Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat

I can’t stand the word sponsorship. I have heard it too many times and too close apart since I moved back to Bahrain. Most ideas require seed money, or start-up capital. Most people are too scared to borrow or ask others for it. So we run to… sponsorship.

I can’t imagine the amount of proposals that telecommunication companies receive on a daily basis to sponsor projects that are irrelevant to them, and asking them to pour seed money into their events, launch parties, gizmos and gadgets. Too often the reply to this is a "no, thank you."

I'm not sure which is worse, when a project gets turned down, or the fact that entrepreneurs don’t know where to go to support it.

I am now in the process of printing Sketchbook, or accurately figuring out how to do it, and looking to borrow for my first year’s print run. And, go figure, I am faced with 30 wall blockades that include:

  1. You can’t print without a publishing license.
  2. To print you need at least 50,000 BD in the bank.
  3. You need 5 Bahraini partners.

So naturally I have been speaking to publishers in my industry, and again the word ‘sponsorships’ keeps popping up. I have contacted too many companies that gave me a flat no, seeing they just couldn’t comprehend what would be in it for them if they were to fund an arts and culture magazine.

Last week, I had a coffee and lunch with sound artist and researcher Hassan Hujairi and his argument was that we need to get our ideas to be self efficient, to fund themselves, so that we don’t depend on anyone but ourselves.  We ended up discussing systems like the British Arts Council, and how you were able to fill forms and proposals online for a review board if you needed support of space.

Another great idea I discovered recently is, a funding platform for creative projects, though I'm pretty sure it only works in the US. How it works is you send an application video and post it on your Kickstarter profile page. Every idea has a funding goal, and people can contribute or pledge monetary support to reach that goal. If and when that goal is reached, all the backers' credit cards get charged with the amount contributed. If the goal is not reached before the time it expires, no one gets charged.

Sometimes I think that maybe I am part of the problem too, trying to seek sponsorship for my project despite advising not to. Maybe, as Hassan suggested, we need to create ideas with structure that can self-fund themselves. Or maybe we can use methods like Kickstarter to get the funding that we need. Or maybe we need a CREATIVE MINISTRY, an organization that funds creative ideas in our districts.

What other alternatives are there to fund our creative projects and ideas?

Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.

To get in touch with Wafa, email her at or follow her on Twitter @fashionambition

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