Minister of Education Dr. Muhammad Al-Rasheed for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Director-General Dr. Federico Mayor for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), yesterday signed two agreements, the first stipulating cooperation in the field of activities undertaken by UNESCO, and the second providing for the Kingdom to finance educational and cultural projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A similar agreement was signed three years ago for the renovation and equipping of a number of schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was recently elected a member of UNESCO’s executive council in recognition of its pioneering role in supporting UNESCO. The Kingdom was one of the founders of UNESCO in 1946, and the third country to ratify its convention.
Dr. Mayor yesterday met with Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard. He also met with Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General. Today he had a meeting with Prince Sultan Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, Vice-President of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (GPYW), who praised the efforts of the international organization in support of cultural and social programs around the world, stressing the GPYW’s concern to bolster UNESCO’s development plans in the areas of youth, sports, culture and social services.
On Saturday, Dr. Mayor toured the Masmak Palace and the adjoining souk, accompanied by Education Under-Secretary for Museums Dr. Saad Al-Rashid. Dr. Mayor praised the support extended by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz to the project of repair of Arab and Islamic antiquities in Jerusalem as an essential element in its execution, as well as the Kingdom’s contribution, amounting to U.S. $ 1.5 million, for repair of Palestinian schools.
Commenting on Dr. Mayor’s visit, Minister of Education Dr. Al-Rasheed today stated that the two agreements signed will pave the way for further cooperation between the Kingdom and UNESCO. For his part, Dr. Mayor expressed pride at the experience acquired by the King Faisal Foundation in the field of authentication of manuscripts, and announced that UNESCO had decided to set up an international center in Riyadh. Dr. Mayor praised the great strides made in the educational sphere not only by the Kingdom, but by the other Gulf States, and quoted a recent UNESCO report as stating that the Kingdom’s educational sector had tripled in the last twenty-five years. Dr. Mayor reported that he had agreed on Saturday with GCC Secretary-General Jamil Hujeilan to start cooperation between UNESCO and GCC member states.
In addition, Dr. Mayor reported that he had met with Sheikh Muhammad Bin Jubair, Chairman of Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council), who briefed him on the principle of shura in Islam and the efforts made by the Kingdom to spread awareness and knowledge throughout the nation and expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between UNESCO and the various concerned Saudi organizations.
Dr. Mayor expressed his pleasure at visiting the Kingdom and being able to have a close look into the development projects, and praised the valuable assistance being rendered by the Kingdom in support of UNESCO’s functions. During his visit, Dr. Mayor signed, together with Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Arab Gulf Fund for Support of UN Development (AGFUND), agreements for implementation of three UNESCO projects approved by AGFUND. These are: a project for the eradication of illiteracy and promotion of girls’ education in rural areas of Zambia; the training of education officials and support of girls’ education in the rural areas of Morocco; and the education of refugees and the establishment of a teacher training program in Bosnia. Since 1992, AGFUND has contributed to financing over forty UNESCO education projects worldwide.