DR’s Favorites: Best Of

Tomahawk’s Barbecue Wings

Crop of the cream for this year’s food issue.

It’s been a great year for Riyadh, food-wise. With restaurants from coveted franchises to brilliant new concepts popping up everywhere, we’re kind of getting spoiled for choice. We compiled a list of our favorites for you.

Best Experience:

Melting Pot

We’re always up for a good fondue, and the way Melting Pot has everything arranged is marvelous fun. High end dining with a twist, we like to think.

Twitter: tmp_saudi
Instagram: tmp_saudi
Tel: 920002690

Best Dessert:

Magnolia-banana-cream-pieMagnolia – Banana Cream Pie
Trust us, this stuff is the food of legends. Probably the one edible everyone in the office agrees on!

Instagram: Magnoliabakeryksa
Tel: +966-11-2292157 / +966-11-2291782

Best Service:


Want to feel like a king or queen? Go to Nozomi. The waiters instinctively know whenever you need the slightest help, and plates are freshened up between each dish. DR recommends the black cod maki.

Instagram: nozomi_riyadh
Tel: +966-11-4157655

Best Tucked Away:

La Rustica

We’ve mentioned them twice in this issue already, but we absolutely love the fact that the young Saudi owners are the ones running, cooking and managing in the restaurant. And the burrata is flown in fresh from Italy!

Instagram: La_rustica_sa
Mob: +66-553252521

Best Instagram Trial by Jury:

Framboise and Olive

Hands down our favorite cheesecake in town, and she’s ever so generous with her berries! And she’s flexible with gluten-free requests, which is something we always appreciate.

Mob: +966-590242433

Best Kept Secret:

Secret Chinese Restaurant

Super authentic, pretty awesome, and no, we’re still not telling you where it is.

Best New Concept:


We’re so happy someone finally decided to commercially introduce Saudi food with a modern twist. It’s been our one gripe with the food industry. And we love the branding! Way to go, Bialah.

Tel: 8002474400
Instagram: bialahksa

Best Burger:


You can feel the love they put in the food. Besides, they’ve got the most innovative menu we’ve seen for a classic burger joint. Pulled beef, anyone? And their dynamite shrimp! YUM.

Mob: +966-508660741
Twitter: tomahawk_grill
Instagram: tomahawk_grill

Best Decor:

Bistro-by-Tao-2Bistro by Tao

We’re still undecided on the food, as it’s mostly a hit or miss, but we can’t deny the restaurant has a gorgeous vibe. We love the mismatched vintage plates with the matching placemats. And the secret garden vibe is cute, too. Special nod to the wall done by Nughamshi, renowned Saudi calligraphist.

Tel: +966-11-4400024
Instagram: bistrobytao


KSA’s Culture of Graphic Novels on the Rise


We sat down with Naif Alkhairallah to get in depth with his debut novel, “Black Bonds.”

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Naif Alkhairallah, and I’ve spent 37 years on planet earth. From a very young age I used to doodle whenever I got the time, pencil and a paper (or any of them). Unfortunately, this hobby started to vanish as drawing creatures was frowned upon in the schooling system. I instead focused on getting a career that is more welcomed and has a clear trajectory, and managed to get my bachelor degree in accounting and started my banking career at the age of 21._DSC0017

Where do you think your strength lies most: in illustration or storytelling?

I have been getting positive feedback about my story telling skills, but I cannot take all the credit for that (although I would love to). My recent published work is a collaborative effort between Abdulrahman AlTamimi, who is a fantastic script writer, and myself.credit-Abdullah-Almusharraf

Your debut graphic novel grapples with the subject of sihr. What made you chose that as a topic?

I love horror stories, we all grew up listening to stories about that cursed/bewitched cousin of our friends (that no one met). Disclaimer: I used to be that kid who hides behind his mom whenever ‘AlRajul AlHadeedy’ was showing on TV. I always wanted to read stories that are related to our culture, specially horror ones. At the same time, I enjoy stories that have a surprising turn of events. So I decided to write a comic book that combines both.FullSizeRender_1

What pushed you to write it?

Through social media networks I was introduced to the world of MEFCC where I met Khaleeji comic books artists, and that reignited my passion for drawing, and helped me decide to write my own comic book. This meant that I needed to polish my skills, I began teaching myself the correct drawing basis starting from the anatomy of human body reaching to the rules of drawing architectural perspective. I got so obsessed that I built my own comic cave (studio). It was built to serve several purposes: (A) providing the inspiring atmosphere as I am surrounded by my favorite artists and the comic/video games characters that impacted my life and (B) as a proper workstation.FullSizeRender

Any advice for aspiring Saudi graphic novelists?

