ThePlace: Al-Ahsa — the largest date-palm oasis in the world

Date harvest in Al-Ahsa. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 16 October 2018

ThePlace: Al-Ahsa — the largest date-palm oasis in the world

  • Al-Ahsa is particularly famous for the khalasah date, which is routinely named in polls as the best date in the world.
  • In the Islamic tradition, dates are the food the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ate when he broke his fast.

AL-AHSA, Saudi Arabia: Dates are a staple in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East, both in their own right and as a common ingredient in local dishes. In particular, they form an important part of the diet of Muslims during Ramadan, when they are traditionally eaten every evening to break the fast.
Al-Ahsa, in eastern Saudi Arabia, is the largest date-palm oasis in the world, with about 3 million trees spread across 30,000 acres. It is particularly famous for the khalasah date — known in Saudi Arabia as khlas, a word that loosely translates as “quintessential” — which is routinely named in polls as the best date in the world.
In the Islamic tradition, dates are the food the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ate when he broke his fast.
The date palm, called “nakhl” in Arabic, and the fruit, called “tamr,” are mentioned more than any other fruit-bearing plant in the Qur’an, and are symbols closely associated with Islam and Muslims.
Date palms are now grown extensively around the world. There are about 240 to 360 varieties, and the flavor of each is greatly influenced by the soil and weather conditions in the area where they are grown. Amir Hajj, Saidy, Khadrawy and Medjool are some of the finest varieties, known for their rich flavors and superior quality.
The Ajwah variety, however, has particular religious and medicinal significance. The Prophet said: “Ajwah dates are from Paradise.”
Every year, Al-Ahsa hosts a dates festival in an area covering 3,600 square meters, featuring government agencies and companies that grow and sell dates.
The strategic vision of the festival is for Al-Ahsa to become a focal point for the dates industry, by transforming them from simply being an agricultural item to a distinctive product for investment, tourism and the economy.
The festival aims to develop the concepts of agricultural marketing, quality production and communication between farmers and trader.


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 20 min 51 sec ago

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.