From cool highlands to desert oases, a diverse terrain makes Saudi Arabia a fertile land for many crops

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The oasis of Al-Ahsa in KSA's Eastern Province includes more than 2.5 million palm trees extending over an area of more than 85.4 square kilometers. (SPA)
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An alfalfa farm in Riyadh region's Wadi Ad-Dawasir governorate. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 September 2022

From cool highlands to desert oases, a diverse terrain makes Saudi Arabia a fertile land for many crops

  • The Kingdom exports more than 300 varieties of date in an industry worth SR7.5 billion
  • The humid air and fertile soil of Jazan, Al-Baha and Abha are ideal for coffee cultivation

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s most diverse natural landscapes. With 2 million square kilometers of land, the Kingdom is home to crops ranging from palm trees, fruit and olives to coffee beans, rice, lentils and more.

Palm trees — growth, vitality and prosperity

Although climate change poses a threat to agriculture around the world, the variable climate in different regions of the Kingdom makes it ideal for cultivating palm trees.

Blessed with abundant rainfall, Bisha province in the Kingdom's southwest boasts of fully organic palm trees and free of pesticides. (SPA file photo)

Palm trees symbolize the history, heritage, generosity and hospitality of the Saudi nation and its culture, and are also a natural resource for one of the most popular ancient fruits in the world, dates.

According to the International Dates Council, there are 200 million palm trees worldwide, occupying 1.23 hectares of land and producing 9.5 million tons of dates annually in 40 countries.

The Saudi National Center for Palms and Dates announced recently that according to the International Trade Center, the Kingdom in 2021 ranked first internationally among 113 countries in date exports, with a value with SR1.2 billion ($323.4 million).

The 33 million palm trees in the Kingdom represent 27 percent of the world total, with 1.54 million tons of dates produced annually through 13 regions distributed over 123,000 agricultural holdings.

“This distinguished achievement and the great level of excellence that the Kingdom has reached in date exporting is due to the efforts made throughout the years by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture,” Bashar Al-Koraie, CEO of the Zadna dates company, told Arab News. 

A general view taken from an airplane on September 11, 2014 shows cultured farms in northern Saudi Arabia. (AFP file)

The ministry also assisted in promoting the Saudi dates brand by improving the quality of production on farms, following best agricultural practices, and adopting quality standards for exportable dates in factories and packing stations.

Saudi Arabia exports over 300 types of dates to different countries, including the US, Europe, East Asia, the MENA region and Gulf states.

Al-Koraie said that the most popular types of dates in the Kingdom are majdool, khudari, khlas, sukkari, shishi, safawi, sufri, sagee, ajwa, barhi and anbara.

The palm and date sector in Saudi Arabia is worth about SR7.5 billion, which is 12 percent of the total agricultural output and 0.4 percent of the total non-oil gross product.

The three most important administrative regions for date production in the Kingdom are located in the center, east and west of the country, represented in the city of Qassim, Al-Ahsa — known as “The Mother of Palm Trees” — and Madinah.

Qassim region in central Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers of dates. (SPA)

Dates from Qassim province are exported to more than 74 countries around the globe. The region produces more than 300,000 tons of dates annually. 

“The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 gave palm trees and dates sector great attention through its development and sustainability, and it has also implemented programs to develop the sector as it has raised the overall rate of the country’s gross domestic product,” Al-Koraie said.

Jouf is home to more than 984,000 palm trees, with the region producing more than 70,000 tons of dates of different varieties annually.

The trees produce a special type of date, known as “Helwat Al-Jouf,” or “the sweet of Al-Jouf.”

This large, dark and extra-sweet fruit retains its quality and can be stored for up to five years. It is usually served in winter and is used in a variety of traditional Arabian desserts.

Palm dates in the oasis of Madain Saleh in AlUla. (Supplied)

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s palm trees and the date sector are now supported internationally as the Kingdom succeeded in registering dates as an “unusual fruit” with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO has also approved Saudi Arabia’s proposal to declare 2027 as the “International Year of Dates.”

