Italy is an attractive destination for foreign investments, especially in infrastructure projects, due to its positive economic climate, a foreign official said here.

Total foreign investments in Italy reached €20 billion (Dh91 billion) by the end of 2016 and are expected to record higher numbers in 2017, Stephano Nigro, Director FDI Department of the Italian Trade Agency told Gulf News yesterday. That represents a doubling of foreign investments since 2015.

Nigro was part of an Italian business delegation that was in Dubai to attend the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM).

The Italian Ambassador to UAE Liborio Stellino said the country is currently eyeing infrastructure projects which are gaining more importance in the wake of the Silk Road initiative from China.

“If we have a big picture … if you look at Europe, Italy is at the center of Europe with very good infrastructure, and we are exactly in the middle of this incredible project that can really unite the world. So we invite investors to look at our port infrastructure [and] seaport infrastructure.”

Many laws, including those related to investors’ visas and labour, were eased so as to attract foreign investors, Nigro said.

Stellino said the Gulf in general, and the UAE in particular, is important for Italy. “The UAE is a strategic partner and a great friend, and for us it is the extreme pole of this arch of opportunities that we want to create between the Mediterranean and the Gulf region, the third shore of the Mediterranean,” he said.

Among the top UAE investors in Italy are Etihad Airways, Mubadala Development Company, A Ghurair Group, and Emirates airline.

Europeans and the Americans constitute the biggest investors in Italy, Nigro said.