Saudi culinary treats: From spicy kibda to flavorful balila

During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)
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Updated 06 April 2024
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Saudi culinary treats: From spicy kibda to flavorful balila

  • Saudi food stall owners rejoice as Kingdom’s Ramadan markets draw crowds seeking to fulfill Hijazi cravings

JEDDAH: For many Saudis, the holy month of Ramadan is not only a time to rejuvenate spiritually, but also an opportunity to start small businesses and share the tastes of local culinary treats.

During the month, good, affordable snacks may be found at stalls in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets and residential areas, where Saudis and visitors can take in the festive mood of Ramadan.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

The main draws are the vendors serving a range of street cuisine and regional specialties, such as kibda (fried liver) and balila (boiled chickpeas with cumin, vinegar, pickled cucumber and other spices), as well as traditional Ramadan drinks, particularly sobya (made from barley, dried bread, raisins, sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon).

These stands have grown to be a well-known aspect of the holy month and they offer seasonal opportunities to business owners hoping to capitalize on the throngs of people that fill the streets throughout the night.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Among food items popularly sold at Ramadan markets are kibda, balila and traditional Ramadan drinks like sobya.

• The food stalls offer seasonal opportunities to business owners hoping to capitalize on the throngs of people that fill the streets throughout the night.

• Hussain Al-Malki, whose stall is known for its Hijazi food, said he appreciates the chance to interact with people during Ramadan.

They are also an important means of earning revenue and give Saudi entrepreneurs the chance to showcase their expertise to a wider, eager audience.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

Hussain Al-Malki, a 42-year-old father of four, runs a balila and kibda stand in one of the streets of Al-Zahra district. Al-Malki, whose stall is known for its Hijazi food, expressed how much he appreciates the chance to interact with people during Ramadan.

Wearing traditional clothes, Al-Malki and his business partner Hussain Abu Taleb took a break from their government jobs in Jeddah to run the stand. The duo stated that they had wanted to run their own business and had come up with the idea of a food stand in Ramadan.

It is a tough competition around here as you see many stalls around me, but, thanks to Allah, we get good money out of it which is good enough to keep me going.

Um Ahmed, Food stall owner in Al-Balad district

“It is an annual business for me and my partner in Ramadan … a long time ago we thought about doing something useful in Ramadan and we came up with the balila and fried liver stall,” Al-Malki said.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

“Alhamdulillah, it is a great business and we make a good money during the blessed month,” he added.

On another corner in Rawdah district, hardworking young boys Basem Al-Mutabagani, Hamid Turkistani and Imad Al-Fadel sell potato fries — a simple yet classic snack that never goes out of style and continues to attract customers.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

“We found that the potato stall was the best additional source of income because there is a large demand for potatoes and people rush to buy them during Ramadan,” said Al-Mutabagani.

The three young sellers come to the Ramadan market right after Isha prayers and leave around 3 a.m. This Ramadan was their second year managing the stand, and their ambitious energy has resulted in some show of creativity with potato as their star ingredient. “Every year we try to add a new spirit to the stall by adding cheese or various sauces to potatoes and people really like it,” he said.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

Many Saudi women can also be seen selling flavorful items like balila, kunafa, potato dishes and kibda in Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district, which is a Ramadan Season hotspot.

One such seller, Um Ahmed, and her daughter welcome customers to their food stand located amidst a long line of stalls. She told Arab News that she appreciates the opportunity to make the extra money and noted that it is her first year in Al-Balad selling balila and potato items.




During the month, thousands explore festivities in Al-Balad historic district in Jeddah and other Ramadan markets that also offer popular regional snacks and dishes. (Ramadan Season/Supplied)

“I think people are more comfortable buying food that is prepared by women as they are more particular about cleanliness,” she noted.

“My preparation starts at home and then after Maghrib prayer, I go to Al-Balad to start preparing my food stuff and clean my stall. It is a tough competition around here as you see many stalls around me, but, thanks to Allah, we get good money out of it which is good enough to keep me going,” she said.

Thousands of visitors explore Al-Balad each day since the beginning of Ramadan, and Um Ahmed and other women managing stalls say they stay busy all through the night.

 


Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

Updated 13 June 2024
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Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

  • High-profile pilgrims join the millions embarking on the spiritual journey

RIYADH: Every year Muslims from across the world gather in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey for many.

With Hajj beginning on Friday, June 14, pilgrims will congregate in the tent city of Mina, near Makkah.

Among the worshippers will be celebrities taking time out of their busy schedules to connect with their faith.

High-profile figures performing Hajj this year include former Indian professional tennis player and doubles world No. 1 Sania Mirza; UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev; New Zealand heavyweight boxer and former professional rugby player Sonny Bill Williams; Malaysia-based Indian Islamic public orator Zakir Abdul Karim Naik; Pakistani television host and former actress Nida Yasir; and Pakistani actress, film director and producer Reema Khan.

Mirza took to social media to express her hopes and preparations for this “transformative experience,” one of the five pillars of Islam.

In a message on X, she sought “forgiveness for any wrongdoings and shortcomings,” saying that her heart is “filled with gratitude for this chance to seek redemption and spiritual renewal.”

She added: “I pray that Allah accepts my prayers and guides me on this blessed path. I am deeply fortunate and feel immensely grateful. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this journey of a lifetime. I hope to come back as a better human being with a humble heart and stronger Imaan.”

