Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget

Special Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget
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Matazeez is a special flour baked and made with meat and vegetables. (Shutterstock)
Special Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget
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Qursan is made up of thin layers of fresh bread smothered in a tomato-based vegetable thick sauce. (Shutterstock)
Special Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget
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Jareesh is made from ground wheat cooked with rice, chopped, and fried onions, vegetables, and chicken. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 03 October 2023
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Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget

Traditional dishes of Riyadh that locals can never forget
  • Many traditional Riyadh dishes are served in local restaurants, even those ostensibly dedicated to foreign cuisine
  • Local dishes mostly consist of rice, flat breads, meat and a few spices boasting a richness of flavor

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces, each with traditional local dishes passed from one generation to another. 

Each dish indicates the heritage of a region and the local foods tend to correspond with the availability of ingredients. Riyadh, the capital, has its own traditional dishes that locals take pride in. 

“It is easy to find local dishes of Riyadh in other regions in the Kingdom, but our local dishes taste different — and better — in Riyadh,” said Hessah Abdulaziz, a local resident. 

“I believe (this is) mainly because we are using locally grown vegetables, the same vegetables that were used when these dishes were first created.”

Local dishes in the capital mostly consist of rice, flat breads, meat, and a few spices boasting a richness of flavor. The most popular are matazeez, jareesh, qursan, and mathloutha.

Matazeez is a dish that comprises flat dumplings cooked in a stew of vegetables, tomatoes, meat, and spices. The dumpling dough is made from whole-wheat flour, oil, salt, and water, and is cut into flattened circles.

Jareesh is another beloved local dish that is made from ground wheat, cooked with rice, chopped, and fried onions, vegetables, and chicken.

Qursan is made up of thin layers of fresh bread smothered in a tomato-based vegetable sauce and topped with fresh onions and parsley.

Mathloutha is a popular offering in Riyadh, made up of three dishes in one, consisting of a mixture of rice, jareesh, and qursan. Because of the effort it requires, it is generally served on special occasions such as weddings and during Eid.

For those who have a sweet tooth, the Riyadh table offers a range of traditional deserts and snacks including hininy, mrahif, and kleija

Hininy consists of dates, butter, and brown bread topped with spices such as saffron and cardamom. The dish is usually prepared and eaten during winter.

Mrahif is consumed as a snack with either tea or coffee. It is similar in taste and texture to French crepes, and is prepared from a liquid dough on a frying pan, served with salty fillings made up of cooked green onion, parsley, and a few spices, or with a sweet filling, using ghee and honey.

Kleija is a popular sweet hollow cake, made of flour and stuffed with dates, honey, date molasses, sugar, or nuts. The fillings depend on personal preference, but every family in Riyadh has a jar or two of kleija in their fridge ready to be served.

Today, many traditional Riyadh dishes are found and served in local restaurants, even those ostensibly dedicated to foreign cuisine.

“Riyadh has countless Western restaurants that locals, including me, visit often, but there’s this tendency to have an authentic local dish every once in a while,” said Fahad Al-Mutairi, another resident.

The most popular Saudi restaurants in the capital are Al-Romansiah, Al-Saudi, Najd Village, and Suhail.

Al-Romansiah is a chain serving local dishes using the freshest ingredients. Mathloutha with chicken is their specialty, along with qursan and jareesh.

Al-Saudi is a traditional restaurant, bringing an authentic taste of Riyadh since 1994. It is known for its most delicious kabsa, a rice dish made with either chicken or lamb.

Najd Village is another popular place for local food and is certainly the most renowned. The restaurant serves a range of kabsa dishes and offers a true taste of matazeez.

Suhail is a stunning Saudi restaurant located in the old town, offering original and traditional local fare with a modern twist. It is known for its delicious jareesh, topped with caramelized onions and ghee.


KAUST announces research to enhance Kingdom’s 6G tech ambitions

KAUST announces research to enhance Kingdom’s 6G tech ambitions
Updated 16 July 2024
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KAUST announces research to enhance Kingdom’s 6G tech ambitions

KAUST announces research to enhance Kingdom’s 6G tech ambitions
  • KAUST said the collaboration involves the company’s continuing to fund two communications programs at the university
  • First program focuses on Free-Space Optical communications, while the second revolves around developing Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces RIS

RIYADH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has announced the beginning of a new research era to develop communication technologies from 5G to 6G in collaboration with a foreign company.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that telecommunications experts expect that by 2025, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the internet, including devices that control city power grids and devices used for browsing social media and platforms.

KAUST said that this collaboration involves the company’s continuing to fund two communications programs at the university.

The first program focuses on Free-Space Optical communications, while the second revolves around developing Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces RIS. Both technologies have been identified by the industry sector as essential for the development of 5G and 6G communication structures.

