The Aseer region (Saudi Arabia) will be officially awarded the title of World Region of Gastronomy 2024 by IGCAT. They will be the first region outside Europe to earn this important accolade that recognises Aseer’s commitment to local sustainable development.
After evaluating the bid book, Marhaban Alf – Aseer the Region of a 1000 Welcomes, presented on 31 December 2021, a jury of international IGCAT experts visited the region (27 February-1 March 2022) to meet local stakeholders and assess Aseer’s readiness to hold the World Region of Gastronomy title.
The jury was very impressed with the region’s efforts to support local cultural and food diversity, ensure regional biodiversity and environmental protection, preserve heritage and traditional knowledge, as well as to empower the younger generations to create innovative products and services to attract sustainable tourism.
On this basis, they recommended the region for the title and suggested that they passed to the following stage in their candidacy: presenting a detailed action plan including projects, events and development proposals for the title year and beyond, to ensure a legacy of the Award.
After assessing that the action plan successfully integrated the jury’s recommendations and provided a well-founded roadmap for the region’s development, the IGCAT Board officially approved Aseer to be awarded the World Region of Gastronomy 2024 title.
The international jury affirmed that “the welcoming spirit of the local community and their genuine willingness to showcase and share their local food and culture impressed the jury. The light of the Middle East shines from Aseer: proof of this is the vocation for empowering the community and enlightening it to be prepared for welcoming future visitors with clear and firm criteria, so that a society rooted in tradition can jump to a circular and creative economy of excellence.
“All the local stakeholders that we had the pleasure to meet – including chefs, farmers, producers, young entrepreneurs, guides – demonstrated great pride and love for the heritage and traditions of their region, as well as passion for their work and country. We are confident that Aseer will be an exemplary World Region of Gastronomy 2024,” concluded the jury.
“We hope that, the candidacy will contribute to highlighting the cultural, culinary arts, as well as tourism diversity of the region. We furthermore hope that, this candidacy will be an opportunity to build an integrated system between the stakeholders to achieve sustainable tourism and environment as well,” claimed Aseer’s regional stakeholders.
The title will be formally awarded by IGCAT’s President, Diane Dodd PhD at an official ceremony to be held on 24 September 2022 at Terra Madre – Salone del Gusto in Turin.
The Aseer, World Region of Gastronomy 2024 candidacy and programme have been created by a cross-sectoral consortium including stakeholders from the public, private, third and knowledge sectors. Founding stakeholders include: Culinary Arts and Heritage Commissions (overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Culture); Saudi Heritage Preservation Society; Aseer Development Authority; Bunyan; Saudi Tourism Authority; Abha Chamber of Commerce; Soudah Development Company; King Khalid Univerity; Faseel; and Qoot.
About the World Regions of Gastronomy
Candidate and awarded World/European Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to strengthen food security through the celebration of distinctive food cultures; create employment by stimulating creativity and gastronomic innovation; nourish children and adults through culinary and cultural education; driving environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; supporting balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlighting and supporting expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practices; and contributing to community health and well-being.
IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance of protecting and promoting distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguarding our planet, health, wellness and local economies.
IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.
IGCAT founded the World/European Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the World/European Regions of Gastronomy Platforms. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award, the World Food Gift Challenge, the Top Websites for Foodie Travelers Award and the international Food Film Menu.