For Makkah pilgrims, Ramadan offers gateway to Saudi Arabia’s ‘culinary wealth’

For visitors and pilgrims, sampling traditional Saudi iftar staples is a way to explore the diverse flavors of the Kingdom. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)
For visitors and pilgrims, sampling traditional Saudi iftar staples is a way to explore the diverse flavors of the Kingdom. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)
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Updated 26 March 2024
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For Makkah pilgrims, Ramadan offers gateway to Saudi Arabia’s ‘culinary wealth’

For visitors and pilgrims, sampling traditional Saudi iftar staples is a way to explore the diverse flavors of the Kingdom.
  • Pilgrims and visitors to the holy cities get the chance to savor diverse regional dishes, Saudi Arabia chefs say

MAKKAH: In Makkah during Ramadan, pilgrims and visitors get the chance to tuck into traditional Saudi Arabia dishes representing the diverse heritage of the Kingdom’s regions.

Most iftar spreads in the holy city feature authentic Saudi Arabia cuisine including edam, kabsa, saleeg, haneeth, qusaran and jareesh, along with staples from other parts of the world.




For visitors and pilgrims, sampling traditional Saudi iftar staples is a way to explore the diverse flavors of the Kingdom. (Visit Saudi/Supplied)

Saudi Arabia chef Elaf Al-Sharif spoke to Arab News about the importance of incorporating national dishes at hotels and restaurants: “Highlighting Saudi culture through food, flavors and spices is essential. Introducing these culinary traditions not only garners widespread approval from all parts of society but also captures their attention, prompting them to seek these dishes daily, especially during Ramadan.”

Noting the changing landscape of the culinary industry, she added: “It’s important to preserve our identity and cultural heritage through food, so there’s a need for the strong presence of Saudi dishes.”




Wed Saleh, Saudi chef

According to Al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia’s cuisine should be made more accessible for pilgrims and visitors. “The variety of Saudi dishes is vast, spanning across all regions of the Kingdom. They represent a significant culinary wealth, yet often remain not utilized in promoting our culture, customs, and traditional upbringing.”

Food is a universal language uniting people from diverse backgrounds.

Wed Saleh, Saudi chef

Tourism is a great pathway to exploring and celebrating cultures of the world, she said. “Travelers to nations such as Italy frequently observe a strong sense of pride in the cuisine that has been passed down through the years. They believe their ancient recipes to be essential cultural elements and sources of wisdom, which is why they faithfully preserve them.”




For visitors and pilgrims, sampling traditional Saudi iftar staples is a way to explore the diverse flavors of the Kingdom. (SPA)

She said the Italians may modify their dishes to meet contemporary expectations, but “they steadfastly maintain the unique, original flavors.”

Al-Sharif explained that this reflects “our own desire to honor and maintain the culture in which we were raised while embracing modern presentation techniques that elevate rather than diminish the food’s genuine flavor.”




Elaf Al-Sharif, Saudi chef

Through her work in the culinary industry, Al-Sharif said she had met visitors and pilgrims from various backgrounds who were fascinated by the wide variety of Saudi Arabia’s dishes.

“The culinary diversity enhances the appeal of exploring the Kingdom’s regions and indulging in local cuisine as the variety ensures a dynamic rather than monotonous or boring dining experience.”

It’s important to preserve our identity and cultural heritage through food, so there’s a need for the strong presence of Saudi dishes.

Elaf Al-Sharif, Saudi chef

Street food is another way to preserve a city’s culinary heritage, she explained. “In Madinah, visitors eagerly sample street food rather than dining at renowned restaurants. In many Arab countries one often discovers the most exquisite and flavorful dishes nestled within the busy streets, showcasing the beauty and authenticity of local culinary culture.”

Arab News also spoke to Saudi Arabia chef Wed Saleh who said that the holy month of Ramadan brings people and cultures together, especially during iftar. “Food is a universal language uniting people from diverse backgrounds. Pilgrims and visitors eagerly seize this opportunity to explore new dishes … these transformative experiences linger long after they return to their families and homelands.”

