KUCHING: Sarawak wants to woo Arab tourists to its shores, and one criterion was fulfilled on Saturday with the opening of Al-Yemen Restaurant.
The restaurant is owned by Yemeni Shaikh Helmi Shaikh Ali Al-Arashi, who promised that his outlet at Riveredge Commercial Centre, in Petra Jaya, served authentic Arab, especially Yemeni, food.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, who declared open the restaurant, said his ministry aimed to turn the state into a darling among Arabs, and, as such, it was
important to have Arab restaurants.
“Most Arab tourists who come to Malaysia prefer to visit Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, and the reason is simple – both these places have Arab restaurants,” he told reporters covering the restaurant’s opening.
Abang Johari added that the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) office had also told him that in order to see an increase of Arab tourists, it was vital for the state to have at least one Arab restaurant.
“We do have Arab tourists, but the figure is less than 10,000 annually. We are gunning for more as Sarawak definitely has a lot to offer them.”
Meanwhile, Shaikh Helmi said Arabs were less adventurous when it comes to food.
Married to a Sarawakian of Arabian descent, he and his wife understood very well the difficulties when Arabs could not find a proper place to have meals.
“I encountered the same problem when I first came here a few years ago. Now that I have opened a place, I hope to cater for them and introduce Yemeni cuisine to the locals.”