Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital

Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital
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Syrians benefit from visa-free entry to Sudan and more than 200,000 have arrived since 2011. (AFP)
Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital
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At the heart of the Sudanese capital, Syrian eateries brimming with customers stand along the street sides of an upscale area filled with mouthwatering aroma of Levantine dishes. (AFP)
Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital
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Sudan hosts more than 100,000 Syrians who moved to the North African country at the height of their country’s civil war which broke out some nine years ago. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital

Syrian eateries flourish in the heart of Sudan’s capital
  • The tantalizing odors of popular Syrian dishes of shawarma, fatteh and garlic sauce fill the air of the Kafouri district
  • Khartoum residents now flock to restaurants serving Syrian delicacies

KHARTOUM: In the heart of the Sudanese capital, crowds are drawn by mouthwatering aromas to Syrian eateries that line an upscale Khartoum neighborhood.
The tantalizing odors of popular Syrian dishes of shawarma, fatteh and garlic sauce fill the air of the Kafouri district.
“Syrian restaurants are distinctive,” said Salaheddin Adam, queueing outside one restaurant.
“Their interior designs are appealing and they are always clean and offer varied menus,” he added, while waiting for his chicken shawarma wrap.
In the traditional Sudanese turban and white jalabiya, the 34-year-old meat trader said he particularly relishes Syrian appetisers.
“They have a special taste and add flavor to the dishes,” he said.
Syrians benefit from visa-free entry to Sudan and more than 200,000 have arrived since 2011, fleeing their country’s war, according to local NGO figures from last year.
Khartoum residents now flock to restaurants serving Syrian delicacies, making it often hard to find a table at restaurants in the Kafouri district.
“Shawarma, shish taouk and kebabs have long been served at Sudanese restaurants. Still, they are not as good as those at Syrian restaurants,” said Ahmed Suleiman.
The 28-year-old is a regular at one of the Syrian eateries, which he lauded for the “taste and quality” of their food.
The Syrian presence in the area, where Levantine Arabic is widely heard, has also led to fierce competition between restaurants.
For Suleiman, the rivalry benefits Sudanese diners.
“Every restaurant has its specialty. They generally excel in their service as opposed to Sudanese people,” he said.
“We try to support them through their crisis by frequenting their restaurants,” he added.
More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country, according to the United Nations, since the conflict erupted in 2011 with a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests.
Syrians who opted to settle in Sudan enjoy equivalent rights to nationals, including access to health care and education.
They are also allowed to apply for jobs and run businesses.
Malik Abdul Wahab, from the Syrian city of Aleppo, arrived shortly after the start of his country’s war.
He opened the “Ayamak Ya Sham” or “The days of the Levant” restaurant which now has a staff of more than 15, the majority Syrians.
“We are keen to provide maximum cleanliness and quality. We also care about good treatment of customers,” said the 32-year-old.
Syrian cuisine offers a wider variety of dishes than Sudanese food, and they are cheap to make and come in plentiful portions.
“We are keen to offer new and varied foods, not known to the people,” said Abdel Wahab, boasting that there are more than 100 different Syrian dishes.
One of his customers, Nihad Al-Fateh, praised the “diversity of dishes” provided while waiting for her shawarma wrap with garlic sauce.
But Sudanese citizens are suffering from financial woes, with price rises late last year sparking mass protests that ultimately led to the ousting in April of longtime leader Omar Al-Bashir.
The current political and financial crisis has led to “soaring prices of all the ingredients,” said Abdul Wahab, who is trying not to push up prices significantly.
In the capital’s Riyadh neighborhood, the Levantine influence can also be heard as passers-by sing along to Syrian songs played by restaurants.
Mohamed Abdel Sabour, a Sudanese engineer, eats regularly at Syrian outlets which he says are more welcoming than Sudanese ones.
Khaled, who runs a Syrian eatery in the Riyadh area, boasted of having “permanent Sudanese customers.”
“We try to please the customer to make sure that they visit again.”


Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
Updated 24 February 2021

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
  • The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ordered a man to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan ($7,700) as compensation for housework she did during their five-year marriage, state media reported on Wednesday.
Under a landmark civil code that seeks to better protect the rights of individuals, spouses can seek compensation from their partners in a divorce if they have shouldered more responsibilities — including housework.
The woman, who did not work outside the home during the marriage, sought compensation for housework she had done after her husband filed for divorce at a district court in Beijing last year.
The judge ruled in her favor, telling the man to pay 50,000 yuan for her labor, according to state television.
He must also pay 2,000 yuan a month to support their child, with other assets such as property to be divided equally.
The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media, with many netizens saying the amount was too little.
“A nanny’s annual income is already in the tens of thousands of yuan,” said a social media user. “This is too little.”


Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2021

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
  • “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before”

JEDDAH: The ketogenic diet has become one of the fastest-growing dietary trends, but experts have warned that many of its advocates are unaware of the dangerous side effects the diet can cause.

