Startup of the Week: SPiN: Cycling one’s way to better health and lifestyle

Updated 03 December 2019

Startup of the Week: SPiN: Cycling one’s way to better health and lifestyle

  • SPiN was established in early 2019 by a 25-year-old Saudi business consultant Manie Al-Khaldi

SPiN is a startup company that offers public services through a rental bicycle shop. It aims to make cycling accessible and available. 

SPiN was established in early 2019 by a 25-year-old Saudi business consultant Manie Al-Khaldi. 

During his studies in San Francisco in 2013, he bought his first US-made hybrid bicycle, and since then his passion for cycling has only grown. 

Upon his return to the Kingdom, Al-Khaldi found likeminded people up for new adventures. “I found a lot of them. However, it was an individual effort, and it needed a form of institutional work.

“The initiative of getting people engaged in such an activity for a better and healthier lifestyle came to my mind, by offering bikes at all times to the community,” he told Arab News 

The Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh was chosen as SPiN’s prime location, based on two main factors: Safety and population. 

 “Because safety always comes first, we studied multiple locations in the city of Riyadh, such as Hanifa Valley, Riyadh Front, Ammariyah, and the Diplomatic Quarter. We found the latter to be the best in terms of the infrastructure, attractive parks and landscape, fabulous views and, most importantly, relatively low car speeds,” Al-Khaldi said.

SPiN is creating a strategic partnership, as they are still in discussions with governmental entities such as the General Sport Authority (GSA) and General Entertainment Authority.

It is a people-based initiative and has surveyed hundreds of people from different genders and backgrounds regarding bicycles.

 “Our survey includes multiple-choice questions, including the subject’s desired cycling destinations. About 49 percent chose the Diplomatic Quarter as a prime location due to its high security and great safety standards,” Al-Khaldi explained.

 “We believe that the area will be the gateway for living the Saudi dream. We will make it a benchmark for other cities,” he added

SPiN’s objectives are aligned with Saudi Vision 2030 and its pillars. “We are looking forward to being one of the contributors to realizing it. Our objectives at SPiN are to promote a healthier lifestyle, diversify sports, and increase social engagement.”

As well as this, SPiN also aims to build on the twin pillars of economic solvency and national prestige. “We are projected to break even in the first 6 months of our launch. An ambitious nation is the third pillar (of Saudi Vision 2030), and we will contribute to it by hiring a local talented team,” Al-Khaldi said.

Quoting the president of the GSA, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, he added: “The most practiced sports in the Kingdom are walking, jogging, and cycling. At SPiN, we hope to provide the best service for one of the most practiced sports.”

 SPiN is working to launch its first location before the end of 2019, or by the start of 2020. It launched an Instagram account (@SPiN.sa) as an initial move to engage more with the Kingdom’s cycling community.


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.