On June 26 and 27, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, went on a diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia.
The visit falls on the 90th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia.
According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, Mr. Di Maio’s mission aims at further consolidating the strategic dialogue between Rome and Riyadh that kicked off with the signing of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding in Al Ula in January 2021.
The memorandum was signed only a few days after the reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that took place in Al Ula. The reconciliation allowed the Saudi kingdom to initiate a phase of détente with various regional players, consolidating its central role in the enlarged Mediterranean region.
During his visit, Mr. Di Maio met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. The two ministers discussed bilateral relations and other international iussues, including the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the situation in Yemen and the political process in Libya.
Minister Di Maio then co-chaired the works of the 12th Meeting of the Saudi-Italian Joint Commission with Saudi Finance Minister Al-Jadaan,and, togheter with Investment Minister Al-Falih, inaugurated the Italian-Saudi Investment Forum.
Both events allowed the two countries to explore the opportunities for bilateral cooperation, especially in the fields of culture, space, energy, tourism, and infrastructure. During the meetings, three memoranda of understanding were signed respectively between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Saudi Space Commission; between Italy’s Employers association Confindustria and the Saudi Federation of Chambers of Commerce; and between Italian company Officine Nicola Galperti and Saudi company We Energy.
In his opening remarks at the Investment Forum, Mr. Di Maio underlined that Saudi Arabia is Italy’s third partner in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2021, bilateral trade reached a total value of €8 billion.
Finally, the minister stressed that Italy considers the Saudi “Vision 2030” reform program a strategic framework for bilateral economic relations.
Vision 2030 includes structural reforms and investments in infrastructure, jobs, and SMEs development. Its goal is to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.