A Saudi entrepreneur creates tea blends steeped in Madinah’s heritage

A Saudi entrepreneur creates tea blends steeped in Madinah’s heritage
Lamees Madani (L), who created Naanie Tea in Jeddah in 2019, combining a blend of herbs that only grow in Madinah. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 October 2020

A Saudi entrepreneur creates tea blends steeped in Madinah’s heritage

A Saudi entrepreneur creates tea blends steeped in Madinah’s heritage
  • Lamees Madani dreams of sharing the region’s unique tea leaves with the entire Arab world 
  • Naanie Tea, available in Jeddah and Riyadh since 2019, can now be purchased online

DUBAI: Mention Saudi Arabia’s city of Madinah and few will think of the rich variety of herbs that grow in its fertile soil. But for Lamees Madani, who traces her own roots to the holy city, the two are inseparable.

Besides being the one of the three holiest cities in Islam, Madinah is the capital of Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region. While its 1.5 million residents mostly live in the urban area, the city also boasts the Hejaz mountain range, empty valleys, agricultural spaces, older dormant volcanoes and the Nafud desert.

“I wasn’t born in Madinah, but I am originally from there,” Madani told Arab News. “I grew up there in my grandfather’s and uncle’s houses and they used to add these special herbs to their tea. The idea came from this heritage.”

Madani created Naanie Tea in Jeddah in 2019, combining a blend of herbs that only grow in Madinah. “They have different aromas and names, and they’re all from the ‘naanaa’ (mint in Arabic) family,” she said. “Some of them are called etra (lemongrass), dosh and habag.”

 

Her business idea is steeped in the heritage of Madinah, where locals have long grown a variety of herbs in their farms and gardens for use in cookery, seasoning and drinks — especially tea.

“The story comes from this background and the heritage of older people who used to do this for tea time,” Madani said.

Depending on the season, Madani uses six different herbs from three organic farms, dries them and then blends them in a single teabag. Her aim is to make the unique flavors of Madinah convenient and accessible to customers far and wide.

“The idea is to make it easy for people who love Madinah and love the taste of these herbs, but can’t get them easily,” Madani said. “For people living abroad, or while traveling, it’s practical and easy to use. It’s also 100 percent natural, with no caffeine, preservatives or added sugar. It’s a blend of different natural organic herbs that form an infusion.”

FASTFACT

MADINAH

* Madinah is the second-holiest of three cities in the Islamic tradition.

* It is the main city of the Madinah region in KSA’s western reaches.

* The estimated population of Madinah in 2020 is 1,488,782.

Born in the US city of Tucson in Arizona, where her father was studying a Ph.D., Madani moved to Jeddah at the age of two. It was there she earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood studies at the King Abdul Aziz University, and later obtained a master’s degree.

After a couple of years working at a kindergarten, Madani began her career at Effat University, which takes its name from Queen Effat, who pioneered women’s education in Saudi Arabia. There, she mainly served the university’s communications and public relations department.

Five years in communications at Jeddah Port then followed, by which time Madani felt it was time for a change. “I found I’d had enough of working for others and thought I needed to start my own business,” she said.

“The idea for Naanie Tea was in my mind from the very beginning. I took some courses in e-commerce. The idea was cooked there, and I started on a very small scale by testing the blends at home with all my friends and family.”

Right from the start, Naanie Tea caused a stir in the Kingdom. “People loved it so much,” Madani said. “It’s the first of its kind in the Saudi and Arab markets, and I’m stunned that nobody has ever thought of making use of these unique herbs. Everybody loves them, and they’ve been there for millennia.”

Keeping Madinah's traditions alive

Love for Madinah has prompted another female Saudi entrepreneur to invest tens of thousands of riyals in keeping the traditions of the city alive. Mashael Al-Sihli’s Madiniat Cafe looks to introduce tourists to the true culture of Madinah, as well as giving nostalgic locals a taste of the “good old days.” The decoration is meant to mirror the identity of old Madinah. “Not only the decor shows the old life of the Madinah people, but also the way we offer drinks and desserts,” Al-Sihli told Arab News in February. “The clothes on display also make one feel that they are truly living the experience of the old people of Madinah.” The idea of the cafe came to her after she worked at home making service plates, gifts and antiquities. “I had the chance to put my works at the Madinah pavilion in the Janadriyah National Heritage and Culture Festival,” Al-Sihli said. “There, a company representative approached me and offered to help me with a bank loan as part of their social responsibility program.”

She opened Madiniat Cafe last year, and customers packed the premises from the outset. Al-Sihli said she traveled to China and Egypt to buy some of the items in the cafe that were used by the people of Madinah in the past. “All my designs were inspired by the traditions of Madinah and the old daily lives of its men, and I put them on display. I then thought of gathering these products in one place,” she said. “I noticed that the people who come here yearn for the old days and enjoy sitting in such a place where every piece reminds them of their old days,” she told Arab News. “Elderly visitors, who make up the majority of visitors, also find joy in telling me stories about their life in the past.” — Mohammed Al-Kinani

So far, one blend is available across seven branches of Manuel Market in Jeddah and 11 stores in Riyadh, with plans underway for another product line. Boxes can also be ordered online and delivered anywhere in the Kingdom.

