No Bagels in Saudi Arabia


Although Saudi Arabia has a plethoria of donut shops and bakeries and bread shops, I’ve yet to find a shop that sells fresh homemade bagels. I find it odd given how much Saudis enjoy bread with every meal that the concept of the bagel has not caught on. In the United States there are also donut shops, bakeries and bread shops as well as so many shops which specialize in fresh bagels. The various grocery stores will also usually have a wide selection of bagels in the States ranging from fresh to frozen to so many different varieties. In Saudi Arabia if one is lucky one may find some frozen Lenders Bagels in a Tamimi (Safeway) grocery store.

Saudis enjoy freshly baked bread with cream cheese or other cheeses and sometimes with jam and honey too. Just imagine cream cheese with perhaps a little bit of honey atop a fresh toasted bagel. That would be a filling and healthy breakfast to me! But alas, it is simply not easy to find the fresh bagels here in Saudi. If someone knows where to go, please share!

59 Responses

  1. I am surpised you dont know. The “Yehooooodis” came up with the bagel, and each one is infected by the Israelis to cause illness and sickness to the ummah!

    Seriously, it is a bit odd. I’ve seen bagel shops all over the world and always stop in. I love fresh made bagels!

  2. Is it because bagels are a jewish food?

  3. There is Cafe Ceramic located in Sahara Mall. They have bagel sandwiches, but I’m not sure about the freshness of the bagel.:)

  4. Aren’t bagels just a larger version of that little bread with the sesame seeds on it? Or is it a cookie like that? Or is it the koulouri?

  5. Perhaps Saudi should import the Uyghur pseudo-bagel or girdeh nan (from the Persian, meaning round bread), ie a bagel with an incomplete perforation of the hole, from Xinjiang, China, and reputed to be the origin of the more commonly known bagel. Halal, authentic and a start toward improving trade with China!😀😀😀

  6. Salaams Carol:

    LOL, Abu Sinan beat me to it:)

  7. LOL @ Safiyyah

    He beat me to it too! Damn, he’s quick! 😉

  8. I didn’t taste it , I don’t like it though😉

  9. As others have said, the bagel is Jewish. Oh well, they are missing something good. I wish they could learn to separate Israeli from Jewish but I don’t think they have that ability.

  10. Its definetly NOT because its jewish😛

    It just never caught on in Saudi, As greenPassport mentioned there is a cafe in sahara mall’s food court, but I have never seen the store open. Maybe went out of business?😛

  11. I’ve seen bagels in other GCC countries so I remain perplexed why a typical bagel shop is not yet in Saudi Arabia. I don’t think Saudi is so closed as to refuse a type of bread because it was invented by Jews.

  12. There is a plethora of variety of types of bread in KSA that I couldn’t find in the US & Canada. LOL, yesterday a European friend of mine was complaining bitterly about the bread found in North America.
    You can find bagels in the KSA definitely, but in a very few places because people are not to it. At the end bakeries bake what customers want, and not what is baked in the US. I’d go for sure for Vollkornbrot, “tamis”, baguettes, and not for bagels. I yet have to find a bakery here that has bread better than what we have in most supermarkets in KSA. The Caf here at my univ daily has bagels, and I’ve had it only once during last year. There is a shop nearby that makes a good 12 grains bagels that I like to have when I don’t have other options for breakfast:)

    If someone is interested in bagels, s/he can franchise one of the bagels shop in the US and bring it to KSA. Maybe people will like it.

    Although the US has a plethora of Derry products, I’ve yet to find a place that sells a “laban” as good as “laban Al-Mara’i” I find it odd:):):)

    I miss it:)

  13. Abu Sinan…you could be right…according to statistics…trying to cut a bagel open is one of the most common ER visits across america because of the injuries people sustain…those pesky Jews knew all along…😉

  14. There are Bagels here in Riyadh, they carry the frozen type in Safeway ( New York something brand (I forget the name.. and I’m too lazy to go to the freezer to check the name).. but they have different types… cinnamon and raisins, plain, egg, onion, etc… so if anyone has a craving for the stuff.. Tamimi (AKA Safeway) has them in their frozen section… next to the frozen Eggo waffles:)

    AND….. there was a bagel shop i found in Sahara mall a while back.. not sure if its still there.. but yes.. I am certain there was a bagel shop there… it was up in the food court… when ur entering from the escalator near the kids play area and walk towards the actual food court… you turn left.. and you find it there I believe its like the 3rd place …. the name was the Bagel shop/company.. something like that. (I had it double toasted with my cream cheese- Not the best.. but it was a bagel)

  15. Lender’s New York Style (Just as I finished my earlier comment… my hubby asked me to make him a quick Bagel Sandwich.. lol)

  16. really……….what is the difference between the bagel and the donuts. ?
    and stop joking about mention that it is a Jewish bread, because some people will take it seriously that we hate everything Jewish.

