Saudi tourism chief examines final preparations for Taif Season

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The festival seeks to contribute to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to improve quality of life, raise living standards, and create career and investment opportunities. (SPA)
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The festival seeks to contribute to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to improve quality of life, raise living standards, and create career and investment opportunities. (SPA)
Updated 30 July 2019

Saudi tourism chief examines final preparations for Taif Season

  • The festival focuses on highlighting the region’s historical and cultural status and artistic diversity

TAIF: Ahmed Al-Khateeb, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), inspected the sites where Taif Season will take place. 

He did so in the presence of Taif’s Gov. Saad Al-Maimouni, its mayor, Mohammed Hameel, and the head of its police department, Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Atwi.

Al-Khateeb examined the final preparations before the launch of Taif Season, which will take place throughout August in four central locations that will host 70 main events.

He and his colleagues toured Souq Okaz, which will host pavilions, historical events and innovative cultural activities. 

They also visited Ward village in Al-Rudaf Park, the location of the Crown Prince Camel Festival,
and sites that offer a mountain-walking experience.

Al-Khateeb stressed to workers the importance of making visitors’ experiences remarkable. He commended government agencies and the private sector for their important role in the season’s preparation.

Top tourist destination

It aims to highlight Saudi Arabia as an international tourist destination, Taif’s historical and civilizational status, its cultural and artistic diversity, and its moderate climate.

Taif Season seeks to contribute to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to improve quality of life, raise living standards, and create career and investment opportunities.

“Taif Season is at full readiness
to receive families. It includes … recreational and qualitative cultural events all over Taif,” Al-Khateeb said.

The season depends on positive engagement with Taif’s residents, and is providing seasonal job opportunities for young men and women, as well as investment opportunities for regional entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises, he added. 

Role of private sector

“We’ll celebrate a successful season,” he said, urging the private sector to contribute to enriching future ones.

The event also aims to provide thousands of temporary and
permanent jobs in the sector while encouraging investment opportunities.

SCTH officials said events being lined up for the Taif Season were part of coordinated efforts between the public and private sectors.

The aim of Taif Season was to consolidate its stature as a top Arab destination by putting the area’s rich history and culture under the spotlight with a range of family entertainment and tourist events, organizers said. 

Taif Season has its own dedicated social media account, in addition to the Saudi Seasons website. 


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.