Saudi-Egyptian ties get big boost

Updated 05 October 2012

Saudi-Egyptian ties get big boost

Saudi investors breathed a sigh of relief when Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi instructed his officials to unfreeze Saudi real estate investment in the country.
The announcement was made during a meeting of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council in Cairo, which was attended by a high-level Saudi business delegation led by Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.
Speaking to Al-Eqtisadiah after the meeting, Abdullah Dahlan, president of the council and board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Egyptian government promised to solve the problems facing Saudi investors within two months.
“Owners of Saudi companies in Egypt have expressed their happiness over the flexibility shown by the Egyptian government. It was a big surprise for them,” Dahlan said, adding that the council discussed solutions for the problems facing Saudi investors.
Dahlan disclosed plans by Saudis to establish joint petrochemical industries in Egypt with the support of other investors. “We can provide our expertise in petrochemicals by setting up alliances with giant companies like SABIC and Aramco in order to establish Saudi industries in Egypt,” Dahlan said.
The Egyptian Investment Authority said it would open an office next month for solving the problems facing Saudi investors. “The office will be manned by qualified consultants and administrators and will offer single-window service for new investors,” it added.
Earlier addressing the business council, Al-Rabiah called for strengthening Saudi-Egyptian partnership and building new bridges of cooperation between the two countries. “The improvement in Saudi-Egyptian relations would have a positive impact on the people of the two countries,” he pointed out.
The Saudi minister called for speedy action to solve the problems facing Saudi investors. “Saudi Arabia and Egypt have had strong commercial and investment relations for a long period. It is quite natural to have problems, but quick measures should be taken to solve these while satisfying the interests of both sides,” he pointed out.
Al-Rabiah expressed his hope that the ministries and departments concerned in Egypt would do everything possible to remove the obstacles facing Saudi investments and to protect the interests of Saudi investors. “Such a move will encourage other investors to enter into new joint ventures in Egypt.”
He reiterated Saudi businessmen’s desire to invest in Egypt, adding that they consider Egypt as a second economy. He also invited Egyptian investment in Saudi Arabia, saying the Kingdom offers a suitable investment climate.
He commended Mursi for picking Saudi Arabia for his first foreign visit after becoming president, saying it had a big impact on strengthening Saudi-Egyptian ties. “We hope the coming phase will open a new era in Saudi-Egyptian strategic relations.”
He called for increasing trade exchange and joint investment projects. “The present figure does not reflect the huge potentials the two countries enjoy,” he said, and called for joint efforts to boost economic ties. Al-Rabiah arrived in Cairo on Tuesday accompanied by 63 Saudi businessmen.
He urged Saudi and Egyptian businessmen to open new investment partnership supported by the transfer of technology and adopt innovative ideas to diversify investment, making use of the available opportunities in the two countries.
He pointed out that Saudi-Egyptian trade exchange rose by 50 percent compared to last year.
Bilateral trade amounted to 29 billion Egyptian pounds (about $ 6.09 billion) in 2011 with an increase of 12 percent compared to the figure of 2010, while the number of Saudi investment projects in Egypt rose to 2,743. Saudi investments are mainly in industry, finance, tourism, construction, agriculture, services and telecommunications.
Egyptian Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Hatem Saleh said his country was seeking more Saudi investment in trade and industry. “The meeting discussed new mechanisms to strengthen cooperation at the highest level,” Saleh said about the council meeting. He said Egyptian exports to the Kingdom rose 19 percent in 2011 to reach $ 1.9 billion against $ 1.6 billion in 2010, while Egyptian imports from Saudi Arabia rose 10 percent to reach $ 2.9 billion in 2011 against $ 2.6 billion in 2010.
Saudi-Egyptian economic cooperation is a good model for Arab ties, Saleh said, adding that it would realize the hopes and aspirations of new generations. “We consider Saudi Arabia as the first country that stood with us to confront crises. It has been providing all forms of moral and material support. This reflects our strong bilateral relations,” Saleh said.
The Egyptian minister said his country would follow an open and market economy policy to woo foreign investment. “We will give all support to the private sector to participate in the development process. We’ll also abide by the trade agreements signed in the past.”
He estimated the total Saudi investment in Egypt at $ 5.5 billion. “Saudi Arabia is the third largest investor in Egypt investing in 2,727 projects,” he said. Saudi businessmen have invested $ 2.5 billion in 1,300 projects.
President Mursi met with Al-Rabiah on Tuesday and instructed his officials to remove all obstacles facing Saudi investment in the country. Mursi’s spokesman Yasser Ali said: “The president has also instructed to speed up procedures for Saudi investments.”
Mursi called for greater Saudi investment in Egypt and emphasized the need to expand trade exchange between the two countries, the spokesman 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 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.