Online Magazine, Travel Tips, Travel Trends

5 Luxury Experiences in Rome And Florence:

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Have a glimpse of authentic Italian fashion, culture, and artisanship in these two cities.


Awaken your scent-sibilities
Learn the art of perfumery with Aqua Flor, the experts; and create your own fragrance.img_5652

Appreciate the works of italian masters
Visit the Uffizi Museum, Academy of Florence Art Gallery, to name a few.img_5361

Artchitecture at its finest
Florence and Rome are open museums. From Trevi Fountain to the Spanish steps,you’re bound to get positively overwhelmed by their dazzling architecture.img_2670

Watch true italian craftsmanship at Fendi, Roma
The atelier opens its doors for those who wish to learn what makes Fendi a true haven for fashion lovers.img_1432

I scream, you scream… Gelato!
This is dolce vita in every scoop.

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Healthy Living, Online Magazine, Wellness

Landmark Arabia Launches ‘Super Kidz’ Initiative in Saudi Arabia

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Nationwide online creative contest aims to promote healthy lifestyle amongst children in light of the diabetes awareness month.


Riyadh-KSA: November, 2018  Landmark Arabia, the region’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate, has launched a nationwide initiative in Saudi Arabia titled ‘Super Kidz’. The initiative aims at encouraging kids to eat healthy and adopt an active lifestyle, through an online creative contest. The contest is set to run throughout the month of November, to mark the diabetes awareness month.

The Super Kidz initiative is part of the Group’s global CSR initiative Beat Diabetes’, to spread awareness about the condition. The initiative encourages people that diabetes can be managed by taking 3 simple steps – Take the Test, Eat Healthy & Get Active. This is the tenth year of the Beat Diabetes initiative and the Group aims to reach out to a large audience with the message of healthy living.

The Super Kidz initiative spreads the message of healthy eating and active lifestyle for kids through two superhero characters – Super Sam and Super Sara. The characts have also been illustrated in two digital comic books that chronicle their adventures including their love for sports, reading, exercising and eating lots of healthy food. In the comics, the Super Kidz are seen to receive their superpowers from their healthy lifestyle habits.

During the initiative, kids will have the chance to participate in an online Super Kidz Creative Contest, which will include a drawing and a creative writing challenge. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 can submit a drawing showcasing ways of eating healthy or getting active, while children between the ages of 7and 10 are invited to submit their original stories in English or Arabic on the same topic of healthy living. The entries will be judged for age appropriate creativity and originality.

The winning drawing and story will be included in the next Super Kidz comic. In addition, the first-place winners from both categories will receive an iPad Pro, while the runners-up will receive an iPad. As a gesture of encouragement from the Landmark Group, every submission will get a certificate of participation.

The World Health Organization recognises childhood obesity as a significant challenge of the 21st century. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 41 million. The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has also underlined the high prevalence of modifiable risk factors amongst Saudi youth, and further states that if current unhealthy habits are not reversed at a young age, the burden of disease and illness will rise in the future. Recognising the alarming consequences of such findings, Landmark Arabia is committed to taking necessary steps to address and prevent a surge in the incidence of chronic lifestyle conditions.

Landmark Arabia has always believed in the importance of encouraging the community to live healthy and fulfilled lives. As part of this priority, the Super Kidz campaign ensures that children are included in this conversation on good health.

Entries can be submitted via the official SuperKidz website: superkidz.me

About Landmark Arabia:

Landmark Arabia, Middle East’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate, was launched in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1994. Since its inception, the Group and its brands have created exceptional value for communities across the region, with its presence in GCC, Lebanon, North Africa and India.

Landmark Arabia’s retail offerings include more than 10 homegrown brands such as Centrepoint, Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Lifestyle, Splash, Max, Home Centre, Home Box, Shoexpress, Iconic and hospitality brands like Fitness First – all of which are household names in Saudi Arabia. The company also owns three Oasis Malls in the Kingdom. Along with own brands, Landmark Arabia also franchises international brands such as Koton, Reiss, Carpisa and Nandos among other global brands in the region.

Landmark Arabia currently operates over 850 stores spanning more than 11 million sq ft of retail space and employs over 6,800 Saudi employees of whom 66% are Saudi women.

The Group is proud of having one of the largest loyalty programs in the Kingdom with over 10 million customers.

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Business, Food, Interview, Online Magazine, Showdown

Chef Nour Al Zaben

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Conceptual Dining.


Chef Nour’s 2019 Food Trend Predictions:
Vegan pop ups and speciality restaurants that focus on one thing, often artisanal, and doing it exceptionally well.

