AMS Baeshen & Co.

Our History


Life in the nineteenth-century Arabia was a simple, if sometimes harsh, affair. This was the world in which the Baeshen family took its first steps as traders, sending dhows to India for rice, sugar and other goods for the Arabian market. Families were tight-knit, money was an after-thought and shopkeepers, having made their sales for the day, would often refer customers to neighboring stores as a sign of friendship and unity. There were no skyscrapers, of course, no asphalt roads, and no oil wells. Cities were small and much of the population did as their ancestors had done before them, wandering the seemingly endless sands of this vast desert expanse.

Little did anyone suspect that Baeshen’s first forays across the Indian Ocean, initiated in 1887, were the seeds for one of the most successful and most enduring family businesses ever to grow on the Arabian Peninsula.

When the two brothers, Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Baeshen and Abdulkader Baeshen, took the reins of the business in the early 20th century, they aggressively expanded the family’s trading portfolio. They dealt in a wide array of household products, recognizing, if not necessarily defining, a marketing category that would eventually be known as FMCG, or Fast-Moving Consumer Goods. And within that category were two products that still define their company today: tea and sugar.

The local market had a thirst for strong, richly flavored tea that the Baeshen brothers quenched with the importation of a long-leaf Ceylonese tea. The tea was packed in wooden chests at its origins and shipped across the Indian Ocean to what was soon to become modern-day Saudi Arabia. Abu Jabal (meaning “father of the mountain,” “father of” being typical of named products at the time) first appeared in Arabia in 1920. Over the following 30 years Abu Jabal became so popular with Saudi tea drinkers that other importers deviously slapped the brand name on their own products, hoping to trick consumers into buying their tea. Trademark protection was a little known concept at the time, but in 1954, the Baeshen family registered Abu Jabal with the Saudi Authorities, putting an end to any confusion caused by unscrupulous competition. Also, in 1954, the Bee Sugar brand was registered, as well. Three years later, on April 11, 1957, the family business was officially registered with the Saudi government under the name Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Baeshen & Company (AMS Baeshen & Co.).

Preceding by a few years the official registration of AMS Baeshen & Co., the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) was founded by Royal Decree in 1946. Ahmed Mohammed Saleh Baeshen was one of the founding members and served as chairman during its early development and remained an active member for much of his life. Today, the JCCI headquarters has a hall named after him.

The Baeshen family home, one of the old coral mansions in downtown Jeddah, once housed generations of the family on its upper three floors. With the flight over time from downtown’s al Balad district, the house, like those of the other great trading families, was abandoned for many years. Nevertheless, the family has been maintaining the house So that it still reflects the beauty and grandeur of Jeddah’s historic district. Today, with renovations sweeping the city center, the family efforts are complimenting the work by the municipality to refurbish the historical district in hope that it will be recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site.

At about the same time AMS Baeshen & Co. became a registered enterprise, the two brothers created a special blend of Ceylonese tea that they served only to family and friends. It is said that the privileged few were so enamored of the new blend that they encouraged the brothers to commercialize it and offer it to the public. They complied and Rabea Tea, which today comprises the largest variety of teas under one brand in Saudi Arabia, was born.

The Arabia of the late 19th century was a far different place from the Saudi Arabia of the 1950s. And the Saudi Arabia of the early 1950s was a far cry from the business, social and cultural environment that developed during the second half of the 20th century. Everything in the Kingdom — from transportation to eating habits — was undergoing massive change. The business environment, long conducive to family businesses, was beginning to present challenges that demanded new ways of thinking and a fresh approach to consumers.

AMS Baeshen & Co’s mandate was to meet those challenges without sacrificing the company’s long-standing mission: maintaining the trust of Saudi consumers by offering them superior quality products. This simple equation had always made winners of both consumers and the company.

As we shall see, meeting these challenges has demanded the evolution of the company from a family business to a progressive, vertically-integrated operation that embraces the ways of modern commerce; innovation both in production and corporate structure; and in-house development of brands that meet consumer needs. These are the cornerstones of a company intent on controlling its own destiny as it navigates an ever-changing business environment. This is the profile of Ahmed Mohamed Saleh Baeshen & Company.


