Saudi Culture, Heritage & Lifestyle
Culture, Traditions and Art
The culture of Saudi Arabia is defined by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade centre, and its Bedouin traditions. The Saudi society has evolved over the years, their values and traditions from customs, hospitality to their style of dressing, are adapting with modernization. The cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia is represented in the following:
Depth of its civilization that dates back to more than one million years, which is confirmed by the archaeological evidence and the heritage prevalent in this country.
It was the land of many kingdoms and states that prevailed in the evolution of human civilization.
Its distinguished geographical location made it a point of intersection of international trade routes through all the ages.
Being the cradle of Arabism and Islam and the country of The Two Holy Mosques.
Being a crossroads of cultures and a bridge for cultural communication.
Saudi National Heritage & Cultural Development Campaign
Saudi Arabia was a conclusion of a deep-rooted cultural heritage, as well as an inherent of a series of civilizations that were crowned by Islam religion. Hence, the campaign seeks to highlight the cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia which integrates with its Islamic, political and economic aspects. The campaign’s programs and projects aim at highlighting the cultural importance of the national heritage. The Saudi government gives emphasis to the importance of preservation and care of the national archeological and heritage treasures, highlighting them and being proud of them. Therefore, a number of resolutions were issued in this respect including:
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ patronage of the exhibition of “Saudi Archeological Masterpieces through the Ages”.
Issuance of the Royal Approval regarding listing and preserving Islamic antiquities in the holy cities Makkah and Al Madina.
Directives of late Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz regarding prohibition the removal of heritage buildings.
Directives of HRH Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz Crown Prince and Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior prohibiting excavation works adjacent to heritage buildings or archeological sites.
Saudi Archaeological Expo
Saudi Arabia enjoys great culture and heritage, affirming the depth of its civilization as well as its historic presence through the ages upon which the country stands today. The idea of this traveling exhibition, through a number of renowned museums in Europe and the United States, will acquaint the world with the Saudi culture, and will highlight the particular importance of the antiquities of Saudi Arabia to understand the chain of human history and the current progress witnessed in Saudi Arabia. The exhibition showcases over 320 archeological masterpieces which cover many historic periods starting from the ancient Stone Age (One million years BC) till the Saudi Renaissance time.
A variety of institutions have been established throughout the country to preserve Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage. One of the largest is the Department of Culture at the Ministry of Culture and Information, which sponsors a wide range of cultural programs, including literary and drama clubs, folklore classes, library events, arts and crafts as well as science projects. These clubs cover a range of cultural activities. At the drama clubs, for example, participants engage in writing competitions and performances as part of a team. Other clubs offer Saudis the opportunity to develop various artistic talents.
The Department of Culture regularly sponsors exhibitions, literary readings and symposia at its regional offices as well as its Riyadh headquarters. It also sponsors Saudis to participate in international art and cultural events, including poetry and essay competitions as well as exhibits of calligraphy and artwork. The Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, founded in 1972, sponsors Saudi artists and provides ways for new talents to develop and display their art.
The society has established a library and information center, as well as the Saudi’s first cultural center, located in Riyadh. Other institutions that promote culture include the King Fahd Library in Riyadh, which offers one of the largest collections of rare manuscripts on Arabic and Islamic literature, and is a premier research facility in the Middle East; and the King Faisal Foundation, which offers annual King Faisal International Prizes, including one for Arabic literature. Many King Faisal Prize laureates have gone on to receive other international awards, including the Nobel Prize. The Department of Museums and Antiquities was established in 1974. Today, there are major museums in each of the Kingdom’s 13 provinces, as well many small privately owned ones throughout the country.
Saudi Arabia’s largest museum is the National Museum in Riyadh, which was established in 1999 to celebrate the centennial of the taking of the Masmak Fortress by the young Abdulaziz, an event that led to the founding of the modern Saudi state. There are also private museums, such as the Humane Heritage Museum in Jeddah.
Arabic is one of the oldest groups of languages in the world. The inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula were the first to use the Arabic language in pre-Islamic times. With the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture in the 7th century AD, the Arabic language spread north, east and west. The Arabic language is today one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. There are some 200 million Arabic speakers in more than 20 countries.
Arabic is the official language of many Arab nations in the Middle East and northern Africa, including the Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Written Classical Arabic is the standard written language of all Arab nations. It is the language of the Holy Quran, the sacred book of the Islam, and has changed little over the centuries. A spoken form of written Arabic is used for formal speech, radio and TV news broadcasts and in films, plays and poetry. This form also serves as a common spoken language for Arabs from all parts of the Arabic speaking world.
Spoken Arabic appears in a variety of dialects one of which is the Gulf dialect (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE). English is also an important language in Saudi Arabia, widely spoken as a second language by educated Saudis.
