Ahmed Aboutaleb

Dutch politician

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Ahmed Aboutaleb
Aboutaleb in 2016
Mayor of Rotterdam
Assumed office
5 January 2009
Preceded byIvo Opstelten
State Secretary for Social Affairs
and Employment
In office
22 February 2007 – 12 December 2008
Prime MinisterJan Peter Balkenende
Preceded byHenk van Hoof
Succeeded byJetta Klijnsma
Personal details
Ahmed Aboutaleb

(1961-08-29) 29 August 1961 (age 60)
Beni Sidel, Morocco
NationalityDutch, Moroccan
Political partyLabour Party (from 2003)
Children3 daughters and 1 son
ResidenceKralingen, Netherlands
OccupationPolitician · Civil servant · Journalist · Electrical engineer · Nonprofit director · Political pundit · Author · Columnist · Poet

Ahmed Aboutaleb (Berber languages: ⴰⵃⵎⴻⴷ ⴰⴱⵓⵟⴰⵍⴻⴱ; Arabic: أحمد أبو طالب‎; born 29 August 1961) is a Dutch politician of Moroccan origin,[1] he is of the Labour Party (PvdA) and a journalist. He has been the Mayor of Rotterdam since 5 January 2009.

Early life and career

Ahmed Aboutaleb was born on 29 August 1961 in Beni Sidel in Morocco. He grew up as a son of a Riffian Berber Sunni imam in a small village in the Nador Province, Rif region. Together with his mother and brothers he moved to the Netherlands in 1976, when he was 15 years old. Aboutaleb had already noticed how he differed from other kids. As he says in an interview: 'I was so different, such a school dork. I wanted to learn, I wanted to know everything.'[2]

Aboutaleb then studied electrical engineering with a specialisation in Telecommunication at different schools up to the Hogere Technische School where he obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

After graduating he found work as reporter for Veronica TV, NOS-radio and RTL Nieuws. He also worked at the public relations department of the Dutch health ministry. In 1998, Aboutaleb became director of the Forum organisation, an institute dealing with multiculturalism in the Netherlands. He also obtained a post as a civil servant with the municipality of Amsterdam. In 2002, he applied for a government position with the Pim Fortuyn List party but chose not to take it up after disagreeing with the LPF's policies. He joined the PvdA a year later.[3]


Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen and Ahmed Aboutaleb in Amsterdam on 3 February 2010.

In January 2004, Aboutaleb succeeded the scandal-plagued Rob Oudkerk as alderman in Amsterdam. Labour Party leader Wouter Bos in his book Wat Wouter Wil (English: What Wouter wants) said that if the Labour Party was involved in forming the next cabinet after the 2006 election, Aboutaleb would be offered a ministerial post. Aboutaleb himself claimed at the time he wanted to focus on his work as alderman and that it was "important first that the PvdA wins the election."[4]

When the Labour Party really did become part of a new coalition, Aboutaleb was just offered the position of State Secretary for Social Affairs, but said that he did not mind the lesser function, and believed he could learn a lot from Piet Hein Donner, the Minister of Social Affairs.[5]

Along with another deputy minister, Nebahat Albayrak, of Turkish descent, Aboutaleb was criticised by Geert Wilders at the time of their announced appointments for holding dual passports. According to Wilders and his party, government ministers should not have dual citizenship, which they say implies dual allegiance.

On 31 October 2008 Aboutaleb was appointed (in the Netherlands, mayors are not elected) Mayor of Rotterdam. He succeeded the former mayor, Ivo Opstelten on 5 January 2009. Jetta Klijnsma succeeded him as State Secretary. Aboutaleb, who came to the Netherlands from Morocco, is the first mayor of a large city in the Netherlands who is of both immigrant origin and the Muslim faith. He is of Riffian Berber ancestry, and a dual citizen of the Netherlands and Morocco.

In 2021 Aboutaleb was the Joint winner of the 2021 World Mayor award by City Mayors Foundation[6][7]


Aboutaleb is also a great fan of poetry, especially Arabic poetry. He translated poetry of Adunis, the most famous living poet of the Arabic language, very little of whose work had been previously translated into Dutch. In June 2010, he presented a few of his translated poems in Arabic in Rotterdam during the festival, 'Poetry International'.


  • Droom & daad (2015; Dream & action)
  • De roep van de stad (2015; The call of the city)


  1. ^ "Mayor and Muslim in the Netherlands, a Question of Loyalty?".
  2. ^ Kouters, Steffie (15 November 2008). "Ahmed Aboutaleb". de Volkskrant (in Dutch).
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090206192855/http://www.depers.nl/binnenland/283036/Ik-heb-onze-naam-bevuild.html
  4. ^ "Bos biedt Aboutaleb ministerspost aan" (in Dutch). Elsevier. 1 November 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.
  5. ^ "New cabinet ministers announced". Expatica. 14 February 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
  6. ^ "Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb is the 'best mayor in the world'". DutchNews.nl. Amsterdam. 14 September 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  7. ^ "The 2021 World Mayor Winners". worldmayor.com. September 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by State Secretary for Social Affairs
and Employment

Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Rotterdam
Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Ahmed Aboutaleb