Ahmed Aboutaleb

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Not to be confused with Ahmed Boutaleb.
Ahmed Aboutaleb
Aboutaleb Dutch politician kabinet Balkenende IV.jpg
Ahmed Aboutaleb in 2007
Mayor of Rotterdam
Assumed office
January 5, 2009
Preceded by Ivo Opstelten
State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment
In office
February 22, 2007 – December 12, 2008
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Preceded by Henk van Hoof
Succeeded by Jetta Klijnsma
Personal details
Born (1961-08-29) August 29, 1961 (age 55)
Beni Sidel, Morocco
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Residence Rotterdam, Netherlands
Occupation Politician
Civil servant
Religion Muslim[1]
Website Official Site

Ahmed Aboutaleb (Arabic: أحمد أبو طالب‎‎; born August 29, 1961) is a Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid; PvdA) politician who has been the Mayor of Rotterdam since January 5, 2009. He served as State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment from February 22, 2007, until December 12, 2008, in the Cabinet Balkenende IV.

Aboutaleb, who came to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of 15, 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.

Early life and career[edit]

Ahmed Aboutaleb was born on 29 August 1961 in Beni Sidel in Morocco. He grew up as a son of a Berber(rif) 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 telecommunications 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, 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 civil servant with the municipality of Amsterdam.


Ahmed Aboutaleb in 2006

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 elections, 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 elections."[3]

When the PvdA really did become part of a new coalition, Aboutaleb was just offered the job 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.[4]

Along with another deputy minister, Nebahat Albayrak, of Turkish descent, Aboutaleb was criticized 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) as mayor of Rotterdam. He succeeded the former mayor, Ivo Opstelten on 5 January 2009. Jetta Klijnsma succeeded him as State Secretary.


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 & deed)
  • De roep van de stad (2015; The call of the city)


  1. ^ Reuters: Dutch mayor escorted from restaurant after alert, three questioned, 20 November 2015, retrieved 18 May 2016
  2. ^ Kouters, Steffie (15 November 2008). "Ahmed Aboutaleb". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). 
  3. ^ "Bos biedt Aboutaleb ministerspost aan" (in Dutch). Elsevier. November 1, 2006. 
  4. ^ "New cabinet ministers announced". Expatica. February 14, 2007. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Henk van Hoof
State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment
Succeeded by
Jetta Klijnsma
Political offices
Preceded by
Ivo Opstelten
Mayor of Rotterdam
Succeeded by