Get to know Saudi Arabia’s famous annual festival of Unaizah dates

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Auctioneers shout to get the attention of the highest bidders for Saudi Arabia’s prized dates at Unaizah festival, where buyers from across the kingdom line up for the produce that is later exported worldwide.

The annual festival, held at a yard stretched over a few thousand square meters, attracted hundreds of local buyers from all over the kingdom bidding on the highest quality dates.

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This year’s festival saw no participation of visitors from the Gulf and other regional countries due to travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Despite the restrictions, the produce is shipped and exported overland to neighboring Gulf countries and other parts of the world, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The festival kicked off on July 22 and lasts for a month in the city of Unaizah in Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region, home to millions of palm trees planted in vast swathes of date farms.

It is organized by the Unaizah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Organizers say nearly 700,000 tonnes of dates are on display at the festival.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is also among the top three global producers of dates.

The country is also home to more than 28.5 million palm trees, according to the National Center for Palms and Dates.

The Kingdom’s dates exports reached 140,000 tonnes in 2017, worth 700 million riyals ($187 million), according to the Saudi state news agency SPA.

Some precautionary health measures were applied this year to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

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