MIDDLE EAST REGION – This year, the Holy Month of Ramadan lasts until April 20, or from one sighting of the crescent moon during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar until the next. Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. The common practice is to fast from dawn to sunset, when families and friends gather to break the fast with the Iftar meal featuring several traditional dishes where rice is a major ingredient.
“Not surprisingly, rice consumption increases in the few weeks before and during Ramadan, providing a great opportunity to boost awareness and sales of U.S.-grown rice in several Middle Eastern countries,” said Eszter Somogyi, USA Rice director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
In Saudi Arabia, promotions conducted in cooperation with a local U.S. rice brand launched earlier this month and incorporate digital advertising on “Shahid,” the largest online video streaming app for Arabic content. That is in addition to a four-week sponsorship of “Hayyakom,” a show broadcast on MBC FM, the most popular Saudi radio channel, and nearly a hundred billboards in five different cities including Mecca, Jizan, Najran, Abha, and Khamis Msheit. Messaging on the USA Rice social media platforms here are posting recipes, tips, and quizzes to maintain digital communication with faithful followers.
In Jordan, USA Rice teamed up with a local U.S. rice importer for an extensive outdoor media campaign that includes 147 billboards and 29 LED screens in Amman, the country’s capital, as well as the major cities of Zarqa, Jarash, and Irbid. This campaign also is well-supported by social media posts on the USA Rice Jordan-specific Facebook and Instagram accounts, boosted by Ramadan recipes shared by local influencer Chef Noura.
In the West Bank, USA Rice is working with three U.S. importers supporting their local U.S. rice brands with billboard and radio advertising in major cities, and in-store promotions that feature giveaway items like prayer calendars and cooking spoons.
“U.S.-origin rice is appreciated by Middle East consumers for its excellent quality and suitability for favorite dishes such as kabsah in Saudi Arabia or mansaff in Jordan and the West Bank,” said Somogyi. “Iftar is the meal eaten after sunset and is an important social happening so home cooks want to offer their families and guests special dishes prepared using the best ingredients. Our campaigns and promotions with local U.S. rice brands in this region help put U.S. rice in the center of the Iftar table.”