Restaurants

10 Restaurants From Around The Gulf We Need In Saudi Like Right Now

Photo Credit: mybigfathalalblog.com

Among the many things that the Gulf Countries share is their love for food. And all have a good chunk of local restaurant chains that offer lip-smacking food that you’d want to fill your tummy and Instagram feed with.


Unfortunately, many of these homegrown chains hardly operate outside their countries, so we in Saudi Arabia are missing out on amazing offerings that these restaurants from our neighboring countries offer. So here are some of them that we definitely want to see right here.

BAHRAIN

Naseef Café

They have been around for 100 years now and were renowned for their mango ice cream. However, of late, the café is becoming a quintessential breakfast joint. We have a shortage of good breakfast joints, so one like Naseef Café will be warmly welcomed here.

Photo Credit: sliceofmylyfe.com

Photo Credit: sliceofmylyfe.com

Saffron By Jena Bakery

Offering an interesting mix of culinary and cultural experience, Saffron by Jena Bakery has won multiple awards and was rated three out of three on Time Out’s awards for Best Bahraini Restaurant. It is located in tourist hotspots, so with Saudi Arabia now opening its doors to tourists, there are plenty of places where they can set up shop.

Photo Credit: philweymouth.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: philweymouth.wordpress.com

OMAN

Hosni Omani Sweets

The recipes of the sweets offered here have been passed down from generation to generation. So if you are bored with chocolates and cakes and are craving for something sweet, then this is the place you’d want to head to. Hosni Omani offers traditional Omani sweets along with fusions of traditional and western delicacies, catering to a wide range of tastes.

Photo Credit: m.yebab.com

Photo Credit: m.yebab.com

Bin Ateeq

Traditional food around the Gulf is similar in many ways, though they do have slight variations. For those who haven’t been introduced to Khaleeji food yet, Bin Ateeq is the perfect place to delve into the regional specialties.

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

KUWAIT

Slider Station 

Photos of their burgers on any Instagram feed can immediately induce hunger pangs – that’s how beautiful their burgers look. Slider Station already has branches in Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, so why not Saudi as well?

Photo Credit: mybigfathalalblog.com

Photo Credit: mybigfathalalblog.com

Mais Alghanim 

If you’ve been to Kuwait and haven’t tried this, you’re seriously missing out on amazing Levantine food. It has been in business for over 60 years now, so it’s safe to say it has stood the test of time.mais-alghanim

Naif Chicken 

One of the first homegrown quick service restaurants in Gulf, Naif Chicken is to Kuwait almost like what Al Baik is to Saudi.naif-chicken

THE UAE

Tonic Juice Bar 

Photo Credit: bloominspiringwellness.com

Photo Credit: bloominspiringwellness.com

Their menu carries names of juices that will leave you wondering whether they really are juices and not fitness supplements. Nevertheless, they taste incredible and one can gulp them down without feeling guilty. Just seeing the riot of color at the place your body will be yearning for juice.

Coffee Planet 

Coffee originated in Arabia, so it is by means of a homegrown Arabian brand that one can get to taste authentic Coffee Arabica. And, it is about time that we have competition in our Saudi coffee market that is filled with western brands.

India Palace 

Calling all foodies; indulge in time-tested Indian favorites here while you experience Indian royalty. The palatial décor and Indian paintings around the restaurant will make you feel like you are truly in an Indian palace.

Photo Credit: myguide-dubai.com

Photo Credit: myguide-dubai.com

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Offbeat

Nawal Al Eid – Saudi Arabia’s Most Famous Female Preacher

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With around 5 million followers on Twitter, she is one of the most – if not the most – followed female preacher in the world.


Loved by millions across the Arab World, Nawal bint Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Eid is known for her interest in and support of women’s rights.  A member of the Board of Trustees of the National Dialogue Center and winner of the prestigious Prince Nayef Award, she is part of a new breed of tech-savvy female Islamic preachers.

Saudi Social Media Scene

Saudi Arabia has a huge penetration of social media especially among the youth, and it is to reach this audience that many Saudi preachers have developed a strong presence on various social media platforms. Saudi preachers have some of the most followed accounts in the country. In fact, the top 4 most followed Saudi accounts on Twitter are of Islamic scholars.

A vast majority of these scholars, however, are males. The exception is Al Eid, who is among the most followed Islamic scholars on the globe. And it’s not only on Twitter that she has a sizeable following, she also has followers running in the hundreds of thousands on other social media platforms like  Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat combined.

