DUBAI: In honor of the 91st Saudi National Day, celebrated on Sept. 23, food and lifestyle TV channel Fatafeat has partnered with Dubai-based social media couple Ali Almeshaal and his wife Jacquelyn to cook some of the Kingdom’s most-loved dishes.
In the five-episode series, available on YouTube, the couple, who have over 750,000 subscribers on the site, shared their personal take on traditional meals like the shrimp biryani, saleeg and laham margoog.
The show was not the Canadian wife’s first time cooking Saudi food since the pair got married a year-and-a-half ago.
In an interview with Arab News, Almeshaal, who is from the Kingdom, said that when they tied the knot, his wife surprised him by cooking Kabsa, a hearty rice dish made with lamb, chicken, fish or seafood. “It was a very, very nice Kabsa,” he said.
“It was a healthy Kabsa kind of recipe,” Jacquelyn explained. “It’s our spin, because there is not a right or wrong way to make any dish, but attune it to how your family or your friends or how you like it.”
Her video of the famous dish, which is their favorite, got over 600,000 views on Twitter, Almeshaal said, and fans demanded more tutorials.
The couple said they enjoyed shooting the Fatafeat series together. “Ali isn’t usually in the kitchen with me helping me too much, so it was nice to actually have him in the kitchen conversing with him and having him help me out,” she said.
This is Almeshaal’s second time shooting for Fatafeat. “This year was way nicer than last year, taking into consideration that my beautiful wife was with me. I really enjoyed it.”
“We cooked some of my favorite dishes and we were celebrating one of the nicest days for me as a Saudi, which is the National Day,” he added.
Before the pair tied the knot, Jacquelyn said she did not know much about the Arab world.
“I never really grew up knowing anything about Arab or Muslim culture,” she said.
But when she met her husband, she started to “attune” to the culture, which she now “loves.”
Her first time visiting Saudi Arabia was in 2019.
“I think that the media in the west portrays the Middle Eastern culture in a very strict and rigid way. There are a lot of misconceptions,” said the 29-year-old, who is expecting a baby girl. “I would just suggest anybody who has ever been afraid or curious or ever wanted to explore the Middle East but was afraid of anything they heard in the media that it’s wrong.”
“They are some of the most amazing, nice, humble, welcoming people I have ever met in my entire life,” added Jacquelyn, who — besides her social media presence — currently works in real estate.
Almeshaal was a former TV presenter at MBC Group. He now owns a communications firm in Dubai, where he is based. He has been creating content on social media for the past 11 years.