Friday, August 5, 2022


Many 4 and 5-star hotels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are now planning to employ chefs from Nigeria to oversee the cooking of our local meals during the pilgrimage seasons. This comes at a time when the Hajj and Umrah authorities in Saudi Arabia are working towards having 10 million Umrah pilgrims from all over the world for this year's season. The number will keep rising until it reaches the Kingdom's Vision 2030 mark which, among others, aims at having 30 million Umrah pilgrims annually. Nigeria is a very important stakeholder in Hajj and Umrah which contributes an ample percentage of pilgrims to the holy territories. Service providers in the Kingdom have realised the strong attachment the Nigerian has to his local cuisine. My company has been the vanguard in raising the currency of Nigerian cuisine to the level it is today in Saudi Arabia, especially in 5-star hotels. This is not self-praise; it is Allah's making!

I share, below, just as samples,

 two emails between me and the top management of the Oberoi Medina after our first year of operation there in 2014. Enjoy:

Dear Mr Adel Abdel Hai,

Vice President – Saudi Arabia & General Manager,

The Oberoi MADINA,


We wish to extend through this medium our appreciation for the services rendered to our group during our stay at The Oberoi Madina for Hajj 2014.

Let me start with you, the Vice President and General Manager, Adel Abdel Hai, for you are the door through which we entered into this beautiful experience with The Oberoi. I recall with pleasant memories our meeting in your office, your warmth, friendliness and openness in the best way to accommodate our group. This expressed good leadership and sound judgment in dealing with new business opportunities. We are extremely grateful for your advice and proper handling of our group.

Mr Yousri El-Maghrabi, Director of Sales & Marketing has been wonderful, meticulous and patient in taking every detail regarding our hitherto unusual requirement in terms of meals for our Nigerian contingent. He spared no effort in arranging meetings with the executives at the Food and Beverages (F & B) department, and even the kitchen. Mr Adel Ahmed Wishahi, the Sales Administrator at his office was very helpful in all issues relating to online registration of Hajj contract, registration of arrival dates for our group into Madinah, etc. Not only that, Mr Adel was kind enough to lead us to the Adillah office in Madinah, and facilitate our speedy possession of the username and password for the Madinan part of the Hajj Contract. He was not content with giving us the description of the Adillah office; he went with us personally. We appreciate that immensely.

Moreover, Mr Yousri El-Magrabi became the nucleus around which everything revolves, because at every point I kept updating him on the needs of the group, arrival details for welcome drinks, and varied check-in/check-out for some of the pilgrims who had a different itinerary with the rest of the group. All was carried out with military precision under his supervision. He ensured, in liaison with the Front Office managers, that our keys were given to us at the right time, as well as upgraded most of our top VIPs to suites and Haram-view rooms.

We cannot find the right words to thank Mr Yousri for his valuable interventions in our debut at The Oberoi Madina. But for him, we would not have been here in the first place.

The Nigerian Cuisine, as I mentioned in our meeting with you, is what made our group distinct from any other. We have been serving Nigerian food at Madinah Hilton for about a decade now. And the best you can do to any Nigerian is to serve them their native meals. In this regard, I will say that Mr Abdelaziz Nadif, the Executive Chef, was the cornerstone of the stay of our group at The Oberoi. At one point, we were regretting leaving Hilton. Things suddenly became bleak! We thought everything would fail. But Mr Abdelaziz, with his quick American accent and Obama-like yes-we-can confidence, said ‘No, we are here to make things work and to tackle all challenges.’ We did not believe him at first. Whenever there was an obstacle he was there to proffer solutions. He assigned quite a number of his staff, (at the head of them Mr Ilyas, his Assistant), to be at our beck and call whenever we needed anything. Mr Abdelaziz also made sure that our cooks are familiar with the modern implements in the kitchen.

In the area of foodstuff, Mr Abdelaziz requested from us a list of all items needed for the Nigerian Cuisine, which I provided. I am happy to report that no item was denied us. Whatever we wanted was there, and where something was not available, Mr Abdelaziz sent for it to be bought and delivered to us immediately. We have not seen this level of confidence, timeliness and efficiency in ANY other hotel.

In addition to up-to-the-minute inspection and supervision of the cooking of our meals, Mr Abdelaziz was hovering between the kitchen and the restaurant; he was the first to taste the meals of the day, to certify the quality and ensure the standard. Our pilgrims appreciated this from him. They love seeing non-Nigerians trying Nigerian food.

Mr Vice President, as I write this email, I can say without any doubt that the Comerel group has not a single complaint with regard to the kitchen and the arrangement for Nigerian food. All that was made possible due to the ubiquitous vigilance, willingness to assist, and inspiration of confidence in making the best out of any situation, of your able Executive Chef, Mr Abdelaziz Nadif.

The services we got, generally, were of a high standard. Your staff are friendly. The ambience of the environment, reception area and rooms was serene and clean. The concierge and bellman desk was prompt and quick in receiving our baggage both at the time of arrival and that of departure.  

Mr Vice President, I am proud to inform you that during our last meeting with the group in Madinah, it was resolved by the majority of the pilgrims that we shall never return to Madinah Hilton, that The Oberoi Madina is now our home! In this regard, our Ramadan package, and that of Hajj will be having The Oberoi as our place of stay in Madinah.

I thank all of your staff that have made this favourable assessment possible.

Thank you very much indeed,

Muhammad Abubakr Siddeeq,

Managing Director.

In his reply to the above email, the Vice President of the Oberoi Group of Hotels wrote:

Dear Mr Abubakr Siddeeq,


Thank you very much for your comprehensively detailed email. 


Your stay with us was a big challenge as all your group members were VIP clients who demand the highest level of hoteliering and I am very, very happy and proud that we were up to the challenge.  Your email has made me very happy and I have distributed it to all my colleagues so that they share my happiness and be proud of their achievements.


Please allow me to compliment you on the selective wordings in your email that explains clearly why your company is the best in Nigeria as they have someone like yourself on top with the ability to memorize the details that you have mentioned which is quite incredible.  I have learned a lot from your email and I hope one day I will also be able to write such beautiful emails.


We all at The Oberoi Madina are waiting for your next group so that we could offer better services and once again be up to the challenge.


With kind regards,


Yours sincerely,


Adel Abdel Hai

Vice President & General Manager

The Oberoi Madina