Follow what you love, do not try pleasing others, and don’t forget the basics.

Find “Black Bonds” in Jarir, Virgin Megastore, and through the publisher’s website at mdrek.com.


Artist’s Corner Deck: Batool Al Jefri


Meet this month’s emerging artist!

Name: Batool Al Jefri
Age: 24
Occupation: Dentist
Medium: Watercolor
Instagram: BatJefimage1-copy

What got you started?

I don’t remember, I never remember not drawing or painting.unnamed-3

Why do you art?

It clears my head, and it’s always fun to see the ideas in your mind on paper. And it keeps boredom at bay.image5

 Is your work the result of sudden inspiration, or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?

The paintings I do plan usually take a long time to make, and are tough to get right, so I don’t plan very much. Spontaneous ones finish quicker and have more freedom range to paint whatever I want.image3

What is, in your opinion, the best thing you’ve ever created and why?

The pink woods painting. I showed it to one of my friends and she said that it reminded her of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was what my inspiration was while painting it. So, that was a success I think.image3-copy

What do you think of the art scene in Riyadh? Anything you’d like to see changed?

I think it’s growing wonderfully. I think artists should try out different kinds of art and not stick to what is successful to keep it from being a mainstream movement, but I’m sure it will change with time.image2

Who are your role models?

Other than the giants of the Renaissance period, I am completely obsessed with and dead jealous of Daniel Merriam and Claire Basler.image2-copy

What does being creative mean to you?

It means everything! To not have the freedom to imagine and create would make life so boring.image1

Favorite piece of artwork by someone else.

It’s called Bubble Man. A photo by a genius photographer and a dear friend.


Meet this month’s emerging artist Maysoun AlTamimi


Name: Maysoun AlTamimi
Age: 25
Occupation: Full time illustrator, artist and writer
Medium: I am like a kid exploring colors
Instagram: bambola.sa

What got you started?

It started suddenly but then I went to pursue it long term when I decided to be a professional artist. Now I use my drawings as part of new cute products.

Is your work the result of sudden inspiration or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?

My concepts or inspiration come from day to day life or the Saudi culture.IMG_3440

What do you think of the art scene in Riyadh? Anything you’d like to see changed?

I think we are in the middle of an artistic revolution in Riyadh. I would love to see the Saudi society being more accepting of all kinds of art pieces and art forms.

Who are your role models?

I like the work of Donald Robertson, Gill Button and Renate Groenewoud.IMG_3439

What does being creative mean to you?

Simplicity in expressing art— a neat, colorful piece of art is what we need.


Ramadan Stories Told By Students Abroad


We asked Saudi students about their Ramadan experience outside their hometowns and that’s what they shared.

Name: Mohammed Fahad
Age: 20
Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Mohammed Fahad

Mohammed Fahad

Something you missed during Ramadan that you used to take for granted at home?

Two things:
1- Reaching home by iftar time to find all kinds of healthy and delicious dishes prepared.
2- Gathering at meal times. It adds a special flavor to Ramadan. When all the family gathers up in one place, even your relatives who live far away.

Name: Abdulaziz Alharbi
Age: 27
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Abdulaziz Alharbi

Abdulaziz Alharbi

Any tips for Saudis who won’t be home for Ramadan next year?

Don’t do grocery shopping while fasting.

Most difficult thing about a Ramadan abroad?

Our day here in Japan is only one hour longer than Saudi. But all shops including the gyms close really early so it is hard to have fun outside during Ramadan.

Name: Hasan Abuabdallah
Age: 21
Location: Providence, Rhode Island (prev: Portland, Oregon)

Hasan Abuabdallah

Hasan Abuabdallah

Easiest thing about Ramadan abroad:

Not having to cook every day is a blessing. Having friends is great; we did a handful of cook-overs and group dinners since a house is the only place that has no closing hours. But it’s mostly the online food delivery, which is seriously a life changer.

Name: Abdulmalik Zubailah
Age: 19
Location: Kingston, Canada 

Abdulmalik Zubailah

Abdulmalik Zubailah

What’s the first thing you learned how to cook when you had to make your own iftar?

We didn’t really have to cook anything, as we would get bags of food from the cafeteria’s cook. She was pretty generous with the portions and she would always make these exquisite cheese breads!

Name: Abdullah Alotaibi
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom

The first Ramadan I spent abroad was in Manchester in 2012. Maghrib prayer was almost after nine, so we only prayed the night prayer on the weekends since its timing was late. There was an old British Muslim man in our institute, who was overjoyed with our presence and he’d join us for iftar at times. He became a friend and even saw us off at the airport.


