From education to employment

Bath Spa graduate creates world’s first patented interactive prayer mat

Former teacher and Bath Spa University MA Design (Textiles) graduate Kamal Ali has used his professional creativity to solve an age-old problem, by inventing the world’s first patented interactive prayer mat.

Kamal’s motivation to create the mat, called My Salah Mat®, was first brought to life by his son, Hamza, who, as an infant, was struggling to understand where to place his hands, knees, forehead and nose when praying using a traditional prayer mat to perform Salah – a daily prayer practised by Muslims, five times a day.

Kamal said: “I wanted to get him something that would make it easier for him to learn and when I looked online there was nothing available. I got my laptop out and started designing this interactive prayer mat.

“I realised I could have different words around the prayer mat that they would recite within the prayer. Then when I received the prayer mat prototype I realised that some of these words could become buttons and you could push them and actually hear the recitations.”

Initially, the idea was to create a high quality product that could help children learn how to pray, but following viral social media success with millions of views on TikTok, a mat was then also designed for adults to help them develop their praying techniques, too.

Utilising his degree and entrepreneurial flare, Kamal, together with his marketing manager Alex Fell and his wife Fatiha, have taken his small seed of an idea, and grown it into a company that now operates from an industrial estate in Newport, Wales, and sells My Salah Mat® in more than 40 countries around the globe, in 20 different languages.

Reflecting on his journey so far, Kamal said: “I loved my time at Bath Spa. My course helped me visualise my idea from concept, to final point of sale. It helped me develop my design skills, but it also gave me new skills in marketing, branding and understanding of sales channels. I then decided to go to China to develop my final project so that I could understand manufacturing processes, too.

“Bath Spa University was a platform that gave me the confidence to push boundaries, with the aid of some amazing tutors, to turn my business into what it is today. Ultimately, what makes our little company different is creativity. Creativity is implemented in everything we do.”

The theme of creativity is key to student success at Bath Spa, with many entrepreneurial graduates also following in Kamal’s footsteps, setting up their own businesses. 

When asked what an entrepreneur is, Kamal said: “For me an entrepreneur isn’t someone who makes something to chase money, they are someone who finds ways to solve problems through creativity. Why did I do it? I did it to help support my children and ultimately other families. That’s the foundation of My Salah Mat® – helping people to achieve their goals, just like when I was a teacher.”

With the help of the Welsh Government, Kamal is now looking to branch out into new markets including Australia and India.

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