Maintaining family traditions and ties plays an important role in Riyadh social life

Upholding family traditions and maintaining kinship ties are an integral part of Saudi society and culture that is passed down from one generation to the next. (AFP/File Photos)
Upholding family traditions and maintaining kinship ties are an integral part of Saudi society and culture that is passed down from one generation to the next. (AFP/File Photos)
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Updated 03 October 2023
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Maintaining family traditions and ties plays an important role in Riyadh social life

Maintaining family traditions and ties plays an important role in Riyadh social life
  • From sports to desert picnics, Saudis have wide choice when it comes to spending quality time with their families
  • Family is a central pillar of residents of Saudi capital, forming the basis of most people’s social circle

RIYADH: Every Friday, Abdullah Al-Sulaiman dresses in his favorite clothes and takes his family to his grandfather’s house to meets all his family members and enjoy the weather in the backyard while drinking tea and mamool (cookies). 

Upholding family traditions and maintaining kinship ties are an integral part of Saudi society and culture that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Residents of Riyadh shared with Arab News how much they value spending quality time with their families.  

“Family is a central pillar of Saudi Arabian society, forming the basis of most people’s social circle. Every Friday is a family day, I usually spend it at my grandfather’s house where all my uncles and aunts come with their children,” Al-Sulaiman said.   

Some families have a designated room, called a majilis, in their house, where important family matters are discussed and guests are welcomed for socializing. 

Mutlaq Al-Jabaa, a resident of Riyadh, enjoys driving his family around the city. “We enjoy cruising around Riyadh, so I drive them around the city, or we rent a recreation center chalet that has a pool and entertainment consoles for the whole family to get together and have fun.” 

In Saudi Arabia, it is common to rent an istiraha, or chalet, a place for a temporary stay that often has a pool, a large living room for families to gather, and a garden with a play area for children.    

In cooler months, Al-Jabaa said that most families in Riyadh also enjoy outdoor activities, such as picnics in the desert around Wadi Hanifa and other locations. “It is called kashta. On cold winter nights, we go to the desert and bring chairs, tea, food, wood and a small carpet to sit and enjoy the weather, and we like to burn firewood for warmth.”   

Other popular family activities include camping, desert safari tours, camel rides, sandboarding, quad biking and stargazing — all offering unique experiences in nature while boosting economic prospects for local businesses.  

“We prefer to gather in a camp in the desert where the guys play the card game baloot, and the women enjoy sitting and sipping tea or Saudi coffee while watching the children run around,” Al-Sulaiman said.   

Taking part in sports, such as soccer, horse racing and falconry, are also an essential part of family tradition in Riyadh. 

Nouf Al-Humaidi likes to rent a farm with a stable to teach children horseback riding.

“Saudis are well connected to horses, and in my family we like to teach children from a young age how to ride horses so when they grow up, they can decide if they want to do it as a sport. Children also are very excited when they see farm animals, and they learn a lot on how to make milk and how to collect eggs.”   

During Ramadan, families, mostly during weekends, host iftar at their homes for friends and families. Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha — two of the most important religious holidays in the Islamic calendar — are joyous occasions for extended families to gather to celebrate, exchange gifts, and enjoy traditional food and drink.   

Hanouf Al-Salama said that her father has a farm where family members and their children gather to enjoy nature and collect dates.

“We make Saudi coffee for the family to drink with the dates; we like to hold a competition for the children to see who can collect the most dates. We also have a barbecue, where the men of the family often cook the meat,” Al-Salama said.   


Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 February 2024
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Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh: Turkish ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fatih Ulusoy is bidding farewell to the Kingdom at the end of his tenure in Riyadh, and reflecting on the growth of Saudi-Turkiye relations over the past two and half years.

“I have had a fantastic time here — you usually get more or less emotional when you bid farewell, but if you are a diplomat you are quite used to it changing from one place to another,” Ulusoy told Arab News.

“I feel privileged to serve as the ambassador of Turkiye in Riyadh, as I had the opportunity to personally witness the historic transformation in the Kingdom as well as the concrete progress and positive momentum in the bilateral relations between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia,” the envoy said.

“Having served as the Turkish ambassador for two and a half years, I saw three visits by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia and the visit by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman to Ankara in this period.

“On his way back from his visit to Jeddah in April 2022, President Erdogan announced Turkiye’s solid support for Riyadh’s candidature for Expo 2030. We are happy to see Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 as that year means a lot for Saudi Arabia. Turkish companies will be ready to work with their Saudi counterparts to make Expo 2030 a huge success,” Ulusoy said.

“In the margins of the visit by Erdogan to Jeddah in July 2023, four governmental MoUs and one G2B agreement were signed in the fields of defense, investment, energy, media and defense industry, bringing Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, two brotherly countries, even closer. These areas stand as key areas for our future collaboration, however, our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not limited to these fields. We have frequent ministerial and high-level visits between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia.

“For example, during FII7 in late October, our Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek signed a deal on cooperation in financial areas with his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al-Jadaan.

“October 29, 2023 was a special day for us, which is our centennial anniversary, and we celebrated our national day at our embassy with a big crowd of guests.

“I was very happy and emotional to see Turkish flags on the huge screens of Riyadh Boulevard on that day,” the envoy said.

“In mid-February this year, a Turkish-Saudi investment forum was held in Istanbul with the participation of four esteemed ministers from two brotherly countries. I was delighted to see the big interest and hundreds of companies from both sides to this key forum.

