Zooba, a newly opened Egyptian restaurant in Riyadh, delivers authentic Egyptian flavors in a contemporary setting.
The ambience reflects the vibrant magic of the Egyptian streets, ranging from music to the mouth-watering aroma of well-known dishes.
Zooba is a franchised branch of the original restaurant based in Cairo that opened in 2012.
The restaurant offers an array of classic dishes, including ful medames beans, taameya, koshari and hawawshi (Egyptian hot beef sandwich), as well as breakfast items and rice-based plates for lunch or dinner.
Popular festive vegan dishes include koshari, made of black lentil, chickpeas, pasta, rice, caramelized onion and sauces.
For dessert, Zooba offers rice pudding topped with floss halva candy and sprinkled with crushed nuts. For more information visit Instagram account @zoobasaudi
Misguided advice on diet, gym workouts ‘doing more harm than good’, say fitness specialists
"I have heard a lot of wrong facts and tips about sports. A lot of people on social media don’t have a certificate in fitness, and I see them advising people based on their personal experience and not studies"
Fitness myth-busters come out fighting
Updated 19 September 2021
Ameera Abid & Rahaf Jambi
JEDDAH: With interest in sport surging in the Kingdom, Saudis embarking on gym and exercise regimes have been warned to beware of self-appointed “experts” peddling fitness myths that can ruin workouts and even damage health.
Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms.
Extreme diets and exercise programs can cause more harm than good, they warn.
Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, told Arab News that she has had many such experiences at her gym but has finally learned how to deal with them.
“Someone once told me that the more she sweats, the more fat she will lose, and that if she is not sweating heavily, her workout will not work. I said nothing but sympathized with the woman since she was working out wearing a hoodie in the scorching heat of Jeddah.”
Khalid said that people “should just listen to their bodies” to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.
• Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, said that people ‘should just listen to their bodies’ to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.
• Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said ‘the problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. ‘They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.’
• Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, said ‘one of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science.’
“The body has a way of telling you. Do the workout that makes you feel good during and afterwards. If a workout or a diet feels wrong then just don’t do it. Listen to your body and you will be set.”
She added: “But listen to it when it is being reasonable and not at 3 a.m. when you want to eat eight donuts and a tub of ice cream.”
Casey Ho, a YouTuber who has been uploading home workout videos since 2009, was subjected to a wave of hate after announcing that she wanted to lose weight and get in the best shape of her life.
In her video, titled “How I lost 17.5 pounds in 12 weeks — My 90-Day Journey,” she said: “No, I don’t have an eating disorder. No, I don’t have a body image disorder. No, I don’t hate myself and, no, this journey wasn’t for you — it was for me.”
In a podcast called Off the Pills, Ho said that the body positive movement has grown so much over the years that now if someone wants to lose weight and look a certain way, they are labeled “anti-body positive” and kicked out of the community.
Returning to unhealthy habits is not the answer, she said. “It is a commitment of a lifetime.”
Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said: “The problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.”
According to Hamdallah, the best way to deal with such people is to ask: “What is the source of the information?”
She added: “They will think back on what they have said and if they do have a genuine source, you can take their advice.”
The trainer also urged gym-goers to avoid training others if they are unqualified, adding that there was a big chance the advice might be harmful.
Hamdallah said that a healthy lifestyle is about changing habits little by little, and is not about following a particular diet. “People tend to get the two mixed.
For a healthy life, it’s just a caloric deficit, physical activity and enough sleep. It’s very simple.”
The trainer defined her personal experience as a series of trial and error, and said that still tries new approaches and methods in her diet and during her workouts.
She also said that her schedules are flexible, and she will not force herself to do something that does not feel right.
Depending on body type, results can take up to a year to show, while sometimes it is just three months, Hamdallah added.
I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.
Suliman Abduljawad, Guinness world record holder in fitness
However, according to Khalid, adopting a healthier lifestyle is not as tricky as it sometimes appears.
“I promise you, a healthy lifestyle isn’t just boiled chicken breast and white rice or a sad piece of bread. Now, more than ever, you can find delicious foods on the internet that is so good that you won’t even miss the sugar-filled or fried foods that you crave.”
Khalid said that she was discouraged because people kept telling her that she was eating, drinking and exercising the wrong way, and she was not seeing results in fitness. She later discovered that it takes time to change.
“That is OK. I have my own pace and I am happy with that,” she said.
Adding to the warnings, a Saudi champ has joined the fight against fitness myths
Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, joined social media to campaign for better messaging around fitness and exercise.
“I have heard a lot of wrong facts and tips about sports. A lot of people on social media don’t have a certificate in fitness, and I see them advising people based on their personal experience and not studies,” he told Arab News.
Abduljawad said that he decided to step in and educate people about the “rights and wrongs” of training.
The fitness champ said that he receives messages every day from followers asking him about information they read online.
Female personal trainers in Saudi Arabia are expensive compared with other countries because of the myths, he said.
“One of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science,” Abduljawad said.
