French school to train aspiring chefs from Al-Ula

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This photo taken on January 4, 2019 shows a view of the facade of the new purpose-built Maraya (Arabic for "Mirror") concert hall hosting the first "Winter at Tantora" music carnival in the ruins of Al-Ula, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northwestern Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Photo: Instagram
Updated 02 July 2019

French school to train aspiring chefs from Al-Ula

  • Initiative is aimed to develop KSA’s tourism jewel

AL-ULA: The Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) has announced a partnership with FERRANDI Paris, France’s leading school of culinary arts and hospitality management.
The partnership will see the development of a world-class training program in gastronomy, which will take young and aspiring chefs from Al-Ula to study in the French capital.
During the first phase of the program, 24 chefs from Al-Ula will be chosen to take part in a specially curated four-month course at the school. Senior experts from FERRANDI will visit Al-Ula to interview applicants and select 24 participants.
After their return to Al-Ula, the newly trained chefs will have the chance to work under the supervision of 10 Michelin-starred chefs to craft locally inspired “Taste of Al-Ula” menus to be served to VIP guests attending the second season of Winter at Tantora, held annually in Al-Ula.
RCU’s CEO Amr Al-Madani said the initiative represented another key program in a series that the RCU is offering to Al-Ula citizens, to deliver innovative employment opportunities based in personal and professional development.
“This partnership with FERRANDI Paris will equip a new generation of talented Al-Ula men and women with the tools necessary to become the leading chefs and culinary entrepreneurs,” he said.
FERRANDI Paris CEO Bruno de Monte expressed his pleasure in welcoming the youth of Al-Ula to Paris and the school. “We have built a program especially for them, the future culinary greats of Saudi Arabian gastronomy,” he said.
Gerard Mestrallet, executive president of the French Agency for Al-Ula Development (AFALULA), said: “As a partner of RCU in the development of Al-Ula, AFALULA is very proud of this partnership with FERRANDI. It will allow the new generations of Al-Ula young chefs to capitalize on French excellence in the field of culinary art and hospitality management.”
RCU’s partnership with FERRANDI Paris, developed under the leadership of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al-Saud, comes under the efforts exerted by RCU to build and develop Al-Ula youths’ potential through global cultural exchanges and dedication to international best practice.


• The Royal Commission for Al-Ula has announced partnership with FERRANDI Paris.

• Selected candidates from Al-Ula will be sent to Paris for training.

• Newly trained chefs will get an opportunity to work under 10 Michelin-starred chefs in the Kingdom.

To be considered for the program, candidates must be between 21 and 35 years old, graduates of Al-Ula high schools and have an intermediate knowledge of English.
The application period will be between July 5 and July 9. Candidates can submit applications online at
The names of 24 successful applicants will be announced on July 26 following interviews by FERRANDI Paris tutors in Al-Ula, and training will begin by the end of August.

The culinary initiative is in line with the objectives of RCU’s charter to help create and inspire new and diverse economic sectors in Al-Ula while involving the local community. The initiative is the latest component of a plan to develop Al-Ula and its natural wonders and ancient cultural sites into one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.
FERRANDI Paris was founded in 1920 by the CCI Paris Ile-de-France, offering an array of programs up to master’s degrees, all of which prepare students for a career in gastronomy or hotel management. FERRANDI Paris is the only school in the hotel and restaurant sector in France whose bachelor diplomas are recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Innovation.
FERRANDI teaches 2,500 students and 2,000 professionals and individuals seeking a career change from France and abroad.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.