MEWA’s palm and date germplasm bank has been listed in Guinness World Records for the largest number of palm varieties, with 127 national types.

To support Saudi palm farmers and help them expand their agricultural businesses, the National Center for Palms and Dates launched a new e-platform, Mozare3, early in August.

The platform aims to be the first and leading supporter in developing and increasing farmers’ production, while contributing to the sustainability of the palm and dates sector.

Coffee beans — the Kingdom’s green gold

Coffee and dates are two iconic products and a famous Saudi combination. Coffee is embedded in the Saudi values of hospitality, music and poetry to such an extent that it is recognized as a core element of Saudi folk heritage.

Saudi Arabia is ranked 50th in the world in terms of the quantity of coffee beans production.

Almohanad Al-Marwai, co-founder and CEO of the Arabian Coffee Institute, told Arab News that the types of coffee beans in the Kingdom are yet to be determined.

A Saudi farmer and his son harvest Khawlani coffee beans at a coffee farm in the southwestern region of Jazan on January 26, 2022. (AFP file)

“The main types are arabica. However, the main varieties are still under DNA studies to determine what the Kingdom produces.”

Coffee crops are found mainly in Jazan, while there are several coffee plantations in Al-Baha and Abha.

The mountainous areas’ humid and cool environment and fertile soil are ideal for coffee cultivation, which depends entirely on seasonal rainwater.

What makes Jazan stand out is the agricultural characteristics of its highlands, which feature terraces for growing coffee.

With 12 years of experience in the coffee industry, Al-Marwai is also a certified Q Arabica grader, Q Processor and an authorized Specialty Coffee Association trainer.


Jazan is the only place that uses this coffee farming method in the whole world currently, which plays a major part in the notes and coffee flavor,” Al-Marwai said Jazan’s most popular coffee variety, khawlani, is known as “green gold” and the “pampered tree,” and can be found nestled deep in forests on fertile lands.

“The flavor notes of khawlani usually are more of dried fruit, raisins, dates, spicy notes, cardamom, cinnamon and dark chocolate,” Al-Marwai said.

“The Kingdom produces around 300 tons currently per season. However, it is expected to go up to 3,000 tons in the coming three years, as the government is taking serious action to ensure the quality and the sustainability of coffee production to be self-sufficient,” he added.

“I can see that Al-Baha and Abha have huge potential for cultivating coffee, as they have yielded an amazing coffee crop recently.”

For centuries, the drink has been central to Saudi Arabia’s deep-rooted culture and traditions. Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan announced earlier this year that 2022 will be the “Year of Saudi Coffee.”

According to recent statistics, domestic production of Arabic coffee in Jazan, Al-Baha and Asir has reached 1,810 tons annually, from 2,535 farms and 398,000 coffee trees.

Mango crops flourish in the Kingdom’s southern and western regions 

Jazan is also famous for its mango trees. In 2018, the area was granted a geographical indication — a product name or sign that corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin — for mangoes.

The success of the mango crop in the area is due to its fertile soil and abundant groundwater, which make this tropical tree one of the distinctive fruits of the region.

Through the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program launched by MEWA, the Jazan region has made great strides in developing mango cultivation and expanding production.

The program aims to improve the rural agricultural sector and raise the standard of living of rural families. It also aims to increase production efficiency, improve lifestyle and achieve food security, including supporting mango cultivation.

With over 60 varieties of mangoes, production in the Jazan region witnessed a leap in terms of annual crop quantity from 18,000 tons in 2005 to more than 65,000 tons in 2022, with 19,109 farms and over 1 million mango trees.

The success story of mango cultivation in the area began in 1981, when the Agricultural Research Center, in cooperation with the UN FAO, brought high-quality mango varieties from various countries to Jazan.

