Serving sustainability on a plate: Furahaa’s vegan delights land in Saudi Arabia

Serving sustainability on a plate: Furahaa’s vegan delights land in Saudi Arabia
Founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Arthur Devillers, Furahaa’s launch through HungerStation echoes the demand for diverse and high-quality choices in the local market. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 August 2023

Serving sustainability on a plate: Furahaa’s vegan delights land in Saudi Arabia

Serving sustainability on a plate: Furahaa’s vegan delights land in Saudi Arabia
  • French fast-food sensation’s venture into Saudi Arabia embodies both innovation and adaptability

RIYADH: After making waves in France, Furahaa, famous for its delectable vegan menu, is sizzling its way into the heart of Saudi Arabia through a savory partnership with food delivery app HungerStation.

The expansion, promoted by Prince Khaled Alwaleed bin Talal’s investment firm KBW Ventures on social media, aims to tantalize taste buds of food lovers in Saudi Arabia with a range of plant-based options.

Founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Arthur Devillers, Furahaa’s Middle Eastern debut is a result of the support of Prince Khaled.

The French fast-food sensation’s venture into Saudi Arabia embodies both innovation and adaptability.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Devillers shared his company’s future course of action and revealed a vision that extends beyond virtual kitchens.

“We are considering one of Riyadh’s shopping centers to accommodate our customers on-site before the end of this year, 2023,” he said. 

Furahaa’s launch through Hunger- Station echoes the demand for diverse and high-quality choices in the local market. (Supplied)

The plant-based brand plans to expand its presence to other Saudi cities in the coming years and aims to ensure its presence in Dubai before COP28 to captivate the region’s culinary enthusiasts.

In a market known for its unique preferences, Furahaa is not just entering but embracing the challenge. Outlining his company’s strategic approach, Devillers said: “We are adjusting our strategy to optimize pricing. Our goal is to offer a menu priced at SR45 ($12), an amount we see as both competitive and socially fair.” 

This pricing strategy underscores Furahaa’s commitment to making quality plant-based options accessible to a wider audience, reflecting a harmony between taste and affordability.

Furahaa’s innovative spirit doesn’t stop at pricing. The company is keen on winning the hearts, or should we say stomachs, of the local population with its upcoming addition—a “chicken shawarma” option that stays true to their 100 percent vegan commitment while embracing the regional flavors.

Devillers’ plans are based on extensive research of the Saudi market. “Riyadh, with its population nearing 8 million, presents vast potential,” the entrepreneur told Arab News.

Beyond market research, he also succeeded in sourcing all products from local vendors. “Upon my arrival in Saudi Arabia, the challenges in sourcing 100 percent vegan products escalated. However, in a mere span of eight days, through sheer dedication and relentless effort, not only did I manage to secure essential products for Furahaa, but I also acquired them exclusively from Saudi distributors.”     

Furahaa’s launch through HungerStation echoes the demand for diverse and high-quality choices in the local market.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed’s backing of Furahaa through KBW Ventures has been instrumental in the company’s journey. “Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed’s support, and that of KBW Ventures, as our investor since 2021 has been very helpful to us; he believes in Furahaa’s vision and mission,” acknowledged Devillers. This partnership is emblematic of the growing collaboration between innovative startups and visionary investors in the sustainable food sector.

Prince Khaled Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures founder and CEO. (Supplied)

KBW Ventures is known for its focus on sustainable and innovative ventures with a portfolio that includes other prominent players in the plant-based and food innovation sector, such as BlueNalu and Upside Foods.

Earlier this year, it reinvested in Rebellyous Foods’ initial Series A commitment, raising a $9.5 million equity round to build on its groundbreaking manufacturing technology for plant-based meats.

Beyond taste, Furahaa’s mission extends to fostering an inclusive job market. Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed praised Furahaa’s employment of team members with hearing impairment in its French operations, describing it as a global example for everybody to follow. 

“An inclusive job market is key to wealth creation, it’s key to flourishing SMEs, it’s key to the launch of micro-enterprises that later evolve into startups that later employ more and more people,” noted Prince Khaled.

