News Top iftar spots in Riyadh this Ramadan

JEDDAH: The historic district of Al-Balad is buzzing with cultural festivities and traditional celebrations during the holy month as part of the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Ramadan Season.
Ramadan holds a cherished spot in the hearts of residents and visitors, symbolizing a period of spiritual contemplation, community bonding, and family gatherings. In Al-Balad, this sacred month not only honors fasting and prayer, but also embraces joyous festivities that highlight the city’s unique heritage and warm hospitality.
Organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, Ramadan Season events span across 30 activation zones, including restaurants, cafes, traditional food stalls, traditional performances, workshops, markets, cultural exhibitions, interactive experiences, and a dedicated kids’ corner.
At the entrance to Bab Al-Balad, visitors are welcomed with traditional Saudi coffee and captivating folklore dance performances, accompanied by camel rides for children. Strolling through the district, visitors can witness the skilled shoemakers, known as kharazon, showcasing their craft live to the delight of spectators.
The streets are lined with traditional exhibits, from the miller displaying quilts, sofas, and cushions to a vendor presenting ancient cosmetic tools, such as kohl and derm.
Saeed Al-Ghamdi, a currency collector showcasing his treasures, said: “I cherish the vibrant atmosphere of Ramadan in Al-Balad, where the community comes together to appreciate and learn about currency.”
He added: “For over 55 years, I have been devoted to currency collection, both paper and coin. I possess coins that date back more than 1,500 years.”
Hanan Aljarwani, a jewelry and art designer, captivates visitors with live embroidery demonstrations and displays of her exquisite work.
Ibrahim Jaafar, the founder of Modern Siwak, is taking part in the bazaar for the first time, introducing his innovative products and educating visitors on the significance of miswak, a traditional tooth-cleaning stick.
“Miswak has been important since the time of Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, there is a tendency to buy miswak for use during fasting. I offer the product in a convenient holder with airflow to maintain freshness and ease of reuse, which has been well-received by people,” Jaafar said.
Similarly, Hussein Al-Abdali, a skilled miswak craftsman in Al-Balad since the 1960s, expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Culture for providing a special booth to sell miswak and raise awareness about its benefits.
Al-Abdali said that miswak sticks are made from the roots of arak trees, which are found across Saudi Arabia, and he offers various types of miswak for medical benefits.
Bustling bazaars scattered throughout the district offer a variety of products, including thobes, jalabiya, jewelry, bakhoor, oud, perfumes, toys, and decorative lighting.
Maher, the founder of Wakan stores, said: “This marks my third participation in the Ramadan bazaar in Al-Balad. This year, I am presenting a unique collection of enhanced oud and perfumes.”
Abdul Hameed Shalabi, the owner of Sobia Bar, has attracted a bustling crowd to his shop, where he makes and serves sobia, a drink traditionally made from barley, flour, dry bread, and sugar that is especially popular during Ramadan.
“I strive to bring back the memories of sobia during Ramadan and promote it as a healthy drink year-round,” he said.
“By introducing drinks like tamer hindi and hibiscus, along with the unique labania ice cream, I aim to enhance and develop the Hijazi tradition, sharing it not only with locals but also visitors who come from different parts of the world.”
Sara Thagafi, founder of the Modern Art Training Center, has set up workshops during Ramadan Season, including various art sessions, candle making sessions, quick pottery experiences, and perfume-making experiences where visitors can mix their favorite scents to create their own mini-perfumes.
“We also have Ramadan giveaways and art supplies for kids. This is the first time we are offering these workshops during Ramadan. We are creating a unique experience where, instead of just buying items, we are encouraging visitors to create their own perfume while they shop,” she said.
Ahmed Abdo Ahwas, a resident of Al-Balad since 68 years who has constructed many of the district’s houses, said: “There is no place like Al-Balad in Ramadan. Everyone loves to visit. The environment and atmosphere is different during Ramadan. Traditional foods like kibdah, baleela, sandwiches, and fries have distinct flavors and tastes in this month. Al-Balad begins to embrace Ramadan well before its arrival, with each lane offering something special.”
Reflecting on Eid celebrations in Al-Balad, he added: “The festivities during Eid are distinct, too. The decorations are unique, featuring a variety of chocolates and sweets.”
Farah Hassan, who makes sure to visit Al-Balad during Ramadan, said: “It’s nostalgic to visit the place we have been coming to while growing up. Sampling the traditional drinks like sobia and exploring the flavors of Ramadan in Al-Balad was a culinary adventure. The vendors’ passion for their craft was evident in every sip and bite.”
Another visitor, Hamza Yousef, said: “Exploring the vibrant festivities of Ramadan was a truly immersive experience. From the traditional performances to the cultural exhibitions, every moment was filled with warmth and hospitality.”

Leave a Comment