Sahoor sorted: The food trucks and drive-thrus to visit in Saudi Arabia in Ramadan 

Sahoor sorted: The food trucks and drive-thrus to visit in Saudi Arabia in Ramadan 
Serial Griller, Jeddah
. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 March 2023

Sahoor sorted: The food trucks and drive-thrus to visit in Saudi Arabia in Ramadan 

Sahoor sorted: The food trucks and drive-thrus to visit in Saudi Arabia in Ramadan 

JEDDAH: Looking for a new late-night hangout this month? We’ve got you covered. 

Baozi, Riyadh 

This is one of the coolest pitstops to make in Riyadh’s Al-Olaya neighborhood. Asian flavors and Western concepts such as the hamburger collide here to create the most delicious hybrids. Unusual pairings include salted-caramel chicken wings, sesame-toast shrimp and brisket charcoal bao. The baos — fluffy Chinese buns — come pre-stuffed or with a side order of stuffing to allow you to get your mouthful just right. Fans of the food truck’s offerings wax lyrical about Baozi’s Shrimp of Thrones and Loca Chicken Bao. After a loaded sahoor — we recommend ordering a variety of dishes from the menu and sharing the spread with friends; the serving sizes are pretty large — top off the experience with a Hakuna Matata — fried oreo and ice cream — or, in keeping with the season, a wholesome date pudding with ice cream. It’s sure to keep you sated until iftar comes around.  

Serial Griller, Jeddah

When Saudi dentist Reham Fozi Shabana decided to ditch her day job for a food truck, little did she know she’d put together a burger joint people would rave about. Drawing from her own childhood, the Jeddah-based entrepreneur now has an eatery that suits the Arab palate; there are homemade burgers and crisp fries with toppings including Cheeto sauce and chicken sauce; chicken wraps; pancakes dripping in chocolate sauce; and, for Ramadan season, a new special: the Vimto slushy. Besides its readymade burgers such as ‘C Killer’ — with crispy chicken breast, cheese and spicy signature sauce, and B Killer, which has beef, cheese and cocktail sauce, Serial Griller also has a DIY BBQ box with food enough for six. The chain has outlets across Jeddah and can also be found on delivery apps.  

The Peak, Alkhobar 

There’s much to be said for the ambience of this chain — for one thing, there’s outdoor seating under the starlit sky. For another, there’s a pergola to add to the relaxed vibe. But even if you ignore the decor, this place serves up treats enough to draw a crowd. The large portions mean this American-style joint is perfect for sahoor with friends. The food, from burgers to the crunchy fries and cheese, is delicately smoked for that extra ounce of flavor. And for seasonal treats The Peak offers bites such as ice cream custard, with rose petals and pistachios adding a little crunch. Want to be the chef who does it himself and impresses the family while he’s at it? Order The Peak's Special Grill Combo with everything — including mayo and seasoning — for a grill-up at home.  

Mumbai On Wheels, Jeddah 

Got a hankering for some old-school Indian street food? Head over to this truck near Lulu Mall, in Jeddah’s Marwa area, where you can get pao bhaji (mixed vegetable with buns); papri chaat (small flour cakes with sweet and sour toppings); and vegetarian and non-vegetarian platters, among others. Billed as the city’s first Indian food truck, Mumbai on Wheels aims to emulate the roadside shacks back in India, complete with bright bulbs, a colorful veneer and spicy nosh straight from the Subcontinent. Favorites include the famous vada pav (deep fried potato dumpling in a bun), samosas and phirni (a sweet dish made with rice, milk, sugar and dried fruits). Just bear in mind that, like the logo, the food here is bound to be sizzling!   

X Bite, Jeddah 

There are no microwaves in this establishment, founded in 2017. The food is prepared fresh for every customer. With a simple cast of American diner favorites — burgers, crispy chicken, shakes and sodas — X Bite has won many fans and has grown to include a restaurant, but its initial outlet on Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah Road remains a big draw. X Bite also has a DIY kit, so sahoor can be a family affair minus travel. But it also goes the extra mile if you are looking for a caterer for a get-together. The team will tailor-make a menu for your guests, be they 40 or 400, they say. 

Salt, Riyadh 

The brainchild of Emirati Amal Al-Marri and Saudi Deem Albassam, Salt offers bite-sized burgers and cheesy fries but also signature delights locals will love, such as Lotus ice cream. Salt launched in the UAE back in 2014 and has expanded from the Emirates to Saudi Arabia, and has a permanent location at the U Walk complex in Riyadh. Try the classic wagyu beef burger with cheese and pickle in a buttered bun for an unforgettable meal. Salt also has trucks in Riyadh, Alkhobar, Dammam and AlUla.  