 “We use the same criteria for all business models — we are sector agnostic and location agnostic,” explained KBW Ventures CEO.

This approach emphasizes the pivotal role of transformative ideas and dynamic founding teams in shaping successful business ventures. “We’re looking to invest in powerful ideas that make powerful, scalable business models. We look very closely at the founding team; team holds a lot of weight for us. Can the founders take this to the next level? A lot of our investments are early stage so this is a crucial question,” he added.

Prince Khaled also shed light on KBW Ventures’ commitment to offering comprehensive support to its portfolio companies. “We extend every support function to all of our portfolio companies,” he stated, illustrating the firm’s dedication to nurturing growth and innovation across diverse sectors.

Offering advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa, Prince Khaled said: “You need to treat every country as its own specific case scenario. What works in Saudi (Arabia) won’t work in Morocco, and vice versa.” 

A tailored approach, combined with a deep understanding of local dynamics and collaboration with local talent, forms the bedrock for success.

After its inception, it did not take time for Furahaa in gaining recognition for its commitment to inclusivity and its vegan offerings. The company received the “Favorite Establishment” award at the December 2021 French Snack & Sandwich Show.

Furahaa France has three subsidiaries — a fast-food dining restaurant Furahaa, as well as ViVeg, a vegan cheese producer, and PlantB2B, which distributes 100 percent plant-based and gourmet products for professionals.

As the company tantalizes taste buds and promotes sustainability on a plate, it sets the stage for a future where culinary diversity and conscious choices converge to shape the gastronomic landscape.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605
Updated 25 February 2024

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, shedding 29.74 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,604.59.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.63 billion ($1.77 billion) as 148 of the stocks advanced while 74 retreated.  

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, rose 194.49 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 25,702.15. This comes as 44 of the stocks advanced while as many as 22 retreated.

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 7.60 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 1,620.57.

The best-performing stock of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. The company’s share price surged 9.96 percent to SR29.25. 

Other top performers include Arabian Pipes Co. as well as Saudi Steel Pipe Co.

The worst performer was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share price dropped by 6.67 percent to SR0.14.

On the announcements front, Hail Cement Co. announced its annual financial results for the period ending Dec. 31. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the firm’s net profit reached SR24.61 million in 2023, reflecting a 49.95 percent rise compared to 2022.  

The increase in net profit was mainly attributed to a decrease in general and administrative costs as well as a drop in zakat expenses. 

It was also primarily linked to achieving profits from financial investments at fair value as well as high returns on Murabaha deposits during the aforementioned period.

Additionally, Saudi Steel Pipe Co. has also revealed its annual consolidated financial results for 2023. 

A bourse filing disclosed that the company’s net profit hit SR217 million in the year ending on Dec. 31, up 301.85 percent in comparison to the corresponding period a year earlier. 

The rise in net profit is mainly driven by a surge in gross profit, recognition of a bargain purchase gain, a rise in other income, and a drop in Zakat and tax expense.

Saudi Lime Industries Co. announced the signing of a conditional binding agreement with Astra Industrial Group and Tharawat Mining Co. to acquire a 100 percent stake in the share capital of Astra Mining Ltd. Co.

According to a Tadawul statement, the transaction value is up to a maximum of SR35 million for acquiring the company shares and settlement of company debt to local banks amounting to SR129.6 million. Accordingly, the maximum amount is SR164.6 million.

Moreover, the Capital Market Authority approved the public offering of King Khalid University Endowment Fund units.

Meanwhile, Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. will list on Nomu today.

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded
Updated 25 February 2024

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation is diversified, as financial institutions in the Kingdom are “savvy and strong” with long-term strategies, according to a senior executive.

In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Middle East Investment Conference held in Riyadh, President and CEO of CFA Institute Marg Franklin noted that Saudi Arabia aims to move away from its heavy reliance on oil by diversifying its investment portfolio.

This diversification plan involves investing in small and medium-sized enterprises within the Kingdom to broaden the economy’s scope.

She said: “If you look at Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation, it really centers on diversification, and that is really where we’ve seen the savviest and strongest financial institutions who have a very long-term view and very long-term objectives really achieve those ambitions for the capital.”

