Some 250 appointments have been set up between Friday and Saturday as part of a Italian-Arab trade fair underway at the cruise ship terminal in the Cagliari port. Construction, training and energy sector technology are in high demand for Arab nations, all areas in which Italy excels.
Sardinian producers are doing well, but are also trying to target the Arab world with regional food items: truffles, wine, olive oil, biscuits, coffee and cheese. Several contracts are currently being stipulated for wine exports for international restaurants, olive oil and canned tomatoes with companies in the Saudi and UAE food sectors.
One hundred and seventy of the companies are from Sardinia, and another ten from other Italian regions and there are 22 Arab enterprises taking part from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Oman, Algeria and Tunisia.
Regional transport councillor Massimo Deiana noted that ''the port can create the best conditions for these relations. We are thinking about a free trade zone, as technical and organizational facilities increase. We are also working to draw up the borders of an initial section of the zone. It could mark a turning point in trade relations especially with North Africa and the Middle East.''
Iraqi ambassador Sabir Mustafa Barzani noted that ''we are a country that is putting a dictatorship and wars behind us'', noting that despite some terrorism in other areas, ''the central and southern part of the country are moving forward with development.''
The ambassador noted that there was a low risk of Islamic State (ISIS) gaining a foothold in Europe, saying that there is no risk of infiltration from among refugees as ''the movement of terrorists is not from North Africa to Europe, it's from Africa to and Europe to the Middle East''.
He added that the main target of the terrorists are ''Muslims that do not think like them''. The trade fair will continue on Saturday with discussion on the Milan Expo 2015, construction, crafts and renewable energy sources.
by Stefano Ambu