Jeddah born Nour Al Zaben discovered her passion for cooking at a young age. At 14, she moved away to boarding school, where meals lacked a touch of warmth and comfort. Wanting to feel closer to home, she found herself in the kitchen, recreating familiar dishes and discovering new flavors along the way.

However, her transition into a culinary career didn’t happen until she finished her degree in Banking and Finance:
“In those days being a chef was a bit of a taboo, it was not a career path that Arab parents pushed for. However, after finishing my degree in banking and finance, I managed to do a cooking degree instead of a masters. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and did a full degree in French cuisine.”

When she returned to Jeddah, Chef Nour gained experience and understanding of the local palate by joining different culinary brigades—making her way through the kitchens of Toki and AlMultaqa; and eventually collaborating with another restaurateur and worked on the menu of Soli Sushi.

“I took a break after that and helped in our family business. I made a deal with my mom to do it for a year, then afterwards go back to my first love.”

Indeed, when Chef Nour made her comeback, she went all-in. Together with her partners, they opened Urb Kitchen, one of the trendiest restaurants in Jeddah right now.

“URB kitchen was previously called urban diner, the restaurant and the menu lacked creativity, and the atmosphere was almost nonexistent. With that said we still saw potential. Deciding to revamp the place, we took on the restaurant and managed to give it a full face lift. We worked day and night on a creative menu to cater to the masses, our prices are reasonable but never once did we compromise on ingredients. URB Kitchen was our first local concept and we are truly proud of that,” said Chef Nour.

The dishes are innovative, yet feel homey and inviting. It reflects food you grew up loving but with a twist. Take for example the beet hummus topped with quinoa falafel. The food is also aesthetically pleasing, Chef Nour and her partners believe that people eat with their eyes first and that’s what makes URB kitchen stand out.

Social trends are developing and people are looking to try new things, URB Kitchen is setting the standard of casual dining, it is a melting pot of traditional ingredients and modern techniques. This reflects Nour’s guiding principle as a restaurateur and chef:

“Have a strong concept first, the rest will follow. You can tweak dishes along the way, crafting a menu is a process, for it to be great, you have to be building upon a solid concept.”

Currently, URB Kitchen is looking forward to providing an all-day dining service, and welcoming guests to their new outdoor terrace.

Instagram: chef_nz

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Offbeat, Online Magazine

A Brave New Saudi: Ahmed Al Omran

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Writing on the Margins.


While boys his age were playing on the streets of Hofuf, Ahmed Al Omran would be reading the Asharq Alawsat, a pan-Arabdaily newspaper— his youthful mind already enthused by politics and current affairs.

His love for reading quickly diversified into a passion for writing. The latter caught the attention of a teacher, who further challenged him in class and gifted him with his very first dictionary. However, instead of jumping into journalism after High School, Al Omran first pursued a degree in Pharmacy at King Saud University, Riyadh to satisfy his father’s wishes.

Al Omran started the “Saudi Jeans” blog in 2004 as a way to practice writing in English. He was one of the first Saudi bloggers in Saudi Arabia whose writing was accessible to an international audience due to its linguistic medium. It remained an outlet for Al Omran throughout his university years. After presenting his diploma to his family, Al Omran finally followed his true calling. He acquired a scholarship and finished a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York.

Al Omran is one of the few international Saudi journalists. Predecessors like Fazia Ambah, who worked at the Washington Post, highly influenced his path. He spent a year working for NPR, before returning to Saudi Arabia to be a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. His writing has also appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, and now he works for the Financial Times.

When asked what led him to a path in international journalism, Al Omran replied, “The way Saudi Arabia was being reported on included many examples of poor writing in the post-9/11 period. I believed that I was in a unique position to provide insight into my country because as a citizen I would have far better access to the people and their stories.”

“We are living in a special time, seize that moment to create important and valuable work.” – Ahmed Al Omran

Twitter: ahmed

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Local Designers, Offbeat, Online Magazine, Story, Style & Shopping

A Brave New Saudi: Arwa Banawi

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Bedouwins and Silhouettes.


Ever since she debuted the Suitable Woman collection in 2015, we, and everyone else it seems, have not been able to take our eyes off Saudi fashion designer, Arwa Banawi. Her creations have graced the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and came to life on the runways of Dubai, Paris, and of course, the Kingdom. She has caught the attention of stylists the world over, and most recently, Jessie J opened her concert in an Arwa Banawi outfit.

In less than three years and without missing a step, Arwa has set the barometer for the Saudi fashion industry. What makes her stand out as a Saudi designer is her ability to match her sartorial creativity with entrepreneurial astuteness. She comes in with passion, as many do, but then pairs it with a think big strategy— and so, when she says, “our vision is to export Saudi culture”, it’s more than a statement, it’s a prophecy.

