La Rustica: A success story from Riyadh to Marbella

Left, Marbella location of La Rustica in Centro Comercial Cristamar near Puerto Banus, which serves authentic Neapolitan pizza prepared in a wood-fired oven and appetizers such as rocca leaves and parmesan slices on a bed of cured bresaola meat. (Supplied)
Left, Marbella location of La Rustica in Centro Comercial Cristamar near Puerto Banus, which serves authentic Neapolitan pizza prepared in a wood-fired oven and appetizers such as rocca leaves and parmesan slices on a bed of cured bresaola meat. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 25 August 2022

La Rustica: A success story from Riyadh to Marbella

La Rustica: A success story from Riyadh to Marbella
  • Neapolitan pizza restaurant opens pop-up location on Spanish island for summer season

RIYADH: Saudi-based Italian restaurant La Rustica Pizzeria opened a pop-up in Marbella, Spain, after success in the Kingdom.

La Rustica Pizzeria opened its doors in January 2016 as a unique Italian restaurant that serves authentic Neapolitan pizza in Riyadh.

It was co-founded by Saudi couple Najla Al-Radadi and Sultan Al-Shmassy, who are passionate about Italian cuisine.

The Marbella pop-up started in June and will be in operation until September, as a collaboration concept with an existing Italian restaurant in Marbella called Incontro.

The restaurant, located in Marbella’s Centro Comercial Cristamar near Puerto Banus, has received significant positive feedback.

In the past five years, La Rustica has been popping up in carefully selected locations in Saudi Arabia, such as Alkhobar and Riyadh. In the capital, it is located in Al-Olaya, Diplomatic Quarter and soon in King Abdullah Financial District. The Marbella pop-up is the first out-of-Saudi site for the restaurant.

Al-Radadi and Al-Shmassy told Arab News; “To be the first to introduce Neapolitan pizza in Riyadh makes La Rustica stand out. It has been a risk making the first move, especially as we have to import 90 percent of our products and ingredients – including the wood-fired oven – from Italy.”

The casual-dining restaurant serves authentic Neapolitan pizza made with long-fermented dough, tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. Customers can also enjoy a wide range of appetizers, salads, pasta, steak, desserts, and coffee.

The vibes of the Marbella location of La Rustica mimic that of a simple pizzeria with a rustic atmosphere, and the familiarity of a bonafide Italian kitchen from Napoli.

The co-founders said that Marbella was chosen for the pop-up for several reasons.

“Our customer segment in Riyadh covers mainly people who spend (their) summer vacation in Marbella. It is a global summer hub where we can expose the taste of La Rustica to more customers worldwide.”

The restaurant began as a family business with 10 indoor tables and minimal menu options. It was purely passion that drove the owners to start the business, and introduce Neapolitan pizza to Riyadh.

“It started slow, but word of mouth has been a strong tool that La Rustica Pizzeria had since its inception in 2016. Soon enough, we gained people’s trust and were able to meet target market customers through the help of those who have been loyal to us.”

Since then, La Rustica has been able to sustain consistency in terms of food, services, and presentation. “This became a success due to our aim of promoting authenticity not only with food but also with the approach on restaurant design, setup and the whole environment itself,” they said.

The challenges the couple faced in opening in Marbella are numerous, but the main ones are “understanding the local Spanish regulations, tax system, finding the correct partner, and in bidding our concept to local Spanish tastes,” they said.

Opening in Marbella was a great success story for everyone at La Rustica, especially those who worked hard in the last six years to make the restaurant prosper in Riyadh.


Saudi fund backs employment opportunities for Hail graduates 

Saudi fund backs employment opportunities for Hail graduates 
Updated 44 min 51 sec ago

Saudi fund backs employment opportunities for Hail graduates 

Saudi fund backs employment opportunities for Hail graduates 
  • The agreement was signed by Turki Al-Jawini, director general of the fund, and Rashid Al-Sharif, president of the University of Hail
  • Turki Al-Jawini: We look forward to contributing to the development of the skills and capabilities of the Kingdom’s citizens

RIYADH: The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund and the University of Hail have signed a cooperation agreement to support graduates of the future “with the aim of increasing their competitiveness in the labor market and raising the employment rate.”

