It will be Valentino’s flagship store. Valentino, one of Rome’s top fashion houses, was bought by the Qatar Sovereign Fund in the summer of 2012. And the purchase of the 1,000 sq-meter shop – 2 floors, 12 entrances – was signed by Qatar’s Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani in person.
If this is the latest investment by the Qatari sheikh, he was also associated with the project of an Ancient Rome theme park to be built near the Eternal City which would attract people fascinated by the Roman Empire but not at ease with ruins and archaeology, a different kind of visitor. He came with one of his wives to Rome in the spring of 2012 and was received by the then mayor to discuss the idea, as you can see in this picture. The same Emir is also interested in building a luxury hotel in town.
The most realistic big investment in Rome, however, should come very soon from the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi in particular. We’re talking about Alitalia, Italy’s flagship carrier, which hasn’t been profitable in quite a while and desperately needs fresh capital and an international alliance to survive. Etihad and Alitalia are very close to a deal that would probably represent the largest Gulf investment in the whole country, not only in Rome.
The Gulf project that most changed Rome, however, is its gigantic mosque, the largest in Europe, which was completed in 1995 thanks to funds from Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The mosque can also be visited privately and guided tours are available. It also features a cultural centre with a library. The work is a joint effort of Roman and Arabic architects. Its minaret is the only one in the world without speakers.
The funniest Sheikh in town was the Jordanian guy that last year deceived thousands of AS Roma supporters pretending to have the money of a real Emir. He was thought to be investing 50/100 million dollars in the soccer team but was actually a very ordinary immigrant who had been living near Perugia (Umbria) for 30 years or so.