FSO communications use lasers to transmit signals through outer space, air, to a wireless detector. The signal attenuation rate increases with higher frequency signals, and 6G has the highest frequency so far (at least 100 gigahertz). This technology is used to measure the effects of weather on signal transmission in order to build a comprehensive database of weather conditions in the Kingdom to address the causes of communication outages, the frequency of occurrences, and their duration. With this information, the company and other companies can strategically place their stations and deploy backup systems in case of failure.

Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces provide another solution to signal loss, as urban buildings often contain essential reception stations on their rooftops. RIS are made up of thousands of cells, each typically consisting of layers of metal, insulators, and semiconductors, and are expected to greatly contribute to enabling 6G technology access.

According to SPA, KAUST contributes to enhancing the Kingdom’s leadership in developing and adopting 6G communication technologies, attracting global companies to invest in infrastructure and scientists to assess their research by testing optical communication technologies in space and new reconfigurable smart surfaces, and collecting an unprecedented amount of data on weather conditions and communication performance in the Kingdom.


NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees

NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees
Updated 15 July 2024
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NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees

NEOM-KAUST partnership to target insects threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees
  • Salman Al-Wahib warns that summer is an especially dangerous time because rising temperatures and humidity levels provide conditions for the pests to thrive and contribute to the spread of bacteria and plant mold

RIYADH: Citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia are no strangers to extreme heat conditions, and over the years they have learned to adapt. But as temperatures rise, so do the bugs. And sometimes the problem cannot simply be swatted away.

Tephriditae fruit flies, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly and the olive fruit fly, as well as insects such as the red palm weevil, are among the biggest antagonizing forces against the nation’s plant and fruit supply.

According to research by Topian, NEOM’s food company, the SR9.2 billion ($2.4 billion) date industry loses an average of SR1 billion annually in date palms and associated forgone revenues because of red palm weevil infestations.

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (AN photo)

At the launch of the Saudi Agrifood Tech Alliance in early July in Riyadh, Andrew Yip, head of innovation and ecosystem activation at Topian, revealed the development of new technology designed to target the red palm weevils threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees.

In partnership with AK-Sens, a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology start-up, Topian plans to commercialize and scale optical fiber sensing technology for early-stage detection of the insect in thousands of trees in under an hour, Yip said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In partnership with AK-Sens, a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology startup, Topian is developing a new technology designed to target the red palm weevils threatening Saudi Arabia’s 36 million palm trees.

• The project plans to commercialize and scale optical fiber sensing technology for early-stage detection of the insect in thousands of trees in under an hour.

• It has the potential to increase overall efficiency and sustainability in the agrifood sector and farms nationwide.

Following initial testing with only a handful of trees in Tabuk, the team’s latest trial at NEOM involved a thousand trees and achieved 96.3 percent accuracy with a two thirds reduction of set-up time from previous trials.

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (Supplied)

While the sensing technology has been so far exclusive to palm trees and red palm weevils, it has the potential to increase overall efficiency and sustainability in the agrifood sector and farms nationwide.

To better understand the health risks associated with consuming pest-infested fruits and vegetables, Arab News spoke to Dr. Basem Al-Bahrani, the emergency medicine consultant at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare and a member of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

He said: “Eating vegetables and fruits is an essential part of a healthy diet, but there are health risks associated with eating them if they are contaminated or not washed properly. These risks may include a variety of issues that may affect individuals in different ways.”

Saudi farmers preserve date crops using a technique called ‘sleeving,’ which involves covering the fruit to protect it from pests, weather conditions and other forms of contamination. (AN photo)

Food poisoning as a result of salmonella, Escherichia coli (or E. coli), or listeria bacteria is among the most common issues and its symptoms include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, and a fever, Al-Bahrani explained.

Other possible health risks are parasitic infections that at their best present the same as food poisoning and at their worst may cause weight loss and anemia. Finally, ingesting pesticide remnants could lead to hormonal imbalances, nervous system disorders, and increased risk of cancer.

NUMBER

$2.4bn

According to research by Topian, NEOM’s food company, the SR9.2 billion ($2.4 billion) date industry loses an average of SR1 billion annually in date palms and associated forgone revenues because of red palm weevil infestations.

Arab News also spoke to Salman Al-Wahib, a Saudi Advanced Business Co. Holding retiree turned farmer and owner of a plant tissue culture laboratory and nursery for outdoor and indoor plants, with 11 years of experience in the field.

He said that fruit pests are a problem that “requires great care from those responsible, farmers, and consumers.” Al-Wahib also warns that summer is an especially dangerous time because rising temperatures and humidity levels provide conditions for the pests to thrive and contribute to the spread of bacteria and plant mold.

