Critically acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse opens a pop-up in AlUla

The French pop-up opens on 20 January. 

The world-famous chef Alain Ducasse is heading to AlUla. The French chef’s pop-up in the desert opens on 20 January. Located adjacent to the ancient heritage site of Jabal Ikmah, the restaurant will offer a contemporary take on French food and special dishes for the venue. 

Alain hails from Orthez, France. He is one of the culinary world’s most celebrated chefs. Over his career, he has opened Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Benoit in New York, Paris and Tokyo; and Rivea in London, Saint Tropez and Las Vegas. In 2012, he was behind 21 MICHELIN restaurants. 

Alain is no stranger to the Middle East. He has had restaurants in Doha and Lebanon. In December 2023, he opened Ecole Ducasse Abu Dhabi Studios. The cooking school was created in partnership with Erth Hospitality. 

Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse’s pop-up in AlUla effortlessly integrates sustainability with the rich flavours of Saudi Arabia, France, and the broader Middle Eastern region. Ducasse has appointed Afonso Salvação Barreto, one of his talented proteges, as the executive chef of the restaurant.

Chef Alain Ducasse said: “When I visited AlUla with my chef Afonso, we were curious to discover and impressed to taste produce from the local farms. You have these natural oases growing everything from the dates and citrus the area is famous for, to green vegetables of all sorts. The region is in the middle of an ambitious project to diversify the economy and create opportunities for the local community. The agricultural training scheme is offering help to local farmers to supply the ingredients of the quality and scale required for the increasing hospitality offer.”

Alain Ducasse

In line with AlUla’s dedication to sustainable development and the conservation of its natural splendour, Ducasse in AlUla has been crafted by French designer Aliénor Béchu and Donald Bovy from Volume ABC. The design aims to blend with the surrounding environment, showcasing a thoughtful architectural integration that pays homage to the region’s natural heritage.

Other new restaurants in AlUla include the Parisian brasserie, Cafe Ruc, and the Asian meets Italian concept, Novikov. Cafe Ruc serves classic French food, which includes breakfast omelettes, Beef Bourguignon and Onion Soup. The original venue is located near the Louvre in the first arrondissement, Paris. Novikov spans Asian to Italian cuisine, and includes everything from wood oven fired pizzas to sushi platters. In 2011, the flagship restaurant opened in Mayfair, London. Now, it can be found across the world in Bodrum, Doha, Miami, Moscow and Sardinia.

If you’re heading to AlUla, lookout for the events in 2024. Winter at Tantora is underway and includes the AlUla Fashion Show on 20 January, and the Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo returns from 17 to 20 January. 

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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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