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7645 23 May 2023

GRIF Concludes at Future Hospitality Summit – Saudi Arabia, Highlighting the Country’s Growing F&B Sector

The successful three-day conference featured a series of insightful panel and round table discussions and an exquisite culinary tour that demonstrated the best of Saudi Arabia’s dining scene

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (May 2023):  The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) Saudi Arabia successfully concluded its three-day conference as part of the esteemed Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) Saudi Arabia at the Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh. The conference attracted high-level industry experts, investors, franchisors, and restaurateurs, fostering knowledge sharing, networking, and investment opportunities within the vibrant restaurant investment industry in Saudi Arabia. It also highlighted the sector's growth in Saudi Arabia and showcased all the wonderful developments the country has made in recent years. With more restaurant openings in the country now than ever before, is the perfect opportunity to showcase the great strides Saudi Arabia is taking in the F&B industry. 

GRIF, founded in 2014 with a strong sense of community and passion for the industry, has previously organised successful conferences in Dubai and Amsterdam. This year, GRIF launched GRIF Saudi Arabia, a three-day conference recognising it as a new hospitality hub of the Middle East. The conference took place parallel to the most influential hotel investment-focused event, Future Hospitality Summit - Saudi Arabia, emphasising the exponential growth and development of Saudi Arabia's restaurant sector. The event was also the perfect opportunity for attendees to network whilst celebrating the best of the industry in the process.

According to Forsite Data, the industry in Saudi Arabia has been seeing rapid expansion, going from only 900 restaurants in Riyadh in 2019 to its current figures of over 3,800. The country has also seen a 65% growth in the upscale and high-end sectors, with the casual sector almost doubling in size. Meanwhile, the incredible speed at which things are progressing in the country has led the F&B industry to be now valued at $35 billion, which is expected to grow by a further 7.7% by 2027, based on Newsweek’s country report on Saudi Arabia.

Jennifer Pettinger, Managing Director - Middle East of The Bench and Founder of GRIF, said, “GRIF Saudi Arabia has been an overwhelming success, and we are delighted with the high level of attendees for this historic event, particularly those who travelled great distances to attend. With a keen focus on developing Saudi-led talent, concepts, and cuisine, as well as showcasing the country's culture and people, this three-day conference was massively beneficial for the future of the restaurant industry in Saudi Arabia. It was an honour to welcome such a prestigious group of attendees and speakers, and we are excited about the prospects for the restaurant scene in Saudi Arabia going forward. We are also very thankful to Khalid Saud Abu Haimed, Chief Executive Officer of Al Khozama Investments, and his team for their support and enthusiasm in hosting the event and culinary tour, which enabled us to bring a full-scale GRIF to the market for the first time.”

With an impressive lineup of 57 international speakers and participants, including 15 company founders, 3 superstar chefs, and 9 CXOs, GRIF Saudi Arabia, as part of Future Hospitality Summit Saudi Arabia, welcomed industry leaders from 39 countries, bringing their expertise and insights to the forefront. The conference featured 26 insightful engagements, panel sessions, and roundtable discussions that explored various topics critical to the success and future of the restaurant industry. Over 1,100 people attended the three-day event to witness a range of talks from such esteemed names, including Mohammed Jawa - Founder and Chairman of MJS Holding; Simon Wright - Founder & Chairman of TGP International, Deem Albassam - Co-founder & Managing Director of The Independent Food Company; Tom Aikens – Michelin Star Chef & International Restaurateur and Owner/Director of Cawston Limited; Bobby Chinn – Chef and Judge of MBC Top Chef; Sinan Al Saady - Founder & CEO of Cool Inc., Faisal Shaker – Founder, Board Member and CEO of Modern Food Company (MFC) and Modern Elite Company, Eman Fallatah – Culinary Director of Nakhati, Emma Banks – Vice President, F&B Strategy and Development EMEA of Hilton Worldwide and many more.

One of the highlights of the conference was the two culinary tours that took place across 8 venues, providing attendees with a delightful gastronomic experience and allowing them to sample some of the finest tastes the country has to offer. Participants had the opportunity to visit renowned restaurants in Riyadh, including LPM Riyadh, Meraki, The Brasserie, MAMO Michelangelo Riyadh, and Yauatcha. Each venue showcased unique culinary delights hosted by prominent industry figures, such as Nicolas Budzynski - Chief Executive Officer of LPM Restaurant & Bar, Sanjay Dwivedi - Chef Patron & Culinary Director, and Olivier Eynard - Co-Founder of Meraki, David Hayden - Executive Chef of Al Faisaliah, Tunji Olapido - MAMO Chef, and Mehmet Safa Sihlaroglu - General Manager of Yauatcha Riyadh.

The attendees also had the chance to witness the talented Sara Jawa, Founder and Executive Chef of La Casserole, and her team cooking authentic Saudi cuisine onsite. Courtesy of MJS Holding, guests had a wonderful opportunity to immerse themselves further into Saudi culture and sample some true culinary delights crafted by the superb chef.

The GRIF Saudi Arabia once again proved to be an important platform for industry professionals to come together, share best practices, and explore investment opportunities in the thriving Saudi Arabia restaurant market. GRIF remains committed to supporting the growth and development of the restaurant industry, fostering innovation, and nurturing strong partnerships within the global restaurant community. This was the first full-scale GRIF to be held in Saudi Arabia, and based on the success of this event, it certainly won’t be the last.

For more information about the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) and the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS), please visit and   


About the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF): 

Established in 2014 by The Bench, GRIF offers high-level programmes and networking opportunities that bring together the global restaurant community’s most ambitious and creative minds. Built around the pillars of investment, innovation, and inspiration, GRIF is a community that connects industry leaders and provides a constantly adapting platform to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest F&B trends while challenging its members’ mindsets to encourage fresh thinking about the most important industry issues of the day. Carefully curated events help to stimulate investments into new concepts and fund expansions into some of the world’s most exciting F&B destinations.


About The Bench

 The Bench has established a legacy for delivering world-leading investment forums and conferences in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The key principle behind these platforms has remained ‘dealmaking’. Transforming the way businesses connect, The Bench has developed a reputation for creating innovative and high-impact meeting spaces for the industry. 

For over two decades - government leaders, tourism ministries, global travel & tourism associations, the world’s most influential hospitality brands, hotel owners & investors, renowned restaurant groups, airlines & aviation authorities, destination developers, asset managers, financial groups and consultants – have been participating in The Bench’s events for their respective objectives. These include AHIC, AHIF, GRIF, FHS, AHF, IDEEA, AviaDev and RENEW –where industry players showcase their brands, position themselves as thought leaders or innovators, and connect with the right opportunities and knowledge. 

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