Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has been awarded the 2021 World Mayor Award by the London-based thinktank City Mayors Foundation for ‘his commitment to treat all citizens as ‘Rotterdammers’, irrespective of their origins and backgrounds.’
Aboutaleb shared the honour with Philippe Rio, who is mayor of Grigny, one of the most deprived cities in France.
The jury praised Aboutaleb for his ‘courage, patience and humility’ and ‘exceptional leadership’, particularly during the pandemic when he showed great awareness of the vulnerability of some groups in society, the jury said.
Aboutaleb, who started his third term in office in January this year, is the first Dutch mayor to have been given the prize which is awarded every two years to representatives of outstanding local government.
In a reaction, Aboutaleb said he was extremely honoured to have been nominated for the award. ‘It’s very special. I knew something was up because the organisation had been asking questions about me. But considering the huge number of mayors in the world the last thing you expect is that it’s you they’ll choose,’ he told RTL Nieuws.
The Labour party member was the first Muslim mayor to be appointed in a big city in Western Europe when he took office in 2009. Mayors in the Netherlands are formally crown appointees.
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