The Manuel Market supermarket logo is a bullfighter. Its aisles, decorated with the colors of the rojigualda flag, are decorated with great photographs of footballers of the Spanish selection and among its star products are olive oil or olives from the region. Details that already by surprise would surprise to anyone, but much more if it is known that these establishments are located to tens of thousands of kilometers of our country, in Saudi Arabia. The reason for this mystery is really simple: the Al Darwish family, which owns this distribution chain made up of four high-end supermarkets, is a great connoisseur and passionate about Spanish culture.
It is a company from Malaga that acts as a liaison between Spanish products and Saudi teaching. It is Hermanos Gallego, one of the largest distributors of fruit and vegetables in the province, which is headquartered in Alhaurín de la Torre and has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Three years of relationship
Three years ago, the Alhaurine company sent its first shipment of Spanish products to Manuel Market: Cazorla Mineral Water, Cuétara Biscuits, Don Perolete Piquitos, Bravo Olives, Mueloliva Oils, Gazpacho Arteoliva … Orders have been increasing year by year and today , Hermanos Gallego is already its exclusive distributor of articles ‘made in Spain’. “At first we sold them through an intermediary, but once we met immediately, a very good relationship with the Al Darwish family arose and they relied on us,” explains the company’s CEO José Manuel Gallego. The Malaga company selects products that can satisfy Saudi tastes and the owners of Manuel Market make the final selection.
Recently one of the members of the Manuel Market family, Sheikh Mohammed Yousef AlHasan, was in Malaga visiting not only the facilities of Hermanos Gallego, but also the places where products are sold in supermarkets or interested in importing . An olive farm and the Conservas Ubago factory in the PTA were among the places known to the Saudi businessman.
The family that owns this chain is now looking for a Spanish company that manages a hotel that builds in Jeddah
“I feel at home in Spain. What I like the most is the close interaction of people. The Galician family is already part of our family “, says the sheikh, who has been visiting Spain for 20 years, although this has been his first time in Malaga. “I liked what I saw. It is possible that you invest in some business or buy a residence in this area, “he adds.
AlHasan says that Spanish products are very well received in their country, as there are many similarities between both gastronomic cultures and the ‘brand Spain’ is highly valued. “Our supermarkets are luxury, so we look for products of the highest quality,” he says. Olive oil, olives and mineral water are among the best-selling items in Manuel’s supermarkets.
Hotel in Jeddah
The trust that has been established between the two companies has led the Saudis to entrust to Hermanos Gallego the search and selection of a Spanish company that are interested in operating a luxury hotel that they are building in Jeddah, one of the main cities of Arabia Saudi. “They are very interested in having the experience of Spanish hotel operators,” says José Manuel Gallego. This facility, currently under construction, will open in “one or two years,” according to AlHassan, and will have 350 rooms.