This takes us to our next question…sybqcwhu_400x400

So Who Is She?

Born in a small town called Shagra some 190 kilometers from Riyadh, Al Eid did her schooling in her hometown. She then moved to Riyadh for higher studies where she completed her undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate studies at the College of Education for girls in various fields of Islamic Sciences.

After being appointed as a professor in the college, she lectured on various topics of Islamic Theology. She also wrote many articles for local publications on the same topic. Her rise to fame, however, was hosting a popular radio show on women’s rights.  Accompanied by a series of strong posts on social media, Twitter was abuzz with her posts.

What To Expect In Her Posts?

Al Eid never posts a photo of herself. Her posts are either motivational, or something that inspires her readers to do good or discuss women’s rights. Her posts also consist of links to recitations of the Quran, Islamic lectures and even details of where she is holding her next public lecture.

Facebook: د.نوال العيد
Instagram: nawalal3eed
Twitter: Nawal_Al3eed
Snapchat: Nawalal3eed

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Things To Do

Apparently This Is The Best Golf Course In The Kingdom.

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

Sitting 45 kilometers from Riyadh in the Tawfiq Valley, the Dirab Country & Golf Course is widely considered to be the best in the country. We tell you why.


1. Just look at the landscape.
Luxurious grass and bountiful palm trees – can it get any better than this?

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

2. It’s actually built in the desert.
Giving it more of an oasis feel.

3. It received the accolade for being Saudi Arabia’s Best Golf Course.
At the World Golf Awards in 2016.

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

4. Dirab is one of only three grassed championship courses in the country.
And is the first 18-holes championship grass golf course (par 72).

5. Some portions of it are floodlit.
Golfing at night, anyone?

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

Photo Credit: golf.turkishairlines.com

6. Apart from seasoned golfers, Dirab offers lots for beginners as well.
Practice facilities such as driving ranges, putting greens, and a golf academy are available at Dirab.

7. It even has a polo club inside.
The equestrian sanctuary has developed quite a reputation among high-living Riyadhis.

Photo Credit: wsbksa.com

Photo Credit: wsbksa.com

8. And it is available all year round.
What more do you want?

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Offbeat, Travel Tips, Travel Trends

If You Wear The Niqab You Should Definitely Avoid These 9 Places

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The lands of freedom as they call the West, are probably not so free when it comes to religious freedom. Especially after seeing the one country after another banning the face veil (niqab). 


Just an FYI all countries on this list banned the niqab after 2011. So if you are one those women who wear the niqab then at these places you’ll probably have to pay huge fines and it may be accompanied with jail time.france

France

One of the first countries to kick off the Niqab ban ‘trend’, France has a hefty fine for women wearing the face veil. So seeing the Eiffel Tower will probably have to be given a miss if you wear the niqab, well at least until the ban is in place.When the ban came into effect, a French millionaire offered to pay all fines for women who wore the niqab.belgium

Belgium

The burka and niqab were outlawed in the country in 2011. Women who wear the niqab in public places can be fined and sentenced to up to seven days in jail; all that just for wearing a niqab.bulgaria

Bulgaria

Driven by the National Patriotic Front coalition, Bulgaria’s parliament banned the full face veil in September 2016. gabon

Gabon

Full face-veils are banned in public and places of work in the oil-rich country. congo

Congo

Just like its neighbor Gabon, the niqab is banned in public places. chad

Chad

The majority of Chad’s population is Muslim but that hasn’t stopped it from outlawing the niqab in 2015.latvia

Latvia

Latvia also joined the list of countries banning the niqab by outlawing it in 2016.austria

Austria

In a country where Muslims form almost 7% of the population, Austria is one of the latest countries to ban the niqab.quebec-canada

Quebec, Canada

The province of Quebec has banned people with face coverings from working in government jobs or using public services. This means that if you wear the niqab then you’ll be barred from using public transport or visiting the doctor at a government-run hospital.

Sources:

bbc.com
smh.com.au
sbs.com.au
nytimes.com
reuters.com

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Exhibitions, Offbeat, Reviews

This Exhibition In Madinah Has One Of The Largest Manuscripts Of The Quran

Source

On a recent trip to Madinah, as we stepped out of Masjid An Nabawi after prayer, we heard a bilingual representative of the mosque announcing a free-entry Qur’an exhibition further ahead, which we decided to go to.