The 60 Pasta, Riyadh 

We love eating with our eyes before we eat with our mouth and this food truck delivers with bowls made of bread stuffed with delicious sauce and gooey, cheesy bites that slide down effortlessly. They aren’t stingy with their portion sizes either, so you can share your meal with that special someone. Highlights include truffle pasta, special pasta with spicy chicken, chicken Alfredo, and the signature 60 pasta bowl. Meals are made fresh and so there can be quite a long waiting time, but it’s worth it.  

Infuse, Riyadh 

Missing your daily cup of joe? Sip on classic or signature blends at this drive-thru café in Salim Ibn Moqil, An Nakheel. Unique infusions include macha latte, hibiscus watermelon, and infusion coconut latte. For food, there are buttery croissants, sandwiches, tarts and tiramisu. There’s also a place to sit, if you feel like staying a while, but service is quick and quality is unwavering; get ready for a new favorite coffee house. 

‘Kandahar’ star Ali Fazal talks filming in AlUla, working with film greats

‘Kandahar’ star Ali Fazal talks filming in AlUla, working with film greats
Updated 28 May 2023

‘Kandahar’ star Ali Fazal talks filming in AlUla, working with film greats

‘Kandahar’ star Ali Fazal talks filming in AlUla, working with film greats
  • The Indian actor spent many childhood holidays in the Kingdom, now he’s starring in ‘Kandahar,’ the first international feature to be completely shot there 

DUBAI: It’s funny how life works out. Decades ago, Indian actor Ali Fazal was just a boy spending every summer with his Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, idly dreaming that one day he might make a Hollywood movie in some far-off place. Little did he know that one day he would have a lead role in a major Hollywood blockbuster filmed in the same country that helped raise him, the first international film to be shot in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla region: “Kandahar,” starring modern action icon Gerard Butler. 

“It was such a pleasant surprise. I never thought I’d be shooting a movie in Saudi Arabia, where I spent such a large part of my childhood. Filming anything in the Kingdom was something unheard of for so long, but it’s beautiful how times change,” Fazal tells Arab News. 

“It was one of the most welcoming experiences of my career. Saudis are such a warm people — that I knew — but I was shocked when I landed. I thought I knew this country, but I’d never seen anywhere like AlUla in my life. It’s such a stunning, exotic place, and it was such a joy to call it home for those three months,” he continues.  

Fazal felt at home in more ways than one. He’s become the heir apparent to the late Irrfan Khan’s throne as the best crossover Hollywood-Bollywood actor working today. After standout performances in “Furious 7,” “Victoria & Abdul,” “Death on the Nile” and Amazon’s acclaimed ongoing action series “Mirzapur,” thriving on a set full of actors and crew from across the world has become his trademark.  

Ali Fazal with Gal Gadot in “Death on the Nile.” (Supplied)

That doesn’t mean, however, that his experience on “Kandahar” didn’t teach him a lot. While he’s used to hands-on combat sequences in “Mirzapur,” working with the same team behind Butler’s films “Angel Has Fallen” and “Greenland” brought things to a different level. To match the experience of everyone else around him, Fazal had to put in the work. 

“I ended up landing in AlUla 25 days before the rest of the cast, just so I could learn how to ride a motorcycle in this completely different setting than anything I’ve worked in before. Most of the film I’m chasing Gerry Butler, and though I knew how to ride a bike, riding a bike in the desert is a whole new game,” says Fazal.  


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While Fazal and Butler are fierce rivals on screen, off it the two shared every meal at AlUla’s Banyan Tree resort, with Butler’s playful spirit creating a tight bond between each of the cast members that continues until today.  

“(Butler) just immediately brings you into the fold. He could easily just come in, do his job and go, but he made a point to champion all of us, and that takes a lot of humility and integrity. He would come up to me every day and say, ‘I saw your rushes, and they’re good but I think we can take it in a different direction.’ He always had great notes. He made the film better, and he made me better,” says Fazal. 

“We had this tight-knit little community by night, and by day I think the people of AlUla thought there were earthquakes coming through, because of the hardcore action mayhem we were creating,” Fazal continues. 