Franklin highlighted the importance of asset owners in the Middle East, who prioritize serving their citizens over short-term gains, emphasizing long-term objectives and sustainability in capital allocation.

Additionally, amid Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 program, Franklin noted that the CFA Institute emerges as a key player in shaping the nation’s economic landscape.

With a three-pronged approach focused on education, advocacy, and policy, the institute is instrumental in fostering a robust and well-functioning capital market.

“When we look here in Saudi Arabia, it’s an ambitious program for 2030 and what’s exciting about it is how much it’s related to the population of Saudi, so it really lines up with those last six words of our mission for the ultimate benefit of society,” Franklin said.

She added: “The key things where CFA Institute, I think has a distinct role to play is first of all in developing and enhancing the capital markets, making sure they’re efficient and fair.”

Franklin continued: “Because at the end of the day, when you’re bringing in global capital or exporting global capital, there is a common language that goes with it. But there will be unique features here in the region, specifically Islamic finance.”

The second aspect Franklin highlighted is capacity building and talent development. This includes the renowned CFA program, known for its comprehensive curriculum and ethical foundation, providing a common platform for investment professionals globally.

“Then finally, just building those baseline skills, because we know one of Saudi Arabia’s key objectives is to build financial literacy, and that’s crucial if you’re going to increase the savings of citizens,” Franklin said.

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   
Updated 25 February 2024

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

RIYADH: Oman’s insurance sector is expected to have achieved a 10 percent growth in 2023, paving the way for attracting additional regional investors, according to a top official. 

This comes as Oman recorded a growth rate of about 13 percent in insurance premiums in 2022, according to Mustafa Ahmed Salman, member of the board of directors of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

Salman, also serving as the chairman of the chamber’s Finance and Insurance Committee, emphasized that raising the capital of insurance companies will greatly enhance their ability to attract investors and facilitate business growth, as reported by the Oman News Agency. 

“The contribution of the insurance sector to the gross domestic product of the Sultanate of Oman currently amounts to 1.3 percent, which is a good percentage compared to Arab countries,” he said.  

This positive trend follows the insurance division emerging as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Middle Eastern country. 

The chairman went on to explain that the volume of Arab insurance reached about $45 billion, constituting 1 percent of the volume of global insurance. 

Furthermore, Salman highlighted that the Finance and Insurance Committee of the chamber is actively engaged in studying and developing laws, decisions, and regulations related to the sector.  

He also emphasized that the board is actively addressing challenges, presenting proposals, and offering visions to overcome obstacles. 

All these endeavors demonstrate that increasing the contribution of insurance to the GDP is achieved by establishing large projects and capital for insurance companies, as well as strengthening their reserves, highlighted the chairman. 

Regarding the performance of insurance firms on the Muscat Securities Market, he emphasized that their prices have been traded at appropriate costs and delivered good dividends over the past years. 

Salman further disclosed that efforts are underway to enhance trading in the shares of these companies, aiming to attract more investors for buying and exchanging their assets.  

Oman’s insurance industry is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent, reaching $1.8 billion in 2028, up from around $1.4 billion in 2022, according to the UAE-based investment banking advisory firm Alpen Capital. 

In a recently released study titled “GCC Insurance Industry Report,” the advisory firm stated that several macroeconomic trends, particularly GDP and population growth between 2023 and 2028, are expected to drive this transition. 

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow
Updated 25 February 2024

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet recently approved regulations for the country’s tourism authority that will give a fresh impetus to the sector and contribute to its overall growth.

The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, approved 24 regulations concerning the Saudi Tourism Authority with a focus on global promotion, international and regional collaboration and tourists targets.

The regulations will help the authority achieve tourism targets in line with Vision 2030 and empower the body to play a pivotal role in promoting the Kingdom as a tourist destination locally, regionally, and globally.

One of the approved regulations enables the tourism authority to establish marketing offices both domestically and internationally. The objective is to boost visitor arrivals and realize the vision of positioning the Kingdom as a top-tier tourist destination, according to Umm Al-Qura, the country’s official gazette.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, who is also chairman of the STA, highlighted that the Cabinet’s approval of the authority’s regulations underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the tourism sector in achieving its objectives aligned with Vision 2030.

