RIYADH: The Saudi air defense has intercepted an armed Houthi drone launched toward the kingdom's southern region, the Arab coalition said Wednesday.
Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
- In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi explains the appeal and cultural significance of jareesh and maqshush
- They were recently named by the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission as the Kingdom’s national dish and dessert
RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission announced this month that jareesh has been selected as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and maqshush as its national dessert.
Jareesh is a slow-cooked dish of cracked wheat, vegetables and a sauce, with the optional addition of lamb. Maqshush is made of buckwheat bites topped with some combination of ghee, honey, dates, molasses and sugar.
The commission’s announcement forms part of its National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which seeks to identify and celebrate popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture. It will include research to discover which dishes best represent each region, the results of which are due to be announced later in the year.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi, an internationally renowned Saudi executive chef, welcomed the initiative, which he said will showcase traditional dishes and ensure they are at the forefront of the Saudi Culinary scene.
Al-Oraifi, who is a member of the World Master Chefs Society and the founder of Kit Catering, said that jareesh originated in the central Najd region and there is more than one variety.
“Usually, we cook it with laban (buttermilk), so it is known as white jareesh,” he said. “We also have a second kind of jareesh, which is from Hail (in north-western Saudi Arabia), and it is red because we cook it with tomato sauce.”
The distinctive flavors of the dish come from its topping of ghee, caramelized onions and lemon powder, he added.
The selection of jareesh as national dish reflects its popularity across Saudi society, the Culinary Arts Commission said, and references to it can be found in heritage books dating back centuries. It is considered one of the most important dishes in Saudi heritage and is known as “master of dishes,” it added.
Al-Oraifi said that the main reason jareesh is so popular is because people in the Najd region historically ate wheat rather than rice because it required fewer resources.
“Jareesh is a traditional dish everyone likes, young and the old,” he said. “The dish is filled with different flavors; it is kind of salty, a little bit sour because of the buttermilk, and you can eat it during winter or summer.”
According to the commission, the dish is typically served on a variety of occasions, mainly happy ones, and though it originated in the central region it spread throughout the Kingdom.
Maqshush, meanwhile is a dessert typically served as breakfast in Saudi households, and comprises wheat flour, ghee and honey or sugar. It is particularly popular during the winter. According to the commission, the history of the dish dates back more than a century and it is commonly served with Saudi coffee.
Al-Oraifi — who is also a member of the World Association of Master Chefs, the Emirates Culinary Guild, Latin American gastronomic association Aregala International, and the Saudi Arabian Chef Association — is pleased that the dessert, which originated in Hail, is being recognized.
“Maqshush also is made from wheat,” he said. “We mix two kinds of flower in Maqshush: white and brown.”
He added that it is a popular breakfast dish because the wheat, ghee and honey provide energy and power.
In addition to their widespread popularity, the authenticity of their flavors, and their significance in Saudi culture, jareesh and maqshush were chosen as national dishes because they are simple to prepare using ingredients that are readily available, the commission said.
According to “Saveurs d’Arabie” (“Flavors of Arabia”), a cookbook published recently by the commission and Cassi Edition, maqshush might be considered a combination of pancakes and bread because of its taste and texture. It’s small, soft loaves are simple to make and were traditionally baked on a saj, a convex metal pan.
According to the book, the word maqshush means one who picks the smallest portion or pieces of food, which is thought to reflect the fact the dish is prepared from simple, inexpensive ingredients.
Al-Oraifi has been crowned the best chef in Saudi Arabia three times. In 2021, he was awarded first place in the culinary category at the National Cultural Awards. He was the executive chef of Suhail restaurant in Riyadh and AlUla, for which he created a unique, authentic menu.
He joined Al-Khozama group as Executive Chef in 2022 to create a contemporary Saudi menu for Maiz restaurant in Diriyah, and recently moved to Paris for the advanced study of French pastry.
VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
- Turki Al-Sheikh inaugurates new premium destination in Saudi capital
RIYADH: VIA Riyadh is the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination that includes select restaurants, a cinema, the Kingdom’s first St. Regis Hotel, and elite shopping outlets.
Fireworks lit up the sky as Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, inaugurated VIA Riyadh, which will officially open its doors to the public in mid-February.
VIA Riyadh will offer live performances, as well as exceptional hospitality, accommodation and services to visitors seeking premium experiences.
Construction of the area, which is built in the Salmani style, took 20 months. The Salmani design process is based on six core values outlined by King Salman: authenticity, continuity, human-centricity, livability, innovation and sustainability. Salmani architecture integrates modern lifestyles while evoking the local identity and architectural heritage of the Kingdom.
Located near the Ritz-Carlton, VIA Riyadh holds a significant place in Saudi history as it was the birthplace of the Second Saudi State in the 1820s. Stones from the Tuwaiq mountains were carefully chosen and extracted to create and build the area.
To encourage calm and serenity at VIA Riyadh, water fountains have been installed in the interiors and waterfalls intertwined with the rest of the outdoor landscape. The gentle and soothing sounds of water create an experience that enhances the picturesque natural landscape of the area.
The inauguration ceremony witnessed the presence of a number of ministers, officials and ambassadors accredited to the Kingdom.
