Riyadh festival taking visitors on world culinary journey

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There are also animated performances every hour in the alleys of the festival. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The festival includes a designated area for kids with games, competitions, and cooking workshops. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 10 November 2023

Riyadh festival taking visitors on world culinary journey

  • Visitors with a sweet tooth can enjoy a range of chocolate and pastries

RIYADH: The Food Culture Festival in Riyadh is giving visitors a taste of cuisine and culture from more than 35 countries around the world.

The five-day event, organized by the Culinary Arts Commission at Grassy Park in the Diplomatic Quarter, celebrates food and culture, offering an educational experience to visitors.

Countries taking part include China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Nepal and Armenia.

The ambassador of Pakistan, Ahmed Farooq attended the first day of the festival and inaugurated the Pakistani booths. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

The carnival-inspired culinary festival includes street food, an exhibition area with booths featuring restaurants from various countries and 10 stores selling international food products.

“You need to come here hungry; there are too many options to choose from; I liked the momos from the Nepal booth, which are steamed dumplings filled with vegetables and meat,” said Sara Thomas, a visitor from the UK.

She added: “It is nice to see how different dumplings are made in other countries, with the different flavors and sauces used to distinguish them.”

Sir Lanka gave a stunning liver dance performance, which attracted and gathered visitors to the performance stage. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Visitors with a sweet tooth can enjoy a range of chocolate and pastries. In the Belgium booth, crowds wait for waffles stuffed with chocolate, which pair well with the coffee served at the nearby Austrian booth.

Sweets can also be found in other booths, including the Switzerland section, which offers freshly made crepes with a range of toppings. There are also Turkish delights from Istanbul in the Turkish booth.

For meat lovers, the festival has a mixture of flavors, culinary creativity and ambiance with its live grilling stations. Visitors can learn meat-cooking techniques from  countries including Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Egypt.

There are live cooking demonstrations of the rich and diverse tapestry of Pakistani cuisine.  (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

The most popular booths include Peru, China, Spain and Palestine. The first is a favorite of children, who have taken a liking to the large stuffed animal alpaca and handmade dolls made from cruelty-free alpaca fur.

The Chinese booth offers ramen, soups and dumplings. The most popular dumpling is filled with pumpkin, meat and a vegetable filling.

The Spanish booth sells a popular seafood paella, providing visitors with a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine.

CaptiThe festival includes a designated area for kids with games, competitions, and cooking workshops. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)on

The Pakistani booths are also proving to be some of the most popular food hotspots at the festival by celebrating the diversity and richness of culinary traditions in the South Asian country.

Pakistani Ambassador to the Kingdom Ahmed Farooq attended the first day of the festival and inaugurated his country’s booths.

“I think it is a wonderful initiative by the Culinary Arts Commission and by the Ministry of Culture of Saudi Arabia to organize this food festival,” said Farooq.

He added: “I think food is the best way to bring people together, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share a lot of things, so food is one of those items that we thought we would introduce here to the Saudi public and others as well.”

On Nov. 11, the Pakistani booths will host live cooking demonstrations featuring renowned chefs including Naureen Ansari.

There are also interactive workshops and a display of home-cooked delights, Pakistani products and organic Pakistani-sourced items, including Sidr honey, which is produced from trees in the mountainous regions of Pakistan.

Other organic sourced items include pure Pakistani ghee, which offers a unique nutty flavor.

Other South Asian countries have also left a strong impression on visitors.

The Sri Lankan booth hosted a stunning live dance performance, which drew large crowds to the performance stage.

The country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Pakeer Mohideen Amza, inaugurated his country’s booth and wished good luck to the young dancers.

“It is a privilege to be part of this Food Culture Festival. We are so happy to be part of it because it is an opportunity for us to show our food culture, and Sri Lankan food culture,” said Amza.

He added: “We will also be taking part in the demonstration of the Sri Lankan food items starting from today, with tea. As you know, Sri Lanka is the best place for finding tea in the world.”

The dance performance was one of many scheduled for the festival, with a range of countries showcasing their history of performance and traditional attire.

Animated performances are held every hour in alleys around the festival site.

