Florence: Alessia Bertini, Deputy Mayor of Florence, Italy, has presented the Key to the City of Florence to Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), and the “Mother of the Nation”, for her efforts in service of humanity.
It was also given in honour of Sheikha Fatima’s donation to assist dozens of elderly people infected with COVID-19 who are being treated at ASP Firenze Montedomini, Florence, reported Emirates News Agency Wam.
Reem Al Falasi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, received the Key to Florence on behalf of Sheikha Fatima, during a dinner event held on Thursday, October 13, 2022, in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. A commemorative “Thank You” plaque was placed at ASP Firenze Montedomini during the event.
The event was attended by Ambassador Cristiano Magipinto, Diplomatic Advisor to the Mayor of Florence; Sara Fusaro, Social Welfare Advisor to the Mayor; Counsellor Raffaele Calluso, Counsellor at the Department of Political Affairs and Security of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Internal Cooperation; Luigi Paccosi, President of the Montedomini Foundation; Mafalda of Savoy, President of the Arab Italian Women Association (AIWA); and Randa Eid, Secretary-General of the Arab Italian Women Association.
Sheikha Fatima speech
During the ceremony, Al Falasi delivered a speech on behalf of Sheikha Fatima.
In her speech, Sheikha Fatima said, “I am deeply honoured to be offered the keys to the City of Florence as a token of honorary citizenship of your beautiful city, and I am delighted to accept it.”
“Florence’s role in the vitality of so many aspects of society is too broad and all-encompassing for me to describe in just a few words. The golden age of Florentine art, the birthplace of the Renaissance. The home of Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, the city of the Medicis and the glories that flourished during their rule,” she added.
Sheikha Fatima continued, “The people of Florence, represented by you, Your Excellency, Mr. Mayor, personify the proud and incredible heritage that came before you and continues to contribute to the world. And I, from a much younger city thousands of miles away, feel extremely honoured to accept this token of kindness with a sense of gratitude and aspiration.”
She further added, “Here, in your city’s great archives, the Tesoro di San Lorenzo, and in the Museo degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti, lie tangible evidence of the rich history shared between Florence and the Arabian Gulf. Throughout the Renaissance, many Florentine women are illustrated donning magnificent pearls, which I am proud to say were acquired from the Gulf.
“I really hope that one day, our countries and our cities can collaborate in studying and revealing those old and now forgotten links between us. In a small way, through our pearls, perhaps we in the UAE have played a small role in the flourishing of the Renaissance, which the world can see here in Florence.
“It is no secret in the UAE, nor here in Florence, that love for art and beauty is an intrinsic part of the best of humanity that we all share. It is part of us.”
Sheikha Fatima concluded her speech by saying, “In accepting the key to your city, and in becoming an honorary citizen of Florence, I am honoured to join hands with you and celebrate the magnificence of your contributions to the world’s civilisation.”
Moreover, Al Falasi conveyed Sheikha Fatima’s appreciation to the UAE Embassy in Italy, represented by Ambassador Omar Obaid Al Shamsi, as well as to the Mayor’s Office, for coordinating and facilitating this visit.
“Sheikha Fatima would also like to express her gratitude and appreciation to Randa Eid, Secretary-General of the Arab Italian Women Association, (AIWA), and Mr. Luigi Paccosi, President of the Montedomini Foundation, for their sincere efforts to help achieve Sheikha Fatima’s goal of bringing comfort and reassurance to ASP Firenze Montedomini through her generous donation during the COVID-19 pandemic, when help and support were critical to easing the suffering of the Montedomini community. It was a pleasure to visit this morning and see first-hand the valiant work of Montedomini’s management,” Al Falasi added.
On this occasion, Al Falasi presented ASP Firenze Montedomini with an acrylic painting by the Emirati artist, Ashwaq Abdullah, which portrays Emirati women in traditional costume.
Omar Obaid Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Italy, said, “It is a great honour to today witness the handing over of the key of the ancient Italian city of Florence to Sheikha Fatima, in appreciation of her substantial and continuous commitment to women’s empowerment and leadership, in addition to her many humanitarian, charitable and cultural contributions around the world, as well as her pioneering role in serving issues related to motherhood, childhood, the elderly and refugees. It is also in recognition of the generous initiatives and contributions launched by Sheikha Fatima during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, especially in the city of Florence, in solidarity with the friendly Italian people who today are testifying to the achievements of Sheikha Fatima and writing in gold letters this well-deserved honour in the deeply rooted history between the two friendly countries.”
Great humanitarian efforts
For her part, the Deputy Mayor of Florence said that the honouring ceremony highlights their appreciation for the great humanitarian efforts of Sheikha Fatima, as well as the values she upholds, which led her to establish many humanitarian and cultural organisations that defend women’s rights and support the youth locally and internationally.
Paccosi lauded the donation of Sheikha Fatima and her support for the campaign’s activities, as well as for her solidarity with senior citizen patients.
"We are grateful for this kind gesture by Sheikha Fatima to support the foundation’s efforts to combat the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic among senior patients, he said.
The fund-raising campaign was launched by AIWA and the Municipality of Florence, with the aim of providing basic needs, medical supplies and protective health equipment to care for COVID-19 patients, to ease their suffering and improve their conditions.