24th Saudi relief plane heads to Gaza Strip

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sends 24th relief plane to Gaza. (SPA)
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King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sends 24th relief plane to Gaza. (SPA)
King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sends 24th relief plane to Gaza. (SPA)
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King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sends 24th relief plane to Gaza. (SPA)
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Updated 01 December 2023
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24th Saudi relief plane heads to Gaza Strip

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sends 24th relief plane to Gaza. (SPA)

RIYADH: The 24th Saudi relief plane, operated by the Riyadh-based King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), arrived in Egypt on Friday carrying 31 tons of aid, including food and shelter materials, the official SPA news agency reported.
The assistance, which was dispatched on Thursday, is to be transported to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
The aid efforts are in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s historic role in supporting the Palestinian people in times of crisis, the SPA statement said.


Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official

Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official
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Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official

Saudi date industry targets East Asian markets, says official
  • Kingdom’s date exports hit $390m, marking a 14% rise in 2023

RIYADH: The value of Saudi Arabia’s date exports increased by 14 percent in 2023, reaching SR 1.462 billion ($390 million), compared to SR 1.280 billion in 2022, according to a report released by the National Center for Palms and Dates.

By the end of 2023, the number of countries importing Saudi dates had reached 119. The total value of date and date by-product exports increased by 152.5 percent since 2016, from SR579 million in 2016 to SR1.462 billion in 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.3 percent.

The rate of increase in 2023 compared to the previous year and the market entry of about 120 countries “mean a lot to us,” while the cumulative annual rate (12 percent annually) — compared to the base year 2016 — indicates that “we are steadily entering global markets and expanding steadily as well,” said Dr. Mohammed Al-Nuwairan, CEO of the center.

Date exports to Singapore recorded an 86 percent increase in 2023, while South Korea saw a 24 percent increase, and France experienced a 16 percent increase.

Currently, more than 20 Saudi companies are approved by Chinese customs, and this is reflected in the expansion of the Kingdom’s exports of dates to China. There is a focus on East Asian markets more clearly than other global markets, Al-Nuwairan added.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Nuwairan, CEO of the National Center for Palms and Dates. (Supplied)

He told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is not limited to exporting dates only, “but rather the export extends to include date derivatives such as molasses, pastes, and others, which enhances the presence of exports from the sector outside Saudi Arabia.

“East Asian countries are receiving attention from Saudi exports of dates, especially to Singapore, situated in the heart of countries targeted for exporting dates and their derivatives, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and also China in particular. What supports this is the high demand for Saudi dates, which possess high nutritional values and production quality,” Al-Nuwairan added.

He expects the growth rate of date exports to increase, “or to remain stable at least,” in the next five years.

Al-Nuwairan pointed out that there is a significant trend from local and international partners to invest in the sector, especially concerning plastic wood derived from palm trees, and date products such as powder, molasses, pastes, and vinegar that can be derived from dates.

The date derivatives can be used in various products such as dairy, bakery, ice cream, and confectionery factories.

“We are currently engaged in serious discussions with large international food companies to include date derivatives in food industries,” Al-Nuwairan said.

He affirmed the concerted efforts between Saudi date producers, exporters, and government sectors to support marketing activities in targeted countries. This includes participation in local and international exhibitions, trade missions, facilitating export procedures, and collaborating with the private sector under a joint strategy, all under ambitious and supportive leadership.

Al-Nuwairan emphasized that efforts are ongoing to enhance the presence of Saudi dates worldwide, noting that Saudi date exports have witnessed significant increases in many countries. He pointed out that date exports to China increased by 121 percent last year compared to 2022.

Through its strategy and partnership with the private sector, the National Center for Palms and Dates aims to achieve its strategic objectives, with Saudi dates being the first choice for consumers globally, according to Al-Nuwairan.

The center implements several initiatives, including increasing national exports of dates and their derivatives, improving agricultural and industrial practices to enhance production quality, providing marketing services, and necessary information about the sector, and empowering the sector, he added.


Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah

Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah
Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah

Saudi authorities seize 1.3m Captagon pills in Jeddah

RIYADH: Maj. Marwan Al-Hazmi, the Saudi General Directorate of Narcotics Control’s spokesperson, has announced that the Kingdom’s authorities have seized about 1.3 million Captagon tablets in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The directorate’s officials, in collaboration with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, thwarted an attempt to smuggle 1,298,886 highly addictive and illegal amphetamine pills, which were concealed within a shipment of electric ovens at Jeddah Islamic Port.

Authorities apprehended the intended recipients of the shipment in Riyadh and Jeddah, a Sudanese national and a Saudi citizen.

Initial statutory procedures have been completed, and both individuals have been referred to the Public Prosecution.

The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority also thwarted two attempts to smuggle more than 63,000 Captagon pills hidden in two vehicles coming into the Kingdom through the Al-Haditha border crossing.

One vehicle contained more than 41,000 pills and the authority, coordinating with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, arrested five intended recipients.

