Celebrities discuss acting, Saudi fans and Jeddah’s heat at Stan Lee’s Super Con

Lauren Ridloff said that this was her first convention ever. (Supplied)
Lauren Ridloff said that this was her first convention ever. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 June 2022

Celebrities discuss acting, Saudi fans and Jeddah’s heat at Stan Lee’s Super Con

Lauren Ridloff said that this was her first convention ever. (Supplied)
  • Cassidy, who plays a very physical role in The CW television series “Arrow” as Black Canary, told Arab News staying in shape is vital at all times

JEDDAH: Stan Lee’s Super Con saw fans in Saudi Arabia meet celebrity actors, musicians, and cosplayers from all over the world, who came to the Jeddah Superdome for the centenary event celebrating the late American comic book writer Stan Lee.

Mike Bundlie, the convention’s producer, told Arab News that he loved the fact that the Saudi fans are enjoying these events so much. “The beauty of movies and comics is that it appeals to everybody, and the fact that the people in Saudi are just as interested is really important for people in the US to know,” adding that every celebrity who has been to the conventions has been amazed by the reception.

Hollywood celebs dazzled fans on the red carpet at the event which concluded on Saturday including Zachary Levi, known for playing the superhero Shazam, “Guardian of the Galaxy” star Micheal Rooker, “Eternal” actress Lauren Ridloff, and “Arrow” star Katie Cassidy.

 

Ridloff, also known for playing Connie in “The Walking Dead,” said that Jeddah’s Super Con was especially important because it was her first time at the event. “I have to say it is amazing just to be here, I never thought my first comic-con would be in Saudi Arabia, and it’s been such an awesome experience. I loved meeting the fans yesterday, and everybody is so warm and open.”

Ridloff, who is deaf, said that she takes representing her disability on the screen seriously. She told Arab News that her role as Makkari in “The Eternals” will open doors for a lot of people all over the world who feel different to others due to their disabilities.

She added that she is excited to soon share with her fans an upcoming project with American filmmaker Ava DuVernay and Canadian-American actor Joshua Jackson.

American actor Levi, 41, told Arab News it was easy for the “Shazam” superhero to play 16-year-old Billy Batson. “Basically, I am a man-child, so I am a person who has never really grown up, a little bit like Peter Pan. So, it was not all that difficult to find myself trying to behave like a 16-year-old boy again, because I am still kind of that person in a lot of ways.”

HIGHLIGHT

Hollywood celebs dazzled fans on the red carpet at the event which concluded on Saturday including Zachary Levi, known for playing the superhero Shazam, ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’ star Micheal Rooker, ‘Eternal’ actress Lauren Ridloff, and ‘Arrow’ star Katie Cassidy.

Levi said that spending time in Toronto, enduring the biting cold in Canada where the first movie was shot, was a complete contrast to experiencing Jeddah’s summer heat for the first time.

Describing the effect that the cold of Canada had on filming, Levi said: “We had to do extra takes because we couldn’t pronounce the words that we were trying to say, but at the end of the day, we ended up making a really great movie.”

The second installment, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” — expected to be released in December — was shot in Atlanta, Georgia, which the actor said was “not as hot as it is in Jeddah in the middle of the Summer but still pretty hot.”




Zachary Levi shared how excited he was to be in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Levi added he was very excited about the second movie as it will be much better than the first, with a bigger budget and more superheroes. “We have got Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu to be the bad guys, and that’s fun, Helen Mirren is just an icon, and so is Lucy. That I got to work with them is such a treat, and I think that the script is fantastic and the action is great.”

Expressing his joy to be in the Kingdom, Levi said visiting Saudi Arabia was something he can now finally tick off his bucket list: “I got to meet new people in a new place and learnt more about this incredible world we live in, and the warmth we have received from all the fans has been incredible.”

Cassidy, who plays a very physical role in The CW television series “Arrow” as Black Canary, told Arab News staying in shape is vital at all times. “When it comes to action, I don’t like to get ready, I like to be ready. Even if I am not filming, I am constantly keeping up with fitness and health and staying in shape because that way when an action role comes, it is seamless for me.”

She stays fit through martial arts and fight training, such as kickboxing and muay thai. The actress said that doing this also helps her get into the headspace of the character, “and do more of the artistic script analysis, backstory, and focus more mentally on the character rather than just the physical part, because the physical part will hopefully already be there.”

