Traditional Saudi coffee culture kept alive in Kingdom

Traditional Saudi coffee culture kept alive in Kingdom
Shabbah is the custom of preparing and drinking coffee while listening to poetry and storytelling. (SPA)
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Updated 22 November 2023
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Traditional Saudi coffee culture kept alive in Kingdom

Traditional Saudi coffee culture kept alive in Kingdom
  • Shabbah hosts traditionally leave their doors open to allow guests to come and go at their leisure

RIYADH: Saudis are keeping alive a centuries-old social tradition centered around coffee culture.

For generations communities have got together to enjoy shabbah, the custom of preparing and drinking coffee while listening to poetry and storytelling.

Originating in the north of the Kingdom, partakers of all ages gather around a najr – an iron pot used to grind cardamom for coffee – to chat and share news.

Coffee drinker Faris Altawalah, from the country’s north, told Arab News: “Most people gather at a specific time because they are busy at work, so they set a specific day and time to meet at the shabbah.

“I receive visitors throughout the day, and many people do the same, enjoying the shabbah at home where visitors sometimes stay for hours.” 

Hosts traditionally leave their doors open to allow guests to come and go at their leisure and socialize over coffee and refreshments with other members of the community.

As well as tea and coffee, dates and fruit are among foods served.

The shabbah host uses special equipment to prepare the coffee including the najr, and al-majl, a flat circular iron for roasting beans.

Shabbah gatherings are traditionally considered to be a symbol of generosity and strong family ties, built on established values and principles, and respect between old and young people.

In the past, it was customary to serve influential members of the community first, a common practice when nomadic Bedouin tribes travelled the desert.

The shabbah custom of flipping the cup over the coffee pot, to signal that the head of the household was away but that guests were welcome to serve themselves, remains popular.

Doors may be open for shabbah at any time, although the elderly often prefer to meet after morning prayer. “We join them to learn from them and listen to their interesting stories,” Altawalah said.


Saudi ambassador to Guinea sees off first group of Hajj pilgrims from country

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
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Saudi ambassador to Guinea sees off first group of Hajj pilgrims from country

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
  • Al-Rashidi said the Kingdom was fully prepared for Hajj

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi on Sunday saw off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims heading from Conakry to the Kingdom.

Al-Rashidi said the Kingdom was fully prepared for the pilgrimage, during which millions of pilgrims from various parts of the world will perform their rituals in the best possible manner, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ambassador said that due to God’s grace and the generous care and directives of the Saudi leadership, the Kingdom had mobilized its resources, personnel, and capabilities to ensure the comfort, security, and safety of pilgrims.


Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah
Updated 26 May 2024
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Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

JEDDAH: Traditionally, all pilgrims arriving at Jeddah International Airport travel to Makkah by buses provided by Saudi authorities. This year, however, special arrangements have been made by the Consulate General of India in Jeddah, in tandem with the Saudi authorities, for some Indian pilgrims to travel via the Haramain High Speed Railway from Jeddah airport to Makkah.

About 32,000 Indian pilgrims will benefit from this exclusive service, reducing travel time by half thanks to the train’s maximum speed of 300 kph.

To commemorate the historic occasion, India’s ambassador, Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan, and Consul General Mohd Shahid Alam accompanied Indian pilgrims on the inaugural journey from Jeddah airport to Makkah on Sunday.

The pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom on a Saudia flight from Mumbai.

They were joined by Khaled Al-Harbi, senior vice president of operations at Saudi Arabia Railways, as well as officials from the ministries of Hajj and Umrah, and transport.

This is the first time Saudi Arabia is transporting a limited number of Hajj pilgrims directly from Jeddah airport to Makkah by train.

This year, 175,000 pilgrims from India will participate, with 140,000 organized through the Hajj Committee of India. 


KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO

KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO
Updated 26 May 2024
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KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO

KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO
  • Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah urges international action amidst humanitarian crisis

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor-general of Saudi aid agency KSrelief, said he wants to boost the partnership with the World Health Organization to improve and coordinate response efforts, ensure all resources are allocated efficiently, and enable communities to become more resilient and independent.

Speaking at a session titled “From Crisis to Opportunity: Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region,” at the 77th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, Al-Rabeeah thanked the WHO for efforts to address the humanitarian crises in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including conflicts, migration and economic instability.

He said that the Saudi leadership made intensive and generous efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in need in the region and around the world, particularly children, women and vulnerable groups.

Al-Rabeeah said that the total humanitarian assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean exceeded $1.4 billion. He added that KSrelief recently announced a $500 million contribution to efforts to eradicate polio over the next five years.

He mentioned that the center provides comprehensive health treatment and support services in humanitarian emergencies.

Furthermore, KSrelief has implemented various volunteer programs in the medical sector as part of its relief and humanitarian endeavors, including 298 projects worth over $46 million in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Al-Rabeeah urged all parties in conflict areas to ensure that relief aid providers are allowed to deliver aid in a safe and effective manner.

When aid delivery is prevented and attacks on humanitarian workers and hospital staff are allowed, he said, those in need suffer even more. The situations in the Gaza Strip and Sudan are clear examples of this, he added.

Al-Rabeeah said that KSrelief works closely with its partners to overcome challenges and ensure the safe delivery of aid even under the most difficult circumstances. For instance, during the siege of Taiz in Yemen, the center used airdrops to deliver assistance and even resorted to camels to deliver medical supplies, oxygen cylinders and other urgent items to remote mountain locations where health services were either very limited or unavailable, he said.

In Gaza, the center succeeded in assisting with the area’s current challenges.

“Restricted access to Gaza has led to severe shortages of food, water, medical supplies and other much-needed items,” he said, urging restrictions be changed to save lives, especially those of children, women and the elderly.

Al-Rabeeah urged the international community to take decisive action to protect health facilities and humanitarian workers, and all authorities to abide by international humanitarian law.

He also called for involving healthcare workers in policy-making processes, to ensure that their expertise and experience are used to shape effective healthcare strategies.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized the crucial role of international collaboration in ensuring that all people in need have access to humanitarian assistance and medical care.


Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities
Updated 26 May 2024
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Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

RIYADH: The Saudi Club at Harvard University recently organized a graduation ceremony for Saudi graduates from Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and Tufts University.

The event took place on Harvard’s campus in Boston and was attended by Mohammed Khashaan, director of the public diplomacy department at the Saudi Embassy in the US, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the ceremony, Khashaan said that the distinguished Saudi students are graduating in light of the transformations occurring under Saudi Vision 2030.

He highlighted the investment in the nation’s talented individuals, and said that the Kingdom is experiencing economic, industrial, and environmental growth, accompanied by renewed opportunities for its citizens to pursue their dreams, and contribute to building the future of the nation and the world.

Additionally, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Ratney, delivered a recorded speech in which he congratulated the graduating students and thanked the Saudi Club for organizing the event to celebrate their achievements.

“I have been in Saudi Arabia for only a year, and the professional and personal opportunities here have never been greater. Your country is rich in resources, but its most valuable asset is its human capabilities,” Ratney said.

He also highlighted the diversity he has observed in various fields, from filmmaking to video game development and space travel, and expressed his happiness at witnessing this growth.


Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has appointed Faisal Al-Mujfel as the kingdom’s new ambassador to Syria, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

“The honored ambassador extends his thanks to the leadership on the occasion of his appointment as Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic,” SPA said.

Al-Mujfel is the kingdom's first envoy to Damascus since the closure of the Saudi embassy there in 2012 during the Syrian civil war.

Syria reopened its embassy in Riyadh last year and appointed a new ambassador in December.