He also rejects the claim that training is bad for children. “I have a son, I cannot wait until he is 3 years old to train him. People say that children should not train, which is wrong. Their training is fun and they will enjoy it.”
Abduljawad said that he read Guinness World Records books as a child and wondered why there were no Saudi record-holders. It was then that he decided to work hard on himself.
He eventually broke two world records after a long journey — one in side jump push-up and one in archer push-up in 2020.
“I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.”
Abduljawad offers online training and dreams of having his own gym one day. “I’m aiming break 10 more world records.”
Saudi chef to kings reveals latest recipes for culinary success
58-year-old Tawfiq Qadri still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child
Updated 19 September 2021
MAKKAH: A top Saudi cook hailed as the chef to kings is set to pass on more of his culinary skills and recipes with the release of a new book.
Tawfiq Qadri, who has worked in palace kitchens for a succession of monarchs, is due to finish his third cookbook, “On the Table of the Caliph.”
And the 58-year-old still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child.
“It all started when I was seven years old. I was fascinated with the sight of my mother in the kitchen, and I used to help in cutting carrots and cucumbers and cleaning rice. I was the only one of 16 brothers and sisters to help her at our home in Madinah,” he told Arab News.
“I joined the scouts during intermediate and high school and was the chef of my classmates at the time. I became famous for cooking the popular Hijazi dishes, which the scouts enjoyed despite my lack of experience.”
After moving to Italy to train as a chef, Qadri’s career took off as he later made a name for himself catering for royals, presidents, and celebrities.
But his rise to fame in the cuisine arts did not get off to a smooth start.
After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.
At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student.
• After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.
• At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student. He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities.
On returning home, in 1981 he took up employment with the Royal Saudi Navy, based in Riyadh. There, he was head chef and supervisor of the navy officers’ club and would often fly to Toulon in France to join a ship that regularly sailed to Saudi Arabia, working on board as a chef. After four years in the navy, during which time he rose to the rank of sergeant, he moved into military supply management, eventually heading the operation, and organizing budgets for the whole of the Kingdom.
When the Gulf crisis started in 1990, he was commissioned to join the Ministry of Defense and became the chef of the Allied Forces, earning the rank of chief sergeant.
After taking early retirement from the navy, Qadri spent six years with Saudia airline’s catering division, developing a range of dishes, before advising international hotels on food provision and judging in many culinary competitions throughout the Arab world.
While working with Saudia airline, Qadri was featured in a Saudi newspaper article under the headline, “Passengers Love him Before Seeing Him.” On the back of the publicity, he was given responsibility for Hijazi cooking at the palace of the late King Fahd and went on to work for the late King Abdullah, and now King Salman, notably preparing the kitchen during the visit of former US President Barack Obama.
He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities. As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals, and created 42 new recipes. He is also the author of books “Saudi and the Star of the Table,” and “Guide of the Quick Cooking,” with “On the Table of the Caliph” due to be completed soon.
Bisan: Rare Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Tokyo offers up Arab fare
Updated 14 September 2021
TOKYO: A five minute walk from Tokyo’s Jujo railway station, a small Palestinian restaurant called Bisan serves popular Levantine flavors like falafel and hummus to Japanese patrons.
Named after an ancient Palestinian town, Bisan offers customers a traditional experience ranging from cuisine to music.
The owner and chef Sudqi Mansour welcomes his customers with good humor and a chance to taste the offerings of his homeland.
A visitor told Arab News Japan that he had already traveled to Palestine to meditate at the tomb of Christ. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, he could no longer go there but he was happy to be able to taste Arab food in the heart of Tokyo.
The intimate atmosphere of the restaurant shows that it remains connected to Palestine, with flags hanging on the walls, photos of former leader Yasser Arafat, messages of peace, a map of Palestine, Shishas and dromedaries adorn the baroque decor of the restaurant.
In the kitchen, Chef Mansour is usually busy preparing the orders by cutting the ingredients with an expert hand. He said it took about 5 hours to prepare the hummus, which is the pride and reputation of Bisan, which opened in January 2011.
It was while traveling to join a family member that Mansour decided to settle in a peaceful country in Japan to introduce Palestinian cuisine to Japanese foodies.
Most of his visitors are Japanese although he occasionally has Saudi or French diners. The restaurant is open Saturday and Sunday at lunchtime and weekdays from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and reservations are possible by phone.
The growth of Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage industry — from local startups to multinational chains
With a population of more than 32m, companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector
Updated 11 September 2021
Lojien Ben Gassem
RIYADH: The culture of imported foods and restaurants was limited until the early 1980s in Riyadh and most cities in Saudi Arabia.
However, the availability of sandwiches, shawarma, and hamburger meals has spread in large cities in the Kingdom such as Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah since the mid-1980s.
Mansour Al-Assaf, an expert in social history, said on his Twitter account that the first shawarma restaurant in Riyadh was called Abu Nawas Restaurant on King Faisal Road. The first broasted (fried chicken) restaurant was KFC and there was a Wimpy restaurant in the same street in the 1960s.