  17. I’m amazed at whoever commented about a lack of bagels in KSA. Ok one can ask where to find them, but to be surprised that there aren’t any beats me. I’m not from that part of the world but have lived all over the place. I certainly don’t expect to find food from my country wherever I go. How weird. Why should other countries have everything from one’s own??? The fact that they have a lot of stuff is in of itself surprising . People stock what people want. Just because a certain food is popular in another country doesn’t mean it has to be popular every where. I like bagels but I can think of tastier products from the bakery, like croissants, brioche, crumpets, scones, pitta bread, khubz, naan, puris, chappatis, parathas, baguettes etc etc…..

  18. Chiara wrote: “a bagel with an incomplete perforation of the hole, from Xinjiang, China, and reputed to be the origin of the more commonly known bagel. Halal, authentic and a start toward improving trade with China!”

    Ah, the timeless approach of cultivating diplomatic relations through the simplicity of breaking bread together.

  19. SaudiBedu, sent some links on the difference between bagels/donuts ….awaiting moderation. :)

  20. Like atypical New Yorker; I will only eat them in NY and but them literally froma Kosher bagel shop-got few of those in the neighborhood- and when in a rush- one of the push cart walli alsways have large assortments with fresh brewed coffee bagged to go.

    And please cut bagel with palms on top and knife at the perpendicular to your fingers- cut to 180 degress -turn bagel do the other 180- presto no cut palms or fingers.

    Forgive any typos my blackberry is being a cherry at the moment

  21. You know Inal, that’s not a bad idea, though I realize you were writing about how to slice a bagel.

    That’s a way to uniquely market bagels in Saudi. score it with a “palm” on top. Or when served with cream cheese or laban, a “cookie-cutter” imprint with a palm …

    Am I thinking yet? Do I need more caffeine? It’s raining here … and I just want to nap …

  22. One more thought … it’s like they do with cappuccino, the little design that’s put in the froth. Though at Starbucks they just charge you a lot with no design … I feel short-shrifted.😉 The only place I know to get a design is at a little bohemian coffee house in Adams Morgan.

  23. Just to clarify any questions, the reason I am surprised that there are not any bagel shops like elsewhere in the world in KSA is given how much Saudis do enjoy bread and the wide variety of differing kinds of bread and breakfast breads in KSA, it seems odd to not have a selection of bagels. When my Saudi family has been introduced to bagels in the US they really do enjoy them.

    I’m aware of Tamimi carrying Lenders in the frozen food section but there truly is nothing like a fresh bagel similar to going to the bakery and getting freshly baked nan still warm from the oven.

    Saudi Bedu – while Susan kindly sent you liinks in my own words the primary distinctions between a bagel and a donut is that a bagel is thick bread baked in the round shape with the whole in the middle and can be served with butter, jam, cheeses, honey, etc. It can be served just-baked, room temp or toasted. Whereas a donut is usually sweet in taste and many times is fried. Bagels are healthier!

  24. Ahh what a bummer! Nothing like a fresh bagel with cream cheese and cucumbers, which I just had for breakfast :) Hopefully they will catch on soon in KSA!

  25. Okay Carol,

    There is ONE WAY to sort this out once and for all. It is clear Saudis love bread, I agree. To rule out the Jewish angle here please check your local groceries for “Jewish Rye”.

    Anyone people who really love bread would have this stocked on their shelves. If they dont……..then maybe the “Yehoodi” angle isnt so far off!


  26. Well, I am in Kuwait, but we have a similar issue. We have frozen ones, and maybe a not-so-authentic shop here or there, so I resorted to making my own at home. It is a little time consuming, but they are soooo good. Best wishes.

  27. It’s hard to find bagels in the UK too. I miss them so much!

  28. Khalid–I agree that bagels are an acquired taste, but before giving up on them entirely, one should try the Montreal style bagel as opposed to the ubiquitous (except for KSA) New York style bagel–two different tastes well explained by Wiki and other sources (Montrealers are skinnier, crunchier, and sweeter, more malty). Perhaps a covert action of importing Montreal style bagels (also made by Jews:) ) would compensate for the Noo Yawkas:) Then again those Muslim Chinese deserve and need the trade!

    Susan–indeed! Peace by any means necessary, even bread.

    To all, especially arabophones–What is that Arab proverb about taking bread together?

    For all those suffering while cutting, there are gizmos that hold the bagel in place and force you to cut the safer way, or to guillotine them:

  29. Oops left off the very important link to the non-guillotine, ecologically more sound wooden bagel holder:

  30. For those people who are having over sense of humor in this morning, do you know that Muslim ESL students (including Saudis ) prefer to stay with Jewish families as oppose to Christian ones! We have a Jewish family here that has 3 Saudi students. Also I know bunch of Saudis who buy meat from Jewish places and not from the nearest supermarket to them.

    Chiara, yup, my favorite is the multi grain bagel — we have here a local café that does a yummy one:)
    Oh, definitely bagels are much healthier than doughnuts:)
    If someone is craving for something sweet, I recommend a fresh bagel with strawberry cream cheese:)

  31. The Arab (or at least Jordanian/Palestinian) proverb in English: “Eat bread together, remain friends forever”:)

    All Jewish bagel/Muslim bagel jokes were just that–jokes😀😀😀

  32. God I missed having bagels, I liked the raisins ones, I use to have it all the time….yummy…

  33. Heres an idea Carol!

    Start a bagel bakery buisiness😀

    I think it would succeed:)

  34. Cinnamon-Raisin bagels … yummy very very, in the morning with tea, even “dunk-able” . Also like it with laban on top. Pepperidge Farms makes the little ones, dainty … easier to dunk … I like that.

