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UAE and Italy exchange ideas on hosting world expo

Italian prime minister Enrico Letta was in the UAE for talks with the country's leaders which resulted in US$1.765 billion (Dh6.4bn) worth of deals between the two nations.

ABU DHABI // Italy will take home lessons from Dubai as the country plans for Expo 2015, in Milan, the Italian prime minister said on Sunday.

Enrico Letta was speaking during a meeting at the Emirates Palace hotel that resulted in US$1.765 billion (Dh6.4bn) worth of deals between the two countries.

The deals covered, among others, the energy, environment, tourist and infrastructure industries.

The largest, between Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Ltd and Maire Tecnimont, to provide a gas treatment plant, was worth $1.5bn. No details on where or when the plant will be built were made available.

The world Expo was also spoken about in detail, with both countries signing a memorandum of understanding that was witnessed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

“The travelling experience has been of great success. We have put a foundation of strategic cooperation based on the fact that the two expos [will be held in our two countries],” Mr Letta said.

“It is a great chance to have close cooperation between the two countries and we will have two successful expos.”

The PM said both sides exchanged ideas on how to plan their respective world fairs.

“We are able today to help Dubai’s Expo team to avoid mistakes because, of course, we worked on the same experience these years and there were some mistakes.”

Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020 at the end of last year.

The conversations also turned to what both cities plan to do after hosting duties come to an end.

“I was really impressed by the fact that in Dubai they are already discussing after-Expo plans,” said Mr Letta. “I said to myself: ‘When I go home I have to open this discussion with all the stakeholders’, and in Italy we have to force them to have this discussion because it is very necessary.

“Dubai has worked miracles by all standards and as we are preparing to host Expo Milano 2015 we are ready to put our expertise at the disposal of Dubai and the UAE to host Expo 2020. Joint cooperation will remain active well beyond 2020.”

Etihad Airways’ proposed investment in Alitalia was also discussed.

“I was very happy about Etihad and Alitalia today ... we are sure all the concerned parties will contribute to positive outcomes,” the prime minister said.

Over the next 30 days there will be “non-stop negotiations” over what stake Etihad will have in Alitalia, he added, although he did not disclose any further details.

During his visit Mr Letta held meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, among others.

hdajani@thenational.ae

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