COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

Rakan Aloraifi, self-taught Saudi chef, TV presenter and director of Aregala KSA, has carved out a niche for himself with his culinary talents. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 April 2020

COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

  • Curfews have provided opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty meals
  • Saudi mothers and YouTube become culinary instructors for men in developing their cooking skills

RIYADH: The famed home cooking skills of Saudi women have found a surprise challenger during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown — with men revealing their hidden culinary talents.

Curfews set up to help stop the spread of the virus have provided the opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty family meals.

Quality auditor Ahmed bin Ibrahim has been staying at his family’s house during quarantine, and told Arab News that he had enjoyed pitching in on kitchen duties.

“I like to help my mother while she is cooking by cutting some vegetables, but I learned how to cook years ago when I was a student in the US,” he said.

His mom and YouTube became his culinary instructors during his time in America and his favorite dishes are kabsah, steaks and quesadillas.

“Lately, my dad has been cooking a lot and grilling in our back yard, so I’ve been helping him,” he added.




Ammar Albarakati, owner of Ammar Restaurant and TV presenter on Sabahcom on SBC. (Supplied)

Faris Al-Harbi, a college student from Tabuk, has been putting lockdown time to good use in the kitchen trying to create new recipes for his family to lighten the mood.

“Since home isolation started, I have cooked five dishes — mandi (a traditional meal with meat and rice), broasted chicken, pizza, grilled dishes, and pasta with pesto sauce.”

He said that it was only since the COVID-19 restriction measures had been put in place that his talent for cooking healthy food had emerged.

“My family really admires my cooking and loves the taste of my dishes.”

Al-Harbi added that he intended to continue cooking once the COVID-19 health crisis was over, but in the meantime had introduced a kitchen challenge for his cousins and family.

“Every day, a member of the family has to cook a dish and is evaluated by experts — my mother and father. This creates a bit of a competition which is nice. Everyone wants to cook something that is delicious and creative, which makes us excited to cook again.”




Abdulrahman bin Kasem, Saudi chef and food blogger. (Supplied)

He pointed out that under the current situation it was sometimes hard to find an alternative for some ingredients not available in the home. “It is also difficult to estimate the right amount of ingredients for the family. Preparing the dough and forming it is also hard.”

Al-Harbi’s brother Abdulrahman, an architect, had been challenged to cook madghout — pressure-cooked chicken and rice — for the first time for his family.

“It was the first time I had cooked, so I couldn’t say whether I was talented or not, but it definitely needed some focus,” he said, adding that his creation was well-received. “YouTube has a lot of cool Saudi chefs and their videos are so simple and easy to execute. It helps anyone who wants to try to cook.”

Al-Harbi’s sister Shahad told Arab News that she was surprised to see her brothers’ talent in the kitchen and would struggle to compete with them.

Speaking about her younger brother Khalid, who is currently studying in the US, she said: “He likes to try international foods and he uses fresh ingredients and different spices. He likes to make avocado toast, steaks, cheesecakes, exotic juices, and risotto.

Although a mess is inevitable in some kitchens as male family members go through a trial-and-error phase, most mothers will undoubtedly be proud and happy with the help they are receiving under the current difficult circumstances.


Arab Fashion Week 2020 will be virtual

Arab Fashion Week is set to take place online from June 24 to 26. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2020

Arab Fashion Week 2020 will be virtual

DUBAI: Arab Fashion Week (AFW) is the latest major fashion event to go virtual as nations worldwide try to curb the spread of COVID-19 through lockdowns. Arab Fashion Council announced Thursday that AFW will take place online from June 24 to 26.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Future so bright on the @sophia_nubes #ArabFashionWeek runway. #WeAreAheadNF

A post shared by ARAB FASHION COUNCIL (@arabfashioncouncil) on

“We are thrilled to be able to revolutionize the traditional calendar by adapting a new digital experience that best fits the global financial and digital trend,” CEO of Arab Fashion Council Jacob Abrian said in a released statement. “We consider this move as a victorious step to shape the future of the fashion system into a more consumer-conscious platform and sustainable culture.”

While the runways and the panel discussions air live on AFW’s website, viewers will be able to buy their favorite pieces online.

AFW follows the lead of the fashion weeks in London and Milan, which announced that they will also take place online due to coronavirus restrictions. Key fashion events such as the Met Gala and the final for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers have been cancelled.