Strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia is priority, says new Italian envoy
The Italian ambassador said relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia have been strong
The Italian Cultural Center held a social event at its premises on Wednesday to honor and welcome the newly appointed Ambassador of Italy in Riyadh, Luca Ferrari, and the Vogue Italian Delegation who is in Jeddah to host the three-day fashion extravaganza “Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience” in collaboration with luxury retailer Rubaiyat.
According to Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, this initiative builds on Vogue Italia’s deep commitment to promote new fashion talents, knowing how important it is to offer them concrete international platforms to present and advance their creativity. The event brought together prominent members of the fashion industry, including local fashion designers and stylists.
Speaking on the occasion, Ferrari said relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia have been strong and he is keen on working to further stabilize the economic and political relations between governments of both countries.
He explained that there are a large number of Italian companies that have strong presence in the Saudi market and extensively collaborate with Saudi companies to build infrastructure and petrochemical factories in major cities across the country.
For instance, Salini Impregilo, a well-known Italian company, built Riyadh’s Kingdom Tower and is currently working on Riyadh’s Subway project.
“It’s time to establish closer business ties and invite more specialized Italian companies to work on upcoming projects in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, we have plans to take Saudi businessmen to Rome and Milan to forge business partnerships between both countries,” he said.
Ferrari said he would also take concrete steps to boost Italian tourism, the main gateway for which are visas. “We issue multiple tourist visas for long durations and we are very open to issue visas to Saudi citizens. Currently, we issue 100,000 visas a year to Saudis for tourism and business,” he said.
He added that building tourist ties work both ways, hence he also wants to bring Italian tourists to Saudi Arabia and has been assured by the authorities that Saudi Arabia will start issuing tourist visas very soon. “Saudi Arabia has some very attractive tourist spots, and I’d definitely encourage Italians to explore them. This would increase flow of tourists on both sides.”
Expressing thoughts about the Vogue Fashion Experience, the Italian ambassador said Saudi women truly understand beauty, are sophisticated and have been fond of Italian fashion for decades, and one of the key goals of the historic event is to collaborate between educational institutions between Saudi Arabia and Italy.
“This event is very special and represents a strong partnership between Italy and Rubaiyat who are focusing energies to build a new generation of Saudi fashion designers,” he said, adding that giving an international exposure and unique opportunity to Saudi fashion designers to visit Italy and learn fashion is the next level of building educational relations between both countries.
Ferrari sighted an example of Dolce and Gabbana, the well-known Italian brand, which has launched an incredible abaya collection, taking inspiration from abaya designers in Jeddah, where people have a very strong sense of fashion.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 24, 2016.