A slice of Saudi culture on the streets of Davos

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DAVOS: The Saudi Tourism Authority has brought a small slice of the Kingdom’s culture to the Swiss mountains in the shape of the Saudi Cafe, which is open throughout the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Visitors can enjoy Saudi delicacies, from pumpkin jereesh to a rose mamoul crumble, as well as the staple of the Kingdom’s hospitality, Saudi coffee. The cafe is also a unique combination of elements of Saudi design and art, to give people what Abdullah Al-Dakhil, spokesman for Saudi Tourism Authority, calls “a real taste” of Saudi Arabia.

And Al-Dakhil is hopeful that the cafe will continue to raise awareness of Saudi Arabia as a tourism destination, something that has been on the rise since the launch of the tourism visa in 2019.

“Saudi is going through an incredible transformation and tourism is at the forefront of this. Now that borders are open and the world is traveling again, inspiring people to visit Saudi is our top priority. We have already seen a 72 percent recovery to pre-pandemic levels, which gives us the confidence in the world’s desire to explore and discover the diversity and beauty of our country,” he added.

“Our presence, through this experience in Davos at WEF, where leaders meet and connect, plays an important role in driving destination awareness and giving people a glimpse into what Saudi has to offer.”

“Welcoming people with genuine Saudi hospitality, giving them an opportunity to try different specialties that we brought from Saudi Arabia’s different regions — mangoes from Jizan, chillies from Hail, other condiments from Riyadh and Jeddah and more – we wanted to give them a taste of Saudi,” Abdullah said.

“(We are) creating excitement and inspiration about embarking on a journey to Saudi, welcoming the world with open hearts and minds.”

An important aspect of the Saudi cafe, besides showcasing Saudi culture, is the chance to answer questions about how the Kingdom is transforming under its Vision 2030 plan.

“We only really know what’s going on in Saudi Arabia based on certain news channels we have access to, so definitely pleasantly surprised in terms of the transformation,” Tiffany Jones, one visitor to the cafe from South Africa, said. “I’m happy to see there is some transformation taking place.”

And for Swiss native and consultant Antonin Muller, the cafe has allowed him to discover a culture he knew little about.

“I had never tried Saudi food, I knew very little about the country, so to have this here in Davos is great for people who may never have had a chance to sample the culture,” he said. “This is what being at WEF is all about.”