Irina Bokova meets the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs
During her official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.R.H. Prince Saud Al Faisal. Their discussion focused on cooperation in the fields of dialogue between cultures and building a culture of peace.
The Minister shared his vision regarding the importance of intercultural dialogue and enhanced mutual understanding between cultures and religions, highlighting the need "to concentrate on similarities amongst cultures and religions -- only in this way, can we achieve a true dialogue."
The Minister commended UNESCO for its work in the area of dialogue and peace, notably through the recently established King Abdullah Fund for a Culture of Peace. He informed the Director-General of the official inauguration of the International Centre for Peace and Understanding, by H.M. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in Vienna later this year, and he invited UNESCO to establish cooperation with the centre.
The need to ensure the protection of cultural heritage and the security of children in schools in the context of conflict and civil unrest in the region were also discussed.
In concluding the meeting, the Minister expressed appreciation for the admission of Palestine to UNESCO.
The Director-General visited the Mawhiba Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, established by H.M. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, where she met with some of the students. She also visited the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Public Education Development Project (PEDP) where she was presented with the Kingdom's 5-year plan for education throughout the country. The plan aims at expanding the role of educational districts and schools in order to outreach to remote rural and marginalized areas."UNESCO has always been a driver for educational development in Saudi Arabia," said Mr. Ali Siddiq Alhakami, General Manager of PEDP.
The Director-General acknowledged the efforts of His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the area of education in the country saying that "it is fundamental to establish equity in education in order to build more inclusive societies". "I welcome the King’s efforts to implement his ambitious reform and to invest in the people of his country -- human capital is the only renewable energy for a sustainable future," she said.