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Working on huge international projects has many benefits. Every time Fazal works with someone like Gerard Butler, Judi Dench, Stephen Frears or Kenneth Branagh, he takes away personal lessons on how he can be a better actor and a better person, and sees what it takes to reach the pinnacle of his chosen art.  

“I keep thinking back to one moment with Branagh. It was the night before the Oscar nominations were to be announced, and we were all at the British Museum after the premiere of “Death on the Nile” — sitting back and celebrating — but he was sitting in the corner writing his next stage play. That’s diligence. He puts the time in. The next morning, he was nominated for seven Oscars,” says Fazal.  

Gerard Butler in ‘Kandahar.’ (Supplied)

Thinking about those moments, he confesses, also has made it harder and harder to accept offers for projects that don’t come with that same substance and commitment. As a result, he’s gotten a lot more discerning, and a lot more wary of the limelight of Bollywood, though he knows he’s holding himself back from becoming the kind of celebrity some of his colleagues have become.  

“I run away from the vanity that has kept us in a bubble in Bollywood. I don’t judge the people — it’s the system itself. Indian film can be so much more, and the rest of India is showing that now. If you go down south, we have some of the best films in the world coming out of Malayalam cinema and Tamil cinema, and both the Oscars and Cannes, for example, are taking notice,” Fazal adds. 

Fazal sees Saudi Arabia pushing itself further, sees artists like Branagh and Butler pushing themselves further, and only wants to surround himself with people, and operate in places, that do the same.  

“I just don’t want to do mediocre stuff. If the economics of our respective industries is keeping us apart, that doesn’t mean our sensibilities should suddenly dumb down,” says Fazal. “Everything is in competition with everything else right now, anyways. If you’re on a streaming platform, your project is sitting next to an Oscar winner and some groundbreaking new Polish show and you’re only a click away from rejection. You can’t cheat and get away with mediocrity. You have to really get to the truth of things — the painstaking, emotionally draining truth — or people across the world will just ignore it.”  

Fazal wants to step up his own game, but he also wants to identify and raise awareness of the types of artists and performers who are putting in the work but not yet receiving recognition. After all, while the great Irrfan Khan was able to find massive success in both India and Hollywood before his death, he spent decades not getting the respect he deserved.  

“I want to champion people, because nobody champions artists like us. The same people who are now writing books about Irrfan spent years disregarding him,” he says. “We need people to support great artists not when the rest of the world discovers their talent, but now.” 

Thankfully, the recognition that took Khan decades to find is coming to Fazal more easily. True to his word, his next projects fit the mold of what he yearns for, first with the Netflix original film “Khufiya,” from renowned filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, and then a starring role in Academy Award winning director Bill Guttentag’s film “Afghan Dreamers,” the true story of Afghanistan’s all-girls robotics team. 

“I want to be uncomfortable. I want to feel something I’ve never felt before. Great vision pushes you places you have never been, and then something new comes out,” he says. “That’s what I love. That’s where I find my greatest joy.” 

Arab gowns on show as Cannes comes to an end  

Arab gowns on show as Cannes comes to an end  
Updated 28 May 2023

Arab gowns on show as Cannes comes to an end  

Arab gowns on show as Cannes comes to an end  

DUBAI: Arab designers put on a show on the red carpet at the closing ceremony of the 76th Cannes Film Festival in France on Saturday, with a number of stars stepping out in gowns from the region.  

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing showed off a creation by Lebanese designer Georges Chakra from his Spring/Summer 2023 Couture collection, complete with ombre feather detailing on the ballgown skirt and a sweetheart neckline.  

Thuso Mbedu opted for a heavily beaded gown by Lebanon’s Elie Saab. (Getty Images)

South African actress Thuso Mbedu opted for a heavily beaded gown by Lebanon’s Elie Saab. The Spring/Summer 2023 Couture look featured petal appliques on the short train and came in a white-to-pink ombre hue. Meanwhile, US actress Eva Longoria walked the red carpet in a hot red number by Lebanese Italian designer Tony Ward — the custom-made, figure-hugging look boasted a dramatic train with petal-like 3-D details.

The closing ceremony saw director Justine Triet's “Anatomy of a Fall” win the Palme d'Or, The Associated Press reported.  

 “Anatomy of a Fall,” which stars Sandra Hüller as a writer trying to prove her innocence in her husband’s death, is only the third film directed by a woman to win the Palme d'Or. One of the two previous winners, Julia Ducournau, was on this year's jury.

