Italian Cultural Institute opens in Abu Dhabi to build cultural bridges with UAE

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The opening of the Italian Cultural Institute, located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen area, was attended by Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, and Nicola Lener, Italian Ambassador to the UAE, along with Dr Ida Zilio-Grandi, director of the institute. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A new institute that will serve as a cultural bridge between Italy and the UAE was inaugurated this week in the capital. A jewellery exhibition was held as its first cultural event.

The opening of the Italian Cultural Institute, located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen area, was attended by Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, and Nicola Lener, Italian Ambassador to the UAE, along with Dr Ida Zilio-Grandi, director of the institute.

“We are especially excited to mark this opening after such a complicated global period amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The institute will play a major role in fostering deeper bonds with the Emirati community, which is especially pertinent given the strong bilateral relations between the two countries,” Lener told Gulf News on the sidelines.

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The opening exhibition, titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, featured 200 pieces from the 1950s until today. Image Credit: Supplied

Italian community

There are currently 15,000 Italian expatriates living and working in the UAE, engaged in a number of industries, including energy, manufacturing, tourism and services.

“We saw a number of expats moving back home as a result of the shifts in the airline industry during the pandemic, but we are now seeing many others moving to the UAE and taking up roles in the service sector. So, despite the global changes, the size of the Italian community in the UAE has remained more or less stable,” Lener said.

Bilateral trade

Bilateral trade between the UAE and Italy increased in 2020, amounting to 8.4 billion euros (Dh36.8 billion).

“We actually witnessed a huge increase in exports of gold from UAE to Italy during the year. In fact, the UAE is Italy’s main supplier of gold from the Middle East and North Africa region,” Lener added.

On the other hand, Italian goods remained competitive in the UAE market and included machinery and consumer goods. “Italy is the second supplier in the European Union for the UAE, and while the absolute value of exports decreased last year — as was the case with many nations due to the pandemic — the relative value of exports to the UAE has remained unchanged. We expect this to increase as economies open up further,” the envoy said.

Cultural bonds

Italian cultural events will now be regularly organised by the new institute in Abu Dhabi, which is one of 83 Italian cultural institutes spread across the world. In fact, the opening exhibition, titled ‘Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery’, featured 200 pieces from the 1950s until today. Curated by Alba Cappellieri, professor of jewellery design at the Polytechnic University of Milan, it highlights Italian design and craftsmanship. The exhibit is open to the public until July 23, with strict adherence to COVID-19 safety precautions.

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‘The exhibition focuses on the metaphor of the falcon and its prey and we are currently looking for young Emirati artists also working on the same theme to create new collaborations and synergies,’ Dr Ida Zilio-Grandi said. Image Credit: Supplied

“We will also host, in cooperation with a local art gallery, a multimedia exhibition called ‘Older than Love’, by young artist Martina Zanin. The exhibition focuses on the metaphor of the falcon and its prey and we are currently looking for young Emirati artists also working on the same theme to create new collaborations and synergies,” Dr Zilio-Grandi said.

“I mention this particular event on the falcon because what our recently-established institute intends to develop here in the UAE is not only the promotion of our own culture, but also the creation of cultural bridges with the local culture. This includes bridges with the Arab World, and also [the multicultural demographic] here. As history has taught us all, only through interaction, connection and dialogue, the new and the beautiful can be born and grow,” she added.

Event: Diva! Italian Glamour in Fashion Jewellery

Where: Italian Cultural Institute in Al Bateen, near the British Council

When: Until July 23, 2021

Timings: 12pm-4pm, Sunday to Thursday

COVID-19 precautionary measures will be implemented.