What is Dammam
Dammam in Saudi Arabia: tasty food and the Al Ahsa oasis
When you hear Saudi Arabia, you probably think spontaneously of oil, then of endless desert landscapes, camel races and fairytale wealth. That is of course also true, but it is only part of what is interesting and noteworthy in this country. A city trip with a cheap flight to Dammam brings you to a lively, young port metropolis that became big and prosperous thanks to oil. Dammam in Saudi Arabia is more than a boring city!
Dammam in Saudi Arabia: Development in Time Lapse
You can relax on Al-Aziziyya Beach, enjoy a perfect Arabic dinner in the AlKaria AlSha’abia Restaurant or take advantage of the city's gigantic shopping potential. Dammam in Saudi Arabia is a big city that has grown from an insignificant fishing village to one of the major metropolises in Saudi Arabia in just forty years. Together with the neighboring cities of Dhahran and al-Chubar, Dammam is the main center of the Saudi oil industry and the King Abdul Aziz Port is one of the most important and largest in the country.
Modern skyscrapers with an architectural mix of western functionality and oriental playful elements dominate the cityscape. All major international hotels are represented in Damman and of course they all have excellent restaurants with a wide range of international cuisine. However, you should also use your visit to Saudi Arabia to get to know the Arab culture and to try out the multifaceted Arab cuisine beyond the hotel restaurants.
This is what you should know about Dammam
Saudi Arabia is a conservative Islamic country that is strictly gender segregated. There are separate areas for women and men in the restaurants. However, many restaurants offer a "family section" where couples can eat together. You should also pay attention to the prayer times. This religious duty is performed five times from sunrise to sunset at set times. As soon as the muezzin calls to prayer, many restaurants stop serving or close.
In the bars, cafes and restaurants in Dammam, like everywhere else in the country, you have to refrain from alcohol. If you find a caipirinha or other cocktail on the menu, there will be no alcohol in it. But that's not bad, because the wide range of fruit juices, flavored teas, cafés and yoghurt drinks will inspire you so much that you won't miss beer and wine. By the way, because of the high daytime temperatures, it is quite common not to have dinner until after 10 p.m. A trip to Dammam in Saudi Arabia is not exactly a normal vacation.
Here you can discover the Arabic cuisine
The Heritage Village is considered a top address for visitors and locals. It is a mixture of a souvenir market, a local museum and a restaurant with traditional, stylish furnishings. The menu is almost endless and the selection can take a while. If you choose the Heritage Mix, you will get a good selection of local specialties. The restaurants of the Fillfilah chain are a little less folkloric. There are three branches in Dammann in Saudi Arabia that offer an extremely rich menu. With an appetizer plate of size L you get a complete impression of the specialties of the Arab world for about 6.00 EUR. The atmosphere is relaxed and uncomplicated. It is similar in Abu Nawas. The restaurant on Prince al Mansour Street has been a popular meeting place for 25 years. You will find a nice selection of local dishes on the menu under the heading “Arabian Gulf Courses”.
A private invitation from a Saudi family
Perhaps you are lucky enough to be invited to dinner at home by your Saudi friends. Then you will probably find a low table lined up with an overwhelming amount of food. You will quickly get used to using a piece of flatbread as a cutlery substitute.
Sitting on the floor will not be difficult for you after a little getting used to, and you should enjoy this warm Arab hospitality. Another tip: Politeness demands that part of the main course remains on your plate. You are saying that everything tasted delicious, but that you are now completely full as a result of the generous amounts served.
Glamor on a trip to Bahrain
You can find even more Arab glamor on a trip to nearby Bahrain. The emirate can be reached in less than an hour by rental car. The experience here is completely different from that in Dammam in Saudi Arabia, due to the looser rules. The journey to the city of Hofuf in the Al-Ahsa oasis takes just a little longer. Here you will meet another Saudi Arabia, which is very much shaped by its agricultural resources.
The Al Ahsa Date Festival in Dammam in Saudi Arabia
The Al Ahsa oasis thrives on a natural resource that is rarer than oil in Saudi Arabia. Because of the abundant freshwater springs, the Al Ahsa oasis was already a metropolis a thousand years ago and, with more than 100,000 inhabitants, was one of the largest cities in the world at that time. Then as now, dates determine the rhythm of life in the oasis. More than 30 million date palms grow in the extensive plantations. The annual harvest reaches quantities of 100,000 tons and more. But it is not just this unimaginable amount that made Al Ahsa famous as a date producer far beyond the borders of the Arab world, it is also the excellent quality of the fruit. A fresh date from a market in Hofuf has only a certain formal resemblance to the product that you know from the local supermarket.
The full, sweet-aromatic taste of an Al Ahsa date cannot be compared with this. The Al Ahsa Date Festival is a good opportunity to get to know the oasis and get closer to the topic of dates. The event takes place twice a year in spring and autumn in the city of Hofuf, near Dammam in Saudi Arabia. The event is a mix of a wholesale fair and a real festival with lots of actions and information about the region and its famous date palms. The optical focal point of the festival is a huge plate with a diameter of six meters. About 1.5 million dates are presented on it. You can also try dates from other parts of the huge country at the numerous promotion stands. Of course, every supplier emphasizes that their dates are better than the fruits of their neighbors. You will be amazed at the variety of colors, shapes and flavors and in future you will be able to look at and classify dates with a connoisseur's eye.
Dates are everywhere in Dammam
After returning to your cheap hotel in Damman, you can try out your new knowledge right away. Order a glass of “Ghazian” at the bar, a soft drink made from equal parts date juice and soda water. The drink looks like a Coca-Cola, but it is much tastier and clearly healthier. You should also try “Dates ma’amouls”. You shouldn't think about calories, because the great taste comes from a combination of plenty of butter, pureed dates, pistachios, walnuts and almonds.
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