Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating

Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
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Body mass index studies in the Kingdom have revealed high obesity rates, especially among older generations, but the youth are turning the tide. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 March 2020

Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating

Calorie-conscious Saudi millennials usher in era of healthy eating
  • Fast-food chains are facing competition from homegrown eateries catering to calorie-counting millennials
  • Restaurants and coffee shops in Saudi Arabia are required to display calories of items on their menus

RIYADH: It is lunchtime in Riyadh’s northern suburbs and the queue of mainly young Saudis extends onto the pavement outside.
But you will not find any greasy burgers or deep fat-fried junk on the menu of Lean Meals, a healthy-eating restaurant started by Fahad Alsheddi, a young engineer-turned entrepreneur who opened his business when still an undergraduate.
Similarly themed restaurants are springing up across the Saudi capital, where fast-food chains from Dunkin’ Donuts to Burger King have long been the popular choice but are facing competition from homegrown eateries catering to calorie-counting millennials.
“We succeeded in changing the perception of healthy food in our customers’ minds,” said 26-year-old Alsheddi.
Most of the people in the restaurant are between 20 and 30 years old.
Among them is 28-year-old Amani Al-Harbi, who said she is already feeling the health benefits of changing her diet and ditching calorie-laden fast food.
“In three months, I lost seven kilograms just by stopping eating fast foods and replacing them with food I get from a nearby healthy restaurants,” she said.
Since last year restaurants and coffee shops in Saudi Arabia have been required to display the calories of everything on the menu, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to improve the nation’s physical, as well as economic, health.
The move made people more aware of their calorie intake and nutrition, said 27-year-old Mohammed Al-Yahyan from Riyadh.
“It made a big difference for me,” he said.
At LeanMeals the popular Grilled Chicken Meal, which includes 160 grams of chicken breast, 200 grams of rice and 50 grams of mixed boiled vegetables, has a total of 485 calories.
That is less than two pieces of “Chocolate Frosted Donut” from Dunkin’ Donuts that have 260 calories each.
The huge growth in fast-food chains in Saudi Arabia is one factor cited by researchers to explain the high prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the country.
A number of body mass index studies in Saudi Arabia have highlighted high rates of obesity, especially among older people.
One study in Al-Kharj in 2016 took a sample of 1019 people in the city’s population of 376,000.
It found that about 54.3 percent of them were overweight or obese.
The study also highlighted the striking difference in the prevalence of obesity in rural regions (with an average of 4 percent) and in cities such as Riyadh, known for its vast choice of fast-food outlets, where the incidence of obesity was 22 percent.
A younger generation of Saudis who are more aware of nutrition, fitness and the environment are demanding healthier eating options.
This shift in eating habits among Saudi Arabia’s big spending millennial restaurant-goers is forcing fast-food chains to revamp their menus.
Some are offering so-called keto-burgers, where the traditional burger bun is replaced by a bunch of lettuce.
The move is a response to the growing popularity of the ketogenic diet in Saudi Arabia, which prescribes very low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating and shares many similarities with the Atkins diet.
Dr. Riyad Al-Ghamdi, a physician who adopted the “keto diet,” described the move as a life-changing experience.
“I lost almost 50 kilograms since I started this diet six years ago,” he said.
He said his decision to adopt a “keto” lifestyle was not just about losing weight, but also an attempt to improve his health more generally.
Veganism is also gaining traction in the Kingdom in line with a global trend as more young people choose a diet they perceive to be better not only for their bodies but also for the planet.
Even big burger chains such as Burger Fuel are offering vegetarian and vegan options such as the “V-Dub Vege” — made from pumpkin, carrot, chickpea and beetroot and costing SR32 ($8.5).
A 2017 study conducted on the eating habits of Saudi adults in Jeddah found a high prevalence of junk-food consumption (86.5 percent for men and 87.4 percent for women).
About 60 percent of the 369 people interviewed said they eat fast food at least every week.
It found that males favored hot dogs, shawarma and energy drinks, while females consumed more ice cream and chocolate bars.
The study speculated that the “mushrooming of outlets with free home delivery” may be one of the reasons for the rapid rise of junk-food consumption in the Kingdom.
Fast-food restaurants and coffee-shop chains have spread rapidly across Saudi Arabia in recent decades, with Dunkin’ Donuts alone operating more than 400 stores in the Kingdom, more than 100 of those in Riyadh.

