Shada mountains’ aromatic coffee is a sought-after brew

The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Updated 03 January 2024
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Shada mountains’ aromatic coffee is a sought-after brew

Shada mountains’ aromatic coffee is a sought-after brew
  • Farms with over 54,000 trees yield more than 12 tons annually
  • 150-year-old trees still produce coffee through careful preservation

RIYADH: The Shada mountains, in the highlands of Al-Baha, always have the alluring aroma of coffee in the air.

The coffee shrubs on the Shada Al-Asfal and Shada Al-Ala mountains produce a distinct type of bean that has become an in-demand commodity in the country.

Scattered across these mountains are farms that have over 54,000 trees, which yield more than 12 tons annually.

Over 280 farmers are involved in this enterprise, according to statistics from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture branch in Baha.

The twin mountains, part of a mountain range amidst a series of low plains and valleys, are the highest peaks in the Tihama plain.

Shada Al-Ala reaches an elevation of 2,200 meters, while Shada Al-Asfal stands at around 1,500 meters.

Agriculture on these mountains extends to other produce, but the primary crop is coffee.

Remarkable methods are used for the care of the coffee trees. The plants are watered by storing rainwater in hollow rocks strung together to resemble tanks, as explained by Ali Al-Ghamdi, the owner of a farm on Shada Al-Asfal mountain.

His farm has around 700 Shada coffee trees. The plants receive meticulous care, as well as the planting, drying and processing, he said.

The price of Shada coffee ranges between SR100 ($26) and SR150 per kilogram.

From Shada Al-Asfal to Shada Al-Ala, some trees that have stood for over 150 years still yield coffee.

Some 300 of them are carefully tended by Abdullah Al-Shadawi, who has followed in the farming footsteps of his ancestors. He said there is a significant yield yearly because of the fertile soil.

Fahad Al-Zahrani, director of the ministry’s Baha region, said the government provides considerable support for the farmers to meet their targets.

Al-Zahrani said the ministry distributes around 80 liters of insecticides annually to farmers, and that the reclamation project, of agricultural terraces, on both mountains has benefited 93 farmers.

There are 125 agricultural terrace reservoirs, 83 in Shada Al-Asfal and 42 in Shada Al-Ala.

The ministry has established a Coffee City project in the north of Baha, covering an area of 1.6 million square meters, which aims to create 1,000 jobs and ensure the cultivation of 300,000 coffee trees.


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • The procedure is meant to keep the cover, known as kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered with as pilgrims performing Hajj circumabulate the Kaaba

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.

The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the "once in a lifetime" journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced that visit visa holders are not allowed to enter or stay in Makkah during May 23-June 21 as access to the city will be limited to Hajj visa holders.

The ministry stressed that all types of visit visa are not a permit to perform Hajj, adding that violators will be subject to penalties according to Saudi laws and regulations.


Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, conveyed the condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to top Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions.

Prince Mansour bin Muteb bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to King Salman and Minister of State, and Prince Faisal were received by Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iran President Mohammad Jamshidi and Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Al-Enazi attended the reception.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.