‘All eyes on the Kingdom’ as Saudi Arabia takes helm of G20

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (R) shakes hands with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to mark the handover to Saudi Arabia as future hosts, at the end of the third plenary session of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Nagoya on Nov. 23, 2019. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 December 2019

‘All eyes on the Kingdom’ as Saudi Arabia takes helm of G20

  • KSA leads world’s most powerful group
  • The Kingdom takes over the role from Japan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday assumed the presidency of the G20, the world’s most economically powerful group of nations.

The Kingdom takes over the role from Japan, and will direct the G20’s work for the next year. As chairman, King Salman will host the group’s 2020 summit in Riyadh over two days next November.

The Saudi presidency will focus on three aims: Empowering people, by creating the conditions in which everyone — especially women and young people— can live, work and thrive; safeguarding the planet, by fostering collective efforts on food and water security, climate, energy, and the environment; and long-term strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement.

“The Saudi G20 presidency is committed to continuing the work from Osaka and promoting multilateral consensus,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Working with our G20 partners, we will strive to deliver concrete actions and realize opportunities to enable us to face the challenges of the future.

“In hosting the G20, the Kingdom will have an important role to play by sharing the perspective of the Middle East and North Africa region. We believe this will be a unique opportunity to shape consensus on international issues as we welcome the world to the Kingdom.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Saudi Arabia will guide work of the G20 under the theme “Realizing opportunities of the 21st century for all” and will focus on three aims:

• Empowering people

• Safeguarding the planet

• Shaping new frontiers

For the next year, “all eyes will be on Saudi Arabia,” political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“We know Saudi Arabia’s strength is both economic and diplomatic, and this will be the time to showcase it to the world,” he said.

Other countries realized that Saudi Arabia’s strength lay in oil, but it was charting a different course through Vision 2030 with a future focused on the non-oil economy, Al-Shehri said.

He pointed out the strategic significance of Saudi Arabia’s location, connecting three continents and linked to crucial maritime straits at Bab Al-Mandab, Hormuz and the Suez Canal. These shipping lanes were vital for international trade, Al-Shehri said, and Saudi Arabia protected them not just for itself and the region, but the whole world.

The G20 presidency was “a chance for the world to see the significance of our country and what it has to offer. It is a lively nation,” 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 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.