SALEM, Ore. — Figaro's Pizza announced Sense Gourmet, a subsidiary of Abu-Dhabi-based Foodco Holding, signed an exclusive master franchising agreement to open stores in eight Middle East countries beginning this year.
 
According to a news release, the plans call for the opening of 35 locations in the United Arab Emirates alone, with the first five expected to open in March 2007 in Abu Dhabi (two), Dubai (two) and Sharjah. Additional locations are planned for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Lebanon.
 
Sense Gourmet was formed as a subsidiary of Foodco Holding to expand into restaurant franchising, catering and other retail operations in the hospitality sector. The company was established with the specific purpose of establishing high-potential restaurants across Gulf Cooperation Council countries in partnership with renowned restaurant operators, as well as catering services.
 
"Our studies showed that there is an unfilled niche in the Middle East for high-quality products, especially for fresh pizzas that people can take home and bake for themselves," said Ahmed bin Ali Khalfan Al Dhahry, Foodco Holding's managing director.
 
In addition to expanding to the Middle East, Figaro's Pizza also recently signed a master 50-unit franchising agreement for Mexico. Figaro's currently has 114 locations in 20 U.S. states and Canada.
 
"We are very excited that our very first expansion outside of North America is with such a distinguished, experienced and well-capitalized group as Sense Gourmet," said Ron Berger, Figaro's Pizza chairman and chief executive. "Their dedication to offering consumers only the highest quality products and services attracted us to them and make them the perfect partner for Figaro's."

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