dates saudi
Markets sell dates in the city of Medina in the run-up to Ramadan. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Saudis’ consumption of dates in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan accounts for around 40 per cent of the nation’s overall annual consumption of the nutritious product, according to a report.

Muslims abstain from eating and drinking every day from dawn to sunset during Ramadan, expected this year to begin on Monday.

Muslims traditionally end their fast in Ramadan by eating dates, following the example of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and due to its nourishing effect.

A Saudi family spends SR1,000 to SR2,000 on buying dates for Ramadan, Saudi news TV Al Ekhbariya reported.

The kingdom has achieved self-efficiency in dates output estimated at 1.5 million tons per year. Exports soared to SR1.2 billion in 2022, up 5.4% compared to the previous year.

The exports of Saudi dates further surged by 14% to hit SR1.4 billion last year to a total of 119 countries, according to the National Centre for Palms and Dates.

In the lead-up to Ramadan, dates markets in Saudi Arabia traditionally see brisk business from clients shopping for premium types to end their day-long fast during the month.

There are more than 33 million palm trees across the kingdom. The sector significantly contributes to several transformational industries including food, medical and cosmetic products as well as fodder.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the kingdom in transformational industries as part of an ambitious plan to diversify oil-reliant economy.

With palm dates being a principal Saudi product, the fruit has recently been transformed into sweet, nutritious tablets proving a popular with children. Marketed in several tastes and colours, the tablets are made of ground dates powder with no artificial additives.

In January, a Saudi man disclosed in media remarks that the leaves of the ubiquitous palm trees in the homeland are now utilised to manufacture a juice rich in nutrients and patterned after the Japanese green tea Matcha.

Saud Al Quseibi, who has innovated several palm dates-based products, explained that the idea of the drink, dubbed “Safcha”, popped up after he read a scientific paper highlighting the nutritious benefits of palm fonds.

The resulting juice contains 23% protein, 22% fibre as well as minerals, vitamins, calcium, and antioxidants, according to him. “Safcha” is an amalgamation of the words “saf”, Arabic for palm leaves, and Matcha.