Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, visited Saudi Arabia to attend the 2020 Conference of Nobel Laureates, held in AlUla. This visit at the invitation of His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, the Minister of Culture, followed the agreement reached between UNESCO and Saudi Arabia to support the development of the country’s new Ministry of Culture in 2018. For the Director-General, this trip was also an opportunity to view the historic site of Al-Hijr (Madâin Sâlih), the Kingdom’s first site to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
During her trip, the Director-General was granted an audience with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. She also met the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
All of the subjects dealt with by the Organization were discussed during this visit. In light of Saudi Arabia’s election to UNESCO’s Executive Board and World Heritage Committee, the Director-General encouraged the Saudi authorities to maintain their engagement in issues covered by the Organization’s mandate: culture, education, science, and communication and information.
This visit was also an opportunity for UNESCO and Saudi Arabia to confirm the commitment made by the Saudi Minister of Culture in Paris in July 2019 to protect heritage around the world. This will ensure that efforts can be stepped up in the fields of digital technology, sustainable cultural tourism, the safeguarding of traditional building techniques, the preservation of World Heritage sites and the development of the creative economy.
In the context of Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency in 2020, the Director-General and Saudi authorities agreed to work closely to prepare segments in the Organization’s fields of competence, including education and artificial intelligence.