Riyadh Season activities welcome 6 million visitors

Riyadh Season activities welcome 6 million visitors
The pace of entertainment has increased in its various zones, with international events and shows, concerts and festivals for local and international visitors. (SPA/File)
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Updated 09 December 2022

Riyadh Season activities welcome 6 million visitors

Riyadh Season activities welcome 6 million visitors

RIYADH: Riyadh Season recorded six million visitors since its launch on Oct. 21, organizers have said.

The pace of entertainment has increased in its various zones, with international events and shows, concerts and festivals for local and international visitors.

The activities have been offered in The Groves, Riyadh Sky, Little Riyadh, Al Murabba, Qariat Zaman, Riyadh Zoo, Fun Festival, Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Riyadh Front and Al-Suwaidi Park, whose activities ended on Monday.

During the last month, the turnout for the activities of Riyadh Season doubled with the opening of its largest area, Boulevard World, which includes 10 cultural subzones, in addition to themed experiences from different countries around the world. 


Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
Updated 11 sec ago

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi explains the appeal and cultural significance of jareesh and maqshush
  • They were recently named by the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission as the Kingdom’s national dish and dessert

The Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission announced this month that jareesh has been selected as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and maqshush as its national dessert.

Jareesh is a slow-cooked dish of cracked wheat, vegetables and a sauce, with the optional addition of lamb. Maqshush is made of buckwheat bites topped with some combination of ghee, honey, dates, molasses and sugar.

The commission’s announcement forms part of its National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which seeks to identify and celebrate popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture. It will include research to discover which dishes best represent each region, the results of which are due to be announced later in the year.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi, an internationally renowned Saudi executive chef, welcomed the initiative, which he said will showcase traditional dishes and ensure they are at the forefront of the Saudi Culinary scene.

Al-Oraifi, who is a member of the World Master Chefs Society and the founder of Kit Catering, said that jareesh originated in the central Najd region and there is more than one variety.

“Usually, we cook it with laban (buttermilk), so it is known as white jareesh,” he said. “We also have a second kind of jareesh, which is from Hail (in north-western Saudi Arabia), and it is red because we cook it with tomato sauce.”

The distinctive flavors of the dish come from its topping of ghee, caramelized onions and lemon powder, he added.

The selection of jareesh as national dish reflects its popularity across Saudi society, the Culinary Arts Commission said, and references to it can be found in heritage books dating back centuries. It is considered one of the most important dishes in Saudi heritage and is known as “master of dishes,” it added.

Al-Oraifi said that the main reason jareesh is so popular is because people in the Najd region historically ate wheat rather than rice because it required fewer resources.

“Jareesh is a traditional dish everyone likes, young and the old,” he said. “The dish is filled with different flavors; it is kind of salty, a little bit sour because of the buttermilk, and you can eat it during winter or summer.”

According to the commission, the dish is typically served on a variety of occasions, mainly happy ones, and though it originated in the central region it spread throughout the Kingdom.

Maqshush, meanwhile is a dessert typically served as breakfast in Saudi households, and comprises wheat flour, ghee and honey or sugar. It is particularly popular during the winter. According to the commission, the history of the dish dates back more than a century and it is commonly served with Saudi coffee.

Al-Oraifi — who is also a member of the World Association of Master Chefs, the Emirates Culinary Guild, Latin American gastronomic association Aregala International, and the Saudi Arabian Chef Association — is pleased that the dessert, which originated in Hail, is being recognized.

“Maqshush also is made from wheat,” he said. “We mix two kinds of flower in Maqshush: white and brown.”

He added that it is a popular breakfast dish because the wheat, ghee and honey provide energy and power.

In addition to their widespread popularity, the authenticity of their flavors, and their significance in Saudi culture, jareesh and maqshush were chosen as national dishes because they are simple to prepare using ingredients that are readily available, the commission said.

According to “Saveurs d’Arabie” (“Flavors of Arabia”), a cookbook published recently by the commission and Cassi Edition, maqshush might be considered a combination of pancakes and bread because of its taste and texture. It’s small, soft loaves are simple to make and were traditionally baked on a saj, a convex metal pan.

