A company based in Newport, Wales, which invented the world’s first interactive prayer mat has set its sights on significant global expansion, with support from the Welsh Government, after seeing its products go viral in the Middle East.
Founded by dad of two Kamal Ali, My Salah Mat is the firm behind innovative prayer mats designed to help children and adults learn how to perform Salah – the daily prayer practiced by Muslims.
Since it was set up four years ago, the business has made a global name for its one-of-a-kind mats and has developed an extensive international portfolio, with products now sold in over 25 countries across four continents.
The company has seen sales rise by 15% in the Middle East over the last three years after its children’s mat went viral across social media in the region, leading to it securing deals with major international retailers including Virgin Megastores in the UAE and Dabdoob, one of the largest kids’ retailers in Kuwait.
My Salah Mat is now looking to increase global exports by 15% over the next three years by expanding its distributor networks across the globe and focusing on driving sales in Australia and India – which are key target markets for the company.
Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething visited the company’s Newport base to congratulate them on their success.
Kamal Ali, founder and inventor of My Salah Mat, said:
“Exporting is a significant part of our business and has played a key role in our growth over the last few years. Global demand for our products has been huge, with Muslim parents all over the world looking for help teaching their children the right techniques to pray, which opens up a lot of opportunities for us to increase our international sales.
“Australia and India are key target markets for us as our international presence continues to grow with increasing Muslim populations in both countries, alongside more children and adults looking to learn the correct praying technique. Having spoken with potential new customers and retailers in both areas, we know there is demand for our products, so finding routes to entry is a main focus for us right now.”
The Welsh company was originally set up by Kamal after he noticed his son struggling with his praying technique. With a background in product design, Kamal set about creating a solution – a touch activated interactive prayer mat teaching children the different positions in Salah including where to place their feet, knees, hands and head, as well as what to say during different positions. After two years of developing prototypes, Kamal launched his first product in 2018 to rave reviews.
The success prompted My Salah Mat to develop an adult’s version of the mat shortly after, following thousands of requests in light of the product’s spike in popularity on social media.
Since then, the company has operated with an international agenda with exports accounting for 40% of its business. The company has over 75 distributors and retailers worldwide, as well as a subsidiary in Germany, My Salah Mat Deutschland, which was established to keep up with increased demand for its products in the country, following attendance at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair - one of Europe’s largest toy trade exhibitions.
Key to My Salah Mat’s export growth and success has been support from the Welsh Government, including market research on consumer trends within potential new markets, helping the company to understand varying regional preferences and prompting it to adapt the mat into 20 languages. The forward-thinking firm has also implemented an extensive marketing strategy, focusing on platforms like TikTok, where its videos generate millions of views and engagement, and working with influencers from all over the world to build a strong international brand.
“Having a better understanding of how our target markets operate and how to effectively enter them has played a large role in our export growth. We have attended virtual trade trips funded by the Welsh Government in Qatar, the UAE and Malaysia, which have helped us determine the best routes of entry into these territories.
“These trips have also allowed us to reinforce our credibility and build relationships with prospective customers and clients, helping us to get a better idea of what they are looking for while enabling us to establish new business opportunities.”
The firm has signed a royalty contract with one of the largest Malaysian animated cartoon studios, Omar and Hana, which will help grow its presence in Southeast Asia – another key market for the company. As part of the deal, My Salah Mat has partnered with the animation on product design, with select children’s products featuring the voices of characters from the Omar and Hana programme. The mat has also appeared in recent episodes.
With less than five years of booming international export success, My Salah Mat is now a Muslim household brand name around the world because of its popularity and after acquiring substantial market dominance. The company is in the process of developing even more educational products and adaptions to continue to keep up with consumer trends and demand.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:
“The Welsh Government’s message to business is clear – grow in Wales and sell to the world. We’re working hard to support businesses to do just that.
“My Salah Mat is a wonderful innovation and a perfect example of inventive thinking that can be used to deliver for so many people across the world.
“I’m proud to see Muslim children right across the globe enjoying the benefits of the designed-in-Wales My Salah Mat, something that helps to teach and gives them an opportunity to learn about their religion and how to pray their Salah.
“These are exactly the kinds of innovative products that showcase the very best of Welsh entrepreneurship, business and enterprise.
“The Welsh Government is proud to have been able to support the company, helping it achieve great success, as part of the comprehensive support available to businesses through the Welsh Government’s Export Action Plan. I wish My Salah Mat all the very best for the future.”