Taste of pride: Saudi coffee transcends tradition 

Special Every evening, fresh coffee is brewed and served in a dallah, a traditional coffee pot. (AN Photo)
Every evening, fresh coffee is brewed and served in a dallah, a traditional coffee pot. (AN Photo)
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Updated 29 September 2022

Taste of pride: Saudi coffee transcends tradition 

Every evening, fresh coffee is brewed and served in a dallah, a traditional coffee pot. (AN Photo)
  • Time-honored blend has become part of Kingdom’s identity

RIYADH: “Cardamom, cloves, ginger and a pinch of saffron — that’s the scent that envelops me as my grandparents rush us into their dining room, teasing us that, once again, we’ve barely made it on time,” 16-year-old Lana Ghassan said. 

That comforting aroma, reminiscent of home and family, is often associated with hospitality, generosity and welcoming hugs at formal family gatherings and occasions.

For many, it is a tradition. Every evening, fresh coffee is brewed and served in a dallah, a traditional coffee pot.

“When I inhale that specific scent, it takes me to a very special memory of mine; my parents, brother, aunties and cousins gathered around to break our fast as the muezzin calls for prayer every Ramadan,” Ghassan told Arab News.

Today, Saudi coffee has transcended tradition to become part of Saudis’ self-identity. In a blend of nostalgia and modernity, it has become a matter of national pride for a generation that relies on the beverage as an everyday necessity.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a boom in the coffee industry, with new cafes and roasteries opening up in the malls and streets of the Kingdom.




The Saudi Coffee Company was launched in May to develop the national industry and promote Saudi coffee beans as a global product. (Supplied)

Coffee consumption in Saudi Arabia increased by 4 percent annually from 2016 to 2021, and is expected to grow by 5 percent each year until 2026, according to data from Euromonitor.

The commercial name of Arabic coffee was changed to Saudi coffee following a Ministry of Commerce announcement early in the year.

In May, the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund launched the Saudi Coffee Company to develop the national industry, boost production capacity, and promote Saudi coffee beans as a global product.

As the government makes investments into the production and promotion of coffee, local cafes have been quick to embrace Saudi coffee, adapting and adding it to their range of specialty coffees.

Toqa Coffee, for instance, serves spiced coffee, such as saffron latte and cardamom cappuccino. Its “toqaccino” Saudi coffee, which offers a new twist on the traditional drink, is gaining popularity among customers.

These “modern blends” help coffee shops garner attention and demonstrate the creativity of the coffee industry, said Abdullah Al-Shareef, coffee specialist at the Wide Awake coffee shop in Jeddah.

“Saudi coffee has become popular with the current generation,” he said, adding that coffee shops are creating new flavors to meet and bolster demand.

Another cafe, Bafarat, was established in 1952, and today serves everything from artisan coffee to traditional Saudi coffee at outlets in Jeddah and London.

The cafe blends, roasts and distributes daily from its roasting plant to ensure the freshest coffee possible. Its Saudi coffee, lightly roasted and infused with fragrant cardamom and saffron, is served in a dallah.

The swanky new Azha Cafe in the House Hotel in Jeddah is part of local company Caffeine Lab, which specializes in everything from professional equipment costing thousands of riyals to everyday coffee accessories and beans. 

“Caffeine Lab is a local specialty coffeeshop that went the extra mile to create a separate cafe called Azha, which specializes in Saudi coffee,” barista Ridhwan Al-Momen told Arab News. 




The swanky new Azha Cafe in the House Hotel in Jeddah is part of local company Caffeine Lab. (Supplied)

“Our specialty Saudi coffee is harvested from Caffeine Lab’s premium crops, to ensure the freshest coffee blend is served to the customer,” he added.

Suhaib Bahassan, co-founder of Bancam, a casual dining restaurant in Riyadh that serves specialty breakfast and coffee, said: “Saudi coffee is an integral part of people’s daily lives, and has become a cornerstone in meetings, homes and outside.”

Saudi coffee “is a wonderful example of hospitality in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

It is especially popular among young people, and because “the current generation is open to development” with regards to Saudi coffee, the drink will become the “preferred coffee for the current and future generation.”

More than a symbol of pride for Saudi Arabia, Saudi coffee has spread around the Kingdom and beyond to become a part of every Saudi’s self-identity.

A Cup of Gahwa
The taste and traditions of Saudi coffee

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Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
Updated 8 sec ago

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
  • Xi Jinping’s Saudi visit is expected to result in new strategic partnerships worth $29 billion
  • Plans are underway to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have both embraced technological innovation and digital transformation as a means of broadening their economies, creating new ways of doing business, and competing globally in what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution.

As an emerging tech giant, China has made immense strides in robotics, artificial intelligence, and space science, as well as internet and 5G connectivity, construction and engineering, and green renewable technologies, particularly solar.