Madani said her dream is to see her brand sold across the Arab world. “Muslims love having something from Madinah. And for non-Muslims, it’s about having something organic, natural, healthy and traditional,” she told Arab News. “I’d love to see it in all capitals and hotels in the world, and restaurants, gyms and health centers.”

Priced at SR38 ($10) a box, the tea is more expensive than other commercial brands, mainly because the ingredients are organic and grown at a select few farms in Madinah. The process is also labor intensive. “It goes through a very delicate, long and handmade process,” Madani said. “Then, I send it to the factory in Jeddah where it is packaged and designed.”

 

The brand has proved a particular hit with consumers looking for a healthy detox. “People are getting healthier. They’re leading a more health-conscious lifestyle and trying to cut down on caffeine and sugar,” she said.

Madani’s business success is part of a wider trend in Saudi society, where untapped creativity is finally getting the encouragement it needs. Saudi Vision 2030, the kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy, has offered young entrepreneurs the means to develop their brands and ideas.

To know that exciting times lie ahead does not require reading tea leaves any more. “Saudi Arabia is changing dramatically — the market is full of local brands in every single sector and everything is booming now. Saudis are so enthusiastic,” Madani said.

“Across the country, there are so many local brands, amazing and creative ideas, and young people, and in a few years’ time you will see a lot more.”

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Twitter: @CalineMalek


Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
An undated photo of Yahya Hamza Koshak, who died at the age of 80. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
  • Yahya Hamza Koshak was considered an authority on the architecture and history of the ancient site

JEDDAH: Saudis on Tuesday were mourning the loss of Yahya Hamza Koshak following his death at the age of 80. An engineer by profession, he became famous for his services to the Zamzam well.

Koshak, also known as the “father of engineers,” was a former director general of the National Water Company and member of the Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
He was born in Makkah, where his father, a merchant, worked during the Umrah season, serving as chairman of the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkish Muslims of Europe America and Australia.
His mother was a close friend of the wife of the late King Faisal, Princess Effat, whom she met at the Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools after it was founded by King Faisal and Princess Effat.
He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh. He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.
His nephew Nabeel Koshak told Arab News that the late engineer was dear to those who worked with him.

FASTFACTS

• Yahya Hamza Koshak was born in Makkah.

• Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools.

• He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh.

• He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.

• He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago.

• Koshak wrote a book, ‘Zamzam: The Holy Water,’ in which he recorded his observations inside the well.

“He was very social, close to people, and always kind and did not like to hurt anyone. He was light hearted — these were the characteristics that distinguished his personality.”
Koshak “was like a father to me,” and the family remained proud that he earned the trust of the Kingdom’s leadership, his nephew said.
“He greeted and received the king every year during the last 10 days of Ramadan.”
Koshak held a number of government positions in Makkah over a long career, including undersecretary for technical affairs at the Makkah Municipality.
He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago and wrote a book, “Zamzam: The Holy Water,” in which he recorded his observations inside the well.
“Cleaning the Zamzam well was one of his most important projects, a huge task under the direction of the late King Khalid,” his nephew said.
In his book, Koshak outlined the history of the well and its water sources, and also documented the archaeological objects found during the cleaning project.
The late engineer said: “By observation, it became clear that there are only two main sources of water, one toward the Kaaba, and the other toward Ajyad. As for the third source, which historical narratives said is on the side of Jabal Abu Qubays and Al-Safa, I found instead 12 small holes between building stones.”
Koshak’s interests included alternative medicine, which led to him establishing a specialist center in Jeddah.


Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
Saudi authorities inspect a site in the Jazan region where a Houthi projectile fell early on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 51 min 55 sec ago

Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
  • Iran taking advantage of international inaction, says analyst

JEDDAH: The US condemnation of the Houthi attack on Jazan “makes no difference” to the Iran-backed militia’s behavior as the group should be recognized as a terrorist organization, a Saudi political analyst said.

“Previous condemnations against Iran and its militia failed to stop them from what they wanted to do,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, who is also an international relations scholar, told Arab News.
The US Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday condemned the latest missile attack by the Houthis targeting a border village in the Jazan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia, in which five civilians were injured. “We call on the Houthis to stop attacking innocent civilians and to engage in the diplomatic process to end this conflict,” the embassy said.
Al-Shehri said that if the US was serious in its denunciations, then the administration should have kept the Houthis on its terrorist list: “That is the least it can do, let alone being an ally to the Kingdom.”
“On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities as if they were not harmful, terrorist acts,” Al-Shehri said.
He expects more than words of condemnation from the US as Saudi Arabia has been on the receiving end of several Houthi attacks.
“The problem with the new US administration is that it knows quite well where dangers and problems are,” Al-Shehri said.

