I have seen Saudi Arabia’s local people’s food priorities and choices change dramatically since 1996. I had my first overseas job in December, 1996 at Al-Jubal, a multi cuisine, stand-alone restaurant. This was hard, but fun-filled. My shifts were 7.00am until 2.00pm, then 4.00pm until midnight – yes, everyday – 15 hours per day, 7 days a week with only 2 half days off per year.
During Eid I did not need to do the morning shift, but during Ramadan I used to work until 4.00am. The duty hours were long but never made me tired because I came from India’s TAJ Group of Hotels where I was used to working for long hours.
In 2005 I went to Jeddah Hilton from Madinat Jumeirah Dubai. The Hilton was the best business hotel in the city with many banquets and weddings. The Iranian Restaurant was the talk of the City. In 2006 I moved to Al-Jubail Intercontinental, the only five star hotel in this industrial city. Occupancy was always above 80% and I enjoyed every second of my work, it shaped my career. A good boss makes all the difference, Executive Chef Mohamed Alnawfly, gave me empowerment with a great level of motivation.
In 2012 I came to Crowne Plaza, Alkhobar from retail giant M.H. Alshaya’s Dubai Dean & Deluca. Crowne Plaza was opened just one year before. There were many challenges due to the absence of an Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Manager so we had to manage with a tiny team. The Moroccan restaurant was the talk of the city. In 2019 I came to Aswar Hotels Group. I was stunned by the local people’s communication skills and knowledge of cuisine.
The developments in the food and beverage industry are amazing, I never thought that healthy food would lead the trends in Saudi Arabia! The young millennial population is ready for adventure with innovative food. Our Shisha outlet was always fully packed before the COVID-19 pandemic. The millennial choices of food from our menu are Quinoa Salad, Cheetos & Mac, Coriander Stay, Trio Cheese Fries and Honey Cake.