Saudi Arabia joins the ICO

Saudi Arabia has signed the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) 2022 at the International Coffee Organization (ICO) headquarters in London. This is the first time the country has formally joined the ICO world coffee family, whose history spans 60 years.

Attending the ceremony were representatives from the Saudi Embassy in London and HRH Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, who signed the trade treaty. Under the ICA 2022, governments, in collaboration with the private sector and civil society, will come together to determine initiatives that support a more prosperous and sustainable future for stakeholders within the global coffee value chain.

Coffee is deeply woven into the fabric of life in Saudi Arabia. Historically, it was cultivated by the ancient
tribes of Khawlan who lend their name to the prized Khawlani coffee typical of the Jazan region, the
cultivation practices of which are inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

As for consumption, the country’s habits represent a blend of modernity and tradition, where the buzz of
state-of-the-art espresso machines in Riyadh’s coffee outlets intertwines with the comforting echoes of
ancestral practices in homes across the nation. Saudis embrace both international coffee trends and
authentic qahwa, often flavoured with cardamom and poured into small ornate cups called finjan. For many, the serving of the beverage is a distinctive cultural ritual and a symbol of the Kingdom’s rich history and hospitality.

ICO executive director, Vanúsia Nogueira, said, “We are honoured to welcome Saudi Arabia as a signatory to the ICA 2022 and hope that this will bring a unique new flavour to our global community. Together in the spirit of international cooperation, we celebrate the diversity of coffee traditions and jointly undertake to safeguard, promote, and sustain the sector. I am sure that our collaboration will thrive as we foster a future where we continue to savour the richness of coffee while advocating for all aspects of sustainability.”

On signing the Agreement, HRH Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud commented, “This is a remarkable day for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we join the International Coffee Organization.

“For years, people of Saudi Arabia enjoyed the delights of traditional Arabic coffee, which has a 600 years history and is still regarded as a hallmark of Arabian hospitality today, and is inextricably linked to traditional identity.

“The coffee sector in Saudi Arabia is growing fast and is an important part of our plans for the future and the change we wish to bring to our country as it contributes to diversifying the national economy. Public Investment Fund (PIF) launched the Saudi Coffee Company in May 2022, which is investing $319 million over the next ten years to support the growth of the national coffee industry, with the goal of boosting the country’s production from 300 tons per year to 2500 tons per year, and focusing on achieving sustainability, across the production, distribution and marketing aspects of the coffee supply chain.

“We see ICO, and this updated agreement, as a key to achieving our hopes and ambitions for the coffee industry locally and globally, and we look forward to working with colleagues at ICO to secure a positive and thriving future for coffee in the years and decades to come.”

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