The Weekly Brew: A Chat with the Saudi Aeropress Champ


We spoke to Mohammed Othman Alghamdi, an architect working at BFS architects and a coffee enthusiast, born and bred in Riyadh. After winning the Saudi Aeropress competition, he’s looking forward to represent Saudi Arabia in the World Aeropress Championship in Dublin.
When did your fascination for coffee start? And how did you develop your skills?
I started my coffee enthusiasm at my early age when I was living the coffee brewing moments and enjoying aromatic senses and coffee rituals.

During my college, I started trying out different types of coffee and visited new coffee shops. Day after day, I realized that the coffee I drank didn’t meet my satisfaction and taste. I started exploring a new journey of finding the best coffee and got a perfect cup of coffee that I am looking for once I found specialty coffee.

What is your secret to the perfect cup of coffee?
The secret is a combination of good beans, perfect tools, consistent grinding, and golden hands.
Favorite kind of beans?
All beans are close to my heart as long as they are SPECIALITY COFFEE BEANS
Congratulations on winning the Saudi Aeropress competition! How does it feel being the first Saudi Aeropress champion?
Thanks J

Great feeling to be the first Saudi representing Saudi Arabia in such an event

What was the recipe that made you win, if you don’t mind telling us? And why did you choose it?
After many trials, me and my friend, Badr Alousaimi, came up with the following recipe:

15g of coffee grinds to course, 225g of water (use a good one!), pre-infusion 30g of water at 85°c, stir while pouring, within 30sec, pour the rest at 55sec, wait until 01:30, lock metal filter in, plunge within 35 sec

What do you think of the specialty coffee scene here in Saudi Arabia? Anything you’d like to see?
Specialty coffee in Saudi is growing rapidly. I believe that the market is thirsty to get more specialty coffee shops.
How are you preparing for the World Aeropress Championship in Dublin?
I have dedicated my efforts to increase my knowledge about all the angles of the championship starting from the regulations till the type of beans. I spare some time from my daily routine to practice and share my thoughts with the recognized experiences here in Saudi Arabia.

In addition to all this, I’m full of hope to achieve two goals in the near future.

  • To be the World Aeropress Champion. and,
  • To represent my country as a recognized place for specialty coffee and known culture in this field.
We wish you luck! And ya Rabb you win first place, we believe in you.
Thank you for having me..


How to: Saudi Care Package


For travelers, students abroad and hostess gifts. Here are DR’s picks for the perfect Saudi Care Package!

There’s absolutely nothing Saudis like more than their food. Rain, shine, sandstorm, England, Timbuktu… whatever state we’re in or place we’re at, kabsah isn’t really far from our minds. With that in mind, we’ve put together the perfect travel-ready care package. It could work as a gift, or for a student abroad, or even for yourself if you like.

Arabic Coffee

This is a no-brainer. Coffee is where coffee must be, and it’s easily made anywhere. Get a ready-made pack from Anoosh or Yatooq, or if you’re more old-school, get your own ground coffee and hail in unbreakable plastic jars. Plus points if you add pretty little labels on them.

Musaffer Dallah

You got coffee, but where are you supposed to make it? That’s where the Mussafar Dallah comes in. A nifty little bag that comes with a small electric dallah, as well as a container for dates, fanajeen (coffee cups), and a measuring cup, it’s perfect for both gahwa veterans and beginners. This is especially perfect if you want to introduce someone abroad to easy gahwa making.


Perfect kabsah rice is hard to find abroad, and it’s a lot more expensive. A small bag of your favorite basmati won’t take up much space in your bag, and it’ll definitely make you or your recipient happy.


Well, doh. How else can you make your kabsah without Saudi spices? Take all of your spices, measure them out according to taste, mix them together and pack them in tubes. If you have the time or the inclination, you can also make little sachets that can be readily added to whatever you’re cooking with minimal mess.


Non-Saudi dates are never as good as the original stuff. And maknooz dates are really hard to spoil, have long expiration dates and pack very easily. It’s always popular with people when we gift them with dates too.


Another perfect gift that is always useful in your package. Ma’amool is also great comfort food for students abroad who want a taste of home.

Kraft’s Cheese Tins

For some reason, Kraft’s processed cheddar cheese never took off so popularly as it did here. And there are few people who won’t claim nostalgia when they see one. This is another one for far-away-from-home students, or long term travelers in small hotel rooms.


Yeah fresh cream is good and everything, but if we were being absolutely honest with ourselves? Taj’s tinned cream has a flavor you can’t beat. Another one for nostalgia.


