New Italian Ambassador to the UAE says smooth and efficient visa process set to promote tourism in post Covid era
Lorenzo Fanara, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, said strong people-to-people contacts will promote tourism and strengthen bilateral ties in key economic sectors. — Supplied photos
The UAE and Italy will continue to explore opportunities to boost bilateral trade and investment in key economic sectors such as construction, tourism, renewable energy, oil and gas, says a top diplomat.
Lorenzo Fanara, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, said Italy accords high priority to establish strong trade and investment relations with the UAE.
In an interview with Khaleej Times on the sidelines of Big 5 exhibition, the new Ambassador said he will ensure a smooth and efficient visa process to promote tourism in the country.
Fanara, who took charge of his office in Abu Dhabi in October, said strong people-to-people contacts will promote tourism and strengthen bilateral ties in key economic sectors.
“Bilateral trade and investments are already very strong and these are fostered by a common understanding and a shared culture. Promoting even stronger people-to-people contacts is key to flourishing business relations,” Fanara told Khaleej Times.
Before assuming his responsibilities in Abu Dhabi, Fanara was the Italian envoy to Tunisia. He also served as Italy’s permanent representative to the EU in Brussels, then Moscow, London, and Rome, where he was foreign affairs deputy head of cabinet.
The new ambassador said he is committed to relaunch bilateral relations and cooperate with the UAE that has overcome several challenges during the pandemic.
Trade, investment with UAE
The Italian Ambassador said there are bright prospects to boost bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.
“I can see that bilateral trade is growing because there is a strong demand of Italian goods in the UAE,” he said.
In reply to a question about possibility of signing a Eomprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the UAE, he said: “Italy will do whatever it takes to boost trade agreements with the UAE, since it is in our national interest, but we also have to abide by EU rules.”
Scope of investment
About the potential economic sectors that can boost UAE-Italy trade and investment, he said over the last few months there have been important Italian investments in the UAE.
“Let me just recall the investments made by ENI, Saipem and Maire Tecnimont in order to contribute to the decarbonisation of the Emirati economy while increasing the energy output. At the same time, the trade data are all positive, and you can see the results everywhere if you go around the major cities of the UAE. Everywhere you look you can see shops of Italian goods,” the Ambassador said.
To a question about any major deal in the pipeline, he said there is a huge scope for cooperation in the renewables, since Italy is ready to share it’s advanced technology with the UAE.
“Both countries want the COP28 to be a great success. I see many opportunities of collaboration between the Italian small and medium enterprises and the UAE businesses,” he said.
Construction, machinery sectors
Fanara said Italian companies have been playing an active role in the UAE’s construction industry by contributing their due share in the development of the country.
“Many dozens of Italian companies contribute to the construction and machinery sector in the UAE, from multinationals such as WeBuild and Itinera to SMEs specialising in innovative and high-tech products. Today at Big5 exhibition, a staggering 250 Italian companies are represented, in recognition of the Italian confidence in the UAE market,” he said.
The Ambassador said Italian companies are already investing significantly in the UAE construction sector and they will continue to do so.
“That’s why we recently published the book — The Italian Legacy in the UAE: The urban and industrial landscape, showcasing how Italian companies have contributed to almost all of the UAE’s landmarks, from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the Dubai Airport,” he said.
Visa process, flights
The Italian Ambassador said efforts are on to ensure smooth visa process in post pandemic era that will help promote tourism from the UAE to popular sites in Italy.
“The end of the critical phase of the pandemic has brought an impressive increase in tourism towards Italy and other European countries. This has an inevitable effect on the visa processes for all EU Member States, including Italy. We are taking steps, including by increasing available human resources, to make sure that the process is smooth and as efficient as possible,” he said.
In reply to a question about increasing flights connectivity to Italian cities, he said many direct flights are already connecting the UAE to Italy and vice-versa.
“Daily connections are already in place not only towards Rome or Milan, but also towards cities such as Catania and Pisa. I’m glad to announce that Air Arabia will inaugurate a new direct flight from Sharjah to Bergamo Milan this week,” Fanara said.
Italy expects moderate economic growth
Referreing to the latest forecast, the Italian Ambassador to the UAE Lorenzo Fanara said the Italian gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 3.8 per cent this year.
“This is a significant result, despite the impact of the war on Ukraine. Italian fundamentals are strong and external trade has fully recovered from the pandemic,” Fanara told Khaleej Times.
“In 2023, we expect a moderate growth because the Italian economy, as other Western European economies, will be facing challenges such as rising energy costs and inflation. That is also why our economy depends on the stable and secure energy supply from the Gulf region,” he said.