RIYADH: The Buraidah Dates Festival has a key role to play in the economic future of Saudi Arabia, according to Nepalese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mahendra Prasad Singh Rajput.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see so many varieties of dates,” he said, before praising the festival and its organizers for its richness, size and the diversity of quality dates.
“I see it in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that aims to diversify the economy. This well-organized dates festival, on such a large scale, will play an effective role in diversifying income and the national economy, as it will help immensely in diversifying the Saudi market. I am sure the Buraidah Dates Festival will play a very crucial economic role in coming times.”
Rajput added that it was a memorable experience to see so many varieties of dates, the excellent market management, and the thousands of consumers and traders who were very friendly and hospitable. During his visit, the ambassador toured the market square, a local date farm, watched auctions, and met farmers and sellers.
Al-Qassim region, which hosts the festival in Buraidah every year, is a major center for the growing, buying and selling of dates and their derivatives, with farmers anticipating major sales during the event, which kicked off early in August and continues for more than a month.
More than simply an annual marketplace, it is also a lifeline for thousands of farmers and youths who rely on the income it generates.
Saudi Arabia has the highest number of the date palm trees in the world, roughly accounting for 25 percent of the world date production.
Al-Qassim region alone has about eight million dates palm trees, the highest of any region in the Kingdom.
The market is operated by Al-Qassim municipality. It covers 300,000 square meters and has vast loading areas to accommodate thousands of trucks and long, refrigerated trailers.
The Ministry of Agriculture encourages palm tree-farming, allocates land and helps farmers purchase farming equipment.
The ministry also provides farmers with long-term loans through the Saudi Arabian Agricultural Bank and provides temporary visas during harvesting season.