Speech by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the 217th Executive Board of UNESCO Paris – October 9, 2023
Madam Chairperson of the Executive Board,
Mr. President of the General Conference,
Madam Director-General of UNESCO,
Your Excellencies, Heads of Delegations of Member States and Observers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May the peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.
First and foremost, it is with great pleasure that I extend my greetings to all present at this opening session of the Executive Board. It is an honor to represent my country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and to express our support for the statement of the Arab Group, which will subsequently be delivered by the sisterly State of Kuwait.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to draw attention to the accomplishments of the extended 45th Session of the World Heritage Committee. The Kingdom was honored to host this session under the auspices of the Saudi National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science. With the presence of colleagues from UNESCO, its representatives, member states, observers, and advisory committees, we witnessed the resumption of the committee’s in-person work for the first time in four years.
During the session, the Kingdom proudly inscribed its seventh heritage site, ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, during the committee’s proceedings on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The committee also saw the registration of endangered heritage sites, the registration of heritage sites in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, and an unprecedented number of African heritage sites being added, bringing the total number of registered African heritage sites to 100.
We renew our congratulations to everyone on the success of this edition of the World Heritage Committee. We look forward to ensuring the sustainability of our countries’ cultural and heritage treasures, aiming to build a future in which culture is a global public good.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks once again for the substantial support and cooperation provided by the World Heritage Committee and the General Secretariat of UNESCO. This facilitated the holding of the committee’s work in the Kingdom in the required manner and ensured the presence and participation of delegates from member states, both from Paris and from the capitals of their countries, the number of which exceeded 3,000 participants. This played a major role in the success of the Committee and the achievement of its desired goals.
In light of the Kingdom’s international leadership in the field of artificial intelligence, we inaugurated the International Center for Artificial Intelligence Research and Ethics in July 2023. This establishment will amplify the Kingdom’s regional and international role in artificial intelligence, ensuring the fortification of research efforts and achieving responsible use of artificial intelligence applications. Moreover, the Kingdom is poised to witness the establishment of an artificial intelligence center, category 2, in the capital, Riyadh, to augment international efforts in this domain.
At another level within Saudi Arabia, the Royal Commission for AlUla has embarked on a new chapter of partnership with UNESCO. The Commission has announced the initiation of the second phase of the cooperation agreement, uniting both parties in pursuits related to heritage preservation, education, and capacity-building within the fields of antiquities and creative arts in AlUla.
The Kingdom is dedicated to bolstering the Saudi creative economy, recognizing the potential of culture and creativity to contribute to sustainable development, and enabling and encouraging creative individuals to participate in the economy. This aligns with the objectives of UNESCO and responds to the organization’s declaration of the year 2021 as the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends its support to the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) strategy, recognizing the pivotal role these countries play in the draft resolution. We are optimistic that the active involvement of the island states in the decision-making process will foster more inclusive and equitable outcomes.
Furthermore, we are pleased to share the announcement from His Royal Highness, the Saudi Crown Prince, and Prime Minister regarding the establishment of a Global Water Organization aimed at amplifying global efforts to address water challenges holistically. This initiative emanates from the Kingdom, aiming to unite global efforts to tackle water supply challenges and provide a platform for the most affected communities to deliberate on challenges related to this crucial issue.
In view of the Kingdom’s re-election as a member of the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission at its 32nd session, we reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to its vital role in promoting international cooperation with the aim of realizing the objectives pursued by this Commission.
On the sidelines of the accomplishments realized during the expanded 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, which I have mentioned above, the Kingdom is honored to be nominated to host the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development – MONDIACULT in 2025. In the 216 session of the Executive Board, the Kingdom conveyed its readiness to host the upcoming conference, and we anticipate cooperation in this regard with UNESCO and all member states.
In the context of establishing the open-ended working group for member states of the World Heritage Convention, which was adopted within the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, the Kingdom is pleased to accept the chairmanship; we look forward to cooperation to achieve the objectives for which this group was established.
In conclusion, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aspires to sustain its role as an active member of UNESCO and achieve the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals, aligning with the objectives of our ambitious national plan: Saudi Vision 2030.
Thank you for listening, and may the peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.