The Riyadh event includes a designated area for children with games, competitions, cooking workshops, a playground, a cupcake coloring and decoration booth and face painting, among other activities.

The festival is organized in collaboration with the Royal Commission of Riyadh City and is supported by the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Tickets for the festival, which opens from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. until Nov. 12, can be purchased at dc.moc.gov.sa.

A portion of the proceeds from food sales will be donated to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to assist people in Gaza.


Global industry leaders to descend on Riyadh for entertainment, amusement summit, expo

Updated 23 February 2024

Global industry leaders to descend on Riyadh for entertainment, amusement summit, expo

  • The event will showcase innovation and industry trends, bringing together global experts and sector leaders
  • This year’s SEA Expo aims to highlight the Kingdom’s entertainment and leisure plans

RIYADH: The Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Summit and Expo is set to return to Riyadh from May 7 to 9 with exhibitors from around the world showcasing the latest advances in the sector.
Organized by dmg events, SEA 2024 will run alongside the Saudi Light and Sound Expo and will be held at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center.
The event will showcase innovation and industry trends, bringing together global experts and sector leaders.
At a recent advisory board meeting in Riyadh, members identified key trends for 2024 that would be used to shape the agenda of the SEA Expo. These included exploring global investment strategies, understanding the next-generation market, empowering the Saudi workforce, embracing green entertainment, and examining crypto tech.
Developing next-generation talent emerged as a priority, recognizing the sector’s potential to contribute more than $23 billion (3 percent) toward the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2030 while creating at least 100,000 jobs.
Advisory board member and executive director of attractions at Saudi Entertainment Ventures, Doug Stagner, said: “What’s happening in Saudi Arabia has never been done before in the attractions industry.
“There are ground-breaking attractions and rides that have never been built before, and there are new concepts and ideas that will come out of Saudi Arabia, including discussions at this year’s Expo which will end up in other parts of the world, so what’s happening here has a much larger impact that extends beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia.”
This year’s SEA Expo aims to highlight the Kingdom’s entertainment and leisure plans and create opportunities in the industry to drive the country toward achieving its goals under Vision 2030.
With hundreds of international and local brands from more than 40 countries, SEA Expo will act as a platform to showcase new and innovative products from its 350 exhibitors.
Advisory board officials noted that the SLS Expo 2024 would focus on tourism, curating events that capture Gen Zs, and deep diving into the potential of technology.
The SLS Summit, a focal point of the Expo, will delve into the impact of tourism on the entertainment and events realm, looking at how the influx of global visitors was reshaping the industry and inspiring innovation.
Sarkis Kahwajian, portfolio director at dmg events, said: “We are witnessing exponential growth in the entertainment and live events’ space industry in the Kingdom, and it’s driving a demand for the latest technology coupled with a hunger to understand changing market dynamics in the pro light and sound landscape across the country.
“This year, the SLS Expo will set the stage for innovators, manufacturers, and lighting and sound professionals as they generate leads, forge connections, and usher in a new era in our industry.”

Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day

Updated 22 February 2024

Hail deputy governor joins Zubaida Trail for Founding Day

HAIL: Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Hail region, took part in a Zubaida Trail caravan on Thursday to mark Founding Day celebrations.

The caravan, overseen by the Heritage Commission and organized by the Caravans Trails Association, began its journey from the historic city of Fayd to Sumaira’ Province.

Prince Faisal honored the sponsors and partners, and along with hikers, horseback riders, camel riders and cyclists, took part in the caravan journey.

Along the route, the deputy governor spoke to groups taking part in the event, including Saudis and foreigners in the Kingdom.

Prince Faisal praised the government’s support for the heritage sector, and commended the dedication of all parties involved in the caravan program.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Obeida, general supervisor of the Zubaida Trail, praised the support given to the initiative by the Saudi leadership, as well as the Hail governor and his deputy.

He said that the scheme aims to revitalize the ancient route, which is one of many in Saudi Arabia dating back over 1,000 years.

Al-Obeida highlighted the importance of community involvement in sustaining and developing the trail route for economic, cultural and tourism purposes.

Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve

Updated 22 February 2024

Endangered native animals released in Saudi reserve

AL-ULA: Fourteen Arabian oryxes and 40 Arabian sand gazelles have been released into the Gharameel nature reserve by the the National Center for Wildlife.