Cassidy also thanked her Saudi fans for their loyalty to the show. “You are the reason why we are here, and I can’t even express how much gratitude I have for everyone.”




Nathan Evans, the voice behind the viral TikTok Sea Shanty "Wellerman" made an appearance on the red carpet. (Supplied)

Clive Standen, who played the brutal Rollo in the popular series “Vikings,” said that he got into acting to draw attention away from himself, so he loves playing characters where he wouldn’t even recognize himself in the mirror. This was easy for him to do in the violent historical drama-action series. “There isn’t much make-believe, you just come to set, and you feel like a Viking.”

“The type of character I play, he is far removed from me, but I have to ask some dark and deep questions about myself and put them up on the screen. I don’t take the character home with me. I hang him up on the door and come to the carpet and play tickle fights with my son.”

The actor said that this was the furthest he had flown to meet his fans, a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles to Jeddah. Standen shared some of his future projects as well, saying that he will be in a horror movie called “Possessions,” which he described as being like “The Shining” but with a twist.

He will also be in the video game “Space Marine 2,” where he described his character to be, a “two meters tall, 400-pound, crazy space marine.”

Lexi Rabe, a 9-year-old actress, known for playing Tony Stark’s daughter in “Avengers: Endgame” said American actor Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise, would pick on her by stealing her bagels. “What did I do about it? I found a fake bee, and I chased him with it.”

She told fans at the event: “I love you 3000.”

* * *

Zachary Levi

Basically, I am a man-child, so I am a person who has never really grown up. A little bit like Peter Pan but in a good way I think, I hope. Yeah, I have always been very much about fun. I love having fun, I like bringing fun, I love people, I love love, I just like, I love life. So, it was not all that difficult to just find myself trying to behave like a 16-year-old boy again, because I am still kind of that person in a lot of ways.

 

 

The first one we shot in Toronto Canada, in the middle of winter and it is very very cold. It is the opposite of how it feels here in Jeddah right now. That was not that fun, so we were really creating a lot of fun in a climate that was not very fun. In fact, there were some nights where it was so cold. I and young Jack Grazer who plays young Freddie, it was so cold some nights that our mouths and our tongues started to like, basically, not freeze but they were moving very slowly because the cold will do that and we had to do extra takes because we couldn’t pronounce the words that we were trying to say like that kind of cold. But at the end of the day, we ended up making a really great movie.

Then in the second one, we shot that in Atlanta, Georgia. Which is nearly — it’s not quite as hot as it is in Jeddah in the middle of summer, but it’s still pretty hot. So we got the two polar opposites of the weather. But I will take the heat over the cold any day.

I think you know, in the first movie nobody really knew how it was going to be received. We all hoped that it would do well and it did pretty well. It did even better, you know our initial box office was good but then a lot of people watched on-demand afterward, on streams.

Going to the movies, you know you are like, is this worth going for? I think a lot of people who didn’t go see it in the theaters initially, did see it on TV later and really enjoyed it. I think, I hope that a lot of these people are going to be like oh we definitely want to go see the next one in the theaters.

I think it will do even better because of that, but the movie itself we got more budget, we got more time, now the big fun reveals of all the kids getting superpowers, now that’s all very much established so we get a lot of older superhero versions of them in the movie which is a lot of fun.

 

 

And we have got Helen Meeren and Lucy Liu to be the bad guys and that’s really fun. Helen Meeren is just an icon and so is Lucy. They are both such icons. That I got to work with them is such a treat and I think that the script is fantastic and the action is great, I think it’s even better than the first one and that is saying something because the first one was really good.

You are awesome, you are fantastic. I was so grateful that I was invited. I was invited a few years ago to the Con in Riyadh but I couldn’t make it, so I am very very grateful that I got to come this time and experience this incredible country. I have been to the UAE before and I have been to Bahrain before, but I have never been to Saudi Arabia before so I am just checking off bucket list things, like oh I get to meet new people in a new place and learn more about this incredible world we live in, and the warmth we have received from all the fans have been incredible.

Lauren Ridloff

I have to say that a lot of doors will be open for a lot of people all over the world, who felt, you know, different than others, and I think that is what it meant to me.

 

 

I have to say it is amazing just to be here, I mean here in Saudi Arabia, I never thought my first comic con would be here in Saudi Arabia, and it’s been such an awesome experience. I loved meeting the fans yesterday and just everybody is so warm and open. I am just so happy that I am able to connect with people on that level.

