It is a great honor for me to celebrate the 77th anniversary of the Italian Republic in Jeddah. Italy and Saudi Arabia celebrate this year the 91st anniversary of diplomatic relations, as in 1932 Italy was among the first countries in the world to establish official relations with Saudi Arabia.
Since the beginning, our bilateral relations have built on a close friendship, empathy and sympathy between our people.
Today, also thanks to the new and endless opportunities opened in the Kingdom by the Vision 2030, our relations are growing stronger and stronger in all sectors every day.
From my perspective, since my arrival in Jeddah, last year, the Consulate General has expanded its activity with the aim to contribute to this very positive climate, with events like the Italian food week and festival, the Italian Language week, which have received a very warm welcome by our Saudi friends.
This year, we have already organized several events, also in the framework of the first Europe month in Jeddah, which this Consulate launched in partnership with the CG of France and Germany.
In general, from my perspective, I also would like to highlight the very positive data on tourism. In the first 5 months of 2023, the Consulate in Jeddah has received 3 times the number of visas requests than in the same period of 2022, which confirms Italy as one of the main destination for the Saudi citizens. At the same time, Italy is among the top five countries of origin for tourists who visit Saudi Arabia.
Concerning the cultural field, I am also proud of the contribution given by some leading Italian companies to the extraordinary success of the First Arabic biennale.
Jeddah is also important as a huge economic hub. On this regard, more and more Italian companies are active in this part of the Kingdom and create partnership with local partner. The opposite is also happening and this Consulate General is of course ready to continue supporting these activities. Just an example, in April, PIF become a significant minority shareholder of Azimut|Benetti, the most important superyacht building group in the world and will support the company’s next phase of growth, especially in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East.
In general, the increase by 41% in 2022 of the bilateral trade between our two countries confirms the strategic importance of our markets and the results driven by the Vision 2030 reforms.