Riyadh emerging as an international cuisine hub

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Flamingo Room. (Supplied)
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CEO and founder of Tashas Group Natasha Sideris. (Supplied)
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Calamari Mozambique at Flamingo Room. (Supplied)
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Cocktail at Flamingo Room. (Supplied)
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Strawberry Dream at Flamingo Room. (Supplied)
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Panna cotta at Flamingo Room. (Supplied)
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Via Mercato in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Via Mercato in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Spago in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Spago in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Spago in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Spago in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Ferdi in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Ferdi in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Ferdi in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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LPM Restaurant & Cafe in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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LPM Restaurant & Cafe in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 October 2023
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Riyadh emerging as an international cuisine hub

Riyadh emerging as an international cuisine hub
  • “Gastronomic explosion” has accompanied Saudi capital’s transition from administrative capital to vibrant metropolis
  • Experts see immense potential benefits for Riyadh, and the Kingdom as a whole, from global expertise and exposure

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital is experiencing what is best described as a “gastronomic explosion.”

International brands have entered the market alongside proliferating homegrown Saudi restaurants and street food, contributing to the growing cultural diversity of Riyadh.

Until recently, Riyadh’s culinary scene was dominated by a few local restaurants offering predominantly Saudi and traditional Najdi cuisine, which hails from the historical region encompassing modern-day Riyadh, Qassim and Hail. This included warm and hearty stews, rich meat dishes, and savory regional specialties that have been a staple in traditional restaurants for decades.

The transformation began with the Saudi Vision 2030 economic and social plan in 2016, which has gained significant momentum since 2021 as the pandemic has waned. Riyadh has seen a surge in international chefs and eateries, accompanied by an increasing influx of tourists and expatriates.

Today, Saudi Arabia boasts a range of restaurants from around the world, catering to diverse tastes and budgets, both in fine dining and street food.

Simultaneously, Riyadh, transitioning from being solely an administrative hub to a vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis, attracts talent from across the globe. This includes restaurants and chefs eager to tap into what could potentially become the Middle East’s largest culinary market.

Vision 2030 aims to boost household spending on cultural and entertainment activities to 6 percent, a significant increase from the initial 2.9 percent when the plan was unveiled in 2016.

Among the latest international arrivals are Spago Riyadh, from the renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, Flamingo Room by Tashas, a concept store and eatery from the celebrated South African chef, and Mr. Chow, the Chinese restaurant specializing in authentic Beijing cuisine, founded by British-Chinese restaurateur Michael Chow, set to open in early October.

Other newcomers include Ferdi Restaurant, famous for its Parisian burgers, and LPM Restaurant & Cafe, offering cuisine from the Cote d’Azur, among others.

Cool Inc, a Saudi lifestyle curator, is behind the launch of Ferdi, Spago, and Cut by Wolfgang Puck, with plans announced in late 2022 for openings such as Scott’s, Sexy Fish, Wagyumafia, Gymkhana, and Madeo.

Natasha Sideris, CEO and founder of Tashas Group, expressed her enthusiasm for the evolving culinary scene in Riyadh, noting the city’s transition from a limited dining market to a flourishing landscape with international brands and innovative local concepts.

Riyadh’s newest addition, Flamingo Room by Tashas, is located in the vibrant Diriyah neighborhood, offering a multi-faceted experience that includes Tashas restaurant, Collective Africa (a retail concept store), the African Lounge, and The Stargaze Garden (a rooftop dining space).

In June of this year, Riyadh introduced Via Mercato, a luxury culinary destination housed in the upscale dining complex, Via Riyadh. It features artisanal and specialty foods from around the world, drawing attention on social media with the appearance of actress Sofia Vergara amid its sleek, architecturally striking design.

Matthew Lawson, general manager for Via Mercato, attributed Riyadh’s emergence as a culinary capital to at least three factors: a surge in tourism; heavy investments in the hospitality and food industries; and an increasingly cosmopolitan and sophisticated local population seeking diverse culinary experiences.

Via Mercato’s luxury market offers a wide range of artisanal and specialty food products, including baked goods, cheeses and Japanese delicacies. Additionally, it features a caviar bar, pizzeria, rotisserie and a cheese shop, all with personalized service and expert guidance from knowledgeable staff.

For those seeking more casual and adventurous fare, Riyadh boasts a growing choice of street cuisine, including both local Saudi dishes and international flavors. Despite the city’s reputation for a car-centric lifestyle, there are vibrant outdoor areas where residents and visitors alike explore new culinary experiences.

Options include Thai Soi, Barbar Riyadh (a Lebanese street food restaurant), and various eateries serving local Saudi and Arabic specialties such as baleela, koshari and manto.

Each month sees the opening of several high-end global restaurants and street food joints in Riyadh, underlining the city’s increasing appeal to food enthusiasts locally, regionally and internationally.

As the culinary landscape expands, there is a growing interest among Riyadh residents in making the most of the “gastronomic explosion.”

The establishment of the Culinary Arts Commission under the Saudi Ministry of Culture reflects this trend. The mission of the body includes rating restaurants, dishes and chefs, establishing culinary arts regulations, and promoting both Saudi and international culinary traditions. It also aims to document recipes and share them to introduce Saudi cuisine globally.

Matthew Lawson emphasized the importance of facilitating culinary exchanges and collaborations with chefs and institutions worldwide, highlighting the potential to bring global expertise and exposure to the Kingdom. This local and international exchange is a pivotal factor in Riyadh’s ascent as an international culinary destination.


Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump

Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump
Updated 41 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump

Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump
  • Kingdom affirmed its rejection of all forms of violence

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expressed on Sunday its condemnation and denunciation of the attempt on the life of the former President of the US Donald Trump, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom affirmed its complete solidarity with the US, the former President and his family.

Trump was hit in the ear in an assassination attempt by a gunman at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

The 78-year-old former president was rushed off stage with blood streaked across his face after the shooting, while the shooter and a bystander were killed and two spectators were critically injured.

Saudi Arabia also affirmed its rejection of all forms of violence, expressing its condolences to the family of the deceased and its wishes for a speedy recovery for those injured.

 


Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom

Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom
Updated 14 July 2024
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Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom

Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom
  • Project part of Integrated Pest Management scheme, one of National Transformation Program initiatives

RIYADH: Weqaa, the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Plant Pests and Animal Diseases, recently identified the most invasive plant types discovered in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported

The invasive plants identified by the technical team were the prickly pear; two types of Austrocylindropuntia — Hudson pear cactus and Eve’s needle cactus; mesquite (Prosopis); tree tobacco; parthenium; lantanas; two types of argemone; sweet rush plant; and two types of reeds — the common reed and the giant reed.

Weqaa’s CEO Ayman bin Saad Al-Ghamdi said: “This success is the result of the tireless efforts and field visits carried out by the project’s team in various regions of the Kingdom to identify the most important invasive plants and their proliferation location.”

“The Kingdom’s identification and control of invasive plants project is currently working on a new experiment to control the spreading of the opuntia cylindrica and tree tobacco,” Al-Ghamdi said.

He also pointed out that the identification and diagnosis of invasive plants is being studied in cooperation with experts from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, and that they are relying on the results of the plants’ identification to create Weqaa’s unique atlas.

Al-Ghamdi underlined the importance of the phytosanitary (plant health) sector in ensuring the monitoring and control of plant pests and crop diseases, applying good agricultural practices, and protecting the flora and biodiversity from pests through the implementation of all the available technical, administrative, legal and logistical measures.

The aforementioned project is part of the Integrated Pest Management scheme, one of the National Transformation Program initiatives aimed at controlling agricultural pests and invasive plants as well as protecting plant production.

The project is implemented in cooperation with the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification to ensure the health of plants and crops, namely cultivated plants, to promote economic development and achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.


Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts

Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts
Updated 14 July 2024
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Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts

Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts
  • According to SPA, this will contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of job opportunities and support economic growth and development in the area

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province Municipality has recently confirmed more than 6,000 contracts in the field of investments and revenue development in the cities and governorates of the province, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

According to SPA, this will contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of job opportunities and support economic growth and development in the area.

The municipality said that the contracts were signed in cooperation with the Eastern Province Development Authority. It also stated that Prince Saud bin Nayef, governor of the Eastern Province, launched 18 development and investment projects at the beginning of this year, with a total cost of SR14 billion ($3.733 billion) to support the quality of life in the province.

This includes improving services and city economies by making a digital and qualitative leap in the number of projects and quality investment services through launching a large and diverse range of projects, contracts, agreements, investment opportunities and developments in various cities and governorates of the region, according to SPA.

The municipality said that Dammam city has obtained most of the projects, contracts, opportunities and investment agreements. These include investment in King Abdullah Cultural Hall, Dammam Corniche development, Al Marjan Island marine activities project, collaboration with Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven) of the Public Investment Fund, an opportunity to invest in naming and sponsorship rights for the Dammam Corniche, infrastructure development projects, industrial and service plans, landfills and recycling factories in partnership with the Saudi Investment Recycling Company affiliated with the PIF.

Additionally, there are projects in resorts, transport, sea taxis, ports and marinas to connect cities and governorates in the Eastern Province. These projects are expected to bring about a significant improvement in entertainment services, tourism, marine activities, infrastructure, environmental safety and industry, ultimately enhancing the quality of life.


Saudi crown prince receives message from Emir of Qatar

Saudi crown prince receives message from Emir of Qatar
Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi crown prince receives message from Emir of Qatar

Saudi crown prince receives message from Emir of Qatar

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday received a letter from the Emir of Qatar, relating to relations between the two brotherly countries, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The message was received on behalf of foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan by deputy minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji during a reception in Riyadh with the Qatari ambassador to the Kingdom Bandar Mohammed Al-Attiyah.

During the reception, they reviewed ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and ways to enhance them in various fields, in addition to discussing topics of common interest, SPA added.


Saudi FM received by Erdogan during visit to Istanbul to discuss Saudi-Turkish ties

Saudi FM received by Erdogan during visit to Istanbul to discuss Saudi-Turkish ties
Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi FM received by Erdogan during visit to Istanbul to discuss Saudi-Turkish ties

Saudi FM received by Erdogan during visit to Istanbul to discuss Saudi-Turkish ties
  • The also spoke about regional developments and efforts to ensure stability in the region

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was received by Turkish President Recep Erdogan in Istanbul on Sunday on an official visit aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The also spoke about regional developments and efforts to ensure stability in the region.

The meeting between Prince Faisal and the Turkish president was also attended by Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs, Saud Al-Sati, and Saudi ambassador to Turkiye Fahad Abu Al-Nasr.

During the visit, the minister will also discuss with officials regional and international developments of common interest, SPA added.

Prince Faisal was received on his arrival at Ataturk International Airport by the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Noah Yilmaz.