A penchant to capture what’s real, and an ability to come up with collections that are multi-versed— universal on one hand, unmistakably Arab on another, makes her a force for representation. Her style is best described as androgynous, and her successful attempts at designing for pluralistic identities may just be what attracted collaborators to come knocking at her studio’s doors.

Adidas Originals paired up with Arwa to create “P.E,”, the first among her contemporaries to do so. The capsule collection consisted of athleisure wear and her signature suits. Levi’s Middle East tapped her to create a customized trucker jacket. At every turn, the persona she designs for is tangible and clearly defined: the modern day creative woman, transcending borders, turning boundaries into silhouettes.

“Our Saudi fashion community is growing, it is making a strong case to be recognized as an industry hub in the middle east. I want to be part of this reality, I have always been proud of my roots and in the near future, I want my first flagship store to be in my country. Saudi is cool, we got this.”

“I grew up in a creative household, fashion was part of my childhood. I was heavily influenced by baba’s Versace suits, and mama’s modest couture. I would take all the Sufrat Salat I’d find around the house and drape them over myself, looking at the mirror. I knew this wasn’t child’s play for me, this is who I wanted to be, what I sought to create.” – Arwa Banawi

Web: arwaalbanawi.com

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Food, Offbeat, Online Magazine

A Brave New Saudi: Rakan Al ORAIFI

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Fervour and Flavors.


“Sometimes, your passion is ignited when you get thrown into the fire, that’s how I discovered mine —I opened a restaurant straight out of college, and one day, I found myself without a cook, and all I could do was put on an apron and brave the heat of the kitchen.”

From a down on his luck restaurateur to becoming one of the Saudi chefs to prepare a Saudi lunch for over 5,000 guests at DAVOS, World Economic Forum 2018, there is no doubt that Chef Rakan has come a long way.

Long hours, knife cuts, and skating through slippery kitchen floors is what it took for him to be named Best Saudi Chef 2018 by the Saudi Tourism Excellence Awards, and to be nominated in the Middle East Excellence awards this year. And if you asked Chef Rakan, he’s looking forward to more of it: “Passion gets you started, hard work is what moves you forward. Being Saudi is part of who I am but we (as Saudis) are more than the word itself, it is important that we represent our culture, for me I do it through food and how I act as a chef. Be professional, be willing to put in the long hours, keep learning. I am honing my techniques—French, Japanese, Chinese, I come in every kitchen to serve good food but I am also there to become better.”

This year, Chef Rakan starred in two cooking shows, for an Abu Dhabi channel as well as the recently relaunched Saudi Broadcasting Channel (SBC). Prior to these, he also competed in Top Chef Middle East. Chef Rakan is working towards one day becoming an executive chef, and eventually opening a restaurant with him at its helm. He is currently a Senior Chef De Partie at Four Seasons, Riyadh.

“Don’t do it for the money, if you do that you will not make it. Cooking requires passion, being a chef needs dedication. It’s not easy, you will start from the bottom, bruises, cuts, burns– but I can tell you this, it’s worth it.” – Rakan Al ORAIFI

Instagram: raloraifi

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Art, Artist & Musicians, Arts & Music, Galleries

A Brave New Saudi: Khalid Zahid

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Aesthetic Resonance.


From Sheikhs on carousels capturing the simplicity of faith, car-door winged dolls sparking hope, to a beating dome installation that rendered him the meta pied-piper of Jeddah, Khaled Zahid is a Saudi contemporary artist who knows how to merge concepts and the familiar together, leaving viewers amused and provoked at the same time.

Zahid considers himself a messenger, using art to reflect on local social issues defining the current paradigms in the Kingdom. One such example is the “Beginning/End” installation, a deconstructed pump that meditates the past while looking towards a diversified future.

Zahid has exhibited in cities like Moscow, New York, and Abu Dhabi. His artworks have been widely circulated on social media. Case in point, his Amal Doll, became the celebratory symbol of choice when the ban on Saudi women’s driving was lifted.

The Holy Decibel he unveiled at the Shara exhibition with Ali Chaban, caught the attention of international curators, and will soon be shown at the Sharjah Biennale. It cuts through the noise that overshadows Islam by elevating the conversation to an intellectual level that is  explored through a multisensory art experience.

Zahid does art in a way that doesn’t feed on typical dissidence but rather, inspires overt dialogue, and here lies his ingenuity: “I don’t cross red lines— you need to think smart as an artist. I walk on red lines to bring and lure people in. Their interest rises when they see you doing something that’s on the fringes. The moment you cross it though, you will lose your audience, the art galleries, and the shows.”