I am very excited to say that there is a new project coming up with Eva Deverene and Joshua Jackson, so that is in the works currently.

Katie Cassidy

I am so excited to be here, thank you guys so much for having me. It’s beautiful. We landed at 3 in the morning and I had the best sleep. It’s exciting to be here, I just can’t wait to experience this, it looks like it’s going to be a blast.

When it comes to action I don’t like to get ready, I like to be ready.

 

 

Even if I am not filming I am constantly keeping up with fitness and health and staying in shape because that way when an action role comes it’s seamless for me. so I don’t have to worry as much about the physicality and I am still in fight training, kickboxing, and muay thai. So I just keep up with that and that way when I finally am shooting I can get into the headspace of the character and do more of the artistic script analysis and backstory and focus more mentally on the character rather than just the physical part, because the physical part will hopefully already be there.

Thank you for being such amazing loyal fans, you are the reason why we are here and I can’t even express how much gratitude I have for everyone.


Saudi minister of culture meets with Mexican counterpart

Saudi minister of culture meets with Mexican counterpart
Updated 3 min 37 sec ago

Saudi minister of culture meets with Mexican counterpart

Saudi minister of culture meets with Mexican counterpart
  • Meeting saw signing of memorandum of understanding between two sides to strengthen cooperation in cultural fields

RIYADH: Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan met with his Mexican counterpart Alejandra Frausto Guerrero during the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development, or Mondiacult, in Mexico City, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting was also attended by the Saudi ambassador to Mexico, Haytham bin Hassan Al-Malki, the General Supervisor of Cultural Affairs and International Relations Rakan bin Ibrahim Al-Touq, and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture for International Cultural Relations Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al-Kanaan.

During the meeting, Prince Badr thanked Guerrero for hosting the conference.

The meeting saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi and Mexican ministries of culture to strengthen cooperation in a variety of cultural fields, including heritage, museums, visual arts, libraries, performing arts, theater, books and publishing, translation, fashion, and culinary arts.

The MoU also included the exchange of participation in festivals and cultural events, visits between official delegations and experts in various cultural fields, and artistic residency programs between government and private institutions in the two countries, as well as facilitating the process of communication between their respective cultural authorities and intellectuals.

The memorandum included the exchange of participation in festivals and cultural events, visits between official delegations and experts, and artistic residency programs between government and private institutions in the two countries.

The two states will also work together to implement training programs, work sessions, capacity development, and seminars for specialists, intellectuals, and artists.

In addition to exchanging experiences on cultural systems, regulations, and policies, the pair will collaborate on joint strategic projects in a variety of cultural fields.

Looking forwards, Prince Badr and Guerrero discussed areas of cultural cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, as well as capacity-building in the field of heritage preservation and learning from Mexico’s experiences in this regard.


Taste of home: Coffee is now Saudis’ cup of tea

Taste of home: Coffee is now Saudis’ cup of tea
Updated 19 sec ago

Taste of home: Coffee is now Saudis’ cup of tea

Taste of home: Coffee is now Saudis’ cup of tea
  • Brew brings families and friends together in times of joy and grief

RIYADH: Roasted cardamom, cloves and saffron brewed together with lightly roasted coffee, served in a dallah (traditional coffee pot) and poured into finjals (small round cups). That is the coffee table setting of many families, bringing together generations throughout the Kingdom.

From the near-intoxicating aroma of the spices to the traditional serveware, Saudi coffee goes beyond a drink — it is a celebration of the Kingdom’s culture and heritage.

“Saudi coffee is not just a drink; it’s a part of our family traditions and values,” Noura bin Mohammed told Arab News.

“A family gathering is not a true gathering without two things: Saudi coffee and dates.”

Bin Mohammed, 22, is studying in the US, and says that, being away from home, the beverage is even more special.

“When I make Saudi coffee, the entire room smells like home, like my mom’s kitchen — the feeling is not the same with tea or espresso,” she said.

“It’s a part of our family memories.”

Saudi coffee is a celebration of the Kingdom’s culture and heritage. (Supplied)


Every Friday, her family would gather to share coffee, sweets and laughter — a ritual she misses while she is away from home.

Bin Mohammed is not alone, however, with several other Saudi students at her university yearning for the same familiar comfort.

So she established a weekly gathering with her fellow Saudi students who share a cup — or dallah — of Saudi coffee and sweets.

