The Secretary-General of The United Nations World Tourism Organization Became Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE

Thursday, 29 May 2014 11:55

At an official ceremony in the Academic Hall Prof. D.Sc.(Econ.) Statty Stattev, Rector of UNWE, awarded the Honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE to Prof. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. At the official event attended the Academic Managing Body of UNWE, Branimir Botev, Deputy Minister of Economy and Energy, lecturers, representatives of the media. 

Prof. Stattev is introducing the guest. On the left next to him: Prof. Taleb Rifai, Branimir Botev, Prof. Tadarakov

The Rector of the university outlined that the awarding of the high title to Prof. Rifai had been suggested by the Economics of Tourism Department. He presented to guest the Bachelor`s Degree Programme on Economics of Tourism studied at the university in the Bulgarian and English language and the trilingual joint Master`s Degree Programme between the UNWE and the Universite du littoral Cote D`Opale (ULCO), France. Prof. Stattev announced the Academic Council Decision to confer on Prof. Rifai the Honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE “for merits in the development of theory and practice of tourism in the world”.

Prof. Dr. Dimitar Tadarakov, Head of the Economics of Tourism Department presented the serious biography of Prof. Taleb Rifai. 

Prof. Tadarakov is presenting the biography of Prof. Rifai.

Prof. Stattev awarded to Prof. Rifai the academic regalia of the Honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa – the Honorary sign of UNWE and a roll in the Old-Bulgarian and Latin language.

Prof. Stattev (on the right) is giving the Honorary sign.

The roll in the Old-Bulgarian and Latin language

The Rector gave to the Secretary-General of the UNWTO the documents for joining the UNWE as an Associated Member to the World Tourism Organization. The photo of Prof. Taleb Rifai was put on the wall in the Academic Hall where the pictures of all Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE had been hung.  

The Rector is giving to Prof. Rifai the documents for joining the UNWE as an Associate Member to the World Tourism Organization.

In his academic speech Prof. Taleb Rifai expressed his thankfulness for the high distinction awarded to him by the eldest and the largest economic university in the country and one of the leading educational institutions in Europe. The new Doctor Honoris Causa declared his readiness to observe the university tradition of reading annually a public lecture at the higher school. "I am particularly pleased to be at the UNWE and address to all of you. Dear, Mr. Rector, be sure that I will keep it in my heart while I'm alive”, added the guest. He greeted the university leadership on behalf of the United Nations family and the world tourist community and pointed out that the World Tourism Organization is the youngest in the United Nations. 

The new Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE is delivering his academic speech.

The newly awarded Doctor Honoris Causa of UNWE emphasized on the development of the tourism as an extremely powerful instrument, one of the largest generators of employment and a drive for the economic growth and development. As an example Prof. Rifai pointed out that only in the last year 1 billion tourists had visited foreign countries and the provisions for them had been to increase up to 1,8 billion to 2013. The tourism is really a revolution which will change our lives through the movement of people, added the Professor and reminded about the evolution in the movement of goods, capitals and ideas to the age of the free mobility of people.

Prof. Rifai outlined that the center of the weight in the tourism had moved to the south and east. 60% of the tourists would travel to the developing countries till 2030. He said that every seventh person in the world had travelled and last year the activity of the tourism had risen by nearly 5% as the sector had proved to be sustainable in the crisis. During the last year China had anticipated the traditionally strong Germany by the number of tourists with 30 million more ones – from the Asian country had gone abroad 98 million tourists who had spent 129 billion dollars and from Russia 55 million tourists had travelled abroad. “One billion tourists can be one billion opportunities or one billion disasters. The tourism is a force which can`t be stopped and it depends on us how this opportunity will be used’’, said in conclusion Prof. Rifai.

In the Golden Book of UNWE Prof. Rifai wrote:” It is a great pleasure and great honour to be in this noble and authoritative institution. The history of Bulgaria can`t be told without the participation of this prestigious institution. As an international public scientist and university professor myself I have very special feeling while writing these words. I am sure I will be here again and I will carry with me the moments of this event for a long, long time.”

Prof. Stattev is showing the Golden Book of UNWE.

After the academic ceremony the Rector Prof. D.Sc.(Econ.) Statty Stattev and Prof. Taleb Rifai laid flowers in front of the monument of Prof. Stephan Bobchev – founder and first Rector of UNWE. 

A photo in front of the monument of Prof. Bobchev

Taleb Rifai, a Jordanian national born is involved in research, teaching and practicing Architecture and Urban Design in Jordan and the USA. He has been a professor of Architecture at the University of Jordan and taught several courses in Philadelphia, Chicago and Cambridge. He has received his PhD in Urban Design and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, his Master’s degree in Engineering and Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and his BSc in Architectural Engineering from the University of Cairo in Egypt. Prof. Rifai has an extensive background in international and national public service, the private sector and academia. Positions held include: Assistant Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan (Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Minister of Information and Minister of Tourism and Antiquity), CEO of Jordan’s Cement Company, Director of the Economic Mission to Washington DC and Director General of the Investment Promotion Corporation of Jordan. During his term as Minister of Tourism and Antiquity, Taleb Rifai established Jordan’s first Archaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra in collaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank. He also realized several grand projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. As Minister of Tourism, he was also the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Ammon School for Tourism and Hospitality.

 In 2001 Prof. Rifai has been elected for Chairman of the Executive Council of the UNWTO. Since 2006 to 2009 he has been Deputy Secretary-General of the UNWTO and on 1 January 2010 he has begun his four-year term and has been elected for a second four-year term, starting January 2014.

Taleb Rifai has received several distinguished decorations including one of Jordan’s highest medals for public service, Al Kawkab, as well as several high-level decorations from France, Italy and many other countries. His background combines solid political experience and technical knowledge in the field of tourism, as well as experience in the work and functioning of international organizations. His background also provides him with extensive economic, business and academic experience. Throughout his professional career, Prof. Rifai has been a reformer and a consensus builder: two important qualities in effecting sustainable change. His ability to introduce fresh thinking and to work closely with people in order to ensure buy-in and to achieve enduring reforms is evident in all his endeavours, notably, restructuring the Jordan Television Network, privatizing the Jordan Cement Company and introducing fresh thinking to the UNWTO where he was the principal author of the White Paper, a blueprint for reform in 2009.

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