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HE Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh

— Minister of State

Born in Jerusalem in 1946 and obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics and Politics from the University of Cambridge. Following his graduation, he made the United Arab Emirates his home and soon after began his service in the newly established Government of Abu Dhabi Department of Civil Service. His polyglot nature brought him to the attention of the royal family — specifically, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, to whom he became translator, interpreter, and adviser. Assigned the role of Minister of State in 2017, he currently oversees public and cultural diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and is the Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

  • Cultural Diplomat of the Year, Abu Dhabi CultureSummit, 2017
  • Officer of the French Légion d’Honneur, 2015
  • Gold Medal in the Arts from the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, 2014
  • Al Owais Cultural Award, 2013
  • Cultural Foundation Pro-Europe European Arab Culture Prize, Leipzig, 2013
  • Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 2013
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 2013
  • European Academy of Sciences and Arts Ring of Tolerance, Frankfurt, 2012
  • Medal for Merit to Culture “Gloria Artis,” Republic of Poland, 2010
  • Commander of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, July 2008
  • Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria, January 2007
  • Commander of the French Ordre des Palmes Académiques, February 2007
  • Abu Dhabi Award, 2007 – Grand Officer Star of Italian Solidarity, August 2007
  • Chevalier of the French Légion d’Honneur, May 2001
  • Officer of the Spanish Order of Merit, July 1999
  • Commander of the British Victorian Order, July 1989
  • Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1983
  • Officer of the French Order of Merit, August 1980

His Excellency settled in Abu Dhabi in 1967 and started his career as a journalist writing for several Arabic and European news-agencies and papers reporting on the historic events associated with Sheikh Zayed’s accession to power and with the establishment of the United Arab Emirates under his leadership, witnessing at close hand Sheikh Zayed’s historic achievements in laying the the foundations for his country’s future stability, security and prosperity in a period of great uncertainty in the region associated with British withdrawal from the Gulf.

In 1968, His Excellency joined the Government of Abu Dhabi where he became the official interpreter of His Highness Sheikh Zayed. While performing his main role as the official interpreter for the country’s ruler and subsequent President, he also worked briefly for the newly established Government of Abu Dhabi Civil Service Department, translating the first Civil codes in the country and working in organizing its Administration. Following that, he joined the Department of Information & Tourism for the government of Abu Dhabi as Director of Research and Publications and later as Director of Information as the department was transformed into the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Information and Tourism.

During his work there His Excellency helped in the translation and publication of the early historic research carried out by Dr. Morsi Abdulla on the tribes and history of Abu Dhabi. He also edited the first English newspaper to be published by the Abu Dhabi Government (Abu Dhabi Times) and participated in establishing its first Arabic newspaper (Al Itihad). He worked during his time at the Ministry of Information as a broadcaster and program producer in English and generally took part in the planning and development of information and media strategy for the Government. His Excellency also took part in preparing, editing and translating all of the books and publications of the Department-subsequently the Ministry- of Information. He accompanied His Highness Sheikh Zayed on all his overseas official visits working both as his personal interpreter and preparing media coverage and executive briefs for those visits. In addition, His Excellency acted as a State interpreter for senior Government officials that included the Prime Minister and his deputy, the Foreign Minister, and the Presidential Chamberlain during official talks with foreign Governments.

In 1975, His Excellency was attached directly to the Diwan (The Crown Prince’s Court) of His Highness Sheikh Zayed as Director of Information and later on as the Press Advisor. He also took part in the Diwan’s strategy planning and crisis monitoring and prepared executive briefs for the President and for Government leaders.

In January 2006, His Excellency was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority, where he participated in strategy planning and in supervising its activities and was directly involved in the implementation of a number of its cultural programs. He is currently a member of the Permanent Higher Executive Committee of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and continues his work the Culture and Tourism Authority in Abu Dhabi as a member of the Board.

His Excellency serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, which he helped to establish in 2006 and is directly involved in its management. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Emirates National School and a member of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Center for Documentation and Research.

In 1995 His Excellency helped establish and was the President of the Abu Dhabi Classical Concert Committee, a voluntary association, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to promote and present world-class classical music concerts in the capital city of Abu Dhabi.

In 2000 His Excellency contributed to founding the Al Ain Classical Music Festival. An annual event held in March of every year the festival provides classical music lovers with an opportunity to attend performances presented by internationally renown orchestras in the scenic setting of the oasis city of Al Ain as well as programmed tours of the area’s rich cultural heritage.

His Excellency is also the founding President of Abu Dhabi’s branch of the international ‘Friends of Richard Wagner’ society under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the only one in the Arab world.

A life member of the Emirates Natural History Society, and President of the Alliance Française of Abu Dhabi since 1976, a non-profit French cultural organization which promotes French language and culture in Abu Dhabi and teaches Arabic to foreigners His Excellency also sits on the boards of a number of international councils including the Agha Khan Museum in Toronto, the Institut du monde Arabe in Paris, the Wagner Frienship Society in Leipzig, and was Chairman of the Advisory Board of the LSE Middle East Centre.

His Excellency has published translations of Gulf and Arab poetry into European languages as well as numerous articles and studies in local, Arabic and international newspapers and journals. His languages include, in addition to Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish as well as some Russian. In 2014 in recognition of his long and active career His Excellency was awarded an honorary PhD in Human Sciences by the University of Jerusalem.

HE Omar Saif Ghobash

— Assistant Minister of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation

Born in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah in 1971, Omar Saif Ghobash received a law degree from Balliol College, Oxford University and a mathematics degree from the University of London. 

Ambassador to the Republic of France in 2017 & the Russian Federation (2008-2017). 

Author of Letters to a Young Muslim, personal & insightful letters to his sons, a vital manifesto tackling the dilemmas facing young Muslims & everyone navigating the complexities of today’s world

Established the Arabic Booker Prize for fiction & Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in memory of his father who was UAE’s first Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. 

Born in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah in 1971, Omar Saif Ghobash received a law degree from Balliol College, Oxford University and a mathematics degree from the University of London. He was appointed Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs – Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in 2019. Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of France in 2017 and ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Russian Federation (2008-2017). 

He began his career with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat at the UAE Mission to the United Nations. 

He currently serves on the board of trustees at The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King College London and the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi.

Prior to his appointment in Moscow, Ghobash established finance and legal services companies that operate across the MENA region. In 2005, he founded The Third Line, Dubai first international contemporary art gallery showcasing artists from the Middle East. He also helped to establish the Arabic Booker Prize for fiction as well as the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in memory of his father, Saif Ghobash, who was the UAE first Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. 

Author of Letters to a Young Muslim:  In a series of personal and insightful letters to his sons, Omar Saif Ghobash offers a vital manifesto that tackles the dilemmas facing not only young Muslims but everyone navigating the complexities of today’s world. Full of wisdom and thoughtful reflections on faith, culture and society. This is a courageous and essential book that celebrates individuality whilst recognising it is our shared humanity that brings us together.

Written with the experience of a diplomat and the personal responsibility of a father; Ghobash’s letters offer understanding and balance in a world that rarely offers any. An intimate and hopeful glimpse into a sphere many are unfamiliar with; it provides an understanding of the everyday struggles Muslims face around the globe.