Hasawi Rice Farming in Saudi Arabia

This beautiful video shows farmers planting Hasawi rice in Hofuf. Hofuf is an agricultural oasis and boasts some of the best date palms in the region! (Side note -do check out the biggest date market in Qassim, where the season’s pickings are available)

Hasawi rice is a wild rice that’s native to Hofuf, Al-Ahsa province in Eastern Saudi Arabia. There are two types of Hasawi. Hasawi 1 is the wild strain and to this day, remains largely uncultivated. Hasawi 2 has been hybridized with a rice native to Indonesia to produce a dwarf Hasawi rice with a shorter growing season.

What’s makes Hasawi rice different is it is drought tolerant and capable of growing in high salinity soils. Typically, Hasawi rice is eaten in its whole form, which means the outer bran layers aren’t removed. Hasawi rice is used traditionally to provide strength for those who are unwell. The rice is expensive given the lack of farmers, the difficulty in growing the rice, and also the long growing season. The rice is planted after the summer months. Usually it is September and October before the farmers start preparing the soil. If you’re in the Hofuf area in the next couple of months, do check out this awesome sight!

Growing rice is back breaking work but so therapeutic. I say back breaking because growing your own rice is not something one does regularly unless they’re in France, Italy or somewhere in Asia. While most people won’t find being in knee deep muddy water therapeutic, I just think of it as nature’s mud bath. Do enjoy the sights if you’re in Hofuf.

PS I think my Arabic vocabulary has improved tremendously as I understood nearly 3/4 of the what was said! I started learning Arabic a few months ago, but my resources are Freej (hilarious Khaleeji cartoon), lots of Arabic movies (I hate these because they’re so cheesy but for everyday vocabulary these are great), reading a few newspaper articles a day, and of course a daily 30 minute conversation with Oppa. To understand the Arabic language through books, I highly recommend this series. (I will update with the link when I get back home, as I don’t recall the name of the publisher right now)

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