Speaking the Language of Food

by BTM

Tue, 04 December 2018

talabat managing director hesham

Managing director of Talabat, Hesham AlSaati, tells Behnaz Sanjana what it’s like to be behind the wheel of Bahrain’s largest virtual food court.

Hesham exudes a young, easy-going vibe as he chats about Talabat, Bahrain’s premium online food ordering portal. But a whiteboard choc-full of numbers and technical jargon, and two stress balls on his desk attest that the four months since he’s joined the team have been far from relaxed. His sound business know-how allows him to walk the talk, making it seem like he’s been around the organisation for far longer.

“I have a background in consulting, finance and banking,” says Hesham. “After I earned my business degree in the States, I ran a technologically enabled, fully automated indoor hydroponics hardware start-up in California. Business circumstances led me to return to Bahrain. After a consulting stint in Kuwait, I was happy to take this role offered to me by Talabat. I was familiar with how the company worked, but I hadn’t imagined the intricacies of the business model; it’s very complex.”

Explaining the basis of how the online food ordering platform works, he says: “It is a virtual mall, where customers can conveniently choose all they want to eat with just a click of a button. There’s no hassle of making a phone call and being put on hold. Furthermore, they have access to all discounts, deals, offers and pictorials of our many restaurant partners all at once.” 

The business is not just an aggregator where one can find a list of places to order food from. TalabatGo, launched in 2017, is the company’s delivery fleet that takes food right to the consumer. “TalabatGo is making great strides, breaking a new record every weekend. Being the biggest of our kind in Bahrain, we are still growing. The team is expanding and, from a customer standpoint, one can expect more advancement in the product itself. We already have more than 550 restaurant partners, spanning across 1,000 branches. It’s exciting to be a part of such progress.”

Hisham thinks the reason the firm has evolved so rapidly in its years, despite coming to Bahrain during difficult times in 2011, is that the concept aligns well with Khaleeji culture. “People here love being at home, especially when the weather conditions dictate it. Also, the local culture revolves around food. Bahrainis love having people over at their homes, and are generous with their hospitality. The brand’s success shows how much of a need it has served, and the company continues to thrive on the hard work of its people,” he says. Under Hesham’s direction, the organisation is abuzz with potential new, innovative initiatives. “We want to create a culture where ideas rule.”

Going forward, customers can expect more new restaurant tie-ups and unbeatable food and beverage promotions and offers. Hesham says: “The brand speaks to everybody, not just a segment of society, which is an advantage as well as a challenge, in terms of balancing our focus across the range of choice that we offer. Food is universal, so, we have a wide range of cuisines and price segments, available over all areas of the country. When you think of food, think Talabat!”

Talabat reached 100 million orders this year. As a goodwill gesture, the customer who made this milestone order has been given a lifetime’s supply of complimentary food when they order with the portal.