OIC counter-extremist center reaches 54m people on social media

Updated 02 December 2019

OIC counter-extremist center reaches 54m people on social media

  • The center is considered the intellectual branch of the OIC in its fight against extremist speech

JEDDAH: The Sawt Al-Hikma Center (Voice of Wisdom) at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has reached 54 million people around the world through social media, distributing messages in three different languages: Arabic, English and French.

The center is considered the intellectual branch of the OIC in its fight against extremist speech. It was established in 2016 at the OIC’s headquarters to work on using media platforms to dismantle extremism, reveal its religious and intellectual concepts, call for tolerance and co-existence and reflect the true spirit of Islam. 

Since its establishment, the center has focused its efforts on cyberspace, as the internet has become fertile ground for violent ideas and an environment that helps extremists spread their poison. 

The center has launched 11 pages on social media, in three languages, publishing content prepared by specialists to deal with calls for extremism and violence in the name of religion and to challenge Islamophobia and those trying to distort Islam.

The center added that it has also worked on combatting extremist ideologies on the ground through conferences in Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the UAE. The symposiums have focused on examining and fighting terrorism, promoting intellectual security and spreading the values of tolerance and acceptance.

Now it has launched a new initiative: The “Samahet Din” (tolerance of religion) contest of short videos, to encourage young men and women to express themselves on camera.


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 madeo 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 Madeo 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 madeo, 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.