Mirza will be accompanied by her sister Anam, a fashion curator, entrepreneur and vlogger, and Anam’s Indian cricketer husband Mohammad Asaduddin, son of cricketing legend Mohammad Azharuddin.

Taking to Instagram, Anam wrote: “As I embark on the most significant journey of my life, the pilgrimage to Hajj, I wanted to share a few words with you. This journey is not just a physical one, but a deeply spiritual experience that I’ve been preparing for, both in heart and mind. It’s a time for reflection, repentance, and renewal of faith.”

Makhachev, just days after defeating Dustin Poirier in their UFC title clash, said that he and his family are heading to Makkah to perform Hajj.

Hasib Noor, a scholar with Islamic Relief UK, posted a photo with the fighter on X, writing: “In Madinah — The City of True Humanly Brotherly Love. Allah uses him for the benefit of Islam & Muslims, guides others through him.”

Sonny Bill Williams posted a video message on X with the caption: “I’ve been invited to perform Hajj, Alhamdullilah.”

Williams is only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league, and is one of only 43 players to have won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Naik, the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, praised the Hajj arrangements.

In a message posted on X on Tuesday, he said that his family were invited by Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj minister.

It added: “Dr. Zakir Naik landed in Jeddah this morning. Alhamdulillaah 3 officials were there to receive him. On entering the VIP lounge he completed immigration & came out of the airport in less than a minute. Never did Dr. Zakir Naik experience such a fast and prompt service in his life & that too during Hajj.”

Pakistani television host Nida Yasir wrote on Instagram as she departed for Saudi Arabia: “Duaon me yaad rakheaga (remember me in prayers). Leaving for Hajj. Kaha suna mauf (Apologies for any wrongdoings).”

Pakistani actress Reema Khan was in Madinah ahead of Hajj.

Sharing a picture of herself on Instagram, she wrote: “Allhumdullilah arrived in Madinah on Friday morning.”


Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

Updated 13 June 2024
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Riyadh doctors working remotely save Jordan pilgrim from stroke in Madinah

  • The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital

RIYADH: Doctors working remotely from Riyadh helped a 72-year-old Jordanian pilgrim in Madinah survive a stroke this week, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The medical team specializing in telestroke medicine is affiliated with the Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh, the SPA reported.

The pilgrim, who has a history of chronic illness, was treated at the Madinah General Hospital.

In a joint effort, doctors from the Ministry of Health, the Seha Virtual Hospital, and the Madinah General Hospital located a brain clot and performed a cerebral catheterization procedure.

The pilgrim is recovering, the SPA said.

A total of 5,466 volunteers, in over 16 locations in Madinah and Makkah, are helping with first aid and emergency care for Hajj pilgrims this year.


Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

For years, Safwan applied for Hajj believing the opportunity would coincide with his retirement plans. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2024
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Elderly Malaysian pilgrim fulfils decades-long Hajj dream

JEDDAH: Malaysian pilgrim Mohammed Safwan, 66, is finally achieving a decades-long dream of performing Hajj.

Hailing from Johor in the south of the country, Safwan worked as an aviation safety technician for Malaysia Airlines, but after retirement had little savings because he had continued to support his family.

When Malaysia’s government approved Safwan’s Hajj request, his children collected $26,000 so that he could fulfil his dream. 

“Nothing compares to the unity and strength of a family, and no joy can match the elation of realizing a dream cherished by the closest of people,” Safwan told the Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday.


Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

Updated 13 June 2024
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Awareness campaign on animal sacrifice launched in Madinah ahead of Eid Al-Adha

  • The campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth

RIYADH: A campaign on how to choose the proper animals for sacrifice and ensure that it is free of diseases has been launched in Madinah province ahead of Eid Al-Adha. 

Dubbed "My Sacrifice,” the awareness campaign is a project of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture's Department of Animal Wealth, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"The campaign, which is supervised by a number of specialists and veterinarians, shows the most important and sound methods for preserving meat and keeping it safe from poisoning," SPA said.

MEWA's awareness campaign on animal sacrifice include field visits and tours to livestock markets and an exhibition in one of the commercial complexes in the region. (SPA)

The activities include field visits and tours to livestock markets "to guide beneficiaries on the most important health requirements that must be met by the sacrifice," it added.

Experts will explain how to choose good sacrificial animals, particularly the age.

An awareness-raising exhibition will also be held in one of the commercial complexes in the region, and a children’s studio, the report said.

Eid Al-Adha this year falls on June 16. 

 

 


Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi minister inspects National Guard Hajj preparedness

MAKKAH: Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, the minister of the National Guard, inspected the readiness of ministry forces for the Hajj season, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

This inspection is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure the security of the Hajj, following the directions of the country’s leadership.

During his visit to Makkah’s Al-Shara’i district, Prince Abdullah watched a detailed military parade under the theme of “Ease and Reassurance.”

The parade demonstrated the preparedness and abilities of the ministry’s forces responsible for keeping pilgrims safe during their journey.

Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami listens to a briefing. (SPA)

Separately, Lieutenant General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, the director of Public Security and Chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, inspected the security forces, and the military support authorities participating in serving the pilgrims at the holy sites.

Al-Bassami confirmed that his organization has prepared the required security and organizational plans, which aim to ensure the security, safety and comfort of the pilgrims.

He stressed that the security forces will respond firmly and forcefully to thwart any action that might affect the safety of the pilgrims or whatever hampers facilitating their rituals.