Five-star hotel The Ritz Carlton Bahrain has become the country’s first hotel to become kosher-certified.
Following the historic signing of the Abraham Accords in September, which saw both the UAE and Bahrain normalise relations with Israel, hospitality establishments in all three countries have been scrambling to seize new opportunities presented to them.
Bahrain hopes to see a surge of visitors from Israel thanks to the signing, meaning hotels will need to offer kosher certified food options.
With the help of Orthodox Union (OU) Kosher, the world’s largest kosher certification company, the Manama hotel will establish a new kosher kitchen. Additionally, OU Kosher is helping the hotel identify a kosher culinary team member who will serve as a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, when kosher meals are prepared on the premises.
“The Ritz Carlton, Bahrain prides itself on providing an elevated luxury experience for our guests at every touchpoint during their stay; in particular their dining experience. Bahrain is unique as it already has an indigenous Jewish population, and since the recent normalization of relations, we are seeing a greater interest from Jewish & Israeli travellers, and we want to be able to provide kosher food for those who prefer this option. We chose to partner with OU Kosher because they are the leading certification agency in the world and we sought their expertise in helping us navigate the needs of the kosher traveller,” said Ritz Carlton, Bahrain’s GM, Bernard de Villèle.
“The Abraham Accords has opened new destinations for kosher travellers in the Gulf that have never existed before. We are honoured to have been chosen by the Ritz Carlton to assist them in providing kosher cuisine for their guests,” added OU Kosher’s CEO, Rabbi Menachem Genack. “Because of our global resources, our team is able to handle requirements for certifications anywhere in the world, including the Gulf, which is why our certification has been so sought-after in this region.”
The rules around kosher catering are extensive and complex, demanding many F&B venues to learn an entirely new set of practices. The rules cover where/when ingredients are sourced, the cleaning process of fruit and veg, the slaughter and preparation of meat, the fish used, the avoidance of mixing meat and dairy and many other guidelines.
In the UAE, hotels in Abu Dhabi are now able to receive official certification for serving kosher meals within F&B venues.
“We laud the efforts of the Ritz Carlton Manama to offer kosher food as this will help bring in more Jewish tourists,” said the head of Bahrain’s Jewish community Ebrahim Nonoo. “Partnering with the world’s leading and most universally accepted kashrut agency ensures that more Jewish tourists will choose Bahrain as their next travel destination when visiting the Gulf. Nearly a day goes by where we don’t receive a request from Jewish groups and individuals about visiting Bahrain and kosher food is one of their top questions.”