Khalid Zahid’s work is set to be displayed in major festivals in the region, and will most likely find its way to the art capitals soon. And through him, the world will discover that there’s more to contemplate about Saudi Arabia than meets the eye.

“You need to be a smart artist, your work needs to be a balance of two things: you should have a strong concept, a shock factor, but delivered beautifully.” – Khalid Zahid

Instagram: KZ_art

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Artist & Musicians, Arts & Music, Online Magazine

Nugamshi

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Sweeping Contradictions.


A man flitted and flounced over a canvas laid on the floor. His movements are impetuous; tempered with swift deliberate strokes. It was marked with purposeful pauses to reload his weapon of choice, a broom, no less drenched in paint as much his thobe.  He gives the impression of an artist lost in the moment, in his performance—sheltered from the cacophony of on-lookers through the music blaring through his earphones. There is intimacy in the act of creating, and Nugamshi, grants those who watch him perform privy to his thoughts and identity.

Present day Riyadh, Nugamshi paints for us one statement over another, creating converging and diverging narratives along the way. Every now and then, his face would draw a pensive stare, seemingly caught in his stream of thoughts.

Nugamshi was born in Qurrayat, and spent most of his childhood in Qassim before moving to Riyadh. His interest in calligraphy was first influenced by his teacher, Nasser Al Harbi, who also discovered his talent for the craft. Nugamshi pays homage to the tradition but pivots towards a contemporary approach to calligraphy. He positions his work at the crevice, marrying it with his love for typography. The latter, an interest taken further by Nugamshi as a graphic designer, working now as a creative director for a private company.

"The making of the art is akin to a dance. The words I choose are not random, they are words born out of a monologue, expressed to create a dialogue with the audience"   Nugamshi

“The making of the art is akin to a dance. The words I choose are not random, they are words born out of a monologue, expressed to create a dialogue with the audience” Nugamshi

Perhaps what makes Nugamshi’s work stand out is its successful meshing of Japanese techniques, graffiti and the act of painting itself—resulting in a captivating visual and performance piece. His use of unconventional materials was part out of necessity and influenced by Niels Shoe Meulman.

“I have tremors, my hand shakes, and that is something that normally would be a disadvantage if you are working with a detailed, technique oriented craft like Arabic calligraphy. However, for me, it was not a limitation, it pushed me to go outside the normal and find my way,” Nugamshi said.

Nugamshi’s brand of calligraffiti transcends language barriers, the appeal of it is universal, which the artist attributes to the spiritual connection he creates in every performance. His favorite words to create are Her, and Nun.“whenever I perform, I am representing my identity, introducing my language, but at the same time, the experience itself is universal. Foreigners actually appreciate my art more than Arabs.” Nugamshi has taught workshops on the basics and history of calligraffiti at the YourAOK art organization in Kuwait and presented his video installations in the 2016 Sharjah Calligraphy Bienniale. He performed with his Saudi contemporaries in Washington DC last spring.

Calligraphy is an art form marked by discipline, mastery, and an obsession with perfection— Nugamshi’s departure from it extends not just in his execution but in his detachment from his art.

“I don’t believe in the past, it ties you down. I only believe in the future. The moment I finish an artwork it is no longer part of my present, and so I destroy it,” says the man, who at one point in his life impulsively chose to be homeless in Hong Kong.

Just when you thought you’ve had Nugamshi read, he throws you a curve. His artistic signature isn’t the medium and tools he chooses, but the calculated chaos and measured impulsivity that characterizes his every move. He is his art, and his art is he: bold and broad, thoughtfulness caught in reckless abandon.

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Fashion Trends, Shop In Riyadh, Style & Shopping

TOUS Jewelry opens at Riyadh Park Mall

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TOUS Jewelry opens 22nd of September KSA store at Riyadh Park Mall.


Global CEO for TOUS Spain Jose Maria Folache has opened the 22nd TOUS KSA store in Riyadh Park Mall, one of the largest and latest shopping malls in Riyadh.

The new opening comes in line with the TOUS strategy to consolidate and strengthen TOUS leadership position in the affordable luxury jewelry segment.

The flagship store boasts a premium location of 133 sqm perfectly placed in the Mall, which reflects the TOUS premium image status and suits the taste of lovers of unconventional jewelry collections, with displays of a wide variety of iconic affordable jewelry and accessories that cater to all needs and perfectly fit women from different age groups.

The store boasts a unique modern design and showcases a wide range of TOUS collections for 2018 and 2019 that have been launched at the opening.

