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New Heights: Naif Alrajhi Investment expands in Saudi Arabia

Naif Alrajhi Investment’s expansion into the flourishing hospitality and F&B worlds of Saudi Arabia is making headlines. We interview Naif Saleh Alrajhi, chairman and chief executive officer, for insights into the company’s market presence.

Massive changes are underway in Saudi Arabia’s F&B scene, what – in particular – has motivated you to get involved at this moment in time within this market?
As a proactive response to the changes in Saudi Arabia’s growing food and beverage market, Naif Alrajhi Investment has doubled its investments in this sector through the addition of high-end restaurants to its existing casual dining portfolio. The objective is to vary the offerings from casual, to 5-star, to suit all tastes and segments.

What are the most unique aspects of the brands you’ve signed and what do you think they will bring to Saudi Arabia?
In Saudi Arabia, there’s constant demand for quality and unique restaurants. It’s not only about the food, but also the overall experience that the restaurants offer. To bring an exquisite dining experience, we’ve signed four high-end concepts: Clap, the Japanese fine-dining restaurant, Iris Café, a lounge known for its distinctive vibes and ambiance, and a new joint project ‘Brute’ designed for meat connoisseurs which will be established by Zeev Godik, the founder of Argentinian steak restaurant Gaucho.

Moreover, we’ve signed a master franchise agreement for Jones the Grocer, the Australian specialty gourmet food retailer and award-winning café.

We’ve also established a hospitality management subsidiary company, Grey Fox, which will be in charge of managing and operating the company’s high-end F&B portfolio.

How do you see the future of F&B in Saudi Arabia and what are some of the developments you think we will see?
The food and beverage sector is an important and promising one in Saudi Arabia, given the fact that young people make up a significant portion of the total population. Studies have shown that spending on food and beverage averaged 18% of total household spending in Saudi Arabia and it’s expected to reach SAR 18.2 billion by 2020, with user penetration reaching 36% by 2024.

On the other hand, in the upcoming years, the quality of the food and beverage market will grow drastically for two reasons: local restaurants will develop further to provide their guests with the best service and, consequentially, international restaurants will fight their way into this gigantic market in Saudi Arabia. This strong competition will drive both parties to thrive for better quality, service and more.

Where would you position Naif Alrajhi Investment in the F&B scene in the coming years?
Naif Alrajhi Investment and Grey Fox’s vision is to become the leading food and beverage companies in Saudi Arabia. The concepts we’re introducing to the market are a very solid start for Naif Alrajhi Investment to become one of the major players in this sector by offering holistic, high-end dining experiences.


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