FASTFACT

A 2016 study conducted in Al-Kharj found that about 54.3 percent of people were overweight or obese.

By contrast, Singapore, with a population similar to the Saudi capital, has just 15 Dunkin’ outlets.
The Dunkin’ group, which also includes the Baskin-Robbins ice cream brand, is also adapting to the changing tastes of its customers.
“We strive to offer flavor options to appeal to a range of lifestyle needs,” Dunkin said in response to questions from Arab News.
“To that end, we offer low-fat options, sherbets and sorbets, including current flavors such as Citrus Twist Ice, Pink Lemonade Ice, Rainbow Sherbert, as well as no-sugar-added options such as Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Overload and Caramel Turtle Truffle.
Additionally, we are planning to introduce non-dairy ice cream flavors later this year.”
Big food-exporting nations such as New Zealand have also picked up on the move toward healthier eating in the GCC states.
Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage market is the largest in the region, valued at $45 billion and predicted to grow at a rate of 6 percent over the next five years.
Changing eating habits in the country reflect a number of different factors, according to Mark Allport of Blossom Hill Farm in New Zealand, which exports farm food products to the Gulf states.
“The change is due to three core areas which are all directly linked: animal welfare, climate change and human health,” said Allport, whose company is tapping into growing demand for vegan products in the GCC bloc.
“We are now striving to meet those demands by providing healthy alternative premium protein sources to substitute meat and dairy.
“Consumers are rightly demanding healthy tasting ingredients without compromising the planet, their families’ health or animal welfare. We have seen a high amount of interest from buyers in the Gulf already.”
At lunchtime in LeanMeals in Riyadh the orders are flying fast.
For founder Alsheddi, a lot has changed in Saudi Arabia since 2016, not least its taste in food.
“When we started four years ago, most of our clients were bodybuilders,” he said. “Now they are ordinary people.”


Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX
  • SAMI also agreed to be a strategic partner of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI in next year’s IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed several cooperation agreements with international companies and government authorities during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) this week.

SAMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to enhance the Kingdom’s defense capabilities and localize its military industry as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“We are pleased to achieve outstanding success through our participation in IDEX 2021,” Walid bin Abdulmajeed Abu Khaled, CEO of SAMI, said.

“This will lead us to new achievements and make Saudi Arabia one of the leading manufacturers of military systems in the world.”

SAMI signed a joint venture agreement with the US firm Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military defense company. The venture will develop capabilities in manufacturing software technologies, along with the production, maintenance, and repair of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

SAMI also signed a cooperation agreement with Nimr, which is part of the Abu Dhabi-based EDGE Technology Group. The deal will allow both companies to work together on armored military and security vehicles. It also marks the first collaboration in the field of military industries between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) also signed an agreement with SAMI to be a strategic partner in next year’s IDEX.

During the five-day exhibition, GAMI Gov. Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali visited the Saudi pavilion along with Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil.

The pavilion also welcomed Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy prime minister.

 

 

 

 


US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 27 February 2021

US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

King Salman and US President Joe Biden recently discussed strengthening partnership during phone call. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Saudis show wide support at home for MBS, describe CIA report as speculative

RIYADH: US President Joe Biden and his administration may be seeking a recalibration of its relationship with Saudi Arabia, but is adamant not to rupture the relationship with the Kingdom, a senior US official said.

Speaking to Politico, the official said that there are “important interests” the US shares with Saudi Arabia. The administration views the Kingdom as an important partner in the Middle East, and it has promised to keep supporting the country as it defends itself against attacks blamed on Iran.

The official’s comments came after a classified CIA report was released on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, who was killed by a group of rogue Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018.

Despite a lot of hype that preceded the release of the report, many observers have described it as too analytical and lacking evidence.

“No smoking gun,” CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson said.

Israeli journalist and commentator Barak Ravid wrote on Twitter: “US intelligence report on Khashoggi, which is 100% analysis and 0% information, raises real concerns about the quality of access US intelligence agencies have in Saudi Arabia.”

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom, Saudis took to social media to show support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis.

Saudi journalist Abdulrahman Al-Rashed tweeted there was nothing new in the declassified CIA report. He described those who were betting on Biden to damage the relationship with Saudi Arabia as “ignorant of how the world operates.”

