Bouquet is to flowers, like Basket is to well, fruit. But what do you get when you merge the two together?

Think a bouquet of fruits, or a Fruquet as Saleh Al Braik (volunteer and official spokesperson for the family-run franchise) likes to call it.

The idea of the fruit bouquet first came to Tariq Faried, in East Haven, CT (USA) when working in his father's flower shop while he was still in high school. His father would often bring back large varieties of delicious fruits along with him from Pakistan, and soon one thing led to another and by 1999 Edible Arrangements was launched.

Al Braik says that the concept behind Edible Arrangements is that it takes gift-giving to a whole other level.

The brand's objective is to offer its customers fresh fruits in the form of special arrangements that are unique to any other. These assortments are meant to look like a bouquet of flowers, but are in actuality edible fruits instead. Not only is this a healthier option for consumers, but the very concept of gifting/receiving these arrangements is more intriguing than just another assortment of fruit or a bouquet of flowers; consider this as the evolution of the fruit basket.

Although having originated in the States, Edible Arrangements is a family run business in the Middle East. Al Braik Investments holds the Master-Franchise License for the entire MENA region and runs as a HQ for the stores located in that region also.

Since Edible Arrangements has outlets across the world, there is constant communication with their Headquarters in the USA to discuss new ideas for arrangements as well as concepts that can be brought in to the business. Orders are taken accordingly and arrangements are customized to be region specific.

For example, the idea of using dates, particularly in the arrangements across all stores in the Gulf, has been on the receiving end of immense popularity as it serves to highlight the traditional aspect of the region.

As a customer, you can either visit one of the outlets in your vicinity, or select/customize your arrangement online, and have it delivered to your/the recipients doorstep.

Signature arrangements include the ‚Delicious Party & Delicious Fruit Design as both arrangements covers most of what Edible Arrangement offers with regards to the types of fruit they serve. You can either select your fruquet to match an occasion, or just choose from the many arrangements on offer.

And for those of you with that additional sweet craving, choose from the Dipped selection which boasts a large variety of chocolate-coated fruits.

In addition to already having a FaceBook group and fan page, Al Braik thought it a good idea to set up a Twitter account @DoFruit_UAE for Edible Arrangements as well; through which he'd tweet about his role, along with promotional posts on the latest arrangements and offers. He found that through this medium he has managed to generate a keen interest in the brand among followers, and claims it to be the best marketing idea I've ever had!

As of November 2009, Edible Arrangements has a total of 941 store locations worldwide, with the brand looking to cross the 1,000 store target in the next 6 months.

In the Gulf region alone, Edible Arrangement has 2 stores each in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and 1 store in Kuwait. And in the month of December the opening of the 2nd store in Kuwait and the 3rd store in the UAE has been launched. Qatar is also planning on opening it's 3rd store in February 2010.

So, next time you're stuck for an ideal, yet unique gift idea you know where to go. Visit the Edible Arrangements website for more details and look up a store in you.

– Shaahima Fahim. Images: Edible Arrangements

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