From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

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Above, guests at the “Perfumes of the East” exhibition in Riyadh. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)
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An old book showing recipe for perfumes. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)
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The exhibition has been designed to create a balanced combination of olfactory and visual experiences for visitors by perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)
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The exhibition has been designed to create a balanced combination of olfactory and visual experiences for visitors by perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)
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A jasmine dress by a Saudi artist displayed at the exhibition. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)
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Updated 23 May 2024
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From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

  • Exhibition highlights cultural significance and art of perfume-making

RIYADH: The “Perfumes of the East” exhibition has made its first international stop in Riyadh. 

It is a collaboration between the Saudi National Museum and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Arab World Institute in Paris.

The exhibition, which will continue until Sept. 14 at the museum, provides its guests with a journey through the richness of the Arab world’s perfumes, showcasing the fragrances and scents of the East, the cultural traditions that have influenced perfumes and their significant social role in Saudi culture.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, and Christophe Farnaud, the EU ambassador, were among the attendees at the opening ceremony, along with other delegates from the Arab World Institute, leaders from the Ministry of Culture and the Museums Commission, and artists from the Kingdom, the Arab world and France.




The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, during the exhibition. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

“Perfumes of the East is an amazing exhibition, which was brought from Paris to Riyadh,” Pouille said. “It was presented first at the Arab World Institute in Paris, and it was a great success ... so many people visited it.

“It is amazing because you mix history and also artworks. You have artists who have been part of this exhibition, and this is the beauty of it. It is not just the history of perfumes in the Middle East, it is more than that.

“I am amazed by the jasmine dress by a young Saudi artist, who was also there in Paris, and of course, you can smell jasmine, but it is more than that. It is about heritage, the Saudi traditions, and I am fond of it,” the French envoy said.

The exhibition highlighted the cultural and historical importance of perfume in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, providing insight into its origins in the Arabian peninsula, an important trading hub through which aromatic plants and spices were distributed among ancient societies.




Christophe Farnaud, the European Union Ambassador at Perfumes of the East exhibition in Riyadh. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

“A distinguished exhibition that revives an authentic national heritage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Dalia Seoudy, one of the guests at the museum. “It presents fragrant knowledge and surrounds one of the most important elements of intangible Saudi heritage, a journey between the roses of Taif and the jasmine of the southern region. This museum reminded me of perfumes in Paris, but it is very authentic, creative and beautiful.”

Audrey Chazal, a consultant between France and Saudi Arabia on artistic and cultural events, said: “It is amazing to see how exhibitions are traveling through the world.

I am really happy to see how France and Saudi Arabia are collaborating to create cultural events and inviting visitors to discover art and smells.”

Sarah Al-Faisal, a board member of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, was one of the guests. She said: “I was glad to attend this beautiful event, finding the history of perfumes that carried us back a thousand years by giving us the narrative of the Bukhor’s route and the story of rare scents."

She expressed her thoughts on the exhibition and how the use of perfumes is one of the hallmarks of Arab and Islamic civilizations.

Al-Faisal praised the Ministry of Culture for working in cooperation with the Arab World Institute in Paris and the National Museum in Riyadh to deliver this message by working with perfume specialists, officials, and historians to achieve this wonderful result.

“It is an exceptional and beautiful journey which highlights how Saudi Arabia produces and has much more to display to the world through this fascinating exhibition," she added.

The exhibition has been designed to create a balance of olfactory and visual experiences for visitors, with scent-releasing devices carefully placed and handpicked for the exhibition by internationally acclaimed perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake.

More than 200 artifacts and artworks, both ancient and contemporary, are on display, weaving a narrative of the enduring relationship between the Arab world and perfume.

The exhibition unfolds through distinct spaces — from the raw beauty of nature to bustling town streets and the setting of a private home. This trajectory enables visitors to experience the evolution of perfume-making through a blend of historical treasures and modern artistic expressions.

This exhibition aligns with the National Museum’s commitment to celebrating Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of Arab and Islamic civilization.

It offers a multi-faceted educational and cultural experience, enriched by accompanying workshops and seminars that delve into the composition of perfumes, the intricate process of their creation, and the artistic design of perfume packaging.


Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

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Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

RIYADH: Saudi Railways on Wednesday hailed the success of the Mashaer Train operation at this year’s Hajj season, saying the metro service had transported more than 2.2 million passengers between the nine stations in Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, operating 2,206 trips.

More than 29,000 worshippers were transported on the first day of the pilgrimage, while more than 292,000 pilgrims were carried from Mina to Arafat, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Mashaer Train then transported over 305,000 people during the pilgrimage from Arafat to Muzdalifah, and more than 383,000 worshippers from Muzdalifah to Mina.

During the days of Tashreeq, the train carried more than 1.2 million pilgrims from stations Mina 1, Mina 2, and Muzdalifah 3 to Mina 3 station (Jamarat), which offered easy access to the Jamarat Bridge.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of SAR, said that the success of the operating plan was built on unlimited support for the railway sector from the Saudi leadership.


Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

Updated 39 min 10 sec ago
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Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

  • Saudi organizers deliver their first progress report to event bureau chiefs in Paris

RIYADH:Saudi Arabia is on target to deliver an Expo 2030 “by the world, for the world,” organizers have told event chiefs in Paris in their first progress report since Riyadh was chosen as host city.

Abdulaziz Alghannam, director general of the Riyadh Expo 2030 office at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, led the Saudi delegation at the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in the French capital.

Efforts were fully underway for Expo registration and preparation for creating the legal framework to enable international participation in the event, he told the bureau.

Riyadh was chosen to host the event at the bureau’s last general assembly in November 2023. The expo will take place  from Oct. 1, 2030 to March 31, 2031, when the Saudi capital will host 197 countries and 29 international organizations.

The theme – “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow” – encapsulates Saudi Arabia’s commitment to using the Expo to accelerate progress toward the planned sustainable development goals. The event will focus on harnessing science and innovation for a better future.

Preparations are underway at the highest levels, including infrastructure development, legislative and financial measures, the master plan for the Expo site, and legacy plans.


Classic meat dish returns to Jazan tables

Mahshoosh has stood the test of time, maintaining its prominence among the various dishes that grace the Jazan table. (Supplied/
Updated 40 min 55 sec ago
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Classic meat dish returns to Jazan tables

  • In the past, locals prepared mahshoosh to preserve sacrificial meat in the absence of refrigeration

MAKKAH: The arrival of Eid Al-Adha signals the return of mahshoosh, or Al-Humais — a traditional dish beloved by Jazan locals that is deeply rooted in the region’s cultural heritage.

Mahshoosh has stood the test of time, maintaining its prominence among the various dishes that grace the Jazan table. Its preparation is seen as a revival of an age-old tradition dating back to a time when there was no refrigeration. Local people relied on this dish to preserve the meat from their Eid Al-Adha sacrifices.

Once the meat and fat are cut up, the fat is slowly melted and meat added gradually. (Supplied/Visit Saudi)

While the dish is most associated with Eid Al-Adha, it can be savored throughout the year. Its name stems from the method of preparation, which involves finely chopping meat and fat into small pieces, a process referred to as “Al-Hash” in the local dialect.

The recipe for mahshoosh has been passed down through generations, with women in Jazan taking great pride in preparing it. Once the meat and fat are cut up, the fat is slowly melted and meat added gradually. After the addition of spices, the dish is then left to simmer for several hours with occasional stirring.

HIGHLIGHTS

• While mahshoosh is most associated with Eid Al-Adha, it can be savored throughout the year.

• Its name stems from the method of preparation, which involves finely chopping meat and fat into small pieces, a process referred to as ‘Al-Hash’ in the local dialect.

Finally, the cooked mixture is transferred to a clay container, where it solidifies and can be preserved for several months without losing its flavor.

Lard and meat are chopped up and cooked together to create the rich delicacy. (SPA)

Chef Ahmed Issa Shetifi from the Sabya governorate said mahshoosh was invented out of necessity when people had no means of preserving their food. Cooking it with lard extended the shelf life of the meat.

Preparation methods varied from one household to another, with some families adding only onions while others would include spices such as cardamom and cinnamon.

