Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia

Saud Abdulamohsin Al-Juraid, the owner of  Al-Juraid farms, inherited the love of olive farming from  his father.  (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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Saud Abdulamohsin Al-Juraid, the owner of Al-Juraid farms, inherited the love of olive farming from his father. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia
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AN photos by Huda Bashatah
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Updated 08 November 2021

Jouf, the olive oil capital of Saudi Arabia

Saud Abdulamohsin Al-Juraid, the owner of  Al-Juraid farms, inherited the love of olive farming from  his father.  (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
  • Global growth of e-commerce prompts olive oil producers to expand, sell products online

JOUF: Throughout history, olive trees and the oil derived from their fruit have been vital, almost sacred, resources for many societies.

From the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks and the Romans, and continuing through to the modern age, olives and the benefits they offer have been of monumental importance to many. In addition to its use in cooking, olive oil is used for medical purposes, to treat conditions such as constipation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and blood vessel problems associated with diabetes, and as an ingredient in cosmetics and perfumes, among other things.
Saudi Arabia’s northern Jouf region has about 30 million olive trees across 7,300 hectares. The soil there is particularly fertile and well-suited to growing the trees, which produced thousands of liters olive oil annually. It is no surprise, then, that the region is known as the Kingdom’s “olive basket.”
Given the Kingdom’s status in the olive oil industry, authorities and producers in the country work hard to promote the quality of the oil produced there, and to develop the industry.
Musa Ahmad Al-Juraid, from the Camels and Livestock Research Center and Olives Unit in Sakaka, told Arab News that more than 30 varieties olive trees grow in Jouf, imported from France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Two of the best-known varieties in the region are Sorani and improved Nibali.
“Some of these varieties are suitable for oil production and some are used for fermented or pickled olives,” he said.
Traditional varieties of olive trees are slow-growing and only begin to bear fruit seven or eight years after planting.




Saudi Arabia’s northern Jouf region’s soil fertility supports the growth and production of olives. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“This type requires leaving at least a 30-foot space between every tree to encourage healthier growth and allow the roots to expand,” said Al-Juraid. “Olive production continues for a lifespan of 40 to 50 years, and these trees requires manual harvest.
“The other type of trees are hybrid olive trees, which are more suitable for automated harvesting. They are cultivated by combining two types of trees and usually require just one meter of space between each tree. They begin to bear fruit in the second year after planting and, unlike veteran olive trees, the production lifespan of these varieties varies from one to 15 years.”
Al-Juraid explained that harvested olives must be collected in ventilated boxes to prevent oxidation, and are taken immediately to a processing plant for pressing. The color of the olives as they ripen indicates the quality of the fruit and determines when they should be collected.

FASTFACTS

• Olive trees can recover even after burning and are believed to be the oldest type of cultivated tree.

• According to The Science Times, olive trees can live as long as 1,500 years and have an average life span of about 500 years. Hence, olive trees have been adopted as a symbol by countries such as Palestine, Syria and Jordan, and the Mediterranean Basin.

“Olive fruit must be harvested as soon as it is yellowish-green to pinkish-green,” Al-Juraid said. “Once it has turned fully black it will contain more acidity and less quality.”
The harvesting season begins at the end of September and continues until January. When it comes to grading the quality of olive oil, there are local and international standards. The quality is determined by the production method, acidity levels, flavor and aroma. Shoppers are familiar with the choice between virgin olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil at the store, but what exactly is the difference?
“What makes extra-virgin olive oil the best and top ranking is the temperature of pressing, the clarity, and it is low in or free from acidity,” said Al-Juraid. “The fact that it is extracted by cold-pressing allows it to maintain the best of its natural aroma and flavor. Setting the press machine to a higher temperature to extract a greater quantity of oil would highly alter the quality of the extracted oil, its taste and aroma.
“Extracting virgin olive oil requires other steps such as washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration, which gives the oil a milder taste and makes it rank second, according to the acidity flavors that might accrue due to the longer process.
“The less acidic, the better the quality. Olive oil with a high level of acidity is not suitable for human food consumption. Instead it is used for soaps and various skin treatments.”
Saud Abdulamohsin Al-Juraid, the owner of Al-Juraid farms, said he inherited his love of olive farming from his late father, who worked in the industry for 25 years. His trees grow in huge orchards in a very fertile area called “Busita.” Al-Juraid’s family is one of the best known producers in the region, and its extra-virgin olive oil is considered by some to be the best in the area. They are also the leading domestic supplier in the Kingdom. The new generation in the family business is ambitious and keen to expand the product line by diving deeper into cosmetics and using the remains of the olives after the oil is extracted.




