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My kind of community in UAE: Italians

Anita Iyer/Dubai
Filed on February 11, 2017 | Last updated on February 11, 2017 at 07.43 am
LOVE STRUCK: Many Italian expats were smitten by the charm of the UAE on their first visit itself and now call this foreign land their home.
LOVE STRUCK: Many Italian expats were smitten by the charm of the UAE on their first visit itself and now call this foreign land their home.

(AFP)

Italian expats love UAE for its great weather, beautiful beaches, and the party vibe

Italians love the sea and take to the sand during the summer. So, it isn't a surprise that they flock to the nearest beaches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and other Emirates whenever they get a chance (and the weather allows). The Italian expats community in the UAE has grown relatively over time. With a little over 10,000 Italians in the country, UAE has the largest Italian community in the MENA region. A majority of them with business interests are based in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

A good meal and spending time with fellow Italians is what keeps them hooked to this foreign land. But, there have been many who instantly fell in for the charm of this glamorous place. Dr. Stefania Franchini came to Abu Dhabi in 1989 for a visit and fell in love with the friendly vibe of the UAE. She chose to continue her law studies in the UAE and has now spent 27 years here and calls it her home. Working as a legal manager in Abu Dhabi, she is in admiration of the peaceful life here. In the past three decades, she has witnessed the sea change the city has undergone. "In the early 90s, things in Abu Dhabi were taking shape. There was only one cinema hall - El Dorado in Electra Street and only a couple of stores, not even malls! Emiratis used to gather with their local and expat friends in their homes and this was the best way to spend free time. I still remember that cheery and tranquil atmosphere. I also witnessed the construction of Reem Island, Yas Island, and Saadiyat Beach. I saw the continuous improvements in the Corniche area and the construction of many high-rise buildings."

Likewise, Ornella Parigi first came to the UAE in 1994 with her partner, who worked in Abu Dhabi for an oil and construction company. After their relocation to Saudi Arabia and Paris for a brief period of time, they came back to call the Emirates their home. "This is the perfect place to spoil people. Whilst I enjoy the facilities that UAE offers, I keep in mind the fact that I will be returning to my home country and will find it difficult to adjust once am back," says Ornella. She likes to begin her day with a cup of cappuccino and croissant (real Italian breakfast) at Golositalia, Jumeirah Lake Towers.

UAE is known for its safety and low crime rates and that is what attracts an increasing number of female expats to the country. "I feel safe here. I don't have the same feeling of security in my own country, which is very sad." The one thing that keeps Ornella busy is her love for golf and she is happy that the Emirates Golf Federation is doing great work with tournaments for young players. "I like to help young professional players, who need support. When players come to play and need to stay for 3 to 4 weeks and can't afford hotels, we host them." Over the years, she has tried to transmit her enthusiasm to other Italians, who have never tried the sport.

The expats enjoy weekend visits to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace or Saadiyat Island, but do miss their homeland. "I miss the historic buildings and museums, the singular coffee shops located in the squares, and the small villages with their folklores. UAE permits  all of us to preserve our cultures and maintain our traditions, which is great," says  Stefania.

Stopover at Italy for a stunning and cultural  holiday

Gorgeous beaches, beautiful sunsets, and grand canals. A chance to explore unparalleled arts - think DaVinci's works and a Roman Opera. Europe's most enticing country is packed with beauty, art, music, and food.

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper, is one of the top attractions in Milan, yet many return home without seeing it because they don't get their tickets in advance. Make note.

Irrespective of your love or understanding of the Opera, a visit to the Arena di Verona is a must. This Roman amphitheatre was built in the first century and now hosts internationally famous large-scale opera shows.

Even 2,000 years after it was built, The Colosseum is the most recognisable of Rome's classical buildings. It was the first permanent amphitheatre to be raised in Rome.

A great example of a Mediterranean landscape, the Amalfi Coast is your chance to witness coastal mountains plunge into the sea in a stunning vertical scene of picturesque towns and lush forests.

The Canal Grande snakes through the city of Venice in a large S shape, travelling from the Saint Mark Basin on one end to a lagoon near the Santa Lucia rail station on the other.

The Piazzale Michelangelo is a large square in Florence. It is extremely popular as it offers majestic views over the city.

ITALY IS a fashion hub

It is easy to spot an Italian by the way he/she is dressed. Glamour and perfection come naturally and effortlessly to them. We have all heard of top Italian fashion brands like Dolce & Gabanna, Armani, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Prada, Iceberg, Missoni, Moschino, Robert Cavalli, and Zegna. Most of these brands are headquartered in Florence and the Italians take their fashion very seriously. You will never find an Italian committing a fashion faux paus like wearing long socks with short pants. For them, fashion is sophistication without much sweat.

Florence, during the Renaissance, was the centre of fashion innovations. Later, for centuries Paris dominated the world of fashion, but fashion from Italy continued to dominate Hollywood and the red carpet. Milan Fashion Week is a global fashion event. Yes, if New York and London are known as fashion hubs, then Milan with its international brands belongs to the same league as well.

Italy's gangster movies

Hollywood's obsession with tales revolving around the Italian mafia is known to all. It's said that most stories originate from the South of the country and the island of Sicily. We love the dark, intense portrays. After all, who isn't fond of The Godfather series? Or doesn't enjoy watching Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco or Robert De Niro in GoodFellas?

If you enjoy the television series then Bonanno: A Godfather's Story - spanning over Bonanno's early beginning in Italy and his subsequent conquests in America might interest you. The list of commendable movies inspired by Italian gangsters is a pretty long one.

Famous faces and names from Italy

Gianluca Vacchi

Italian businessman Gianluca Vacchi and his model wife Giorgia Gabriele became a viral sensation last year because of their Instagram posts of them grooving to music. He loves to display his luxurious lifestyle, which he calls the GV Lifestyle.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio has Italian roots as his father George is Italian. He was named after Leonardo da Vinci as his mother felt the baby kick for the first time while standing in front of a portrait of DaVinci at a gallery in Florence.

Robert De Niro

American actor and producer Robert De Niro has both an Italian and American citizenship. He joked about returning to his Italian roots if Trump became the US President and the Italians responded that they'd welcome him with open arms.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani is known for his stylish and elegant menswear. In 1975, he formed his company Armani and by 2001 he had become the world's most successful designer. He is said to have changed the 'red carpet' forever with his designs.

anita@khaleejtimes.com


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