According to the book, the word maqshush means one who picks the smallest portion or pieces of food, which is thought to reflect the fact the dish is prepared from simple, inexpensive ingredients.

Al-Oraifi has been crowned the best chef in Saudi Arabia three times. In 2021, he was awarded first place in the culinary category at the National Cultural Awards. He was the executive chef of Suhail restaurant in Riyadh and AlUla, for which he created a unique, authentic menu.

He joined Al-Khozama group as Executive Chef in 2022 to create a contemporary Saudi menu for Maiz restaurant in Diriyah, and recently moved to Paris for the advanced study of French pastry.


Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.
Updated 25 min 18 sec ago

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Abdulaziz Alzamil is the director of talent acquisition and organization development at the Soudah Development Co. owned by the Public Investment Fund. 

His role includes overseeing design and implementation of the company structure and talent acquisition function in line with the company’s objectives. He is involved in supporting the development and implementation of HR initiatives and functions while implementing global best practices for sustainable growth. 

Before joining PIF, Alzamil was director of strategic workforce planning and HR transformation for the public sector at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development in Riyadh.  

Alzamil played a major part in enhancing government effectiveness and increasing the performance of public sector employees as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 through developing procedures that included top-down analysis, workforce planning, and workload analysis for all ministerial and non-ministerial entities. 

He also helped in developing benchmark comparisons with the public sectors around the world and designed an HR maturity assessment to provide superior employee experiences. 

Alzamil has held several leadership roles in designing and implementing recruiting strategies in telecom and IT companies such as Nokia, Jawwy, and Mobily.  

He also worked as a research assistant at California State University, San Bernardino, in the US. His area of focus mainly involved an integrative emotional intelligence model, the development of social-emotional competence assessment, and coaching competence. His research article was published in a peer-reviewed journal in the US. 

He gained a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh in 2009 and a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, San Bernardino in 2014. 

Alzamil holds a CIPD Level 7 certification and has attended many training courses, including strategic workforce planning from the Leoron Institute in Dubai, and international organizations management from the University of Geneva.
 


VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
Updated 47 min 46 sec ago

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
  • Turki Al-Sheikh inaugurates new premium destination in Saudi capital

RIYADH: VIA Riyadh is the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination that includes select restaurants, a cinema, the Kingdom’s first St. Regis Hotel, and elite shopping outlets.

Fireworks lit up the sky as Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, inaugurated VIA Riyadh, which will officially open its doors to the public in mid-February.

VIA Riyadh will offer live performances, as well as exceptional hospitality, accommodation and services to visitors seeking premium experiences. 

Construction of the area, which is built in the Salmani style, took 20 months. The Salmani design process is based on six core values outlined by King Salman: authenticity, continuity, human-centricity, livability, innovation and sustainability. Salmani architecture integrates modern lifestyles while evoking the local identity and architectural heritage of the Kingdom. 

Khaled Al-Malik, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, honored for his exceptional media career. (SPA)

Located near the Ritz-Carlton, VIA Riyadh holds a significant place in Saudi history as it was the birthplace of the Second Saudi State in the 1820s. Stones from the Tuwaiq mountains were carefully chosen and extracted to create and build the area. 

To encourage calm and serenity at VIA Riyadh, water fountains have been installed in the interiors and waterfalls intertwined with the rest of the outdoor landscape. The gentle and soothing sounds of water create an experience that enhances the picturesque natural landscape of the area. 

The inauguration ceremony witnessed the presence of a number of ministers, officials and ambassadors accredited to the Kingdom. 

VIA Riyadh will offer live performances, as well as exceptional hospitality, accommodation and services to visitors seeking premium experiences. (Twitter: @AhmedAlKhateeb)

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Saudi minister of tourism, shared on his official Twitter account: “At the invitation of my brother, His Excellency Counselor Turki Al-Sheikh @Turki_alalshikh, I was pleased to attend the opening of the @ViaRiyadh project, which includes the St. Regis Hotel for the first time in the Kingdom and a number of luxurious restaurants, which contributes to creating a unique experience for visitors and residents of the city of Riyadh, which will remain the most exciting and attractive tourist destination.”

Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Iwai Fumio said on his official Twitter account: “At the kind invitation of His Excellency the President of the General Entertainment Authority @Turki_alalshikh attended the inauguration ceremony of @ViaRiyadh last night. This site truly embodies a distinct mark in Riyadh where you enjoy a new and unique experience.”

The private ceremony also witnessed the honoring of Khaled Al-Malik, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, for his exceptional media career.


Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival
Updated 41 min 25 sec ago

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival
  • Festi worked on canceled event to mark opening of G20 summit in Riyadh
  • Italian wants a patron to help with spectacular project in several cities

ROME: One of the most famous Italian artistic directors and producers is looking to organize a festival of Saudi culture to celebrate its unique identity.

Valerio Festi envisages open-air events and installations in several cities to help mark the Kingdom’s history and culture, and its vision for the future.

Bologna-born Festi has been responsible for many international open-air celebrations based on the traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

For years he has created these spectacular events, in Europe and the Arab world, including his latest, when lights, dance, water and a huge hot air balloon were utilized to mark the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar.

The artist lived in Saudi Arabia for a few months in 2020 to work on the opening event for the G20 summit in Riyadh, but it was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

He told Arab News: “I had the opportunity of getting to know Saudi Arabia and its people directly, and to appreciate its extraordinary background of culture and traditions, an immense treasury which I believe is not known enough about abroad.

“That memory, that treasury must be publicized and become as well-known as the huge achievements of the Kingdom throughout the years. A story of success could not happen without such a background.”

He added that he is convinced that “the fashion of the Saudi past was father to the country’s present success.”

He added: “That's a story which must be told, with a festival.

“I propose myself to be the art director of that festival, which will be held in Saudi cities and brought alive by local and international artists who would perform and make their mark with lights, music, dance and other works of artistic merit.

“It would bring intensity to such a complex and rich past, which is the basis for a spectacular future.”

Festi is now looking for a patron, someone he describes as a mecenate, for his project.

He said: “I’m looking for someone who wants to organize a series of shows going on at least for one month in several Saudi cities.

“This would be a unique festival for everyone to enjoy. It would be held in open spaces and enriched with installations of Saudi artworks which would mark the dialogue of the Kingdom with its future.”

Festi is supported in his quest by the Italian Saudi Business Group, a not-for-profit association based in Milan. It has operated since 2013 in Jeddah under the patronage of the Italian Consulate General and the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

ISBG President Alessandra Serafini said: “Festi represents one of the Italian excellences in his field, and we are happy to collaborate and promote his work in Saudi Arabia.”

 


348 arrests in Saudi drug busts

348 arrests in Saudi drug busts
Updated 46 min 32 sec ago

348 arrests in Saudi drug busts

348 arrests in Saudi drug busts

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested 348 people after Border Guards intercepted attempts to smuggle large quantities of narcotics into the Kingdom.

Border Guards spokesman Col. Misfer Al-Quraini said on Wednesday that land patrols seized more than 42 tons of the stimulant khat, 661 kg of hashish, 118,517 amphetamine tablets and 318,970 tablets that are subject to medical regulation in a series of raids in Najran, Jazan, Asir, Tabuk, Makkah and Madinah.

Al-Quraini said that the arrests included 33 Saudi citizens and 315 violators of the border security system, 273 of whom were Yemenis, 38 Ethiopians, three Egyptians, and one Eritrean.

Initial legal procedures against the suspects have been completed, and the contraband has been passed on to the relevant authorities, Al-Quraini added.

The Saudi government has urged anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline at 1910, the international number 00 966 114208417, or to email [email protected] Financial rewards are available for valid tips.

Last month, Saudi authorities arrested about 800 people from the Najran, Tabuk, Jazan and Asir regions for smuggling large quantities of drugs into the Kingdom.