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Casa Italia cultural retailtainment project planned for Abu Dhabi

Siena Catherdral Italy

Former Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is planning a new cultural retailtainment project – Casa Italia – to showcase the treasures of Italy in the UAE.

The Italian entrepreneur Luca Cordero di Montezemolo helped develop the concept for the Yas Island Ferrari World theme park. Now he is looking to the emirate’s capital for a brand new retailtainment cultural project. Casa Italia would be an innovative venue mixing arts, culture and retail, say sources close to Montezemolo.

Abu Dhabi has a growing art scene. The Louvre Abu Dhabi which opened last November has helped to create a real buzz and Montezemolo would want to build on that momentum with his new project.

Casa Italia would comprise a mix culture and retailtainment with a shopping mall, science park and museum. It is likely to display art and archaeology and highlight architecture and design. Visitors could shop and also enjoy fine food, drink and music. The centre would also feature Italian-based exhibitions. Suggestions include exhibits around Milan’s famous La Scala opera house; and a focus on Renaissance sculptures and paintings.

Casa Italia would not, however, be the first Italy-inspired concept in the UAE.  Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2010, was named Best Theme Park by MENALAC earlier this year.

Then, in 2013, Eataly opened in Dubai. The gourmet Italian foodie theme park is at present the largest Italian-related retail concept in the UAE.

Casa Italia would, however, be entirely different. It would showcase Italian beauty and excellence throughout its long history, from classical artworks to contemporary design and technology.

Italy and the UAE are enjoying increased trade and business ties. Eni, the Italian oil company, has been granted two stakes in the emirate’s offshore concession areas while UniCredit opened a corporate and investment banking branch in Abu Dhabi last October.

Montezemolo has a high profile on the Italian corporate scene. He advised on the Etihad Airways-Alitalia stake deal in 2014 and became its chairman.

However, over a year ago, he was ousted as chairman of Alitalia as the company went into government-supervised administration. Montezemolo has repositioned himself in Italy and is one of the country’s most cash-rich entrepreneurs. A 2 billion euro sale of a private high-speed train operator is likely to reap a 250 million euro gain for him – which could possibly help finance Casa Italia.

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