“I invite some of the girls over and we make coffee; everyone brings a sweet, and we just laugh and talk about the week we have had,” she said.

“It’s a nice feeling knowing I’m in Houston and my family is in Riyadh, but every Friday we’re both drinking Saudi coffee, and talking and laughing.”

Would the feeling be different if the group gathered over tea or American coffee? The gathering simply would not be complete without Saudi coffee, bin Mohammed said.

“If the ladies sat down to find American coffee in front of them, they would have jokingly asked me if I had run out of saffron or cardamom for the coffee,” she said.

Saudi coffee is customary at weddings and family celebrations in the Kingdom. (Supplied)


A small cup of coffee carries decades of history laced with love, hospitality and generosity, uniting and comforting family and friends in times of celebration and grief.

Renad Khashoggi who lives in Jeddah with her family, has Saudi coffee whenever she visits a friend’s home “because it is a traditional way of hospitality in Saudi Arabia.”

Although the drink is customary at weddings and family gatherings, it is also served at funerals, Khashoggi said.

Unlike regular tea or coffee, Saudi coffee is tied to family rituals that represent the cultural identity of the Kingdom. It is common in Saudi culture for families and friends to visit each other’s homes frequently and spend time chatting.

Over time, these gatherings have been characterized by the presence of Saudi coffee, which itself has become symbolic of the hospitality and generosity synonymous with Saudi culture.

However, while Saudi coffee’s presence is pervasive across the Kingdom, its taste is not.

“What makes it a unique experience is when we have various types of Saudi coffee from different regions,” said Jeddah resident Momena Alamoudi.

Saudi coffee is a celebration of the Kingdom’s culture and heritage. (Supplied)


Variations in beans and brewing methods have allowed Alamoudi and her friends to explore different methods and flavors.

“Actually, I’m not a coffeeholic or addicted to drinking coffee,” said Alamoudi, who only has Saudi coffee during weekend gatherings with friends and family.

That shows the drink’s purpose is not simply to deliver a “caffeine hit,” but rather allow the drinker to savor the taste, sip by sip, while spending time with their loved ones.

As Alamoudi puts it: “Saudi coffee must be there on all occasions and parties.”

The sentiment also rings true for Jeddah resident Noor Alnahdi, who associates iftars in Ramadan with the heady aroma and taste of Saudi coffee.

“We must have Saudi coffee with dates to break our fast,” she said.

Unlike any other kind of coffee or beverage, Saudi coffee comes with a sense of heritage.

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Arab News celebrates International Coffee Day with deep dive into tastes and traditions of Saudi Coffee

Arab News celebrates International Coffee Day with deep dive into tastes and traditions of Saudi Coffee
Updated 30 min 53 sec ago

Arab News celebrates International Coffee Day with deep dive into tastes and traditions of Saudi Coffee

Arab News celebrates International Coffee Day with deep dive into tastes and traditions of Saudi Coffee

A Cup of Gahwa
The taste and traditions of Saudi coffee
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LONDON: Arab News launched its latest deep dive, “A cup of Gahwa: The taste and traditions of Saudi coffee,” celebrating the Year of Saudi Coffee ahead of International Coffee Day this Saturday.

The long-form, interactive feature delves into the culture and heritage of Saudi coffee as it explores the home of Jazan’s green gold — the Khawlani bean.

Arab News partnered with Jabaliyah, the first coffee brand to originate exclusively in the Kingdom, on the deep dive and a limited edition coffee box.

“As Arab News celebrates the Year of Saudi Coffee, it’s our pleasure to partner with Jabaliyah, a speciality Saudi coffee company. Always supporting talented local business, Jabaliyah has produced delightful smooth Saudi coffee, which we are proud to partner with,” Arab News Assistant Editor-in-Chief Noor Nugali said.

Reporters traveled to Jabaliyah’s headquarters in Jazan to speak to the company’s co-founder and learn how the Khawlani bean goes from the tree to the brew.

“Arab News has been a key supporter of local authentic innovation and local startups from the get-go. We have been privileged at Jabaliyah to have had this support from them since the early days of our launch three years ago, and they continue to celebrate our endeavor as a true local content venture,” Ali Al-Sheneamer, co-founder of Jabaliyah, said.

For centuries, coffee has played a central role in the social life of Saudis. It is nothing less than a national symbol of identity, hospitality and generosity, and the focus of gatherings formal and informal, from the tents of the Bedouin of old in the deserts of Najd, to the stylish new cafes in the Kingdom’s cities.

