UAE new member on Unesco board

The UAE was the leading vote-getter from the Arab World on Unesco's executive board.

Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // The UAE's election to the board of the UN educational, scientific and cultural agency is recognition of the respect the country has gained for its international efforts in a variety of fields, academics said yesterday.

"It is a seat at the most senior position on Unesco that comes with privileges, influence and responsibility," said Dr Christina Gitsaki, the Unesco chair of applied research in education at Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology.

The UAE is one of 31 new members elected to the 58-member executive board by Unesco's member states, which are attending the 36th session of the general conference. The conference, in Paris, began on October 25 and continues until Thursday.

"The win is a testament to the international efforts of the UAE in various areas: in research and innovation; in renewable energy; in education and trying out different models of schooling; in humanitarian efforts; and its accomplishments within the heritage and culture domains," Dr Gitsaki said.

Unesco's mission is "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information", its website says.

Last June, Al Ain was the first UAE area to be selected as a world heritage site on Unesco's prestigious list, which includes Egypt's pyramids and India's Taj Mahal.

Sharjah officials will next year submit a file to Unesco hoping to have its heritage area listed as a world site. Unesco named Sharjah the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998.

Last year, the UAE and 11 other countries had falconry recognised by Unesco as an example of intangible cultural heritage.

"Unesco is very active and does a lot of work in underprivileged countries," Dr Gitsaki said. "The UAE can now help highlight issues in the region that previously didn't get any attention."

Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qattami, the Minister of Education who led the UAE delegation to the conference, said the country received 144 votes of a total 186, topping the Arab Group that was competing for three seats.

The other two Arab winners were Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Jordan and Libya missed out.

States are elected to the executive board for four years. It meets twice a year to examine the execution of programmes adopted by the general conference.

Mr Al Qattami told the state news agency Wam the win reflected the huge respect the UAE had worldwide and the prominent role it played in global issues, particularly in humanitarian areas.

"This win is a translation to the progress and prosperity witnessed in all walks of life in the UAE, thanks to our wise leadership," he said.