Saudi Arabia's northern region of Jouf is known for some of the finest olive oils produced in the region. In fact, some of its brands may rival those produced in the Levant and, yes, even Europe! The region is home to over 12 thousand farms, and some of the largest olive oil complexes in the region.
Jouf's climate makes the region ideal for olives farms, with olive trees said to be anywhere between 15 and 30 million in total covering 7,300 hectares of land. In fact, Jouf is considered the largest producer of olive oil in the Middle East, producing over 10 thousand tons of olive oil and over 40 thousand tons of olives annually.
Olives have been among the most integral agricultural produce in the region dating back 6,000 years, and even mentioned in scriptures. Muslims have especially used them for their fragrance, as medicine, and as part of their diet. In fact, olives are a good source of omega 3 oil, but also other helpful nutrients such as vitamin E, calcium, iron, and copper. In 2007, Saudi Arabia planted its first set of olive trees in Jouf and has prioritized expanding its olive industry till this day.
In addition to its olive farms and industries, Jouf is also home to one the Kingdom's most important agricultural events, Al-Jouf International Olive Festival. Held by Jouf's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the festival brings together businesses and customers from both Saudi Arabia and around the world, while giving olive producers the opportunity to market their products.
For 2022, Al-Jouf International Olive Festival is being held at Prince Abdullah Community Center, and is set to run from March 3 to 13. On the final day, five farmers are expected to win cash prizes totaling SAR500,000 (or over $133,000), with each farmer to be judged based on categories such as best farmer, best olives, and best olive oil.