Upon entering, we heard a guide addressing a number of visitors about the Quran and its significance. Most of our fellow visitors were pilgrims from abroad who perhaps were visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Our guide went through the exhibition and the visitors, some of them elderly, tried to match his pace as he walked through several halls each covering a different aspect of the Quran. Some highlighted its miracles and others showed the contribution of the Saudi government towards the preservation of the Qur’an.

Source

Source

There were guided tours every few minutes or so as groups upon groups led by guides entered the exhibition. The tours were conducted in a number of languages. There were, nonetheless, some visitors who couldn’t understand the languages that the tours were being conducted in, so they wandered inside the maze-like halls on their own.

The posters in each hall were so edifying, it almost felt like another round of spiritual upliftment – another round as it is, as we had just come out of Masjid An Nabawi feeling the peace and serenity that Madinah is famous for.

Source

Source

Accompanying the posters were several interactive visual displays, each having its own audio outlets to provide visitors with an audio-visual experience. Seeing that and other state-of-the-art installations in the exhibition, we could see that huge amounts of money, skill, and expertise were invested in setting the place up. But at the pace in which our guide was leading us, we barely managed to read the posters let alone have time to listen to the audio clips.

We reached a hall wherein was kept one of the largest handwritten manuscripts of the Quran. Weighing over 154 kilograms, it was written by an Afghan, Ghulam Mohiuddin, almost 200 years ago. The manuscript itself was so intricate and beautiful that we were all left in awe. It raised our expectations for what lay ahead, and we weren’t in let down by what was to come.

Source

Source

Right adjacent was a hall in which there were many age-old manuscripts, some of them dating back to just a few centuries after the hijra. These manuscripts were brought in from all around the Muslim World and were written by some of the most well-known calligraphers of their time.

Seeing how amazed some of our fellow visitors were reminded us of school field trips when we would follow our teacher obediently in a straight line. Here, it wasn’t a straight line, but we still followed our guide, eagerly awaiting what he was about to say next.

Source

Source

We then stopped in a room that had a huge screen almost covering its entire length presenting a short documentary on the Quran. After the video finished, we were guided towards the exit where a small souvenir shop was selling memorabilia related to the exhibition.

After stepping out, we passed another exhibition under construction, said to focus on the history of Masjid An Nabawi once opened.

Source

Source

Walking through the exhibition for us was like going through a book, turning page after page starting from when the Quran was first revealed to how it was compiled and to how organizations today are contributing to its upkeep. Definitely, a good addition to Madinah’s growing list of places to visit.

Coordinates: 24.465873, 39.609205

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Offbeat

5 Guinness World Records Saudi Arabia Set In 2017

Source

2017 hasn’t just been a defining year for Saudi, it has also been a year of world records for KSA. Here are the ones recognized by the Guinness!


Longest Line Of Photographs

Dubai was the holder of this record but just a month after they set the record, Saudi  topped with an additional 70 cms. The record was organized by HP Inc. in Riyadh and measured 1,726 meters. It was achieved on Saudi National Day.

Source: Guinness World Records

Source: Guinness World Records

Largest Simultaneous Car Tyre Burnout

Another record achieved on the Saudi National Day was for the largest simultaneous car tyre burnout. 119 participants took part in the attempt in Riyadh as thousands of attendees watched it happen live.

Source: Guinness World Records

Source: Guinness World Records

Largest Carpet Of Flowers/Plants

The Yanbu Flower Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Saudi Arabia. In the 2017 edition of it they managed to make the largest carpet of flowers/plants (they held the record previously in 2014 as well). It consisted of 1.8 million flowers of 14 different types. The carpet even carried a message that read “Saudi Vision 2030.”

Source

Source

Largest Aluminum Sculpture

During a summit organized by Novartis Oncology, the world’s largest aluminum sculpture was presented. The sculpture was made in the shape of a jackhammer symbolizing “the powerful tool breaking through cancer.” The sculpture was 7.71 m tall, 5.03 m long and 3.95 m wide.

Source: arabnews.com

Source: arabnews.com

Largest Picture Mosaic Formed By People

Students of the International Indian School of Jeddah formed the largest human mosaic on World’s Diabetes Day. The attempt was organized by the Abeer Medical Group to raise diabetes awareness. The picture mosaics the students made included large-scale logos of the World Diabetes Day, Abeer Medical Group, the world map and Vision 2030.