AMS Baeshen & Co. is one of Saudi Arabia’s oldest trading families. It is mentioned in the same breath as the other great family merchants of Arabia: Ali Reza, Jamjoom, Bin Zagr and others. More than any of the other merchant families, however, AMS Baeshen & Co. has recognized the mandates of modernization, reassessing product lines and revolutionizing corporate structure to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

AMS Baeshen & Co. is unique among the great traders. As far back as the introduction of Abu Jabal in 1920, the Baeshen brothers, Ahmed and Abdulkader, were not just importing the brands of others. They were building their own brands. Bee Sugar, a market leader in its segment still today, soon followed the introduction of Abu Jabal as a proprietary brand.

During much of the 20th century, AMS Baeshen & Co. imported and distributed a wide range of products, including textiles, soap and detergents, condensed and evaporated milk, rice, mango juice, ghee, spices, cigarettes and even, somewhat ironically, coffee beans. The company has handled some of the world’s best-known multinational brands. It also introduced the iconic tea glass (1958) to Saudi Arabia, which is now a ubiquitous fixture in homes and restaurants across the peninsula.

Product quality and continuity of leadership have long been a mainstay of the company’s success. Baeshen ads have always placed emphasis on quality and “unconditional guarantees” have been part and parcel of many of its consumer products.

Since its official registration in 1957, AMS Baeshen & Co. has experimented with and refined its product line. It slowly shed its underperforming products and began to focus on its own brands: tea and sugar. Having registered Rabea in 1969, the company ultimately expanded the variety of teas available under the label. Today, Rabea comprises more varieties of tea than any other brand in the region.

To diversify tea sourcing, better control quality and to have more operating flexibility, the company decided to vertically integrate its business and started tea blending and packing. Something of an industrial “revolution” had already swept Saudi Arabia in the ‘70s and ‘80s. With the influx of new wealth, some of the more far-sighted titans of Saudi industry recognized the financial and cultural advantages to establishing local manufacturing operations. South Jeddah, a long a literal wasteland, became crowded with manufacturers and warehouses.

In 1994, AMS Baeshen & Co. joined the crowd, assembling the Kingdom’s largest tea factory in a bold step towards constructing a vertically integrated tea industry. Company officials scoured the globe in search of state-of-the-art machinery. Once the machinery was acquired, continuing expenses included maintenance and spare parts, none of which the company had to worry about when buying packed tea from Sri Lanka. Today, however, the factory’s Tea Lab is considered one of the world’s best and the factory has earned numerous international certifications.

Nevertheless, the new facility came with many advantages. It freed the company of contractual obligations to buy only Sri Lankan tea and made it possible to blend non-Sri Lankan teas with Sri Lankan product. With tea plantations flourishing in various parts of the world, the company was able to produce tea products blended with teas from around the world, better controlling quality and hence improving both customer satisfaction.

As the 21st century dawned, many inherent family businesses were still new & emerging with many limitations, and few bylaws to organize it, however, the local marketplace and the increasing globalization of the business environment demanded the modernization of corporate structure. AMS Baeshen & Co. tried to follow up with this new era and face all its challenges.

Today, AMS Baeshen & Co. operates with best practice corporate governance and has transitioned into a closed joint stock company after three to five of years of deliberate planning and due diligence. With their openness in thinking, the shareholders have incorporated in the company’s bylaws the election of independent board members who should be at least equal to the number of board members who are shareholders.

The transition to a closed joint stock company involved more than a change in mindset on the part of family members. For the company, it meant adhering to rules that are nearly identical to those governing publicly owned companies. Increased transparency, regular and detailed audits and clearly defined rules of governance are now the order of the day.

What does the future hold for AMS Baeshen & Co.? The efforts to professionalize the company will continue. Brand building, both in the Kingdom and internationally, will be stepped up and the possibility of developing new business alliances and product lines explored. The emphasis on proprietary brands will continue and will fuel an increase in the international presence. Currently operating in 14 MENA markets, AMS Baeshen & Co. will explore additional international opportunities, choosing the best distributors and marketers for building a brand rather than simply pushing the product onto foreign shelves.

