Madinah airport expansion deals signed

Updated 01 July 2012

Madinah airport expansion deals signed

Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, president of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), yesterday signed key documents for the new Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah with Saudi banks and investors.
The documents included the build, transfer and operate agreement (BTOA) and direct credit agreement with banks that are to finance the project, BTO direct agreement and the novation agreement.
The new airport will have a capacity to accommodate eight million passengers in the first phase, which will be ready in three years. The capacity will be increased by 12 million in the second phase, which will be completed in 2020.
During the signing ceremony, which took place at the GACA office in Jeddah, Prince Fahd handed over the aerodrome certificate to operate Madinah airport to Tibah Airport Development Company, a consortium led by Turkish group TAV Airports.
The function was attended by Abdul Aziz Al-Anqari, deputy CEO of GACA, Ala Samman, general supervisor of the project, as well as representatives of Saudi banks and Tibah Airport Development Company.
This is the first time GACA is handing over a Saudi airport to a private company for operation. The consortium led by TAV Airports had earlier signed the build-operate-transfer contract for the development of Madinah airport.
The agreement was struck between GACA and TAV alongside partners Al Rahji and Saudi Oger. The TAV consortium was revealed as the preferred bidder in August.
The partners foresee an investment of between $ 1 billion and $ 1.5 billion. The consortium will construct a new passenger terminal by the first half of 2015, and will operate the airport for 25 years. The move also offers major opportunities for TAV subsidiaries such as ATÜ Duty Free, BTA Catering and TAV Operation Services, which are expected to enter the market as concessionaires to the new airport operator.
M. Sani Sener, TAV Airports president & CEO, said: “As TAV Airports, we are very much honored to include in our airports portfolio the construction and operation of the airport of Madinah, one of the most significant cities for the Muslim world. Our partnership with two significant major companies of Saudi Arabia gave rise to a collaboration whereby we can succeed in further airport tenders is Saudi Arabia as well.
“I am confident that increasing the capacity for the Haj and Umrah trips from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, operated by TAV Airports, to Madinah and the mutual communication and coordination to be enhanced will have significant contributions for the aviation sectors of Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” Sener said.
The Madinah airport project includes construction of new terminals covering 138,000 sq. meters. The new airport will have 18 departure gates with air-bridges linked to aircraft in addition to parking for 20 planes. The project’s total area will be spread over four million sq. meters.
GACA recently opened the newly established international terminal at the airport that can handle 35 flights daily. “The new terminal has the capacity to accommodate 600 passengers per hour,” GACA said, adding that the capacity would double to 1,200 passengers once the second phase of the airport project is completed.
“The second phase includes construction of the first floor, which will be completed by the end of next month,” the GACA statement said. The new terminal’s opening will improve services to pilgrims.
Earlier this year GACA completed construction of two passenger lounges at the airport for Umrah passengers.

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

Updated 46 min 29 sec ago

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 amadeo 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 Amadeo 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 Amadeo, 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.