But what some might not appreciate, even as 2022 is celebrated in the Kingdom as the Year of Saudi Coffee, is that when it comes to the planet’s most popular drink, the whole world owes a debt of gratitude to Saudi Arabia — the Khawlani bean.

Today, coffee is most closely associated with countries such as Brazil and Colombia.

But the potential of the coffee tree, which grows wild only in Ethiopia, was first recognized and developed by Arabs, as far back as the 14th century.

As William Ukers, editor of the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal in New York, wrote in “All About Coffee,” his exhaustive 1922 study: “The Arabians must be given the credit for discovering and promoting the use of the beverage, and also for promoting the propagation of the plant, even if they found it in Abyssinia (Ethiopia).”

Hundreds of years ago, discovering that the plant Coffea arabica thrived in the climate of the lush mountains of the land that would become Saudi Arabia, they brought it across the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula.

There, they successfully cultivated it on terraces cut into the flanks of the Sarawat Mountains, perfecting the art of roasting and brewing the seeds of its fruit to make the drink the world would come to know and love.

Not for nothing is the Khawlani coffee bean known in Saudi Arabia as “the green gold of Jazan.”

The bean, and the knowledge and practices related to cultivating it, occupies such a central role in the heritage and traditional social rituals of Saudi Arabia that it is now being considered for inclusion on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

According to the document submitted to UNESCO by the Ministry of Culture, the Khawlani bean is named for Khawlan bin Amir, a common ancestor of the coffee-growing tribes that live in the mountains of Jazan province

“During the harvest season,” the document says, “farmers break the monotony of the work by singing poem verses. One person sings and the group repeats after to create a harmonic rhythm as they pick coffee beans.

“Men and women both roast then grind the beans used to prepare coffee.”

Importantly, the skills are handed down from generation to generation: “Families encourage youngsters to work in the lands, starting with minor tasks, until they develop the skills and know-how needed to cultivate coffee trees and the processing of the coffee beans.”

Coffee, adds the UNESCO document, “is a symbol of generosity in Saudi Arabia,” and the tribes of Khawlani personify this “through their dedication and their passion for this practice.”

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Wake up and smell the coffee: Saudi cafes embrace a new era

Wake up and smell the coffee: Saudi cafes embrace a new era
Updated 10 min 31 sec ago

Wake up and smell the coffee: Saudi cafes embrace a new era

Wake up and smell the coffee: Saudi cafes embrace a new era
  • Creativity is key as a young generation of baristas transforms the industry

RIYADH: Arabic coffee has been officially changed to Saudi coffee in the Kingdom’s restaurants, cafes, stores and roasteries early this year.

The statement by ministry spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Hussein was made in conjunction with a Culture Ministry initiative naming 2022 as the Year of Saudi Coffee, part of moves to strengthen the Kingdom’s identity and culture.

Since the move, the number of young baristas in the Kingdom has increased, with many focusing on creative adaptations and ways of serving the traditional beverage.

Ridhwan Al-Momen wanted to work while studying, so joined the international cafe franchise the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Ridhwan Al-Momen has a passion for specialty coffee. (Supplied)

“I had humble beginnings, but when I learned about specialty coffee, I took a deep dive into this world and I can’t get out of it,” he told Arab News.

“This is how many baristas of my generation feel.”

A UNESCO article stated that “serving Arabic coffee is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies and considered a ceremonial act of generosity,”.

This is especially true in Saudi Arabia, where coffee plays a central role in an age-old tradition of hospitality. As the Kingdom attracts more tourists, Saudi coffee has become one of its most intriguing attractions.

“Saudi coffee is an important part of our lives. We grew up around it and we still serve it to guests,” said Al-Momen. 

“I think it’s a nice thing that there is a growing interest in Saudi coffee.”

The Kingdom’s large youth population means that in the year of Saudi coffee, tradition is meeting innovation. 

“They (the younger generation) took things from the older generation and gave it a modern touch with new additions,” said Abdullah Al-Shareef, who works at the Wide Awake cafe in Jeddah.

Al-Momen now works as a barista at local cafe Azha. Located in Jeddah’s House Hotel, the cafe serves a variety of teas, coffees and iced beverages, as well as croissants and desserts. Its Saudi coffee is served in a dallah, a traditional Arabic coffee pot, with dates.

