Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Club de Madrid, the independent, non-partisan, non-profit organisation created to promote good governance, global cooperation, dialogue and advocacy on issues of global concern, embarked on a visit to strengthen its relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and chart a path for enhanced collaboration across the Middle East.

Maria Elena Agüero, Secretary General of Club de Madrid, paid a two-day visit to Abu Dhabi, during which she engaged in high-level discussions with government dignitaries, influential business figures, and representatives from diverse civil society entities. Exchanges centred around the Club de Madrid's ongoing initiatives, including its most recent activities in the UAE and the Middle East, while also exploring avenues for broader and deeper engagement in the region.

A highlight of the visit was a vibrant iftar gathering hosted by Dr Alain Baron, Club de Madrid’s Leading President’s Circle Member for the Middle East, at his residence in Abu Dhabi, and co-hosted by Ms Agüero, HE Arthur Mattli, Ambassador of Switzerland to the UAE and Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, head of the French Conference of Imams who also travelled to Abu Dhabi for the event. The iftar brought together nearly 100 guests, including a broad spectrum of leaders and influencers from the region, an exceptional congregation that readily lent itself to nurturing new and existing exchanges within a framework and in a spirit of tolerance and shared objectives.

Reflecting on the UAE's clear commitment to multilateralism, Ms Aguero emphasised the nation's growing role on the global stage and Club de Madrid’s interest in exploring greater collaboration in this and other areas. She noted “Club de Madrid’s unique capacity to deploy the individual and collective governance experience of a network of seasoned leaders, former heads of state and government, dedicated to promoting the rule of law, good governance, sustainable and inclusive development, the principles and value of effective multilateralism and peace. By creating spaces for frank and open dialogue, Club de Madrid Members build bridges amongst state and non-state actors, advocating for the adoption of forward-looking public policies to address challenges as diverse as digital transformation, climate change, social inclusion, or the reform of the multilateral system.”

Dr Alain Baron, founder of Numismatica Genevensis SA, a Swiss company that specialises in numismatic excellence, and the curator of the ‘Coins of Islam’ exhibition at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre under the patronage of HH Sheikha Fatima, expressed his enthusiasm and commitment to strengthened ties between Club de Madrid and the UAE. He added, “Club de Madrid has an exceptional ability to not only connect people from different countries, cultures and religions but also build bridges between the past, present and future. There is a lot that we can achieve together, and I look forward to extending our engagement during the year ahead”.

Imam Hassen Chalgoumi welcomed guests at the iftar saying that the UAE stands as a beacon of peace and stability in the Middle East during a difficult period marked by extremist threats. He praised HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, for his leadership and drew attention to the UAE’s example of successfully countering extremism with education, tolerant religious speech, and commitment to the rule of law and true Islamic values.

With a membership comprising 124 former presidents and prime ministers from over 70 countries, Club de Madrid stands as the largest assembly of its kind globally. Notable engagements in the UAE, including participation in key events such as COP28, the World Government Summit, and the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit, underscore the organisation's commitment to fostering positive change in the region and beyond.

Addition information
For media inquiries, please contact:
Alejandro Hita, Club de Madrid Communications Manager

For cooperation with Club de Madrid in the Middle East, please contact:
Dr Alain Baron


About the Club de Madrid

Club de Madrid is the world’s largest forum of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers, who leverage their individual and collective leadership experience and global reach to strengthen inclusive democratic practice and improve the well-being of people around the world. As a non-partisan and international non-profit organisation, Club de Madrid counts on the hands-on governance experience of more than 100 Members from over 70 countries, along with a global network of advisers and partners across all sectors of society. This unique alliance stimulates dialogue, builds bridges and engages in advocacy efforts to strengthen public policies and effective leadership through recommendations that tackle challenges such as inclusion, sustainable development and peace, at the national and international levels.

About HE Maria Elena Agüero, Club de Madrid Secretary General.

Ms Agüero joined Club de Madrid in 2003 and has since held the positions of Director of Special Projects, Director of Institutional Relations and Deputy Secretary General until she was selected to become Secretary General of Club de Madrid in 2016. Early in her career Ms. Agüero worked in the Rockefeller Commission on Critical Choices for Americans at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. She was also trade policy officer at the U.S. Department of Treasury during the Tokyo Round of GATT negotiations. Ms. Agüero has over 40 years of international experience in economic development, social cohesion, governance, institutional strengthening and democracy support, particularly in Latin America. As project officer, sector specialist and senior advisor in the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program she worked in these organisation’s Washington, Uruguay, Brussels and Paris offices, leading projects and programmes implemented in partnership with other international organisations, governmental and non-governmental organisations, at both the national, regional and global levels. Ms. Agüero holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree and a Masters in Latin American Economic Development from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

About Dr Alain Baron

Dr Alain Baron, founder of Numismatica Genevensis SA in Geneva over 30 years ago, is globally acclaimed as a leading authority in Numismatics. With extensive experience spanning various domains, including culture, art, and heritage, Dr Baron collaborates closely with foundations, museums, governmental bodies, and global business entities, establishing a remarkable network across the Middle East and worldwide. Based in Abu Dhabi, he serves as a crucial liaison, facilitating cultural endeavours and initiatives that enhance societal standing and perception, exemplified by the coin exhibition in 2020 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, patronised by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. Dr Baron's association with the Club de Madrid aligns with his vision of fostering social, political, and cultural exchange among democratic global leaders. Numismatica Genevensis SA, inaugurated in 1988, is renowned for its significant contributions to numismatic collections worldwide, conducting international auctions since 2000 and providing consultancy services to museums and art institutions globally.