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This Year, Food Trucks Are Gaining Popularity in Saudi Arabia

For the first time ever, Saudi Arabia allowed food trucks to serve pilgrims in holy places during this year’s Hajj. Some 45 trucks or so, managed and run by both women and men, roamed various locations during Islam’s holiest pilgrimage offering a variety of food and drinks to visitors. A replacement to the old-style, brick-and-mortar food setups of the past, these modern, colorful, food trucks are actually part of a larger and growing trend in Saudi Arabia that has seen people across the country opting to grab a meal from these vehicles.

As Saudi Arabia moves its economy away from oil dependency and increases institutional support for startups and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, many young Saudi women and men have begun to set up their own small retail businesses such as food trucks, a phenomenon which can be witnessed in major cities across the country. According to Saudi Gazette, part of what has made this food truck trend popular has been the lack of social stigma associated with this kind of work that used to exist.

In fact, a few young Saudis have chosen to pursue their passion for food outside their chosen academic paths, a move mostly made possible by the mobile setup food trucks provide. Take medical student Mustapha Jouhari and his brothers, for instance. Speaking to the site, Jouhari explained that when he isn’t enrolled at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, he sells waffles and crepes with his brothers out of their food truck to make some extra money. The brothers work after their university lectures around five hours each day, sometimes more during vacations and days off.

The mobility and dynamism of food trucks paired with the convenience and sense of nostalgia they provide customers, it is no wonder these restaurants on wheels have taken off across the Kingdom. Some of this year’s popular choices include: She Station in Al Khobar, which offers everything delicious and delectable in a huge old school bus; The 60 Pasta in Riyadh, which serves all kinds of filling pasta dishes in edible bread bowls (yes, double the carbs); and Sateology in Jeddah, a low-key option that still draws in crowds from all over due to its mouthwatering menu of satés, rice, and fries. 

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