Rural shop in Asir offers freshly baked traditional breads

Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
Rural shop in Asir offers freshly baked traditional breads
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Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 28 May 2022

Rural shop in Asir offers freshly baked traditional breads

Elham Asiri attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh breads known as mifa and hali, among others.
  • Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders

ABHA: The aroma of freshly baked bread emanating from local bakeries and homes fills the cool air in an Asir district.

Arab News met Elham Asiri, a mother and an expert baker, who attracts visitors and locals from around the Asir region with her fresh traditional breads known as mifa and hali, among others.

Located at Al-Sawda mountain peak, about 3,133 meters above sea level on the way back to Abha, Asiri’s shop can be found on the side of a route leading to Rijal Alma, a historical village.

Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders.

She prepares large batches of dough overnight, and in the afternoon she puts them in the oven for baking. The breads are primarily made of white or brown flour, salt, yeast and water. Mifa is an oval-shaped bread that is made of brown flour without any filling, with sesame or nigella seeds on top, which gives the bread a distinct taste and flavor when baked.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dressed in traditional Asir attire, including a burqa and tafsha, and a straw boater hat to protect her from the sun, Asiri opens her shop every day at 2 p.m. with customers already lined up to give their day’s orders.

• Located at Al-Sawda mountain peak, about 3,133 meters above sea level on the way back to Abha, Asiri’s shop can be found on the side of a route leading to Rijal Alma, a historical village. 

“I offer it with many fillings such as labneh, za’atar or cream cheese and then I add a drizzle of honey to give it a twist of sweetness to those who do not prefer it the traditional way,” said Asiri, who single-handedly runs the shop.

To give the breads an authentic feel and flavor, Asiri switched to outdoor baking — like her ancestors — from using a conventional indoor oven. The outdoor traditional oven, called mwassm, is typically used by most villages in the Asir region.

“Most visitors here also order a bread called hali, which translates to ‘sugary.’ It is a brown bread made without yeast and kneaded with ghee, which gives it a strong taste. It gives the body energy and warmth in cold weather,” she said.

One of the visitors, Mohammed Asiri, told Arab News that he visits this bread shop every weekend while going to his home in Rijal Almaa. “I discovered Elham Asiri’s bread shop three years ago, and since then I pass by to pick up my favorite order on my way back to and from Rijal Alma. We love the bread she offers; it is so fresh and tasty. I usually order hali with cheese filling, extra roasted, and a cup of red tea; and I enjoy it so much during the ride,” he said.

Another visitor, Bodour Aggad, who is originally from Jeddah but lives in Abha for work, said that she found out about Asiri’s shop while she was looking for a good mountain view in Ramadan on her way back from Al-Sawda. “Some cars were crowded at a place and it caught my attention; I stopped out of curiosity to find Asiri baking fresh bread on order. I tried it and fell in love with it,” she said.

Aggad said that whenever her family or friends visit Abha, she makes sure to introduce them to this rural bread shop to complete their experience. “Asiri’s shop is unique as she kneads and bakes the bread and serves it hot to her visitors once she receives an order, unlike other food booths who offer you the bread ready-made at home.”

Asiri also offers her customers pastries with different kinds of fillings, in addition to hot milk, Saudi coffee, and karak tea. She laughingly said that in the past, women of the region had to master the art of bread making to be able to get married.


Saudi Arabia announces vital developmental projects in Yemen

Saudi Arabia announces vital developmental projects in Yemen
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Arabia announces vital developmental projects in Yemen

Saudi Arabia announces vital developmental projects in Yemen
  • Initiatives include 17 development projects in 6 sectors, valued at $400 million
  • A further $200 million will provide oil derivatives to operate power stations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has announced a number of vital developmental projects in Yemen to bolster the economy, the Kingdom’s deputy defense minister said on Thursday.

“The initiatives include 17 development projects in 6 sectors, valued at $400 million, in addition to $200 million in oil derivatives for power stations,” Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted.

The projects will be carried out by the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen and aim to help the Yemeni people.

Prince Khalid met with the President of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi and members of the council to convey the Kingdom’s support and appreciation for their efforts.

The deputy defense minister said Saudi Arabia is committed to alleviating the suffering in Yemen and achieving security, peace, stability, and economic development.


Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com
  • Local artisans will be able access to a larger consumer audience through the Noon Mahali program

RIYADH: The Heritage Commission on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement with Noon, an online shopping platform, to empower local businesses in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

A ceremony was held at the Commission's headquarters to commemorate this partnership, which was attended by Heritage Commission CEO Dr. Jasir Suleiman Alherbish and General Manager of Noon KSA, Ahmed Abdel Qader Gadouri.

