Departing pilgrims face cap on Zam Zam water

Updated 14 October 2014

Departing pilgrims face cap on Zam Zam water

Pilgrims returning home after completing the Haj pilgrimage are becoming increasingly resentful of the five-liter cap on Zam Zam water imposed by the authorities.
With the demand for the precious water surging as pilgrims return home, the authorities have moved to increase the supplies of Zam Zam in Jeddah and Madinah.While in Makkah, pilgrims have access to plentiful supplies of Zam Zam.
However, the long tradition of carrying Zam Zam water home following the Haj may well be on its way to becoming a memory as now almost all pilgrims are only allowed to carry a five-liter container with them which they are given at the check in counters at the airports. Moreover, this facility is limited to those pilgrims who have performed the Haj under government schemes.
However, individual pilgrims who came through private Haj operators are also allowed to take the same quantity of Zam Zam upon their return home.
Saeed Musfer Al-Wadi, director of the King Abdullah Project for Zam Zam of the National Water Company told Arab News: “Zam Zam water is being packed according to norms set by the civil aviation authorities in view of the carriage space in aircrafts.” He added that, “We are exclusively packing five-liter cans for returning pilgrims as advised by the civil aviation authorities.”
He said that the King Abdullah Project for Zam Zam produced over 78 million water bottles during the current Haj season.
Al-Wadi also said that, “We have prepared well in advance to serve pilgrims by raising our production and both production and packing is being done according to world standards of excellence.” He added that they had established ten selling points at the airports for the sale of five-liter cans of Zam Zam water.
While pilgrims welcomed the change, they were disappointed at the five-liter cap imposed on the volume of Zam Zam water.
“Every pilgrim wishes to take as much as Zam Zam as he can, but since authorities have ruled that they can only take a five-liter can, we have to abide by the ruling,” Indonesian Religious Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin told Arab News earlier.
Egyptian pilgrim Rashad Fahmi said: “We thank the authorities for gifting the Zam Zam water upon our return home, but a mere five-liter can is insufficient for my family let alone the numerous visitors and relatives who will come to welcome me after the Haj pilgrimage.” He added that this was the only unique gift he could present back home.
“Zam Zam is a significant part of our journey of a life time,” said Indian pilgrim Abdul Hameed, referring to the pilgrimage, “but a five-liter can is really disappointing,” he concluded.


Experimental cocoa bean harvest: A sweet opportunity for Saudi Arabia

Gebran Al-Maliki, owner of a cocoa plantation, says introducing cocoa will help reshape the agriculture sector. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 01 December 2020

Experimental cocoa bean harvest: A sweet opportunity for Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia provides an environment conducive to the shrub’s growth, says expert

MAKKAH: In an unprecedented experience for the Kingdom, a harvest season of more than 200 cocoa shrubs began this year in Jazan following several years of planting the Filipino seedlings.

The foreign plant is a new experiment for the Kingdom as it plans on testing out the long-term success of planting the favored sweet treat.

Specialists in the region pointed out that the cocoa shrub resembles the famous coffee shrub found in the south region of the Kingdom, where a number of farmers have already begun to evaluate the experience and continue cultivating land to make room for more, while others were not so successful.

The supervisor of the Mountain Areas Development and Reconstruction Authority in Jazan, Eng. Bandar Al-Fifi, said: “The cocoa shrub is a tropical or subtropical shrub and is native to South America and East Asia. It was presented to the Mountain Regions Development and Reconstruction Authority a few years back, specifically to the agricultural research station.”

FASTFACTS

• The Jazan region is known for its lush, green lands and fertile soil that possesses the necessary ingredients to ensure the development of other crops.

• Rainfall is abundant, seasonal fluctuations in rainfall are scarce and humidity is high, ensuring that soil continues to retain the moisture it requires for harvests.

He added: “The cultivation process was carried out six years ago by bringing seeds and seedlings from the Philippines. The seeds were cultivated and seedlings were distributed to some interested farmers in the region.

“We in the station’s field have cocoa, banana, mango and guava trees, as well as many tropical and subtropical trees. The field is being used as a guarantor of seeds, in addition to conducting tests and real experiments in an area of 200 meters, in particular on 15 cocoa plants and the first cocoa shrub in Saudi Arabia.”

He told Arab News that it was difficult at first to encourage farmers to invest in the plant, as many were hesitant to introduce a plant not indigenous to the region in order to facilitate the establishment of manufacturing factories and grow a local market.

Al-Fifi said that in Ethiopia, companies buy crops from farmers and then start an integrated industrial process of sorting, cleaning, drying and roasting, because to complete the whole process is not economically viable for farmers alone.

“If every farmer owns 30 cocoa shrubs, this will be an additional source of income for their future,” he added.

The Jazan region is known for its lush, green lands and fertile soil that possesses the necessary ingredients to ensure the development of other crops that guarantee continuity and different harvest times for each type of plant harvested in the area. Rainfall is abundant, seasonal fluctuations in rainfall are scarce and humidity is high, ensuring that soil continues to retain the moisture it requires for harvests.

“In addition to the fact that the temperature gap between small and mature shrubs is not big, due to our proximity to the equator, Saudi Arabia is located below the tropical line, which creates environmental conditions that help the shrub grow,” said Al-Fifi.

Gebran Al-Maliki, one of the owners of a cocoa plantation in Jazan, told Arab News: “Adding cocoa to the Kingdom’s agricultural field is one of the innovative things in Saudi Arabia and it began to give good results that would broadly stimulate the development process, provide an agricultural model that can be trusted and improve experience in a country that supports its farmers and provides them with all the required capabilities.”

He received seeds and seedlings by the end of 2016 as an experiment in which everyone was granted support. “Some wanted to give this new experience a try, because it is similar to the coffee plant. It is an ordinary shrub, just like fruit and citrus trees, but it is a drought-tolerant shrub that is watered once a week.”

To successfully cultivate the fruit, Al-Maliki said that shrubs need shade when first planted in the ground as they are “quite finicky,” but that with the proper care and attention, a tree will flower at about three to four years of age and can grow up to two meters in height.

With up to 400 seeds, the product testing began on his farm after just four years.

“You can find 30 to 50 seeds inside a pod, which are later dried under the sun and ground to become a ready-to-use powder. Cocoa powder can be found in chocolate, oils and cosmetics, in addition to several other uses,” Al-Maliki said.

He said that the seed is very bitter and explained that the more bitter, the better the quality. He added that he has four shrubs, and what hindered the spreading process was waiting for the product quality test results, indicating that the fruit was tried and was found very successful.

The agricultural research station for the Development and Reconstruction of Agricultural Areas aim to reach 50 shrubs in the region to provide enough fruit to produce seeds and seedlings for farmers. Al-Fifi said that they aim to reach 400 seedlings per year that will be distributed, on top of seedlings grown by the region’s farmers themselves.