Over the holidays one of the cities I traveled to was Rotterdam and while there I was lucky enough to meet the mayor of the city Ahmed Aboutaleb. Before I left Kuwait my friend in Rotterdam told me he managed set up a meeting for me with the mayor and that we would have 30 minutes of his time followed by a private tour of City Hall. I was pretty thrilled, I hadn’t been to Rotterdam before and getting to meet the mayor on my first visit was really exciting.
We got to City Hall early because obviously we didn’t want to be late for the mayor. Once there we were given a very friendly welcome by the mayor himself and his staff who all met us outside at the entrance of his office. Once inside the mayors office we were led to the seating area where I was told to sit opposite the mayor. On the table in front of us was a little stand with three flags, a Dutch flag, the flag of Rotterdam and the Kuwaiti flag since that’s where I was coming from. Their hospitality and professionalism made me feel like I was someone very important.
We started talking about the weather first since that’s always a good ice breaker and then the conversation shifted towards the city and finally to the way the mayor runs the city. One thing I loved is the fact he checks his emails personally. Everyday he receives on average around 50 or 60 emails from Rotterdam citizens regarding various topics and he reads them all himself. Then depending on what the email is about he assigns various members of his team to follow up and sort the issues out. Rotterdam is the second largest city in Netherlands but the way he runs things hands on you would think he’s running a small town like Pawnee. I loved that.
After my 30 minutes were up I was given a parting gift by the mayor and then had a photo taken with him. I was then given a tour of City Hall before I ended up leaving for lunch. It was such a great and inspiring meeting that it made me more determined to want to be the Mayor of Salmiya one day.