YouTube star Mark Wiens tucks into Saudi feast

YouTube star Mark Wiens tucks into Saudi feast
Saudi chef Hisham Baeshen took Wiens on a culinary tour of Jeddah, including a seafood feast in historic Al-Balad. (Screenshot Youtube/MarkWiens)
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Updated 01 May 2023
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YouTube star Mark Wiens tucks into Saudi feast

YouTube star Mark Wiens tucks into Saudi feast
  • He was given personal tour of some of country’s best places to eat
  • Highlights include the ‘juiciest fried chicken’ he’s ever had

JEDDAH: American food vlogger Mark Wiens, who has more than 10 million followers on YouTube, recently visited the Kingdom to give his views on some of its many culinary delicacies.

The keen traveler was invited by the Ministry of Culture and Culinary Arts Commission to explore Saudi Arabia and experience the different cuisines its regions have to offer.

“Mark was welcomed by a research team from the Culinary Arts Commission who have in-depth knowledge of the culinary heritage of Saudi Arabia, to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Saudi cuisine around the Kingdom,” the ministry told Arab News.

Wiens arrived in Jeddah in February on a Saudia Airlines flight from Bangkok. During the 10-hour journey he got his first taste of the Kingdom: Saudi coffee and dates.

“It is really yellow in color from the cardamom and saffron. So aromatic, so much cardamom in there. That’s incredible,” he said in his first video report of the trip.

“Since we flew on the late-night flight, it was breakfast that was served, which is typically not my favorite meal on an airplane. However, when it’s full medames for breakfast, that’s something I love,” he said in the clip on his YouTube channel Mark Abroad.

While traveling around the Kingdom, Wiens was accompanied by various food experts and aficionados.

In Jeddah, he explored the deep-rooted culture of the coastal city with Hisham Baeshen, a talented chef who himself has more than 10 million followers on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

Baeshen met Wiens by chance during a working trip to Georgia.

“We were sitting next to each other and I asked him to call me once he visits the Kingdom,” Baeshan said.

The chef told Arab News he also took the American on a tour around Jeddah.

“The experience was delightful, he is a totally different personality, a very special foodie than those around the globe. Wiens is looking for the depth within the culture of any country he visits,” he said.

Baeshan said Wiens told him he really wanted “to know how Saudis eat and to understand the essentials of Saudi cuisine.”

“He wanted to explore how food is served in Saudi homes. I wanted to give him a feel of my culture so I took him to Baeshen House in Al-Balad,” he said.

Baeshen House is one of the oldest buildings in Al-Balad — a historical area of Jeddah and UNESCO heritage site. Built in 1273, it became a cultural center in 2014 and represents the Saudi Hijazi culture.

“It is my tripe house and I wanted to give Wiens a brief view of our ancient culture,” Baeshan.

Wiens described it as “a really fascinating place to explore.”

While in Al-Balad, Baeshen took Wiens to Al-Basali, a seafood restaurant that has been around since 1949. The two men enjoyed a feast of delicacies from the Red Sea, including coral trout, trumpet emperor, lobster and shrimp.

Later that day, the pair had mutabbaq for dinner at Olfat Al-Halawani. This is a popular street food made of a minced meat, chiles, herbs, spices and eggs wrapped inside a thin dough and baked on a hot pan. It can also be served with a sweet filling like banana, honey, sugar or chocolate.

Wiens also ate lamb head mandi, Hijazi ta’teema — assorted breads served with cheese and pickles — shakshouka, smoked foul with ghee, falafel and various sweet dishes such as masoob and labaniya.

After Jeddah, Wiens went to Al-Ahsa, an oasis in the Eastern Province, where he stayed with chef Fahad Al-Shuaibi.

Al-Shuaibi prepared kabsah hassawi using red hassawi rice — which grows only in Al-Ahsa and is the most expensive rice in the world — alongside khobz alhamar, a popular snack made of date paste, sunflower and black seeds and baked in a tandoor oven.

Al-Shuaibi also took Wiens to a red rice farm, about which Wiens said: “It is amazing to be in the middle of the desert and yet it is so lush and fertile because of the natural water that comes from the ground here.”

Wiens also visited the Qaisariah souq, a two-century-old spice market, where he wore a shemagh and learnt about bisht, the men’s cloak worn over a thobe in Gulf countries.

The American also took a ferry to the Farasan Islands in the southern region of the Kingdom where he ate more seafood and street dishes, and in Riyadh tucked into haneethe, a roasted lamb dish.

