A “Year of Hunger” – When Saudis had nothing to eat for the full year

Our parents might have heard some strange stories from their ancestors about the year 1909 which is said to be a harsh year in the Kingdom because in that year Saudis suffered to such extent that some of them perished while searching for a mouthful of food that could help them to save their life.

1909 is a year which is named as the “Year of Hunger”. Our ancestors use to narrate their story, there was a time when Saudi could eat meat only on Eid Al- Adha and thank Allah for all what they have now.

One of the retired soldier Mohammad Mousa who is in his 80s now discussed that wheat bread, dates and water made up the daily meal of his family of four members and they had a small quantity of sheep milk and ghee and tea were considered as a rich thing.

STORY OF A GROUP OF FRIENDS:  A preacher Khamees Al-Zahrani too came forward and discussed a story of a group of friends who lived in the region about a century ago. He said they agreed on themselves to seek food wherever it would be, even if it cost them their lives.

A woman saw them and approached one of the friends with her only 12-year-old son pleading them to take him with them and said he would die of hunger if he stays with her and she also assured the man that she would forgive him if her son died to which the merciful man agreed.

However, during the three days, they were unable to find anything to eat so one of the men told the men to kill the boy and eat his flesh to save their lives.

However, the trustworthy man refused on the offer made by his friend while other men were trying to persuade him but then they saw a female dog with her six puppies and they rejoiced and forgot about the boy.  They slaughter the seven animals, lighted a fire and had their hot dogs and completed their trip.


Al-Zahrani narrated another painful story about a woman who wanted to marry a man for food and told her groom to assure her daily need of food as her dowry. These were the suffering of our ancestors that they have to struggle to fill their appetite.

Keeping this in mind the Eta’am Foodbank organized an event at King Abdul-Aziz center for a national dialogue to commemorate the year of hunger and create and spread awareness to preserve and use the left-over food.

The Deputy Governor of Riyadh, Mohammad bin Abdul-Rahman patronized this event under the slogan “A 100 years, From Hunger to Extravagance”.

This event was also attended by the Ministry of Labor and social development Abdul Rehman Al-Mutairi and many prominent entrepreneurs and it also signed cooperation between many private companies to support and finance their program.

During the event, the Executive Director of Eta’am Amir bin Abdurrehman al-Barjas made a speech highlighting the painful events they went through more than hundred years ago and said those days when hunger mercilessly affected all the rich and the poor alike and people were found dead on the roads because of hunger.

Al-Barjas highlighted the result of recent studies that showed Saudi Arabia is among the most food wasting countries where millions of tons of food are wasted and thrown in the garbage containers without taking any measures against the wrongdoers.

Al-Barjas event stressed the people to learn a lesson from the year of hunger and introduced the best positive ways to benefit from extra food.

Source: Arab News

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