French macarons, from a Saudi chef

The CEO of the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission got her start in Paris. (Instagram)
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Updated 14 July 2020

French macarons, from a Saudi chef

RIYADH: From pastry chef to CEO of the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission, cook Mayada Badr is on a mission to highlight the Kingdom’s food and put it on the global map.

“My ambition is to bring light to our strategy and elevate the culinary arts industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and also introduce it to the world,” she told Arab News.

“We have so much to offer. It’s amazing because it’s not like you’re trying to create something – it is all there,” she said, referring to the Kingdom’s different regions all with their own unique dishes.

Tourists and visitors could get a taste of tradition and authenticity from eating experiences. “Tourists want to understand us through our food,” she added.

The commission has been studying Saudi food and how it is viewed on the international stage.

CEO of the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission, chef Mayada Badr. (Supplied)

“We’ve actually done that research, and we asked chefs around the world. Their answer was: ‘We honestly don’t know, it’s a shame. We do not have an idea of what you eat.’ And that’s probably why they can’t really relate sometimes to us, as we are so diverse,” said Badr.

The commission has hired researchers to allocate the origins of Saudi dishes. “We have a lot to offer, and we simply need to shed light on our diverse and unique offerings from ingredients to cuisine.”

The Saudi culinary landscape is set for a dramatic change under soon-to-be-announced commission plans for culinary schools, cooking classes, street food, and more.

“We’re going to announce our strategy which is very exciting. But it goes through the whole food chain in that sense: Basically, the farmers to the production of different products, to the cooking technique, through education, through the infrastructure, to the offering, and then to gastro diplomacy and food tourism routes,” she added.

Badr’s own journey started with a passion for food. Owner of a pastry shop, Pink Camel, and farmer-style restaurant, Black Cardamom, both in Jeddah, Badr became CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, one of the 11 newly created commissions under the Ministry of Culture, in February.

While studying at the Parsons school of art and design in Paris, she saved up to eat in Michelin-starred restaurants around France. Another treat for her was getting cookbooks autographed by top chefs. 

Apart from dining in French restaurants, she also decided to expand her culinary education and attended renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris. After completing her grand diploma, she interned for three months at Laduree, the French luxury bakery and cafe famous for its macarons, where she met incredible chefs who taught her different skills in pastry making.

She then moved to the south of France and interned at La Bastide Saint Antoine, a two-star Michelin restaurant in the small city of Grasse.

Returning to Saudi, she craved macarons but could not find any of decent quality, so took it upon herself to make her own to satisfy her craving.



We will be closed on Sunday and we will open again on Thursday we wish you all a happy eid,

A post shared by Pink Camel (@pinkcamelksa) on

Realizing that the French pastry business was limited in the Kingdom, with only a few restaurants that offered top-quality products, Badr opened Pink Camel, her own French pastry shop, on July 21, 2012.

Not only does it represent Saudi culture, but Badr also infuses culture into her macarons by mixing Western and local flavors.

She first started gaining recognition through baking impeccable fresh macarons, focusing on quality over quantity and prompted by her “love for food and the simple joy it brings to everyone.”

On the secret to her macarons, she said: “I honestly think the key is that we make them fresh every day.”

Arabs in Paris showroom to highlight Mideast talent at fashion week

Updated 27 September 2020

Arabs in Paris showroom to highlight Mideast talent at fashion week

DUBAI: Paris Fashion Week is set to look a lot different this season. Kicking off on Sept. 28, only a handful of designers are staging physical shows while the rest are opting for digital presentations. Meanwhile, some designers, including Arab couturier Zuhair Murad, are opting out of showing collections this season entirely.

To ensure that Arab design talent gets the recognition they deserve this Fashion Week, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has teamed up with the Arab Fashion Council to host an exclusive showroom and presentation on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar that shines a light on Middle Eastern designers.


Today the Arab Fashion Council (AFC) has announced a new exciting project which aims to connect the Arab talents with the French fashion industry. The new initiative, titled “Arabs in Paris”, is a collaboration between the Arab Fashion Council (AFC) and the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) @fhcm aiming to enable the Arab designers to showcase their creativity officially in Paris Fashion Week’s calendar for spring/summer 2021. @parisfashionweek #ArabsInParis Aujourd'hui, l'Arab Fashion Council (AFC) a annoncé un nouveau projet passionnant qui vise à connecter les talents arabes à l'industrie française de la mode. La nouvelle initiative, intitulée “Arabs in Paris”, est une collaboration entre le Conseil arabe de la mode (AFC) et la Fédération de la haute couture et de la mode (FHCM) visant à permettre aux créateurs arabes de montrer officiellement leur créativité dans le calendrier de la mode de Paris pour la semaine. printemps / été 2021.

A post shared by ARAB FASHION COUNCIL (@arabfashioncouncil) on

The goal of the initiative, titled “Arabs in Paris,” is to not only spotlight the fashion talent from the region on a global scale, but to also connect designers with international media and buyers.

Participating designers include Lebanese design duo Azzi & Osta, Beirut-based footwear brand Pose Design, Esmod graduate Aboud Jammal, Lebanese womenswear label Ecaille, New York- based handmade jewelry brand Saad Collection, Jordanian ready-to-wear label Mada’En and Emergency Room Beirut, a clothing store based in Lebanon’s capital.


A post shared by Saad Collection (@saadcollection) on

“The project is in line with the Arab Fashion Council’s vision to build an Arab economy based on creativity and to promote the Arab talents on a global scale,” said Mohammed Aqra, chief strategy officer of The Arab Fashion Council in a statement. “This is the first strategic alliance project with our French counterparts.”

The showroom, which will open its doors from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, 2020, will highlight the designer’s Spring 2021 collections and will be situated in Paris’s Rue Saint-Honore, adjacent to luxury shops like Dior, Fendi, Celine and more.

“Arabs in Paris” follows in the footsteps of other initiatives launched recently aimed to provide a global platform for regional talents.

In August, a virtual pop-up supporting 16 established and emerging designers from the Middle East and North Africa titled “Eastwave” launched online and featured a curated selection of brands spanning from ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry, such as Egyptian accessories label Alliel, Dubai-based womenswear label Mrs Keepa and Lebanese womenswear brand Jessica K.