Source: Guinness World Records

Source: Guinness World Records

Largest Marble Cake

Marking the Saudi National Day and Betty Crocker’s 50th anniversary in the region, the world’s largest marble cake was put up on display at Andalus Mall in Jeddah. The cake weighed a whopping 733 kgs and took a team of 22 bakers two days to make it. And, once the feat was achieved the cake was distributed to the visitors at the mall and the Saudi Food Bank.

betty-cocker-cakeSource: http://www.an7a.com/312442/

A correction has been made and the article has been updated.

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Offbeat

Madinah Is About To Change – Here’s Proof

Photo Credit: Abdulaziz Alhjory

Knowledge Economic City (KEC) is one of the biggest projects that the holy city of Madinah has seen in decades. With some portions of the city to be complete by 2020, here’s what it will look like.


The Project Was Announced Way Back In 2006.
It now stands closer than ever to its completion, in turn bringing huge economic prospects to the holy city.

The New ‘City’ Will Spread Over An Area Of 51.6 Million Square Feet.
Which will include retail, office space, and over 1 million square feet of housing.

Photo Credit: Bandar Alsousi

Photo Credit: Bandar Alsousi

And It Comes With A Total Cost Of A Whopping US$ 7 Billion.
Making it one of the largest projects that the region has ever seen.

It Will Be Located Just 5 KM From The Holy Mosque.
Right on the main axis that connects the airport and railway station.

Photo Credit: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage

Photo Credit: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage

This Makes It Within The Confines Of The Haram Boundary.
Sitting a total of 60 miles from the Red Sea coast.

The Housing Of The City Will Be Spread Over Four Residential Neighborhoods.
They will feature parks, playgrounds, shops, swimming pools, and mosques.

Photo Credit: Abdullh Alobadh

Photo Credit: Abdullh Alobadh

KEC Will Be Designed In A Classical Islamic Style.
Serving as a cultural destination that will be a draw for tourists who will enjoy a range of facilities including a theme park, world-class hospitality, and outstanding retail.

The City’s Masterplan Centers Around Knowledge-Based Industries.
Such as technological and administrative colleges, an Islamic Civilization Studies Centre, a campus for medical studies, biological sciences and health services and lots of other investor-friendly business opportunities.

Photo Credit: rnldesign.com

Photo Credit: rnldesign.com

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Offbeat

5 Places In Saudi Arabia Where It Snows

Photo Credit: by asd99826

While snowfall is a rare thing in Saudi when news of a snowstorm comes, these are the places that you should head to as it is normally in these places that one can get to see snow. Some of these places even get multiple inches of snowfall. So if you’ve never seen snow and don’t want to travel outside Saudi to see it then keep this list handy as you might want to consider going here.


Turaif

Photo Credit: plus.google.com

Photo Credit: plus.google.com

The city on the northern border of the country holds the record for recording the coldest temperature ever in Saudi Arabia, that being when the mercury dipped to -12°C. This made it one of the coldest temperatures to be ever recorded in the Arabian Peninsula as well.

Tabuk

Photo Credit: reuters.com

Photo Credit: reuters.com

The most viral videos and photos of snow in Saudi originate here. As it is in a place called Jabal Al Lawz that sits near populated Tabuk, where layers of snow carpet the sand.

Arar

Photo Credit: by asd99826

Photo Credit: by asd99826

The city of Arar has fertile pasture lands and sits amidst the heart of a vast rocky limestone plain, with temperatures rarely crossing the psychological zero mark. But it still snows albeit rarely.

Shaqraa

Photo Credit: via.alarabiya

Photo Credit: via.alarabiya

One thing common to this list of places is that they all are in the north of the country. Shaqraa, however, is closer to the central part of the country and sits 190 kilometers from Riyadh.

Rafha

Photo Credit: strangesounds.org

Photo Credit: strangesounds.org

Rafha lies close to the Iraq border and has recorded temperatures as high as 49°C. Despite its hot desert climate, the city has witnessed deep snowfalls.

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Explore KSA, Historic Saudi, Online Magazine

Walking Through The Ruins of Khaybar

Old house in Khaybar.

A journey through time.


There’s so much to see in Saudi Arabia – for instance, after spending a night in Madinah and two hours of driving north out of the city, its famed date farms blurred in the distance to give way to the arid desert and eventually the town of Khaybar.khaybar-landscapeKhaybar is like any other Saudi town, but its older areas are the main attraction. It was in this city that the famous Battle of Khaybar took place, which was a major victory for the Muslim forces. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself participated
in the battle.

