Fast food restaurants in KSA overcharging customers

Updated 31 January 2016

Fast food restaurants in KSA overcharging customers

RIYADH: Saudi businessmen who own international restaurant franchises here in the Kingdom tend to double the actual prices of meals compared to the prices in their countries of origin.
Commenting on this phenomenon, Sulaiman Al-Samahi, chairman of the National Consumer Protection Association (CPA), said the high prices are totally unjustified and exaggerated.
“Entrepreneurs seek to make a quick buck without any consideration of the other factors involved. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry must intervene to control the varying prices of meals inside the Kingdom compared to their prices in the same restaurants and for the same products abroad,” said Al-Samahi.
He explained that one of the causes of the high prices is the existence of commercial concealment, by mandating the management operations to an expatriate who establishes the strategies and the general policy of the business in exchange for an annual amount given to the owner of the franchise.
“The manager of the business grabs the remaining profits which are sometimes double the annual earnings of the owner, leading to the increasing prices paid by the consumers,” he added.
He said that some entrepreneurs are not satisfied with a profit margin of 30 to 40 percent even though this yields good revenues in general, noting that the majority of businessmen owning franchises are not aware of the fact that if they accepted reasonable profit margins their businesses would actually flourish and demand would increase, leading to higher profits in the end, or the expansion of the business.
On the other hand, Amet Jan, director of operations at a restaurant franchise, said that the high prices are the result of importing all the components of the production operations from outside the Kingdom, including the meat used in some meals, adding that "the same prices paid here in the Kingdom are paid in similar restaurants in the Gulf states."
The other reasons for such high prices, he added, are the annual amounts paid as Zakat and the full time staff with monthly salaries, unlike the other countries around the world where workers can apply for part-time jobs and the management can cut down on the number of workers if profits drop. “In accordance with the Saudi labor laws we are required to pay monthly salaries regardless of the profit or loss margins,” he said.
An inspection tour made by the publication of a number of restaurant franchises found that clients believe that the poor control and supervision of the regulatory authorities have allowed the restaurants to inflate their prices. “I used to buy the same meal in the US for about SR37. Here in the Kingdom I was surprised to find that the price of the same meal amounts to SR75,” said Sultan Al-Obaid, a Saudi client at a restaurant.
Salem Al-Houaiti agrees with him, saying that the high prices paid in the Kingdom are unjustified.


Saudi coffee expert showcases importance of Brazilian coffee beans

Sara Al-Ali aims to give her customers a unique experience. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Saudi coffee expert showcases importance of Brazilian coffee beans

  • Most of the Brazilian coffee here in Saudi Arabia has classic chocolaty, nutty flavors

JEDDAH: Cafes are a booming industry in the Kingdom. With many cafes competing with each other, Saudi barista, cafe owner and coffee specialist Sara Al-Ali aims to give her customers a unique experience by reintroducing Turkish coffee and adding a special item to her brewing menu: Brazilian coffee beans.
Al-Ali went to Brazil as part of an origin trip organized by the Specialty Coffee Association and attended the International Coffee Week in 2018.
“As a coffee professional and a person who’s really passionate about coffee, I had a dream to visit a coffee plantation at least once in my life. I had so many options and it never worked, so I thought to myself I had to choose one origin trip, and I thought Brazil should be on the list because it is one of the biggest producers of coffee in the world, so it’s a must,” she told Arab News.
“I got to know people from around the world, we were sharing stories about our culture and coffee, I also met coffee producers from Guatemala, Kenya and Nicaragua, also roasters, baristas and cafe owners and people who are interested in coffee. It was an amazing opportunity to share my knowledge and my expertise and learn from these people, and of course making new coffee friends,” she added.
Al-Ali and her group were invited to many sessions that were led by big names in the coffee industry such as Flavio Borem and Gabriela Sanchez.
“They were very informative, we learned a lot about the research that’s going on in the coffee industry and what they have to add to the coffee industry and to the world, not only in Brazil.”
Al-Ali said she was well-received by the coffee community in Brazil: “They were very welcoming and friendly. They were interested to know more about Saudi culture, specifically about coffee, our habits and what coffee we usually drink and if we have tried Brazilian coffee. I assured them that we have Brazilian coffee everywhere in Saudi Arabia.”
Coffee brings communities together, she explained: “I was communicating with many people who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak a word in Portuguese but we managed with some of my French and Spanish to communicate and get along. I really don’t know how but I believe it’s the coffee language. Everybody speaks coffee.
“Most of the Brazilian coffee here in Saudi Arabia has classic chocolaty, nutty flavors. So when I tried coffee that was exotic and aromatic, I was amazed. It was a wonderful experience, it really changed the way I think about Brazilian coffee.”
Al-Ali competed in the MENA Cezve/Ibrik Championship in 2016 in Dubai and won 2nd place, and then competed in the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship in Budapest, Hungary in 2017 and won 6th place.
“It is one of the oldest methods of preparation, we call to here locally as Turkish coffee, and many people here use Brazilian or Colombian coffee for this specific preparation method.”
She said her aim was always to reintroduce Turkish coffee and apply quality standards.

BACKGROUND

Sara Al-Ali went to Brazil as part of an origin trip organized by the Specialty Coffee Association and attended the International Coffee Week in 2018.

“I have a cafe now in Abu Dhabi, UAE (Oosh Cafe). We are reintroducing Turkish coffee in a more contemporary way and applying quality standards.
“I’m using different beans to give people the opportunity to try a new experience because many people regard Turkish coffee as a primitive way of brewing or very traditional and I want to show people that we can use really good quality beans and we can have an amazing experience with Turkish coffee.”
She uses coffee from Yemen, Costa Rica, Panama and Ethiopia “and also what I found was many people are asking for Brazilian coffee. In November, I will introduce Brazilian coffee which I buy from a local roastery.”
Al-Ali’s goal is to improve coffee experiences locally and worldwide, and with her position as a coffee professional and a cafe owner and trainer, many people see her as an icon in the field.
“I have the responsibility to showcase the efforts that the farmers are putting in to give us this wonderful product. I would love to make coffee more approachable to the younger generation and make people rethink their choices and to enjoy coffee from different parts of the world.
“Brazillian coffees are one of the coffees that are a must in any cafe. They go along very well with milk-based drinks and I like them in Turkish coffee, so they are a must in my cafe.”