KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Durian lovers in Saudi Arabia are in for a treat. From the third week of November, they can indulge in the first ever batch of D24 durians from Malaysia. The frozen durians worth around RM200,000 will be distributed by Kedai Asia to customers and other shops.
Kedai Asia by Penang's Engku Isa Al-Husam and his Madinah partner Mohammad Qarah opened their first shop there in 2017 at the Aziziyah neighbourhood of Jeddah.
In 2019, they opened a Kedai Asia corner inside Abraj Hypermarket at the Makkah Royal Clock Tower.
Since they started, more than 1,000 halal products from Malaysia has been exported there. This includes Maggi, Jalen soy sauce, chilli sauce and sambal. They have also helped to promote various products from 300 Bumiputra entrepreneurs.
The D24 durian variety is highly sought after for its thick, firm flesh with its yellow hue and a sweet taste. This special import is part of Kedai Asia's Covid-19 Stock Initiative programme launched in September to satisfy the cravings of homesick Malaysians stuck in Saudi Arabia.
It's a first for Malaysia to have durians shipped to Saudi Arabia. So far, Malaysia's “King of Fruits” has only been exported to China, Australia and Singapore. These include Musang King and D24 varieties.
Pre-orders received weren't only from Malaysian expatriates but also included other nationalities such as Japanese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis and even the Arabs.
In recent years, Kedai Asia's Husam explained that durian has grown popular among the Arabs who tasted the fruit during their travels. One customer from Dhahran enquired about the durian for his mother who had enjoyed the creamy, pungent treat during a trip to South-east Asia.
Kedai Asia plans to export the durians at least four times a year to Saudi Arabia. Other tropical fruits and agricultural products from Malaysia are also on the cards.
In January 2021, Kedai Asia will be opening a new mini market of about 4,000 square feet in Jeddah. This new store will be four times larger than their previous shop and will be located at Jeddah's main metropolitan area along Tariq Madinah.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, Kedai Asia operates from their online shop launched in June. To date, online sales has passed a quarter million Saudi riyals (about RM274,000). In December, they will launch their own mobile app.
You can find more information on Kedai Asia here.