| Saudi Arabia

Gong cha makes Middle East debut with Riyadh store

The Saudi Arabian outlet is the first of 300 stores the Taiwanese bubble tea chain plans to open across the Middle East and is seen as a stepping stone for expansion to Bahrain and the UAE in 2025

Gong cha views the Middle East as a key growth region as it seeks to reach 10,000 sites globally by 2032 | Photo credit: Gong cha


Gong cha has opened its first store in the Middle East at the View Mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

The Taiwanese bubble tea chain signed the ‘largest master franchise agreement in its history’ in January 2024, partnering with Saudi foodservice group Shahia Foods Group to open more than 300 stores across the Middle East. 

In a LinkedIn post, Gong cha said Shahia Foods – which also operates US coffee chain Dunkin’ across Saudi Arabia – will be open a second store in Riyadh in the coming weeks as part of plans to establish its presence in the kingdom before expanding to Bahrain and the UAE in 2025.   

The bubble tea chain views the Middle East as a key growth region as it seeks to scale from nearly 2,200 sites to 10,000 globally by 2032. 

The Riyadh outlet is the second Gong cha site globally to be launched under its flexible 2.0 store concept, following a new flagship outlet in Gangnam, South Korea, in May 2024. 

In a press release, Gong cha said the new model can be adapted for standard high street stores or smaller-footprint travel hub sites and will offer greater adaptability for franchisees as it ramps up its licensed store expansion globally.


“The launch of Gong cha 2.0 is a milestone moment for our brand. With a flexible footprint, Gong cha 2.0 is a cost-effective capital investment and has been designed to provide strong returns for our franchise partners,” said Paul Reynish, Global CEO, Gong cha. 

Founded in Taiwan in 1996, Gong cha opened its first international store in 2009 and now operates across 25 countries. Alongside the Middle East, the bubble tea chain has highlighted the UK, US and wider Americas as its key growth markets. 

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