Startup of the Week: Innovative cafe startup brings sweet taste of Italy to Saudi Arabia

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Updated 13 July 2020

Startup of the Week: Innovative cafe startup brings sweet taste of Italy to Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah-based Como Gelato cafe have combined passion and business acumen to offer an authentic Italian eating experience to diners in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Bringing the taste of Italian desserts to Saudi Arabia has served up sweet success for a family-inspired cafe startup.

Saudis are well-known for having a sweet tooth, and their willingness to sample confections from around the world has seen a rise in different brands of ice cream, chocolates, and desserts.

And the owners of Jeddah-based Como Gelato cafe have combined passion and business acumen to offer an authentic Italian eating experience to diners in the Kingdom.

The idea for the venture began in Italy when Ammar Binrabaa’s father experimented with a gelato-filled fruit dessert and then shared the experience with his son.

Together they decided to open a cafe in the Kingdom and recreate the food concept, recruiting an Italian chef to maintain the authentic taste of gelato made of real fruit and natural ingredients.

To create the desserts, fruits are first hollowed out and then filled with smooth and delicious gelato.

“We are like a family here in the cafe, and we make sure that what we provide is of good quality. The gelato itself has the power to make you feel like you are eating it in one of the best places in Italy,” Binrabaa told Arab News.

As well as gelato, the cafe also serves authentic Italian pastries, and coffee brewed in its own unique style.

Binrabaa said that his biggest initial challenge had been introducing gelato to Saudi customers used to normal ice cream. “The basic material of gelato is different than regular ice cream.”

He pointed out that while many ice creams contained a lot of artificial ingredients, gelato was made up of 60 percent real fruit.

“This project changed my life. It opened my mind to see the good in everyone and appreciate creativity from all kinds of people.”

Binrabaa designed the cafe’s interior too. “I gathered ideas from all parts of the world and combined them all to decorate the cafe.

“I want to spread this brand all around the world and try and make other people fond of fresher and healthier ice cream,” he added.

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Updated 13 August 2020

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.