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Cairo: Saudi Arabia plans to establish its first city for expanding the growth of coffee beans in Al Bahah in the kingdom’s south west, amid marked efforts to promote the national coffee drink.

A financing contract was signed this week between the government Agricultural Development Fund and the Agricultural Society in Baljurashi governorate, part of the Al Bahah Province.

The SR72 million contract aims to provide 60 per cent of the overall cost of the project that aims to cultivate around 500,000 trees, set up a factory and provide transportation and an irrigation system. Al Baha is Saudi Arabia’s first producer of coffee beans.

Al Baha Governor Prince Hossam bin Saud said the new city marks the first in a series of thematic zones including cities of mangoes, pomegranates and honey, products for which the region is famous.

Last month, a Saudi company, a subsidiary of the kingdom’s investment arm PIF, unveiled a plan to set up an academy for training in the coffee industry.

The academy, planned by the Saudi Coffee Company, aims to support the production of Saudi coffee and localise related industries as well as provide training opportunities in various relevant disciplines.

The academy will comprise branches in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to support the coffee product, which is associated with the Saudi society’s culture and identity, according to the Saudi Coffee Company’s marketing head Mohammed Zeiny.

Coffee is closely linked to hospitality heritage in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia designated 2022 as the “Year of Saudi Coffee”, a national initiative celebrating Saudi coffee through a wide array of events and competitions. The Ministry of Culture has renamed Arabic coffee to Saudi coffee at all restaurants and cafes in the kingdom.