Saudi Arabia has a thriving and long-established culture of hospitality, but Jeddah-based stylist and entrepreneur Nouf Masoud is working hard to bring industry-standard hospitality into homes across the country.
Having worked in the catering industry for four years, Masoud was looking to upgrade her skills by undertaking hospitality courses in the region. Her search proved futile, but highlighted a need in the market. Now she owns her own catering company, Debyazah, and also imparts her skills and experience through hospitality workshops to a clientele that ranges from homemakers to event management companies.
“Hospitality starts from the heart and extends to the dinner table,” Masoud told Arab News.
Social activities and large gatherings are an important part of Middle Eastern culture and Masoud hopes to teach people how to deliver them with élan.
When hosting family and friends in a formal setting, Masoud explained, there are three parts to the evening: Pre-dinner, dinner and post-dinner.
“Although the pre-dinner culture is slightly different the world over, here it usually consists of beverages and light or heavy snacks, depending on the time before dinner.”
Dinner consists of salads, appetizers and the main course, while the post-dinner segment is dessert and beverages, set up as a station or as a pass-around service.
In an interview with Arab News, Masoud shared her top tips to ensure that you host an evening that your guests will always remember.
Hospitality should start from the heart: “It is important to host with passion, as this attitude really reflects on the quality of the evening,” Masoud said. Put in a little bit of extra effort to welcome, appreciate and honor your guests. If you are hosting a small, intimate dinner, break the ice — get everyone involved in the conversation.
Pre-planning is the key to everything: From creating invitations, shopping for the evening, cooking for your guests and setting up the table, pre-planning goes a long way to ensure that you are stress-free on the day of the event. Imagine being halfway through cooking your main course before you realize that you are out of an important ingredient — the key is to avoid such potential disasters.
Consult your guest list: When planning for the event, consult your guest list. Take into consideration the personal, cultural and religious preferences of your guests. For example, if you are putting together a sushi night menu, do plan something for guests who are averse or allergic to seafood.
Host like a pro, enjoy like a guest: Planning and preparing in advance will help you enjoy the evening as member of the party and not the host. No one wants to be at a party where the host is constantly running to and from the kitchen or prepping for different segments of the evening.
Go the extra mile: Through her workshops, Masoud tries to instill an appreciation for this type of lifestyle. She encourages hosts to go the extra mile in entertaining guests. If an individual prefers post-dinner tea instead of the usual coffee, go the extra mile and prepare a cup of tea for your guest — a little act of hospitality goes a long way.