Just when you thought that chocolate innovation has become stagnant, Bahraini entrepreneur Jassim Buhayal introduces us to an interesting twist – chocolate infused with Arabian culture: Arabisc. And no we’re not just referring to the intricate Arabisque designs, but we’re talking about enriching Arabian flavors that will have your taste buds soaring on Aladdin’s Magical Carpet. We’re talking saffron, mahalabiya, rose, cardamom, Arabic gahwa – flavors that will take you back to that sifra in Ramadan!
Think we’re exaggerating? Well, We paid a visit to Jassim’s chocolate factory, situated at Bahrain Development Bank’s Bahrain Business Incubator Center in Hidd to know more about his products and how they’re made (well, that and because no one says no to chocolate factories). You can check out our visit on our Instagram highlights here!
But let’s step back for a little bit and get to know the co-founder Jassim. Having a Bachelors in computer science, and a Masters in Finance, Jasim always had a passion for entrepreneurship. In 2013, he opened “Good Juice River” a healthy juice bar; soon after, Arabisc came into the picture, and Jassim decided to exit his former business and dedicate his 100% to his chocolate business.
What solidified the idea of Arabisc is when Jassim and his wife were looking for some proper artisan chocolate for their baby girl’s reception, and couldn’t find something suitable. It is then when the couple both found a gap and an opportunity in the market – why not have their own local brand?
With a passion of chocolate already instilled, Jassim and his wife began their research on artisan chocolate, where they traveled to Belgium and took some courses to learn the multiple theories and techniques of chocolate, including the flavors, textures, and the designs. After becoming certified chocolatiers, the couple wanted to do something special, something that’s out of the norm, and what better way to do this than add something local to it? Jassim and his wife decided to infuse their chocolate with Arabian flavors and herbs, offering you an interesting fusion (and experience) of Westen and Arabian culture.
“One of the goals was to produce something that’s local, and made in Bahrain,” Jassim talks about his chocolate factory. Instead of importing the chocolate, he decided to build his own factory and create his own recipes. “Although it was challenging to build a factory from scratch, as we had no experience or knowledge, we still learned a lot about operations, food and hygiene, food manufacturing, and more,” he states.
What helped Jassim in building his factory was Tamkeen’s Enterprise Program where they provided him with funding for the machinery and equipment required and a subsidized rent fees. “The process was very smooth, and we got it quickly. They were also very welcoming for the type of business,” he adds.
As for the factory, Arabisc got their incubation in BBIC, which is BDB’s subsidiary, in addition to business financing. “Without the help and support from Tamkeen and BDB, we wouldn’t be able to start easily. It really helped in getting the initial capital, especially with the machines, and heavy equipment that we had to purchase,” Jassim tells us.
Another interesting fact about Arabisc, is that the designers of the chocolate and brand are all local Bahrainis. “Since Arabisc is a local Bahraini brand, we also try to support locals and have them take part in designing our products,” Jassim states.
Arabisc offers a number of unique flavors, guaranteed to suit the taste buds of every chocolate-lover. If you’d like to know more about them, check out our digital tour of the chocolate factory on our Instagram highlights.
Want to treat your loved ones, –or yourself– with a box of Arabisc? You can get their yummy chocolate at their store in Riffa, or their kiosk in Seef mall.
P.S. their Saffron infused chocolate is to die for! Just saying!