Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
Ramadan is not only a month of prayers, as Muslims make special arrangements to celebrate the holy month by preparing special foods and decorating their surroundings. (Shutterstock/SPA)
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Updated 20 April 2021

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
  • Decorations are also becoming an integral part of preparations for the holy month in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Ramadan is a special time for Muslims to get together with family and loved ones. These gatherings in Saudi culture result in a diverse menu of delicious dishes, with many being made exclusively during the holy month.

Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to sunset. Therefore, among all the aspects of local culture, food-related traditions are the most significant, distinguished and diverse. However, there are also shared meals and components of the Saudi iftar table featured in the holy month across the Kingdom.
Dates are an essential dish that Muslims use to break their fasts, following in the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For Saudis, an assortment of dates is normally consumed, along with Arabic coffee, soup, and fried or baked stuffed pastry (samboosa and other dishes). For sugar-hungry people, the soft drink Vimto is often the go-to liquid to quench thirst.
To top it off, Arabian deserts most commonly found on Saudi tables include kunafa (a sugar-soaked pastry stuffed with cheese or cream) and logaimat (small round balls of fried dough covered in sweet syrup), while qatayef, pancakes filled with cream or nuts, are the cherry on top.
Despite these common foods, each region in the Kingdom favors specific dishes. In the central region, hanini is what many Najdis place on their tables when breaking their fasts. The porridge-like dish is made of dates, wheat flour, ghee and sugar. You will also find jarish, another famous savory dish made from ground wheat, lamb stew and vegetables, with a side of whole-wheat mini pancake-like discs known as matazeez and margoog.
In the western region of the Kingdom, there is the signature dish of foul and tamees, which is a combination of fava bean stew and tamees bread, a soft, tender creation baked in traditional open ovens believed to have originated in Afghanistan. The region’s signature drink is sobia, a thirst-quenching Ramadan brew made from wheat and malt flours.
In the Eastern Province, you will most likely break your fast with a meat and vegetable stew known as saloona. It is served with a side of balaleet, made either sweet or savory from flavored vermicelli noodles and topped with a layer of eggs. The province’s desert of choice is sago, which is made from a form of starch taken from the pith of the sago palm.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dates are an essential dish that Muslims use to break their fasts.

• Arabian deserts most commonly found on Saudi tables include kunafa and logaimat, while qatayef, pancakes filled with cream or nuts, are the cherry on top.

• Despite these common foods, each region in the Kingdom favors specific dishes.

Though it might seem that food is the focus of Ramadan, many special traditions significant to the holy month are also celebrated across the Kingdom.
“Although we have a very diverse cuisine, I think the components of our Ramadan table are similar, as most popular dishes in this month are rich in carbs, protein, and fat, but they’re also easy to eat with little effort,” traditional food enthusiast Lujain Ahmad told Arab News.
She added: “Our Ramadan table also welcomes new dishes and drinks every year thanks to the influence of social media, which always brings us trends with new meals and dessert recipes, as well as presentation ideas”
Ramadan fashion and decorations are also another way to celebrate the holy month, and are becoming an integral part of preparations for families in Saudi Arabia.
Popular Ramadan lanterns and accessories painted with colorful traditional red-themed patterns also provide an oriental theme to celebrations in the Kingdom.
Ramadan attire is traditionally modest. It is a month in which many women opt for long dresses, such as the jallabiya, which has evolved in recent years through designs inspired by patterns from across the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Old and new traditions are beautiful, and give a special taste to the holy month.