On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, Political analyst

He said Iran is keen to “heat up” the region and the increasing Houthi attacks on the Kingdom reflect that.
“Regionally, Iran is taking advantage of the current unrest and instability in the region for the benefit of its nuclear project,” he said. “The plan is being led by the military ruler of the Houthis, Hassan Irlu, who is now in Sanaa.”
The Houthis are under pressure in Marib and they are trying to use all ballistic missiles, military projectiles and drones against the civilians, Al-Shehri said.
“Iran is to be blamed, not the Houthis,” he said.
“The international community that is watching silently is also responsible for the terror acts by the Houthi militia, which has turned against the country’s legitimate government.”
UN Resolution 2216 acknowledges the legitimacy of the Yemeni government, but Al-Shehri said: “It has not even been implemented. Nor has it brought peace and stability to Yemen or the region.”
Meanwhile, the joint coalition forces on Tuesday night intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthi militia.
“It was (sent) in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” Brig. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Coalition to Support Legitimacy, said in a statement to SPA.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun presents a memento to Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili in Baghdad. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
  • The Saudi military chief held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals

Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, who is on an official visit to Iraq, met Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed matters related to the armed forces and other issues of common interest.
They stressed the need to strengthening ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to ensure the security and stability of the region.
The Iraqi minister presented Al-Ruwaili with a memento.
The Saudi military chief also held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals.
He also held meetings with the chiefs of the Iraqi army and air force.


Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality
Areej Attiyah Al-Johani
Updated 03 March 2021

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Areej Attiyah Al-Johani was recently appointed as the deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality.
She has been general supervisor of the Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Office (Afseh) at the Saudi Health Ministry since 2018.
Al-Johani received a bachelor’s degree in education from King Saud University in 2003. After completing a master’s degree at the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, she obtained a Ph.D. in technology science from the University of South Wales.
Before her current role, Al-Johani served as director-general of the ministry’s workforce planning department from April 2019 to February 2021.
She has been a certified internal assessor at the health ministry for the King Abdul Aziz Quality Award since 2018.
Al-Johani headed the quality excellence team at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources between 2018 and 2019.
In 2016, she was a coordinator for the leadership renewal program at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources. In 2009, she worked for nearly a year as supervisor at the learning and resource center of the Jeddah-based Al-Abnaa High School.
Al-Johani has attended various local and international training courses. She is a recipient of several prestigious professional awards.
From 2005 to 2014, she attended several IT courses in the UK.
Al-Johani has had research papers published in various journals. She has also attended conferences inside and outside the country.


Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year. (Getty Images)
Updated 03 March 2021

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
  • The Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year

JEDDAH: A group of recruitment experts in Saudi Arabia have joined forces to launch a jobs initiative via a popular new audio-only app.
The six volunteers have been giving up three hours a day to speak with job seekers on the Clubhouse social networking platform which is rapidly becoming a go-to staging post for connecting users with the country’s employers.
The team’s Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.
The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide — to discuss labor market needs, job interview techniques, freelancing opportunities, and other employment-related issues.
One of the forum’s founders, Saleh Al-Sodmi, told Arab News: “We are a group of volunteers representing ourselves in this initiative where we united our love of giving and compassion to help people. We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.”
Al-Sodmi and his colleagues all work in the human resources and recruitment sector but have been sacrificing their time on a daily basis to help Clubhouse users in their hunt for jobs.
During the first five days of the initiative, the group helped more than 20 people to find employment and numerous others to get job interviews, and Al-Sodmi expected more success stories as the app’s network of HR and recruitment specialists grew.
“It began with two young sisters who were looking for a job and started a room in Clubhouse for that purpose. Gradually many people within the recruitment field joined, and we agreed to carry on such meetings on a daily basis,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.

• The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

Between 700 and 1,000 users have been attending the group’s forums in recent days, and numbers are increasing.
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year.
Al-Sodmi added: “This initiative has shown how people love good and giving. Personally, all I want in return is an honest prayer. We can always help. Even when we do not have the proper job for the job seeker, we can still offer advice on how to improve their chances or overcome concerns.”
Maryam Saleh, a Clubhouse user, told Arab News: “I am truly fascinated with the idea, and I appreciate the moderators’ commitment to giving three hours of their time or sometimes more to help others.

We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.

Saleh Al-Sodmi, Co-founder

“I found out about it from my friend; I hope it grows further and helps young people to get the opportunities they deserve, especially those, like me, who graduated in these difficult times amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Al-Sodmi said Clubhouse had helped users reach out to a wider audience and connect with people that were not as easily accessible via social media platforms.
“For instance, Clubhouse allowed the influencers’ privilege to dissolve and helped the different groups of societies to truly mingle amongst themselves and talk to each other.


“We have seen artists, economists, and CEOs connecting and interacting with the public easily and comfortably,” he added.
Hanan bin Fantokh, another volunteer recruitment specialist within the employment initiative, told Arab News that the platform has helped save recruiters’ time finding candidates and conducting initial interviews.
“It has also helped people break through their fear barrier by allowing them to introduce and market themselves publicly. It also helped many enhance their dialogue and persuasion skills.
“On the jobs front, many have started getting interviews, and some have signed contracts. However, the availability of jobs is less than the number of job seekers,” she added.