He explained that the problem begins, expectedly, at the farming stage. While pests are most common in local fruits, it is more often than not the symptom of imported seeds and soil. If the seeds and soil are not properly treated before the initial shipment, these containers become welcoming habitats for pest procreation, ready to continue their infestation at their final destination.

Farmers and producers follow strict sanitation, inspection, and clearance procedures to avoid large-scale infestation. According to Al-Wahib, the fruit undergoes an interior and exterior inspection to check for any traces of pests. Then, fruit samples are taken to the lab and tested for pests and any pesticide remnants.

The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture monitors farming sites to ensure that no highly poisonous and environmentally harmful pesticides are used and the standard provisions of Pesticide Law — agreed upon by the agricultural department of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2005 — are followed. The law states that “it is essential to control and regulate the way they (pesticides) are formulated, used, marketed, stored and handled to stave off any potential risks.” Finally, a certification is granted deeming the selected crop pest and pesticide free and safe for human consumption.

As much as the development of organic pesticides has seen great strides in the last few decades, and farmers such as Al-Wahib agree that they are the superior option to chemical pesticides in efficacy and plant health, there is yet a long way to go to bring down that SR1 billion loss to a much more reasonable number and prevent widespread health issues.

According to Al-Wahib, in addition to thoroughly washing fruits at home, watching for signs of infestation, and using suitable storage techniques, the best way to avoid the dangers of fruit pests is to “buy from trusted local markets or farms that have an official certification deeming them free of harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers.”

That way our favorite summer fruits may be readily enjoyed worry-free to refresh from the sweltering summer heat.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill
Updated 15 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region conducts major flood drill
  • The simulation was deemed crucial for measuring the response time, coordination efficiency, and overall preparedness for such extreme weather events

AL-MITHNAB: The Qassim Municipality’s Al-Mithnab branch has successfully executed a simulation of heavy rainfall and flash floods. The drill, which involved all relevant departments and divisions, put the region’s disaster preparedness to the test in order to bolster its emergency response capabilities.

The exercise saw the activation of the emergency rainfall plan. Some 40 field personnel were mobilized alongside a fleet of 12 vehicles and machinery, all operating under the comprehensive Emergency and Disaster Management Plan.

A key focus of the drill was assessing the readiness of critical infrastructure. Teams inspected the rainwater drainage networks, pumps, and generators. They also meticulously mapped out potential rainwater accumulation sites across the governorate’s streets.

The simulation was deemed crucial for measuring the response time, coordination efficiency, and overall preparedness for such extreme weather events.

 

 


British PM praises Saudi crown prince for role in promoting Middle East stability

British PM praises Saudi crown prince for role in promoting Middle East stability
Updated 16 July 2024
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British PM praises Saudi crown prince for role in promoting Middle East stability

British PM praises Saudi crown prince for role in promoting Middle East stability
  • Starmer, Prince Mohammed reflected on strong relationship between UK and Kingdom
  • Starmer thanked the crown prince for his congratulations on recent election victory

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the British Prime Minister Keir Starmer spoke on Monday.

Starmer thanked the crown prince for giving his congratulations on the Labour Party leader’s election victory and reported on his first days in government, a Downing Street statement said.

While discussing the situation in the Middle East, the prime minister praised the crown prince for his leadership in supporting regional stability, and emphasized the UK’s enduring commitment to peace and security in the region.

The prime minister and crown prince reflected on the strong relationship between the UK and the Kingdom, including through the Strategic Partnership Council. 

The leaders look forward to meeting in person soon and working together to strengthen areas of shared interest, including trade, investment, and defense cooperation, the statement from No. 10 added.


Saudi Shoura Council delegation arrives in Bahrain for official visit

Saudi Shoura Council delegation arrives in Bahrain for official visit
Updated 15 July 2024
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Saudi Shoura Council delegation arrives in Bahrain for official visit

Saudi Shoura Council delegation arrives in Bahrain for official visit
  • Visit will include the signing of a MoU aimed at developing parliamentary cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh is leading a delegation on an official visit to Bahrain, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

During the visit, Sheikh Abdullah will hold a meeting with Ahmed bin Salman Al-Musallam, speaker of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives.

He will also meet Ali Bin Saleh Al-Saleh, chairman of the Bahraini Shoura Council, as well as other senior officials from the country.

It is believed that Sheikh Abdullah’s visit will include the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Shoura Council and the Bahraini House of Representatives aimed at developing parliamentary cooperation.

Sheikh Abdullah said the visit is driven by the Kingdom’s commitment, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to foster cooperation and coordination for the benefit and prosperity of both nations and their peoples, and to strengthen and unify Gulf ties.

Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the deep-rooted fraternal relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, adding that the close ties between the two countries in local, regional and international areas served as an example to be followed.

He pointed to the importance of the visit in activating parliamentary friendship committees, which significantly enhance coordination between the councils.