• The minister of justice said his department is drafting a law that would allow female lawyers to argue legal cases in court for the first time. Progress, I guess.
  • Finally al-Ahsa is getting its share of the development cake. I was hoping that SAGIA would choose the region for its new project, but it’s actually SCTA that decided to invest here. Al-Oqair beach, one of my favouirte spots on the east coast, will be the home for a SR50b tourist city that is expected to create 80,000 jobs and generate SR100m in annual revenue.

Saudi Dates

No, I’m not talking about that kind of dates, because as I’ve previously said on this blog, dating in Saudi Arabia is a risky business which I prefer not to get myself involved in. What I’m talking about here is those nice little things you find at the top of palm trees; dates that you can actually eat.

On the recently revived Jeddah Food blog I found this link to an article from the July/August 2004 issue of Saudi Aramco World magazine by author and photojournalist Eric Hansen. In the article, we follow Hansen in his journey to chronicle the history of dates production in the US, and later on his trip all the way to Saudi Arabia in order to compare the quality of dates between the two countries.

Al-Hasa, my hometown, is well-known for producing some of the best dates in the world. One type in particular, khlas, has a legendary reputation for its sweet taste. Reading through the two parts of the article made me feel proud, but it also made me feel a bit sad because growing dates has become a dying profession. The process consumes huge amounts of water, and as most of the natural water springs in the region have dried up, the costs have been rising to a degree where production for commercial purposes is becoming less and less profitable.

One point the writer gets right though, and I’m certainly glad that he does, is that most Hassawis don’t buy their dates from the market but rather from farmers they know directly. Not to mention of course that most families receive amounts of dates as gifts from friends and relatives. Actually, in many years we get more than what we need of dates that we end up giving away some of it and freeze some of it to enjoy later in the year.

Old Kout

My family used to live in the heart of Hofuf, the Old Kout neighborhood. My grandfather and his two brothers owned small adjacent houses in those narrow allies, before they moved out to newer areas of the city over 40 years ago. My grandfather passed away when my father was only six years old, and my grandmother had to work to provide for the family, but they could not even afford to have electricity.

The financial hardships have caused my father to think of dropping high school and get a job, but his mother firmly refused and insisted that he continues his education. He studied under the dim light of a kerosene lamp, and went to become teacher. May his soul rest in peace.

Roba’s recent post about her fascination in abandoned spaces has encouraged me to do something I have always wanted to do. I wanted to go downtown and take pictures of the old houses, although I have never lived in them but something about them just kept pulling me. Maybe it was the stories my family have told me, maybe it is something else, but I have finally decided to go there with my new camera.

Sadly, most of the muddy houses have been destroyed by rain and fires. Despite going there many times with my father when I was younger, I could not recognize the houses. The rest of the neighborhood is mostly deserted except for a few houses occupied by poor workers.

Vote for Ahsa!

My beloved hometown of Ahsa (aka Hassa) has entered the race of candidates for the New 7 Wonders of Nature Nominees. This is the second campaign for the New7Wonders Foundation after their first campaign to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Friends of Light

Jordan’s rose-red city of Petra has won in the first campaign, and they are also present in the new list with Wadi Rum. Now I don’t think Ahsa will make it to the final nominees (it’s in the 47th place right now), but hey, please do me a favor and go vote. It will cost you nothing and you will make me happy :-)