MINNEAPOLIS – Dairy Queen has signed an agreement with franchisee Al Safwa Food Group to open 32 locations in Saudi Arabia within five years. The move into Saudi Arabia marks the 17th country outside of the U.S. and Canada. Dairy Queen currently operates more than 680 locations outside the U.S. and Canada.

DQ Grill & Chill locations throughout Saudi Arabia will feature all of the company’s protein-based items, such as the Chicken Strip Basket and GrillBurgers, as well as its ice cream products.

The first Dairy Queen is scheduled to open in Riyadh in spring 2011 with a projected total of 32 locations by 2015. Dairy Queen currently has locations in the Middle East countries of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“The international marketplace has become a major area of expansion for the Dairy Queen brand,” said John Gainor, president and CEO of International Dairy Queen, Inc. “International consumers really enjoy all that our brand has to offer and we look forward to bringing the great DQ food and treats to Saudi Arabia."

Riyadh-based Al Safwa Food Group, managed by Ihsan Dalati, is a new retail holding group whose members previously were involved in the casual dining segment in Saudi Arabia.

“When we open in Saudi Arabia, Dairy Queen will have locations across the G.C.C. countries and in Egypt; we look forward to future expansion in other neighboring Middle Eastern countries," said Rose Nichols, director of international development for International Dairy Queen Inc.