In its constant evolution to meet the demands of the modern world, AMS Baeshen & Co. has three objectives: to control its own destiny, to control its own brands and not to revert to a simple distribution company. Meeting these objectives, with God’s blessings, will guarantee the company’s continued success.


AMS Baeshen & Co. is well-known not only for putting quality products on supermarket shelves, but for providing the market with a unique, innovative taste of their favorite hot beverage With more than a century of experience in the Arabian marketplace, it has also earned a reputation for breaking new grounds in marketing, manufacturing and business practices.

While still in its infancy, AMS Baeshen & Co distinguished itself with the introduction of Abu Jabal, the first locally branded tea on the market. Abu Jabal is emblematic of the company’s commitment to building in-house brands as tent poles for its commercial portfolio and was followed by Bee Sugar which, like Abu Jabal, continues to enjoy significant success within its market sector today.

With the registration of Rabea Tea in 1969, AMS Baeshen & Co. made its first move towards becoming “The House of Quality Teas.” As Saudi Arabia’s population steadily increased, individual tastes began to vary and Baeshen endeavored to satisfy them all. The Rabea brand expanded to provide a full range of teas while introducing innovative packaging designed to preserve both flavor and freshness.

There is an old saying that goes “necessity is the mother of all inventions” and one of AMS Baeshen’s boldest moves embodies that idea. In 1994, the company built the country’s largest tea factory and first tea lab in the Southern part of Jeddah. The lab counts on a cadre of highly trained tea tasters hired from around the world to sample available lots of teas soon to be on the block at international auctions. The suitability of specific lots is determined and bids are placed. Soon after, pallets of tea arrive from around the world, ready for blending into one of Rabea’s distinctive labels.

The tea factory made new products possible, as well. With machinery capable of producing up to 400 tea bags a minute, Rabea Premium, the company’s first tea bag brand, was introduced in 1998, and was soon followed by Rabea Express in the year 2000.

AMS Baeshen has also been a leader in innovative quality control practices. In order to ensure that the teas on store shelves are identical to the teas blended in the lab according to the tasters’ specifications, random purchases are made and the product is brought to the lab for comparative tasting. Baeshen is unique in Saudi Arabia in performing this extra layer of quality assurance.

Guaranteed freshness and purity of flavor are the goals of all marketers of perishable products, especially those in the tea industry. Again, AMS Baeshen & Co. has taken the lead among tea companies by introducing innovative packaging designed to ensure freshness and flavor. Rabea tea bags were the first in the world to be wrapped in foil to ensure freshness. Today, no matter the tea bag count in a package is, tea bags are foil-wrapped in groups of 25 before being boxed. This technique, a Baeshen original, has now been adopted by other tea companies worldwide.

One of the oldest problems with storing tea at home has been its tendency to absorb the fragrance and even the taste of spices or other aromatic foods stored alongside it. As an organic product, tea inevitably dehydrates, which results in the absorption of scents that can alter its taste. This is especially true of loose tea.

With the Saudi market still showing a preference for loose tea, work began on finding a method for ensuring the freshness of loose tea on the store shelf as well as on the kitchen shelf. The solution to this perennial problem was the development of composite containers. Rabea’s loose teas now comes in containers made of a material known as Composite Kraft Aluminum PE layered laminate, which is similar to a thick waxed paper. The container opening at the top is sealed with foil. A removable plastic lid sits atop the foil, sealing the entire package and ensuring a nearly air-tight environment even after the package has been opened. Freshness is prolonged and full flavor guaranteed.

Finally, AMS Baeshen & Co. has taken a step into the future by implementing the latest and most advanced enterprise resource planning system (ERP) by Oracle that integrates and automates all business processes within the company. Now, the company’s representatives, be they top-level managers and their support units or on-the-road salesmen, enjoy easy access to company information that can make their jobs and the company itself a modern, efficiently run business entity.

Innovation is the key to continue AMS Baeshen’s success into the 21st century and beyond.



My experience at AMSB has been nothing but great. One of the things that I love about this company is that my professional contribution is being appreciated and rewarded. The family values are lived by everyone who works here.