Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
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Updated 23 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
  • Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season”

JEDDAH: In winter, citron, known as etrinj, returns to Saudi homes from the Kingdom’s farms, bringing with it myriad health benefits and a distinct flavor that in some regions has crafted a culinary tradition of its own.

The fruit is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

Part of the larger citrus family, citron particularly thrives in Jouf due to its favorable climate, water availability, and fertile land, making it one of the region’s most prevalent trees alongside olives and palms. Citron also stands out as a key agricultural crop in Al-Ahsa farms.




Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Citron is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

• Farmers sell it with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

• In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives.

He noted that the success of citron farming in the region was due to climatic factors including temperature, relative humidity, light, and wind, adding that temperature was one of the most important factors determining the success of citron farming, in addition to the type of land, whether loamy yellow or heavy clay free from harmful salts.

Agricultural technician Abdulrahman Al-Sweis told Arab News that it was important for the crop to receive good agricultural care and be in a sunny area well-protected from the wind and planted in a spacious field.




Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

He pointed out that the citron fruit was popular for its qualities and was part of the Saudi cultural heritage, adding that there was more awareness about it now through social media.

He said: “Many have started using it as a treatment to face winter diseases due to its richness in vitamins that increase the body’s immunity.”

Gifting the fruit to relatives, friends, and neighbors during harvesting season has been a cultural tradition in the Kingdom. However, the practice has diminished as some opt to sell their harvest, driven by its increasing popularity owing to its significant health benefits.




Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Coming in yellow, green, and occasionally orange hues, citron’s larger size, mild acidity, and delicious taste make it akin to a lemon. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fibers, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium, it boasts numerous nutritional and health benefits.

The versatile fruit has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. In Jouf and Al-Ahsa, residents relish preparing marisah, a mix of citron squares with chili, turmeric, mint, and optional additions of salt, dates, or sugar. Some enjoy it sliced or as a jam.

Mohammed Al-Masn, a farmer, said that some locals eat it or make a juice or jam from it. On the diversity of dishes that incorporate the fruit, he added: “The residents of the province do not make citron marisah as in some areas in the north of the Kingdom … they make Al-Wadma which is unique to Al-Ahsa.”




Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Al-Wadma is a traditional Hassawi dish, made of dried small fish and citron juice, accompanied by radish, green onions, and lettuce. The fish is either ground or crushed before being combined with citron juice and pieces of citron. After letting it sit for some time, it is eaten with radish leaves.

In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives. Citron juices, featuring various flavors such as turmeric, ginger, and mint, are also popular.

While citron was traditionally not commercialized, recent years have seen some farmers sell it, with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

Al-Masn pointed out that the citron plant was also suitable for indoor cultivation.

He said: “Ensure the pot is positioned near a window receiving ample sunlight to maintain a temperature above 18 degrees Celsius. When spring concludes, the pot can be moved outdoors permanently and then returned indoors during autumn. This plant can also be seamlessly integrated into home garden settings.”

 


KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO

KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO
Updated 9 sec ago
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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 34 min 33 sec ago
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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 new envoy to Syria

Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria
Updated 31 min 14 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria

Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria

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.


Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative
Updated 41 min 16 sec ago
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Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

RIYADH: The Makkah Route Initiative implemented by the Ministry of Interior at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, is providing exceptional services to Indonesian pilgrims, ensuring a smooth and comfortable Hajj journey.

Elderly pilgrims have expressed gratitude for the ease of procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Siti Munasaru, a 69-year-old pilgrim from Tangerang, said she appreciates the ease with which Hajj procedures are carried out, and expressed deep gratitude to Saudi Arabia and those responsible for the initiative.

Suwatini Binti Amat, a 68-year-old pilgrim from Purworejo, Central Java, thanked the Kingdom for the services provided to pilgrims, and stressed that the Makkah Route Initiative has greatly relieved the hardships faced during traditional travel, particularly for elderly pilgrims, making their Hajj journey more comfortable and safer.

The Makkah Route Initiative has reduced waiting times, and made the trip to the holy land more convenient.

It reflects the strong collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and underscores the commitment to provide excellent services to pilgrims, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Services include the issuing of electronic Hajj visas, biometric data collection, completion of passport procedures in specialized lounges at departure airports, ensuring health requirements are met, and efficient luggage tagging and sorting. After arrival in the Kingdom, pathways are assigned, and partner agencies ensure hassle-free delivery of pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation.


MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia
Updated 36 min 5 sec ago
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MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Heritage Commission and ASFAR, Saudi Arabia’s tourism investment company fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance visitor experience at cultural heritage sites in the Kingdom.

Heritage Commission CEO Jasser Al-Harbash and ASFAR CEO Fahad bin Mushayt attended the signing, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The agreement aims to improve operational efficiency, enhance cooperation, develop plans, refine designs, and establish operational models for heritage sites across Saudi Arabia.

The commission highlighted the importance of partnerships in its commitment to developing the national heritage and archaeology sector, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

ASFAR plays a crucial role in shaping the Kingdom’s tourism sector through investments in tourist destinations, historical and cultural sites, SPA said.

The company aims to raise the prominence of Saudi cities on the tourism map by collaborating with public and private sectors.