First Jeddah Vox Cinema to open January 28

Saudis gather at a cinema theatre in Riyadh Park mall after its opening for the general public on April 30, 2018 in the Saudi capital. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 January 2019

First Jeddah Vox Cinema to open January 28

  • The cinema’s grand opening at the Red Sea Mall will be held at 6:30 p.m. local time
  • Vox Cinemas announced it would be investing $533 million to open 600 theaters in the next five years

DAVOS: Vox Cinemas will be opening its doors in Jeddah on Jan 28 for the first time since the ban was lifted in 2018.

Alain Bejjani, CEO of Al Futtaim, told Arab News at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The cinema’s grand opening at the Red Sea Mall will be held at 6:30 p.m. local time, where a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held with entertainment and a movie screening.

Last year, Vox Cinemas announced it would be investing $533 million to open 600 theaters in the next five years.

Cinemas had been banned for 35 years until the first cinema in the Kingdom opened on April 18, 2018, in Riyadh.

This comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 initiative which has been pushing for social reform and broadening the economy to reduce its reliance on oil to tackle youth unemployment. 


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.