Mixed falafel sandwich meals have been available in Riyadh in Al-Malaz neighborhood on Zaid bin Al-Khattab Street since 1982.
Al-Assaf told Arab News that restaurants had existed in Saudi Arabia since the 1950s, but widespread growth took place in the mid-1980s and 1990s.
“High-end restaurants were present in some cities in the 1950s, especially in the Eastern Province, Jeddah and perhaps even in Riyadh. Most of them were hotel restaurants such as Al-Yamamah Hotel, Zahrat Al-Sharq Hotel and Sahara Hotel in Riyadh,” he said.
“(Hatem Tayi) restaurant in Al-Bathaa district was one of the oldest restaurants in Riyadh in the 1960s. It used to serve kebabs, ribs and kofta — and not far from it people would meet in Omar Khayyam Cafe to watch free wrestling and discuss Ahmed Saeed’s speeches,” he said.
Muhammad Al-Harbi, a government retiree, spoke of when he was a college student at King Saud University in 1975. He said that he used to go with his friends to a restaurant serving a traditional Saudi dish called bukhari.
“It was a small restaurant near the college. As college students, we mainly cooked at home. We only went to this restaurant when we have extra money to spend.”
Al-Assaf said bukhari restaurants had existed since the 1960s but increased in 1987, after which floor-seating dining became popular in Saudi traditional restaurants.
• The first broasted (fried chicken) restaurant was KFC and there was a Wimpy restaurant in the same street in the 1960s.
• Mixed falafel sandwich meals have been available in Riyadh in Al-Malaz neighborhood on Zaid bin Al-Khattab Street since 1982.
• The first Saudi restaurant to sell hamburgers was Herfy, which opened in 1981 under the Gulf Bridge on Khurais Street in Riyadh.
Most of the restaurants in the Kingdom were limited to male customers, Al-Harbi said. He only recalled one restaurant in a hotel called Zahrat Al-Sharq in Riyadh that had a family section.
“Back in the old days, we rarely saw families in restaurants. The majority of those who went to restaurants were male workers and students.”
Al-Assaf said that family sections in restaurants existed in the 1960s and 1970s in Riyadh, Jeddah and many other regions in Saudi Arabia. He said that the majority of restaurants with family sections were limited to open buffets or hotel lobbies. Large international fast food restaurants and multinational chains in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the growth of family sections.
“The first Saudi restaurant to sell hamburgers was Herfy, which opened in 1981 under the Gulf Bridge on Khurais Street in Riyadh.”
Herfy was one of the first Saudi fast-food restaurants that welcomed families.
Al-Assaf said that families in the 1980s began to accept the idea of going out to eat in a restaurant as family sections provided complete privacy for them.
“The economic boom also played a role in the spread of restaurants.”
Al-Harbi said that during his childhood in the 1960s, eating out was not an option as his parents would not allow it. “There used to be a sweets store in Madinah that served all kinds of cakes and tarts called Salah Bakery. My brothers and I used to look at the tarts from the window outside because we knew our mother wouldn’t allow us to eat them.”
During the 1990s, coffee shops began to appear and Saudi families became familiar with different types of Italian coffee, donuts, tiramisu and cinnamon rolls.
The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030.
With a population of more than 32 million, international and local companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector.
The entertainment industry and the increased number of sports events and concerts in the Kingdom also positively impacts the food sector. This growth already appears in increased mobile delivery applications, food trucks, and international and local restaurants in large cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah and small towns such as AlUla.
Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, AlUla, has a wide range of temporary food trucks, and several fine dining pop-up restaurants including Anabelle’s, Sass Café and La Cantine du Faubourg.
In previous years, the Kingdom has witnessed many developments in the food and beverage industry as international casual and fine dining options have entered the Riyadh market, including PF. Chang’s, Cipriani and Hakkasan. Michelin star-level restaurants are also opening across the Kingdom, such as Rasoi in Jeddah.
Coffee shops have proved popular, especially among millennials — such as Caoua, Jolt, and Dose in Riyadh. Famous local chefs are also opening their restaurants, such as chef Omar Al-Saif’s restaurant KRNSH.
Al-Harbi said that the younger generation were lucky to have so many restaurant options. “You have Italian, French, Japanese and Greek cuisines. Every day a new restaurant opens in the streets of Riyadh, and local Saudi restaurants have definitely outperformed big international ones.”
Customers have an eat-in or takeaway option and can select from a range of dumpling bites that come with soy or hot sauces
Updated 11 September 2021
A specialty restaurant in Jeddah is offering dumplings as a meal rather than an appetizer with an authentic Chinese twist.
A dumpling is a small ball of dough usually made with suet, that is often steamed in a bamboo basket, although it can be baked or fried.
Located in Jarir Mall, in Jeddah’s Al-Naeem district, Dumpling House offers fillings including beef, chicken, shrimp with vegetables (or either food item on its own), and chicken satay and also distributes to Asian restaurants throughout the city.
Customers have an eat-in or takeaway option and can select from a range of dumpling bites that come with soy or hot sauces. For further details go to @dumplinghouse.sa on Instagram.