Saudi columnist Salman Al-Dossari tweeted that the Biden administration should be praised for publishing the CIA report, saying that the findings support Saudi court rulings.

Last September, Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution announced the final sentences for the eight people convicted of the Khashoggi murder.

Five of them received 20-year jail sentences for their involvement in the killing. Another was sentenced to 10 years while two others received seven years. Commenting on the verdict, the Khashoggi family called the judgment “fair and dissuasive.”


Saudi envoy meets UN Women’s executive in New York

Saudi envoy meets UN Women’s executive in New York
They also discussed ways to enhance cooperation in various fields. (SPA)
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi envoy meets UN Women’s executive in New York

Saudi envoy meets UN Women’s executive in New York
  • Al-Mouallimi virtually met the newly-appointed permanent representative of Mozambique to the UN, Pedro Comissario Afonso

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, held a virtual meeting with Asa Regner the assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of UN Women.

The two sides reviewed the latest preparations for the upcoming session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), in which the Kingdom will take part.

They also discussed a number of topics of common interest, and ways to enhance cooperation in various fields.

Al-Mouallimi also virtually met the newly-appointed permanent representative of Mozambique to the UN, Pedro Comissario Afonso.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed topics of common interest and ways to enhance cooperation in various fields.

Both meetings were attended by the director of Al-Mouallimi’s bureau, Faisal Al-Haqbani, and the head of public relations and information of the delegation, Taful Al-Aqbi.

 


Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 

Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 
Updated 27 February 2021

Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 

Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 

Ziyad Al-Shiha has been appointed CEO of the Saudi Investment Recycling Co. (SIRC).

SIRC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, the National Waste Management Center and the municipality of the Eastern Province recently signed an agreement to start integrated waste management and waste recycling activities in the province.

Al-Shiha has been a board member of the National Petrochemical Company, a Saudi joint-stock company, since 2019, and was deputy chair of the Business 20 (B20) Trade and Investment Taskforce.

He was president and CEO of the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) from 2014 to 2018 and, prior to that, was a SEC board member from 2012 to 2013.

Al-Shiha has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, a master’s degree in engineering and control systems from Rice University, and a second master’s in executive business administration from MIT.

He had a number of positions at Saudi Aramco after joining the company in 1984. He was an electrical engineer and vice president of general planning in one of the international joint ventures in the Philippines. He was also a public relations manager at Aramco, the director of facilities planning, and the executive director of power systems.

Al-Shiha has participated in several leadership training programs, including MIT’s Sloan Fellowship Program.


Saudi universities opening coronavirus vaccine centers

Saudi universities opening coronavirus vaccine centers
Universities used human and technical capabilities in university hospitals and health centers to support state institutions. (SPA)
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi universities opening coronavirus vaccine centers

Saudi universities opening coronavirus vaccine centers
  • The Kingdom is ranked first in the Arab world, 12th among G20 countries, and 14th at the global level in publishing scientific research on coronavirus

RIYADH: Several Saudi universities have begun preparing coronavirus vaccination centers for use by faculty, their families, citizens and residents.

Vaccines will be given to people according to priority and age group, and as per the approved electronic systems.

The move comes as part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts under the guidance of Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh to join national efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch of vaccination centers in universities emphasizes their role in serving the community. It is is also part of a long series of joint programs between Saudi government bodies.

As per the directives of Al-Asheikh, universities have prepared emergency plans since February last year to fight the pandemic. These include programs, events and community activities that raise awareness of the threat of coronavirus.

Universities also used human and technical capabilities in university hospitals and health centers to support state institutions, and allocated buildings for isolation and quarantine.

Saudi institutions also encouraged faculty members and researchers in universities to present scientific studies, research, and innovations to aid the global fight against the pandemic.

The Kingdom is ranked first in the Arab world, 12th among G20 countries, and 14th at the global level in publishing scientific research on coronavirus.

In addition, Saudi universities have organized conferences, forums, scientific seminars and workshops. The events were part of the success of clinical trials for the production of a Saudi vaccine by the scientific team at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.

Vaccination centers are being prepared at King Saud University, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University, Majmaah University, Bisha University, Umm Al-Qura University, Taif University, Hail University, Jazan University, the University of Hafr Al-Batin, and others.

Specialized administrative workers will organize medical teams to ensure the smooth flow of vaccines at the new centers.