Putting on the Ritz: Riyadh hotel bounces back with a sumptuous poolside feast

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh marked its return to regular operations at the weekend with a stunning Grand Brunch, masterminded by its new executive chef, Esat Akyildiz. (AN photo by Iqbal Hossain)
Updated 18 February 2018
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Putting on the Ritz: Riyadh hotel bounces back with a sumptuous poolside feast

RIYADH: The venue was palatial, with dining tables arranged around the opulent blue marble swimming pool. There was lively chatter and laughter as jazz played gently in the background.
The food was mouth watering, served by a team of dedicated Saudi staff, as social media influencers photographed everything for their online audiences.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh marked its return to regular operations at the weekend with a stunning Grand Brunch, masterminded by its new executive chef, Esat Akyildiz. “It’s a team effort,” he said.
Chef Esat, from Turkey, has been cooking since he was 15, and has served presidents and prime ministers in a career that has taken him from Kazakhstan to the Middle East.
He joined the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in November, and already feels at home. “I think everyone has been waiting for this brunch,” he told Arab News. “We will continue our operations, to serve our guests as usual. This is first time we’ve had an outdoor dining experience. I’m looking forward to the feedback, and learning how to improve the guests’ experience.”
There was certainly no shortage of positive feedback this weekend. “It’s amazing and I had a great time, the atmosphere itself was lovely. On a global level, I’ve never seen that many varieties of food. It was magnificent,” said @naifco, an influencer with nearly half-a-million Twitter followers.
Youssef Al-Sudais, another social media influencer, was also there, Snapchatting enthusiastically.
The dining area around the pool was packed by 2 p.m., as families enjoyed more than 700 dishes, including Japanese and Italian cuisine, prepared at 15 live cooking stations. Chef Jaber, who ran the Saudi food section, described the brunch as “amazing” and said he was sure the guests would enjoy it.
It was also a career highlight for Faisal Al-Sobky, a young Saudi assistant manager at the Ritz-Carlton, who served with a smile and had an upbeat attitude.
Al-Sobky has a degree in hospitality. “I applied to work at the Ritz while I was still continuing my studies. It was a dream of mine to work here, and once I graduated, I got a position.
“Arabs were known for their hospitality even before hotels existed. It’s in our blood. There is no shame in this work. I encourage young people to take a step forward and work in what they’re passionate about.”


Fun in the family zone at Ad Diriyah E-Prix ​

Updated 11 min 51 sec ago
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Fun in the family zone at Ad Diriyah E-Prix ​

  • On offer were physically challenging activities such as a zipline, a net climbing wall, and a horse corral for the younger kids
  • At the heart of the park was an area dedicated to local artists and vendors, with everything from traditional foods to handmade soaps to artwork and clothing on display

RIYADH: A horse corral, a maze and a virtual reality biking station were some of the attractions on offer at the family zone at the E-Prix event being held at the Ad Diriyah UNESCO world heritage site near the capital Riyadh.
The event, which culminates Saturday with Formula E Championship street racing, is the first of its kind to be held in the region. 
It brings together world class entertainment — from artists including David Guetta and Amr Diab — and cultural activities.



“The amount of effort that must have gone into setting this up is extraordinary,” said visitor Abla Qanaq. “The variety of options is almost overwhelming. I’m not even sure where I want to start.”
People in the VIP Hospitality Section had the opportunity to ride camels, sample local staples of dates and Arabic coffee, and experience local customs such as traditional wedding marches.
“I’m glad they realized the importance of including a local touch in an event like this,” said visitor Alaa Al Dawsari. “Especially with so many foreigners coming from all over the world. It’s amazing that we were able to present Saudi Arabia like this.”
The family zone also featured an area dedicated to local artisans and vendors, with everything from traditional food to handmade soap and clothing on display. The Al Bujairi section hosts exhibitions and live music.