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Zamzam Cola hits Saudi market

Riyadh: Iranian soft drink Zamzam Cola, considered a viable Islamic substitute for U.S. global rivals Pepsi and Coca Cola, has started selling in the Saudi markets, the product agent said August 20.

“We started marketing the soft drink in the eastern province last week. We plan to extend distribution to other areas within a month’s time,” said Hussein Baqshi, general manager of Al-Majarah Soft Drinks Co.

Al-Majarah fought off stiff competition from several Saudi companies to win exclusive rights to distribute Zamzam Cola, named after Mecca’s Zamzam holy spring water.

The sole agent for the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula is Bahrain’s Ali Khalil Akbar Lari Group.

Two shipments of the cola have already arrived from Iran at King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam on the Gulf, and the company plans more imports due to “highly encouraging sales,” Baqshi said.

In the first week, the company distributed about four million one-litre bottles but high demand has forced them to place import orders for several million more bottles, he said.

Preparations are underway to establish a bottling factory in neighboring Bahrain, and Al-Majarah has already requested the Iranian parent company for a licence to set up a similar factory in Saudi Arabia, Baqshi said.

In marked contrast with the close relations at official level between Washington and Manama, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a "major non-NATO ally" of the United States, anti-U.S. sentiment spread like wildfire in Bahrain after Israel launched a massive military offensive in the West Bank in late March.

Bahrainis staged scores of anti-Israel and anti-U.S. demonstrations at the peak of the Israeli offensive, in one case triggering a crackdown by security forces when protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs at the U.S. embassy in Manama.

Sale of U.S. products, especially soft drinks and fast food chains, was adversely affected due to a powerful boycott campaign launched in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world for perceived U.S. support of Israe.l (IOL)
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