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The gastronomy of French-speaking countries in the spotlight in Riyadh

RIYADH: The French Embassy in Riyadh organized the “Gastronomy Festival of French-speaking countries” on Saturday February 26 to mark the month of La Francophonie. Under the slogan of tasting, diversity and openness to others, it has worked with the embassies of 10 other countries to present different specialties from the Francophonie.

More than 1,200 people flocked to the 13 gastronomy pavilions that had taken over the Riyadh Cultural Palace. Visitors were able to taste beef bourguignon on the French stand, a tajine on the Moroccan stand, a Swiss raclette, Ivorian fah fah, Tunisian couscous, a Lebanese mezze and finally, taste Cameroonian plantains or Belgian waffles.

“We have seen all of Riyadh for a few hours now. All of Riyadh in its diversity, because the Francophonie is synonymous with diversity,” Ludovic Pouille, French ambassador to Riyadh, told Arab News in French.

Arab News in French is a sponsor and partner of the French-speaking Countries Gastronomy Festival (Photo, Huda Bachatah)

“It’s an opportunity to unearth French-speaking cultures, French-speaking gastronomy in all their variety, in all their richness.

During the month of La Francophonie, around sixty events were organized by the French Embassy, ​​the Alliance française and their partners in several Saudi cities, such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Khobar and AlUla.

The French Ambassador said: “The Francophonie today brings together more than 300 million people, and this number is expected to increase to 700 million by 2050. My message today to our Saudi friends is to learn the language French, to join our alliances. , to enroll in courses and become true French speakers because this language will help you.

The French language is very popular in Saudi Arabia. It is considered by many to be the language of refinement and more and more young Saudis are interested in it.

Nawal Al-Kherejy, a young French-speaking Saudi woman who participated in the event, told Arab News in French: “I am really passionate about French culture, language, music and cinema. So I decided to learn the French language in France in order to be able to practice and learn this language in depth.

The Festival offered people the opportunity not only to taste the specialties of French-speaking countries but also to meet and converse with other French-speaking people living in Saudi Arabia.

Visitors at the Arab News in French pavilion at the Francophone Countries Gastronomy Festival (Photo, Huda Bachatah)

“Frankly, I’m very happy and very surprised, I never imagined such a beautiful country,” Samera, a Frenchwoman visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time, told Arab News in French.

“After Riyadh I will visit Jeddah, I know there are still many other cities to visit. I certainly won’t have time to visit them all for 12 days, but I will come back, I really hope to come back because it makes me really happy, ”she said, visibly very delighted.

“La Francophonie is synonymous with diversity, tolerance and openness to others. It is the dialogue of cultures that we celebrate,” said the French Ambassador.

Cheese tasting at the Francophone Countries Gastronomy Festival (Photo, Huda Bachatah)

He said these are all values ​​that are ultimately very important in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Saudi Arabia has between 150,000 and 200,000 French speakers. He expects this figure to increase in the coming years.

“We know that within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030, this enthusiasm for diversity, for openness to others, for the attractiveness of the country, for tourists and for investors, the French language is essential”, a- he declared.