Local culinary scene is moving to the next level with guest Chefs, experiential dining and more.
ALULA, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA – In the stunning surroundings of AlUla – the historic heart of the Incense Road – a range of new restaurant concepts and celebrated Chefs will be redefining the dining experience, including world-firsts at Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Nabataean city of Hegra.
The world-famous Marbella brand Mamzel has introduced its first-ever pop-up in the hidden canyons of AlUla, bringing its trademark entertainment and international cuisine to the visitors of the stunning desert city. The restaurant, which seats 80 to 100 runs from 9pm to midnight on weekdays and 9pm to 1am on weekends.
Diners will be entertained by live performances of contemporary and classical music, while the evening dinner menu features trademark dishes such as a sea bass curry, king prawns and scallops, lamb shoulder, and Black Angus barbecued steak with chimichurri sauce and farofa.
Alberto Martinez Muñoz, Head Chef of Mamzel, said: “The venue is an exquisite fusion of modernity, sophistication and exoticism. It is really special to find Mamzel in such a fantastic location – so much more than I could ever have imagined.
“AlUla has wowed us in every way, we are very lucky to have Mamzel Marbella’s first international pop-up at the home of Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a very good variety of venues here in AlUla, something for every palate and mood. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone here to Mamzel for their own unique experience.”
After its successful opening season in 2018, destination restaurant Awna Restaurant and Tea Lounge will return to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Hegra on January 23. The fine dining establishment will offer sumptuous tasting menus and a roster of internationally acclaimed Chefs from London and European restaurants, which together bring more than 50 years of Michelin-star experience to the table.
Awna’s executive Chef Anthony Jehanno, who received his first Michelin star in 2017, will be working with the celebrated guest Chefs to create a memorable and world-class culinary experience over the coming months, drawing upon the region’s heritage ingredients and produce including dates, wheat, citrus fruit, AlUla honey and more to create a range of unique dishes with provenance and style.
The guest Chefs working with Jehanno have an incredible wealth of experience in some of the most famous kitchens in the world. They include executive pastry Chef David Girard, Oxeye founder Sven Hansen Britt, Kae Shibata, pastry sous Chef at the Ritz in London, Carter’s of Moseley Chef Brad Carter, and celebrated Icelandic Chef Aggi Sverrisson.
Tristram Hillier, Co-Founder and CEO of the Mistral Hospitality Group, the international luxury hospitality business behind the Awna concept, said: “At Awna, we are bringing diners on a journey of discovery into local flavours, immersing them in the history of the Incense Road and the culture of previous civilisations, including the well-documented the ancient Nabataean love of banqueting.”
Executive Chef at Awna, Chef Anthony Jehanno said: “AlUla is famous for a wide variety of produce due to the abundance of the Oases that provide respite from the desert. At Awna, we are committed to working with the best from the local supply chain but also respecting the heritage ingredients as a core part of our concept for Awna. We delight in working with ingredients that recent archeological explorations have shown existed as the basis for banquets for 3000 years.”
Other unique dining opportunities in AlUla include The Heart of Oasis Restaurant. The restaurant, located among the 2 million date palms that form the green vein running through the ancient cities delivering memory-making outdoor dining experiences from January 30. With its new interpretation of the ‘farm to fork’ concept, The Heart of Oasis celebrates the slow food movement by promoting local food and traditional cooking through a menu that includes a delicious selection of meat-based dishes and more.
Mould-breaking Saudi Chefs will lead a team of emerging culinary talents to combine the fruits of the AlUla Oasis and freshly farmed local produce with technical know-how, honed at the internationally acclaimed Ferrandi Paris school of culinary arts. Diners will be immersed in a culinary experience steeped in 7,000 years of human history and local agriculture.
Newcomer local restaurant Tawlet Fayza will open permanently in AlUla from February 2023, offering food lovers a unique culinary experience to savour. Located in the oasis, the restaurant offers farm-to-table organic food inspired by the founder’s grandmother who is originally from the area, with an evolving menu and one communal table – ideal for food talk and meeting new friends.
Complementing the restaurants, AlUla has more on the menu with a Fresh Food Market running from January 27 to March 25. Free and open to all, the market will feature outdoor stalls offering the most magnificent, locally sourced farm-fresh produce, from pomegranates, oranges and other fresh, seasonal fruit through to local vegetables including eggplant, onions, peppers, lettuce and more.
Stalls will showcase local cuisine and recipes, giving visitors a taste of home cooked Saudi favourites including tasty Jarish, fresh Majrafah bread, crispy samosas and salad, while local artisans will demonstrate their handicraft talents through pottery, baskets, bead work, soaps, jams and more.
This Fresh Food Market follows on from activations hosted earlier this season including the AlUla Citrus Festival and Flavours of AlUla, a fun and colourful celebration of food, art and local produce.
Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), said: “AlUla is an untapped pantry of produce and with all the naturally growing ingredients in the oasis we are excited to bring some truly groundbreaking activations and fun experiential culinary events for all to appreciate the tastes of AlUla and its surrounds.
“With our carefully curated schedule including celebrity Chefs, pop-up restaurants and a focus on local produce in this wonderful and spectacular setting, AlUla is offering a new and unique destination for dining and visitors who travel on their stomach.”
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.