According to Shetifi, proper preparation involves roasting the lard before the meat is added. The lard pieces should be large, as they dissolve faster.

He added: “This custom continued even after people had refrigerators to store meat and food. In fact, some families still store mahshoosh in rooms or under their beds, where it lasts for a week or ten days before being consumed.

“Later generations began storing it in pots in the refrigerator while others use designated bags, each containing one meal, and keep them in the freezer.”

Mahshoosh is very high in calories and is typically served only during Eid Al-Adha, he said: “Some families dedicate the entire Eid sacrifice to preparing mahshoosh. While it can be enjoyed in moderation, eating it in excess poses a risk of high cholesterol due to its high-calorie content.”

Mahshoosh is typically served with bread, although some people prefer to eat it with rice. It is also part of the traditional Jazan dinner.

 


Unwind and reconnect with nature at these Saudi reserves and resorts

Updated 42 min 38 sec ago
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Unwind and reconnect with nature at these Saudi reserves and resorts

  • Model and actress Maria Eduarda spoke to Arab News about her stay: “Everything was great! The food, the room service, and in-villa dining were amazing … The structure inside the villa is amazing … I loved it — one of the best stops ever”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia boasts a plethora of novel natural reserves and resorts that champion the nourishment of the mind, body, and soul.

From lush mountain ranges to glistening blue waters, the well-preserved environments have become must-visit spots for those looking to discover the Kingdom’s hidden gems and reconnect with nature.

Situated on a pristine private island, the newly opened Nujuma, Ritz-Carlton Reserve marks the brand's debut in the Middle East, featuring coral reefs beneath the water’s surface and a clear view of the night stars, which inspired the name ‘Nujuma’. (Supplied)

Nujuma, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, The Red Sea

Situated on a private island, the newly opened Nujuma, Ritz-Carlton Reserve marks the brand’s debut in the Middle East, featuring coral reefs beneath the water’s surface and a clear view of the night stars, inspiring its name.

Model and actress Maria Eduarda spoke to Arab News about her stay: “Everything was great! The food, the room service, and in-villa dining were amazing … The structure inside the villa is amazing … I loved it — one of the best stops ever.”

Aseel Resort is a one-of-a-kind family experience that merges nature, heritage and luxury. (Supplied)

The resort features 63 one-to-four-bedroom water and beach villas, designed to blend in with the unspoiled natural environment. Guests can indulge in a lavish spa, swimming pools, a range of restaurants, and a retail area.

The Neyrah Spa offers relaxation with a touch of regional ingredients like oud and moringa peregrina tree oil. The wellness services include guided breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and sound healing therapy.

The relaxing Nofa Riyadh features luxury villas complete with private gardens and swimming pools, surrounded by green lawns, sand dunes and mountains. (Supplied)

The on-site Conservation House is an ode to nomadic exploration, providing a space for guests to get creative, expand their knowledge, and foster a sense of community through resident sustainability, environmental, and cultural experts.

Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Ahsa

Boasting natural springs and lush greenery, Al-Ahsa Oasis is the perfect spot for a family getaway. Home to one of the biggest oases in the world and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the limestone hills of Al-Qarah and Al-Ahsa National Park are just a few of the attractions.

For those looking to discover Saudi’s regional flora and fauna, Shada mountain is just an hour and a half drive fromAl-Baha city in the Jabal Shada Nature Reserve. (SPA)

The historical region in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia is filled with potential recreational activities, including water fountain light shows, a football stadium, mazes, and a theater at King Abdullah Environment Park.

Asfar Lake, or Yellow Lake, is an unforgettable site from over the sand dunes, while Souq Al-Qaisariya is one of the oldest markets in the Kingdom for memorable souvenirs.

The Sharaan Nature Reserve spans 1,500 square kilometers, showcasing stunning red-rock canyons, valleys, and desert landscapes. (AN photo by Zaid Khashogji)

Jabal Shada, Baha

For those looking to discover Saudi Arabia’s regional flora and fauna, Jabal Shada is just an hour-and-a-half drive from Baha in the Jabal Shada Nature Reserve. Marked with unusual rock formations, the area is home to unique geological cave formations, reportedly dating back 763 million years and engraved with Thamudic writings and drawings that date back 3,000 years.

