Italians make up one of the largest European groups in the UAE. What according to you are some of the aspects that make the UAE a popular destination for Italian expats?
In Italy, as worldwide, the UAE and Dubai are perceived as an extremely dynamic, multicultural and forward-looking country with plenty of business opportunities available to high-qualified professionals. And the growing economic importance of the UAE for Italy is mirrored in the marked increase of the Italian resident community, which has quadrupled in the last years reaching above 12,500 residents currently officially registered. However, business attractiveness is only part of the charm of the UAE and Dubai for Italians: I believe my compatriots also appreciate and highly value its unique multicultural richness preserved by a strong spirit of tolerance among the different cultures and religions, a crucial asset for a foreign resident. And, last but not least for an Italian, the great weather and food.
What has been the trajectory of the relations between Italy and the UAE and how do you see it progressing in the coming years?
The appreciation of Italians for Dubai and the UAE is reciprocal as Italy is widely associated here with culture, art, fashion, design, technology and agri-food of high quality.
Our commercial relations with the UAE bear testimony to that: in spite of the general and global recess brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE-Italy commercial exchange reached Euro 3.44 billion, with a + 41.36 per cent increase, in the first semester of 2021 (as compared to the first semester of 2020). Worth mentioning is also that, according to data from the first semester of 2021, the UAE has been our third market of destination for jewellery products, while at the same time we represented their world’s third most important supplier of gold and precious accessories.
There are definitely considerable margins to further consolidate and intensify our bilateral commercial relations in the coming years. The UAE is among the top five countries in the world with the highest potential for imports of those Italian goods that represent our excellence in terms of design, attention to detail, quality of materials, and manufacturing — what we call the ‘Bello e Ben Fatto’. ‘Bello e Ben Fatto’ is the most easily recognisable expression of ‘Made in Italy’, resulting from Italy’s cultural heritage, traditions, landscapes and works of art. And such easy recognition of the Italian spirit, the beauty and superior craftsmanship of Italian products are well appreciated globally; consumers in the UAE are no exception to this and they are increasingly willing to recognise a higher value to a ‘Made in Italy’ product and to prefer it to competitors.
The recent visit to Italy in February 2022 of Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE Minister of Economy, will give a further impetus to our bilateral relations for years to come, ranging from attraction of investments to further cooperation in the field of innovation, aerospace, renewal energies, research, manufacturing and industrialisation. Worth noting is also that, thanks to their strategic position at the heart of three continents, Dubai and all the UAE could represent an important springboard for Italian products in the world. Also, the active Italian participation at Expo 2020 Dubai has provided a unique showcase for Italian excellences and our distinguished technological contribution to a more sustainable development model and fostered new cooperation opportunities not only in the business sector, but also in the cultural and tourism domains.
How have the synergies between the trade and business communities and associations from both countries helped in deepening the relations?
The UAE hosts a thriving Italian business community with over 600 companies operating in various freezones as well as around the entire country.
No doubt that the bonds among our business communities and, in general, ‘business diplomacy’ provide a huge contribution to the strengthening of political and institutional relations between our nations. Given the increasing commercial exchange between Italy and the UAE, the Italian business community and its invaluable support to our bilateral relations is expected to grow even further. I take this opportunity to thank all compatriots in the UAE for the support they provide to the promotion of Italy here.
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