Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo
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The exhibition featured live painting and plastic painting displays that shed light on the world of tea. (AN by Hebshi Alshammari)
Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo
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People visit the tea stands at the Tea Colors International Exhibition which wrapped up on Tuesday in Riyadh. (AN by Hebshi Alshammari)
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Updated 25 May 2022

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo

Enthusiasts flock to Saudi tea expo
  • There was strong competition between various Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas at the event
  • Tea, along with coffee and dates, is one of the drinks traditionally offered as a show of hospitality in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Tea aficionados got the chance to taste all manner of varieties of their favorite beverage at the Tea Colors International Exhibition, which wrapped up Tuesday at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

There was strong competition between various Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas at the event, attended by producers from the region and beyond, including Kuwait, Qatar, and local entrepreneurs.

Tea, along with coffee and dates, is one of the drinks traditionally offered as a show of hospitality in Saudi Arabia.

The four-day exhibition featured approximately 40 local and foreign enterprises specializing in producing and importing tea from all over the world. The exhibition also displayed nuts, citrus fruits, and a variety of other goodies that go with tea, the favorite drink of millions of people worldwide.

Visitors were eager to try teas without sugar in particular, because it “makes you appreciate the actual taste” of tea, according to Fawaz Al-Daoud from Al-Kharj, tea drinker since childhood and a devotee of Kenyan tea.

Al-Daoud’s colleague, Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, accompanied him, though he admitted he was more interested in coffee than tea, and was pleased that there were plenty of stalls that displayed coffee as well to cater to his needs.

Omar, a 30-year-old Riyadh native, enjoys drinking tea and favors it piping hot. He walked his family enthusiastically between the pavilions, featuring brands including Al-Ghada, Rabea, Abu Jabal, and Al-Munayes from Kuwaiti, Mumtaz from Oman, and many more.

The Tea Colors International Exhibition is Saudi Arabia’s first exhibition dedicated to tea and related supplies, such as baked products and nuts. According to the exhibition’s communications officer, Yazeed Al-Sarhani, approximately 13,000 people attended the event in the first three days.

The exhibition also featured live paintings and displays that shed light on the world of tea, emphasizing the significance of International Tea Day and its objectives, which is observed on May 21 of each year.

According to Al-Sarhani, the exhibition intends to showcase the cultural side of tea, one of the world’s greatest consumer markets.

“Through this show, which brings together producers, suppliers, and customers under one roof,” he said, “we hope to be the first destination for this product to develop and improve it, achieve the consumers’ taste, and match their desires.”


Madinah welcomes nearly 345,000 Hajj pilgrims

Madinah welcomes nearly 345,000 Hajj pilgrims
Updated 01 July 2022

Madinah welcomes nearly 345,000 Hajj pilgrims

Madinah welcomes nearly 345,000 Hajj pilgrims
  • The Kingdom is allowing up to one million people to perform Hajj this year

RIYADH: Around 345,000 pilgrims from across the world have so far arrived in Madinah to perform Hajj this year, according to official figures reported by the Saudi Press Agency on Friday.

The Kingdom is allowing up to one million people to perform Hajj this year, welcoming foreign pilgrims for the first time in two years, during which COVID-19 restrictions meant the annual pilgrimage was limited to residents of the country.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that almost 279,000 people had landed at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport since the start of the first Hajj flights, while around 66,000 pilgrims had arrived by land.

More than 265,000 pilgrims had already left Madinah and were on their way to the holy sites in Makkah, while almost 80,000 were still in the city, it said.

Authorities in Madinah are working around the clock to ensure the best experience for visitors, the ministry added.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques confirmed its readiness to receive pilgrims, saying it had mobilized 10,000 workers.

The presidency also said that live translation of the Arafat Day sermon, one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar, has been expanded to include 14 languages as Saudi Arabia’s leadership seeks to convey a message of moderation and tolerance to the widest possible audience.

The sermon will be available in English, French, Malay, Urdu, Persian, Russian, Chinese, Bengali, Turkish, Hausa, Spanish, Indian, Swahili and Tamil.


US officials led by antisemitism envoy briefed on Saudi efforts to promote tolerance

US officials led by antisemitism envoy briefed on Saudi efforts to promote tolerance
Updated 01 July 2022

US officials led by antisemitism envoy briefed on Saudi efforts to promote tolerance

US officials led by antisemitism envoy briefed on Saudi efforts to promote tolerance
  • They were visiting the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, the leader of which stressed the importance of communication and dialogue in building bridges between cultures

RIYADH: A visiting US delegation led by Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Washington’s special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, was briefed this week on the work of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue.

After being welcomed to the center by its secretary-general, Abdullah Al-Fawzan, and other senior representatives, the delegates were given a brief presentation about its activities designed to promote and encourage greater tolerance among peoples.

They were also briefed on the results of the first study of its kind in the region on tolerance, carried out by the center to the highest scientific standards, which found that Saudi society is tolerant of other cultures and civilizations.

In greeting the visitors on Tuesday, Al-Fawzan stressed the importance of encouraging communication and dialogue between peoples, to help build bridges of understanding among cultures, as part of the efforts being made by the Kingdom, through its Saudi Vision 2030 development plan, to support tolerance and promote peaceful coexistence based on the principles of moderate Islam.