Musa Ahmad Al-Juraid.  (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“I call it the immortal tree; that is why every part of it is useful, from leaves to roots, in addition to olive oil,” said Al-Juraid. “We have produced soaps, antioxidant body soap, lip scrubs, perfumes, lotions — even the leaves are used for diabetes control.”
The three main varieties of olives grown on Al-Juraid farms are Sorani, improved Nibali and Spanish.
“The production of olives decreases in quantity from one year to the next,” said Al-Juraid. “On the other hand, the quality of the olive oil is improved.”
All of the family — brothers, sisters and their mother — work in the business. They developed their knowledge and skills by exchanging experiences with some of the leading farmers in the country.
“That helped me get a new perception of this career,” said Al-Juraid. “It requires patience, as we rely on a one-season harvest, and I am glad to tell you that most of our new product lines are planned and made by my mother and sisters.”
The olive oil industry in Jouf region is growing but financing the process requires huge capital investment. Meanwhile, the global growth in e-commerce has prompted many olive oil producers and brands in the region to market and sell their products online.
Asrah is a pioneering Saudi digital platform for agricultural products that works with Jouf municipality’s laboratory and olive farmers to support the domestic promotion and distribution of olive oil and related products. These are tested and certified by the laboratory to monitor acidity levels and suitability for human consumption.
Consumers can use the Asrah app or website to browse and buy products and have them delivered. The platform also promotes other agricultural products from the Kingdom including dates, coffee beans, and honey.


KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
Updated 51 min 12 sec ago

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
  • Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries

TUNIS: Following a directive from King Salman, KSrelief has sent a shipment of medical aid to Tunisia, including 40 tons of liquid oxygen, part of an eventual supply of 200 tons, to assist the Tunisian medical sector in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet and Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr were among those officials present to receive the aid.

The Tunisian health minister expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s medical assistance.

Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus.

For his part, Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries.


Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
  • GDNC seize over 30 million pills after investigation into a criminal network

RIYADH: Saudi anti-narcotics authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than 30 million amphetamine pills into the Kingdom.

Maj. Mohammad Al-Nujaidi, spokesperson for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, said that proactive investigation into the criminal network’s activities, which attempt to tamper with the security of the Kingdom and its youths, has thwarted an attempt to smuggle 30.3 million amphetamine pills hidden inside a cardamom container at Riyadh Dry Port.

The successful operation was launched in coordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, where the recipients of the shipment — two Saudis and two Syrians — were arrested.

Al-Nujaidi said that the preliminary legal measures have been taken against them and they have been referred to the public prosecution.

Recently, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority at Al-Haditha port also foiled eight attempts to smuggle more than 4.4 million Captagon pills into the Kingdom.

The GDNC called on members of the public to help its mission and protect society by contacting the designated number for security reports (1910), email ([email protected]) or by using the international number (00966114208417).

Whistleblowers can report smuggling and customs violations through these channels in strict confidentiality, and will receive a financial reward if their information is correct.


Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’
  • Michael Champion, regional executive VP of Informa Markets, worked alongside Steve Wiley, GM of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential
  • Michael Champion: I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region

RIYADH: With more than 20,000 visitors over three days, the inaugural @Hack conference was the largest cybersecurity event in the world in 2021, according to its organizers.

“This is only the beginning for the future digital city of the world,” Michael Champion, regional executive vice president of Informa Markets, told Arab News.

“Nowhere can you launch an event which would normally take 15 to 20 years to grow to this size in any another city, and (have) done it in one edition,” he said. “That just shows how important and right the timing was of doing an event like this in Riyadh.”

Champion worked alongside Steve Wiley, general manager of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region,” Champion said.

Black Hat is an annual cybersecurity event that brings together hackers, trainers and government agencies from around the world to share their knowledge and experience. The largest event of its kind, in 2019 it attracted representatives from almost 120 countries.

“Coming here to @Hack has been a really good experience. Black Hat’s role has been as an adviser to the @Hack team over the last few months,” Wiley said.

Comparing the event in Riyadh to the global event, Wiley added that “people will see a lot of commonalities between the Black Hat event and @Hack.”

“We have taken the formula and applied it to the local market here. It’s been a great event,” he said.

