The famous letter biscuits that some of us grew up with have also an Arabic variant. Yassin El Abdellati from Belgium recently launched them on the market, and they are an immediate success, he says, also abroad. “I grew up with the letter biscuits myself, and with the arrival of my daughter, it was a shame that such a tasty and educational product was not yet available in Arabic characters”.
Inspired by his daughter
Yassin’s biscuits are made in the Belgium biscuit factory. Entrepreneur Yassin El Abdellati comes from real estate but got a different idea when his wife was pregnant with their first child last year. “You start thinking about what you think is important to give to your child, and for me, that was, among other things, the Arabic language.
In the fall of 2020, he launched Soraya Biscuits. He named the cookies after his daughter Soraya because through this little muse his idea became reality. “As a father, you start thinking about what is important in the future. I want to immerse my daughter in a multilingual world. Arabic is the fifth most important language in the world, and I want to pass that language on to her. In this way, the Arabic alphabet cookies are also a fine introduction to the language”.
Language connects the world
My parents are from Morocco, I was born and raised in Antwerp, but I went to Arabic lessons every weekend, to be able to talk to the people on holiday in Morocco in the summer. Now I speak five languages and that is very useful as an entrepreneur. Language connects people, and the more languages you speak, the more people you can connect with.”
We practiced our first words in Dutch at home with letter biscuits. Like most children here, we grew up with those cookies – they are an important tradition for generations to come. But they are unknown in the Arab culture, and I thought that was a shame. They are an ideal way to teach my daughter Soraya, the Dutch language, and why not the Arabic language too? I started working on this together with my wife. She is Portuguese and has nothing to do with the Arabic language, but she was also completely on board. We saw a lot of opportunities”. “It was not easy,” says Yassin, “because it’s a very lyrical language with lots of dots and waves. But the engineers in the factory where they are made, the Belgian biscuit factory, have been able to solve that very nicely”.
Successfully launching the Arabic Cookies online
Last summer, Yassin launched his arabic cookies on the American crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and it turned out well, with interest from several countries. Covid slowed things down a bit, but since last month, Soraya Biscuits has completely launched, and things are suddenly going fast. “Orders are coming in from Europe and even Morocco, Dubai, Singapore… Thirty to forty percent of my customers are native Europeans. I’m talking with several chains and our arabic cookies will soon be found here and there. At the moment they are mainly in Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. And they are fully ordered online and delivered to your home”. Three 500-gram bags cost 10.50 euros, a family box with twelve bags 41.50 euro. “And they taste the same as the original letter biscuits,” says Yassin.
What’s Next for Soraya’s Biscuits?
Soraya Biscuits is facing a bright future. “We focus on our strength and that is the Arabic language. Currently, the Arabic alphabet cookies can be found in the Netherlands, Germany & Belgium, but we also have orders coming in from Morocco and the Middle East. We are not standing still and want to surprise people all over the world. We are already thinking of launching cookies with chocolate flavors for example.”
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