The authority said that it was enhancing customs control over the Kingdom’s imports and exports, in coordination with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, as bodies concentrate on cracking down on smuggling operations.

The authorities have called upon the public to report all information regarding drug smuggling or selling by calling 911 in Makkah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom. Alternatively, contact by email at [email protected].

Reports of suspected cases of drug smuggling are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for information leading to arrests.


New scheme to promote Saudi comedians

New scheme to promote Saudi comedians
Updated 03 March 2024
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New scheme to promote Saudi comedians

New scheme to promote Saudi comedians

RIYADH: A new initiative to uncover and promote emerging Saudi comedy and theater talents has been launched in the Kingdom.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said the body would be backing the Comedy Factory project, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The authority aims to create a supportive environment in which up-and-coming young comics can develop content reflecting the Saudi identity and community issues, with guidance from industry experts.

The Comedy Factory is part of a series of initiatives organized by the authority to boost the country’s entertainment sector and will include workshops, training courses, and competitive events.

To register for the chance to join the scheme visit https://sauditheaters.com/ar.


Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair

Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair
Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair

Saudi Arabia distributes 10,000 Qur’an copies at Muscat book fair

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance distributed 10,000 copies of the Qur’an in various sizes from the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an at the 28th Muscat International Book Fair.

The fair, held from Feb. 21 to March 2 at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center in Muscat, highlighted the importance of literature and knowledge exchange, showcasing a diverse array of works from both within and beyond Oman.

The ministry’s pavilion saw a significant turnout from visitors who expressed admiration for the exhibition and the ministry's efforts in serving Islam.

The visitors also praised the Kingdom’s role in promoting Islam and disseminating the values of tolerance and moderation.

On display at the ministry’s pavilion were various copies of the Qur’an, along with translations into 77 foreign languages.

This year’s fair featured works from 847 publishing houses across 34 countries for a total of 622,000 titles, including 19,000 Omani books.


AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2024
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AlUla’s shannah dates nurture, preserve heritage

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)
  • In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate

JEDDAH: In AlUla and the wider Arabian Peninsula, an ancient method of storing and preserving dates, known as shannah, stands as testament to people’s commitment to the preservation of their cultural and culinary heritage.

Shannah not only showcases the ingenuity of the past but also plays a significant role in the region’s economic and agricultural landscape.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds. The shannah is then left outside to soak up the sun for a period ranging from a few months to five years. The meticulous shannah process ensures the dates’ high quality is maintained throughout.

The demonstration of the shannah process is a highlight of the annual AlUla Dates Festival, providing visitors with firsthand experience of preserving dates in this unique manner.

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$400

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

In alignment with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Royal Commission for AlUla is supporting tourism development in the governorate. This includes the revival of ancient industries such as the shannah, involving the local community in achieving the commission’s goals.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

Abdulhadi Suqeer, a Saudi expert in the cultivation and preservation of dates and date palms, told Arab News: “Shannah has a rich history dating back approximately 400 years. This ancient method served as a means for the residents of AlUla to ensure food security throughout the year.

“In recent times, recognizing its cultural significance, the Royal Commission for AlUla has taken steps to revive this heritage, introducing the new generation to the ancient ways of preserving dates,” he added.

FASTFACTS

• Harvested dates are cleaned, dried, and stuffed into the animal skin, which is then sewn together with palm fronds.

• Shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra.

Shannah is intricately linked to the geography and culture of AlUla.

Shannah is crafted from the skin of sheep or goats and is a crucial element in the date storage process in AlUla. (Supplied)

“Crafted from goat or sheep skins, the shannah undergoes a meticulous process of cleaning, tanning, and preparation, using materials like lime to maintain flexibility,” Saqeer explained.

In the past, the people of AlUla stored their harvest in a variety of containers, including Al-Jassah — made from lime or gypsum — and Al-Majlad, which is made from green palm fronds.

However, Saqeer said, “The ‘shannah’ method imparts a unique taste and flavor to the dates, avoiding any unnatural substances. Some even add flavors like mint, orange leaves, or basil to enhance the aromatic experience.”

The 'Shannah' is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, which translates to sweet red dates. (Supplied)

The shannah is primarily used to store one specific type of date known as Al-Helwa Al-Hamra, (sweet red dates), which have a low molasses and sugar content, giving the dates their distinct red color. The natural storage process ensures that shannah dates maintain their original taste, flavor, and fragrant smell, particularly when consumed with natural sheep butter or ghee.

Their unique taste and cultural significance make these dates highly sought after, and a single shannah of dates can fetch up to SR1,500 ($400).

“There are individual efforts by some farmers in AlUla to promote the shannah throughout the year, but we need to have a marketing platform adopted by the commission or any of the entities interested in this type of food,” Suqeer concluded.

 

 

Decoder

What is Shannah?

Shannah is an ancient method of storing and preserving dates in AlUla and elsewhere inthe Arabian Peninsula. Using sheep or goat skin, the meticulous shannah process ensures the quality of dates is maintained throughout, an ingenuity of the past that will be highlighted in the next annual AlUla Dates Festival.