Foreword by His Excellency Dr Jorge Sampaio, President of the Portuguese Republic.

I am pleased that Portugal will host the latest Painting & Patronage initiative and that during the coming year the largest cultural exchange programme for amateur and professional artists will be launched between my country and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The hosting at the National Palace of Sintra of an exhibition of paintings by Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Asir province, as part of His Royal Highness’s wider and welcomed Official Visit to Portugal, will undoubtedly offer the Portuguese people an important opportunity to discover this beautiful region of Saudi Arabia in all its natural magnificence.

Portugal is a country with a long history and a rich culture which stands both on the shores of the Atlantic and at the mouth of the Mediterranean, its character being marked by both features. In the 15th century Portugal launched into the maritime adventures of the Age of Discoveries, giving Europe one of its first gateways to the outside world. Layered as it is with countless diverse influences and having integrated a variety of cultures and customs since independence almost 900 years ago, Portugal has nevertheless succeeded in maintaining a remarkable degree of national identity.

Having closed its long-lasting imperial cycle in 1974, Portugal’s return to Europe enabled it to more clearly see how the identity of the Portuguese and their capacity to overcome crises had been modeled by the historical experiences gained along the routes of its caravels.

Today Portugal is a democratic country open to modernity and is a full and active member of the European Union. It has embraced the values of peace and the belief that a better understanding between peoples and an exchange of cultures are irreplaceable factors for human enrichment and mutual respect resulting in a tolerance between us for that which is different.

Moreover Portuguese is spoken by over 200 million people all over the world and this alone has ensured globally the intermixing of cultures marked by a sense of universal humanism and fraternity.

The need to appreciate and understand each other’s distinct cultures, especially at this time, cannot be underestimated. Culture is something we can all appreciate and through Painting & Patronage, under its chairman Anthony Bailey, among other worthy initiatives, we can surely bring Portugal and Saudi Arabia, and our two peoples, closer together across all areas.

I am also delighted that during 2006 Saudi Arabia, through Painting & Patronage, will host the first showcase of Portugal’s cultural heritage ensuring that the Saudi Arabian people will be able to experience a unique insight into my own country.

Initiatives such as this allow us to deepen our mutual knowledge and understanding and contribute to build together a stronger and more mutually beneficial partnership for the future.

It gives me great pleasure to open this exhibition in the presence of HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, whose work I greatly appreciate.

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