“Within the past year we witnessed fruitful contacts between two brotherly countries in the field of military and defense industry. Turkiye participated in the World Defense Show in February 2024 with 63 companies, covering 15 percent of the entire exhibition area.

“I was so happy to see our air acrobatic teams, Turkish Stars and Saudi Hawks perform together up in the sky, side by side during the World Defense Show early this month,” Ulusoy said.

“I want to highlight the field of tourism, which represents a huge potential for cooperation between our brotherly countries. Turkiye is ready to share its experience with Saudi Arabia as we are among the top tourist destinations in the world. We announced visa-free entry to Turkiye for Saudi citizens in December 2023 and we look forward to hosting more and more Saudi brothers and sisters every year.

“Saudi tourists traveling to Turkiye can avail of visa-free entry after Erdogan issued a decision last December granting Saudi citizens a visa exemption. It allows Saudis to visit Turkiye for tourism without obtaining a visa in advance. They are allowed a stay up to 90 days within six months.

“We are expecting the visit of our Trade Minister Omer Bolat in the first week of March to Saudi Arabia, and a Turkish trade fair and business forum will also be held in Riyadh within the same week.

“We also expect more agreements to be signed between two brotherly countries in the near future. The main philosophy of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is to share our strengths and achieve win-win results. As Saudi Arabia is going through a massive transformation, this era represents enormous opportunities to further prosper our relations and cooperation. We have contributed to the development of Saudi Arabia in the past and we will be walking together with Saudi Arabia through its important journey under the Saudi Vision 2030,” Ulusoy said.

The dean of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom organized a farewell ceremony at the Cultural Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh at the end of Ulusoy’s mission as Turkish ambassador, which was attended by many ambassadors and their wives.


India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
Updated 29 February 2024
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India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
  • India organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh
  • `From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News

NEW DELHI: India’s top business federation is preparing to open its office in Riyadh after leading a high-powered delegation to the Kingdom to explore the possibilities offered by Saudi megaprojects.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India’s largest and oldest trade association, organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh and the site of the flagship multibillion-dollar NEOM project in Tabuk, on Feb. 18-21.

The visit was in the wake of the growth of Saudi-Indian ties during India’s presidency of the G20 last year, which was followed by the state visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi-India Business Forum in September.

During the forum, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih and his Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, agreed to open chamber of commerce offices in their respective countries.

From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News.

“We have already identified the location. We are just waiting for the paperwork, and we will launch. This will be in addition to our other offices in GCC. It’s a matter of weeks,” he said in an interview in Delhi on Wednesday.

The office will facilitate better business interactions between Indian companies and those based in the Kingdom.

“Whether you are a FICCI member or not, we are all Team India. Anyone from the Indian industry wanting to have ties in Saudi Arabia, this office will help you. That’s the objective,” Pathak said, adding that following last week’s visit there had already been multiple inquiries from companies interested in the Saudi market, and especially NEOM.

The FICCI delegation met NEOM leaders and executives responsible for projects such as The Line linear smart city, the floating Oxagon city, Trojena futuristic ski resort, Sindalah island resort, TONOMUS — the world’s first ecosystem of cognitive technologies — and ENOWA, which leads the development of NEOM’s sustainable energy and water systems.

“The NEOM project itself is a trillion-dollar project. It’s going to be a multi-decade project, and there is so much that India and Indian companies can do there,” Pathak said. “We have been flooded by inquiries from FICCI members and many who want to become FICCI members saying they also want to participate in this business opportunity.”

There was also an opportunity to learn, he said. The way water will be recycled in NEOM, which is set across desert valleys, and the smart city and biotechnological services designed for the site, were relevant to India too.

“That’s a great lesson for all Indian cities,” Pathak said. “It is quite an exciting opportunity for anyone in infrastructure and services to go and look at.”

Under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, increasing opportunities have been available for Indian companies and the number of them operating in the Saudi market has grown from 400 in 2019 to 2,900 in 2023. Their biggest presence is in construction, information technology, health, oil and gas, telecommunications and financial services.

“This is a great time for India, and we are looking at the next 10 years, 25 years being a very good time for Indian business,” Pathak said. “Vision 2030 gives us the confidence that India and Saudi will grow even closer together.”


Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Riyadh: Surgeons in Saudi Arabia on Thursday began the complex procedure of separating Nigerian conjoined twins Hassana and Hasina at King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital in King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh.

The twins, who arrived in Saudi Arabia last October, share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves.

The separation surgery is expected to take about 14 hours and involves 38 consultants, specialists, technical, nursing, and support staff, state news agency SPA reported.

Med-day on Thursdat Al-Ekhbariya reported that the 4th stage of the operation started.

Head of the medical team Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah said the operation has a 70 percent success rate and will involve nine stages.

This is the 60th operation performed by the Saudi program for separating conjoined twins. Over the past 34 years, the program has cared for 135 sets of twins from 25 countries.


Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from French President Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi Press Agency said early Thursday.

The pair discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation in all fields, in addition to issues of mutual interest.

They also exchanged views on several regional and international issues and the efforts made regarding them to achieve security and stability. 


Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
  • During the meeting, officials discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector

RIYADH: Tunisian President Kais Saied met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During the meeting, they discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector. 

Al-Jalajel stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to enhance health cooperation between the two countries.

Saied highlighted and expressed appreciation for the pivotal role that the Kingdom plays in the Arab and Islamic world.