Tours are available to book through Akam Aljazerah’s website, and modern stays nearby are equipped with kitchens, balconies, and breathtaking views.

Guests can also immerse themselves in the gastronomic arts by enrolling in a cooking school to master healthy recipes and techniques. (Supplied)

Sharaan Nature Reserve, AlUla

Sharaan Nature Reserve spans 1,500 sq. km, showcasing stunning red-rock canyons, valleys, and desert landscapes.

Safari Sharaan’s guided 4x4 adventures allow guests to explore wildlife like red-necked ostriches and Arabian ibex, and discover ancient rock carvings.

Saudi Arabia has played a crucial role by establishing specialized breeding centers and veterinary facilities for the Arabian oryx. (SPA)

Guests can relax at Habitas AlUla, featuring Thuraya Wellness’ yoga, fitness, and personalized treatment offerings with local oils and teas, or stay in wellness-focused villas like Celestial and Alcove at Habitas.

The Banyan Tree’s tented villas and spa blend Asian and Saudi traditions for unique wellness experiences. Enjoy a secluded rock pool amid mountains, ideal for a refreshing swim and memorable moments.

Nofa Riyadh, Riyadh

The relaxing Nofa Riyadh features luxury villas complete with private gardens and swimming pools, surrounded by green lawns, sand dunes and mountains.

Dareen Al-Rajeh, a senior project associate, said about her stay there: “I liked how it was clean and comfortable with a generous welcome from the staff. The villa has a unique style with your own swimming pool … Walking around the resort, you will pass by a lot of animals, which makes you feel connected to nature … The resort has a spa, a children’s playground, multiple restaurants, and a small lake and boats.”

Guests are encouraged to experience nature on a whole new level at the resort’s incredible Wildlife Park where Asian elephants, Grevy’s zebras, Arabian oryx, and giraffes can be spotted.

Nofa’s on-site 39-seat theater is the place to unwind in style and enjoy daily movie screenings at your leisure or have a family competition at the Nofa Bowling Alley. Younger children can enjoy the Kids’ Adventure Park, an exciting indoor park with action-packed games and a playground.

Aseel Resort, Diriyah

Aseel Resort is a family experience that merges nature, heritage, and luxury. Nestled in the birthplace of the Kingdom, Diriyah, the resort was created as an ode to Saudi history and Najd’s beautiful artistry.

The resort allows anywhere from six to 75 guests, with six farms to choose from. Each one is decorated with ornate art by local creatives. Whether you take a dip in the farm’s private pool or enjoy game nights with your family at the indoor majlis, it’s a space to create lifetime memories.

Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea

Set against the dramatic backdrop of desert plains and the Hijaz Mountains, Six Senses Southern Dunes pays homage to Nabataean architectural heritage and its majestic desert surroundings.

The resort offers 36 guest rooms and 40 pool villas, while the spa offers a traditional hammam experience, meditative yoga sessions, and other tailored wellness treatments and.  

From Al-Sarab to Merkaz, Bariya, and beyond, the flavors of Saudi culinary heritage are endless, crafted with ingredients sourced from the chef’s garden or local suppliers.

Guests can also immerse themselves in the gastronomic arts by enrolling in a cooking school to master healthy recipes and techniques.

 


Saudi authorities distribute gifts to departing Hajj pilgrims 

Updated 54 min 15 sec ago
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Saudi authorities distribute gifts to departing Hajj pilgrims 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance in the Makkah region is distributing gifts to pilgrims departing the Kingdom after completing Hajj.

The gifts, which include 646,652 copies of the Qur’an and a translation of its meanings, are being distributed at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the Jeddah Islamic Port and Taif International Airport, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The departing pilgrims thanked the Saudi government for the facilities and services provided to them, saying that the reception and farewell ceremonies are part of the Kingdom’s generosity to pilgrims and visitors.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which began on Friday, concluded on Wednesday with more than 2 million Muslims taking part this year.