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Saudi minister of tourism, shared on his official Twitter account: “At the invitation of my brother, His Excellency Counselor Turki Al-Sheikh @Turki_alalshikh, I was pleased to attend the opening of the @ViaRiyadh project, which includes the St. Regis Hotel for the first time in the Kingdom and a number of luxurious restaurants, which contributes to creating a unique experience for visitors and residents of the city of Riyadh, which will remain the most exciting and attractive tourist destination.”
Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Iwai Fumio said on his official Twitter account: “At the kind invitation of His Excellency the President of the General Entertainment Authority @Turki_alalshikh attended the inauguration ceremony of @ViaRiyadh last night. This site truly embodies a distinct mark in Riyadh where you enjoy a new and unique experience.”
The private ceremony also witnessed the honoring of Khaled Al-Malik, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, for his exceptional media career.
348 arrests in Saudi drug busts
RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested 348 people after Border Guards intercepted attempts to smuggle large quantities of narcotics into the Kingdom.
Border Guards spokesman Col. Misfer Al-Quraini said on Wednesday that land patrols seized more than 42 tons of the stimulant khat, 661 kg of hashish, 118,517 amphetamine tablets and 318,970 tablets that are subject to medical regulation in a series of raids in Najran, Jazan, Asir, Tabuk, Makkah and Madinah.
Al-Quraini said that the arrests included 33 Saudi citizens and 315 violators of the border security system, 273 of whom were Yemenis, 38 Ethiopians, three Egyptians, and one Eritrean.
Initial legal procedures against the suspects have been completed, and the contraband has been passed on to the relevant authorities, Al-Quraini added.
The Saudi government has urged anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline at 1910, the international number 00 966 114208417, or to email [email protected] Financial rewards are available for valid tips.
Last month, Saudi authorities arrested about 800 people from the Najran, Tabuk, Jazan and Asir regions for smuggling large quantities of drugs into the Kingdom.
Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks
- Ministers calls on the international community to step up and play its part in the process
- They also discuss the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings
RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities in relation to this and to help end the occupation, stop Israeli attacks, and ensure civilians are protected.
It came during the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers at Irqah Palace in Riyadh, presided over by King Salman, during which members discussed the latest regional and international developments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
At the start of the session, the Cabinet was briefed on a message sent to the king by the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and a telephone call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Ministers then discussed the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings, in light of its desire to develop initiatives and solutions that can help address the challenges facing the global economy.
These include a joint framework initiative for debt treatment, and Saudi Arabia’s role in the implementation of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Health Security, including financial support of $50 million, to help prevent pandemics.
They also include the Kingdom’s work in cooperation with the Indonesian presidency of the G20 last year to develop a response to the global food-security crisis, and the implementation of those initiatives in partnership with India, which holds the presidency of the G20 this year.
Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of the burning of copies of the Qur’an in a number of European capitals.
Ministers welcomed the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding during the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit last week, he added, as well as discussions during the event that focused on developments in the sector, investment opportunities, and ways to consolidate and enhance the Kingdom’s leading position in this field, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the national economy through research and the development of scientific knowledge.
The Cabinet also noted the outcomes of the Municipal Investment Forum in Riyadh last week, during which investment portals were launched for Saudi cities, and 125 contracts and agreements worth more than SR12 billion ($3.1 billion) were signed, offering more than 5,000 investment opportunities for the private sector. During the event, about 200 projects for entrepreneurs were reviewed, and the largest investment opportunity of its kind in the outdoor advertising sector was launched.
Ministers approved a cooperation agreement between the Saudi and Uzbekistan ministries of energy, and another one between the Saudi Ministry of Education and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education.
They authorized the minister of culture to sign a draft memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation with the Ministry of Crafts, Culture, Hotel Industry and Tourism in Mali, and approved a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi and Senegalese governments for cooperation to encourage direct investment.
The Cabinet also approved a MoU on desalination cooperation between the Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and authorized the minister of health to sign a draft MoU for cooperation with the Tunisian Ministry of Health.
The minister of media, and chairman of the board of directors of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, was authorized to sign a draft MoU with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India, and the president of the Islamic University of Madinah to sign a draft MoU with the Islamic Development Bank Group.
Saudi Arabia strongly condemns Pakistan blast, offers condolences for victims
- Saudi Arabia says it stands by Pakistan against all forms of violence, extremism
- Blast inside mosque in northwestern Pakistan killed over 80 people on Monday
ISLAMABAD: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday strongly condemned a bomb blast that took place in northwestern Pakistan, killing over 80 people and injuring several others, saying that it stands by the people of Pakistan after the attack.
Eighty-three people were killed and over 50 were injured when a blast ripped through a mosque located in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday afternoon, during Zuhr prayers, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.
The mosque was located inside a compound where the headquarters of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police is located. Militant groups have stepped up attacks against security forces in Pakistan ever since a fragile truce between the Pakistani Taliban and the state broke down last year.
A senior Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander claimed responsibility for the Peshawar blast. However, hours after the attack, the TTP released a statement distancing itself from the episode, saying that it did not target the mosque.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's strong condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist attack that took place at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan," Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Kingdom stated its "firm position" against targeting places of worship and shedding the blood of innocent citizens. "The Ministry also affirms that the Kingdom stands by the brotherly Islamic Republic of Pakistan against all forms of violence, extremism, and terrorism, regardless of its motives or justifications."
Saudi Arabia condoled with the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.