ABU DHABI // Italy's new ambassador has described the Emirates as an "oasis of stability" in the midst of regional turmoil.
"This is a very important oasis of peace, stability and development," Giorgio Starace said. "It's a very important factor. This is a very important hub in the Italian presence in the Arab world."
The two countries have a history of military co-operation. The UAE buys trainer jets from Italy, which has also trained Al Fursan, a team of UAE aerobatic jets.
Emirati fighter planes arrived in Italy last week to take part in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya.
Mr Starace said the Italian government had studied the UAE's successful proposal last year to host the International Renewable Atomic Energy Agency (Irena), and felt it had the necessary services and communications infrastructure.
"We thought it was important to encourage this initiative Ö in a country that is a top leader in production of oil and gas," he said.
Mr Starace said Italian companies were eager to play a role in the expansion of infrastructure and growth in Abu Dhabi, as well as in Masdar, the green energy city, and Saadiyat Island's cultural projects.
About 4,300 Italians are registered with the embassy in the UAE, and about 100,000 visit each year. Mr Starace was appointed in December, and previously served in China and India.