They come in blacks and yellows and reds and browns, enjoyed fresh or packed together until the huddled mass of fruit starts to caramelize into a single molten mass.
The fruit has long been a part of the land that now forms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where for centuries Bedouin nomads were fueled by its calories as they traveled back and forth across the Arabian Peninsula.
Economic headwinds have, in turn, spurred on a high-profile effort to reconfigure the Saudi economy around a more diversified export base and an innovative private sector; this project is known as Saudi Vision 2030.
As renowned as Saudi dates are worldwide, they’re unlikely to turn the economic tide in the kingdom.
A millennium and some centuries ago, the Prophet Muhammad exhorted Muslims in the month of Ramadan to “Break your fast with a date, for it is purifying.” Since the unification of the kingdom in 1932, however, Saudi Arabia has derived the overwhelming majority of its wealth from a very different set of natural resources.
Vast reserves of oil and natural gas have fueled decades of economic development schemes, filled a bloated government bureaucracy with (mostly male) Saudi citizens, brought in millions of foreign workers, and propelled the country into the ranks of the G-20 economies.
A Filipino attendant offers Yunus and me small cups of weak Arab coffee as we pass his stand, and we sip it as we head into a maelstrom of buying, selling, packing, and shipping.
The crowd is overwhelmingly male, save a few women who appear to be quietly scouting out starting prices and date quality for upcoming auction lots.
Things get moving early, before the desert sun turns the concrete surface into a hot plate.
The entire market lies on a slight downward incline, meaning the carts—engineered to ease up on internal brakes the more weight is placed on their shelves—roll forward nearly of their own accord from the sellers’ drop-off point to the buyers’ collection stalls. ” exclaims festival director Yusuf al-Dukhayel back at the command center, noting that the new setup needed just 35 full-time workers, compared with the old market’s 120.
A wide range of buyers are plying the field, including a few Emiratis and a Kuwaiti. ” he tells me, laughing maniacally and filming me on Snapchat as I call out the numbers and try to calculate how much I’ll be spending if the other traders call his bluff.
As a result, the Al-Sulaim dynasty still governs Unaizah by written treaty, rather than by a member of the vast al-Saud family.
Saudi Vision 2030 may provide some official cover for Unaizah’s latest efforts to develop a local economy based around a local identity, given the shout-out in the plan to the “cultural richness and diversity” of Saudi Arabian society.
“Here, I got them for 90 riyals each.” (Around .) Others had grander ambitions. “We laid down a plan at the start of the season to get 600,000 cartons of a single type of date.