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Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb to step down after 15 years
Photo: Wouter Engler via Wikimedia Commons

Ahmed Aboutaleb is stepping down as mayor of Rotterdam this autumn after 15 years on the job. Aboutaleb, who is 62, was appointed mayor of the port city in 2009, after previously serving as junior social affairs minister and as a city executive in Amsterdam. 

“After serving our wonderful city for more than 15 years, I think it is time to make way for a new mayor,” Aboutaleb said in a letter to city councillors. 

Aboutaleb said he had considered his decision carefully, and that the date will give enough officials enough time find a successor ahead of the 2026 local council elections. 

An actual date to step down still has to be confirmed, and Aboutaleb said he would continue to serve the city until that final day came.  

In 2021, Aboutaleb was been awarded the 2021 World Mayor Award by the London-based think-tank City Mayors Foundation for ‘his commitment to treat all citizens as ‘Rotterdammers’, irrespective of their origins and backgrounds.’

The jury praised Aboutaleb for his ‘courage, patience and humility’ and ‘exceptional leadership’, particularly during the pandemic when he showed great awareness of the vulnerability of some groups in society.

The Labour party member, who came to the Netherlands at the age of 15, was the first Muslim mayor to be appointed in a big city in Western Europe when he took office in 2009.

Mayors in the Netherlands are formally crown appointees based on council executive recommendations. 

Aboutaleb gave his traditional New Year speech to the city council on Tuesday afternoon.

“The only way to be and to remain connected to each other is to value each other,” he said. “Always speak well of your fellow citizens. The world is entrusted to those who want to serve humankind with positive commitment, trust and good intentions.”

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