was launched.

It’s the kind of work we love: pioneering, tactically difficult to pull off, strategically important, a trusting client, and lots of opportunties to fail. Our team brought onboard eight local crew, countless participants who shared their lives and loves. Huna Arts were also kind enough to host a talk and discussion.

One of the common misconceptions about what we do is that we ask people what they want from a product or service. Not so. In fact its the last thing we ask, if we ask it at all. We spend most of our time exploring everyday life, from how people date, to underground book clubs, what it means to be a local creative to a local entrepreneur, from hot rods to cold calling. This is the foundation for what follows. A person will speak volumes about what they really want and need, if you can build sufficient trust, empathy and respect.

It’s unusual for us to publish commercial client work, but with the client’s permission we’re sharing some here. The less people know about what we do, and for whom, the easier it is to ask interesting questions on the ground. However, we live in polarising times where it is easier to demonise what you don’t understand, than it is to engage in meaningful conversations.

We prefer to challenge minds, flutter hearts.

Download the full presentation.

The impact of connectivity, data, smartphones, the internet is always uneven. In Saudi Arabia, our research shows that affordable, convenient connectivity disproportionately benefits women. Or at least it can, if certain things are taken into consideration in designing services from the ground up.

An abbreviated version of our client presentation (with product concepts removed) is available for download:


All of our projects are a team effort, thanks to our clients at Jawwy, @serota and our full local team: Saman, Bothaina, Huda, Abdullah, Ayesha, Tasneem, Haseeb, Saleh, Sana and Yusef, and of course all our participants. I’m the Founder of Studio D and SDR Traveller.

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