Saudi economy grew in 2016 despite global slump: SAMA

Saudi Arabia's central bank governor Ahmed al-Kholifey. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 September 2017

Saudi economy grew in 2016 despite global slump: SAMA

JEDDAH: While the global economic growth rate declined from 3.4 percent in 2015 to 3.1 percent last year, the Kingdom’s economy grew by 1.7 percent, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) reported.
King Salman’s “wise leadership was keen on improving citizens’ standard of living, thus the pace of expenditure was maintained throughout the year, and our total spending reached SR830.5 billion ($221.45 billion),” said SAMA Gov. Dr. Ahmed bin Abdulkarim Alkholifey. “This contributed to mitigating the impact of declining oil prices on the local economy and government services.”
Alkholifey cited “several strategic initiatives to achieve a sustainable, adaptable and globally competitive economy with diversified production and sufficient job opportunities.”
He added: “International experiences of economic reforms are proof that the vital and promising structural developments through which our national economy is going to need more time to accommodate, integrate and adapt its different sectors.”
Alkholifey cited various positive indicators, including total assets of commercial banks increasing by 2.2 percent to more than SR2.5 trillion; bank credit to the private and public sectors increasing by 2.8 percent to about SR1.4 trillion; and the banking sector’s profitability remaining high compared to global performance, with a return on assets of 1.8 percent and a return on equity of 12.6 percent by the end of 2016.
He said SAMA’s 53rd annual report showed that banks continued to provide modern and comprehensive financial services through diverse channels across the Kingdom.
“SAMA is focused on raising financial awareness and improving financial inclusion across Saudi Arabia. We hope this will contribute remarkably to diversifying the economy,” he said.
The Financial Sector Development Program, approved by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, aims to increase the financial sector’s efficiency in supporting the development of the national economy, diversifying its income sources, and enhancing the sector’s ability to promote saving, financing and investing, Alkholifey added.
“In order to achieve this, we seek to empower financial institutions to support private sector growth,” he said.
“The program is also keen on building a sophisticated financial market, improving the saving system and financial planning, and enabling the sector to maintain harmony in achieving other strategic objectives, particularly the stability of the financial sector.”
Alkholifey said SAMA is working to fulfill its mission by meeting the needs of the national economy and achieving Vision 2030. King Salman commended the agency’s efforts to serve the economy.


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.