JEDDAH: Italian Consul General Elisabetta Martini celebrated her country’s National Day, on Friday in Jeddah for the first time during Ramadan.
Italian expats gathered at the Italian Consulate Cultural section to mark their country’s 71st National Day in the presence of a number of foreign consuls general and the Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Luca Ferrari.
Since she first came to Jeddah in 2015 for her first foreign posting as Italy’s consul general, Martini insisted on celebrating her third national day in the Kingdom despite it coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan.
“For me, it is very important because here (in Saudi Arabia) everyone has a very strong sense of the state,” Martini told Arab News. “In Saudi Arabia, people and the institutions appreciate when you celebrate national days. That’s why I kept the celebration day on the second of June despite it was Ramadan.”
Martini stressed that they made sure the celebration was “very respectful” of the holiness of Ramadan.
This is the second year the Italian National Day is celebrated in Jeddah.
“We try to be as active as possible, trying to reach out to the people,” Martini added.
What distinguishes this year’s celebration, said Martini, is that instead of bringing people to perform on stage as usual, people from the crowd and friends were shown in a video especially made for this occasion.
“I wanted to put on the stage the people that we met here (in Saudi Arabia),” she said. “So I had the people, my friends that I met here … it was them on the stage, so people in the public could recognize the pictures of themselves. This was my aim to underline that you, our friends here since we arrived, are really the main characters and main participants in all our activities. Diplomatic activities are made of people.”
She took the opportunity to wish all Saudis and Muslim friends a blessed Ramadan.
She expressed her thoughts on this holy month saying that Ramadan “should be a month of peace and tranquility.”
Martini felt the spirit of Ramadan this year more than the past two years she spent in Saudi Arabia. “The first two years I was here during Ramadan, I felt the spirit but I wasn’t yet inside of it,” she said. “However, this year I brought my family here with me for Ramadan. We are having iftar and suhoor (late dinner meal before fasting), not the institutional one, but the one with friends who are like family to us,” she said.
She said that she is experiencing the same feeling she usually has while spending time in Italy. “It’s very, very similar and now I’m appreciating it.”
Martini said her third year in Saudi Arabia has made a change in her because she now knows the spirit of Ramadan and feeling it.
“It’s a feeling of equality and friendship and you really want to be in a warm place with your close friends,” she added.
In a speech, she said, “I know that for most of you this is a time to spend with your family and closest friends, so I am assuming that after almost three years serving in Jeddah I became one of those. And I cannot be more proud of it.”
She recalled the first days of her post three years ago as Italy’s consul general.
“After only 10 days I experienced the sorrow of the entire country over the death of the beloved late King Abdullah, but then I have started feeling the new breeze of the raising of a new generation in charge.”