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
7 / 10
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
8 / 10
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
9 / 10
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.


Turkish foreign minister to visit Riyadh for two days

Turkish foreign minister to visit Riyadh for two days
Updated 10 May 2021

Turkish foreign minister to visit Riyadh for two days

Turkish foreign minister to visit Riyadh for two days

RIYADH: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be heading to Riyadh as part of a two-day visit the begins Monday, according to a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. 

He will discuss bilateral matters and regional issues in talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah al-Saud, the ministry said.

 

 

 


What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. (Supplied)
Updated 10 May 2021

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
  • COVID-19 insurance mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel

JEDDAH: With one week to go before international travel resumes, Saudis are being encouraged to cover all the necessary basics before leaving the country.

During a joint press conference on Sunday, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) shared new instructions and updated travel insurance policies for all Saudis wishing to travel abroad following a previous announcement stating the four categories allowed.
Ibrahim Alrwosa, GACA official spokesman, outlined the new travel procedures for citizens, health protocols followed at airports, and the shipment, transport and reception of vaccines at the Kingdom’s airports.
“After a week, our airports will witness the resuming of flights for citizens starting 1 a.m. We call on everyone to thoroughly follow the set health precautions to achieve a completely safe trip,” said Alrwosa, adding that the authority will update its safety instructions to add COVID-19 health measures in a new leaflet.
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders.
Alrwosa stressed that travelers follow their country of destination’s health precautions to avoid any problems.

HIGHLIGHT

Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders. 

Meanwhile, CCHI spokesman, Othman Al-Qasabi, revealed that the new insurance policy will include benefits that cover the risks of COVID-19 infection, and that it is mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel.
“This is in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank. Persons vaccinated with two doses, first dose, and immune by recovery with the required timeline, will have the travel insurance available for them, but it has been made mandatory for those under the age of 18 to reduce the risks accompanied by the virus.”
The travel insurance, which is only valid for 30 days, will cover emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19 such as emergency rooms, urgent care and transportation. It also covers quarantine-related accommodation costs, medical evacuation and issues related to canceling flights due to COVID-19 conditions.
“These new benefits have been added to the already existing travel insurance benefits.”
The council revealed that a consortium of 12 companies has been approved for people to receive travel insurance from, with Tawuniya Insurance Company chosen to lead the alliance.


King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority
Updated 10 May 2021

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

RIYADH: King Salman has issued a royal order appointing Suhail bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Abanmi as governor of the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, with the rank of minister, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced on Saturday.

The new body is a merger of the former General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT), which Abanmi headed since 2017, and the Saudi Customs, of which he was named acting governor since March.

Abanmi has worked as an executive in various private companies and government agencies, including as head of business development and manager of the Tadawulaty program, general supervisor of the Ministry of Commerce’s agency for internal trade, and member of the advisory committee for the Capital Market Authority.


Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
  • The additional lands will provide more than 53,000 various housing units
  • Riyadh aims to become one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed the allocation of 20 million square meters for new residential land north of Riyadh.
The ownership will be transferred to the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing, and is part of a drive to improve the housing sector and hep families, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The allocation aims to increase the residential area of ​​Al-Jawan suburb from 10 million square meters to 30 million square meters, and build up to 53,000 housing units through integrated projects, facilities and services in partnership with the private sector. This is on top of the 20,000 housing units that have already been announced.
Support for the housing sector has led to Saudi home ownership increasing from 47 percent to 60 percent in the last four years.
The Kingdom hope that figure will reach 70 percent under the Vision 2030 reform programs.
“The additional lands allocated to the housing sector north of Riyadh will provide more than 53,000 various housing units that real estate developers will work on, taking into account the quality of services that meet the aspirations of citizens,” the statement said.
The move is also in line with the city’s growth with the aim of becoming one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world and an increase in population from 15 to 20 million by 2030.
Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majed Al-Hogail said the housing sector contributes more than SR115 billion ($30.6 million) to GDP and provides about 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Riyadh’s housing sector has witnessed rapid growth over the past two years.


UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    
Updated 10 May 2021

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

RIYADH: The UAE repeated its “strong condemnation and denunciation” of the Iran-backed Houthi militia launching drone attacks at innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.

The comments come after the latest attempted attack on the Kingdom’s southern regions. The Arab coalition said on Sunday that an explosives-laden drones was intercepted after it was launched towards Khamis Mushait. 

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the latest drone attack showed Houthi's “blatant defiance of the safety of the international community and its disregard for all international laws.”

The UAE said it stands against any threat to Saudi Arabia’s security and stability.