Saudi-Italian ties poised for further growth, says envoy

Saudi-Italian ties poised for further growth, says envoy
Luca Ferrari, Italian ambassador
Updated 29 May 2016

Saudi-Italian ties poised for further growth, says envoy

Saudi-Italian ties poised for further growth, says envoy

RIYADH: Ties between the Kingdom and Italy have registered an upward trend and are poised for further exponential growth with the visit of Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, who will arrive in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The foreign minister will be leading a large high-profile delegation to Saudi Arabia for discussions on a range of issues of common concern.
This was disclosed by newly appointed Italian Ambassador Luca Ferrari here Saturday. “Plans are afoot to boost cooperation in different sectors including in the field of training police personnel in the Kingdom and to host a ministerial meeting in September to promote commercial relations,” said Ferrari, in his maiden interview with Arab News. He said that “the two countries share identical visions on the whole range of bilateral and regional issues.”
Referring to the forthcoming visit of the foreign minister, he said that “the trip comes within the framework of political consultations that have been agreed upon by the Saudi and Italian governments.”
He said that “Italy is also working to accommodate as many Saudi students as possible in Italian universities and vocational training centers.” About 1,000 Saudi students are currently enrolled in Italian universities and institutions, he added.
On the other hand, the growing cooperation in the field of archaeology is also very promising. “A team of Italian archaeologists has been working in Dumat Al-Jandal since 2009, and they have recently started new archaeological underwater surveys off Yanbu in the Red Sea,” said the envoy.
On the commercial front, Italian companies, and Italians living in the Kingdom, have traditionally played a crucial role in the construction of many infrastructure projects.
The Kingdom is Italy’s main commercial partner in the Gulf and among Arab countries. “We strongly believe that the Kingdom is the gateway to the greater Middle East and that there is the potential to dramatically increase our reciprocal commercial exchange within the next five years,” he noted.
He pointed out that “Italy is one of the Kingdom’s top five trade partners worldwide and Saudi Arabia is our main partner in the MENA region.”
“Our bilateral trade surpassed $10 billion in 2015,” said Ferrari, adding that Italy’s exports to the Kingdom mainly are industrial machinery, refined products and electrical equipment. Saudi Arabia’s exports to Italy, that were worth nearly $5 billion in 2015, are largely focused on oil and mineral resources, and petrochemical products.
Asked about the new areas in which the two countries can cooperate further, he said that “the National Transformation Plan and Vision 2030 are an incredible opportunity for Italian companies to invest in the Kingdom.”
About the religious fabric of Italy, the envoy said that Islam is the second largest religion in Italy. “Over 1 million Sunni Muslims live in my country,” said the ambassador, adding that the coexistence of people from different faiths is peaceful, in the framework of democratic values based on religious tolerance, freedom of worship and full respect for the constitution and laws of the Italian republic.