Profile: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A Saudi student takes a selfie with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2017

Profile: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday was elevated to the position of crown prince and deputy prime minister, and will maintain his post as minister of defense.
Born on Aug. 31, 1985, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, received his education at Riyadh schools where he ranked among the top 10 students in his class. He received his bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University (KSU), where he graduated second in his class.
Prince Mohammed gained international experience in corporate governance and international finance. He began his political career as a consultant to the Experts Commission under the Saudi Cabinet.
On Dec. 15, 2009, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed special adviser to then-Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who at the time was governor of Riyadh province.
He was also a special adviser to the chairman of the board for the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah), and then became supervisor of the crown prince’s office.
In March 2013, by royal decree, Prince Mohammed was appointed head of the crown prince’s court with the rank of minister and special adviser to then-Crown Prince Salman. On April 25, 2014, he was appointed as a state minister and member of the Cabinet.
His long history of philanthropic initiatives earned him many awards. In 2011, he established the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), which enables young Saudis to learn, develop and progress in the fields of business, literature, culture, science and technology, and sociology.
Following the demise of King Abdullah in 2015, King Salman ascended to the throne and appointed Prince Mohammed as deputy crown prince, second deputy premier and minister of defense. He has also served as chief of the Royal Court, and chairs the powerful Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
Last year, the crown prince moved into what he described as his most important role: Transforming the Kingdom’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenues.
On April 25, 2016, the Saudi government unveiled Vision 2030, including a series of developmental, economic and social programs. The same day, Al Arabiya News Channel aired an exclusive interview with Prince Mohammed. During the interview, the crown prince pledged to end the Saudi economy’s dependence on oil revenues by 2020. Prince Mohammed also discussed measures to lift subsidies on the Kingdom’s wealthy citizens and assist the country’s poor.
The measures, as part of Vision 2030, will be implemented on everyone, “including princes and government ministers,” Prince Mohammed said. “This is a promise.”
In an interview with prominent news outlet Bloomberg earlier in April 2016, Prince Mohammed discussed the Kingdom’s soon-to-be unveiled National Transformation Plan (NTP) 2020, part of Vision 2030.
At the time, he told Bloomberg that the Kingdom would dramatically expand its Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, to reach around $2 trillion in assets. The sale of around 5 percent of Saudi Aramco’s shares would be placed into the fund, he added. “What is left now is to diversify investments,” he said. “So, within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
In a second, even longer interview with Bloomberg later that month, Prince Mohammed further expanded on his plans to transform the Kingdom’s economy. The interview also highlighted the prince’s personal life — his long hours, fluency in English, love of reading books by Sun Tzu and Winston Churchill, and his choice to have just one wife.
The crown prince has represented King Salman abroad, traveling to Beijing, Moscow and Washington, where he met President Donald Trump in March.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, former US President Barack Obama described him as “extremely knowledgeable, very smart” and “wise beyond his years.”
Last year, Prince Mohammed visited Silicon Valley to sell his vision of market-oriented reforms and a transformation of the Kingdom’s economy and society.
In recent years, Prince Mohammed has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. In the Kingdom, where around 60 percent of the population is under 30, the young crown prince is widely seen as an icon in the push toward socio-economic reforms.

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.