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Farewell Bahrain

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Italian Ambassador Paola Amadei reflects on an enriching journey

Concluding her four-year tenure in Bahrain, Italian Ambassador Paola Amadei described her time in the kingdom as deeply enriching on both professional and personal fronts.

In an exclusive interview with Bahrain This Week, expressing her gratitude, Ms Amadei said she would cherish the ‘precious friendships’ she made in Bahrain during her diplomatic service. 

“Bahrain is a beautiful country with a lot of history and a future outlook. It has been truly a great honour for me to serve my country in Bahrain. The cooperation with the local authorities has been very successful. I am actually very grateful to all of them for the support always provided to the Embassy of the Italian Republic in the Kingdom of Bahrain and to all the Bahraini people for the friendship they have always expressed towards Italy, which, also on behalf of the Italian community resident in Bahrain, we reciprocate. I got the chance to discover the beauty of having Bahraini friends, who are amazing and welcoming people, and I will keep all the precious friendships that I have made here. My tenure in Bahrain has been not just a professional task but also a beautiful human experience that I will cherish in the future.”

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The diplomat, who assumed office in January 2020, finished her term in the country on Saturday, March 3, and headed back to Rome.

“A serious challenge that I encountered was the pandemics in 2020; those were difficult times. However, thanks to the Bahraini authorities, vaccines were provided to the Italian nationals residing in Bahrain and the personnel of our embassy, as well as the necessary sanitary treatment. To the Bahraini authorities goes all my gratitude.”

The envoy highlighted the successful visit of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to Italy last October, during which he met with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella and the President of the Council of Ministers, Giorgia Meloni. She also recalled the visit of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to Italy in 2020 and that of the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Sereni to Bahrain in 2021, during which she signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Foreign Affairs Ministry Political Affairs Under-Secretary Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, for establishing the Italy-Bahrain Joint Commission. The team held its first meeting in Rome last June, where Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani met with the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and International Cooperation Minister Antonio Tajani.

She also acknowledged the foundation of the Italy-Bahrain Business Council, co-chaired by Khaled Al Zayani and Ignazio Moncada, and her Bahraini counterpart in Italy, Nasser Al Balooshi.

“I am very delighted to have contributed to all these positive and mutually beneficial developments in bilateral relations. The data on trade has shown a significant increase in imports and exports in both directions, indicating a huge potential for bilateral commercial ties. The cultural activities and the university exchanges have also been grounds for intensifying the bilateral links, and, once again, their potential is very high. The political dialogue is strengthening as well, thanks to the bilateral joint commission.”

Ms Amadei cited that the increased contacts between political authorities and the institutional missions in both directions over the last few years have witnessed a fruitful trend in bilateral relations.

“During the past four years, we registered a significant growth in the total trade volume between our two countries,” she said.
“From 2020 on, we witnessed a commendable rise culminating in a peak value of approximately 880 million euros in 2022. Notably, imports from Italy to Bahrain have remained steady, averaging around $400 million annually. These imports predominantly comprise industrial machinery, furniture, semi-finished products, and fashion items, underscoring the enduring strength and diversity of our bilateral trade relationship. Such robust trade figures reflect the fruitful collaboration and mutual benefits enjoyed by Italy and Bahrain.”

She added that the embassy and the desk of the ITA Agency have always been at the service of the Italian and Bahraini companies to facilitate contact and support their businesses.
“With this regard, the food industry has been very significant, registering an increase in Italian exports to Bahrain, and the campaign “Let’s Eatalian,” led by the ITA Agency in cooperation with Lulu Hypermarket, has shown how appreciated the food “made in Italy” is in Bahrain.”

During her tenure, Ms Amadei focused on the promotion of Italian culture and creativity in the kingdom.

“It was at the centre of the external activities of the embassy with the spirit to share and exchange experiences and knowledge in fields that are sometimes distant from each other: from fashion to technology, from music to literature,” she said.

“I would like to mention the gorgeous opera concert to pay homage to Maestro Giacomo Puccini, the shining jewelry exhibition DIVA, and the iconic “Tales of Italian Fashion” showcase of dresses from the most famous Italian designers from the Maison Gattinoni’s archives, just to mention a few. We reinforced the available courses of Italian language thanks to our collaboration with the institute of Italian language and culture “Grazia Deledda” at the Royal Women University, and we plan to expand even more.”

A significant development has been made by the investment of Gulf Air in Italy by establishing direct flights to Rome and Milan, noted the envoy. Recently, Gulf Air announced a new increase in the number of direct flights, which, she said, “means a lot in terms of increasing business and tourism in both directions.”.

“In such a context, I am sure that the Italy-Bahrain Business Council will give a further push to such a positive trend, creating new opportunities for business for both Italian and Bahraini companies, and when I look at the data just mentioned, I am very proud of the work done so far and the results achieved.”

While wishing all success for her successor, as a pointer, Ms Amadei said that opportunities are numerous and the potential of bilateral relations is huge.
“Over the last few years, many steps forward have been taken, but I am sure that Italy and Bahrain will keep working together to do more and more.”

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