New Italian Ambassador aims to hold more Italian cultural events, and encourages Italians to showcase Italy's best. 

Dubai, 8th July 2015: The new Italian ambassador to the UAE aims toincrease the Italian presence in the UAE, engage the community in more socio-cultural activities, and furtherstrengthen Italy-UAE relations over the coming years.

Italian Ambassador Liborio Stellino, who has been in foreign service for 26 years, took up the post as head of mission in Abu Dhabi after Giorgio Starace completed his tour of duty last month.

"The plan for the community is to bring more of Italy to the UAE. I would like to organise more cultural seasons. Many of the globalisation processes are taking place now and here. So I consider this place a terrific platform to take part in the globalisation process that characterises our times," Stellino told Gulf News.

Stellino said he plans to improve the interaction between embassy officials with their constituents in Abu Dhabi. He aims to improve the dialogue between the two parties, to make it more "informal, fast and transparent on the social networks" in order to meet their needs.

He wants to encourage every Italian to be Italy's ambassador to the UAE through his or her behaviour, action, work and to "showcase the best of our country to our Emirati friends".

Currently, there are 10,000 Italians in the UAEthe largest Italian community in the Mena region and extending up to China.

Stellino said the next five years are crucial for both Milan and Dubai as the former is currently hosting Expo Milano and will, in five years, pass on the torch to Dubai for the World Expo in 2020.

Stellino, who holds a degree in political science, considers his Abu Dhabi posting as a reward after having worked in Somalia, Cyprus, Morocco, Mozambique, Moscow, and the US.

Meanwhile, Schengen visa applications through Italy from Dubai increased by 590 per cent from 5,038 applications in 2006 to 34,804 applications in 2014. The increase was noted even this year with the visa waiver that was given to Emiratis in May, Italian Consulate-General Giovanni Favilli said.

Some 21,435 visas applications have been received from January to July this year compared with 16,060 applications during the same period last year.

Between May 7 — the day the visa waiver for Emiratis took effect — and July 5, the Italian consulate-general handled 9,137 visa applications compared with 7,688 applications for the same period in 2014.

The biggest number of visa applicants for 2014 came from Indian applicants at 18 per cent, followed by Emiratis at 17 per cent.

"Expo Milano is also a factor. We have about 250,000 visitors every day in the Expo and a good number comes from here because this is the country that has more exposure to the idea of the Expo. So, people from here are curious to visit Expo Milano," Favilli said.

Sharan Khanna, Regional Manager of Cox and Kings Global Services Mena, which receives the visa applications, said the increase in visa applications this summer was unexpected. The summer months remain their busiest months for visitors and the current world expo in Milan is contributing to this.

The centre receives between 280 and 300 visa applications even during Ramadan to accommodate everyone's visa needs. Their system ensures that applicants can complete all their transactions at just one counter to save time and for convenience.


Source: Gulf News