Arab and Islamic Traditions
Saudi traditions are rooted in Islamic teachings and Arab customs. The highlights of the year are the holy month of Ramadan and the Hajj (pilgrimage) season, and the national holidays that follow them. The holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, culminates with the Eid Al Fitr holiday. The Pilgrimage season draws millions of Muslim pilgrims from around the world come to Makkah every year. It concludes with the Eid Al Adha holiday. Saudis’ valuable Arab traditions include generosity and hospitality. Arabic coffee (its preparation is also a form of cultural tradition) is often served in small cups along with dates and sweets as a hospitality gesture offered to visitors, friends or family.
Folk Music, Dance & Poetry
Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage is celebrated at the annual Jenadriyah National Culture and Heritage Festival. One of Saudi Arabia’s most compelling folk rituals is the “Al Ardha”, the country’s national dance. This sword dance is based on ancient Bedouin traditions: drummers beat out a rhythm and a poet chants verses while sword-carrying men dance shoulder to shoulder. “Al sihba” folk music, from the Hejaz, has its origins in Al Andalus. In Makkah, Medina and Jeddah, dance and song incorporate the sound of the “Mizmar”, an oboelike woodwind instrument in the performance of the “Mizmar” dance. The drum is also an important instrument according to traditional and tribal customs. “Samri” is a popular traditional form of music and dance in which poetry is sung especially in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.
Poetry is especially important to Arab cultural life, and has long been considered one of the highest expressions of literary art. It was primarily an oral tradition during the nomadic days of Bedouins, a form of preservation of history, traditions and social values. Poetry remains popular among Saudis today in the form of media (e.g. televised poetry competition) or traditional oral poetry. For instance, the annual Jenadriyah National Culture and Heritage Festival, features the reading of poetry by established poets.
The General Presidency of Youth Welfare is responsible for the plastic arts movement in Saudi Arabia. It prepares both an annual and a five year plan for the encouragement and development of the arts, and organizes regular competitions and exhibitions. It also arranges exhibitions of Saudi Arabian art abroad to provide Saudi artists with an international forum and to strengthen cultural ties with the host Arab and western countries. The Presidency is an active participant in the Arab, regional and international Youth Festivals and Exhibitions. It also participates in the Biannual Arab Exhibition which is supervised by the Arab Plastic Artists Union. Two other organizations play a key role in the artistic life of Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts; and The King Fahd Cultural Center.
Janadriya Festival: This is a major cultural event amongst the Riyadh Festivals and Events. It is held annually and is the oldest and the most traditional of all the festivals. It is usually held from the 12th to the 26th of February each year. This festival is considered to be the National Festival of Heritage and Culture in the Janadriyah region of Riyadh. The Jenadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival, organized by the National Guard under the command of the Crown Prince, also plays a crucial role in preserving Saudi national heritage. The festival begins with a traditional camel race and is intended to embrace all aspects of Saudi Arabian traditions and culture. A feature of the festival is the performance of traditional music by musicians from all over the Kingdom and national dances, including the Ardha, by folklore troupes. The festival runs for two weeks each year and is attended by more than one million Saudi citizens.
Riyadh Festival for Shopping and Leisure:
This festival is held every year in the month of July. Visiotrs can shop all types of things right from garments, accessories and electronic goods. The festival is held in Riyadh.
The Saudi Food Festival is among the most popular amongst the Riyadh festivals and events, and it is the longest established food exhibitions in Saudi Arabia. It is a bi-annual event and it is a grand opening for the leading food production companies to exhibit their new products, technologies and the equipment they use.
Health Benefits of Drinking ZAM ZAM water
What’s cooled, refreshing and will quench your thirst in the hot, Arabian desert? If you answered the name of your favorite soft drink you’re wrong.
Zamzam is the name of the well that provides the water to billions of people, who have thirstily drunk from throughout history, especially during the Hajj pilgrimage.
It is linked to some of the most important personalities in world history; the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail A.S. and Muhammed S.A.W., as well as Ismail mother Hajira A.S.
The Zamzam well is located in Makkah, which is the heart of the Hajj pilgrimage. Standing only a few meters east of the Kabaah, the well is 35 metres deep and topped by an elegant dome.
* One of the miracles of Zamzam water is its ability to satisfy both thirst and hunger.
* Nabi Muhammad S.A.W said: the best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness.
* More recently, in the last few decades, scientists have collected samples of Zamzam water and they have found certain peculiarities that make water healthier, like a higher level of calcium.
* Zamzam is considered to help students in the correct pronunciation of words.
* According to the Tradition narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah al Ansari: “with whatever intention one can drink it his wish fulfills”. “It is a cure for a numerous diseases by the order of Allah.
* So you should have the intention of what you want to gain by drinking this water”.
* If applied to the eyes it will brighten the eyesight.
