President embarks on Gulf tour

President Mary McAleese leaves Dublin today for a five-day official visit to the Gulf region.

President Mary McAleese leaves Dublin today for a five-day official visit to the Gulf region.

Mrs McAleese, who will be accompanied by Education and Science Minister Batt O'Keeffe, will meet royals and political leaders in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Visits to local attractions and engagements with business people and the Irish community are also on the itinerary.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin will join the presidential delegation in the UAE after a brief Middle East tour of Syria and Lebanon.

Mrs McAleese will visit Bahrain National Museum on Sunday and meet craftswomen at an enterprise centre for families dependent on social assistance.

On Monday, the president will receive full ceremonial honours from the kingdom before attending a lunch hosted by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

Later that day, Mrs McAleese will view a collection of Islamic art and artefacts at the Koran House Museum and will address a business reception hosted by Enterprise Ireland in association with the Bahrain Ireland Business Network.

On Tuesday, the president will visit the Al-Hidd Bahrain International Investment Park and meet members of the Bahrain Businesswomen's Society.

She will then meet the prime minister of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, before performing the official opening of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland Medical University of Bahrain campus.

That evening, the president will be guest of honour at an Irish community reception prior to her departure for the United Arab Emirates.

In Abu Dhabi, the Irish delegation will visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Abu Dhabi Higher College of Technology where Mrs McAleese will address students and academics.

She will meet the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and, later that evening, meet members of the Irish community at a reception.

She will end her visit to the UAE with a visit to Dubai, where she will meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, and also influential Irish business figures in the region.

The president will then visit the Meydan Stables where she will meet Irish jockeys and horse owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

She will also have the opportunity to meet members of Dubai Celts GAA club and address a business reception hosted by Enterprise Ireland.

She will return to Dublin on Friday.

More in this section