Qassim hosts world’s largest date market

Updated 27 August 2013

Qassim hosts world’s largest date market

Buraidah’s date season started and the air in the area designated for the city’s annual date market was filled with auctioneers’ calls to mark the start of the biggest agricultural economic activity in the world.
The projected Date City opened its doors and started receiving thousands of kilograms of dates since last Monday. The 75-day market offers over 45 kinds of dates. These will be sold the traditional way by marketing each day’s shipment from date farms. Dates are usually packed in special boxes that have defined weights to prevent fraud. However, sukkari dates account for 80 percent of the region’s production.
Qassim Mayor and the festival’s supervisor general Saleh Al-Ahmad said the municipality has prepared the Date City project to receive this important event.
Al-Ahmad expected this seasonal business to create more than 3,000 job opportunities for Saudis.
Farmers said this is their best season in terms of quality. “The harvest is outstanding this year and farmers will achieve good profits,” said Ali Al-Rashed, a major date farmer. He estimated there is an increase of 20 percent in the number of fruit-bearing palm trees every year in the region.
Sultan Al-Thunayyan, chairman of Qassim’s Dates Committee, said farmers achieved good profits in recent years compared to the period a few years ago before developing date festivals. “Sukkari is the prevailing date type in Qassim, and is considered to be one of the most important dates in the area,” he added.
Al-Thunayyan expected this date season to achieve high returns for farmers because of an increased quality of production that is the result of farmers’ recent implementation of corrected cultivation practices.
The date season is launched in mid August every year in a harvest celebration that farmers started practicing 50 years ago when they sold their yield in Al-Jardah market.
The municipality established a project that is called Date City to offer services for merchants and farmers, in addition to establishing special locations for trade activities that are connected to date production.


Startup of the Week: Ohayou — a place to enjoy good food and different art forms

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Updated 3 min 58 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Ohayou — a place to enjoy good food and different art forms

  • Salamah, who is the chef of the restaurant, has had a passion for cooking and painting since her childhood

Owned by four Saudi sisters, Ohayou (meaning “good morning” in Japanese) aims to offer a platform to local artists where they can showcase their talents in a comfortable environment and people can also enjoy food while appreciating the skills of local photographers, filmmakers, painters, dancers and chefs.
It is said cooking is also an art and these Saudi sisters have combined different art forms with cooking to come up with this novel idea in
the Kingdom.
“The main entrance to the restaurant has a big wall art, which done by me,” said Nada Salamah, one of the co-founders of Ohayou.
Each of the sisters plays a different role in the restaurant in shifts.
“One greets and seats the guests; another takes orders and looks after customers’ needs. One manages the flow of customers (and services) and ensures everything is going into the kitchen and out in order. Lastly, you will find one in the kitchen cooking and playing with dishes, and double checking every dish before it is presented,” Salamah said.
Salamah, who is the chef of the restaurant, has had a passion for cooking and painting since her childhood.
“I’m a huge breakfast lover! I used to wake up at 7:30 a.m. just to enjoy my breakfast meal in time,” she said.
Salamah used to work at a firm where creativity and thinking outside the box was never an option.
“One day, I was sitting in my cubicle searching images about restaurants and when the idea (of opening a restaurant) struck me. Instead of looking at nice photos why not make one of my own! Why don’t I quit and start something I am passionate about. So I started brainstorming and doing sketches. I took time off each day and visited different sites and started comparing prices. When I got everything figured out, I quit (my job),” she said.
“When I finally found a good spot for Ohayou, I started visualizing the design and menu,”
she added.
With fresh ingredients and an eye-popping variety of dishes, Salamah said Ohayou’s bestsellers are its Manakeesh with homemade pesto, zaatar, and mozzarella cheese. The classic French toast, with crusted homemade brioche bread, maple syrup and barriers are for those with a sweet tooth. There are many other delicacies on offer at the restaurant including sweet potato croquette, slow-roasted brisket, poached eggs and chipotle hollandaise.
Salamah pointed out that she opened Ohayou five months ago.
“It is doing well.  A few hiccups here and there but all can be handled. There is always room for improvement and that’s why we really care about our customer’s feedback,” she said.
Salamah, however, faced some challenges since the opening of her restaurant.
“Every challenge makes you grow stronger and you truly learn from every single mistake you make. It’s an ongoing process,” said Salamah.
 “I am obsessed with anything Japanese so Ohayou was a perfect name for me,” she said.
“The food is mainly breakfast and Japanese-infused dishes are going to be on the menu, so stay tuned,” she added.