    Toasted “everything” bagels with, sorry folks, smoked salmon. I could eat smoked salmon til I get sick! A little fresh ground pepper on top, some lemon zest … makes me positively meshuge and shvakh in the knees. (is that right?)

  35. Susan–LOL–that’s lox to you, and as a psychiatrist I’ll vouch for the meaning of meshuge, but you’ll have to consult an orthopod about your knees!

  36. Would opening a Panera Brad be worthwhile?

  37. Bread*

  38. All this talk about bread and opening bakeries reminds me of the movie Moonstruck …

  39. Naif, I’ve never had Panera Bread, is it good?

  40. When I first got here five years ago I went into bagel withdrawl. I whined. I moaned. And then I started searching the internet for the ultimate bagel recipe! I found one, and it’s an odd week when hubby and I don’t enjoy a fresh bagel with cream cheese.

    Sure it’s a little time consuming, but well worth the results!

    Necessity – or at least deep desire – surely is the mother of invention!

    Take care and hope you’re having fun in the States!

  41. Carol, I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. You wonder why there’s no bagels when Saudis enjoy all sorts of bread products.

    But don’t you think that’s the reason? There’s so much bakery products that the bagel was squeezed out of the marketplace?

    I like pretzels and the only place I can buy them is Wetzel’s Pretzels.😦

  42. I miss Einstein Bagels with strawberry cream cheese and Cinnamon and Raison ones too. Yummy!!! I used to bring them back from Lebanon and put them in the freezer. (bakery fresh from there!)

  43. For those who were wondering about Panera Bread, check out this link: It is a wonderful and appetiziing place!

    Abu Sinan – while I do not know about “Jewish Rye” I can say that one can indeed get Rye bread in Saudi. As I mentioned in an earlier place, the bakery in the Al Khozama hotel in Riyadh has some of the best homemade breads…but no bagels!

    If I knew how to make a tasty appetizing bagel I would market them but one thing I’ve never tried to make/bake (?) is a bagel! So while we are in the US, hubby, me and other family are enjoying the variety of the freshly made bagels here!

  44. my mother took to making her own when she couldnt find “chompies” brand here. of course when we lived in maryland our favorite places was called chesapeake bagel and they made the best bagels I’ve ever had fresh in their store.

  45. Have you tried making your own bagels? My boyfriend, a Saudi, absolutely loves them and has also noted that at home they were nowhere to be found. My father is a German Jew and has a few great recipes…he recently introduced my boyfriend to the “Jew Burger,” a bagel with cream cheese, lox, and capers. If you would like some recipes just let me know!

  46. Ziva – please, it would be a pleasure to have some bagel recipes!!

  47. I dont get why bagels wouldnt be allowed because their Jewish?!?!
    In Saudi, the malls are full of Jewish brands. I know that we can trade with the Jews as Muslims but Im not sure whether we can imitate them (ie eat their food, dress like them etc). Perhaps a good question to put fwd to the scholars (abit far fetched for bagels but it would be interesting to hear their take on it:)

  48. This link provides info on one of the most popular “bagel chain stores” in the US for those interested:

  49. when i went to medina in 1999, they had bagles there, ofcourse they were bit different from north americans ones

  50. Welcome Z and thanks for your comment. You’re right…I remember in Makkah that the local bread although long and flat had a taste similar to bagels. I would eat the bread dipping it in creme cheese and honey.

  51. My wife makes good bagels and sells them at the Jedewal Coffee (in Riyadh) each month. She also sells home made flour tortillas.

  52. @ Frumious – that is wonderful! Can you tell us more? Does she take orders?

    Regards, Carol

  53. In Jeddah, Tony G’s has bagels imported from NY 5sar for 6. many flavors

  54. Dear Frumious, can your wife share her bagel recipe with us .. Or at least think of export it to Jeddah ?

    Can’t read all comments, just want it to know if there is a fresh bagel in Jeddah or not.

  55. There is a New York style Bagel Shop in Riyadh named (Circles & Circles). Delicious variety of Bagels, They only use Philadelphia cream cheese with mixed flavors such as Jalapeno, Smoked Salmon, Cheddarella, Blueberry, Strawberry. They also serve fresh Coffee such as Pumpkin latte, Gingerbread latte and much more. You gotta try it! It’s a piece of American heaven in Riyadh😉

    Circles & Circles address: Riyadh, Imam Abdullah road (exit: 9) right before Gernada Mall and Center-point on your right hand side. You can’t miss it. Here is their website for more info and map:

  56. Hello:)
    I just cam across your blog idk when you posted this but if you want still would like a bagel shop there is one @ exit 9 near gurnata mall called circles & circles. Have a nice day:)


  58. Tim Hortons has bagel.

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