Sahara Tent has its origins in New Zealand. The first outlet began operations on April 1993 in Auckland. Three years later, Sahara Tent made its mark in Hamilton. Qantas Airline voted it one of the best restaurants in town. Waikatu University voted it as the outlet with the best service and interns from polytechnics and hotel management schools earmarked Sahara Tent for industrial training.
Sahara Tent came to Malaysia in 2001. In 2002, Tourism Malaysia voted Sahara Tent the best Middle Eastern restaurant. In 2004, the same opinion was voiced by KL Halal Food Guide.
Spurred by the encouragement, the drawing boards were soon out up for expansion plans. In 2009, Sahara Tent opened in Shah Alam and in 2011, patrons of Ampang got a feel of what it was like to dine under the colourful Bedouin tents that has become the restaurant’s hallmark.
When Ala Salih, the founder of Sahara Tent, first came to Malaysia in 2000, his intention was not to start a restaurant chain, but to come for a well-deserved holiday. The two week break eventually ended up as a permanent arrangement when he opened the doors of the first Arabian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Berangan in 2001.
It was the neutral atmosphere in Malaysia that beckoned most. And ever the eager restaurateur, it did not escape Ala’s attention that there was no Arabian diner in Kuala Lumpur to cater to the influx of tourists from the said region.
Looking back at a career that has spanned three decades, Ala had ventured into the fickle world of the food and beverage industry in 1985 with a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. At that time, his original intention was to cut back on entertainment expenses.