According to Healthline.com, the ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with low carb and Atkins diets. A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, the diet has led to severe side effects for some people.
“The keto diet should only be done under clinical supervision, and only for brief periods of time,” Dr. Ruwaida Idrees, a nutritionist, CEO and owner of Hayati Ghethaei, a catering company, told Arab News.
She added that the keto diet should only be considered in “extreme cases,” because it can do “more harm than good.”
Idrees said: “It can cause damage to the heart, since the heart is also a muscle.”
Consulting a doctor, completing necessary tests and discussing goals with a clinical dietitian should all be considered before starting a keto diet, she added.
Idrees said there are many misconceptions surrounding the keto diet and exercise, adding that exercise can still reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and other health conditions.
People need to be careful about the types of exercises they practice, she said. “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before.”
Fouz Ghannamil, a fitness trainer, told Arab News that the diet appeared to work for many people. “It is good, but my own opinion is that the human body needs more nutrition than just fat and a really small dose of carbohydrates.”
She added: “It has a high portion of proteins which is good, but the fat sources, no matter how good they are, are a bit too much. It is better in my opinion that the portion of fat and carbs is balanced.”
Ghannamil suggested a better alternative for people looking to shed pounds this year — sticking to a diet of “80 percent healthy food and 20 percent junk food.
“Because naturally, your mind will desire junk food that is not natural, however, it has loads of fat in and your body can use it as an energy source.”
She warned people considering a new diet to stick to a balanced nutrition pyramid that contains everything they need: Protein, carbohydrates and fat.
She added that people should avoid diets based solely on numbers rather than personal experience.
Idrees, on the other hand, proposed the Mediterranean diet as a simpler alternative to the keto diet, saying that it has a good balance of seafood and other sources of proteins, moderate portions of dairy and a limited intake of red meat.


TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list
Updated 15 February 2021

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

DUBAI: A large majority of respondents to an Arab News Twitter poll said they disagreed with the US decision to remove Houthi militia from a terrorism list — reversing one of Donald Trump’s final decisions before leaving office.
A staggering 74 percent of 1,113 voters said they opposed the decision, while just over 17 percent agreed. And only 8.9 percent said they were undecided.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Houthis will be removed from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations on Feb. 16.


Blinken said the decision to remove the group’s FTO designation as well as its Specially Designated Global Terrorist Designation was driven by concerns, calling it “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The announcement came after the Houthis mounted a number of attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, which were condemned by the State Department earlier this week.
The top US diplomat noted in his statement that Houthi leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim remain under sanction.


“The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control, and the deadly attack on Dec. 30, 2020 in Aden against the cabinet of the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said, using another name for the Houthis.
The Biden administration's special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, was in Riyadh this week for meetings with Saudi and Yemeni officials as well as UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“The United States will redouble its efforts, alongside the United Nations and others, to end the war itself. We reaffirm our strong belief that there is no military solution to this conflict,” Blinken said Friday.


French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
Updated 11 February 2021

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
  • Sister Andre is not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday
  • She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26

TOULON, France: Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, turns 117 on Thursday after surviving COVID-19 last month and living through two world wars, with a special birthday feast including her favorite dessert — Baked Alaska.
Born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister Andre said she didn’t realize she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.
“I’m told that I got it,” the nun said ahead of her birthday. “I was very tired, it’s true, but I didn’t realize it.”
But David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had “experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit.”
“So, her birthday, it reinvigorates us,” he added, following the deadly outbreak.
Sister Andre said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.
There will be a special mass at the home, which has a dozen nuns, and the chef is preparing a birthday feast of foie gras, capon fillet with porcini mushrooms and Sister Andre’s favorite dessert: baked Alaska, washed down with a glass of port.
She says her favorite food is lobster and she enjoys a glass of wine.
“I drink a small glass of wine every day,” she said.
Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.
One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.
“It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back,” she said last year, on her 116th birthday.
She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.
Sister Andre was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.
She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.
Asked what she would say to young people, Sister Andre said: “Be brave and show compassion.”


Lawyer becomes internet sensation after Zoom filter makes him look like kitten

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
Updated 10 February 2021

Lawyer becomes internet sensation after Zoom filter makes him look like kitten

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
  • The short video clip, which was shared online by Ferguson, ends with others coaching the attorney on how to remove the cat filter

LONDON: An attorney in Texas has become an internet sensation after accidentally leaving a kitten Zoom filter on during a virtual court hearing.

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten, prompting Judge Roy Ferguson to alert him of his appearance. 

“I'm here live. I'm not a cat,” Ponton replied, while explaining his assistant was trying to turn the filter off, to no avail.

“I can see that,” replied Ferguson.

The short video clip, which was shared online by Ferguson, ends with others coaching the attorney on how to remove the cat filter.

The judge said on Twitter: “These fun moments are a by-product of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!”

In an interview, Ponton said he has fielded calls from around the world and has been booked for national television.

“I always wanted to be famous for being a great lawyer. Now I'm famous for appearing in court as a cat,” he told The Associated Press.

* With AP