Kaplan said that she had a misconception about the Kingdom on her first trip. “Women’s empowerment is really rooted in our mission”
RIYADH: Gwen Wunderlich and Dara Kaplan gambled on themselves and joined the dynamic world of Saudi Arabia’s women’s empowerment with New York smarts, Miami style, and a Saudi spirit.
They established the Riyadh branch of their first women-led US-based PR company Wunderlich Kaplan Communications after more than two decades of collaboration and a strong friendship.
“This will be our global expansion and the MENA division, based in Riyadh at Jax,” said Wunderlich
“We partnered this time for this division with Noor Taher, she is partners with Good Intentions and she brought us over here and agreed to partner up with us so generously to bring big projects to us, to guide us and to be a lead here to make sure things go smoothly,” she said.
Riyadh felt like the perfect match because it is the country’s capital and a magnet for talent and has so much going on there. It is also simple to get to by road or air.
“It just feels right.”
The two women expect to work on PR communications, marketing branding for local companies that are looking for national exposure, but also US companies that are looking to come into Saudi Arabia and find exposure and benefit.
Women’s empowerment is really rooted in our mission. I thought I’m going to go to Saudi Arabia because the narrative we’ve always been fed is that women are lesser than and they need our help. When I came here, I realized that these women do not need me to empower them. They are already amazing, strong, educated, kick-ass women … it made me think like, wow, what else do I have wrong?
Dara Kaplan, Co-founder, Wunderlich Kaplan Communications
In December 2022, they began their first formal initiative in the nation with the Formula One-related Jeddah Art initiative.
“It felt very fantastical to do, because we were kind of breaking barriers and bringing new kinds of information and content from a country that really hadn’t been heard of in that light when it came to culture and creativity.
“Those were not two words that really were related to Saudi Arabia in the mind of where we come from. So we worked on the Formula One project, I worked on the Alicia Keys’ concert and Women to Women event,” said Wunderlich.
While sitting in AlUla with Keys, Princess Reema and other women, Wunderlich knew that she was “being part of a great piece of time. History is being made here. That event was probably one of my favorite things . . . I would say in my entire career.”
Kaplan said that she had a misconception about the Kingdom on her first trip. “Women’s empowerment is really rooted in our mission. I thought I’m going to go to Saudi Arabia because the narrative we’ve always been fed is that women are lesser than and they need our help.
“When I came here, I realized that these women do not need me to empower them. They are already amazing, strong, educated, kick-ass women. That, to me, was a real eye-opener and I talked to so many local women. It made me think like, wow, what else do I have wrong?”
They were horrified by how Saudi women were portrayed in Western media.
Alongside Saudi women who are changing the narrative, the duo wants to get in on the action.
“We want to take meetings with Saudi women, we want people to contact us with interesting projects. We want for the country to start digging deep. We already worked with the Royal Commission of AlUla, which is amazing. And we’ve worked with Craft and we’ve worked with Good Intentions and the people that we’ve worked with so far we have great relations,” Wunderlich said.
“I think what’s unique about us — and correct me if I’m wrong — I know there are local PR firms and then there’s corporate American PR firms, but I don’t think there’s the blend of the boutique firm that’s having startup experience to publicly traded experience with global experience and local experience. So I feel like we do bring celebrity and pop culture and Fortune 500 companies and everything in between. With having a Saudi partner, I think that we are delivering something that’s really different,” Kaplan said.
The shift that has been sweeping the Kingdom has been led by their Saudi partner Taher.
Together with Swizz Beatz, the spouse of Alicia Keys and a US music legend, Taher co-founded Good Intentions. The second Women to Women discussion organised by Good Intentions was recently held in AlUla.
They are respected voices in the online community, but they are also more than just influencers; they are forward-thinking women who want to move beyond cellphones and into the real world.
They are adept at hosting such opulent events in AlUla and Riyadh, but they are adamant about integrating and asking motivated Saudis to join them as they construct a figurative sand castle in the Kingdom.
They are not attempting to commandeer the microphone, steal the show, or represent anyone. They merely fell in love with the nation and its people, which is why they want to live in the Kingdom.
The ladies are here for Vision 2030 and everything else before it and after it. Taher, a Riyadh native, is delighted to see it proceed.
“I have known these women for years and there hasn’t been one project or client — no matter how big or small — they haven’t put their absolute all into. What sets them apart is the passion and courage they have to share the untold stories, that’s why I decided to enter into a partnership with them.
Being from Saudi Arabia, there are a lot of stories the world has yet to hear, it took a couple of trips to AlUla together to realize the inevitable. No one tells a story quite like them — they can sell sand in the desert,” said Taher.
On the Pass the Kabsa podcast, which focuses on Saudi Arabian talent, Wunderlich and Kaplan were also invited speakers.
Additionally, they are hiring for a new hospitality section they are establishing in the nation.
This article originally appeared in Arab News https://www.arabnews.com/node/2271096/saudi-arabia