Michelin-starred quality food next on Saudi tourism menu

Royal Commission for Al Ula announces partnership with Ferrandi Paris, France's School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management

Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image: Ferrandi Paris
Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image: Ferrandi Paris

Michelin-starred quality food is next on the agenda for Saudi authorities as the country seeks to become a global tourism destination under its Vision 2030 strategy.

The Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU), which is seeking investments of $20 billion to create 35,000 jobs and contribute $32 billion to the kingdom’s GDP, has announced a partnership with Ferrandi Paris, France’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, sister title Arabian Business reported.

The partnership will see the creation of a bespoke, world-class training programme in gastronomy, which will take young, aspiring chefs from Al Ula to study in the French capital.

In the first phase of the programme, a total of 24 chefs from Al Ula will be selected to participate in a four-month course.

On their return to Al Ula, the newly-trained chefs will have the chance to work under the supervision of 10 Michelin starred chefs and help in the creation of “Taste of Al Ula” menus to be served to VIP guests attending the second season of Winter at Tantora, held annually in Al Ula.

Saudi authorities eventually hope to attract as many as 2 million visitors to Al Ula. The plans have begun with 1,000 hotel rooms and desert camps, as well as a three month visitor season – Winter at Tantoura – the first of which ended in March.

RCU CEO Amr AlMadani said: “This partnership will equip a new generation of local men and women with the tools necessary to become the leading chefs and culinary entrepreneurs in Al Ula, promoting excellence as the custodians of the county’s culinary heritage."

Ferrandi Paris CEO Bruno de Monte added: “We are extremely pleased to welcome the youth of Al Ula to Paris, to our school, where France’s best chefs learned their trade. We have built a programme especially for them, the future culinary greats of Saudi Arabian gastronomy."

To be considered for the programme, candidates must be between 21 and 35 years old, graduates of Al Ula high schools and have an intermediate knowledge of English.

The 24 successful applicants will be announced on July 26 and training will begin in Paris by the end of August.

The Saudi government – combined with a French cultural partnership – has already begun financing infrastructure projects at Al Ula, which features Nabatean stone carvings similar to those at Petra in Jordan.

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