Picture by Svetlana Prodanova (WhoDoesWhatTV) – Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa and Diplomat Magazine’s Diplomatic Adviser Henri Estramant.
Tuesday, 10 November 2020, Kingdom of Bahrain: Bahrain nominated H.E. Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed bin Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, to hold the position of Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). A position currently held by the Georgian national Zurab Pololikashvili, sixth office-holder.
The news come amidst a plethora achievements that Sheikha Mai has accomplished in the field of sustainable tourism, and her efforts in strengthening the tourism-culture relationship to attain prosperity and development in various countries.
In 2017, the UNWTO appointed her as ‘Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’ in recognition of her tireless efforts. Other ambassadors at the time included H.M. Tsar Simeon II (Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski), former monarch and prime minister of Bulgaria, or Liberia’s former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Since 2008 Sheikha Mai has held several official positions, including Assistant Undersecretary for Culture and National Heritage (2002-2004) and (2005-2008), Minister of Culture and Information (2008-2010) and Minister of Culture (2010-2015). Currently, she is serving as President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities -with the rank of Minister- as well as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH).
She is also the founder and chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, which is a non-profit and non-governmental centre that aims to promote culture and preserve Bahrain’s urban heritage.
In 2012, Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed launched the initiative to celebrate Arab Tourism Day – this initiative has now become a celebration commemorated annually on 25 February. In 2019, Bahrain won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for “Revitalisation of Muharraq”. Amidst the impressive cultural emergence under her leadership, national sites were registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, namely, Qal’at al-Bahrain, the Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun (2005), Pearling, Testimony of an island economy (2012) as well as the Dilmun Burial Mounds (2019).
Sheikha Mai’s candidacy for the position of UNTWO Secretary-General comes as the tourism sector is going through major difficulties caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) that has left tremendous effects on the aviation and hospitality industry. The UNTWO is expected to lead global efforts for the recovery of the sector.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialised agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism formed in 1974. UNWTO’s membership includes 158 countries, six territories and over 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. Its headquarters are located in Madrid, Kingdom of Spain.
The official languages of UNWTO are Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
For further information
Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities: http://www.culture.gov.bh/en/
Article penned by HE Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa on Muharraq as ‘Islamic City of Culture’: http://www.diplomatmagazine.eu/2018/11/03/muharraq-capital-of-islamic-culture-2018/
Other articles about Sheikha Mai Al Khalifa: http://www.diplomatmagazine.eu/?s=Mai+bint+Mohammed+Al+Khalifa
Biography on Sheikha Mai: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_bint_Mohammed_Al_Khalifa