Saudi HORECA recently celebrated an important milestone. Not only did the renowned hospitality and foodservice trade show mark its 10th anniversary, it also managed to attract thousands of visitors in its new hybrid format despite the challenges of Covid-19.
Following strict social distancing protocols and guidelines set by the MoH, the in-person event, which was held at Riyadh Front Convention and Exhibition Center from September 5-7, welcomed 200 exhibitors and 16,000 visitors. Organized by Semark, Saudi HORECA has remained firm in its commitment to bring together hospitality and foodservice professionals, providing a platform for business networking as well as a gateway for investors to tap into new markets.
Speaking about the event, Jad Taktak, general manager of Semark, said: “We rose to the challenge of bringing Saudi HORECA back to our audience, and we are thrilled with the outcome. Not only did we witness a huge turnout at the exhibition center, we also saw many attendees online at our live sessions.”
More than 10 international experts and chefs from the world of food, drink and hospitality attended Saudi HORECA to judge competitions that showcased the skills of local talents. The Hospitality Salon Culinaire judges included: Thomas Gugler (KSA), Sylvain Arthus (Kuwait), Maroun Chedid (Lebanon & KSA), Yasser Jad (KSA), Miltos Karoubas (Greece) and Guillaume Siegler (France). Under the patronage of General Entertainment Authority’s (GEA) chairman, H.E. Turki Al-Sheikh, an award was presented to Sara Salem Bajabir of Sara Sweet Catering for achieving the highest number of medals.
Elsewhere, the Saudi Barista Competition jury comprised Stavros Lamprinidis (Greece), Christos Loukakis (Greece), Sara Alali (KSA) and Mohammed Sayed (KSA). Muhammad Riyan Saputra of Seven Direction Coffee scooped the top prize and was crowned the best barista in KSA.
Held concurrently with the in-person event, Saudi HORECA Live featured 15 live chats with hospitality and foodservice leaders. Twenty-minute talks were held with industry trailblazers from the region, including: Hala Matar Choufany, president of HVS Middle East, Africa and South Asia; Rabih Fakhreddine, founder and CEO of 7 Management; Maroun Chedid, celebrity chef and restaurateur; Jad Shamseddin, COO for the Middle East at Aleph Hospitality, Rabih Saba, managing partner of Venture Group, Dagmar Symes, GM of Hill Robinson Project Management; Fady Sawaya, area GM and GM of Crowne Plaza RDC IHG; and Guenter Gebhard, senior GM of Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre.
A panel discussion was also organized in partnership with Hodema. Three general managers from well-known hotel brands talked about the challenges and the changing face of the hospitality industry in the kingdom. The sessions highlighted the role of Vision 2030 in opening up Saudi Arabia to the world.
Saudi HORECA returns for its 11th edition from September 6-8, 2022.