Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio visited the United Arab Emirates for a two-day mission, taking part on November 24 to Italy National Day, the event that Expo Dubai 2020 dedicated to the country.

Minister Di Maio during his visit to the UAE and Expo Dubai 2020
Minister Di Maio during his visit to the UAE

Minister Di Maio visited the Italian Pavilion, inaugurating the National Day. He talked about the philosophy that inspired the Italian participation at Expo Dubai 2020, where many excellences Made in Italy are on display – from culture to science, from entrepreneurship to technology – in a line of continuity with Expo Milano 2015. 

As the Italian Foreign Ministry explains in a note, Expo Dubai 2020 represents an opportunity to promote Made in Italy products in markets with great growth potential, that are strategic for Italian exports and for the attraction of foreign investments. Minister Di Maio’s visit also gave him perfect opportunity to officially launch on the global stage Rome’s candidacy to host Expo 2030.

This is the first ever Universal Exhibition to be held in the Middle East, a crucial region that will offer unique opportunities for the full recovery of international tourism and investment flows,” Mr. Di Maio said. “Our presence here in Dubai is perfectly in line with the legacy of Expo Milano 2015 and wants to be an ideal bridge to Expo Osaka 2025 and beyond“.

Di Maio, Expo Dubai 2020

According to the Minister, the Italian presence at Expo Dubai “is also part of a broader political and diplomatic dynamism shown by Italy in 2021, with our roles as President of the G20 and co-host of COP26. Now, we are ready and determined to contribute as protagonists to Expo 2030“.

During his two-day visit to the UAE, the Minister inaugurated a workshop entitled “Italy is back on track: Recovery, Resilience and Attractiveness”, aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of Italy and to present the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) to an international audience composed by members of the financial and industrial communities of the UAE and the Gulf.

Mr. Di Maio then met with some Italian companies present in the country as well as with members of the UAE’s business and culture communities, underlining a particularly positive year for trade between the two countries.

In fact, as Italian online newspaper Formiche explains, according to data from the UAE Ministry of Trade, the exchange between the two countries “reached 19.2 billion Dhiram (4.5 billion euros) in the first 9 months of 2021, + 56% compared to 2020. Italy thus becomes one of the top ten trading partners of the United Arab Emirates.

Di Maio a Expo Dubai 2020

Even at the political level, after the tensions that characterized bilateral relations over the past few months, there seemed to be some improvement. Di Maio’s visit certainly aimed at mending political relations with the UAE.

In fact, Minister Di Maio met with Emirati Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai. The two presided over the signing of two agreements: the first between Confindustria, Italy’s federation of employers, and GMISummit and the second between the Italian Trade Agency and the UAE International Investors Council (Uaeiic), with the aim of strengthening bilateral relations in the sector of investments and economic and trade cooperation.

Di Maio, Expo Dubai 2020

An important sign of detente came from Minister Nahyan Al Nahyan himself, who stressed that the United Arab Emirates and Italy “share a deep friendship“, adding: “we hope to build a strong partnership between our countries through Expo 2020 and beyond“.

Finally, during his visit, Di Maio inaugurated an exhibition of archaeological treasures recovered by the Carabinieri Department for Protection of the Artistic Heritage, and attend the 4th session of the Day of Sports.