DUBAI, 7 February 2004 — The Middle East has been identified as a region of "huge potential" for specialist coffee beverages. This was emphasized during the inaugural visit to the region of Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company (SCC).
During a meeting with Ahmed ibn Saeed Al-Maktoum, president of the Department of Civil Aviation and chairman of the Emirates Group in Dubai, Schultz said his company recognized the region as an "extremely important emerging region" that offers immense business opportunities.
"We greatly look forward to further develop Starbucks as not only a reputable brand and profitable business, but also a business that will contribute positively to the local communities where we operate," he said.
Schultz bought SCC in 1987 when the group had four stores in total. Starbucks is now one of the world's most recognized brands and is currently valued at a staggering 13 billion.
"Our success in the region is directly due to the leadership of our partners, the Alshaya Group," Schultz said. SCC together with Alshaya Group plans for the Middle East focus on two specific areas — to open new stores to cater to a growing demand for its premium coffee products and implement its globally recognized promise of corporate social responsibility.
Starbucks defines corporate social responsibility as conducting business in ways that produce social, environmental and economic benefits for the communities in which it conducts business. In 2004, it intends to launch a number of regional initiatives that will support communities across the region.