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

 

 

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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.


Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid
Updated 18 sec ago
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Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid
  • Officials discuss efforts to stop Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip, Rafah
  • Saudi FM thanks Spain for decision to recognize State of Palestine

RIYADH: Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday held talks in Madrid with the members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza, headed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting, to discuss developments in the besieged Gaza Strip, was attended by the foreign ministers of Qatar, Palestine, Jordan and Turkiye and the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The committee members hailed Spain’s move to recognize the State of Palestine and vowed to keep pushing to secure Palestinians’ rights and promote peace in the region and the world at a time of extremism, violence and violations of international law, the report said.

More than 140 countries now recognize a Palestinian state, after Spain, Norway and Ireland made the diplomatic move on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed efforts to stop Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip and the city of Rafah, the importance of an immediate ceasefire and the introduction of sustainable humanitarian aid.

It also called for an end to illegitimate Israeli actions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in order to achieve a comprehensive peace, protect Palestinian rights and ensure regional security.

The meeting reviewed the committee’s efforts to support Palestinian statehood and take the necessary steps to implement the two-state solution in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and other international proposals.

The committee stressed the importance of the international community taking urgent steps to recognize Palestine to preserve the rights of its people and achieve security in the region.

Prince Faisal thanked Spain and said its move gave “hope in a very dark time.”

“We are here to say thank you to Spain, Norway, Ireland and Slovenia for taking the right decision at the right time, for being on the right side of history, for being on the right side of justice with all the dark we are seeing as a result of the continuing human catastrophe in Gaza,” he said.

“This is the right moment to give a beacon of hope to the two-state solution, to peace, to coexistence and for that we thank you and we hope that others will follow suit because the only way forward is the path to peace and the path to peace goes through a two-state solution, through a state of Palestine that lives in peace and harmony with all its neighbors including Israel.”


First group of pilgrims from UAE arrives for Hajj

The first group of pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from the UAE for this year’s Hajj was received at Al-Batha Passport Office.
The first group of pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from the UAE for this year’s Hajj was received at Al-Batha Passport Office.
Updated 36 min 44 sec ago
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First group of pilgrims from UAE arrives for Hajj

The first group of pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from the UAE for this year’s Hajj was received at Al-Batha Passport Office.
  • General Directorate of Passports said it is harnessing all its capabilities to facilitate entry procedures for pilgrims

RIYADH: The first group of pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom from the UAE for this year’s Hajj was received at Al-Batha Passport Office on Wednesday.

The General Directorate of Passports said it is harnessing all its capabilities to facilitate entry procedures for pilgrims by supporting all entry points with the latest technical devices operated by qualified staff.

A total of 532,958 pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj as of Sunday, the directorate has reported.


Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings

Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings
Updated 29 May 2024
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Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings

Riyadh Travel Fair spotlights diverse tourism offerings
  • Egypt, Georgia, Turkiye and more attract Saudi tourists
  • The fair serves as a platform for tourism products, services and investments, attracting leading global companies in the field

