Doha’s envoy to Rome said that the two countries “would discuss economic and investment relations” in numerous sectors including energy.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani travelled to Italy on Sunday in a visit that is believed to further strengthen Doha and Rome’s bilateral ties.
The visit came after a stop in Turkey, where the amir met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. Sheikh Tamim was the first leader to visit the country following the tragic earthquakes that struck both Turkey and Syria last week.
According to the Amiri diwan, the Qatari leader met with President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, before heading to France.
In a statement to Doha News, Italy’s Ambassador to Qatar Ambassador Paolo Toschi noted the countries hold “a strategic relationship”.
“It is a great honour for Italy to host His Highness Sheikh Tamim in Rome today, upon invitation by President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. Thanks to this visit our two countries will be advancing their partnership in all areas,” Toschi said.
The Italian envoy added that Rome is “setting the course for a renewed path of success and increased collaboration.”
Commenting on issues on the agenda, Toschi said that the areas of importance include political dialogue, security and defence, and energy among numerous others.
“Qatar has a meaningful role in the international community supporting multilateral endeavors and international organisations, through humanitarian and development assistance, with its dialogue and mediation efforts,” Toschi said.
“Italy will continue to value this role and to promote opportunities to further our shared goals of peace, sustainability and tolerance,” he added.
Toschi added that Italy “highly values” the amir’s words at the opening of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“We highly value the words chosen by His Highness to open FIFA 2022: ‘Everyone is welcome’. A fitting message also for our friendship and for a prosperous future,” he said.
The latest meeting comes amid Italy’s efforts to secure its energy supply following last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, the CEO of Italian energy group, Eni, Claudio Descalzi said the country needed additional liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals in order to receive more shipments this year. The country already secured supply from Algeria and Norway.
Descalzi said that Eni would replace 100% of Russian gas by the winter of 2024-2025.
“If the winter is without excessive cold spells, we might be able to make it thanks to gas storages 90% full and (gas) flows from these countries,” Descalzi said in September last year, as quoted by Reuters.
Last year, QatarEnergy named Eni as its second partner for the North Field East (NFE) Project.
Under the agreement, Eni will be a new joint venture company (JV), holding 25% interest while the Qatari company holds the remaining 75%.
The JV will also own 12.5% of the entire NFE project, comprising four mega LNG trains with the combined capacity of 32 million tonnes per annum (MPA).
The NFE is one of two parts of the $28.75 billion North Field liquified natural gas (LNG) expansion project that is set to ramp up Qatar’s production from 77 to 110 million tonnes per annum.
The second part is the North Field South (NFS) project which will increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 110 to 126 million tonnes per annum.
Apart from energy, the two countries also share strong defence ties.
Last month, Qatar took part in the launching ceremony of the ‘Al Fulk’ warship in Italy’s Palermo shipyard.
Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri, which manufactured the Landing Platform Dock vessel, said the ship was ordered by Qatar’s defence ministry “within the national naval acquisition programme”.
In 2017, Qatar sealed a more than $5 billion deal with Italy for the construction of seven navy vessels following talks that took place between the two countries in 2016.
The Qatari defence ministry had struck the deal with Fincantieri, for four corvettes, one amphibious vessel, and two offshore patrol vessels.
The corvettes measured 2,800 tonnes and included a helicopter deck.
By 2021, Fincantieri also released the third Al Zubarah-Class air defence corvettes, used for both surveillance and as fighting vessels whilst having a capacity of 112 persons. The ships have a weapon system and ballistic missiles defence abilities.
Also in 2017, Fincantieri agreed to establish a branch in Doha as a subsidiary licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre.
The agreement was key to ensure the company can provide logistical support in the design and construction process of the Italian ships.
In 2020, Fincantieri signed a memorandum of understanding with the MOD’s Barzan Holding in a bid to strengthen their partnerships.