* A Yemeni lady Yusria narrated that she was affected by a crimson ulcer, in her eye. She had severe headaches, which could not be cured by medicine. She was about to become blind in the affected eye. She consulted a famous eye specialist there, who advised her injection, which will stop the headaches but will dysfunction the affected eye and consequently she will loose the sight.
Yusria got frightened but confident of the mercy of Allah; she intended to perform Umrah and begged to Allah to cure her. She went to Makkah and performed Tawaaf and washed her eyes with Zamzam. When she went back to the hotel, she found that her affected eyes were cured and the crimson ulcer disappeared.
One of the miracles of Zamzam water is its ability to satisfy both thirst and hunger. One of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammed S.A.W said that before Islam, the water was called "Shabba'ah" or satisfying. It was filling and helped them nourish their families.
After Islam, this powerful ability to quench thirst and fill stomachs remained. The Prophet said: "The best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness."
According to the Muslim collection of Hadith, Abu Dharr Ghifari, a Companion, noted that when he first arrived in Makkah during the early days of Islam, he survived only on Zamzam water for a whole month. Not only did he satisfy his hunger and thirst, he became obese.
More recently, in the last few decades, scientists have collected samples of Zamzam water and they have found certain peculiarities that make the water healthier, like a higher level of calcium.
Zamzam water has also been treated by ultraviolet rays, and microbes have no place to survive in it, which means that Zamzam water preserves its taste and is not a congenial environment for bacteria.
According to various chemical analyses, dry weather make: Zamzam more saline through evaporation, which is, with Allaah's might, good for the human body.
Apart from its ability to serve as satisfying food and drink, Zamzam water's health benefits are also commended. The Prophet Muhammed S.A.W said it was a healing from sickness. This is why pilgrims to Makkah to this day collect it in bottles to bring for relatives and friends back home who are ill. The Prophet used to carry Zamzam water in pitchers and water skins back to Madinah. He used to sprinkle it over the sick and make them drink it.
Wahab ibn Munabbah, who was from the second generation of Muslims, said 'I swear by Him in whose possession my life is, Allah Ta`ala will relieve the person of all illnesses who drinks Zamzam to his fill and will also grant him good health.'
Benifits Of Ajwa Khajur
Ajwah Dates are the most popular among Muslims today and there are many important reasons why, they are a delightfully soft and fruity, quite dark in color and tend to be a more of dry variety of date from Saudi Arabia, that is actually cultivated in Madinah Munawwara.
There are some interesting hadith relating to the Ajwa dates in particular
Narrated by Saud; the Messenger (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “If Somebody takes seven ‘ajwa dates in the morning, neither magic nor poison will hurt him that day.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book #71, Hadith #664 (also 663, 672)]
The Messenger (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) also said, “Ajwa dates are from paradise.” [Tirmidhi (2068) hasan Saheeh and it was authenticated by Shaikh al-Albaani]
Referring to eating seven Ajwa dates, the Messenger (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, “He will not be harmed by anything until he reaches the evening.” [Sahih Muslim (2047)]
A’isha (RAA) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The ‘Ajwa’ dates of ‘Aliya’ contain heating effects and these are antidote in the early morning.” Sahih Muslim, Book #023.
Hadith #5083 Narrated Sa’d: The Prophet said, “If somebody takes some ‘Ajwa dates every morning, he will not be effected by poison or magic on that day till night.” (Another narrator said seven dates). (Sahih Bukhari)
Below are some Benefits given to Dates:
1- Dates are considered as a natural resource for nutrition, it provides the body with high percentage of proteins, minerals and vitamins e.g. Vitamin A, B1, B2 and BB which are constructive ingredients for building up the body tissues and muscles.
2- Dales also help in pregnant women’s delivery; it activates the womb muscles in the months of pregnancy and helps in the womb movement at the time of delivery as well dates minimize the post-natal blooding.
3- Dates help in healing the liver from many parasitic diseases and a good medicine for the hepatitis and it contains vitamins B2.
4- Dates vitalize the aging so it delays the aging elements and it provides immunity against brain and body tiredness.
5- Dates are easy to digest, Stimulates the urine, clean the kidneys and useful to the liver
6- Dates are good appetizer. Dates are the perfect natural snack
When I researched Ajwa Dates, I found they are good to use for the following things:
1- Effective in preventing abdominal cancer.
2- To prevent anemia.
3- To strengthen the nervous system and increase of energy production.
4- For the treatment of hypertension.
5- For healthy bones.
6- For healthy skin and eyesight.
7- Protecting from pellagra, (a disease which is manifested as dermatitis.)
8- To treat dementia and fatigue.
9- To reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels (LDL) in the blood.
10- To protect the heart and the circulatory system.
11- For protection against atherosclerosis and heart problems, and for protein metabolism.