Every morning, with each sunrise two thousand vehicles are loaded with more than thirty-five varieties of dates in the Buraidah, a city that is famous for its dates.
In seventy days, they are expecting to sell an amount of two hundred thousand tons of dates valued by two and a half billion Saudi riyals, depicting an increase of twenty percent in comparison with last year’s.
“I think, God willing, that it will be a very important festival worldwide. It has actually become an international date market. In al-Qassim region, we do not just have one festival, but in fact we have seven date festivals in different provinces including Buraidah. I hope they will take into consideration, respect and take care of this product,” said Prince Faisal bin Bandar / The Prince of al-Qassim, at a news conference.
The largest city in the world known with its famous dates is now in the hands of foreign workers who know about dates more than their landlords. This city has made subcontracts with investors and then sold them in auctions.
The workers enter the region without any condition, even though providing three thousand jobs that were mostly limited to loading and unloading the products were already planned. Subsequently people started to complain in search of a livelihood.
“The investment goes to foreigners now because, as a farmer, I cannot find a cheap worker that I can hire; I am now paying the worker 8,500 riyals for a period of one month and 20 days. How is that possible? This is why we give our land to foreign investors so they become partners and do the work,” said a date investor.
“This year, the dates’ quality differs from the past years. The quality this year is not as good as the previous ones, and it has become rare to find a tasty date. I used to buy very good dates from a merchant but this year I could not find the same quality,” said a date consumer.
Despite the notes of the consumers regarding the quality of dates and the prices escalation that have reached a hundred and seventy riyals per kilo, without any supervisory body or follow up by the festival administration, you can find dates in every Saudi house; dates compliment the coffee and they are loved and needed all year round.