Saudis share food despite restrictions

Sharing food increases bonds between people and brings out the affection in them. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Saudis share food despite restrictions

  • Cultural tradition continues during Ramadan, albeit cautiously due to coronavirus

JEDDAH: Saudis’ deeply ingrained and dearly held tradition of sharing food has continued during Ramadan despite coronavirus fears, albeit cautiously.

Fatimah Ahmed, a 53-year-old housewife and mother of four, told Arab News that she has shared food with the janitor “as he lives alone and doesn’t have a family that cooks for him during this special time of the year.”

She said the concept is not only about sharing food, but sharing joy and God’s reward as well.

Afaf Filemban, 50, told Arab News that she has shared food with her neighbors “because I feel like it increases bonds between people and brings out the affection in them.”

Summaiya Ezmirli, a Syrian expat living in Jeddah, said her family shared food only from mid-Ramadan as they were very cautious at first.

“We observed the neighbors and how careful they were, so we decided to start sharing our food with them,” she told Arab News.

Ezmirli said her family still supports social distancing, but sharing food with trustworthy people while keeping a safe distance is different.

“We make sure no one comes in direct contact with each other. We just hand over the tray of food and greet each other,” she added.

Ezmirli said the circumstances are hard but people need to make the best of every situation, and sharing food during Ramadan is part of the holy month’s charm.

“We can’t go to our families and have iftar parties — neighbors are all we have in this situation,” she added.

Amal Abbas, a mother of five from Makkah who lives in Jeddah, said she is making the dessert dibyaza, which is usually prepared prior to Eid, and delivering it to friends.

“Of course this is just for close friends who didn’t get to buy dibyaza, or don’t know how to make it, or don’t have the patience to do it,” she told Arab News.

“I made sure to sanitize everything and put the dibyaza in tupperware. I also gift-wrapped some bukhoor (incense) as a gift.”


Saudi investors share expertise on Saudi corporate VC opportunities

Updated 27 November 2020

Saudi investors share expertise on Saudi corporate VC opportunities

JEDDAH: The two-day Step Saudi 2020 event featured two prominent Saudi figures in the field of investment on the second day.
Hashim Al-Awadi, CEO of Tech Invest, and Salman Jaffery, chief investment officer at Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, both shared their expertise, with the latter saying it is more beneficial for corporations to start a venture capital (VC) arm than invest from their current mergers and acquisitions arm (M&A).
Managing partner at Class 5 Global, Zach Finkelstein, who moderated the session on the second day of the event, said the San Francisco-based venture fund invested in a number of companies in the Middle East.
“The Middle East is particularly interesting to us, and in the past, our partners have invested in such regional companies as Careem. We’re excited to explore the development of the corporate VC space and how it can impact places like Saudi Arabia,” he added.
When asked why a corporation should start a VC arm instead of investing from an M&A team, and why have a separate corporate Venture Capital arm in the first place, Jaffery answered that “it brings faster results.”
“I think the easiest answer to that is just speed and agility,” he said. “Getting that response quickly to the market. VC deals can take weeks or months whereas an M&A transaction can take up to a year or longer, and also similarly, if you’re trying to then come out of it, it’s harder to come out of a joint venture agreement or an M&A as opposed to a VC.”
Al-Awadi explained his opinion a traditional VC perspective, and said: “We like the fact that corporations can invest from both their M&A arms and their VC arms if they have them.”
He highlighted that VC arms can invest in a greater variety of companies. “You have the intelligence, you know the market and if you’re looking at specific technology where we don’t have a lot of expertise we trust that you (other venture capitalists) know the market and you can evaluate that technology better to see if it has the capability and potential for growth or not.
“Eventually, you do have an M&A arm that will provide an exit for us, for an incentive for this company to work hard to grasp the intention after having been invested in by the VC arm of this big corporate to maybe look into making a partial agreement or complete acquisition, which really adds an incentive for the company to grow and attracts other investors and also attracts talent to join the company and help it grow even more.”
He said both the VC and M&A arm are important for company growth. “We tend to look at corporate investors through both arms as complementary to what we do when we have both of them around.”
The Kingdom has obtained a high reputation among investors internationally through the years, especially after the economic and social reforms of Saudi Vision 2030.
Step Saudi is home to the Kingdom’s best entrepreneurs, investors, creatives and digital enthusiasts. The last edition of Step Saudi featured four content tracks, more than 100 startups and over 1,500 attendees.