Despite the pandemic, LEGO is expanding its global footprint with the launch of a first retail store in Saudi Arabia.
The new outlet, located in Jeddah’s Red Sea Mall, is part of the Danish brick maker’s strategic plan to plug into the local culture. To open the new bricks-and-mortar store, the company ordered a large 3D model display of a traditional Saudi family, as well as a mosaic of Jeddah’s Old Souk market. LEGO made its first big step into the MENA market in February 2019 when it opened a regional headquarters in Dubai, and it has since expanded with more store locations there.
The new Saudi Arabian store will feature exclusive products and interactive stations for hands-on play. Coinciding with the opening, LEGO is launching an e-commerce website in the country. Local franchise partner Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group worked on the launch, and will also operate the store.
Saudi Arabia has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 250,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University. In lockdown since April, the country only started reopening businesses last month. The new bricks-and-mortar store could be a challenge for LEGO, given that Saudi shoppers aren’t “yet fully comfortable” going back to out-of-home activities, according to a survey by market research firm McKinsey & Company. If the brickmaker can develop a foothold in the Saudi Arabian market, though, it has a chance of tapping into a country with a growing population and rising economy. Trading Economics predicts that Saudi Arabia’s GDP will balloon to US$820 billion by 2022, up from US$745 billion by the end of this year.
In other LEGO news, the toyco is launching an initiative to teach kids about online safety while families are stuck at home.
The “Small Builds for Big Conversations” program poses a series of challenges to guide a conversation about the potential dangers of the digital world for kids six to 10. The toyco is encouraging families to create characters from LEGO bricks that can be used to help make talking about online safety a more playful and fun experience. The content has been developed following UNICEF’s digital safety guidelines, and activities are available online for free on the initiative’s website.