Among the key objectives is the collaboration with government bodies in the tourism sector to establish marketing offices for traveler destinations and oversee the strategies of these offices. Additionally, the regulations include setting visitation targets and allocating funds in a manner that enhances the involvement of the private sector in this endeavor.

As per the new regulation, the tourism authority is now mandated to undertake all measures essential for realizing its objectives, including formulating comprehensive plans and policies for tourism marketing within the Kingdom, domestically and internationally. 

Additionally, the regulation emphasizes the promotion and enhancement of destinations in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the support and marketing of activities and events organized by governmental bodies and the private sector.

Moreover, the authority is required to establish and maintain an up-to-date database encompassing all sites, tourist destinations, resorts, and services in collaboration with pertinent authorities. 

Moreover, it is tasked with conducting activities associated with promoting Umrah packages, which includes overseeing the development and management of any designated platform in coordination with relevant agencies. 

Additionally, the authority is mandated to assess visitor experiences, devise essential standards, tools, and mechanisms, identify tourist priorities and challenges, and subsequently share the findings and performance reports with the ministry.

The Umm Al-Qura statement added that the body should propose the necessary designs, policies, and procedures to prepare the development of tourist sites and destinations that need rehabilitation or modernization and submit them to the Ministry of Tourism, in addition to working with distinguished local and international companies and institutions, to provide products and tools with professional content, and to benefit from its expertise in tourism marketing in the Kingdom.

The source further stated that the STA is required to conduct marketing campaigns domestically and internationally to promote travel sites and products. This includes developing trademarks, registering them, and securing any intellectual property rights associated with tourism marketing under the authority’s name. The source emphasized that the body should also undertake any necessary actions related to these tasks and leverage them in accordance with pertinent rules.

The new regulation assigns the authority to develop and execute media plans to promote tourism domestically and globally. This includes organizing forums, conferences, and local and global exhibitions. 

Additionally, the body will offer administrative and technical support to tourism product owners, facilitate small and medium enterprises, and implement training programs to enhance marketing efficiency.

Furthermore, with an independent annual budget, the STA is responsible for overseeing promotional campaigns, proposing investment opportunities, and coordinating with relevant entities to enhance the travel experience. It will also collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism, government bodies, and the private sector to formulate marketing policies and ensure alignment with the national tourism strategy.

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 
Updated 25 February 2024

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

RIYADH: Arab-Turkish economic relations are continuing to progress at all levels, with the volume of intra-trade standing at $55 billion, as stated by the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers.  

Khaled Hanafi added that exports from the Turkish nation are increasing annually by about 10 percent, and the presence of direct and indirect Arab investments in Turkiye has grown significantly in recent years. 

The discussion took place during the fifth joint meeting of the Arab and Turkish Chambers, convened in Egypt. The event was attended by numerous heads of chambers of commerce and industry leaders from Arab nations and Turkiye. 

During the meeting, Sameer Abdulla Nass, president of the Union of Arab Chambers and president of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce, stressed the significance of increasing the openness of Arab economies at both regional and international levels. 

He further underscored the importance of achieving optimal benefits from trade agreements concluded by Arab countries to boost their exports and enhance their capacity. 

The president explained that this step would help remove all challenges and restrictions on the movement of trade between countries and attract foreign capital to contribute to creating opportunities for partnerships that achieve the common interest of all parties. 

He also highlighted the importance of such meetings and conferences as opportunities to build strong relations between the Arab world and Turkiye. Especially noteworthy is the Arab-Turkish chamber, which, since its establishment, has played a significant role in raising the level of trade, economic, and investment exchange. 

For his part, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Egypt, Ahmed Samir, stressed the importance of the business community in the Arab countries and Turkiye benefiting from the political relations between their nations. This collaboration aims to develop economic cooperation in areas such as joint manufacturing, the enhancement of intra-trade, support for transportation and logistics, and ensuring food security. 

He urged the Arab and Turkish chambers to capitalize on the opportunities presented in the Arab Republic of Egypt, including those associated with the Suez Canal axis, the golden license, and the state ownership policy.