Saleh echoed Al-Sharif’s view of the hospitality industry: “Hotels in Makkah are engaged in a creative competitive display of Saudi dishes, from saleeg and jareesh from Taif to other iconic dishes that represent the Kingdom’s regions. These establishments regard Saudi cuisine as a prized offering for their visitors.”

Serving food in the hotels and restaurants of Makkah and Madinah comes with its own challenges, Saleh said: “The establishments must ensure that the meals are served taking into account the hustle and bustle, especially in the areas near the Grand Mosque.”

She added: “It’s important to preserve their historical significance and authentic flavors, without altering their traditional recipes, so that pilgrims may enjoy the traditional experience.”

Pilgrims and visitors carry these cultural experiences forward, she added. “The newfound appreciation often leads visitors to adopt and replicate Saudi dishes in their own countries following their visit.”

 


Saudi deputy FM participates in Sudan peace efforts meeting 

Saudi deputy FM participates in Sudan peace efforts meeting 
Updated 25 July 2024
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Saudi deputy FM participates in Sudan peace efforts meeting 

Saudi deputy FM participates in Sudan peace efforts meeting 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Al-Khuraiji participated on Wednesday in the Second Consultative Meeting Enhancing Coordination of Peace Initiatives and Efforts in Sudan, the Saudi Press Agency said.

During the meeting held in Djibouti, he reiterated the Kingdom’s continued efforts to resolve the Sudanese crisis, and its welcome and openness to international efforts and initiatives aimed at achieving peace in Sudan.

Al-Khuraiji said that the US and the Kingdom facilitated talks between the Sudanese parties in Jeddah, resulting in signing of the Jeddah Declaration to protect civilians in Sudan.

He expressed Saudi Arabia’s keenness on the return of security and stability to Sudan and urging the Sudanese parties to give priority to wisdom and self-restraint, and to show flexibility and respond to positive and humanitarian initiatives.


The Place: Mount Daka, Shams Al-Assil offer rare views of nature and Red Sea

The Place: Mount Daka, Shams Al-Assil offer rare views of nature and Red Sea
Updated 15 min 40 sec ago
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The Place: Mount Daka, Shams Al-Assil offer rare views of nature and Red Sea

The Place: Mount Daka, Shams Al-Assil offer rare views of nature and Red Sea
  • Taif region is major attraction for tourists as it has some of Kingdom’s most diverse flora and fauna

TAIF: In Saudi Arabia’s Makkah province, Mount Daka and Shams Al-Assil provide rare views of the sparkling Red Sea and the Taif region’s diverse flora and fauna.

At more than 2,560 meters above sea level, Mount Daka, located in the heart of Ash Shafa, can be seen from Shams Al-Assil.

Local and international tourists often head up the mountain to experience the view.

At more than 2,560 meters above sea level, Mount Daka is one of the destinations that nature-lovers seek to reach to experience its breathtaking nature.  (SPA)

Mount Daka’s environment is replete with wildlife living among its juniper, acacia, sidr and salam trees.

It is a highly sought-after spot in the Sarawat Mountains range because of its natural environment and animals including rock hyraxes, ibex, rabbits, and Arabian leopards.

Rain and fog may form over it, and its flowers and aromatic plants are a haven for swarms of honey-producing bees.

At more than 2,560 meters above sea level, Mount Daka is one of the destinations that nature-lovers seek to reach to experience its breathtaking nature.  (SPA)

Coastal mangrove-growing program in Saudi on track

Coastal mangrove-growing program in Saudi on track
Updated 25 July 2024
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Coastal mangrove-growing program in Saudi on track

Coastal mangrove-growing program in Saudi on track
  • 13m mangrove seedlings planted since launch a year ago
  • Plan for 100m trees along Red Sea, Arabian Gulf by 2030

RIYADH: The Kingdom is on track to reach its target of planting 100 million mangrove trees by 2030, in line with the Saudi Green Initiative and Vision 2030 plan.

Some 13 million mangrove seedlings have been planted since the launch of the ambitious coastal forest-cover program a year ago, the Saudi Press Agency stated recently, quoting a progress report from the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification.

