New German diplomat seeks closer cultural ties with KSA
Miriam Seyffarth’s first visit to Saudi Arabia happened by accident. In 2009 she was supposed to travel on an excursion to Yemen, but was late for registration. As an alternative, she was offered a place on an exchange student program with Saudi Arabia.
The atmosphere and culture in Saudi Arabia fascinated her to such an extent that she wrote her master’s thesis on Saudi women in the labor market.
Since April 2014, she has been working as a cultural attaché at the German Consulate General in Jeddah.
Most European countries use organizations, such as the Commonwealth or Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, as their platform for cultural activities. In Germany, this type of activity is done through the Goethe Institute, whose aim is to promote the German language and culture in about 159 countries.
“My work is based on a triad of institutions: The Goethe Institute in Cairo, the German Foreign Ministry and the Robert Bosch Foundation,” said Seyffarth. “There are efforts underway to build a Goethe Institute in Saudi Arabia. Hopefully this project will succeed in strengthening cultural exchange between the two countries.”
The Goethe Institute carries the “consultancy and check-up reference role on projects.” The Robert Bosch Foundation’s role is primarily financial and advisory, but it can also help with ideas. The consulate, representing the Foreign Ministry, provides legal and logistical support, she said.
“Of course I knew that my work here in Jeddah would be challenging,” Seyffarth said. “But my predecessor who was here for three years, left me with a large network of good contacts, through which I was able to meet a lot of interesting people in Jeddah.”
Her mission is to promote cultural exchange between the two countries. This includes areas such as literature and music.
The Robert Bosch Foundation, one of Germany’s leading foundations, was founded in 1949 in honor of the German industrialist and inventor Robert Bosch, who died in 1942.
The foundation, which is connected to the Bosch engineering and electronics company, focuses on healthcare, international understanding, welfare, education, arts, culture, research and teaching in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.