Muhammad Asad Ullah
In Anglo-American countries, in Asia, and especially in Middle Eastern countries like Qatar, if any label says ‘Made in Italy’ it has immediate connotations of beauty and chic. The phrase, in fact, resonates with the hundreds of years of Italy’s cultural and artistic heritage, which even today continues to attract and fascinate travellers, consumers and curious art lovers worldwide. Where the runway shows of international designers and international films often draw an inspiration from Italian art, the manner in which Italy, Italian things, and the Italian language are portrayed and exploited as a signi?er of the chic and the stylish, leads one to take notice that the association of Italy with style has a long history, deep roots that reach down well beyond the immediate past.
Think cultural legacy, think Italy. From Pompeii to the Colosseum, from Venice to Florence, the country’s massive tourism industry thrives on its heritage. Italy boasts more than 200,000 archaeological, monumental and architectural sites, without considering areas of major interest in terms of their landscape, environment, culture and traditions. Its 53 Unesco World Heritage sites, more than any other country in the world, is a sheer proof for us for its rich heritage appeal and amidst those cultural sites and archaeological importance lies the Island of Sardinia.
Sardinia is the rugged Mediterranean island that became a white-hot jet set destination in the Sixties, lapped by eye-popping aquamarine waters. The landscape of Sardinia is paradisiacal, but mastic trees gnarled with age and ruins, more than 7,000 ‘beehive tombs,’ or Nuraghes, tower throughout the island, suggest a hard-earned wisdom. In between those beehive tombs still exists a heritage and cultural values – worth sharing with the world.
Although the world has heard quite often about the island via notable personality spottings, from George and Amal Clooney, Rihanna to Elton John and Barack Obama spending summer holidays, the world doesn’t really know about the heritage importance and history the island preserves in itself. The island has not yet been discovered with that aspect. Keeping the narrative on hand and to create awareness about Sardinian culture, Campagnia B, Theatrical Production House from Italy, in association with Italian Chamber of Commerce Qatar, recently presented a short play ‘The Dress of Memories’, which was followed by a photo and traditional costume exhibition and ‘pecorino sardo’ cheese tasting at Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, Souq Waqif.
The play was a romantic journey set in the era of World War I; a conversation between a husband heading for the war and his invisible wife, hesitant of seeing him off for a battle of life. How he tries to convince his wife to keep up with the society and her happiness during his absence and his promise of returning alive takes the centre stage. The plot is an intense drama as it touches the base of tearing families and loved ones amidst war and the agonising decision for leaving everything and everyone behind for their own welfare and betterment. It’s a two-man show but the expressions of both the protagonists speak volume. The play also highlights the love of Sardinian women with the fabric of silk and colours.
“It’s an authentic Italian performance. The story is about the relationship between a man and his wife during the First World War and the conversations that they have about the fact that he had been conscripted to go to fight in the war. They speak about the dress of the woman and the meaning that they attribute to those clothes as well as all the stories and the memories related to the clothes that they are wearing,” said Alice Capitanio, scriptwriter and director of the play.
The photo exhibition featured photographs of the models dressed in traditional Sardinian silhouettes of the 19th Century to display a connection for how heritage and culture remains relevant in every period of time. The pleated skirt with minimalistic lined straw hat is still wearable. Isn’t it? Well the photo exhibition was a definite proof that it still is.
Talking about the Island of Sardinia and its recent developments on the international scope, Palma Libotte, Chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, said, “Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and a very popular holiday destination, thanks to its beautiful sea and eco-system. The main asset of the island is its hospitality and tourism. In 2017, 14 million people visited the island. The most exclusive location of Sardinia is Costa Smeralda and since Qatar has invested in it, there has been a further growth of +5.2% for the summer season 2019. The growth potential is enormous.
For some years now, Qatar has made significant investments in this beautiful Island that remains the favourite destination of the international Jet Set. There have been investments for more than one hundred million euros. 120mn of investment are planned until 2023.”
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