In conversation with the new Italian Consul General

It is really easy to be an Italian in Dubai, where Italian style, food and fashion are admired and loved, says Valentina Setta


Suchitra Steven Samuel

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Published: Thu 27 Oct 2016, 12:48 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Feb 2023, 2:55 PM

It is just the first month in Dubai and the Gulf for Consul General of Italy to Dubai Valentina Setta. Having spent four years in Poland, she finds Dubai hot as she settles in. "To see the sun shining every day puts me in an incredibly good mood and gives me positive energy. Dubai is glittering, day and night, but the thing that I love the most is the multi-ethnic character of the city and diversity of cultures. This is very enriching and inspiring," the CG says in an interview with Khaleej Times.

Setta takes charge from her predecessor Giovanni Favilli. The Consul General notes: "He did an excellent job and I have big shoes to fill. We are very good, longtime colleagues and friends, and I owe him a lot. He had also spent the last months telling me all I needed to know about the place and people. Italy-UAE bilateral relations are already excellent, but of course I'll do my best to strengthen ties."

According to her, there are several areas of common interest between Italy and the UAE. "For Italy, the UAE is a very significant market, which represents the most important commercial outlet in the Middle East and North Africa, with more than 6 billion euros worth of exports in 2015 and more than 7 billion euros in terms of bilateral trade value. In addition, there is a strong presence of Italian companies, more than 600, and a lot of opportunities also in connection with Expo 2020."

People ties

Italy is among the first 20 touristic countries (17) whose nationals visit the UAE and Dubai in particular. "The number of Italian tourists increased by 1 per cent last year, mainly in connection with security concerns in other tourist destinations in North Africa and the Middle East," Setta says.

"UAE nationals visiting Italy are growing as well. In 2015 the increasing figures are linked to the high turnout of visitors to Expo 2015 in Milan. Italy is more and more a travel destination among tour operators in the UAE, attracting families, groups of friends and couples on honeymoon, and for everyone who likes luxury shopping and artistic beauty that characterise our peninsula.

"The main destinations are still the great cities of art like Rome, Venice and Florence, but there is an increase in lesser known provinces such as Verona, Padua and Bologna. Milan is the most popular destination for shopping," the CG adds.

Agreements signed

Cooperation in scientific research and technology between Italy and the UAE has begun relatively recently. "There are several agreements that have been signed between universities and the interest in cooperation is mutually growing. For example, a very important Memorandum of Understanding was signed in January last year between the Italian Space Agency and the UAE Space Agency for joint bilateral cooperation focused on the peaceful use of space. The bilateral agreement implies that a series of conferences will be organised and technological-scientific and industrial exchanges will be promoted," the Consul General informs.

Tradition of hospitality

Italy has a long tradition in hospitality and touristic services. "Regarding Muslim tourists, there are several authorised agencies for halal certification in Italy, and hotels and restaurants are becoming more aware of this issue and broadening their offers," she adds.

Speaking about high-level Italian events in Dubai Setta says, "At the moment we have a big event planned - the eighth annual edition of the Italian Cuisine World Summit, scheduled from November 7 to 17. The summit will offer a world preview of the extraordinary Italian taste at the first Italian Cuisine Week, an unprecedented promotion under the patronage of the Italian Government. For 10 days, Dubai will be the capital of Italian cuisine."

Message to the community

Setta's message to the Italian community in the UAE is: "Be proud of your 'Italianity' and remember that in your everyday life you represent your country, especially when you live abroad. I have to say that it is really easy to be an Italian in Dubai, where Italian style, food and fashion are admired and loved deeply."


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