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11 December 2023

Auction for locusts in Saudi

By Staff

In a small market place in the heart of Saudi Arabia, local residents gathered around a dealer who kept shouting to them to pay a higher price in one of the world’s strangest auctions. The plastic bag the seller was waving to the crowd contained neither a famous jewel nor a painting. It was full of locusts.

One bag weighing around five kg fetched the dealer nearly SR420 ($113) while a one-kg bag got him about SR100 ($27).

“I gathered a large quantity of locusts from the western coast as there are massive swarms in that area in the current season,” said Yousuf Al Salmi, who sold nearly 150 bags of locusts in just two days.

Salmi sold his stuff and made a fortune in the central town of Buraydah in the heart of Alqasim province, where locusts are a popular dish for residents.

“I sell to the people in this province because I know their strong love of locusts for a long time…I usually stage an auction to get the highest price,” Salmi said, quoted by the online Arabic language daily Face news.

The paper did not make clear if the locusts sold in that auction were dead or alive but noted that there was a strong demand for such insects in Alqasim following information that no locus swarms are expected in that area at present.

Locusts are a favourite dish for Saudis in many areas in the Kingdom despite repeated official warnings that eating them could be dangerous after they feed on crop sprayed with insecticides.

One way to eat locusts in the Kingdom, with a population of nearly 27 million, is to expose them to sun for a few days until they are become dry and hard before they are salted and eaten like nuts.