This isn’t food, but it is absolutely essential for everyone and anyone outside our lovely sprayer-friendly country. Seriously. Other countries, we love you, but how do you keep CLEAN? Ahem. Anyway, there are different types of travel sprayers, buy what suits you best and put it into your pretty awesome care package! Toilets around the world will thank you.


The Tale of a Modern Day Ibn Battuta


We continue our cyclist series with Omar Alomair, a Saudi cyclist and explorer.

Omar Alomair just wanted to cycle. Buying a standard level bike, he joined the well-known Darajati group, a club filled with cycling enthusiasts that routinely traversed the roads of Riyadh together. But it wasn’t enough, and soon after he ended up upgrading to a carbon fibre bicycle, calling it Pegasus, and going solo and traveling over 15,000 kilometers in 15 different countries.

How’d you get into cycling? And why did you choose bikes in particular?

A movie about cycling changed everything for me. Since I saw that movie, I decided to own a bicycle right away. It reminded me of the happiness I used to experience as a child riding around the neighborhood.

DSCF5521Does the kind of bike make a difference?

At first, no, it didn’t make any difference for me. Simply because I was just starting to learn about the different kinds of bicycle and I was more interested about the joy of riding regardless of the type of the bicycle. After a while, I became more aware of the massive world of bicycles and I realized my SR 600 bicycle was not good enough for the type of trips I wanted to do.

What was the very first country you toured?

Locally, my first trip was from Riyadh to my hometown, the city of Dawadmi which is located 307 kilometers away from Riyadh. Internationally, I toured the entire country of Japan, form the north to the south of it. It took me 38 days to finish this trip and I traveled 3,152 kilometers.

DSCF3189You’ve toured a total of 15 countries on your bike. What would you say was your favorite experience?

I would say Japan, because it was my first international trip.

Any special reasons behind the countries you choose?

I seek to tour the world, and I plan my new destinations with regard to this goal.

IMG_4993What’s the hardest aspect of any trip?

The weather, sometimes the language, and of course being away from my family.

In your bike bag, you always pack… COFFEE!

What causes have you championed?

First, spreading the message of Islam in Japan, “Islam is the religion of peace.” Second, raising awareness about breast cancer in all GCC countries. Third, in South Korea, spreading the message of friendship between the two nations of Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Fourth, the three continents trip, starting from Morocco and finishing in Turkey raising awareness about the rights of handicapped people in Saudi Arabia. My last trip involved touring Taiwan to raise awareness about sign language used by people who are deaf or suffering from hard of hearing problems in Saudi Arabia.DSCF6261

Why did you decide on Riyadh-Muscat for your route during your October breast cancer awareness ride?

I was planning to tour Saudi Arabia for that cause, but I wanted to make the trip bigger and therefore decided to tour the GCC countries.

Somehow, every cyclist we’ve heard of in Riyadh started from the Darajati group. What does it feel like knowing you were there for the birth of the cycling movement in Riyadh?

It means a lot. Starting this group was a blessing for me and my society and I hope it will grow even more and become well-known internationally as well.DSCF2500

Anything you’d like to say to people who would like to follow in your footsteps?

You need a heart of STEEL to follow in my footsteps, always trust in your abilities and also believe in yourself. You are great and you can do anything, just have faith.

Instagram: omarcyclist
Snapchat: oalomair


Moath Alofi: The Chronicler of Almadinah Almunawarah


An explorer working on preserving the historical neighborhoods of Al Madinah through beautiful photography.

How did the idea of documenting the old neighborhoods of Almadinah come about?

When I came back from overseas I saw a changing city and the development is taking down some part of it so I wanted to keep something for the next generation to remember how Madinah used to look like.

A track in the desert

A track in the desert

What thoughts pass your mind when walking through Almadinah’s soon-to-be-removed neighborhoods?

Nostalgia that comes from growing up in a similar neighborhood and amazement of how skillful the craftsmen were and how the people of Madinah used their environment by building these houses from the surrounding materials, lava rocks and palm trees.

Beside albint castle alayis

Beside albint castle alayis

You’ve taken photographs of many places in Saudi Arabia. What was your favorite place to take pictures of and why?

Khaybar is number one on my list and I’m still not done with it. Its lava and inactive volcanoes are just amazing and surreal and there are many places, castles and an old town that need to be explored and documented. It’s like traveling back in time when going there.

Khauper carters

Khauper carters

What kind of things grab your attention when you’re exploring?

Whatever is new to my eyes and sight, whatever moves my feelings; I stop and take pictures. Let’s say, mostly abandoned things or houses, historical sites and landmarks. The textures of nature also grab my attention.