Jalan, toumi, kait, balamar, zebda, sensation and sandari are popular varieties, as well as hybrid types from countries including India, Pakistan, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Australia and the US.

In the west of the Kingdom, the coastal city of Umluj also includes 24,000 trees that produce 10,000 tons of the best quality mangoes in the Kingdom annually.

The first mango festival in the region was launched in 2021 under the slogan “Umluj mango worth a try.”

Marwan Al-Juhani, owner of Muhammadiah farm in Umluj, told Arab News that watering is crucial for a successful mango crop.

“To get a good mango crop here in Umluj, we need a developed watering system,” he said.

Al-Juhani said that each mango tree has to be at least four years old before producing fruit, and the older it gets, the better the crop.

His farm holds 400 mango trees and is a popular destination for visitors and tourists, who enjoy walking through the trees, picking mangoes and eating them on site.

The Kingdom’s beloved olive basket on the northern borders

With its fertile soil and moderate climate, the northern Jouf region has become Saudi Arabia’s biggest producer of olive oil and is home to vast orchards holding millions of trees.

Jouf also has the largest olive farm in the world, which produces 10,000 tons annually of the finest olive oil.

The use of intensive planting methods makes Jouf’s olive trees distinctive, with 1,600 trees planted in a one-hectare area. The region is home to more than 18 million olive trees. 

Nasser Al-Hamad, owner of the Million Tree Farm, told Arab News: “I am following a high-density groves system in my farm, a more economical and productive model that also delivered high-quality crops and flavor and saves water.”

The most famous olive trees in Jouf are those more compatible with automated harvesting styles, such as arbequina, arbosana, koroneiki and oliana.

Al-Hamad said that every 10 kg of olives yields one liter of high-quality olive oil.

Many orchards have automated irrigation pump systems that require only one worker.

The city of Sakaka holds an annual olive festival, one of the biggest in the Kingdom, to support local farmers, olive crops and olive oil production. 

Diverse climate equals diverse crops

In light of the global fight against climate change, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Saudi Green Initiative in 2021 with more than SR700 billion of investment in the growth of the green economy.

This announcement has highlighted the efforts and objectives that will gradually lead the Kingdom to rely on clean energy, protecting the environment and making it a better place for future generations.

Workers harvest wheat in a field in the northwestern region of Tabuk on April 7, 2016. (AFP file)

As part of the initiative, 450 million trees will be planted, and 8 million hectares of degraded lands rehabilitated by 2030.

Four million mangrove trees have already been planted to contribute to the restoration of the Kingdom’s mangrove forest shoreline.

Over the last 15 to 20 years, the value of including suitable native species in amenity landscape schemes has become much more apparent. Known to be cultivated in the Mediterranean basin, figs are now also cultivated in Saudi Arabia. With demand rising for local produce, farms across the Kingdom are experimenting to see which fruits can be grown. 

So far, six types of figs are grown in every region, and over 26,000 tons of figs are produced annually. 

A total of $15 billion will be invested in AlUla master plan to create the world’s largest oasis, with over 10 million cubic meters of green and open spaces.

AlUla oasis in the northwest of the Kingdom has an ancient heritage that is not limited to the inscriptions on its mountains or erosion on its rocks, but rather embraces a unique nature reflected in its green oasis and rich farms.

According to the Experience AlUla website, the oasis will play a key role in the region’s agricultural prosperity.

The oasis is home to over 200,000 citrus trees that thrive in the AlUla desert. It is surrounded by a tall canopy of green palm trees shading the citrus trees from the summer sun.

Within 20 kilometers of the oasis, 29 varieties of citrus are grown, including jaffa, baladi, and abo surra oranges, torounge, clementines, mandarins, sweet lemons, limes, grapefruits, pomelos, kumquats, citrons and tangerines.

Mubarak Al-Enizi, who has 250 fruit trees in the region, said: “The citrus of AlUla is distinguished from other countries by its quality, taste and variety, and the reason for this is due to the fertility of the land, the abundance of water and the appropriate climate.”

