Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan

Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
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Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
10 / 10
Essam Hanbazaza has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 05 May 2021

Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan

Sobia: A traditional thirst-quenching Hijaz drink in Ramadan
  • Recipes for the drink have been handed down from one generation to the next

JEDDAH: Ramadan is marked by plenty of local traditions in Saudi Arabia, with food and drinks specially prepared during the month, including the refreshing beverage sobia.

Made from simple items found in every kitchen, the drink is believed to have found its way into the Hijaz region through Egyptian pilgrim caravans that arrived there centuries ago.
It has gained popularity among Hijazi families over time and become the go-to homemade Ramadan drink due to its thirst-quenching properties and taste.
Due to high demand, sobia can be found on sale in the street but only the savvy know where to find the best one.
Recipes for the drink have been handed down from one generation to the next, with each family adding their own personal touches and preferences.
Some of the most famous Hijazi families are Al-Khosha in Madinah, Al-Khodari and Al-Hussaini in Makkah and the Hanbazaza family in Jeddah.
In the search for the best sobia, Arab News spoke to Essam Hanbazaza who has been making and selling the drink with his sons for over 40 years in Jeddah.
Their stall is tucked away in an alley of the city’s Al-Bawadi district.
Hanbazaza, a 65-year-old retired Saudi airlines electrical engineer, has been supplying Jeddah residents with his special homemade recipes.
He ensures that the best quality ingredients are chosen, even testing and tasting the product months before the start of Ramadan so his customers are guaranteed to enjoy it.

“After graduating from college in 1985, I started to make sobia for my family members and they used to be impressed by the good taste,” he told Arab News. “They encouraged me to start selling sobia in the neighborhood and I worked on developing my recipe for five years before selling it to my friends in the office. Gradually, I started to gain more popularity and people started to come for my sobia from Makkah and Madinah.”
During Ramadan, each day after 4 p.m., people make a beeline for sobia vendors.




Made of barley, flour, dry bread, seasonings, and sugar, the drink is believed to have found its way into the Hijaz region through Egyptian pilgrim caravans that arrived there centuries ago. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

It is available in three traditional flavors, including the white version made of barley, flour, dry bread, and sugar. Red sobia is made with the same ingredients but with added raspberry. There is also a version with raisin. Spices such as cardamom and cinnamon are sometimes added.
It is prepared two days prior. Ingredients soak in an airtight container for at least 24 hours. The drink is then passed through cheesecloth or gauze to remove any impurities.
Although Hanbazaza has kept the authenticity of the original taste by offering the three main flavors, he has created some special varieties to keep up with the new generation’s preferences for experimenting.
“I have added raisin pieces to the raisin sobia so people can enjoy drinking and eating at the same time. I have also created flavored barley sobia with
natural fruits including mango, peach, red berries from Taif, strawberry, and watermelon.”
Sobia prices range from SR12-17 ($1.6-$4.5) and the drinks are offered in old-school packaging, a plastic bag.
Loyal customer Feras Muhammed said he was introduced to Hanbazaza’s sobia by his uncle, who used to work at the Saudi airlines years ago. “I come here every Ramadan to pick my favorite raisin sobia,” he told Arab News.
Hanbazaza is also known for being an enthusiastic chef.
“I have a huge passion for cooking as my father used to be the chef for the late King Abdul Aziz when he’d stay in Jeddah and, during college days in the US, I used to make traditional Saudi dishes for my roommates and they all used to admire my cooking talent.”
He also inherited the art of pickle making and offers an array of traditional pickles made in the true Saudi way, developing over 13 types. Only a Hijazi would know how important the assortment is, for no table is complete without pickles.


Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings

Saudi Arabia, Jordan hold talks on issues related to border crossings
  • The two sides discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation, and issues related to security and police cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Jordan on Sunday held talks on ways to facilitate the passage of citizens of both countries through land and air crossings.
Jordanian Minister of Interior Mazen Al-Faraya met with the Kingdom’s ambassador to Amman Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, in the presence of the Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al-Fayez.
Jordan on Tuesday reopened two border posts with Saudi Arabia and Syria after they were closed in August for nine months due infected coronavirus staff, 
The two sides also discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and issues related to security and police cooperation and ways to support and enhance them.
Al-Sudairi called for uniting efforts, especially in security aspects and the exchange of expertise, in order to achieve security and stability in both countries and the region.
The two sides agreed to continue coordinating and consulting, and to activate the partnerships in various fields. 


Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,064 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 334

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,072.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 942 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 426,384 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,572 remain active and 1,336 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 334, followed by Makkah with 286, the Eastern Province with 112, Asir recorded 50 and Madinah confirmed 40 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,064 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 409,740.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said on Sunday it has prepared 3,156 mosques and chapels in the Makkah region to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayer this year, which will be held 15 minutes after sunrise.
It also announced it has completed preparing and equipping 1,074 in Madinah and its affiliated governorates for the Eid prayer.
The Ministry of Interior said 25,672 violations were committed against precautionary coronavirus measures in the Kingdom from May 2 — 8, with the capital, Riyadh, recording the highest with 8,909 violations, followed by Makkah with 4,556, and the Eastern Province with 3,805 violations.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 158 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.29 million.


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Khan also visited and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
  • The premier also met with head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah on Sunday.
Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, Khan was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the special force for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In Makkah, Khan met with Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen to discuss the Islamic world and issues on the OIC’s agenda, particularly combating Islamophobia and the situation of Muslims in non-OIC countries.
Al-Othaimeen praised Pakistan for leading OIC members’ efforts at the UN to present a draft resolution to the next session of the General Assembly concerning adopting an international day to combat Islamophobia.
During the meeting, they stressed the need to strengthen joint Islamic action, cooperation and solidarity among member states.
Al-Othaimeen praised relations between the organization and Pakistan, as well as the country and the prime minister’s contributions in developing and strengthening cooperation between member states and defending the issues of the Islamic nation in various international forums.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan left Madinah headed for Jeddah, after he visited the Prophet’s Mosque and performed prayers there.
He was seen off from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah by a number of senior, civilian and military officials.


Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions

Saudi Arabia to hold Hajj pilgrimage under certain COVID-19 health precautions
  • Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims
  • Health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to preserve human health

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday it would announce operational plans for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage soon.
The ministry said the details would be determined by COVID-19 health controls and standards.
The Kingdom will ensure the health and safety of pilgrims and enable them to perform their rituals “easily and in a safe environment,” the ministry said.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the statement said, adding “the Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
The ministry said that Saudi health authorities are continuing to assess conditions and take all measures to ensure the preservation of human health.


Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday

Saudi Arabia calls on Muslims to sight Eid crescent on Tuesday
  • Supreme Court calls on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has called on all Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Tuesday evening. 

The court said if the moon is seen with the eye on Tuesday May 11, which corresponds to Ramadan 29, 1442 H, the committee will announce the end of fasting month and the start of Eid Al Fitr.

The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony, or report to authorities in their area.