Mangroves work in concert with coral reefs and seagrass beds to keep coastal zones healthy, say marine scientists. (SPA)

Most of the projects reported by the NCVC are currently being carried out along the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, with Jazan province topping the list at 5.5 million seedlings. Makkah province followed with 2.4 million, Madinah 2 million, Tabuk 1.5 million, and Asir 1 million.

Along the Arabian Gulf coast, the Eastern Province has planted 500,000 seedlings, according to the report.

However, before the formal launch of the project along the Arabian Gulf, the center noted that 700,000 seedlings had already been planted. This included 200,000 on Ras Abu Ali Island in Jubail governorate, and 500,000 in Al-Wajh governorate.

“The project includes fencing and caring for the seedlings, to protect them from algae and seaweed, and protecting the sites from grazing and encroachment,” the SPA reported.

In addition, the NCVC and the Asir Region Development Authority launched on Wednesday a “Mangrove Restoration” program. This was to mark the UN’s International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, which is held annually on July 26.

Mangrove planting in Asir region's Al-Barak governorate. (SPA)

Campaigners planted 500 mangrove seedlings on the beaches of Al-Barak governorate. Leading the event was Al-Barak Gov. Abdullah bin Ali bin Muhya and Mayor Nasser Saeed Al-Shahrani.

The SPA reported that the intention is to raise awareness about the importance of planting and protecting mangrove forests amidst climate change and global warming.

Mangroves, working in concert with seagrass beds and coral reefs, keep coastal zones healthy, say marine scientists.

They have been found to provide essential habitat for thousands of species, stabilize shorelines, prevent erosion and protect communities from waves and storms.

“An estimated 75 percent of commercially caught fish spend some time in the mangroves or depend on food webs that can be traced back to these coastal forests,” according to the American Museum of Natural History.

Many countries suffering from severe mangrove destruction have continued to record declines in fish stocks.


Saudi electric car consumer base growing as Kingdom aims to become a hub for the technology

Saudi electric car consumer base growing as Kingdom aims to become a hub for the technology
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi electric car consumer base growing as Kingdom aims to become a hub for the technology

Saudi electric car consumer base growing as Kingdom aims to become a hub for the technology

RIYADH: Hamed Al-Rafidain, who works in HR, drives a fuel-guzzling 4 X 4, as many in Saudi Arabia do — but his other car is electric.

Al-Rafidain, 39, is part of a small but growing electric vehicle consumer base in the Kingdom, which aims to become a hub for the technology.

“What drove me to buy electric was financial considerations,” said Rafidain, who spends up to SR2,000 ($530) a month on fuel for his off-road vehicle. “Maintenance costs are also lower compared to a conventional vehicle, with no oil changes.”

For a little over $53,300, he bought a BYD mostly for short trips within the capital. Driving outside Riyadh was a “gamble, especially since the infrastructure is still underdeveloped,” Rafidain said.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, owns 60 percent of electric car maker Lucid and South Korea’s Hyundai plans a factory in the Kingdom. The Saudi brand CEER, launched in 2022, expects to start production in 2025. Eventually Saudi Arabia aims to produce 300,000 electric cars a year.

Meanwhile Chinese giant BYD is expected to dominate the Saudi market, since its global rival Tesla has no dealerships in the Kingdom.
Electric car sales tripled last year to nearly 800 and salesman Hassan Mohammed expects more this year. “More than one car brand has opened its doors in the Kingdom and now offers after-sales service, which has encouraged consumers,” he said.


Saudi leaders offer condolences to Kuwait after passing of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah 

Saudi leaders offer condolences to Kuwait after passing of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah 
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi leaders offer condolences to Kuwait after passing of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah 

Saudi leaders offer condolences to Kuwait after passing of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent letters of condolences to Kuwait’s Emir Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah over the death of Sheikh Jaber Duaij Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah, the Saudi Press Agency said Wednesday.

The Crown Prince also sent a separate letter to Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah.

Sheikh Jaber died at the age of 71 and will be buried after Thursday’s Maghrib (Sunset) prayer, Kuwait’s news agency said.