Each night, dates are loaded up on the 15 trains from highest quality to lowest, ready to be rapid-fire auctioned off, detached from the train, and taken to waiting cars or trucks or even motorbikes.
“Here, I got them for 90 riyals each.” (Around .) Others had grander ambitions. “We laid down a plan at the start of the season to get 600,000 cartons of a single type of date.
The fruit has long been a part of the land that now forms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where for centuries Bedouin nomads were fueled by its calories as they traveled back and forth across the Arabian Peninsula.
A millennium and some centuries ago, the Prophet Muhammad exhorted Muslims in the month of Ramadan to “Break your fast with a date, for it is purifying.” Since the unification of the kingdom in 1932, however, Saudi Arabia has derived the overwhelming majority of its wealth from a very different set of natural resources.
It is hard to travel the countries of the Middle East and North Africa for long without consuming dates: lush pods of sugar and fiber wrapped around a slender (and easily avoided) seed.
They come in blacks and yellows and reds and browns, enjoyed fresh or packed together until the huddled mass of fruit starts to caramelize into a single molten mass.