Saudi Authority Calls on UNESCO to Protect Traditional Khawlani Coffee Cultivation Techniques

The Saudi Heritage Preservation Society has called on UNESCO to protect traditional Khawlani coffee cultivation techniques in Saudi Arabia in a press release, noting that the Arabian tradition “has been passed down for generations by the ancient tribes of Khawlan who have grown and processed Khawlani coffee beans in the verdant valleys of Jazan, a region in the southern-most tip of Arabia, for over 300 years.”

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers of Arabica coffee in the world, and Saudis are ranked as some of the biggest consumers of the beverage. Named after the tribe that tended to them, Khawlani coffee beans are considered amongst some of the most reputable coffee beans in the world.

With techniques being passed down orally by word of mouth, Khawlani coffee cultivation techniques are crucial to the preservation not only to the nation’s cultural identity, but also Islamic history where coffee, as coffee was first cultivated by Sufi monks in Yemen, the organization said in a press release.

The region of Jazan contains 16 provinces, and six of them practice the cultivation of Khawlani coffee beans, Arab News notes. For farmers in Jazan, making coffee is “a highly respected vocation that gives cultural identity and status to the entire region.”

Efforts to begin preserving this legacy began in 2019 with the documentation of the local farmers cultivation process of Khawlani coffee beans.

Currently, Saudi Arabia has 5 properties listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and 11 sites on the Tentative list.

“Khawlani coffee beans are described as the green gold of Jazan, but there is lack of knowledge amongst Saudis that the Jazan region is one of the biggest producers of coffee in the world. The number of farmers in Jazan is really high and they face a lot of problems and difficulties, including with water and working resources. Hopefully, by inscribing this (cultivation process) in UNESCO, it will help promote (Khawlani coffee beans) throughout Saudi Arabia and encourage the nation to help these farmers,” Rehaf Gassas, the project manager at the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, said.

“We are very optimistic,” Gassas added. “The community itself is the biggest supporter, because they are very invested in the coffee beans they are planting, and it is really very important to them to show the world that they have this rich culture and heritage.”

[Image still via Arab News]