Exclusive Interview: Prince Turki says metro to change face of Riyadh

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Updated 12 August 2013

Exclusive Interview: Prince Turki says metro to change face of Riyadh

JEDDAH:  The Riyadh Metro will bring about qualitative improvement in the city’s transport system and change the lifestyle of people in the city, said Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, deputy governor of Riyadh.
“The project will change the face of Riyadh and empower future Saudi generations to reach new heights of progress and prosperity,” the prince told Arab News.
Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar launched the project on Sunday night.
“We would like to have the best metro system in the world,” the deputy governor said, adding that the project is being implemented after studying similar projects in the US, Europe and East Asia.
“Our late arrival in this field may help us have the distinction of acquiring the best technology in public transport,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Prince Turki said the project, when first presented to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, was designed to have only one line in the first phase and the whole project would have taken 15 years to complete. “King Abdullah then instructed to construct six lines within four years,” the deputy governor said.
“The project’s studies and designs have been revised as per the king’s instructions and Prince Sultan (the late crown prince) and Crown Prince Salman, who was then governor of Riyadh, were supervising it.”
He said the metro would solve the problem of traffic jams in the capital city and ensure smooth flow of traffic. It will also increase the level of traffic safety and reduce the number of fatal accidents.
The fall in the number of vehicles on Riyadh roads will reduce pollution as well as temperature in the city. “There are many indirect benefits for this project. It will save a lot of time for Saudis and expats and will have a huge economic impact,” he said. Saving time is one of the standards used to rate world cities.
Prince Turki said the project would change the lifestyle of Riyadh people, adding that it would serve all groups of people. “It will also provide a dependable and flexible transport system for the city that goes in line with the city’s fast development,” he said. It would also meet Riyadh’s future requirements.
Prince Turki said the metro would create more job opportunities for Saudi youth. “We expect the project would be completed in less than five years,” he said, adding that a number of major international companies are involved in its implementation.
“This is for the first time such a number of international companies are working for a single project,” he pointed out.
Riyadh Metro is part of the new public transport system, which includes bus services. It would meet present and future requirements. “The bus system will be ready before metro,” he said.
Asked if there is any plan to impose any toll for using some main roads in order to encourage people to use the metro instead of their cars, Prince Turki said: “We would like to encourage people to use public transport but without imposing any fees.”
A study is being conducted with the support of King Saud University to promote a culture using public transport, the prince said. Prince Turki said King Abdullah’s keen interest in the project would be one of the factors for its success, ensuring a high standard. He referred to the rapid development of Riyadh with the implementation of massive projects such as King Abdullah Financial District.
“This will be an integrated cultural project in downtown Riyadh,” he said adding that the metro stations inside the city would be designed in accordance with the distinguished Najdi architecture.
King Abdullah’s generous support to Riyadh projects would open new horizons of progress and prosperity for the city and its people, the deputy governor said.
He commended the role played by Prince Salman for Riyadh’s development when he was the region’s governor. “Prince Salman and (late) Prince Sattam have laid down the city’s strategic plans and we are now completing their work,” he added.

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 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.