When Wiens posted his review of Albaik restaurant in Jeddah in March it got more than 1.3 million views.




While trying the first bite of AlBaik, Wiens said “You’ve got to be kidding me, that has to be the juiciest fried chicken I have ever had in my life” (Instagram)

Describing the chicken he ate there, he said: “You’ve got to be kidding me. That has to be the juiciest fried chicken I have ever had in my life.”


Saudi Arabia to launch Environmental Compliance Forum to chart a more sustainable future

Saudi Arabia to launch Environmental Compliance Forum to chart a more sustainable future
Updated 7 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia to launch Environmental Compliance Forum to chart a more sustainable future

Saudi Arabia to launch Environmental Compliance Forum to chart a more sustainable future
  • More than 40 international and regional figures from 10 countries to discuss many topics related to future trends in the field of the sustainable environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to launch the first “Environmental Compliance Forum 2024” on Sunday in the capital, Riyadh, which is being organized by the National Center for Environmental Compliance, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday

The forum will feature the participation of specialists and decision-makers in the field of the environment locally, regionally and globally, to develop a comprehensive vision for the advancement of the environmental sector between the governmental, private and non-profit sectors.

Saad Al-Matrafi, the center’s spokesman, said that the two- day forum, which will conclude on Monday, will involve more than 40 international and regional figures from 10 countries, to discuss many topics related to future trends in the field of the sustainable environment.

He said that the forum will be a platform for discussing best practices in the field of the environment, in addition to supporting environmental research, innovations and technologies, for which a section in the forum has been designated the “Sustainability Cafe.”

He added that the forum will provide opportunities for relevant parties to discuss ways of joint cooperation and investment, through a number of sessions and dialogues where opinions and viewpoints will be exchanged on the latest developments in the environmental sector in various areas of development and sustainability.

Al-Matrafi said that the event represents an unusual opportunity for all institutions and companies to review their projects, initiatives and tools that support environmental sustainability, come up with the best global environmental practices by harmonizing plans and projects that contribute to the successful implementation of everything that serves the sustainable environment sector.

He noted that the forum’s sessions will discuss the challenges to move forward in advancing economic growth and diversification, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and unifying efforts to achieve a qualitative shift in the national economy while protecting and preserving the Kingdom’s natural resources and habitats.

The forum will also deal with other topics, most notably how to chart the way to a brighter future, policy and governance, technology and innovation in the field of the environment, sustainable development and quality of life, private sector participation, community participation, and youth and the environment.

Meanwhile, the Sustainability Cafe will provide an opportunity to hear the opinions of young people and discuss their aspirations and roles toward the environment, with the participation of several specialized environmental associations.

The participants will include the former Japanese environment minister, several CEOs of national environmental centers, and major national companies such as NEOM, Red Sea Global, the New Square Development Company, and the Saudi Mining Company.

Also present will be consultants and officials from the environmental protection departments in the ministries of investment and human resources and social development, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, the Red Sea and transport authorities, the development authority of the Eastern Province, and the Riyadh Municipality, in addition to the participation of several Saudi and European universities, including King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Najran University, and the University of Florence in Italy, and a number of Saudi and environmental consulting companies in the Kingdom and the Gulf region.


Saudi civil aviation delegation visits Chinese aircraft manufacturing company, economic zone

Saudi civil aviation delegation visits Chinese aircraft manufacturing company, economic zone
Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi civil aviation delegation visits Chinese aircraft manufacturing company, economic zone

Saudi civil aviation delegation visits Chinese aircraft manufacturing company, economic zone
  • The visit came within the framework of enhancing cooperation and exchanging expertise in the field of the aviation and space industry
  • The representatives toured COMAC’s factories and facilities and were briefed on the stages of aircraft manufacturing

RIYADH: A high-ranking delegation from Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation sector has visited the headquarters of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China in Shanghai, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Headed by the President of the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej, the delegation also visited the assembly line of the C-919 and ARJ-21 aircraft in Shanghai and the economic zone at Zhengzhou Airport.

The representatives toured COMAC’s factories and facilities and were briefed on the stages of aircraft manufacturing, the company’s future plans for testing and assembly facilities, and the latest technologies and innovations in the aviation industry.

They listened to a presentation of COMAC’s missions and the details of designing and developing the various aircraft produced by the company, in addition to a look at the organization’s history since 2008, the development of its products, the ongoing specialized research on more efficient and sustainable solutions, and its tasks and responsibilities in the design, development and production of commercial aircraft.

