Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Yatooq: A Saudi Female Entrepreneur Innovates Arabian Coffee

Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Yatooq: A Saudi Female Entrepreneur Innovates Arabian Coffee

Article excerpt

Early on a cold December morning in 2014, Lateefa Alwaalan, a young Saudi woman, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Yatooq, sits in her office sipping a cup of freshly prepared hot Qahwa (Arabian coffee). The past two years spent founding and leading a successful and innovative entrepreneurship have given her an opportunity to gain dynamic experiences and learn the nuts and bolts of starting a company. Among her many successes, earlier that year, Alwaalan had been honored by Middle East Forbes Magazine as one of the most creative entrepreneurs in Saudia Arabia. With that honor had come greater responsibility and opportunity to grow her business. She knew that the majority of startups fail within their first five years. How could she plan for continued business success? What steps could she take to sustain and improve her gains? Alwaalan took another sip, relishing her morning coffee. Already, qahwa had brought her so far. She hoped she could find answers to Yatooq's future in the golden aromatic liquid.

Drinking qahwa with dates or other sweets is an Arabian staple. Unlike typical European black coffee, Qahwa is prepared with two main ingredients: blond coffee beans and cardamom. Optional spices include saffron, ginger, and cloves, etc. The complicated brewing process typically takes 30 minutes or more. Traditionally, preparing qahwa is a ritual, much like the ritual of preparing authentic Japanese tea.

Poured from a special metallic coffee pot called dallah into small handle-less cups called fenjan, qahwa is usually enjoyed in very small portion that fills about one third of the fenjan. The server always holds an Arabic coffee pot with the left hand and serves the small cups filled with qahwa with the right. Guests receive the qahwa with their right hand. It is customary to serve no more than three cups of qahwa and a guest should at least accept one cup. Wiggling the empty cup from side to side when finished indicates that the guest is done and doesn't want any more. Arabian coffee is the symbol of the famous Arabian hospitality (Al-Aali, 1996). It's said that a western diplomat, not knowing how to tell his host or qahwa server to stop, once tucked the fenjan in his pocket!

Qahwa is associated with tradition and hospitality in Saudi Arabia and throughout the other Arabian countries that are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Iraq, Syria, and Jordan also have the same tradition regarding qahwa. It is served on almost all occasions ranging from simple family or friends get-togethers to official meetings, weddings, funerals, and of course on the two major Islamic festivals, Eid Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr.

Coffee Consumption in Saudi Arabia

Consumption is the using up of goods or services by a consumer. In Saudi Arabia and other Arabian countries large quantities of coffee, especially the qahwa, are consumed throughout the year. However, the consumption rates increase starting from the month of Ramadan; i.e., the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, also known as the month of fasting, till Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah. During this period, the consumption of qahwa increases for several reasons. First, each year between two and three million Muslims enter Saudi Arabia as pilgrims, swelling the population during this four-month time period. Second, during the holy month of Ramadan get-togethers increase in keeping with the custom of inviting guests over for Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast. Third, the two Islamic festivals Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha fall in these months. These are some of the major factors causing an increase in the consumption of qahwa during this particular time period.

Coffee consumption rates are high in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to an Economist report on Saudi Arabia Agriculture Consumption, in the year 2011 the total coffee consumption in Saudi Arabia was approximately 33. …

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