The agreement was signed by Turki Al-Jawini, director general of the fund, and Rashid Al-Sharif, president of the University of Hail, on the sidelines of the Liaqaat Hail Forum, which was held under the patronage of Prince Abdulaziz bin Saad, the governor of the Hail region.

A statement from the fund said the agreement was a strategic partnership “to achieve their common goals of training, qualifying and employing the university graduates and students expected to graduate, of both sexes, and job seekers, in an effort to develop their skills and provide them with individual and basic skills and experience, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

The fund provides financial and training support under the agreement, along with incentives to the employment office at the university and its employees, through programs such as “Subol,” the vocational development and guidance platform; “Doroob,” the national e-training platform; “Tamheer,” the on-the-job training program; and “Taqat,” the national labor portal.

Al-Jawini said: “We are keen on holding forums that will develop and empower national capacities, ensuring sustainable employment and motivating the private sector to contribute to Saudization. This will contribute to raising Saudization rates and supporting the participation of national cadres in various fields and specializations of the labor market.

“We look forward to contributing to the development of the skills and capabilities of the Kingdom’s citizens, enabling them to find job opportunities, and to invest optimally in human capital, in compliance with the directives of our wise leadership, and in line with development plans to support the national economy.”


KSrelief launches charity campaign to help those affected by quake in Turkiye and Syria

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
Updated 08 February 2023

KSrelief launches charity campaign to help those affected by quake in Turkiye and Syria

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah launches the charity campaign in Riyadh on Wednesday. (KSrelief)
  • A total of SR25 million ($6.7 million) had been donated to the campaign at the time of writing
  • The confirmed death toll from the world’s deadliest quake in more than a decade has passed 11,000

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched a charity campaign on Wednesday to help those affected by a devastating earthquake which hit southeast Turkiye and northern Syria on Monday.

The confirmed death toll from the world’s deadliest quake in more than a decade has passed 11,000.

The campaign was launched via KSrelief’s Sahem Platform, and the center will work with several Saudi agencies and ministries to support the affected and injured in Syria and Turkiye.

Donations can be made through the Sahem app and website, or via transfers to a bank account designated to the campaign.

The Supervisor-General of KSrelief Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said the campaign includes the implementation of various programs, including the launch of an air-bridge during the coming hours to deliver shelter, health, food, and logistical aid to those affected.

Rescue, rapid intervention, and emergency medical teams will travel to the afflicted countries and will work with Saudi volunteer teams to alleviate the suffering of those who have been afflicted by the quake, Al-Rabeeah explained.

He added that shelter, food, and health materials will be provided according to the humanitarian need identified by assessment teams.

A total of SR25 million ($6.7 million) had been donated to the campaign at the time of writing, Al-Ekhbariya reported.


New deal to boost Saudi creative sector

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector
Updated 08 February 2023

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector

New deal to boost Saudi creative sector
  • KPMG, Al-Mashtal enter strategic partnership to nurture young talent for sustainable creative economy
  • Al-Mashtal strives to impact not just the community, but the creative economy as a whole in leading incubations and programs on a national level and beyond

RIYADH: KPMG Professional Services and Al-Mashtal Community House and Creative Incubator recently announced a strategic partnership, marking a new era of collaboration between two industry leaders that signals a promising future for Saudi Arabia’s creative sector.

The nature of KPMG’s involvement is to provide professional support for Al-Mashtal in growing their business not only creatively but sustainably. Al-Mashtal will also act as a liaison between entrepreneurs and KPMG specialists and mentors to transform their passion into a viable and actionable business.

Ebrahim Baeshen, office managing partner at KPMG, told Arab News: “Our role here comes to ensure that they (Al-Mashtal) succeed not only by introducing a great idea, or a great product, but by making it sustainable.”

As a creative and community house, Al-Mashtal is dedicated to nurturing the talents of young and emerging Saudi creatives to harness a sustainable creative economy within the region.

Sohaib Zafir, CEO of Al-Mashtal, told Arab News: “Corporations aren’t generally concerned with creative ventures, but KPMG have a great interest in creating social impact within communities.”

The partnership with Al-Mashtal is just one of the initiatives under KPMG’s IMPACT plan, which aims to maximize the influence of environmental, social, and governance on communities to maintain a culture of support and progress.