The conservation effort at Gharameel, located 60 km north of AlUla, took place with cooperation from the Royal Commission for AlUla.

The reserve features unique biodiversity throughout its rock and sand formations, and hillsides.

Resettlement of endangered native species is a key target of the center, as well as restoring biodiversity and environmental balance as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Animal reintroduction also promotes the RCU’s plan to activate six nature reserves while regenerating AlUla as a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage.

The formations of rocky pillars in the area were created through wind and rain erosion over thousands of years.

AlUla is also a popular stargazing destination for tourists from around the world.

Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost

Updated 22 February 2024

Saudi honeybee program achieves 200% productivity boost

RIYADH: The honeybee breeding program — spearheaded by the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program “Saudi Reef” in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture — is poised to make a substantial impact on bee populations.

A select group of model beekeepers has achieved an impressive 200 percent increase in productivity by implementing the program.

According to the “Saudi Reef” program, the surge in production is attributed to a strategic focus on expanding queen bee rearing within the breeding and propagation program.

Additionally, the adoption of innovative production techniques and best practices, including hive management and organic beekeeping, has played a key role.

These practices have been documented in a booklet distributed to beekeepers and have yielded significant production boosts in several model farms established by the project.

Expanding on its success, the program plans to roll out projects for “bee queen breeding and nuclei production” across eight centers spanning regions such as Jazan, Najran, Asir, Baha, Makkah, Madinah, Hail and Tabuk.

Each center is expected to produce 5,000 queen bees annually, characterized by purity and high-production specifications.

This will enable beekeepers to expand queen bee breeding and bee colonies while preserving favorable genetic traits for enhanced production and resilience against diseases and environmental factors.

The honeybee development and honey production sector is a key focus of the “Saudi Reef” program. Since its inception, the program has had significant increases in production, enhancing the income and living standards of its beneficiaries.

To increase food security and agricultural self-sufficiency, Saudi Arabia unveiled an ambitious initiative in August last year to produce more than 7,500 tons of honey annually as part of the Saudi Reef.

Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors

Updated 22 February 2024

Makkah expo focuses on next steps for hotel, culinary sectors

  • Saudi employees trained at top schools bringing skills back to the Kingdom

MAKKAH: The Makkah Expo for Hotels and Restaurants, held at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Exhibition Center, ended on Wednesday evening.

The exhibition’s fifth edition was inaugurated by Vice Chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce Mustafa Rajab and involved officials, business owners and company representatives.

A large number of companies and institutions representing the hotel and culinary sectors, specialized in serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors, attended the three-day exhibition, which was held in collaboration with the Unit for Exhibition Organization.

Abdullah Haneef, the acting secretary-general of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News: “The exhibition provided an opportunity to access the best practices in the hotel and restaurant sectors, as it brought together a select group of people specialized in this field in Makkah, a pioneer in the hotel sector field attracting large numbers of visitors from around the world.”

He added that industry officials exchanged business ideas and showcased modern tools and technology, food products and hotel and restaurant supplies, and took part in several accompanying events.

Haneef added: “The exhibition offers an opportunity for investors, interested parties, specialized companies and experts in the hotel and restaurant sector from inside and outside the Kingdom, to display their products to investors and interested individuals and exchange expertise, as well as engage in commercial deals between exhibitors, participants and individuals interested in the hotel and restaurant sector.”

The exhibition also hosted a salon for culinary arts and live cooking demonstrations.

Khalid Al-Ghamdi, an investor in the hotel sector, said that the Saudi industry has begun a strong post-pandemic recovery, and is fulfilling its role in serving visitors.

He added that intensive training programs Saudi employees are undertaking in top international hotel schools are helping them apply their knowledge back in the Kingdom.

Al-Ghamdi said that the restaurant sector is facing significant challenges but also opportunities, including smart digital solutions.

Makkah is one of the most significant and holiest places worldwide, drawing millions of Muslims for religious rituals such as Hajj and Umrah, he added.

The city should therefore focus on enhancing future innovation plans and smart marketing to make the hospitality sector a top performer, through innovative solutions and major investment, he said.