Manal Saleh

The growing popularity of these dresses has created a lucrative market for local fashion designers, markets and social media platforms.
“Although I’m not that old, I can say for sure that these are newly adopted Ramadan traditions, which were not as popular 10 years ago,” Manal Saleh from Jeddah told Arab News.
She added that social media has had a major influence on people’s behaviors and Saudi culture, even in relation to religious events and practices. “New practices adopted through social media trends are increasingly becoming more important and even powerful enough to replace inherited traditions.”
However, she said that both old and new traditions are “beautiful, and give a special taste to the holy month.”
Modern life means that regional differences are in decline, while people increasingly live similar lives and become more interested in following trends and imitating one another.
“We are acting alike, and we like it. There is no problem with that. It gives a beautiful sense of unity on the national and regional level,” Lama Sharif told Arab News.
This year’s Ramadan will not include many popular traditions due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Saudi mosques used to hold daily iftar gatherings for expat workers and the poor, usually paid for by local residents or wealthy donors. The same used to happen at the Two Holy Mosques. But this tradition stopped in 2020 and has not returned this year due to the ongoing pandemic.
Other charitable activities have also been halted. Some Saudis used to prepare small iftar meals and cold water for free distribution around sunset, when people stop at traffic lights and may miss out on breaking their fast on time. These activities were carried out by young men and women, families, or volunteering groups on the main roads of the Kingdom’s cities, but have since stopped.
Saudi families also used to exchange and share dishes with neighbors, a well-known practice across Saudi Arabia. No dishes ever returned empty, but the pandemic has halted this tradition, too.
“As young kids, we used to prepare iftar meals as a family and distribute them among pilgrims in the mosque yards. That was a beautiful experience I’ll always cherish,” said Sharif.
“The pandemic has deprived us of many beautiful social traditions, not to mention prayers and warm gatherings at mosques. I’m glad we are having a real Ramadan this year, but we miss so many things, and I’m afraid they may never come back,” she added.


Saudi aid agency discusses education efforts at UN conference

Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia  to support education. (SPA)
Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to support education. (SPA)
Updated 43 min 6 sec ago

Saudi aid agency discusses education efforts at UN conference

Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia  to support education. (SPA)
  • The conference tackled the importance of improving the quality of education, spreading knowledge, exchanging experiences and innovation in times of crisis

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center recently participated virtually in the “Leaving No One Behind: Benefiting from Innovation to Access Quality Education and Information” conference.

This comes within the framework of the annual program “Innovate Now … Live Tomorrow” and the Regional Digital Inclusion Week for Arab States organized by the International Telecommunication Union and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Speakers from the regional offices of UNESCO and concerned authorities participated in the two-day conference.

During the conference, KSrelief was represented by the director of the community support department, Dr. Hana Salem, who highlighted the efforts made by the Kingdom to support education — 89 educational projects were presented in more than 14 countries, at a budget amounting to nearly $200 million.

She touched on the educational projects provided during the coronavirus disease pandemic, indicating that the center works closely with local and international organizations to meet people’s needs and search for appropriate and sustainable solutions to ensure access to education.

She also stressed the center’s keenness to support innovation in educational projects.

For his part, the head of initiatives at the International Telecommunication Union, Alex Wong, discussed the Giga initiative, which aims to connect every school to the internet and ensure access to education for every child.

The conference tackled the importance of improving the quality of education, spreading knowledge, exchanging experiences and innovation in times of crisis, especially in light of the challenges the world is witnessing during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education.

It also touched on the use of artificial intelligence systems in education and intellectual property rights and the importance of developing educational cadres to keep pace with the need in digital education.


Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
Updated 04 December 2021

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
  • Having a fully vaccinated status on the app allows people to take part in any social and commercial activities

RIYADH: The committee in charge of implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia has held its 283rd meeting, chaired by Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel.
During the meeting, which involved 25 government bodies, the participants reviewed the situation regarding the new omicron COVID-19 variant.
As of Feb. 1 next year, all those above the age of 18 will need a booster jab to keep their fully vaccinated status on the Tawakkalna application, an Interior Ministry source said.
Having a fully vaccinated status on the app allows people to take part in economic, commercial, cultural, sports or tourist activities, attend any cultural, scientific, social or recreational event, enter any government or private establishment, and travel on planes and public transport.
Those exempt from taking the vaccine against coronavirus as listed on the app do not need to take the booster dose.
The source stressed the need for everyone to adhere to all preventive measures and approved health protocols.

 


Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 38 new infections

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 sec ago

Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 38 new infections

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • More than 22.5 million people have been fully vaccinated in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed one new COVID-19-related death on Friday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,840.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 38 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,848 people have now contracted the disease. Of the current cases, 41 remain in critical condition.
The ministry also announced that 24 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 538,990. More than 47.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The ministry, which has 587 centers throughout the Kingdom dealing with inoculations, has urged citizens who have not yet received a vaccine to get one.
It also renewed calls for people to adhere to precautionary measures and register with the Sehhaty app to receive vaccines.
Meanwhile, testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the pandemic outbreak.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties. 