“Through that program, we have different initiatives … at times we fund, we give money to charity, at times we help by giving lectures, by building materials similar to (Al-Mashtal) and help them by bringing our experts to educate entrepreneurs, to teach them and let them know how to manage a business and do all these things,” Baeshen said.

The incubator has slowly become a hub for local creatives to gather, share ideas, and present various creative initiatives through their hosting of consistent panel discussions, networking sessions, music performances, and more.

It also recently partnered with the Saudi Design Festival to bring the “Brand Your Neighborhood” design challenge. The initiative allowed local creatives to build urban branding and design concepts in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province.

Through Al-Mashtal’s incubation programs that take an educational approach to helping entrepreneurs develop their startups, KPMG will be providing consultations on professional skills, like financing and accounting, and personal soft skills, such as negotiation and pitching.

Al-Mashtal strives to impact not just the community, but the creative economy as a whole in leading incubations and programs on a national level and beyond.

“Our goal isn’t to become legends or be the best, but rather move the sector along. Al-Mashtal will become more than happy if we have competitors, because that creates sustainability within the industry,” Zafir said.

The creative house has been gradually setting the blueprint for drafting the infrastructure of creative incubation within the Kingdom. It acquired the first creative incubation business license in the Kingdom.

KPMG and Al-Mashtal first collaborated in 2021 on a project that proved fruitful for both parties. Baeshan said: “We know great things about Al-Mashtal because we started with them … it’s a great success story even for us to see them succeeding in what they're doing.”


100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
Updated 08 February 2023

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
  • Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries attend the three-day event

Jeddah: More than 100 young Saudi chefs and baristas are competing at this year’s hotels, restaurants, and catering event at the Jeddah Dome.

HORECA is the biggest annual hospitality exhibition in the region, having previously taken place in Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Riyadh.

Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries are attending the three-day event that opened on Tuesday.

President of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association, chef Yasser Jad, told Arab News that this year’s competition, organized by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies and the Saudi association, would not only be focusing on international dishes but also Saudi traditional cuisine.

Jad said: “Through this competition, we seek to identify and promote the popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture.”

HORECA is hosting the Hospitality Salon Culinaire, in which more than 150 chefs compete in various categories, and the Saudi Barista Competition with around 50 entrants aiming to win the best barista award.

At the opening ceremony, Saud Al-Rajhi, chairman of the Saudi Event Management and Marketing Co., told Arab News: “After the huge success of HORECA for 11 consecutive years in Riyadh, we are proud and honored to introduce HORECA Jeddah for the first time. In addition, we are also bringing to Jeddah the Salon du Chocolat.”

He pointed out that HORECA provided a platform for key buyers to network with investors, retailers, distributors, and stakeholders.

“The three-day event marks an important step forward for Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning hospitality sector and evolving restaurant and cafe scene. We have around 6,000 brands and we are expecting around 30,000 visitors,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Attas, founder and managing partner of Gaiat Hub, a procurement platform for business supplies, credited the Saudi government for helping put the hospitality industry back on its feet.

“The Saudi market is becoming a very encouraging market for all international companies due to the mega projects, the great business environment for foreign investors, the change of Saudi lifestyle, and more,” he said.


Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
  • Digital measures to ease travel for visitors, pilgrims Visas allow touring of Kingdom’s cultural, spiritual sites

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is showcasing its latest services for pilgrims at the LEAP 2023 conference in Riyadh.

This is the second time the ministry is participating in the tech conference, which has been organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in collaboration with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programing, and Drones at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center.

The four-day conference will conclude on Thursday.

According to the Hajj and Umrah Ministry, several initiatives have been introduced to ensure pilgrims can have a safe, secure and spiritually fulfilling journey to Makkah and Madinah.

The ministry’s pavilion at LEAP is displaying a number of digital solutions, which visitors can access via an interactive screen.

The ministry recently announced new measures that would allow visitors, with any type of visa, to perform Umrah, with no age restrictions, or the need for female worshippers to have a male guardian.

About 10 days ago, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry launched an electronic service that would allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain entry visas. This would allow people to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the country.

The Hajj and Umrah Ministry said the Umrah visa’s validity has been extended from 30 days to 90 days, allowing holders to visit the Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural sites.

Speaking at the Hajj Expo 2023 held in Jeddah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah had said the number of people participating in this year’s Hajj would return to pre-pandemic levels.