Fareed Khalid Al-Hattab, a Palestinian confectioner, has been crafting delectable Middle Eastern sweets like kunafa, basbousa, and qatayef for over 50 years in Jeddah. These treats are especially popular for iftar during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, Al-Hattab offers special varieties of qatayef, and banana-stuffed kunafa. Qatayef is a dessert similar to a pancake made from a batter containing yeast. The dough is then stuffed with a variety of fillings, baked or fried, and finally doused in a rich sugar syrup. The end result is a crunchy, creamy, and sweet delight. There are qatayef kiosks in front of “Demasi Kunafa”, Al-Hattab's store, where his staff continually prepares new batches of this delicious delicacy for the lengthy lines of customers. It is usually offered as a post-iftar dessert following Taraweeh prayers.
Two types of qatayef are particularly popular at his shop. The first one is a crescent shaped pastry filled with nuts, cream, or cheese, and covered in syrup. The second one, called "asafir qatayef," is half made so that customers can add their own choice of fillings. During Ramadan, Al-Hattab makes 600 kilograms of raw qatayef daily to meet the high demand.
Al-Hattab moved to Jeddah from Beersheba, the largest and oldest city in Palestine, when he was 14 years old. He inherited “Demasi Kunafa” from his father-in-law in 1970 and relocated it to Al-Kandra, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. "Demasi" was one of the few confectionery shops in the area at that time, which is why it became incredibly popular in Saudi Arabia. Al-Hattab's Saudi customers used to come from Taif, Riyadh, Alkhobar, and even Qatar to enjoy the quality of his products, particularly basbousa, kunafa with cheese, cream, and walnuts, and turamba, which is a deep-fried dessert similar to a churro and is believed to have originated from Ottoman cuisine. Basbousa, on the other hand, is a semolina cake that is tender and syrupy, that originated in Egypt. “Demasi “now offers more than 16 types of sweets, including their renowned kunafa, best served hot, composed of phyllo dough, fashioned like a pie, and usually layered with cheese or nuts.
After almost five decades in Al-Kandra, “Demasi Kunafa” had to move to Umm Al-Qura street in the Rehab district when their former location was demolished as part of Jeddah's development. While in the past, Al-Hattab's customers were mainly Saudis, nowadays he serves customers of all nationalities. He continues to use traditional recipes passed down through generations, although the methods of preparation have evolved with modern technology. Demasi has now become one of the main distributors and suppliers of desserts to event venues, halls, hotels, and hospitals in Jeddah and Makkah.