In the margins of the Global Education and Skills Forum, the Director-General met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai on 13 March 2016.
Thanking His Highness Sheikh Al Maktoum for the excellent cooperation with UNESCO that spans from education to the safeguarding of all forms of cultural heritage, the Director-General praised the educational achievements of UAE and the priority placed on youth, tolerance and the advancement of girls and women. She commended the presence of a dedicated State Minister for Youth Affairs and the appointment of eight female ministers in the Federal Government. She recalled the generous support to teachers through the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers, and expressed gratitude for the UAE’s continued financial support to UNESCO’s programmes and projects.
His Highness highlighted his commitment to women and education, noting that 70 percent of university students are female and that UAE enjoys the most elevated high school to university transition rate in the world. He emphasized the importance of creating hope for Arab youth and inspiring them with confidence in their future. This is one of the purposes underpinning the project to launch a mission to Mars in the year 2021, to mark the UAE’s 50th anniversary.
Turning to the destruction of world heritage sites, the Director-General expressed deep appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Al Maktoum for his support to safeguarding, and welcomed a project to digitalize looted and destroyed sites so that they may be shown to the world. "Extremists want to destroy knowledge and the notion that we live together. Your contribution sends a very strong message of tolerance,” said the Director-General. “We must work more on interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and advocate different approaches in the face of the intolerance that is holding everyone back."
She also expressed UNESCO’s interest in collaboration on the World Government Summit convened annually by the UAE, which acts as a knowledge exchange platform on governance and the harnessing of innovation and technology to solve global challenges.
The meeting was held in the presence of Mr Sunny Varkey, founder and Chairman of the Varkey Gems Foundation, and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education Partnerships. She commended him for the success of the Global Education and Skills Forum that gathered influential leaders from across the world on the theme of collective public responsibility for education, and for the creation of the Global Teacher Prize, which was jointly awarded with the Ruler of Dubai on 13 March. The Forum was placed under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.