Interview to Ambassador, Mr. Saqer Nasser Alraisi
by Ivan De Stefano
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a garrison of wealth and political stability, have built over the years an enviable economical stability; which has allowed the country to become one of the richest nations in terms of GDP per capita, and has allowed it to conquer consistent sections of the international financial market. We could also add that this is a country which is exploring the real challenges of the world, such as feeding the planet; which we were able to observe in the UAE pavilion at Expo 2015 in Milan, where the themes were land, food, energy and water. Today the UAE are showcasing the innovative solutions which they have been developing in the aforementioned sectors; which were born out of a local necessity but have the potential to bring a global advantage, since other pats of the world are experiencing the same difficulties, due to the increased demand and the effects of climate change.
In this regard, we have asked some questions to His Excellency the Ambassador Saquer Al Raisi, the representative of the UAE Embassy in Italy, in order to investigate the similarities as well as the cultural and commercial relationships with Italy.
Your Excellency the Ambassador, how long have You been covering Your diplomatic role in Italy, and what is Your experience of it?
I have the honor to represent my country in Italy for around a year and two months. I am extremely glad of finding myself in this beautiful country, full of civilization and humanity; Italy is a friend of the United Arab Emirates.
What are the cultural meeting points between the United Arab Emirates and Italy?
The common factors and cultural interests between Italy and the Emirates are many. For instance, we started a collaboration in the heritage and museum sector with the archive of historical heritage and the Arab translation of the Napoleonic Museum. We have a permanent pavilion at the Biennale in Venice where our Emirate painters exhibit their work; we also wish to host in our country an exhibition of Italian painters in our museums, as well as opening and Italian school in Abu Dhabi.
Can You tell us about the current situation in regards to the economical exchanges between Italy and Your country?
Yes, gladly. The amount of commercial exchange between Italy and the Emirates has reached 6.2 billions of Euro last year. The number of Italian businesses operating in the Emirates is over 300, moreover there are 478 Italian representatives and 7452 Italian brands. The next step is the creation of new mixed Italian-Emirate businesses, as we have done with the successful Etihad and Alitalia.
What strategies have You been adopting to promote Your country both economically as well as culturally and touristically?
Our strategy consists in a reduction of our dependance on oil, which is around 30%, by creating alternative activities such as developing the tourism and infrastructures sectors. In the next five years 200 new hotels will be built, and a few theme parks have already been built such as Ferrari World; these are only a few examples. Today the Emirates have the best infrastructures in the world, the Dubai airport il the largest in terms of flyers, in addition to the many free zones in the country.
What has Expo 2015 been representing for Your nation?
We are glad to have started an excellent collaboration between the Expo in Milan and in Dubai, as we have benefitted from the rich experience of Expo 2015 in Milan, which has allowed us to promote Expo 2020 in Dubai with many meetings and initiatives. We are extremely grateful to Italy for the kind openness and collaboration demonstrated to us.
What is the relationship in The United Arab Emirates between production and respect for the environment?
We have been using a consistent part of our GDP to invest in the environment and working towards clean alternative energies.
Can You give us an anticipation of the projects for renewable energies in which Your country believes in and is keen to invest in?
Sure, we host the headquarter of the International Agency for Renewable Energies in Abu Dhabi, and this is a significant factor. Moreover, we have been the first city in the world to utilize exclusively and entirely solar power; this represents an example of an environmentally friendly city of the future. Other initiatives include the the solar plant complex of His Highness Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashed (SHAMS 1), as well as other projects carried out abroad in England (London) and in Spain (Khimasol project, Valle 1 and 2), all for solar energy in collaboration with our city of Masdar.
To conclude, we want to thank You for Your availability. I would like to ask You what do You think of Italy in this moment of economical crisis in Europe?
We believe that Italy can survive any crisis and Expo in Milan is the evidence of a good determination to succeed. Your country is also full of resources, especially human ones. Italy in itself is a great brand which can promote itself. I thank you for this opportunity and for your kind attention.