“The Saudi coffee we offer is a specialty coffee that comes from expensively harvested beans, and we present it in a unique way,” he said.

Whole-roasted beans are ground and the entire recipe created from scratch, he added.

Typically, cardamom is the star of Saudi coffee, but recipes vary, with some adding cloves and saffron. Spices, beans and roasting method can vary, which means each outlet has its own coffee flavor. 

Ridhwan Al-Momen works as a barista at local cafe Azha. Located in Jeddah’s House Hotel, the cafe serves Saudi coffee in a dallah with dates. (Supplied)

At the Dubai Expo 2020, Sard Cafe offered guests a novel insight into the various types of Saudi coffee. Coffee blends from across 13 regions in the Kingdom were presented along with information cards explaining the characteristics of each.

“Coffee has become a culture,” Al-Shareef said, which means work as a barista can be highly lucrative for men and women in the Kingdom. 

As the coffee industry grows in the Kingdom, government and private organizations are investing in a range of initiatives to support and expand the sector.

In July, the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Coffee Co. on several initiatives to preserve the heritage of Saudi coffee.

Initiatives include a program to develop a media library and local culinary arts stories, as well as the designing and marketing of tourism routes to promote coffee plantations. 

The partnership will support Saudi coffee events and festivals, issue licenses to coffee experts, encourage local production, promote the company’s products in digital shops specializing in Saudi culinary arts, and set standards for processing of coffee beans.

Through partnerships with authorities associated with Saudi coffee, the endeavor aims to develop the sector, improve the quality of coffee products, empower those working and investing in coffee, and share the Kingdom’s coffee heritage with the world.

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Beyond the bean: A taste of Saudi Arabia — in a cup

Beyond the bean: A taste of Saudi Arabia — in a cup
Updated 9 min 4 sec ago

Beyond the bean: A taste of Saudi Arabia — in a cup

Beyond the bean: A taste of Saudi Arabia — in a cup
  • Saudi coffee is becoming a symbol of hospitality around the world

JEDDAH: Coffee, the ubiquitous beverage, is as varied as the beans from which it is made.

Almost every country has its unique coffee recipe offering foreigners an insight into the  culture.

The espresso originated in Italy, while drip coffee was developed in the US. And in an interesting confluence of cultures, the Americano first appeared in Italy thanks to American soldiers stationed there during the Second World War who found the espresso too strong for their taste.

There are variations in the type of coffee even within the same country. Cafe bombon and the cortado both originated in different parts of Spain. In India, South Indian filter coffee is known around the country for its milky-sweet blend of coffee and chicory.

Coffee connoisseurs analyze the origin of the beans, the freshness of the roast, the grind size and so on. But in certain parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, coffee goes beyond the bean.

Arabic coffee, or “qahwa,” differs from one country to another, with variations in the bean, roast, brew time and spices.  

Arabic coffee differs from one country to another, with variations in the bean, roast, brew time and spices. (Supplied)

Saudi coffee is no exception and is distinguished by the addition of cardamom. In some regions, spices such as cloves and saffron are added to further enhance the flavor.

The drink is not suited to takeaway mugs and drinking “on the go,” but is an experience to be savored with every sip. In line with the Kingdom’s traditional hospitality, it is often served to guests paired with dates, dried fruits, nuts or chocolate.

However, the unique spiced coffee is not for everyone. American Micha J., 45, described it as an acquired taste. He found the flavors “different” from those he was used to, but has since grown to like it.

Rommel Gregore, 57, from the Philippines, said that the flavors “did not register well at first” — possibly because he was used to drinking instant coffee. 

Saudi coffee is often served to guests at home, but is just as commonplace in the office.

Gregore was first introduced to it at work during a break, while Micha tasted it for the first time at a friend’s house, where it was served along with dates.

Saudi coffee is often served to guests at home, but is just as commonplace in the office. (Supplied)

The distinctive taste of Saudi coffee has been transported across continents, with one Toronto cafe, Hailed (Arabic for “cardamom”), serving it to customers along with dates and a tahini dip.

Much like the Kingdom itself, Saudi coffee is increasingly gaining recognition around the region and the world.

Yerin, 27, from South Korea, told Arab News: “Some countries, such as Ethiopia, are well known for their tasty coffee beans, and some, like Italy, have specialty coffee.”

Still, they all taste the same to her. “But Arabic coffee is unique and totally different from others,” she said.

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