About 1,500 guests, including members of the royal family, senior diplomats and business leaders, gathered at the official residence of Italian Ambassador Luca Ferrari on May 7 to celebrate Festa della Repubblica, Italy’s National Day. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh region, represented the Saudi government.
“The event marks the 72nd anniversary of the birth of the Italian Republic and 86 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia,” said Ambassador Ferrari, welcoming guests. “Relations between the two countries are as strong as ever.
“Last year we agreed to establish a new strategic partnership, and therefore Italy has appointed a special envoy for Vision 2030 to work closely with his Saudi counterpart.”
“Italy is committed to the security of Saudi Arabia and will continue to guarantee and promote the security of the Kingdom and the region. In 1932, the two countries signed a treaty of friendship that constitutes the origin of Saudi-Italian relations. We have dramatically increased our relationship” since then, said Ferrari, adding that bilateral trade was worth $10 billion a year to the two countries.
He also pointed out that a million Saudis travel to Italy each year, representing a “60 percent increase in Saudi tourism.”
Italian Consul General Elisabetta Martini said: “I felt like I have to do more to promote my country because Saudi people, they do love Italy, but there was a gap. The younger generation didn’t know much about the Italian culture, while the older generation knew a lot.”
Martini said she considers herself lucky to be in Saudi Arabia at a time of such incredible change and development in the country.
“Italy is a country where men are very strong and women are just now starting to emerge in the political field, so I want to show that if we managed to do that in Italy, then Saudi ladies have all the chances to perform at their best.”
Italy’s National Day, or republic day, commemorates the referendum in which citizens voted for a new form of government — a democratic republic rather than a monarchy — after the fall of Mussolini. It falls on June 2, the day of the referendum in 1946, but was held early in Saudi Arabia because the actual date will be during Ramadan this year.