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  • Ahmed Saleh

Buraidah Dates Carnival, since 2006, has become a global attraction

Buraidah, January 21, 2024, The Buraidah Dates Carnival, conceived in late 2006, has evolved into a global phenomenon, drawing vendors, shoppers, and exhibitors from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond. Recognized as one of the world's largest date markets, this carnival has solidified Saudi Arabia's position as a leading global exporter of dates.

In a nod to its innovative presentation of the local delicacy "Klija," featuring dates as a crucial ingredient, UNESCO added the city of Buraidah to its Creative Cities Network on November 8, 2021. The Buraidah Dates Carnival typically showcases 45 date varieties from across the Kingdom, with the renowned Qassim variety being the most prominent. Qassim boasts 11 million palm trees spread across 12,327 farms, annually producing 320,000 tons of dates, of which over 300,000 tons are sold locally or exported.

Spanning 75 days, starting in early August, the carnival has emerged as an economic and tourist phenomenon, generating sales approaching SAR3 billion. Buraidah, a bustling hub for traders, farmers, and tourists from various regions and neighboring countries, attracts over half a million visitors annually. With more than 92,000 vehicles transporting over 96,000 tons and 16 million packages of dates to the carnival, it has become a pivotal event for farmers and date traders to enhance their skills and knowledge.

Participating in the carnival offers a platform for local and international official delegations, government representatives, and numerous organizations. With approximately 4,000 job opportunities created during the season, the carnival plays a crucial role in marketing the region's dates, boosting sales, and supporting both domestic and international date trade. It aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, aspiring to position the Kingdom as the world's leading date exporter.

Beyond its role as a date carnival, the event showcases local heritage through traditional cuisine, folk games, and arts and crafts, highlighting the skills of local artists. Attendees can enjoy poetry evenings, dance shows, and gain insights into the region's architectural traditions through demonstrations of mud house construction.

The carnival encompasses a diverse array of cultural, educational, social, and entertainment programs, catering to a broad audience. Agreements signed during the event benefit families involved in the cottage industry, with support from the Social Development Bank empowering over 40 families engaged in the accompanying activities.

Preceding the carnival, the National Center for Palms and Dates conducts training courses and educational programs, hosting over 8,000 sessions to date. The governor of Qassim lends patronage to the Palm Land Initiative, situated at the King Khalid Cultural Center in Buraidah, promoting the palm and date industry and enhancing the private sector's contribution to it.

Qassim, renowned for its abundant groundwater and agricultural oases, spans over 70,300 km2 and houses more than 1.7 million residents across 13 governorates. Buraidah, as the largest and administrative center of the region, takes center stage as the host of the Buraidah Dates Carnival.

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