Old town with oasis in the background.

Old town with oasis in the background.

Taking a by-lane off the highway, we reached the old part of the city – a bewildering sight as the road snakes through dark ruins that have bountiful palm trees growing amongst them. The city used to be a major food basket for neighboring regions.restored-house-and-windowThe ruins are preserved well, despite some of them being almost 1,500 years old. Khaybar once housed fortresses, with powerful families controlling each one. Today, it is hard to identify the fortresses, but seeing the sturdy construction of the remains, we can only imagine their impregnability.

Palm trees near the city.

Palm trees near the city.

The town didn’t seem to have a proper layout – the roads were just wide enough for cars to pass through and the dwellings were built in random clusters. These clusters were, at times, adjoined with storehouses and stables. Numerous dwellings consisted only of a single room. The entrances and windows were blocked, so we couldn’t see what they were like inside.restoration-projects-underwayThe dark basalt rocks – likely sourced from the volcanic fields of Harrat Al Khaybar nearby – that the houses are made of give the town a distinctive and somewhat eerie look. The whole town can be explored on foot in an hour. Some even explore it whilst sitting comfortably in their air-conditioned cars, but to get a real feel of the place, an on-foot experience is required.

the-city-from-a-higher-ground

The city from a higher ground.

Easily accessible by a major highway that connects Madinah with Tabuk and being a sight of much historical importance, a visit to Khaybar should definitely be on a Saudi bucket list. The place is resplendent with history, the kind that somehow stays with you for long.

road-passing-through-palm-treesJust when we were about to leave, we saw a tourist bus stopping by, and as they stepped out of their buses their faces had much the same bewildered look that we had when we first entered the city.

Coordinates
25.728189, 39.272035

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Explore KSA, Historic Saudi, Online Magazine

History Meets the Scenic Seaside

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King Abdulaziz Fort – one of Saudi Arabia’s youngest forts.


Traveling around the country in the summer was a novel experience for us, as we normally limited our travels to the winter season. This time around, we had our holidays during peak summer, and we didn’t want to waste them sitting in front of the TV.

dsc_0659We traveled to the coastal city of Duba, where the weather was extremely hot and the air humid. Even after spending much of our lives in the Kingdom, our bodies had not become acclimatized to the non-AC desert weather. It was so hot that the car’s AC also gave up on us; no matter how high we turned the AC, it just wasn’t enough – the air somehow warmed before it reached us.dsc_06383

The city of Duba is famous for two things, its beaches, and the King Abdulaziz Fort. With the weather being absolutely not ideal for beaches, we went to the fort right away. The fort sits right by the sea overlooking a small seaport that looks much the same as it probably once did during the fort’s heydays.dsc_0693

The seaport has much the same commotion and traditional boats, too, except that they are now motor-powered. We realized later that the part of the sea the fort sits by is actually a creek called the Duba Gulf. The city of Duba extends further South even beyond the creek, and the city’s famous fish market sits right opposite it.dsc_0660

We reached the fort following the coastal road and it turned out to be larger than our expectations. The surreal fort felt like it would be an ideal site for a heritage hotel – a concept that hasn’t gained a foothold in the country yet. dsc_0698

There were multiple entrances to the fort; all were locked. We roamed around the fort, admiring its walls, which looked like they had been restored in recent years. It felt a bit like it lost some of its history, as it no longer carries all its “scars” from the past – the battles it has seen, and its rise and fall from prominence.dsc_0671

Built in 1933 CE during the reign of King Abdulaziz, it acted as the ruling center of the city. Most of Saudi Arabia’s forts are centuries old, but this one was constructed after the formation of the kingdom.

In the decades to follow after its construction, the fort was home to various governmental bodies including the defense and police departments. The different administrations made their slight modifications to the fort, some of which can be seen today.dsc_0672

Spread over an area of around 1,000 square meters, the King Abdulaziz Fort has a pretty simple layout. It carries a rectangular shape with all four sides having small, round towers. Inside, there is a large courtyard and a few rooms that are largely made adjoining the outer walls.  Limestone sourced from nearby areas is the main construction material used in the building, characteristic to other fortifications in the region. dsc_0676

As the fort is located in the older part of town, there were historic buildings of a bygone time nearby that were crumbling their way to the future. We didn’t get a chance to explore the neighborhood more but it is definitely something that we’d want to revisit!dsc_0667

Coordinates
27.348507, 35.694912

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