Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

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Budoor Al-Solami, left, and Waleed Moathen have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini. (Photos/Supplied)
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Budoor Al-Solami, left, and Waleed Moathen have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

  • The chef duo started their YouTube channel ‘Saa’widha’ just five months ago

JEDDAH: Budoor Al-Solami, 26, and Waleed Moathen, 28, started their YouTube channel “Saa’widha” (to turn it Saudi) under the cooking channel Atyab Tabkha just five months ago.
Atyab Tabkha is sponsored by digital media company Diwanee. All the chef couple’s episodes have been made at Atyab Tabkha’s studio in Dubai.
The couple takes any international dish and give it a Saudi spin. Their creativity and ideas are fun and broad. The couple have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini.
“Usually, it is the international kitchen that receives all the fame and spotlight, and rarely does the Arab or Saudi kitchen have a media presence,” Al-Solami told Arab News. “Which is why we decided to invent something new, merging international kitchens in a Saudi way. Especially because the Saudi kitchen is characterized by its various flavors and high taste,” she added.
To recreate these international dishes with Saudi flavors, the couple use Saudi spices and agricultural products “produced by our country such as dates, local meat and the unique Taif flowers,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami works at a five-star hotel and Moathen is an executive chef at a restaurant. Leading such busy lives, the couple still manage to find a balance between their jobs and their channel.
“The nature of our job requires us to work for long hours, sometimes 12 hours in a day. For this reason we decided, with the agreement of the company, that we film our episodes during our vacation days.”
The channel came to fruition when Diwanee was looking for Saudi chefs.
“They contacted me. They wanted to create a regular cooking show just like any other cooking show, then Waleed and I thought of how we can change the idea of traditional cooking and shows, and we wanted to put the Saudi kitchen in our show. This is how ‘Saa’widha’ was created,” according to Al-Solami.
“And this was how we came up with many ideas such as the Saudi sushi, and Waleed came up with vegan ice cream with Saudi ingredients such as almond coffee. We even made focaccia bread and muffins with a Saudi twist,” she explained.

Working is fun
Working together is fun and full of surprises, said Moathen. “When we cook, we really enjoy it and we share new ideas with each other.”
“Saa’widha,” of course, is displayed in Arabic, but the couple are planning to add subtitles in different languages in their next season. “Especially because we have friends of different nationalities,” explained Moathen.
Their show was warmly received by the Saudi audience, and the two are showered with positive comments under each episode.

 

 “I am very happy to see the interaction of people in the comments, and their kind words and positive support,” said Al-Solami
“I am overjoyed and this encourages me to continue what I love and what the viewers love,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami and Moathen studied tourism and hospitality respectively and wish to open a restaurant chain and culinary school.

Decoder

Almond Coffee

A hot Hejazi beverage traditionally made with milk, ground almonds, rice flour, sugar and cinnamon, and is popular during winter season.


Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.