Rotana announces expansion plans in Saudi Arabia

Updated 09 February 2018
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Rotana announces expansion plans in Saudi Arabia

Rotana, a leading hotel management company in the region, has laid out plans for aggressive expansion of its portfolio in the Kingdom.
Rotana has planned five hotels in major cities across the country to add more than 1,150 keys to its already strong portfolio, the company’s chief operating officer Guy Hutchinson said on the sidelines of the Rotana Hotels 2018 GCC Roadshow.
He said the aim is to contribute to the country’s efforts to achieve its goals outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030, and its initiatives aimed at promoting the domestic tourism sector, including the Red Sea coastline project.
With its rapidly growing economy, the Kingdom is one of the fastest growing markets for Rotana, which currently operates four hotels and 1,258 rooms in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah.
Rotana has planned to open four new hotels under its “Centro by Rotana” brand in Riyadh, Jeddah, Alkhobar and Madinah. Another hotel, Dana Rayhaan by Rotana, will open in Dammam. The company already has more than 500 keys at two operating hotels for budget-conscious travelers in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hutchinson said: “Travel and tourism continued to be one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors in 2017, and the outlook for the industry in 2018 remains robust, given the anticipated increase in the number of travelers from developing and emerging countries and rising disposable income of people coupled with their yearning for unique experiences.
“Increasing airline competition that has brought down the cost of travel, and strong demand for business travel will further drive growth in the sector. Driven by recent reforms and the country’s endeavors to diversify its economy, the hospitality sector in the Kingdom is headed for a growth it has never seen. The initiatives such as the $500 billion Red Sea coastline project and plans to issue tourism visas will accelerate the country’s economic diversification to achieve less reliance on oil and transform it into a global tourism destination.
“We have diversified our portfolio to match the needs of travelers of all kinds, and with our strong market presence and unique offering, Rotana is well-positioned to capitalize on the booming growth of the sector in the Kingdom,” Hutchinson concluded.


Battle of the bakers in Cairo’s ‘kunafa war’

Egypt’s makers of kunafa are battling to outdo each other with the most outlandish creations of the pastry.
Updated 9 min 23 sec ago
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Battle of the bakers in Cairo’s ‘kunafa war’

  • Egyptian sweet makers are adding a modern spin to the dish that originated in Palestine, adding a range of unusual ingredients to their creations. 
  • Kunafa in Egypt is traditionally crunchy on the top and bottom with sugar or honey sweetening it with fillings in between such as cheese, mixed nuts, raisins and custard.

CAIRO: It has long been a treat savored during Ramadan across the Arab world. But in Egypt, makers of kunafa are battling to outdo each other with the most outlandish creations of the pastry.

Most versions of kunafa appear indulgent to even the most sweet-toothed, with its ingredients of mild cheese covered with layers of shredded phyllo pastry, soaked in a sugar syrup, but its modern interpreters are making it even more of a treat. 

Egyptian sweet makers are adding a modern spin to the dish that originated in Palestine, adding a range of unusual ingredients to their creations. 

“The beauty of kunafa as a pastry is that we can cook it in a variety of options,” Petra Mohamed, a Cairo cook, told Arab News. “You can leave it long, short or broken into pieces, which makes it easier for new ideas. 

“I personally love to serve the trifle kunafa full of mixed fruits. The mix of soft and crunchy is simply amazing.” 

Kunafa in Egypt is traditionally crunchy on the top and bottom with sugar or honey sweetening it with fillings in between such as cheese, mixed nuts, raisins and custard.

A few years ago, a new trend from a younger generation of chefs sent traditionalists into a meltdown.

One particular new favorite has been a combination of mango and whipped cream. 

“The wave started in 2010 with the introduction of mangoes and then seasonal fruits was introduced,” said Mohammed.

“Later, kunafa with Nutella was introduced and people went crazy for it. From then onwards the creation of new ideas didn’t stop: Red velvet kunafa, dates kunafa, kunafa bites with mixed fillings ... the list goes on.”

This year, one Egyptian pastry shop, TBS Fresh introduced its cronafa, a pastry made from croissant rolled in kunafa that comes with a variety of fillings: cream and pistachio, Nutella and nuts, dates and lotus, halawa and sesame.

Another pastry shop, Etoile, introduced the kunafa with avocado, which received mixed reviews.

Nola, a trendy pastry shop, which offers kunafa cupcakes, introduced the kunafa volcano this year, a crusty confection filled with chocolate and custard.

Tasting the new kunafas has become a Ramadan trend with the reactions from sweet-toothed Egyptians providing a great deal of entertainment.

“My blood is full of kunafa,” said Yomna Hassan, a 27-year-old housewife from Cairo.

“Kunafa with cream is the best created invention after the electricity and Messi,” added Mohammed Abdel Megeed.

But for older consumers of the treat, the elaborate incarnations have left them longing for something more traditional.

“We are the generation of kunafa with gee not with mango,” said Yousef Ahmed.

Decoder

The origins of kunafa

The word kunafa comes from the Arabic verb “ka-na-fa” meaning mercy. Originating from Nablus in Palestine, kunafa nablusi is the most famous incarnation of the sweet. Traditional ingredients include nablusi (white brined) cheese, phyllo pastry, pistachio nuts, sugar syrup and rose water.