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Thu 6 Feb 2014 10:18 AM

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Venetians raise objections to plans for UAE-backed Islamic centre

Plans were announced during the Italian Prime Minister’s trade visit to the Gulf

Venetians raise objections to plans for UAE-backed Islamic centre

Politicians in Venice have voiced objections to plans to build an Islamic centre on the banks of the city’s famous canal, which is to be financed by funds from the UAE.

The plans for the centre near the city’s Grand Canal were announced by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Doha during a diplomatic and trade visit to the Gulf.

Mayor of Venice Giorgio Orsoni welcomed the arrival of the centre and said his office has “been working for months in close contact with the Emirates and Dubai who are interested in the realisation of the museum and ready to finance it,” the Daily Mail reported.

The centre is set to host Islamic art collections and exhibitions, but the plans have met with objections from other political groups who said the funds should be used to invest in the city’s struggling economy and its sinking infrastructure.

“I’m amazed that with all the problems that Italy has, from sky-high unemployment to businesses closing down because of excessive taxes and the worst economic crisis since the Second World War, that they could even think of putting money into a new, useless museum,” Luca Zaia, the governor of the region, was quoted as saying in The Telegraph newspaper.

A local senator, Massimo Bitonci, added: “We don’t want any Islamic museum in Venice. Letta would do better to focus on the economic crisis.”