Who’s Who: Muteeb Al-Sulaimani, general director at the General Real Estate Authority

Muteeb Al-Sulaimani. (Supplied)
Muteeb Al-Sulaimani. (Supplied)
Updated 03 December 2021

Who’s Who: Muteeb Al-Sulaimani, general director at the General Real Estate Authority

Muteeb Al-Sulaimani. (Supplied)

Muteeb Al-Sulaimani is currently working in the General Real Estate Authority as general director of partnerships and business development, a role he has held since August 2019.
He established the Saudi Real Estate Arbitration Center in 2019.
Al-Sulaimani has a wide range of skills acquired over 20 years. During his experience in the private sector, he developed and managed many residential, commercial, industrial and hospitality projects.
He began building his experience at a law firm between 2001-2003, before joining a property development company for three years, then working as a consultant for real estate funds in 2007, then as a branch manager for a joint stock-property development company from 2008-2009, before moving on to a vice presidential position for wealth management at an investment bank between 2010-2018, and working as general manager for a joint stock-property development company from 2009-2019.
He is working to achieve what the authority was established for, regulating the real estate sector by stimulating investment and raising capabilities and empowering national cadres.
He is a member of the Saudization Steering Committee and the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises Committee in the real estate sector.
He holds an executive master’s and a global governance diploma from time spent studying in Berlin, a bachelor’s degree in MIS from the University of Business and Technology.
He passed many courses in leadership, management, development, information security, anti-money laundering and digital transformation from Monsha’at, the Financial Academy, King Abdulaziz University, the Institute of Public Administration and the World Bank Group.
He is also licensed as a certified mediator by the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.


Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: Almotasem Alkhamis — a young star at Diriyah

Almotasem Alkhamis. (Supplied)
Almotasem Alkhamis. (Supplied)
Updated 55 min 37 sec ago

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: Almotasem Alkhamis — a young star at Diriyah

Almotasem Alkhamis. (Supplied)
  • Alkhamis was first introduced to the DGDA and their ambitions when he ventured on a tour of the UNESCO world heritage site of At-Turaif in 2019 when he was senior in Al-Yamamah University

Almotasem Alkhamis has been a part of the Diriyah Graduate Development Program since January 2021. He executed and planned multiple events and strengthened government relations through community collaboration.
As a young star in his division, Alkhamis has excelled in holding true the values and missions of DGDA.
As a part of its mission of empowering and supporting young talents, many driven and bright young students have emerged from DGDA training programs, one of those young leaders being Alkhamis.
He began his journey with DGDA as a COOP trainee on July 5, 2020. In his role as a trainee, he served and contributed to the progressive development of Diriyah as the jewel of the Kingdom and one of the largest culture and heritage projects in the world.
The DGDA was established in July 2017 to preserve and celebrate the historic site of Diriyah. Since then DGDA has signed multiple memorandums of understanding and deals to advance the mission of making it a hub for local and international visitors whether on business or for leisure.
Alkhamis began his journey working in the human capital department under the people experience division. After completing his COOP training Alkhamis joined DGDA’s graduate development program under the community engagement department.
He has consistently been dedicated to working alongside the community to give back and drive impact through events. Some of Alkhamis’s responsibilities include quick thinking, innovating and creating new concepts, and establishing and strengthening relations with vendors.
As a native of Diriyah, he takes pride in interacting closely with the community he was raised in. As a member of the community engagement department, he also planned and executed multiple initiatives that strengthened bonds and celebrated the historic community through town hall meetings to present DGDA master plans.
Alongside the master plan presentations, he has also worked on numerous community celebrations in the past such as Eid Al-Adha and National Day for Autism celebrations.
Alkhamis was first introduced to the DGDA and their ambitions when he ventured on a tour of the UNESCO world heritage site of At-Turaif in 2019 when he was senior in Al-Yamamah University. From that point on, Alkhamis knew that he had to be part of creating and preserving the jewel of the Kingdom.
Alhkamis aims to enhance the quality of life for the community of Diriyah. He also participated in the dates market for local farmers in Diriyah.
He gained his bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Al-Yamamah University in Riyadh in 2020 and is a native speaker of Arabic and fluent in English.
He was also one of the founding members of the marketing club in Al-Yamamah University and held the position of vice president of the club.
Alkahmis also holds a King Abdulaziz Medal of The Third Degree for his work for his contributions and continuous efforts in supporting local blood drives by donating blood.