One million people needed in Saudi tourism workforce to achieve Vision 2030 goal, says Red Sea Development Co. CEO

Top officials discuss tourism’s potential in KSA at the forum. (AN/Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 19 November 2019

One million people needed in Saudi tourism workforce to achieve Vision 2030 goal, says Red Sea Development Co. CEO

  • John Pagano made the statement during the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh

RIYADH: In order to achieve the Saudi government’s goal of attracting 100 million visitors to the Kingdom by 2030, “we need over 1 million people to enter the tourism workforce,” said John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co.

Today that “doesn’t exist,” added Pagano, who was speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. There is huge potential in Saudi Arabia to expand beyond religious tourism, he said. The Red Sea Project, a luxury tourism development in the Kingdom, will create 70,000 new jobs, he added.

Pagano said the Red Sea Development Co. has launched scholarships abroad to study international hospitality management.

“Within four days, we had 12,700 applicants enthusiastic to pursue careers in hospitality,” he added. “The future is golden for the youth of Saudi Arabia if you want to pursue a career in tourism.”

At 28,000 sq. km, the Red Sea Project is “the size of Belgium,” Pagano said. He cautioned, however, that the environment should be respected. “The environment is our most valuable asset. If we damage that, we damage everything,” he said.

At the same session, Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, said 55,000 jobs will be created by 2030 in developing the historical town of Diriyah. “We’ve been given the resources to develop on every level,” he added.

Gerard Mertrallet, the French president’s special envoy for AlUla, said there are “lots of opportunities for young people” in the tourism sector. The governorate of AlUla contains Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mertrallet said people from AlUla are being trained in culinary schools in France so as to become chefs. Tourism “has to be inclusive” and “respect the landscape,” he added.

 

 

 

 


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.