The delegation also visited the economic zone at Zhengzhou Airport and heard about the work of specialized companies and institutions; the development of local manufacturing capabilities; enhancing cooperation with foreign companies to improve the quality of products; increasing competition at global level; and contributing to improving the quality of products and developing advanced technology.

Al-Duailej, in the presence of vice presidents, CEOs, officials, and several experts in the field of aviation, airports, and the service sectors of the aviation system, held a meeting with the Executive Vice Gov. of Henan Province Sun Shougang.

The meeting focused on several issues of common interest and ways to strengthen areas of joint cooperation in the field of civil aviation.

The visit came within the framework of enhancing cooperation and exchanging expertise in the field of the aviation and space industry, and exploring opportunities for joint cooperation in improving manufacturing, innovation and air cargo capabilities, along with attracting investment and enhancing international trade in the sector.


Najdi Ardah — a testament to vibrant Saudi history

The most popular Ardah style in the Kingdom is the Najdi Ardah. (Supplied)
The most popular Ardah style in the Kingdom is the Najdi Ardah. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2024
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Najdi Ardah — a testament to vibrant Saudi history

The most popular Ardah style in the Kingdom is the Najdi Ardah. (Supplied)
  • Saleh Nasser Al-Abdulwahed, leader of the Saudi Ardah group, told Arab News that the Najdi ardah “stands as a testament to Saudi history”

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia is home to a rich tapestry of folkloric arts, each with its own distinct features, but all with the same purpose: to express the Kingdom’s history, culture, and heroism.

Over time, these artistic traditions have become essential components of a variety of events and holidays. They predominantly take the form of ardah — group war dances which were originally intended to terrify enemies by showcasing the performers’ military prowess and the power and courage rooted in their past.

Of the many types of ardah, the most popular style in the Kingdom is the Najdi ardah, also known as the Saudi ardah.

The most popular Ardah style in the Kingdom is the Najdi Ardah. (Supplied)

Saleh Nasser Al-Abdulwahed, leader of the Saudi Ardah group, told Arab News that the Najdi ardah “stands as a testament to Saudi history.”

The Najdi Ardah begins with the recital of a poem, after which the drummers begin, establishing the rhythm for the dancers to follow. The group leader then takes the stage, wielding a blade and demonstrating well-practiced movements that match those of warriors in battle. He expertly maneuvers the sword, occasionally laying it on his shoulder, lifting it high, or holding it on its side. He also uses precise finger movements to move the blade in a circular motion, demonstrating his expertise.

Usually, the dancers will be dressed in their finest military outfits.

FASTFACT

The Najdi Ardah begins with the recital of a poem, after which the drummers begin, establishing the rhythm for the dancers to follow.

“Ardah performers don Al-Murawden military uniform, featuring long sleeves. They complement it with Al-Zaboun, a finely crafted wooden cashmere fabric adorned with a cashmere shawl, meticulously made by hand, resembling the ‘dagla’ gown,” Al-Abdulwahed explained. “Additionally, the performers may opt for Al-Saya, a tailored white summer fabric, or the Jokha, which is usually reserved for dignitaries such as kings, princes, and knights.”

He noted that warriors typically choose red clothing, though the shades could vary from a bright, blood-like tone to a more muted burgundy.

The performers will also typically be heavily armed, wearing a dagger, a gun holster, a bullet holder known as mujannad, and a sword. When wearing the uniform, the participant positions his pistol holster to the left and mujannad to the right. Various types of sword are used, each with its own sheath.

The Najdi ardah is a cultural touchstone for many Saudi nationals, and remains widely practiced today, not only in the central part of the Kingdom, but all over the country. It is frequently showcased at weddings. Its involvement in such ceremonies creates a sense of joy and delight, enthralling both older and younger generations.

Folk arts in other regions

The Hejaz region is one of the Kingdom’s most diverse in terms of folk arts. It is renowned for the Majrour art form, characterized by two facing rows of performers wearing tied and belted headbands. Each individual holds a daf in hand, contributing to the performance with special tunes and melodies.

The Yanbawi tarab is a form of collective musical expression, featuring the use of a stringed instrument called a simsimiyya, which is closely tied to maritime culture.

In Taif, the ardah Al-Zir takes center stage during special occasions and holidays. This dance involves the use of swords, guns, and daggers, and is a significant element of cultural festivities.

In the northern region, the traditional arts of Al-Samari and Al-Dahha come to life with two opposing rows of performers creating harmonious rhythms, playing melodies such as Al-Mashoub, Al-Zubai, and Al-Hajini.