The art of nurturing citrus fruits in AlUla had been passed down over generations. “The knowledge of how to cultivate citrus trees is inherited from our ancestors,” Al-Enizi said.

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest e-sports festival kick starts in Riyadh

  • The RUSH festival allows video-game aficionados to experience latest technology
  • Over five days, gamers will be provided best-known games, real-life experiences

RIYADH: The RUSH festival, the largest event for virtual sports and games, opened at the Riyadh Front on Saturday as part of the Riyadh Season of activities.

Over five days, it will provide gamers with the best-known games and real-life experiences.

They will get the chance to play real games such as “Fortnite,” “FIFA,” and “Valorant.” The event will also bring together the best international teams so that the biggest tournaments and direct qualifiers can be held on the e-sports stage.

Representatives of the 25 E-Sport organization greeted fans at the event’s meet-and-greet booth.

Aoun, the organization’s director of operations, told Arab News: “We have content makers and professional players in all games, and we came to meet the audience here.”

The festival aims to provide fun video games, competitions, and challenges through direct tournaments with prizes, and includes live entertainment shows, DJ performances, an augmented reality experience, and a cosplay competition.

The Valar Club booth was promoting e-sports for women.

Malak Al-Qahtani, founder of Valar Club, told Arab News: “Valar Club is the first licensed women’s club from the federation’s electronic sports, and our goal is to help female Saudi players, as they aspire to the world, and help with their training.”

Saudi YouTuber Pika Loli travelled from Jeddah to attend the event.

“This event brings together most of the YouTubers and gamers, and it is a good opportunity to get to know each other, and it will increase our followers and grow the channel on YouTube.”

Some of the cosplayers were dressed as video game characters.

Abdulelah Al-Qahtani said: “Today we are dressed as characters from the ‘Genshin Impact’ game, and I think this is so good that Saudi Arabia brought up a hidden community, like cosplayers and gamers.”

With a focus on the whole of the gaming industry, from console and PC gaming to mobile and e-sports, the RUSH festival aims to give gaming aficionados the opportunity to access and experience the latest tech and the chance to interact with each other in real life, and online.

Tickets for the event are available via

Saudi ambassador to Thailand sees ‘a prosperous and promising future’ for bilateral relations

Updated 27 November 2022

Saudi ambassador to Thailand sees ‘a prosperous and promising future’ for bilateral relations

  • Investment opportunities are many thanks to similar development priorities, Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Suhaibani tells Arab News
  • He says the crown prince’s recent visit will contribute to accelerated steps for enhancement of bilateral and trade relations

BANGKOK: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Bangkok last week has opened not only a new chapter in Saudi-Thai ties but also new horizons in which officials and the people see a promising future for both kingdoms.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand were officially restored in January this year, during Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s trip to Riyadh, when the two countries agreed to appoint ambassadors for the first time in over three decades.

The crown prince arrived in Bangkok as a guest of honor at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit hosted by Thailand on Nov. 18-19 and became the first Saudi official to make such a trip.

“It was the first visit at the level of the Kingdom’s leadership since the establishment of relations between the two countries in 1957,” Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Suhaibani, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Thailand, told Arab News.

In welcome messages, many Thais wrote it was an “honor” for them to see the Saudi crown prince in their country. (SPA)

“It will move the relations of the two countries to broader horizons and a prosperous and promising future.

“It will also contribute to accelerating steps that will enhance bilateral, economic and trade relations between the two countries by exploring potential investment opportunities in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the development priorities of Thailand.”

The crown prince’s meetings with the Thai leadership have yielded numerous memorandums on energy, investment, tourism, anticorruption efforts and the normalization of diplomatic relations.

When the crown prince arrived in Bangkok, he was officially received by the country’s top leadership and royal family and unofficially by many others, especially from the younger generation, who took to social media to welcome him and set up online fan clubs.

