The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is proud to be hosting the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Riyadh from September 10–25, 2023 and to highlight the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting global efforts in heritage preservation and protection, in line with the goals of UNESCO.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cements its position on the world stage as an organizer and convenor of major international events as it successfully hosts the 45th Extended United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee.
As the elected host for the UNESCO event, the Government of Saudi Arabia and its supporting institutions welcomed more than 3,000 UNESCO delegates and guests to the world-class facilities at the Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, Riyadh. Home to a young and diverse population of nearly 8 million, the ninth largest stock market in the world, and a regional hub for international businesses, Riyadh is increasingly seen as a destination of choice for large-scale, high-profile global events.
His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Culture and Chairman of the Saudi National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, said: “We are delighted to welcome the UNESCO World Heritage Committee members and the 195 attendees from the member states where we have had the opportunity to share the richness of Saudi culture, hospitality, and heritage with the world. As hosts, we have welcomed delegates to share our capital, its world-class facilities, and its heritage. We have also reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to building and facilitating more international platforms for open collaboration, innovation, and dialogue between global leaders on critical issues facing our world.”
At the opening ceremony, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said: “It is very significant that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is hosting such a universal session, with so many participants, diverse voices, and intense debates. It is further proof that Saudi Arabia, situated at one of the crossroads of the world with its rich, multi-millennial history, has chosen to invest in culture, heritage and creativity.”
Convening such a major event, incorporating global coordination and detailed and complex planning, demonstrates the resources available in the city. Some of the key highlights from the UNESCO event include: 4,450m2 main conference venue with a capacity for 4000 attendees—the largest column-free venue in the Kingdom; Event spaces feature state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment, simultaneous interpretation booths and high-speed WiFi. Additional space includes three halls and exhibition sites. Over 37 side events and exhibitions over the two weeks; Over 60 cultural programmes and guided tours to provide guests with unique experiences in Saudi heritage, culture, traditions and ceremonies; Over 30 points of contact, 30 concierges, 60 transportation contacts, 25 booths and 50 hosting teams; A fleet of 60 buses provides free shuttle bus services between the venue, recommended hotels, and the airport; The issuance of over 3,000 visas for UNESCO officials and guests from the 195 member states including instant pre-arrival and on-arrival issuance; A world class media centre, registration desk and program to support the needs of 34 international journalists covering the event; The construction and security of the main plenary hall to the precise specifications and technical requirements of UNESCO
Hosting the extended 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee showcases the ongoing momentum of Saudi Arabia’s cultural transformation plan of Vision 2030, which calls for economic diversity and encourages social and cultural development.