Her Excellency Shaikha Mai bint Muhammad Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) and Bahrain’s nominee for Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), said that the elections, which resulted in the victory of Georgia’s nominee and current Secretary General of the WTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, came in an atmosphere that did not reflect fair competition between the candidates and under difficult circumstances.
The elections for the Secretary-General of the WTO for the 2022-2025 term were held Tuesday, January 19, 2021, on the sidelines of the 113th session of the WTO’s Executive Council.
Her Excellency added that the election process for position of Secretary-General of the WTO was moved forward from its usual date in May to January, a decision which did not allow sufficient time for WTO countries to complete their nomination files or nominees from running effective election campaigns, which reduced chances in running the elections strongly and effectively. Her Excellency further indicated that the two former Secretary Generals of the WTO, Dr. Taleb Al-Rifai and Mr. Francesco Frangialli, had objected in a statement to holding the election date earlier than was previously scheduled.
Notwithstanding, Shaikha Mai stated that she was happy to represent the Kingdom of Bahrain in such a global event, saying that, “I extend my sincerest gratitude to the leadership of the Kingdom of Bahrain, headed by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Communication Center for their support in this campaign, as well as all the countries that supported the nomination of the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
Her Excellency affirmed that she will continue to work at the local, regional and international levels to support the tourism sector and develop the cultural tourism infrastructure to achieve the goals of sustainable development and enhance local communities, saying: “Cultural and tourism progress can be achieved irrespective of the position the official holds. It is through joint work and cooperation that our cities can become better models for sustainable development.”
It is key to note that Her Excellency Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa contributed to placing Bahrain on the global tourism map by developing tourism and diversifying its markets, and she also launched world class initiatives and cultural seasons, as well as undertaking efforts to establish a large number of important cultural and tourism in Bahrain. It has also succeeded in registering three Bahrain sites on the World Heritage List, and has moved in the name of the Kingdom to the world through important international awards and recognitions, including the title of Special Ambassador for Sustainable Tourism for Development for the year 2017, in addition to the Aga Khan for Architecture award-winning “Revitalization of Muharraq” project, the Bahrain Pavilion at Expo Milan winning the Silver Award in Architecture, and the Kingdom Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 winning the Golden Lion Award.
Her Excellency Sheikha Mai is currently the President of BACA, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arab Regional Center for World Heritage in Manama, and Chair and Founder of the Board of Trustees of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research. A recipient of many high-level international accolades, she also raised $150 million through the Invest in Culture initiative which she launched with the aim of funding the development of cultural and tourism infrastructure projects.