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The City of Vienna honors OFID Director-General Al-Herbish
Vienna, Austria, January 30, 2015. The Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Suleiman J Al-Herbish, has been conferred with the Grand Decoration in Gold for the Meritorious Service to the Province of Vienna in recognition of his contribution to the Austrian capital.
The award, which is one of the highest decorations of the City and Province of Vienna, as well as of Austria, was presented by Magister Renate Brauner, Vice Mayor of Vienna, on behalf of Mayor Dr Michael Häupl. The ceremony was observed by Al-Herbish’s close family members, OFID’s management, ambassadors and the media. Dignitaries included Mr Li Yong, Director-General of UNIDO, Dr Pavel Kabat, Director-General of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and Dr Kandeh Yumkella, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL).
In her opening remarks, Ms Brauner praised Mr Al-Herbish for his professional accomplishments which reflected his close relationship with the city of Vienna. “The city is very grateful to OFID for its involvement in social and cultural activities,” said Brauner.
In his citation, Dr Oliver Rathkolb, prominent Austrian historian and professor for contemporary history at the University of Vienna, lauded OFID for its great aspiration and overarching objective to alleviate poverty. He praised Al-Herbish for his unflagging energy and wisdom in the development of concrete strategies for sustainable development in developing countries. “Mr Al-Herbish and other key decision makers in the international community remind us here in Austria—today one of the richest countries in Europe—that we have a commitment to join these efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” stated Rathkolb.
He also spoke of OFID’s contribution of over 50 grants that helped support the activities of Austrian NGOs and other entities that were working both at home and in the developing world. “Director-General Al-Herbish is a very distinguished friend of the City and Province of Vienna and an outstanding chief executive officer of OFID. He has transformed this institution since 2003 into a leading actor in the global SE4ALL initiative,” said Rathkolb. He added that Vienna would continue providing an inspiring, welcoming and friendly base for OFID’s important global operations.
Accepting the award on behalf of OFID’s colleagues, his family and OFID Member Countries and Partner Countries, Al-Herbish thanked his hosts and spoke of the special relationship that existed between OFID and Vienna, home to the institution since its establishment in 1976. . Al-Herbish paid tribute to the former Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky for his wisdom and foresight in inviting OPEC to have its headquarters in Vienna.
During his tenure as Director-General of OFID, Al-Herbish explained that he had previously received 11 awards, including one from the Republic of Austria. “But this latest award holds a very special place in my heart because it comes from the city that I love dearly,” stated Al-Herbish. “Ich bin ein Wiener,” he proclaimed.
In his remarks, Al-Herbish also paid tribute to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud who passed away last week. Al-Herbish recognized the role and contribution of the late King towards making Vienna the hub of energy. It was the late King who hosted the Third Summit of the OPEC Heads of State, in November 2007, in which the Eradication of Energy Poverty became an objective for their aid institutions, including OFID. In June 2008, King Abdullah kept the issue of energy poverty eradication at the fore, with the proclamation of the Energy for the Poor Initiative, which ever since became OFID’s flagship program, and was also behind the SE4ALL Initiative which has its secretariat in Vienna. Mr Al-Herbish also believed that OFID, OPEC and the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue would continue to be hosted by the City of Vienna.
As a token of appreciation, the Director-General presented two books to the Mayor of Vienna through Ms Brauner. One was the history of Vienna’s famous Deutschmeister Palais—the institution’s headquarters for over thirty years—which was published as a gift from OFID to the people and the City of Vienna. Another was the recently-published Energy: the Key for Sustainable Development, which contains a collection of the Director-General’s speeches delivered throughout OFID’s campaign towards energy poverty eradication.
Al-Herbish, a Saudi, has been chief executive officer of OFID since November 2003. Since assuming office, he has steered OFID through a comprehensive process of institutional transformation, with the aim of making its work more relevant, efficient and visible.