24 April 2012, Rome - An international media and knowledge centre was inaugurated at FAO headquarters today by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Funded by the United Arab Emirates, the Centre is named for the country's founder and late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who once said, "Give me agriculture and I will give you civilization".
With FAO's support, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan helped turn large tracts of the desert green by investing in agriculture, and in particular in date palm production.
Zayed's wife, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima, has since 2010 served as an extraordinary FAO Goodwill Ambassador, helping mobilize support for international efforts to eliminate hunger.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and son of Sheikh Zayed, said: "Our sponsorship of this project underscores our strong conviction that FAO plays an indispensible role in addressing the challenges of poverty and malnutrition and responding to agricultural development problems, particularly in developing countries.''
A window to the world
"The Sheikh Zayed Centre represents a major step forward in our capacity to communicate, network and share knowledge. It allows us to link persons, ideas and lessons from around the world," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Graziano da Silva thanked the United Arab Emirates for supporting the planning and construction of the centre. The project was initiated by former FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf in 2007. Construction began in July 2011 and was completed in December 2011.
"The Sheikh Zayed International Media and Knowledge Centre is a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan's vision of the role that agriculture and environment play in food security and human progress'', said Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water in the United Arab Emirates.
The new facility covers some 260 square metres of floorspace and was designed by Italian architect Marco Felici.
The Sheikh Zayed Centre features a conference hall allowing for live TV transmissions and debates, a new TV studio with post-production suites and e-learning facilities. It boasts state-of-the-art broadcasting and communication technology.
The Centre will equip the Organization with interactive live television transmission capacities. Videoconferencing, streaming video and digital media distribution are also available.
It will enhance FAO's ability to share expertise and knowledge globally on agriculture and rural development and strengthen the Organization's outreach to government institutions, centres of excellence, universities and NGOs around the world, and facilitate e-learning.
It will allow FAO to do its job better - communicating, sharing knowledge, capacitating people in the developing and developed world and better coordinating its work with its decentralized offices.