On February 8, a new Italian language readership was inaugurated at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman. The establishment of the Italian readership, the first ever in Oman, represents the upgrading of already existing Italian language courses that were launched in 2014, and it is the result of a collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Muscat, with the support of the Italian Education and Foreign Affairs Ministries.
The readership was established at the Tourism Department of Sultan Qaboos University, Oman’s leading university, with the aim of strengthening cultural and academic bilateral cooperation between Italy and the Sultanate and opening new opportunities for Omani students in the fields of culture, tourism, hospitality, and commerce.
The new reader, Prof Caterina Mirasolo, said: “The readership represents a quantum leap for the educational offer that students at Sultan Qaboos University were able to access so far. They will now benefit from a continuous and more structured teaching and will have the opportunity continue their studies in Italy.” Moreover, new activities aimed at bringing students closer to many aspects of the Italian culture will be gradually added to the language courses.
Italian Ambassador in Oman, Federica Favi, underlined how the creation of the readership is part of a wider work carried out by Italian diplomats to promote Italian culture all over the world. “It is significant that the readership was inaugurated in 2021, the 700th death anniversary of Dante Alighieri [the poet father of the Italian language], to whom the Italian Embassy will dedicate cultural events and the Week of the Italian Language in October so that also Omani citizens can get to know him”, she said.
After all, cultural cooperation is at the center of bilateral relations between Italy and Oman. The collaboration ranges from archaeology, with many Italian universities involved in excavations and the conservation of artifacts, to opera. The Royal Opera House in Muscat is the most prominent theatre in the Middle East. Under the leadership of Italian Director Umberto Fanni, it collaborated on multiple occasions with major Italian theaters and festivals, such as the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, becoming a model of reference for other theaters in the region.
With regards to commercial relations between the two countries, they are solid, with very good prospects for growth, in line with regional trends. Vision 2040, Oman’s plan to foster an economic and social transformation and reduce its own dependence on oil, presents many opportunities in the infrastructural and machinery sectors. Particularly interesting for Italian manufacturers are the agri-food, healthcare, and renewable energy sectors. Finally, of fundamental importance will be the revival of tourism: until 2019, Oman used to attract 60.000 Italian tourists every year.