(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Bilateral relations between Qatar and Italy see 'great opportunities ahead in art and culture, education and research, health and sport, Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano has said.
Speaking at the 73rd Italian National Day celebration in Doha on Thursday, the envoy highlighted the two countries' strong ties, which enabled a strategic partnership across all sectors.
Pasquale Salzano welcomes guests at the event
The event was attended by HE Dr Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi, Minister of Justice and Acting Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs; HE Dr Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry; HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, Minister of State; ambassador Ibrahim Fakhro, director of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Ali Ibrahìm Ahmed, Eritrean ambassador and dean of the Diplomatic Corps, other diplomats, dignitaries and guests.
'So far, our joint initiatives have often involved artistes from all the countries in the region, reaffirming the vision that art and culture belong to all humankind, they have no boundaries and political division should not restrain them, he noted.
Italian musicians entertain the attendees
Salzano said his discussions with various partners in Qatar who work in local universities, research centres, museums, hospitals and sport institutions 'confirm that there is still a huge untapped potential to develop together.
Italy, he added, plans not only to continue on the same course but also to increase and diversify projects by working closely with Qatari institutions and involving new actors such as the Italian cultural association, Dante Alighieri, which recently started its activities in Doha.
'Italy has a broader vision of culture, which includes sport, healthy lifestyle and well-being of individuals. In this regard, we are pleased that Qatar is highly investing in social and community development, encouraging sport practice and hosting major sport events, such as the upcoming World Athletics Championships at the end of September, Salzano said.
During the championship, he said the Italian Federation of Athletics will open Casa Atletica, a special area dedicated to Italian sport traditions, design, food and culture with an engaging programme of activities.
Salzano announced that Milano and Cortina d'Ampezzo, which he described as a gem of the Dolomites and one of the many Unesco World Heritage sites in Italy, are candidates to host together the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026 with a very innovative proposal for highly sustainable games.
'Italy is in the final stage of the competition and we look forward to the Host City Election on June 24, he added.
The envoy also described the two countries' economic ties as 'very positive with bilateral trade reaching €2.6bn in 2018, recording a 21% increase compared to 2017.
He said Italian companies are well-positioned in the Qatar market and involved in major projects for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including the Doha Metro and Al Bayt Stadium.
'We also find that Italian entrepreneurs are more eager to explore opportunities in Qatar, thanks to the major reforms successfully adopted to make the local business environment more friendly and dynamic for foreign investors, Salzano said.
'Indeed, Qatar has made remarkable steps in this regard, especially reforming the labour market as part of its fruitful co-operation with the International Labour Organisation, he stressed. 'The Italian government acknowledges these significant achievements and encourages to continue working in this direction.
Salzano announced that they are currently preparing for the Fifth Joint Economic Commission between Qatar and Italy, set to take place later this year aimed at 'taking forward the two countries' economic co-operation towards more ambitious goals.
About bilateral programmes in the defence sector, he said hundreds of personnel from the Qatari air force and navy are being trained in Italy.
As highlighted by Italian Minister of Defence Elisabetta Trenta in her meeting with HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, "Italy is committed not only to foster technology transfer, but also to the development of human resources, the envoy said. 'In this regard, we are delighted that in the coming weeks the first four Qatari female pilots will graduate in Milan.