Cairo delights at sweet candies as Muslim festival nears

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Egyptian women decorate traditional sugar statuettes in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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An Egyptian child gazes at statuettes made from sugar in front of a candy factory in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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A woman decorates traditional sugar candy at a market in the capital Cairo on November 02, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi". (AFP)
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An Egyptian confectioner shows bars of sweets with sesame at a candy factory in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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Egyptian women decorate traditional sugar statuettes in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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Decorated traditional sugar statuettes are ready to be distributed to vendors in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
Updated 03 November 2019

Cairo delights at sweet candies as Muslim festival nears

  • Decorated sugar dolls, horse-shaped candies and nut-filled treats are on display in shops lining Cairo
  • Sunni Muslims in many parts of the world celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday

CAIRO: The sweet smell of candies wafts through downtown Cairo’s historic Bab Al-Bahr street as the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, known as “Al Mawlid Al Nabawi,” draws near.
Decorated sugar dolls, horse-shaped candies and nut-filled treats are on display in shops lining the busy street near Islamic Cairo, a historic district filled with mosques, tombs and caravanserais.
“We love to share this happy mood,” said one stall-holder who was adorning a candy doll with glitter and colored paper, drawing intense interest from a group of playful children.
“We come to Bab Al-Bahr during this time every year to decorate candies.”
Sunni Muslims in many parts of the world celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday on the 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar, which this year falls on Saturday, November 9.
Prophet Muhammad was born in Saudi Arabia’s arid mountainous city of Makkah, the holiest site in Islam, some 1450 years ago.
The Al Mawlid Al Nabawi celebrations are said to have originated in Egypt in the Fatimid dynasty which ruled the country some 1,000 years ago.
As the faithful look forward to the celebrations, Cairo’s dessert makers are preparing other mouthwatering sweets made of peanuts, sesame seeds, coconuts and pistachios.
“I have been coming here annually for the past 35 years because I love decorating the candies,” said 56-year-old Abdou, who is originally a carpenter.
“These sweets are available for the poor and the rich alike.”
Nearby, 25-year-old Sayed stood stirring a boiling sugary mix with a large wooden spatula.
“I have been working at this shop since I was 12 years old,” he said, adding that his job keeps Egypt’s sweet-tooths happy all year.
After the festivities, he said, “we go back to making chocolates and regular candies.”

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AlUla cultural and heritage site to reopen in October

Updated 02 June 2020

AlUla cultural and heritage site to reopen in October

  • Historic destination in northwest of Kingdom will now be accessible to visitors all year round

JEDDAH: When you’re already a quarter-of-a-million years old, a few months out of action because of a coronavirus pandemic is no more than a blip in time.

It is therefore safe to say that when visitors return to AlUla, the culture and heritage destination in northwest Saudi Arabia, not a lot will have changed.

AlUla’s attractions, including the Kingdom’s first UNESCO world heritage site, will reopen in October — and they will now be accessible all year round.

Walks, treks and trails will be available, guided by the local Rawi (Arabic storyteller) or self-guided, for visitors who want to delve deeper into the stories and customs of the region.

A visit to AlUla is a transformative experience to all who have visited — its vast open spaces, its secrets of civilizations gone by and the pure wonder of its landmarks.

“We are developing immersive, light-touch experiences that harness the power and silence of the landscapes, experiences like guided stargazing in a desert night sky that has inspired science, religion, philosophy, art and literature for millennia,” said Phillip Jones of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Adventure tourists can tear around in a desert buggy or take to the skies in a vintage light aircraft to see volcanic craters and the lava fields of Harrat Khaybar. 

For families, Hijrat Noura, or Princess Noura Farm, offers a chance to observe the local flora and fauna. Winter Park, developed for the Winter at Tantora festival, will also return.

“A visit to AlUla is a transformative experience to all who have visited — its vast open spaces, its secrets of civilizations gone by and the pure wonder of its landmarks,” Jones said.