He said that Saudi society accepts and coexists with people from other societies and cultures, as evidenced by the large number of expatriates who live and work in the Kingdom. This shows that the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and unity are not new concepts in the country, he added.

Since its inception, the center has placed great importance in promoting the values of citizenship among among all sections of society, making it a mainstay of its work, Al-Fawzan said.

The members of the US delegation were also given a tour of the center’s Interactive Dialogue Exhibition so that they could learn more about the Kingdom’s efforts to support communications between cultures and civilizations. They also heard about local projects developed by the center to help strengthen the nation’s social fabric, and its regional and global initiatives designed to help build and enhance cultural diversity and human commonalities.


Shoura council speaker heads delegation to Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network conference

Shoura council speaker heads delegation to Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network conference
Updated 30 June 2022

Shoura council speaker heads delegation to Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network conference

Shoura council speaker heads delegation to Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network conference

RIYADH: Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Al-Sheikh is heading the Kingdom’s delegation to the first conference of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network, which began on Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan, with the participation of several parliament speakers from NAM member states.

Al-Sheikh said in a press statement that the council’s participation in the conference is an affirmation of Saudi Arabia’s keenness to achieve security, peace and sustainable development globally.

Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh is heading the Kingdom’s delegation to the first conference of the Parliamentary Network of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which began on Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Supplied)

The Kingdom’s participation also highlights its constructive partnership with other countries, the solutions it aims to provide to international crises and the humanitarian work it carries out, Al-Sheikh pointed out.

He stressed that international parliamentary conferences are essential in facing global challenges and achieving cooperation across borders.

The NAM Parliamentary Network was established on the sidelines of the 143rd General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Madrid. It aims to provide a framework for cooperation between the parliaments of NAM member states, with the participation of several other international organizations.


Local businesses looking forward to lucrative Hajj season post-pandemic

Local businesses looking forward to lucrative Hajj season post-pandemic
Updated 30 June 2022

Local businesses looking forward to lucrative Hajj season post-pandemic

Local businesses looking forward to lucrative Hajj season post-pandemic
  • The pandemic put a halt to the Hajj for two years, leading to huge losses for some families who solely depended on the pilgrimage season to reap its financial rewards

MAKKAH: Residents of Makkah benefit financially during the Hajj as millions of people from all over the world converge on the holy city to perform the annual pilgrimage.  

But the pandemic put a halt to the Hajj for two years, leading to huge losses for some families who solely depended on the pilgrimage season to reap its financial rewards.  

Elaf Al-Mashaer, a local five-star hotel, is all set to welcome over 20,000 pilgrims this year, and the team has prepared the place to be as comfortable as possible to ensure a smooth stay for guests.

“We must know the number of guests who will stay in the hotel and their nationalities so that we can provide them with what they need,” hotel owner Abdulaziz Al-Sharbeeni told Arab News.

The 304-room establishment has several restaurants to cater to guests’ palates. “Each nationality has its own culture or a certain way of eating. We have Indian, Pakistani, East Asian, and Arabic restaurants.”

(Supplied)

It has also made modifications and preparations to make the rooms and suites accessible to people with disabilities.

“Some pilgrims come alone, so we give them a room on request, while others come with their families, so we give them a suite,” Al-Sharbeeni said. “There is a target we must achieve during the Hajj season as a facility, and the most important seasons in the year to achieve these financial goals are the Ramadan and Hajj seasons.”

The Hajj season attracts a large and diverse crowd, and everyone who visits Makkah enjoys shopping for gifts. They also use taxis, hospitals, restaurants, and other services and amenities, providing locals with many economic opportunities.

“I sell gold in the local market, and Hajj season is considered our opportunity to reach the target. So I’m more than happy that Hajj is back because we miss the pilgrims and we love interacting with them and welcoming them,” said Ahmed Al-Suliman.

Al-Suliman said there were more opportunities for work during the Hajj as significant manpower was required to serve, manage, and help with the influx of pilgrims.

“The people of Makkah, in particular, want to take advantage of the Hajj season. Young and old are working this season, and even if someone sells a bottle of water for SR1 ($0.27), he will earn a lot of money. You can apply for seasonal field jobs through the website of the Ministry of Hajj and the official platforms.”


Program launched to measure pilgrims’ satisfaction during Hajj

Program launched to measure pilgrims’ satisfaction during Hajj
Updated 30 June 2022

Program launched to measure pilgrims’ satisfaction during Hajj

Program launched to measure pilgrims’ satisfaction during Hajj
  • Guests will be assigned incognito to help evaluate Hajj services according to a pre-studied scientific methodology

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has launched a performance initiative aimed at measuring pilgrims’ satisfaction at service provision during this year’s Hajj season.

Assistant deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Hesham Saeed, signed a joint cooperation agreement with acting secretary-general of the coordination council, Dr. Abdullah Al-Muwaihi, in relation to the program.

Al-Muwaihi said the monitoring scheme would involve measuring quality-of-service performance and beneficiary satisfaction, while also including an incognito guest program, all designed to improve and enrich worshippers’ spiritual experience.

Under the incognito initiative, Saeed said a designated guest would, “serve as a pilgrim under mission, who lives the full experience of Hajj, starting from the country of the pilgrim, passing through the holy sites, and performing the rituals until they return to their country.

“The assigned incognito guest will be living all the details, seeing what contact points they pass through, and will give an evaluation according to a pre-studied scientific methodology regarding the measurement criteria,” he added.