EU delegation praises ‘adventurous’ Al-Soudah Season

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The Adventures Area runs sports activities such as a rope course, hiking, and an extreme sports area including paragliding, slingshot. (Photo/Supplied)
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The Adventures Area runs sports activities such as a rope course, hiking, and an extreme sports area including paragliding, slingshot. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 10 August 2019

EU delegation praises ‘adventurous’ Al-Soudah Season

  • The Al-Soudah Season’s programs are held in seven locations

AL-SOUDAH: Cornelia Krautgasser, a political officer at the EU delegation to the Gulf Cooperation Council, praised the Al-Soudah Season and told Arab News that she was impressed with the region’s development as an adventurous tourist area in Saudi Arabia. 

“I think it’s a great initiative. I am very happy I was invited to come here and to see it myself. They’ve done an amazing job of setting this up and it’s a great place for young people. It’s beautiful and fun,” said Krautgasser.

She added that the mountains, fresh air and temperature are testament to Saudi Arabia’s diversity and that Al-Soudah does not possess stereotypical desert features.

The EU officer took part in Al-Soudah’s extreme experiences on the festival premises and said that she had an amazing experience bungee jumping and seeing the mountains. “It’s super scary, but I loved it,” she added.

Krautgasser’s mission started in November last year. “I was a bit nervous before coming to Saudi Arabia for the first time because usually with other countries you meet people who have visited or worked there. I didn’t know anyone who had been to Saudi Arabia. I was a bit nervous because of the stories you see in the news and I was surprised how friendly people were,” she said.

The Al-Soudah Season’s programs are held in seven locations. The main area, called The Hub, is suitable for family members, which includes several fine restaurants and food trucks. There is also the Kids Zone, where the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation is holding educational workshops at the House of Qatt.

The Adventures Area runs sports activities such as a rope course, hiking, and an extreme sports area including paragliding, slingshot and bungee jumping and a 255 meter zipline.

The program also offers the village of Al-Muftaha and Talal Maddah Theater in Abha, where artistic evenings hosting renowned musicians from the Kingdom and the Arab world will be held.

The Al-Soudah Season events are designed to highlight four main elements: Nature and dazzling scenery, heritage and culture, adventures and sports, and outstanding weather.

The events of the season were tailored to make use of these competitive advantages, where participants can choose from a wide range of activities held throughout August.


LA Italian eatery Amadeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

Updated 15 December 2019

LA Italian eatery Amadeo 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 Amadeo 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 Amadeo

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.

Amadeo 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 Amadeo 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.