The ceremony was attended by Jose Maria Folache, CEO, TOUS International, Korayem Al Enazi, Chairman of the National Precious Metals Commission and Selim Chidiac, CEO of L’azurde Group, the new Franchisee for TOUS in KSA, as well as women dignitaries, businessmen, the media, celebrities and TOUS jewelry lovers.tous1

AlEnazi commented: “We are always happy to see an international brand like TOUS increasing its investments in KSA. This reflects the confidence in the Saudi market and is fully in-line with its Vision 2030. TOUS is an international brand with top quality products, we look forward to their increased presence in the Kingdom and further expansion and investment”

“We are excited to open the first TOUS store with our new partner, bringing the total number of stores across the Kingdom to 22 and at one of the most prestigious malls. TOUS is keen to increase its investment in the Saudi market in line with Vision 2030, which reflects the promising future of the Saudi economy. We are confident about the potential of the Saudi market and look forward to contributing to creating more job opportunities for Saudi youth and promoting investment in the Kingdom,” said Folache who visited the Kingdom to attend the opening ceremony.

“We aim to fortify our presence in the Kingdom and expand our business especially after TOUS consistent sales growth over the past years. TOUS carved a pioneering leadership position for the brand in the Saudi market and we are confident that our partnership with the TOUS KSA franchisee will boost TOUS sales in the Saudi market as a global luxury brand. Our mission is to continue impressing our customers with our creative and innovative designs while focusing at the same time on maintaining our original and genuine quality,” he said.

Commenting on the opening of the new store, Selim Chidiac said “TOUS iconic jewelry collection is unique and modern and complements our existing product portfolio perfectly. With TOUS, we will be able to reach new customer segments and offer affordable luxury products to consumers. We are confident that through our solid partnership with TOUS we will enhance TOUS position in the Saudi market. TOUS is an important addition to our business and it comes in line with our strategic plan to expand into the affordable luxury jewelry segment.”

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Food News

Hits and Misses: Riyadh’s Latest Food Trends

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The making of legends, fads, and flavors our palates wish to forget. 


Instagram-ready Unicorns

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Contoured waffles, doughnuts posing on top of shakes, glittered dessert-scapes, and yes, unicorn inspired drinks—Riyadh rode the instragram foofie (food selfie) trend like no one’s business. Don’t get us wrong, we like pretty food, for as long as it doesn’t compromise taste. Sadly, we’d have to say there were more misses than hits when it came to crazy concoctions this 2017, so next year folks, let’s try to master the basics.

HIT: Serafina’s Crazy Shakes, Chunk’s popcorn cake

Veganism and Patties from Outer Space

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Healthy living isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle and we’re all for it. When fitness became mainstream, came the rise of popularity and interest in Veganism. Cool so far. When you have demand, out comes restaurants and establishments wanting to provide. Burger joints started offering vegan options, some fared well, while others tasted like Martian dirt specimens we accidentally swallowed, that would eventually lead to our mutation.

Dear restaurants, yes, if you can’t beat them, join them, but if you do, do it right. Who did it right? Urth Caffe, try their vegan pizza.

Better Latte than Never

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Somewhat of a latecomer in 2017 but seems to be holding strong, is the comeback of the latte, iced or hot. New cafés like Jolt have a latte menu, where you’ll find Spanish lattes, gahwa lattes, rose lattes, lavender lattes and other interesting concoctions. Whether you like it velvety or frothy, lattes are here to stay.

Where are all the Good Ramen?

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This culinary import is just one of Japan’s brilliant culinary creations. Ramen, when done properly, is soulful. Ramen masters orchestrate this dish, it’s a balancing act of flavors and textures. Unfortunately, the ramen bowls that came last year has yet to satisfy our cravings. So sorry, guys, this is a miss— for now.

Gotta have ‘em all, Poké Bowl

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First thing first, poke bowls are not from Japan they hail from sunny Hawaii. It’s not a new hipster invention, poké (pronounced as Poh-Keh) has been around for ages and part of the indigenous culinary culture of Hawaiians. In Riyadh, we don’t have poké specific places yet so restaurants, most of them Japanese, have taken it upon themselves to give their deconstructed sushi take on this dish. Honestly, we don’t mind, they’re tasty but we would love to someday taste an authentic version just for comparison.

Hits: Mee So Hungry, Sushi Counter, Circle Café

The DR 2018 Foodie Prophecy:

Move over Quinoa, there’s a new superfood in town, which presumably would be Soghum.

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So it’s been circulating that middle eastern food will be trending globally (makes sense, we’ve loved it for ages!). But allow us to put it out there before cultural misappropriation muddles things this year: Daqqus will be replacing Sriracha as the It sauce. Remember its name.

 

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