Saudi authorities are investigating how Israeli pencils reached one of the kingdom's biggest retail chains. The Kravitz chain, which markets the pencils in Israel,
was surprised to hear about the affair stirring up the Gulf kingdom.
It turns out that Abu Rialin, a Saudi chain which offers all of its items for two riyals, is selling one of Kravitz's most popular products – a set of 12 pencils with an eraser.
The pencils are sold with the Kravitz logo in Hebrew and without any attempt to conceal the fact that they are made in Israel.
Kravitz learned about the incident following a report published by Saudi website Jazan. The reporter noted that Kravitz was the biggest manufacturer of office supplies in Israel and asked how the Saudi Ministry of Commerce could overlook such a thing.
"Where are the Saudi kingdom's supervision authorities?" the reporter asks, calling for an investigation into the apparent marketing of an Israeli product in Saudi Arabia.
While in Israel the pencils are sold for NIS 4.90 ($1.30), in Saudi Arabia they cost only NIS 2 (53 cents).
"I really don't understand it, because they leave the factory with that price," says Kravitz CEO Menashe Zilka. "We haven't had any break-ins and I checked with our distributors. No one has heard anything, no one knows anything."
The reporter noted that he had tried to investigate the incident himself, but failed to solve the mystery.
Kravitz is also finding it difficult to explain how its pencils showed up in Saudi Arabia. One of the assumptions is that an entrepreneur or salesperson unlinked to the company bought a stock of pencils and managed to reach the Saudi chain.
"We don't export. All the items we manufacture are distributed in the local market, so I don't understand how they reached an Arab country," says Zilka.
Will you start exporting following this success?
"No. We've decided to focus on the local market. This product is the most popular in Israel, and we are proud of it. These are pretty good pencils made from recycled wood. I don't understand how they got there. I was shocked."
Is it irritating or flattering?