In welcome messages, many Thais wrote it was an “honor” for them to see the Saudi crown prince in their country.

“I think Thai people are looking and are expecting more cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Suhaibani, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Thailand, told Arab News. (Supplied)

Photos and videos from the visit went viral and made the rounds with captions such as “Warm welcome, Prince,” “This is what people in the country (Thailand) want,” “Happy: Thai-Saudi relations are very close after 32 years,” “Long live MBS.”

“The relations now seem to be on the right track and will grow stronger and more comprehensive in the coming period,” Al-Suhaibani told Arab News.

“The Saudi embassy will focus on implementing and following up on the agreements and memoranda of understanding that were signed during this historic visit.”

Tanee Sangrat, director-general of information at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and soon-to-be Thailand’s ambassador to the US, told Arab News that the visit was “closely watched and followed by the Thai people in Thailand and around the world.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s trip to Riyadh in January. (Shutterstock)

He said: “We look to Saudi Arabia as a country that has great potential. The crown prince and prime minister is very widely well respected by our people.

“I think Thai people are looking and are expecting more cooperation with Saudi Arabia.”

With the restoration of ties with Saudi Arabia, Thailand has found not only a new powerful partner in navigating volatile energy markets and energy transition, but also, as many have said, a “gateway” to the Middle East, where Thailand’s presence is not very strong.



The restored relationship would give not only Thai exporters but also investors more access to opportunities in the Gulf and beyond.

“This is a big, big issue for Thailand. Saudi Arabia is a critical partner in the Middle East,” Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Bangkok-based Institute of Security and International Studies, told Arab News.

“That is a gateway for Thailand to re-engage and re-enter Middle East markets. Without the Saudi Arabia relationship, a lot of doors were closed. Now, more doors will be opened.”

Suppalerk Aramkitphotha, a business development professional, saw the crown prince’s visit as a “great opportunity.”

“We are very glad that we have this opportunity,” he said, citing the business prospects between Thailand and the Middle East that would now be facilitated.

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, the founder of the first Thai fintech startup to notch up a valuation of more than $1 billion, said he was glad that the Saudi crown prince visited Thailand and new bridges were built.

“Now we can do so much more between Thailand and Saudi Arabia. We can work with Saudis for the future of energy, the future of green hydrogen or future growth in other aspects like the digital economy,” he told Arab News, adding that there would also be opportunities such as medical tourism.

Thailand, where healthcare services are well developed, already has agreements with countries such as Kuwait and Qatar for receiving patients. A deal with Saudi Arabia is likely to be a part of the two countries’ relations going forward.

“We are famous for medical tourism,” Jirayut said. “Everyone can come here, have a nice holiday, nice beach, nice mountains, nice hotels, nice services. And they can get their teeth done. They can recover. They can have a health checkup here at a fraction of the cost elsewhere.”

But there is much more to the renewed ties than business opportunities.

Referring to the potential role that culture can play in cementing the re-established Saudi-Thai relationship, Ambassador Al-Suhaibani said: “There are many similarities between the two countries, particularly in hospitality, generosity, friendliness and, most importantly the richness of culture.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Thai Prime Minister witness the exchange of several MoU between Saudi Arabia and Thailand. (Supplied)

“This will encourage us to strengthen relationships and communication between our people, as well as to promote constructive dialogue in many aspects of social, cultural and religious (life).”

This kind of exchange is what Thais have waited for a long time.

Voralak Tulaphorn, a marketing professional, said a Saudi presence is something that was missing from the multicultural landscape of Thailand for a long time.

“Saudi Arabia and (Thailand) actually have rich cultures, and with rich cultures it would be nice to have exchanges in everything from food and nature to fashion and handicrafts.”

For her, what holds the greatest promise as a means of bringing Thais and Saudis together is an appreciation of each other’s cuisines. Food is a good way to win hearts and spread cultural influence.