RIYADH: Top tourism companies showcased their destinations to the Saudi market at the Riyadh Travel Fair, which ended on Wednesday.
Held from May 27-29 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, the event drew top travel and tourism firms from Saudi Arabia, the GCC and wider world.
The fair serves as a platform for tourism products, services and investments, attracting leading global companies in the field.
This year, Riyadh welcomed 250 exhibitors from 23 countries, including 13 tourism boards. New exhibitors included Georgia, South Korea, Egypt, Russia, and the cities of Almaty, Sarajevo and St. Petersburg.
Rusudan Kokoladze, a senior specialist from Georgia’s tourism promotion office, told Arab News: “This is the first time we are participating in the fair, and what we are looking for is to expand our relations with Saudi Arabia and increase the number of Saudi tourists to Georgia, one of the target countries for Saudis who want to see the picturesque beauty and coastline of the Black Sea.
“There is a direct flight to Batumi, so it’s really easy, accessible and safe to travel. It has UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks and attractive greenery, which makes it a popular tourist destination,” she added.
Elene Gogelia, chief coordinator of the brand development department at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, told Arab News: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had 10,000 visitors per year from Saudi Arabia. Of course, the response from year to year has been very positive with an increase in the number of tourists.
“After the pandemic, this is the first year (2024) when in the first quarter alone we have hosted 6,000 Saudi travelers. This is an increase of 28 percent compared to the same time last year.”
She added that Saudi travelers are interested in the Black Sea coast resorts as well as winter ski resorts.
Mohamed El-Sherbeiny, general manager of the International Tourism Office at the Egyptian Tourism Authority, told Arab News: “We are excited to be here; Saudi Arabia is the third biggest market for Egypt. Last year, we received almost 1 million tourists from the Kingdom. We aim to continue the growth rate this year as well, reaching 20 percent more than last year.
“We believe we could achieve it because there is great interest from Saudi travelers to explore more of the northern coast in Egypt during the summer, as it is a wonderful place to relax.”
He said that Riyadh is now a hub for tourists, and “to showcase Egypt at the RTF is interesting.”
Faruk Caluk, senior adviser for tourism development at Visit Sarajevo, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia is a very important market for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a lot of Saudi visitors come to our country. Earlier, we had visa issues, but now it’s solved and open for Saudi citizens, so we expect more visitors this year, and the RTF is a good opportunity.”
The Turkiye tourism and travel groups hosted a large delegation of hospitality partners at the fair. Additionally, the lead actors from popular Turkish series “Kurulus Osman” made an appearance — Orhan (Emre Bey), Cerkutay (Cagri Sensoy), and Holofira (Ecem Sena Bayir), as well as Gunkut Alp (Hakan Serim) from “Dirilis: Ertugrul.” The stars interacted with fans, sharing details about their work.
The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation also took part in the fair. With 17 participants representing nine companies, Visit Maldives showcased the country as a premier travel destination to the Saudi market.


Saudi royal reserve abuzz over beekeeping program

Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi royal reserve abuzz over beekeeping program

Training program by Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications.
  • Program provides theoretical and practical training on the best methods for beekeeping and honey production
  • As well as boosting economic development and promoting local products, it empowers young people by developing their skills

RIYADH: A “Bee Basics” training program by the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority is offering qualifications and opportunities that will ultimately strengthen the local economy.

The program provides both theoretical and practical training on the best methods for beekeeping and honey production, reported Saudi Press Agency.

As well as boosting economic development and promoting local products, it empowers young people by developing their skills, introducing them to the latest beekeeping technologies and providing qualifications.

The training program is helping the authority achieve its strategic goals for community development, as well as building industrial leadership.

Once completed, trainees can obtain licenses from the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Water, allowing them to practice beekeeping and honey production on the royal reserve in accordance with environmental standards.

They are provided with items such as local beehives, beekeeping jackets and wax scrapers. The authority also provides technical support and consultations for a full year, as well as marketing services.

The royal reserve is well known for the quality of its honey varieties, such as sidr, talh, sayyal and shafallah honey. The authority provides places for beekeepers to set up hives in accordance with regulations that guarantee the preservation and sustainability of natural resources.

Since 2020, around 10,584 beneficiaries have shared honey industry funding of SR140 million ($37.3 million) from the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program, also known as Saudi Reef.

Honey production in the Kingdom reached 3,120 tonnes in 2023, a 41 percent increase on 2021. The aim is to increase this to 7,500 tonnes by 2026.


Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh
Updated 29 May 2024
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Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

Getty Images co-founder opens ‘Library Talks’ initiative in Riyadh

RIYADH: Mark Getty, the chairman and co-founder of Getty Images, was the guest speaker at the first of a series of “Library Talks” hosted by the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

The initiative aims to provide a monthly platform for thought leaders, experts and influencers from around the world to share their knowledge, ideas and experiences, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

In his presentation, titled “A Journey Through the Horizons of Technology,” Getty shared his insights on setting up and developing one of the world’s best-known visual media companies.

He spoke of the obstacles and challenges he has faced and emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of producers, authors and content creators.

Prince Faisal bin Salman, chairman of the library’s board, welcomed Getty to the Kingdom.