Ambassador of Italy to Qatar HE Allessandro Prunas has praised the way Qatar, within a short period under the leadership of the Amir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has gained prestigious status as a regional political and economic hub.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar Tribune, the outgoing Italian envoy said that both Qatar and Italy have very exceptional close and strategic relations in all sectors, including political, trade, investment, tourism, culture, defence and sports sectors.
He said, “The Qatari people have natural love for Italy and I myself and my family are inspired a lot from the traditional hospitality and friendly attitude of the people of Qatar. We have developed close friendship and will be visiting Qatar in future.”
He expressed hope that Qatari passport holders will soon join EU Visa waiver programme and will be visiting EU countries without obtaining visit visa.
Ambassador Prunas took over his responsibility in Qatar on January 5, 2020, just two months before the pandemic broke out, which confined everyone to home with restricted movements.
“With the pandemic, there was a frustrating feeling because I came to Qatar with lot of enthusiasm, the new country that I desperately wanted to explore, get to know people I wanted to interact with, but I was suddenly confined at home [due to pandemic] after just two months of my arrival,” he said.
The Italian envoy said that difficult times give opportunity to recognise true friends and he was so happy to actually experience how much the Qataris were attached to Italy.
He said, “As we all know, Italy was very badly hit in the beginning of the pandemic. It hit everybody rich or poor, white or black, Christian or Muslim and spread all over the world.”
He thanked Qatari authorities for their valuable timely support, and to those who approached him through different ways without knowing them, offering Italy help at those times of crisis.
Talking about bilateral relations, Ambassador Prunas said that trade and political relationship goes normally, as the healthy and important relationship has gone to strategic partnership.
“In December 2020, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani signed a MoU establishing strategic dialogue between the two countries,” he said.
He said although Italy could not qualify for 2022 FIFA World Cup, however, italy will be among major contributors in terms of military support to the country, various assets will be deployed.
With a special interest in cultural sector, the envoy said there is existing close cooperation between museums from both sides, with almost one monthly cultural programme holding with the support and help of dedicated partners.
On FIFA World Cup, the outgoing Italian ambassador praise the way Qatar has prepared for hosting the tournament with incredible infrastructures, which remain to benefit its population.
He said he is proud of over 150 Italian companies and around 2,200 expatriates of their role in the development of Qatar infrastructure and in various sectors, including the Iconic Al Bait Stadium,Metro project with the amazing decoration works on the platforms and stations by the Italian companies.
Ambassador Prunas started his career working with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Balkans and later joined Foreign Service.