Young Saudi pianist shines in Riyadh Season

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Suliman Al-Mayouf. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)
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Suliman Al-Mayouf.
Updated 28 October 2019

Young Saudi pianist shines in Riyadh Season

  • The lack of music institutes in Saudi would have forced many others to quit, but Al-Mayouf refused to give up and kept following his passion by learning from YouTube and other sources

RIYADH: A young Saudi pianist winning fans with his dazzling displays in Nabd Al-Riyadh as part of Riyadh Season has revealed he is self-taught — and began playing only two years ago.
Suliman Al-Mayouf’s performances have marked him as one of the season’s outstanding talents.
However, the young musician told Arab News his passion for piano developed completely by chance while on a family holiday in Paris.
“I woke up late and there was a piano in our hotel. Out of curiosity I went and played it,” he said.
“The next day I watched a tutorial on how to play and went back and tried the same piece. My father was listening and was amazed. He said, I can tell from your fingers that you are made to be a pianist.”
The self-taught pianist wants to make music that Saudi audiences enjoy. His unique compositions explore Arab heritage and culture, while he also performs popular pieces including the theme to “Titanic” and “Fur Elize,” one of Beethoven’s best-known works.
Al-Mayouf said that his main source of inspiration for creating his pieces is the Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi.

Creating art is a basic part of building a society.

Suliman Al-Mayouf, Saudi pianist

The lack of music institutes in Saudi would have forced many others to quit, but Al-Mayouf refused to give up and kept following his passion by learning from YouTube and other sources. Now he wants other Saudi beginners to follow the same path.
“Creating art is a basic part of building a society,” he said.
The pianist said that Vision 2030 reforms have brought endless opportunities for talented artists and musicians to perform in public places such as cafes, restaurants, events and festivals.
“The best part of being a pianist is the love of the people,” he said.
Al-Mayouf said that the future belongs to “artists and dreamers” who will express the beauty of the Kingdom through art and music.
“You don’t need to learn from a music institute. You only need to be passionate about music, and to rely on yourself and teach yourself,” he said.


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.