ramadan of albalad the annual spectacle of food and sights in jeddah’s old city
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
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Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
Egypt Today, egypt today

Ramadan of Al-Balad: The annual spectacle of food and sights in Jeddah’s old city

Egypt Today, egypt today

Egypt Today, egypt today Ramadan of Al-Balad: The annual spectacle of food and sights in Jeddah’s old city

A performance of a traditional Hejazi wedding in a play at Al-Balad, Jeddah. (AN photo by Rima Al-Mukhtar) By RIMA AL-MUKHTAR, LIFE.STYLE@ARABNEWS.COM Published: Sep 1, 2010 21:44 Updated: Sep 1, 2010 21:44 The historic center of Jeddah city is the place to be in Ramadan. There you will find all sorts of entertainment, food and shop-till-you-drop experience. You will see people from all around the world strolling past the food stalls, candy stores, gold merchants and cafes of scenic Qabil Street, the most frequented street during this holy month. “I’ve been coming to Al-Balad (as the historic center of the city is called) for more than 20 years and especially for Ramadan,” said Abdullah Ismaeel, 73. “I love to attend the cultural events and seeing how people come and go or just walk down the streets in complete joy.” In the street of Jeddah’s beating heart you will find seasonal food stalls selling balila (a chick pea salad) and kebda (grilled lamb’s liver with spices and onions). Abu Ahmed has been grilling up the popular kebda for 18 years at his popular stall, which offers outdoor seating under Ramadan lights and amid the ubiquitous decorative sheets of fabric whose pattern is used exclusively during the holy month in many Arab countries. “More people know me by now and many of them come especially to Al-Balad to buy from my liver stand,” said Abu Ahmed, who estimated he sells up to 35 kilos of liver a day during the season. Around the corner you will pass by Am Mohammed’s shop that has been selling Saudi dates for over two decades. Here you will find all of your date requirements met, from fat, sugary Qassim dates to the dark and flavorful Ajwa dates, believed to be the dates the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) took to break his fasts. “I start selling dates a month before Ramadan because people buy dates for their daily iftar,” said Am Mohammed. “I sometimes supply dates to local cafes. I thank Allah for that and I believe that this is happening because of my good reputation.” Diving into the crowds on Qabil Street you’ll find more than 20 brightly lit gold shops neighboring each other. But prices for the metal have led to a slower-than-usual flow of customers, according to Am Hassan, one of the gold shop keepers. “Now it’s almost empty because gold has reached the roof, and no one can afford it,” he said. At the far end of Qabil Street, the commerce thrives at Al-Alawy Souq, one of Jeddah’s oldest bazaars where you can find clothes, candy, cosmetics, traditional Oud and perfumes to your heart’s content. People come from everywhere seeking cheap and local products. “I come especially to buy my perfumes and Oud from Al-Balad because it’s way cheaper than in the malls,” said Faten, a Balad shopper who was seen perusing the packed stalls along the narrow streets. “I also like to buy fabric from here and I later tailor it and design it for my daily wear.” Near the bazaar is the well-known Beit Nassief (Nassief’s house), one of the best-preserved examples of old Jeddawi architecture, including a staircase designed wide enough so a camel can take goods to the rooftop gazebo for festive occasions. Every Ramadan the location hosts entertainment events on daily basis, including poetry and plays by artists dressed in traditional Hejazi outfits. These works tend to reflect traditions, like how people used to get married. “We come here every year to act and show foreigners and the new generation how our great grandfathers used to spend their Ramadan and how simple their life was comparing it to our life now,” said Ali, one of the performers. “People gather around and take pictures and even cheer for us every time we perform which is what makes us give more.” Ali laments that many younger Saudis fail to learn about these traditions. “This is why we keep repeating this local folklore and plays to introduce them to it,” said Ali. “At other times you can find a storyteller who comes and narrates stories from the past to an audience of many different nationalities.” Ismaeel, the elderly gentleman who has spent many a Ramadan in Jeddah’s Old City, said it’s the melting pot of people from so many places that is his favorite feature. “I once laughed at the sight of an Italian man buying balila and asking for more chili,” he said with a smile. “I felt that we are all speaking one language.”

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ramadan of albalad the annual spectacle of food and sights in jeddah’s old city ramadan of albalad the annual spectacle of food and sights in jeddah’s old city



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