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RIYADH: The international culinary exhibition, InFlavour Expo, will begin at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Center in Riyadh on Sunday.

InFlavour is a prominent global event that blends science, technology, art, business, hospitality and cuisine. It attracts renowned Michelin-star chefs, industry leaders, global consumer brand representatives and international luminaries.

The event, in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, will take place from Oct. 29-31. Visitors will be greeted with traditional Saudi treats, including maqshush, Saudi coffee and dates.

Celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White and Manal Al-Alem are among 200 F&B pioneers on the lineup, joined by industry leaders from companies such as Big Idea Drinks, Ossiano and Kitopi, the world’s leading multibrand restaurant and tech unicorn.

Known as the “godfather of modern cooking,” Marco Pierre White passionately supports the F&B industry’s growth and progression. He considers it an “honor and privilege” to headline the first InFlavour event.

“To be involved in the launch of Saudi Arabia’s first F&B event is incredibly exciting, not only because InFlavour promises to greatly accelerate the Kingdom’s burgeoning food sector but, with government-backing, it is also clearly serious about improving food security and inspiring industry innovation across local and international businesses,” White said.

“Middle Eastern cuisine is all about coming together, sharing, socializing and indulging — and that is what I see InFlavour bringing to the table. When you combine international knowledge, local insights, technology and cuisine, amazing things can happen. Given the list of expert speakers that I have seen so far, expectations should be sky-high.”

Saudi Arabia’s Culinary Arts Commission is also participating in the expo. During the event, the commission will unveil its innovative strategy for the culinary arts sector, which includes the introduction of a business incubator for Kawn, a program designed to provide support to businesses and startups by offering mentorship and workshops, enabling them to enter and compete in the market. The incubation period for participants will span four to six months.

Additionally, the commission will showcase the Abde’a cultural license platform, aimed at promoting greater involvement of the private sector in cultural events and initiatives.

The commission’s participation in the exhibition reflects its commitment to empowering Saudi chefs, facilitating interactions with world-renowned culinary experts and showcasing the rich, time-honored traditional recipes of Saudi cuisine.

This event signifies a major change in Saudi Arabia’s approach to addressing critical challenges in the F&B industry, given the global food system’s current state. Saudi Arabia is taking measures to enhance the effectiveness of its food systems to achieve food security and sustainability, recognizing their significance in addressing these challenges.

The expo will host 40,000 visitors, feature more than 200 speakers, showcase more than 600 exhibitors and welcome more than 200 international investors and venture capitalists specializing in the food and hospitality sector.

Issues to be addressed at the InFlavour conference include food and water security, agritech, sustainability, logistics, food tech and investment, alternative proteins, plant-based food, concept restaurants, culinary excellence, food waste, retail and e-commerce.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Saleh Bindakhil, said that Saudi Arabia has the biggest food and beverage market in the area and is fast-tracking its ambitions to become the most important market for food trade and hospitality globally.

He also said that InFlavour will boost Saudi Arabia’s food imports and exports, and fast-track new standards in product-sourcing options to elevate the hospitality and consumer spheres.

According to Bindakhil, the food industry in Saudi Arabia is experiencing explosive growth due to significant investments in hotels and resorts, an influx of food and beverage entrepreneurs, and a willingness to develop and adopt the technology. “All these factors will completely change the food service experience in Saudi Arabia. InFlavour is the epicenter and driving force behind this industry-wide convergence.”

The Ministry of Investment has conservatively forecast that the Kingdom’s food service sector will grow 6 percent annually over the next five years, while the independent market intelligence provider Fortune Business Insights anticipates the sector will expand by 11.5 percent annually, to be worth $30.47 billion by 2029.

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