“I think people love Thai street food,” Voralak told Arab News, adding that she hoped that soon Saudi restaurants would start emerging in Bangkok. “We would love to taste Saudi Arabian food too.”


History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Kingdoms Festival wraps up in Saudi Arabia

Updated 27 November 2022

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Kingdoms Festival wraps up in Saudi Arabia

  • The festival focused entirely on sites at crossroads of culture, centers of influence and wealth
  • By focusing on a range of events, the festival gave these ancient landscapes a new lease of life

KHAYBAR: Past, present and future came together as the inaugural Ancient Kingdoms Festival drew to a close with a series of dramatic events showcasing three historic oases of the northwest — AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma — for a modern audience.

The festival, launched on Nov. 11, was the first of its kind to focus entirely on the sites, which were at the crossroads of culture in ancient times, and also centers of influence and wealth.

By focusing on a range of events, including cultural performances, workshops and sightseeing opportunities, the festival gave these ancient landscapes a new lease of life, with many of the activities expected to continue after the festival’s close.

A spectacular show lit up the night sky as 1,450 drones formed shapes while an orchestra played music by UK composer Matt Faddy. The show will continue until Dec. 15, 2023.

Visitors to Khaybar can still explore the mysterious prehistoric stone structures on foot, or by car or a 20-minute helicopter excursion, hovering over the old and new.

“We made this festival to reflect the stories behind all the ancient civilizations that lived around or in these three places,” Abdulrazzag Alanzi, a local storyteller and tour guide, told Arab News.

Alanzi used to visit his cousins in Khaybar as a child and still recalls hearing stories about the region going back centuries.

“I used to love reading a lot of fictional stories and also a lot of old stories, and when I heard about something that happened in this area many years ago, it always fascinated me. This is what pushed me into this line of work, tourism,” he said.

“AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma have a lot of historical stories and a lot of information that we need to show the world.”

Fahad Aljuhani, a storyteller who describes the area as the “greatest living museum,” also came to the area as a child to connect with his cousins — and to discover hidden treasures.

“I’m a ‘Rawi’ and ‘Rawi’ in English means a storyteller. Now we are on an island that floats on a sea of rock which is Khaybar. I used to come to Khaybar and visit my relatives, and they would tell us a story about the tombs and the oasis, and I didn’t have the chance to visit them until now,” he told Arab News.



Aljuhani said that 5 million years ago, hundreds of volcanic eruptions occurred simultaneously in the area.

“If you feel the rocks, they seem to generate heat from within, similar to those who choose to watch over the land today and tell its many-layered stories,” he said.

Tour guide Enass Al-Sherrif told Arab News that she is excited to see people, including those from around the Kingdom, taking the time to learn about their past.

Al-Sherrif describes her job as the best she could ever have.

“I am really proud and honored. And I want to show you and make you feel the experience, how we transformed this place into an amazing destination for others to come and visit us,” she said.

The festival and its extended program aims to shed light on the legends and legacies of ancient times in the Kingdom’s northwest region, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the “largest living museum in the world.”

It is two years since AlUla began reopening heritage sites to domestic and international tourists with its pioneering Winter at Tantora program, which lasts until March.

While the Ancient Kingdoms Festival wrapped up on a chilly day on Nov. 27, many of the visitor experiences will continue well beyond the festival period, with some available year-round.

“The northwest Arabian Peninsula is the jewel in the heritage crown of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a source of fascination for a global community of archaeologists and researchers. Their discoveries shed new light on the societies that endowed the region with such relics of the ancients, preserved in wonders of prehistoric geology, art, and historical architecture that reveal important truths,” the Royal Commission for AlUla, which hosted the event, said in a statement.

The commission plans to host the Ancient Kingdoms Festival annually. Further details are available on its website.

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

Updated 25 November 2022

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

  • Maximum alert issued in face of weather conditions

JEDDAH: The National Center of Meteorology recorded 179 mm of rainfall on Thursday, the highest amount ever received in the city.