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing showed off a creation by Lebanese designer Georges Chakra from his Spring/Summer 2023 Couture collection. (Getty Images)

Cannes' Grand Prix, its second prize, went to Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest,” a chilling Martin Amis adaptation about a German family living next door to Auschwitz. Hüller also stars in that film.

The awards were decided by a jury presided over by two-time Palme winner Ruben Östlund, the Swedish director who won the prize last year for “Triangle of Sadness.” The ceremony preceded the festival's closing night film, the Pixar animation “Elemental.”

Remarkably, the award for “Anatomy of a Fall” gives the indie distributor Neon its fourth straight Palme winners. Neon, which acquired the film after its premiere in Cannes, also backed “Triangle of Sadness,”Ducournau's “Titane” and Bong Joon Ho's “Parasite,” which it steered to a best picture win at the Academy Awards.

Triet was presented the Palme by Jane Fonda, who recalled coming to Cannes in 1963 when, she said, there were no female filmmakers competing “and it never even occurred to us that there was something wrong with that.” This year, a record seven out of the 21 films in competition at Cannes were directed by women.

Taylor Swift debuts new Elie Saab gown on tour

Taylor Swift debuts new Elie Saab gown on tour
Updated 22 min 16 sec ago

Taylor Swift debuts new Elie Saab gown on tour

Taylor Swift debuts new Elie Saab gown on tour

DUBAI: Taylor Swift brought her blockbuster “Eras Tour” to the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Friday for the first of three shows at the massive venue – and she debuted an Elie Saab gown while at it.   

The singer-songwriter stepped on stage in a dreamy tulle gown with a wide skirt and an embellished corset. Swift performed the track “Enchanted” while wearing the gown from the famed Lebanese couturier.   


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“There is one thing I dream of with the childlike wonder of a hundred birthdays — the first night of MetLife,” Swift said at the beginning of her set, according to Billboard.   

Apart from wearing other Saab looks during the “Eras” tour, she also showed off a gown by Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad in a peachy hue with starburst sequin work. 

Arab films win big at Cannes Film Festival

Arab films win big at Cannes Film Festival
Updated 27 May 2023

Arab films win big at Cannes Film Festival

Arab films win big at Cannes Film Festival

DUBAI: Arab films and filmmakers won a range of awards at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday.

Sudanese film “Goodbye Julia” by filmmaker Mohamed Kordofani won the Freedom Prize, while “Les Meutes” by Moroccan filmmaker Kamal Lazrek won the Jury’s Prize.

Moroccan film director Asmae El-Moudir addresses the crowd after receiving the best director award for her film “The Mother of All Lies” at the Cannes Film Festival. (Ammar Abd Rabbo/Arab News) 

Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir won the Directing Prize for her film “The Mother of All Lies.”

After 21 world premieres, almost two weeks of red-carpet parades and hundreds of thousands of camera flashes, the festival will conclude its 76th edition on Saturday with the presentation of its top prize, the Palme d’Or.

Moroccan actor Ayoub Elaid (L) and Moroccan actor Abdellatif Masstouri pose during a photocall for the film “Les Meutes” at the Cannes Film Festival. (AFP)

Major films were premiered at the festival. Martin Scorsese debuted his Osage murder epic “Killers of the Flower Moon,” a sprawling vision of American exploitation with Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” Harrison Ford’s Indy farewell, launched with a tribute to Ford. Wes Anderson premiered “Asteroid City.”

The festival opened on a note of controversy. “Jeanne du Barry,” a period drama co-starring Johnny Depp as Louis XV, played as the opening night’s film. The premiere marked Depp’s highest profile appearance since the conclusion of his explosive trial last year with ex-wife Amber Heard.

The film was backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival.

Actress Lindsay Lohan enjoys babymoon in Oman

Actress Lindsay Lohan enjoys babymoon in Oman
Updated 26 May 2023

Actress Lindsay Lohan enjoys babymoon in Oman

Actress Lindsay Lohan enjoys babymoon in Oman

DUBAI: US actress Lindsay Lohan and her financier husband Bader Shammas are enjoying a babymoon in Oman at the Six Senses Zighy Bay resort in Musandam.

The “Mean Girls” star took to Instagram to share pictures of her growing bump by the pool with the backdrop of the city’s rocky mountains and trees.

The actress announced her pregnancy in March. She shared an image of a baby onesie at the time with “Coming soon...” written on it. The post was captioned “We are blessed and excited!”