Indonesia: Strengthening Public Diplomacy Through ‘Nasi Padang’ International Food Exhibition – OpEd


​​Indonesia is a country that has a richness in natural resources, besides Mineral Resources, Indonesia is also rich in spices which have high value and the spices have been recognized by many countries. Indonesian food is well known for its special spice preparations. There are several Indonesian foods that are already identical. It is “Nasi Padang” which has a special characteristic with an authentic taste of spices.

Nasi Padang is still a favorite food for Indonesia and abroad. Based on a survey in 2017, Indonesian Food, especially Nasi Padang, was nominated as the best food in the world, followed by fried rice in second place (Anugerah, 2019). Nasi Padang is a typical food originating from Minangkabau, West Sumatra. So far, Padang Restaurant itself has spread to many regions in Indonesia and has been recognized by many countries after being nominated as the best food in the world (Lestari, 2020). It feels incomplete to eat Nasi Padang, without Rendang menu. Rendang is a traditional West Sumatran food made with beef with a special sauce containing high amounts of coconut milk. 

Reporting from Indonesia stated that Indonesian food, namely Nasi Padang, was included in the Expo 2020 Dubai located at Wasl Plaza, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on November 4, 2021 which was attended by 192 countries. At the Expo, Nasi Padang became the most popular food by visitors with a price of 60 United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) (Saptoyo, 2021). Therefore, this indicates that Indonesia has succeeded in presenting its country by serving Indonesian food that is rich in spices. While spices are owned by Indonesia, the spices are not owned by other countries. Not only introducing Indonesian food, but with food exhibitions through Dubai Expo 2020, it can be Indonesia’s strategy in maximizing its Public Diplomacy to build the good country’s image abroad.

Public Diplomacy is an activity carried out by non-state actors that influence the international community as a strategy to build a good image of a country. Through the promotion Nasi Padang to the International society, it can be Indonesia’s first step in maximizing and promoting its natural wealth in the form of spices because Indonesia is a tropical country with abundant natural products that are of high value in foreign markets so that Indonesia is called as “The Mother of Spice” (Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021). With the liking of Nasi Padang by the International society, the international society can feel that Indonesia has its own natural wealth and unique spices that can become a national identity of a country. Due to building a characteristic and identity of a country, a country is needed to highlight the superior and differences of the country it has, where these differences can be a special characteristic that other countries do not have.

Currently, Nasi Padang which is a typical Indonesian food has spread to various countries including the Netherlands, Australia, and Singapore (Aprilia, 2017). These three countries are countries that are famous for serving Indonesian food, especially Nasi Padang. However, to maximize in maintaining the characteristics of Indonesia, a wider reach is needed in promoting it to other countries. Because in promoting Indonesian food, Indonesia is still lacking in promoting its food to other countries. With the lack of Indonesia in promoting its country’s excellence, especially in terms of food, it can make Indonesia’s identity slower to build the characteristics of the country.

In addition to strengthening Indonesian identity through introducing Nasi Padang to the international community, Indonesia must also pay attention to the superiority possessed by the state, these superiorities should be used as potentials that must be developed. Especially Indonesia in the aspect of food. Indonesia is rich in spices which makes Indonesia have a variety of foods with distinctive flavors that other countries do not have. Indonesia is needed to maximize this potential which can be used as a strategy to strengthen the country’s identity and introduce the superiority possessed by a country to foreign countries. By introducing Indonesia’s superiority, especially in the food aspect it can strengthen Indonesia’s public diplomacy activities in building a better country’s image to the international world. Where the public diplomacy activity can be carried out by anyone, especially the international community which can be an instrument in introducing special foods of Indonesia. Indonesia needs a wider expansion in introducing Indonesian food to other countries so that Indonesian food can be recognized by many people and the superiority of Indonesia, which is rich in spices, will be felt by many people in the world.

*Ramadhan Dwi Saputra, Research Assistant at Universitas Islam indonesia


Anugerah, P. (2019, November 29). Nasi Padang: Sejarah, kalori, dan semua hal yang perlu Anda ketahui. BBC News.

Aprilia, A. (2017, September 30). Melacak Restoran Padang di Mancanegara, Paling Terkenal di 3 Negara.

Kementerian Luar Negeri Indonesia. (2021, September 27). Indonesia terkenal Sebagai Negara Yang Kaya Akan Rempah-Rempah.

Lestari, A. P. (2020, November 16). Masakan khas Indonesia yang Kaya Rempah dan Legendaris. Fimela.

Saptoyo, R. D. A. (2021, November 7). Tradisi dan Ciri Khas Nasi Padang, Hidangan Favorit di Expo 2020 Dubai.

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