Although several developed and emerging economies have made similar bounds in science, engineering, computing, and technology, few have matched the pace and the extent of change seen in China over the past decade alone.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade, and a robust digital economy, which has increased in value from 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) to 45.5 trillion yuan.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade. (AFP)

China’s success is a reflection of its clearly set societal goals, which include attaining and sustaining economic growth, implementing a mass campaign of domestic poverty alleviation, and promoting technological innovation.

Utilizing technology and embracing digital transformation are widely viewed as effective means with which to accelerate economic and social development in an inclusive, dynamic, and cybersecure fashion.

Saudi Arabia has adopted this model, shifting several government and private-sector functions online with a view to providing seamless service delivery, improve end-user experiences, and to foster innovation.

Similarly, after four decades of technological and digital advancement, Chinese consumers have become a hyper-adaptive and hyper-adoptive community, making China one of the world’s most competitive markets on the digital frontier.

In Saudi Arabia, the government has developed a series of five-year plans to replace traditional processes with secure, efficient, and accountable digital platforms to provide high-quality public services, from licensing and permits to welfare and charitable donations.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025, the highest in the world, accounting for 21.7 percent of national spending, according to the Digital Government Authority.

This year, China spent 2.44 percent of its gross domestic product, approximately $441 billion, on research and development, and is aiming for 10 percent of its GDP to come from the digital economy by 2025 — up from 7.8 percent in 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025. (AFP)

In its own race to become a regional tech hub and global leader in innovation, Saudi Arabia was also set to add nearly $16 billion to its GDP by 2040 through its research and development program.

In September, speaking at the G20 Digital Economy Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Abdullah Al-Swaha, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, said investment in these areas was crucial to sustainable economic development.

One of the Kingdom’s goals, outlined in its social reform and economic diversification agenda, Vision 2030, was to become one of the world’s top 10 countries in the Global Competitive Index by the end of the decade, rising from its current position of 24th.

Although China was already Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, this week’s visit by President Xi Jinping was expected to see a flurry of new deals and strategic partnerships worth $29 billion and a plan to harmonize Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Digital Silk Road is the technological arm of the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been forecast to add $255 billion to regional GDP and create 600,000 technology-related jobs across the Gulf Cooperation Council area.

Earlier this year, China issued its 14th five-year plan for the development of the digital economy, setting out proposals to actively engage with the EU, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African countries, and Belt and Road countries on digital economy policy.

Analysts consider the Middle East and North Africa region a critical commercial link to European and African markets, making Saudi Arabia and its GCC neighbors vital strategic partners for China’s digital expansion.
 


Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday
Updated 34 min 4 sec ago

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday

Mawhiba’s 2nd global talent conference kicks off in Jeddah on Saturday
  • The conference aims to inspire and empower talented youth from around the world to shape the future
  • Young creatives from all over the world are expected to participate in the conference alongside their Saudi peers

JEDDAH: On behalf of King Salman, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, will inaugurate on Saturday the second edition of the Global Conference for Giftedness and Creativity, which Jeddah will be hosting from Dec. 10 to 14.
The conference, organized by the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, known as Mawhiba, will be held under the theme “Journey Toward the New Future.”
The conference aims to inspire and empower talented youth from around the world to shape the future and to engage them in building a platform to address global challenges.
Young creatives from all over the world are expected to participate in the conference alongside their Saudi peers, where they will work in teams to come up with solutions to the world’s sustainable development challenges.
Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa said that the conference seeks to develop the Kingdom’s global leadership in supporting and nurturing talented youth.
Many world experts are participating, along with representatives from leading companies and universities, including the Saudi Basic Industries Corp., Aramco, NEOM, the King Abdullah University and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
A selection of keynote speakers will deliver lectures, including Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, Saudi minister of education; Dr. Robert Lee Satcher Jr. an American physician, chemical engineer and former NASA astronaut; and Sir Geoff Mulgan, professor of collective intelligence, public policy and social innovation at University College London.
Among the panelists are Prof. Tony Chan, president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen, president of the European Council for High Ability; Dr. Andreas Cangellaris, president of NEOM University; and Dr. Arif Ansari, a transformational leader and foresight business analytics expert.
In a short video posted on Twitter by Mawhiba, Mulgan, who also was CEO of the UK’s innovation foundation Nesta from 2011 to 2019, said that he will be speaking about how collective intelligence can support gifted people to realize their ideas and contribute to solving the world’s biggest challenges.
The conference will feature an “idea-thon” aimed at developing an idea-generating platform that will contribute qualitative solutions to the different problems facing societies in the future.
The first edition of the conference was held in the Saudi capital under the theme “Imagine the Future 2020” and was inaugurated by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz.
The 2020 conference tackled virtual reality and its impact on human development. It also focused on expanding international cooperation with the aim of developing human capital to confront global challenges.
 


Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah
Updated 07 December 2022

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah

Red Bull Mobile hosts global bike shows in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah
  • Athletes Viki Gomez, Kenny Belaey and Senad Grosic put on exceptional performances
  • BMX stars expressed their admiration for ‘magnificence of Saudi cities’

JEDDAH: Residents of Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah enjoyed an unforgettable three-day event thanks to Red Bull athletes Viki Gomez, Kenny Belaey and Senad Grosic, who participated in an international BMX biking show hosted by Saudi Arabia from Nov. 17-19.
Rally champion and media personality Sultan Hamdi hosted the event, while international DJ Mosaken performed a high-energy set.
On the first day, the shows were held in front of the Red Bull Mobile store in Al-Gosaibi Village in Alkhobar, while on the following day, they moved to the U Walk in Riyadh. The closing ceremony took place in Jeddah, in front of the Red Bull Mobile store at Le Prestige Mall.
During the second leg of the event, held in the capital, the three athletes expressed their delight at coming to the Kingdom and interacting with the crowds.
Gomez spoke of the “magnificence of the Saudi cities” that he visited.
“I’m in awe of this place. The audience was amazing,” he said, adding that the enthusiasm of the public raised the “caliber of the performances.”
He said: “It’s sad the event has come to an end and time has gone by so quickly, and I will miss Saudi Arabia very much.”
Meanwhile, Belaey expressed his admiration for the commercial center in Riyadh, which he visited several times, pointing to the great growth the Kingdom has witnessed.
He said: “Traveling around Saudi Arabia is a wonderful thing, and especially putting on shows in front of diverse people and cultures, and getting immersed in the vibe of different, interesting cities and sites.”


Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects
Updated 07 December 2022

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects

Saudi hospital named one of the world’s best mega projects
  • King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center in Madinah boasts range of services with focus on oncology, ophthalmology, obstetrics

RIYADH: King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center’s Al-Madinah Mega Project has been named by the Project Management Institute as one of the world’s best three schemes in the Large and Mega category.

The award recognizes projects with a budget of more than $50 million that seek to encourage superior management practices and organizational results while also having a positive impact on society.

The PMI chapter in Saudi Arabia named it as its Social Project of the Year.

The hospital and research center utilizes cutting-edge medical technology and offers a full range of services with a focus on oncology, ophthalmology, and obstetrics.

The complex spans some 331,000 sq. meters, and has a 300-bed capacity.

 


Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
Updated 07 December 2022

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
  • Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park
  • The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day

RIYADH: As part of the Philippines Embassy’s initiative to celebrate the 53rd diplomatic anniversary with Saudi Arabia, the embassy recently took part in the “Let’s Make it Green” afforestation initiative being implemented by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification across the Kingdom.
Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park, 100 km east of Riyadh.
The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day, which takes place annually on Dec. 5. This year’s theme is “Solidarity through volunteering.” According to the website of the UN Volunteers program, which coordinates IVD, the campaign “highlights the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.”
Rommel Romato, charge d’affaires at the embassy, said: “The Filipino’s sense of volunteerism and commitment to environmental sustainability transcend our borders. Our dynamic Filipino community in Saudi Arabia fully supports the Saudi Green Initiative programs by undertaking clean-up drives and tree planting activities, among others.”
Amal Al-Daej, international relations and strategic partnership adviser of the NCVC, said: “The government of Saudi Arabia has decided to overcome environmental and ecological limitations through different initiatives. The most prominent among them is the Saudi Green Initiative which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021. It aims to plant 450 million trees by 2030 — with a long-term target of 10 billion trees.
“This initiative foresees that afforestation and land-restoration measures will increase the Kingdom’s forestry sink to over 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. Besides that, it is envisaged that the protected areas shall be increased to 30 percent of the total land area of Saudi Arabia by 2030.
Similar climate initiatives are also planned under the Middle East Green Initiative at the regional level, Al-Daej added.
She said: “Obviously it is difficult to draw comparisons between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia regarding the management of natural resources since it is a tropical country. Almost 90 percent of the total 25 percent forest cover of the Philippines is planted. We may learn from the plantation activities in mangrove forests in the Philippines, and also about nursery techniques for raising tree seedlings.
“The measures being taken by the Philippines to control the sharp rate of decline in forest cover over the past few decades would also be useful for us. Similarly, knowledge sharing may also be possible in regard to the management of protected areas.
“We very much appreciate the efforts being made by the volunteers from the Philippines. Indeed, the message to improve green cover through this event will help to encourage others to join in our efforts for greening Saudi Arabia,” Al-Daej added.