Saudi Arabia, UAE plan joint visit visas to boost tourism

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum discussed bilateral ties during their talks on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 29 November 2019

Saudi Arabia, UAE plan joint visit visas to boost tourism

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits headquarters of Expo 2020 Dubai

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Thursday signed a raft of agreements which included a deal to issue joint visit visas for residents of both countries in a bid to boost tourism.

According to the UAE’s official news agency WAM, the accord, among six initiatives highlighted during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UAE, was part of a cooperation deal between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and the UAE’s Ministry of Economy.

The agreement will allow for the speeding up of the flow of traffic at ports of entry between the two countries.

A separate joint strategy for food security was also inked, aimed at tackling food challenges not only in Saudi Arabia and the UAE but throughout the region.

Enhancing cybersecurity and supporting the provision of reliable cyberspace for each country was another initiative agreed upon to find ways of preventing cyberattacks on the two nations.

On an economic level, it was agreed to issue an experimental digital currency strictly targeted for banks, with the aim of better understanding the implications of blockchain technology and facilitating cross-border payments.

The two countries will also develop a new mega-crude refinery with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day, integrated with a modern petrochemical complex at an initial cost of $70 billion (SR262 billion) in the state of Maharashtra in western India, to secure the supply of at least 600,000 barrels per day of Saudi crude oil.

FASTFACT

  • A Saudi-Emirati Youth Council is to be established to strengthen the partnership between youth in both countries, exchange ideas, and coordinate efforts to promote young talent.

A Saudi-Emirati Youth Council is also to be established to strengthen the partnership between youth in both countries, exchange ideas, and coordinate efforts to promote young talent.

Meanwhile, the two sides also signed four new memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in the health, culture, space and food security fields.

The first MoU was penned between the Saudi Ministry of Health and its UAE counterpart, and was followed by a cultural agreement signed between Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development, and Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Saudi minister of culture.

A third MoU was inked in the field of space between Dr. Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al-Falasi, minister of state for higher education and advanced skills and chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning.

The fourth accord on food security was agreed between Mariam Hareb Al-Mheiri, minister of state for food security, and Al-Tuwaijri.

During the Saudi crown prince’s stay, he visited the headquarters of Expo 2020 Dubai along with Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. 

The mega event, which features the participation of 192 countries, is scheduled to take place in the city under the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” from Oct. 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021.


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.