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Culture and lifestyle, the Italian way.

Abu Dhabi: An Italian homemaker couldn't find a way out of her loneliness when living in a northern emirate in the UAE and she was scared of repeating the same situation while moving to the capital a year ago.

"My husband was busy with his job and my son with studies; and there was no other Italian family. I was scared of going through the same ordeal in Abu Dhabi," Vera Macri told Gulf News.

But, an Italian community organisation in the capital offered her the much needed comfort. "I got the company of a lot of new and wonderful people and found very interesting activities," said Macri.

Cicer, (Circolo Italiano Culturale E Ricreativo), Italian Cultural and Recreational Circle was founded in 1989 as CIAD, Circolo Italiano Abu Dhabi (Italian Circle in Abu Dhabi ) and later changed its name to Cicer in 2001, said Anna Coupad, the president and senior most member of the circle. "Membership is open to all Italians in the UAE and all who love Italian lifestyle and culture," she added.

Working closely with the Italian Embassy, it offers a variety of social activities like outdoor excursions, gastronomy evenings, and language courses, activities for children, exhibitions and concerts.

"Unfortunately we don't have a permanent venue for our activities, so we are waiting for an Italian Cultural Centre to be set up in the capital," said Coupad.

Paolo Dionisi, Italian Ambassador told Gulf News that an Italian Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi will be a reality in the near future as the country and UAE are finalising a bilateral agreement on cultural cooperation.

"I am in touch with the Italian Government and once it allocates a budget for overseas cultural centres, the UAE will be a priority," said Dionisi.

Italian population in the UAE has increased to more than 2,000 - a forty per cent increase in the past two years - as the country has become a favourite destination, he said.

"Most of them live in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Cicer, ACI (Italian Cultural Association in Dubai) and Italian Business Councils in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah are bringing them together," said the ambassador.

The circle is building a literary link between Arab and Italian cultures. Alessandra Raciti, a Cicer member translated an Emirati writer's book into Italian recently. Mohammad Al Fahim, the author of the original book, 'From Rags to Riches' released its Italian version with a poetic title 'Dalla sabbia alle stelle' at a literary evening recently.

Bridge to Italy

Raciti told Gulf News the circle also functions like a bridge to Italy. "Whether you wish to learn the language or be introduced to the Italian reality, it provides an easy shortcut," she said.

"Besides Italians, you also encounter many foreigners who want a link with our community for business or social purpose," she said. Cicer's mailing list being complete, contacting each other is very easy, said Raciti who has been a member for five years. To her, it was like joining a new family.

"I instantly became part of that family where people help each other as if they were the brothers or sisters, one left back home," Raciti said. "If an idea is put forward, the answer is always: "Yes, why not!" she added.

"Some time ago a friend had a medical emergency. The response was quick and heartfelt. The relationship among us goes beyond that of merely being members of the same organisation."

Cicer has grown with the leadership of enthusiastic committee members like Loredana Frizzi, who was instrumental in attracting more members. "Now we have 160 members," Coupad said. "No Italian should feel they are alone as they can find an Italian corner in this country".

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 19, 2008
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