Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa projects highlighted at UNESCO meeting

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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
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Saudi artisans exhibit their skills during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa. (SPA)
Updated 18 October 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa projects highlighted at UNESCO meeting

AL-AHSA: The creative and cultural achievements of Al-Ahsa Oasis were highlighted by its mayor at a UNESCO meeting in Japan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Ahsa is widely considered to have the greenest and most fertile land in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, while also housing prominent archaeological and historical sites.

Al-Ahsa Mayor Adel Al-Mulhim, head of the Saudi Creative Al-Ahsa delegation to the annual meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network held in Kanazawa, Japan, provided a detailed presentation on Al-Ahsa’s achievements such as becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, becoming a member of the Creative Cities Network in the field of handicrafts and folk arts in 2015, and being named as Arab Tourism Capital for 2019 by the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism.

The meeting was attended by Mayor of Kanazawa Yukiyoshi Yamano, along with representatives from 30 countries.

Al-Mulhim reviewed projects and events in Al-Ahsa aimed at promoting cultural activities in line with the creative network’s objectives, which include making cities safer and more sustainable. 




Saudi artists perform a dance number during a recent festival in Al-Ahsa, in the Eastern Povince of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

He said government support for Al-Ahsa’s heritage and creative sectors had led to a increased public awareness about the importance of culture and creativity in shaping a sustainable city, and achieving the goals of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network to emphasize the role of culture in sustainable urban development.

Al-Mulhim said that Al-Ahsa had several elements that qualified it as a member of the network, a first for the Kingdom and Gulf Cooperation Council states.

“These elements include the cultural depth of Al-Ahsa in the Arabian Gulf region, owning a rich heritage of crafts and folklore, its environmental and social diversity, and having the required infrastructure to actively participate in national, regional and international events,” he told the meeting.


LA Italian eatery Madeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

Updated 15 December 2019

LA Italian eatery Madeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

  • Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one

RIYADH: Renowned Italian restaurant Madeo has opened up in Al-Murabba for Riyadh Season. 

The pop-up has started brightly, and head chef Gianni Vietina invited Arab News to sample the menu and chat about his experience.

Vietina, in Saudi Arabia for the first time, said that he loved the location he had set up in, and was very happy to be opening up in the Kingdom. 

“The location is gorgeous. At night, with all the lights on, the music going, it’s very nice.”

Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one and that the response was even better than he had expected. 

“Like anything new, you have quests, you have problems. Up to now, we’re doing pretty good. We are up and running. We’re comfortable now, which is a shame as we’re leaving pretty soon,” he said.

He added that he would repeat the experience in a heartbeat if he could: “They were nice enough to ask me to stay in Saudi a little longer, but I can’t. I need to go back home. But I would love to come back.”

He said that while he was not planning to open up a permanent restaurant in Saudi Arabia, he would not rule it out completely.  “I’ve been offered options, and friends have offered to show me locations while I’m here, but I can’t do it right now, I just opened a new restaurant two months ago,” he said.

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like.”

Gianni Vietina, Head chef of Madeo

The pop-up’s menu contains most of what the original restaurant offers, including his ever-popular penne madeo and spaghetti bolognese, with the chefs using a combination of imported and locally sourced ingredients. 

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like,” he told Arab News.

For the pop-up, Vietina has stuck to using halal and alcohol-free ingredients. 

“It was challenging at the beginning. But the bolognese at Madeo doesn’t contain pork, and I realized after we tried cooking without wine that almost nothing changed. I actually prefer it,” he said.

Madeo is a favorite of Saudis visiting Los Angeles, with Vietina going so far as to describe the restaurant as a “Little Riyadh” on most evenings between July and September. 

He even recognizes some of the customers who have come into the Riyadh pop-up, and always stops over to greet them.

Upon sampling the menu, it’s easy to see why the food at Madeo has remained popular all these years. 

The eggplant parmigiana is a perfect blend of crusty cheese and silky smooth eggplant, with hints of basil and rosemary. 

The bolognese is rich, meaty and decadent, without being too heavy and greasy. And the penne madeo, which Vietina has been eating since his childhood, is a timeless classic of crushed tomato, basil, finished off with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano for a creamy, rich flavor.