They say dates are the fruit of heaven. They are extremely liked by almost everyone because of its nutritional value, which added certain sweetness to life.
Dates are a must for Muslims during Ramadan. The sight of different types of dates is a sign that the holy month is around the corner.
One of the places that stock the best Madina dates in the Klang Valley is Al Diafah Restaurant in Seri Petaling. The interior of the shop looks like a mini Arabian house with expensive décor, tasteful crockery, exquisitely looking crystals, extravagant goldthread artwork and other interesting Middle-Eastern products.
Everything is stylishly arranged throughout the spacious and modern three-storey shop.
Many customers love hanging around the shop just to absorb the 'Little Arabia' feeling especially the hanging Arabic lantern, little trinkets, Moroccan tea sets, antique clocks and the display of souvenirs, which really enhanced the character of the place.
The best part about Al Diafah is that you can find fresh dates, seven types of exotic Madinah dates and all other dates products such as date dip, date pickles, date cakes, date-filled cookies, date syrup, chocolate dates and date drinks.
They also have other products like pomegranate drinks, Turkish coffee and black seed drinks.
"This is almost like a meeting point for Arabs and Muslims. They come here for the dates and other Middle-Eastern products. This place is such a draw that our hands are full during peak season," said manager of Al Diafah Restaurant Harris Harvey Siddick,
The other attraction is of course the restaurant, located on the first floor. It serves Mendy Rice, Hommus, Kabsa Chicken and Rice and all other Yemen delicacies.
The owner is Saleh Kym, who hails from Jeddah, set up the outlet eight years ago.
The restaurant now has two branches - Restaurant Al-Diafah Sdn Bhd in Bandar Baru Seri Petaling and Al Diafah Express Sdn Bhd at Taman Putra Kajang.
Harris, who has been with Al Diafah for the last 3 years, has seen an increasing demand of dates, especially the Ajwah dates, a soft dry variety of date fruit from Saudi Arabia but cultivated in Madina.
"Ajwah dates are popular because it is also known as 'Kurma Nabi' (the Prophet's dates). These dates are known to be good for those with heart ailments," said Harris.
Some people have their own favourites when it comes to buying dates. They would normally buy the ones that they love best.
"Those days we do not have that much choice of dates so we are stuck to one or two types. Nowadays there are so many types of dates in the market and one is spoilt for choice," said Harris who used to be in the hotel line before he joined Al Diafah.
Al Diafah sells seven types of Madina dates, namely Sofry, Safawy, Ajwah, Ambara, Mabroom, Kodry and Ruthane. The most popular is Ajwah, followed by Mabroom and Sofry.
Dates are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated by the Arabs in the Middle East region from around 6000BC. Over the years, dates were spread and widely cultivated in other parts of the world such as Northern Africa, Spain and Italy.