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International Coffeehouses: Saudi Arabia

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Panoramic photo of Mecca

Makkah Panorama. (2012) Wurzelgnohm. Retrieved from on 30 Oct, 2018. Used under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Facts in Brief

Saudi Arabia flag

Capital: Riyadh.

Official language: Arabic.

Official name: Al-Mamlaka Al-Arabiyya Al-Saudiyya (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

Flag and coat of arms: Saudi Arabia's flag, adopted in 1973, has a Muslim religious inscription and horizontal white sword on a green background. The coat of arms features a palm tree and two crossed swords. The symbols appear in green, the traditional Muslim color.

Climate: Hot. Slightly cooler from November to April. Rainy along coasts in summer. Nights can be cold in winter. Extremely dry in the middle of the country.


Doumato, E. (2017). Saudi Arabia. In World Book Advanced. Retrieved from

Snapshots of Saudi Arabia from Encyclopedia Britannica

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Kingdom Centre

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Kingdom Centre

The King Fahd Causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

The King Fahd Causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea coastline of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Red Sea coastline of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.



Terminal building at Dhahran International Airport, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Terminal building at Dhahran International Airport, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Bedouin woman with Arabian camels (dromedaries) near Madāʾin Ṣāliḥ, Saudi Arabia.

Bedouin woman with Arabian camels (dromedaries) near Madāʾin Ṣāliḥ, Saudi Arabia.

Learn Arabic!

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Currency: 100 Riyals

Al Kabsa: A Popular Dish

Al Kabsa

"This was the first Arabic dish I ever made and it turned out extremely delicious, a new favorite! Serve Al Kabsa with a fresh mixed cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and tomato salad -- preferably with a little lime vinaigrette. Some fresh pita bread on the side would be nice also. Saudis like their Kabsa with a hot sauce called 'Shattah'. Enjoy!"


  • Kabsa Spice Mix:
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried whole lime powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 2 1/4 cups unrinsed basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds


  1. Mix together the saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, and lime powder in a small bowl, and set the spice mix aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and brown them over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree.
  3. Stir in the canned tomatoes with their juice, the grated carrots, whole cloves, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and the Kabsa spice mix. Cook for about 3 minutes; pour in the water, and add the chicken bouillon cube.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 30 minutes.
  5. Gently stir in the rice. Cover the pot and simmer until rice is tender and almost dry, about 25 minutes; add the raisins and a little more hot water, if necessary. Cover and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the rice grains are separate.
  6. Transfer the rice to a large serving platter and arrange the chicken pieces on top. Sprinkle the toasted slivered almonds over the dish.

Additional Resources and Research Guides


Abdul Majeed Abdullah

Abdul Majeed Abdullah headshot

Rashad Alfares

Rashad Alfares album cover

Bashir Abdel 'Aal

Bashir Abdel 'Aal headshot