 


Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla

Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla
Updated 24 February 2024
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Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla

Guests of Riyadh forum visit marvels of AlUla
  • The guests were taken on a tour of several archaeological sites
  • The forum organized the visit in partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla

RIYADH: Guests at the Saudi Media Forum had the opportunity to visit AlUla Governorate over the weekend on a fascinating journey through time.
The guests were taken on a tour of several archaeological sites, including the city of Al-Hijr, the first Saudi site to be included in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list of World Heritage Sites.
They listened to an introductory explanation of the sites and saw each monument’s impressive and intricate details.
The forum organized the visit in partnership with the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Saudi Broadcasting Authority.
Its purpose was to give guests a unique opportunity to discover the Kingdom’s landmarks. They learned about the area’s history and the various civilizations that left their mark on the region.
The beauty and cultural significance of AlUla have made it a focal point for visitors from around the world.
The third edition of the Saudi Media Forum convened last week to address the evolving landscape of global media. Against the backdrop of rapidly changing trends and challenges, participants delved into discussions surrounding innovative media management strategies and the pursuit of sustainable approaches in the sector.
The forum’s agenda included dialogues on re-evaluating media flow sources and harnessing innovative solutions to meet evolving audience expectations.
Amid accelerated efforts in media modernization and incentives, AlUla has emerged as a pivotal partner in fostering productive cooperation and knowledge-sharing within the media sector.


Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition
Updated 24 February 2024
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Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition

Resilient plant inspires Saudi artist’s Jeddah exhibition
  • Sara Al-Abdali explores life, death and transformation in her solo show at Hafez Gallery
  • The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal

JEDDAH: Contemporary Saudi artist Sara Al-Abdali is presenting her second solo exhibition, “Growing Vines of Sodom,” at Hafez Gallery in Jeddah, marking a significant milestone in her artistic career.
In her second solo show, Al-Abdali delves into the intricate relationship between life and death, skilfully using artistic juxtaposition as a medium to explore this profound interplay. The collection showcases a series of paintings and multidisciplinary artworks that prompt viewers to reflect on the delicate balance between existence and departure.
Speaking to Arab News about the inspiration behind her works, Al-Abdali said: “The main inspiration was driven from a personal encounter with a plant that suddenly grew in front of my house, symbolizing resilience and life. The Apple of Sodom plant became a powerful symbol for loss and rebirth, encapsulating the transformative journey I wanted to convey.”
Al-Abdali’s choice to focus on the plant and incorporate motifs like the moth, symbolic of death and transformation, reflects her deep exploration of life’s complexities.
“The exhibition works around metaphors and symbolism surrounding life, death, and transformation, with mediums like hand-prepared pigments emphasizing the theme of new life emerging from death,” she said.
The exhibition explores her personal experiences of loss, drawing inspiration from the plant as a symbol of renewal. Transitioning into a deeply introspective body of work, the collection centers on her three-year exploration of self-portraiture, capturing emotions of loss and despair following her father’s battle with cancer.
Reflecting on her hopes for the audience, she added: “I hope viewers will see the raw and daring nature of my work, delving into themes of mourning and loss often overlooked in society. By normalizing discussions around pain and suffering, I aim to provide a space for contemplation on both life and death.”
Regarding her artistic evolution since her first solo exhibition, Al-Abdali discussed the shift from traditional techniques to experimental approaches in “Growing Vines of Sodom”: “I challenged myself to break from tradition, experimenting with scale and medium, such as charcoal and oil, alongside gouache paintings. This departure from traditional techniques allowed me to delve deeper into personal concepts and work on a larger scale, symbolizing growth and rebirth.”
Her unique perspective continues to shape her creative vision, pushing boundaries and exploring new artistic territories, while staying true to her personal truths as a painter.
“Looking ahead, I am excited for future projects, aiming to expand on the themes explored in my current exhibition. I envision my work evolving into series and larger works, emphasizing the power of painting as a medium of artistic expression,” she said.
Contemplating on art as a full-time career, the Saudi artist added: “Despite the challenges of pursuing art as a full-time career, I remain dedicated to my craft, finding motivation in building a supportive community of fellow painters and maintaining a dedicated studio space. Perseverance and trust in the artistic process are key, and I find the journey of overcoming challenges and painting my truth to be truly rewarding.”
Qaswra Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, said: “We’re very happy to host Sara’s second solo. Sara is an exceptional visual instigator and no one captures the soul of this region of Saudi quite like she does.”
The exhibition is open to visitors until the end of Ramadan.