Jeddah is a city full of potentials: Martini

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH —
The Italian Consulate General held a ceremony on Sunday to bid farewell to Consul General Elisabetta Martini, who is leaving the Kingdom this month at the end of her tenure.

The consulate staff, members of the Italian community in Jeddah, diplomats, and numerous Saudi friends gathered at the farewell function.

The ceremony was followed by an Italian jazz concert performed by Santa Cecilia Jazz Ensemble led by Paolo Damiani, a composer, cellist, and director of the jazz department of Accademia di S. Cecilia.

The ensemble played a variety of heartwarming Italian melodies that has its roots in southern Italy and the Italian opera.

Martini was known as a very successful diplomat and a prominent dignitary in Jeddah during the past four years. As she is ending her current diplomatic tenure in the Kingdom, Saudi Gazette spoke to her.

Q:

Tell us about yourself and the Italian Consulate General in Jeddah.

A:

I am a 33-year-old career diplomat. I arrived in Jeddah in 2015 for my first assignment as an under 30 (now called millennial) official, full of expectations but a bit cautious at the same time. The young energy and the feeling of facing a big challenge in Saudi helped me a lot in my mission to increase commercial, cultural, consular relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia and to grant to the Italian community based here a modern system of assistance, which can make them feel at home even from far away.

As all millennials, before becoming a diplomat I was an expat studying and working abroad. So I knew what was the perception, especially of the young people toward diplomats and I wanted to change it. This is what I tried to do, reshaping the office — also moving its headquarters — and outreaching to the new layers of Saudi society and to the highest local authorities and international organizations in Jeddah.

Q:

What is your perspective on Jeddah after spending four years as the Italian Consul General here?

A:

Jeddah is a city full of potentials that still needs to be fully exploited. Its marvelous sea, the desert around, the mountains south, the historic center, the impressive port ... all of these make Jeddah a potential hub for the entire region. I really hope the untapped potentials will grow faster now. But what makes the city really beautiful is its people, the civil society so energetic, so active, so ready for the change.

Q:

How did you see the fast changes that occurred in favor of Saudi women over the past four years?

A:

This aspect of my job was really what has moved me the most. Experiencing the changes and being able to talk a lot to these women, encouraging them to embrace the change and pushing them to never stop dreaming bigger.

Q:

As a female diplomat, what was the challenges that faced you, and how can Saudi women working in the field of diplomacy surpass these challenges?

A:

When I left Rome, there was only one suggestion given to me by my superiors: use your common sense. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting more precise instructions but in the end, I realized they were right. Only analyzing the situations and following common sense you can understand how to behave and act to be even more effective than men.

I had to face big challenges but slowly I became with the incredible help and push from my Ambassador in Riyadh, Luca Ferrari, bold enough to set red lines to take my decisions.

Q:

What were your most memorable moments in Jeddah during the past four years?

A:

There are many. Of course, having the chance to accompany in 2016 then Italian minister of foreign affairs at his meeting with His Majesty the King was something I will always remember.

Q:

In your opinion, how can Saudi Arabia and Italy increase cooperation in the fields of culture and commerce in the future?

A: There are so many fields where we can increase our collaboration. We only need to know each other better. Too many preconceptions impede our relations to grow. Italy is seen mostly as a country where we produce only much luxury products, while it is the third economy in the European Union, one of the biggest manufacturing powers sitting in the G7. At the same time, Saudis know only very few touristic destinations in Italy while the choice in my country is incredibly diverse. For this reason, my mission was to promote as much as possible Italy to make Saudi people knowing it better. This is the first step to enhance more our (already extremely good) relations.

Italian community, Saudi friends bid farewell to outgoing consul general


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