Find out what’s behind those high walls of Saudi homes
Eat and engage with Saudis in their homes, courtesy of HiHome experiences…
What have you always wanted to know about local life in Saudi Arabia? Whether you’re looking for cultural immersion or simply to catch a glimpse of local life, HiHome provides a unique and first-hand experience for you to learn about the Kingdom and her people.
We share with you our exciting experience of our visit to a Saudi home…
As we wait outside the massive white and gold gate of our host’s home in a quiet neighbourhood of Riyadh, we’re filled with excitement.
The gate slowly opens, and we are welcomed warmly by our host, Maha, and her aunt. We’re then ushered to their outdoor majlis, an Arabian marquee where locals welcome their guests in the house.
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Decked out in handmade Bedouin carpets and mats, with a comfortable sofa, several corner tables set with Ramadan décor, the majlis is spacious yet cosy, elegant yet traditional. There are relics of the past on every corner, including a kerosene lamp, an old coffee grinder, and a painting of the town where Maha’s grandfather grew up in.
We begin introducing ourselves to each other, and shortly after, the call to Maghrib prayer is heard – a sign for Muslims to break their fast. We drink Arabic coffee and nibble on traditional homemade Saudi snacks such as dates, maamoul (date-filled cookies) and luqaimat (sweet dumplings covered in date syrup) before Maha and her aunt politely excuse themselves to do their prayers.
When they’re done, we continue chatting about their daily routine, Ramadan rituals, cultures, local customs and traditions. After which, it is time for us to head inside Maha’s house, where we’ll have a sit-down iftar meal.
What can we tell you about her house? Not much, except it’s huge. On the right of the hallway is the guest’s washroom with four sink vanities. The dining room is simply decorated with a long table that can accommodate a minimum of 20 guests. Tonight, we’re occupying only about one-fifth of the dining space.
As with most houses in Saudi households, they tend to have two different living rooms so men and women can socialise separately.
Sampling authentic home-cooked Saudi dishes
Food is a symbol of hospitality in the Arabian Gulf. To be fed a home-cooked meal in a Saudi home is definitely an opportunity we have always wanted to experience.
Our iftar dishes include chicken and vegetable samosa, oats and pumpkin soup, chicken kabsa, and qursan. Qursan is made by placing dry, paper-thin sheets of bread atop vegetables in a broth until the bread pieces soak up all of the flavourful juices. The result is not soupy but thick, nourishing, and hearty.
Next comes the dessert, specially made by Maha – custard pudding with coconut sugar. It has a light texture and is a truly dreamy finish to any meal. Throughout the meal, we also learn a lot about Saudi cuisine and how it varies from a region to another as the culture itself varies.
Our HiHome experience ends with a photo opportunity in the majlis. This turns out to be the highlight of our visit, in which we don the traditional dress and accessories.
An authentic cultural immersion
Becoming culturally immersed is a way to gain knowledge that cannot be found in any book. The Saudi culture is fundamentally traditional and conservative, and Saudis tend to be more reserved when it comes to their personal lives.
@whatsonksaLive the local life for a night 🌙 #tiktoksaudiarabia #visitsaudi #foryousaudi #saudiarabia #saudiarabiatiktok #travel #explore #ramadantiktok #iftar♬ SUNNY DAY – Matteo Rossanese
For them to open their homes and hearts to strangers, just so we’re presented a better lens with which to view the local communities and cultures – that says a lot about their warm hospitality.
Not many can parallel the generosity and congeniality that Saudis show towards their guests. It is this element of authenticity that HiHome manages to underpin and resonate across the home experiences offered.
An open mind is an important asset
Nourah Alsadoun and her business partner, Fahad Alswaliem, started HiHome two years ago to provide cultural experiences through eating with locals in their homes.
“Every Saudi home has a story. When you tell a story, you spark a connection, and that’s what we do with HiHome. We engage with guests through our stories,” said Nourah.
The conception of HiHome came about when Nourah was travelling in Cuba. The highlight of her trip was not the fancy hotels and restaurants, but the one night when she dined in a local family’s home.
“I realised that one thing is missing – the authenticity, which promises to connect people across cultures and bring them a real, local experience,” shared Nourah.
The mission of HiHome is to convey that authentic experience: connecting people and different cultures all over the world through delicious food and unforgettable memories.
What about you? Would you like to look at Riyadh from a local perspective and eat like a local?
Prices for each HiHome experience varies and start from SAR66. Tel: 050 542 3361.
Image: Social / Instagram