Black Hat and @Hack shared many of the same elements and were both deeply rooted in content, Wiley said, adding that the “right educational information, training and courses offered makes sure the right people are here.”

The three-day event achieved its primary goal of attracting a wide range of visitors and participants, he said.

“I think @Hack has the right foundational elements, there is a lot of people here. The cyber community in Saudi Arabia is very robust and I think it’s great we are here for the inaugural event, and I am sure that this is an event that will carry on from the strong support we are seeing,” Wiley said.

Champion added that @Hack was also one of the most diverse cybersecurity events he had ever seen.

“At least half the people here are women or girls. If I go to a cybersecurity event in America or in London, only 10 percent will be women,” he said.

“All over the world, I think there are a lot of people who have a real misconception about Saudi women.”

While the technology field in Europe and America might be seen as closed off to women, in Saudi Arabia there were crowds of young women eager to participate in the @Hack event, not only as attendees but also as speakers, Champion said.

“I can tell you, we wouldn’t sell out an event like that, the largest debut event in history, the largest cybersecurity event in the world of 2021. That doesn’t happen because there is a good team on it, that happens because of the markets, the timing and the partnerships we have,” he said.

Riyadh had the right markets and the right support to launch multiple global events in the future, Champion added.

“When an event booms to the size @Hack and Leap have, it’s only because there is real intensity behind that market. Everybody knows it,” he said.

“For so many years, Saudi has had so much wealth concentrated in hydrocarbons, but now it seems to have released it to help transform that economy into a heavyweight in technology.”

Leap is an upcoming technology event organized by Informa Markets in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. It is set to run from Feb. 1 to 3 at the Riyadh Front Expo Center.

“When it launches, it will be the largest debut tech event ever,” Champion said. “It will have thousands of companies participating.”

The CEOs of companies like Ericsson, VMware and Magic Leap, as well as the chief digital transformation officer of Huawei Enterprises, are among those set to attend, Champion said.

“You have unbelievable speakers on this, the real heavyweights of global technology are absolutely desperate to get on the speaker faculty. And the reason is that Saudi is a booming market,” he added.

“Saudi is the right market, it’s a very lucrative and attractive market for many companies wanting to be a part of these megaprojects because they know they are seismic.”


Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases
  • A Saudi passenger arriving in the Kingdom is isolating after testing positive for the omicron COVID-19 variant
  • Woman arriving in the UAE from African country through Arab state also tests positive for new COVID-19 variant

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE confirmed on Wednesday their first cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

A passenger coming from a north African country was identified as the Kingdom's first case while Emirates News Agency said that a woman arriving in the UAE from an African country through an Arab state was the country's first case.

The woman is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and is isolating, WAM reported. People she has been in contact with are also isolating and she is not exibiting any symptoms. 

Saudi Press Agency said that the Kingdom's first case was detected in a Saudi passenger and that he was isolating along with those who had been in contact with him. 

“An epidemiological investigation has started and the case was sent to quarantine, where accredited health procedures were followed,” SPA said.

A health official from Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has called on people to get both doses of a COVID-19 jab and for travelers to adhere to quarantine and testing protocols upon their arrival.

The spread of the latest variant comes as Saudi Arabia’s ban on direct travel from several countries ended, with the Kingdom continuing to relax pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Travelers from six countries — India, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil and Vietnam — can now arrive in the Kingdom without having to spend 14 days outside those countries before entering Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia’s flight ban ends for travelers from India, Egypt, Pakistan

Saudi Arabia’s flight ban ends for travelers from India, Egypt, Pakistan
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s flight ban ends for travelers from India, Egypt, Pakistan

Saudi Arabia’s flight ban ends for travelers from India, Egypt, Pakistan
  • Travelers will need a valid PCR certificate and register on the Qdoom platform 72 hours before their flight

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ban on direct travel from several countries ended on Wednesday, as the Kingdom continues to relax pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Travelers from six countries — India, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil and Vietnam — can now arrive in the Kingdom without having to spend 14 days outside those countries before entering Saudi Arabia.

The travelers will need a valid PCR test certificate and must register on the Qdoom platform 72 hours before their flight departs.

They will also need to enter institutional quarantine for five days when they arrive, regardless of their immunization status outside of the Kingdom, and will need to take tests on the first and fifth days of their quarantine.

Though Saudi Arabia has eased travel from some destinations, it has been forced to implement new restrictions on some African countries after a concerning new COVID-19 variant, omicron, was detected in South Africa last week.