Under this agreement, Saudi artisans will be able to sell craft products and cultural heritage content online, gaining access to a larger audience through Noon's Mahali program.

The program also aims to assist local entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses improve their product quality.

Dr. Alherbish thanked Noon for its cooperation, emphasizing the significant benefits gained through the agreement.

He also made note of the Commission's numerous initiatives to develop the handicraft sector, such as training programs and providing a consumer audience through outlets, exhibitions, events, and festivals.

"Our collaboration with the Heritage Commission demonstrates our ongoing commitment to assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses. The Mahali program helps local talent grow their businesses by providing them with the tools and services they need to reach a larger segment of customers in the region." Gadouri said.

The Noon Mahali program exemplifies the company's founding goal of empowering local talent through the development of a strong e-commerce platform.

The agreement is part of the Heritage Commission's broader efforts to strengthen partnerships with the public and private sectors as part of the Kingdom's cultural sector development.


Saudi Arabia offers global forum a vision of a new urban future

Saudi Arabia offers global forum a vision of a new urban future
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Arabia offers global forum a vision of a new urban future

Saudi Arabia offers global forum a vision of a new urban future
  • The Kingdom’s Architecture and Design Commission took part in the recent forum with a display featuring the King Salman Charter for Architecture and Urbanism
  • Among the charter’s aims is the creation of memorable buildings and spaces that integrate cultural and national identity

RIYADH: An exhibition outlining Saudi Arabia’s future urbanization strategy may inspire a new community-focused approach to architecture following its debut at the 11th World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland.

The Kingdom’s Architecture and Design Commission took part in the recent forum with a display featuring the King Salman Charter for Architecture and Urbanism, launched late last year to help develop the sector as part of Vision 2030.

King Salman’s architectural vision, developed during his five decades as governor of Riyadh region, was highlighted in the exhibition, which also showcased exemplary projects in the Kingdom.

Among the charter’s aims is the creation of memorable buildings and spaces that integrate cultural and national identity, as well as contemporary designs that meet the needs of local communities.

The commission hopes to increase awareness of the charter, and inspire architects and designers worldwide in line with the forum’s theme “Transforming Our Cities for a Better Urban Future.”

A panel discussion on the charter brought together CEO of the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission Sumayah Al-Solaiman, founder of Dabbagh Architects Sumaya Dabbagh, and Arup Group’s director of master planning and urban design Daniel Ringelstein.

Al-Solaiman said: “Our participation at WUF 2022 opens new horizons for applying the charter and presents an excellent opportunity to introduce the international public to its methodology. By showcasing the ways in which the charter has already improved the built environment, we highlighted the range of circumstances in which the charter can be applied to improve quality of life not only in Saudi Arabia, but also further afield.”

This is the exhibition’s first international appearance after touring through five cities in Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Abha, Jeddah, Dhahran and Madinah.

The World Urban Forum was established in 2001 by the UN to examine the growing global issue of rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies and climate change.


First group of Omani pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj

First group of Omani pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj
Updated 30 June 2022

First group of Omani pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj

First group of Omani pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj
  • The pilgrims’ entry procedures were completed with ease
  • Thursday marks the start of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the month during which Hajj is performed

RIYADH: The first group of Omani pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom through the Empty Quarter port ahead of Hajj, Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Thursday marks the start of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the month during which Hajj is performed. The first day of Hajj, 8th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, will fall on July 7, and the pilgrimage will end on the 12th day of the month (July 11). Arafat Day falls on the 9th day of Dhu Al-Hijjah (July 8).

The pilgrims’ entry procedures were completed with ease, and the General Directorate of Passports is supporting sites designated to serve pilgrims with modern technical devices and qualified employees so that procedures are completed without delay, SPA said.


Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters
  • Illegal online adverts included providing transportation to the holy sites securing sacrifices for pilgrims

RIYADH – Saudi authorities arrested 15 people in two separate operations for offering fraudulent Hajj-related services, state news agency (SPA) reported.

Makkah police arrested seven residents of different nationalities for promoting fake services on social media involving Hajj performed on behalf of others.

The illegal online adverts also included providing transportation to the holy sites and hotels, as well as securing and distributing sacrifices for pilgrims, according to the SPA statement.

In a separate operation, Riyadh police detained seven residents for offering fake transportation services for pilgrims to Makkah. Another resident was detained for running an unlicensed website in Riyadh to promote fraudulent Hajj campaigns.  

The fraudsters were detained and referred to public prosecution.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah earlier warned against suspicious sites and social media accounts offering unauthorized Hajj-related services, stressing that the ministry's online platforms are the only official channels to book Hajj campaigns inside the Kingdom.