Rain fell from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the south of the province in a heavier downpour than the previous biggest, in 2009.

The Jeddah Municipality announced a maximum alert in the wake of the weather conditions, while the meteorology center warned of moderate to heavy rain in the governorates of Jeddah and Rabigh in the Makkah region, including Thuwal and coastal areas, accompanied by surface winds, hail and flooding, until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

King Abdulaziz Airport announced that some flights had been delayed due to the weather. The airport was hoping to communicate with air carriers to confirm dates and times for rearranged flights.

Makkah Municipality employs 11,800 field workers to prepare for the rainy season. It has machinery and equipment to deal with the expected conditions. Its operation and maintenance department assesses the performance of rainwater drainage network channels in main and side roads, intersections and squares.

It removes sediment which can impede water flow in drainage systems, in accordance with contingency plans.

Task forces and equipment have been deployed throughout Makkah, with some 52 water tanks, each with a capacity of 194,000 gallons, removing floodwaters. Some 146 excavating machines and 89 multipurpose trucks have been dealing with the impact of the rain and removing water from the roads and streets.

The municipality has also organized field teams to remove waste that may have built up in the wake of the downpours.

It has also increased the number of cleaning teams to work on clearing sewers to prevent any dangers that may pose a threat to residents and visitors.

The teams have been deployed along with 520 machines, including lorries, pump tanks, Bobcats, tankers and automated sweepers, as well as a large number of pumps and excavating machines. Work is being carried out around the clock to implement contingency plans.

Makkah contains huge rainwater drainage systems that reach around 540 km and cover all of the region’s neighborhoods and holy sites. The systems include closed trunk water mains and deep tunnel networks, as well as shallow and open drainage channels.

The municipality also carries out maintenance and cleaning operations throughout the year to help reduce the effects of flooding on the region.


Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

Updated 26 November 2022

Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

  • LaLiga and Spanish gastronomes host feast of Iberian culture at Ritz Carlton

RIYADH: Food and football were flavors of the week in Riyadh as Spanish cuisine experts and LaLiga officials came together to host a feast of Iberian culture.

The Spanish Pantry festival, organized by LaLiga and food experts Provacuno, was held over three days this week in the capital’s Ritz Carlton. 

Mohamad Essa, LaLiga’s delegate in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that the festival combined two of Spain’s biggest passions, with football activities and displays from a Michelin star chef Rafael Centeno.

Essa said that Saudi Arabia had a passionate fan base for LaLiga football. “It’s my honor to be close to the local fans and to listen to their observations and understand their needs. We would like to achieve many things together. 

“We are here to promote strong relations with local institutions, clubs and media,” he said, adding that his presence helps LaLiga giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona connect with Saudi fans, clubs and sponsors.

He added that his organization planned many activities for the Kingdom, including parties for Saudi fans to travel and watch LaLiga matches.

The league already helps develop skills in the sports industry with its LaLiga business school, and it has football academies aimed at developing youth talent.

“We want to export these capabilities to the country to create the new generation of footballers,” Essa said.

“As part of this international expansion, we are engaging in the market by hosting events, activities, different sports projects and academic opportunities.”

Ohoud M. Aljabr, of the Ritz-Carlton group, said: “Our main goal of this successful partnership is to introduce the beautiful and rich culture of Spain and present a memorable experience. Hosting the Spanish Festival for the first time in the Kingdom was a pleasure.” 

Provacuno is a promotion organization for Spanish beef and veal, and represents 140,000 farms and processing plants.

Spain produces more than 800,000 tonnes per year of meat to EU standards. Saudi Arabia meanwhile is a growing market for beef, with consumption rates increasing and outstripping local supply. “Spanish beef has been a supplier since 2016. Export figures have been rising in recent years, reaching 350 tonnes a year,” Provacuno said. “Most of our exports to Saudi Arabia are high-quality cuts that meet Saudi demands.”