IMG_8934What do you pack in your bag when you go exploring or hiking?

Camera first, a knife, first aid kit just in case, and a lighter. And for some long trips or hikes I take canned food, bread and bananas for a dose of potassium.

Doors of Medina

Doors of Medina

What is your favorite city in Saudi Arabia and why?

Almadinah. It’s an open museum full of wonders and it’s in the center of too many favorite destinations. If you go to the east you will find lava fields and Mount Ohain where the greatest inscriptions can be found. If you go up to the north you’ll be driving by some parts of the Ottomans forts, castles and ancient dams to reach Khaybar and Alula. To the west you will reach Badr and the great Red Sea where you can snorkel at the reef. South, there are beautiful villages and nature like Khals and Milha, Wadi Alfar’e and Himanah.



Your photos are beautiful. Are you self-taught or did you learn photography in school?

Thank you so much. I feel it is more about what I feel when seeing something. It’s more thoughts in pictures. I had an elective course in photography while doing my degree but I remember holding the camera at age of 10 or so, and I’m still learning. Mobile phones helped me with shaping my skills as it was the start of my documenting journey, using only my phone camera. In addition, reading and seeing great photographer’s works like Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Attending photography workshops also helps.



You do a lot of aerial photography; how do you manage that?

When it comes to aerial photography, I have to mention Captain Abdulaziz Aldakheel. He’s a sport pilot who uses a light sport powered parachute two-seater and single engine aircraft to document the region of Madinah from the sky. We decided to cooperate in doing this and after a while we decided to establish a team to do this mission. We called it Erth team for aerial documentary and our mission is to document the heritage of the region and its landmarks from the sky. We are a qualified team with 14 members, each with different backgrounds.

Moaz84What kind of cameras and lenses do you use?

Canon 5D is great if printing is needed, a Go Pro because it’s small and stealthy, and my future camera is the Sony A7RS for night shots.

ottomans-flavor-in-MedinaAny advice for future documentary enthusiasts?

Keep on exploring. Learn and push yourself by walking the extra mile. For out of city exploration and documentation trips, be safe and take care while doing this and always be prepared and let relatives know where you’re heading. For urban or in-city documenting I would suggest that you get closer to your subject and go deep in details, read more about what you are focusing on and be prepared. Don’t be shy but respect the spaces of others.

Inside nabawi mosque

Inside nabawi mosque

What are your future plans?

I have established Almthba, an interdisciplinary studio focusing on the region of Madinah by promoting art and helping researchers in addition to planning eco and specialized tours. I will be focusing on it in addition to the Erth Team that will keep on exploring and documenting the region of Madinah and after that the rest of the regions inshAllah.

Mount-AizarahMoath Alofi was born in Madinah, KSA in 1984. He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, and is currently working as an environmental coordinator and safety supervisor at Dar Alhijra project in Madinah. He returned to Madinah in 2013 where he started his journey of discovery in the expanding holy city, documenting its cultural heritage with the hope of safeguarding it for future generations. He is the founder of @Almthba, and the co-founder of Erth team.

Instagram: almthba


Artist’s Corner! Faris Alosaimi


Meet this month’s emerging artist!

Name: Faris Alosaimi
Age: 24
Occupation: Full Time Artist
Medium: Drawing
Web: farisosaimi.com
Instagram: farisosaimi

tumblr_nyv0jfkiDj1rit20go2_1280What got you started?

Art has always been a fascinating subject for me. It was the reason for me leaving the house, traveling, having adventures and getting into new situations, as well as visiting galleries and meeting artists all over the world. Art was my motive to continue tolerating life’s repetitive routines.

tumblr_navy4u6AYi1rit20go1_1280Why do you art?

I do art because I need it.

Is your work the result of sudden inspiration, or long term planning? How do you think up your concepts?

It’s usually built on a fleeting emotion or certain state. The concepts behind my art usually speak about myself and my personal experiences, which is also why I tend to hide a large number of them. It scares me that I might uncover myself completely in an artwork, which is why there’s always an intentionally missing or hidden aspect in my work.

tumblr_no7ebhQD4n1rit20go1_500What is, in your opinion, the best thing you’ve ever created and why?

The mistakes. Because they are what made me who I am today.

What do you think of the art scene in Riyadh? Anything you’d like to see changed?

To be quite frank, I don’t know.

tumblr_np9alzVlD01rit20go1_1280Who are your role models?

Anyone and everyone who silently added beauty in the world, and left peacefully.

Favorite piece of artwork by someone else?

I’m really bad at remembering names, so it’s somewhat impossible for me to remember the name and title of my favorite painting.