RIYADH: Food and football were flavors of the week in Riyadh as Spanish cuisine experts and LaLiga officials came together to host a feast of Iberian culture.
The Spanish Pantry festival, organized by LaLiga and food experts Provacuno, was held over three days this week in the capital’s Ritz Carlton.
Mohamad Essa, LaLiga’s delegate in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that the festival combined two of Spain’s biggest passions, with football activities and displays from a Michelin star chef Rafael Centeno.
Essa said that Saudi Arabia had a passionate fan base for LaLiga football. “It’s my honor to be close to the local fans and to listen to their observations and understand their needs. We would like to achieve many things together.
“We are here to promote strong relations with local institutions, clubs and media,” he said, adding that his presence helps LaLiga giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona connect with Saudi fans, clubs and sponsors.
He added that his organization planned many activities for the Kingdom, including parties for Saudi fans to travel and watch LaLiga matches.
The league already helps develop skills in the sports industry with its LaLiga business school, and it has football academies aimed at developing youth talent.
“We want to export these capabilities to the country to create the new generation of footballers,” Essa said.
“As part of this international expansion, we are engaging in the market by hosting events, activities, different sports projects and academic opportunities.”
Ohoud M. Aljabr, of the Ritz-Carlton group, said: “Our main goal of this successful partnership is to introduce the beautiful and rich culture of Spain and present a memorable experience. Hosting the Spanish Festival for the first time in the Kingdom was a pleasure.”
Provacuno is a promotion organization for Spanish beef and veal, and represents 140,000 farms and processing plants.
Spain produces more than 800,000 tonnes per year of meat to EU standards. Saudi Arabia meanwhile is a growing market for beef, with consumption rates increasing and outstripping local supply. “Spanish beef has been a supplier since 2016. Export figures have been rising in recent years, reaching 350 tonnes a year,” Provacuno said. “Most of our exports to Saudi Arabia are high-quality cuts that meet Saudi demands.”