Science, arts key to bringing nations together: Saudi culture minister

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud addressing the 40th UNESCO General Conference in Paris on Nov. 14, 2019. (SPA)
Updated 16 November 2019

Science, arts key to bringing nations together: Saudi culture minister

  • Building bridges of understanding helps create a more solid world, Prince Badr bin Abdullah tells UN conference

RIYADH: Science, culture, and arts are key pillars to promoting dialogue and communication among nations, Saudi Arabia’s culture minister told a UN meeting on Friday.

Addressing the 40th UNESCO General Conference, in Paris, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud said the success and prosperity of future generations relied on the strength of cultural links between countries.

Heading the Kingdom’s delegation in France, the prince told the gathering that under the guidance of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman his country regarded culture in general as one of the most important foundations of human development.

He pointed out that building bridges of understanding between societies helped to create a more solid world where people of different cultures became interdependent, and he noted the Kingdom’s push for joint action within UNESCO.

“Culture and arts in the Kingdom are among the pillars of the National Transformational Program of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and its objective to building a vibrant society, prosperous economy, and ambitious nation,” added Prince Badr.

The minister told delegates that through Vision 2030 the Kingdom was heading “with confident steps” toward a better future and that the reform plan’s effects had “started to positively impact several sectors including education, culture, and arts.”

He reiterated Saudi Arabia’s determination to continue promoting joint action at UNESCO to achieve the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were in line with the Kingdom’s own objectives.

“As part of its responsible position as a founding state, the Kingdom had made a big contribution to the UNESCO 1984 budget, and had allocated $25 million (SR93.7 million) to fund UNESCO’s strategic heritage programs and its actions related to protecting heritage through the signing of the letter of intent last July.”

In his speech, Prince Badr said the Kingdom believed that educating and rehabilitating young people formed the basis of any process of building, developing, and promoting culture in societies, coupled with nurturing them with human values.




Prince Badr bin Abdullah said that through Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia was taking confident steps. (SPA)

“This we emphasize on in our work, through a more developed system that is open to different cultures; for this contributes to strengthening social ties and opens wide the doors for peace among nations.

“In Saudi Arabia, we have sought to achieve this, in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, as part of our strong belief in the importance of partnerships between the nonprofit sector with other sectors, which we consider as a key partner in development,” he added.

The establishment of the National Center for the Development of the Nonprofit Sector aimed to activate and expand the role of culture-sector organizations, particularly in developmental fields, the minister said.

He noted the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s comprehensive plan to boost societal contribution in developing culture and heritage “in order to open the opportunity for the whole world to have an in-depth outlook onto the treasures of humanity’s civilizations and its secrets that have formed societies, and have contributed in this cultural richness that we are proud of, in our country and worldwide.”

Prince Badr stressed the importance of youth and its huge potential in helping to translate the aspirations and hopes of societies and said the Kingdom had launched numerous initiatives to support their creativity and involvement in constructing their country’s future.

Saudi Arabia was keen to back the plans and activities of UNESCO’s Executive Strategy for Youth 2014-2021, he added, noting that artificial intelligence was at the core of future development.

In March 2020, the Kingdom will host the Global Artificial Intelligence Summit, which the prince said was “an annual global forum for exchanging expertise between various local and international actors and companies in the field of data and artificial intelligence, for the benefit of all mankind.”

Prince Badr concluded by encouraging member states to transform their visions into reality. “We are getting prepared, and we intend to elaborate the objectives of this organization for everybody’s benefit, and cooperate hand in hand for a better world.”


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.