Few national economies have changed as much in recent years as Saudi Arabia’s. The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is perhaps the largest planned economic transformation ever enacted. It seeks to transform the country from having an economy reliant on oil prices and government spending, to one that is diversified, competitive, open and consumer driven. Along with the economic changes, the once strict visa procedure has been significantly relaxed, with the introduction of tourist visas coinciding with global sporting, entertainment and hospitality events being held throughout the country. Where once foreign visitors came almost exclusively for the religious pilgrimage of Hajj, now in line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is establishing itself as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, drawing on both its rich culture and history as well as investing heavily in cutting edge technology, amenities and luxury offerings.
Such developments reflect the broader objectives of attracting foreign direct investment and improving the quality of life for citizens, residents and visitors alike. While the development of NEOM and major events like Formula E, world heavyweight title fights and Middle East Beast have drawn international headlines, wider changes have been taking place across the burgeoning tourism industry and its related sectors. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in F&B and specifically fine dining. Increases in investment, international travel and deployable income among the population have led to explosive growth in the sector, which has come hand in hand with ever increasing demand for increasingly varied gastronomic and hospitality experiences. With ever increasing levels of wealth among its over 30 million residents and an influx of tourists from around the world, Saudi Arabia is poised to become the leading market and destination for fine dining in the Middle East.
This transformation is happening at a rapid pace. While fast food chains and mid-tier F&B brands have been present in the Saudi market for some time, recently the Kingdom witnessed the entry of several luxury brands, including Bagatelle, Bagatelle beach, Sumosan, Santini, NOOA, Socialista, Wadi, Purple Dragon and Cipriani. All of which have signed with Advanced Tastes, a Riyadh based restaurant & hospitality management company, which has been recently fully acquired by two prominent businessmen, Mr.Hisham Almousa and Mr.Ahmad AlMubarak.
Advanced Tastes have recently unveiled plans to open franchises in prime locations across all of the Kingdom’s major cities. This is a step towards increasing supply to what is an ever growing demand for luxury F&B offerings in Saudi Arabia, a sector which seems likely to continue to expand for years to come.