After the Zarzuela announced the imminent visit of Queen Letizia to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, an African and Maghreb country, it has become clear that this country has become of particular importance to Spain's interests, and Spanish policymakers are increasingly aware of this reality. The good harmony in bilateral relations between the two countries is the result of a multitude of factors that have led the leaders of both countries to multiply their contacts and exchange high-level visits. Security in the Sahel, the challenge of immigration and the fight against transcontinental crime are just some of the issues that explain the rapprochement between the two countries.
Following the participation of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in the Sahel Summit hosted by Mauritania in July 2020, together with the Mauritanian President, Mohamed Sheikh Ould al-Ghazouani and the heads of the five Sahel countries, the President of the Spanish Government invited the President of Mauritania for an official visit in March 2022, where Madrid welcomed his guest and showed its commitment to support Mauritania in the development of agriculture, livestock and energy, in addition to supporting the country's security capabilities in the fight against terrorism and irregular immigration.
Given the importance of the agreements and pacts signed between Mauritania and Spain, and the expected strengthening of relations between the two friendly countries, an important meeting at the royal lunch between Queen Letizia and the First Lady of Mauritania, Mariem Mohamed Fadel Dah, led to a close relationship between the two women who share interests and concerns on various issues and have much in common, especially in terms of humanitarian aid and support for social projects and initiatives aimed at helping the groups most in need.
Queen Letizia was interested in the Mauritanian First Lady's attention to the problems of children in Africa and autistic children in particular. Moreover, the First Lady of Mauritania's long history of charity work and projects is well known, as she presides over an association to help and treat children with autism.
Mariem Dah did not start her humanitarian work by chance, this doctor of dentistry has a long diplomatic career behind her and is the daughter of a prominent political leader, a former leader of the left in Mauritania and a diplomat who represented her country in many parts of the world, which has led the first lady of Mauritania to live most of her life outside her country.
But the event that marked a before and after in her career was the birth of one of her children with autism. She has dedicated all her efforts and energies to treat, take care and educate her son, and from that moment on, she started to care about the autistic collective and the families who have children going through the same circumstances. The First Lady's efforts allowed the creation of a special school for autistic patients, the first and only one in her country.
The humanitarian aspects were the issues that most strengthened the relationship between Queen Letizia and First Lady Mariem Dah and it is hoped that they will lead humanitarian diplomacy that can bring benefits to both countries and strengthen relations on a political, economic and social level between Spain and Mauritania.
In addition to the humanitarian aspects, Mariem Dah plays a leading role in promoting the role of women and their empowerment in Mauritania. She works tirelessly and with discipline. A discipline she learned from the army, which she joined in 2004 immediately after obtaining her doctorate in dentistry. In the army, she received a military training at the Mauritanian Superior School of Multipurpose Weapons.
Afterwards, the First Lady turned to her diplomatic career and worked at the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington, before devoting herself to caring for her three children and treating her autistic son. Her background and experience make her a reference in Africa for the care of children with autism.
In all subsequent stages of her life, the First Lady was and continues to be an icon and a symbol of the most humanitarian and altruistic Mauritania, and has accompanied the country's President on his official visits to highlight and reclaim this role and prominence for Mauritanian women.
The First Lady of Mauritania has good communication and oratory skills and is fluent in Arabic, French and English.
During Queen Letizia's visit, the First Lady will try to promote joint humanitarian action for children suffering from autism and children with special needs in general, both in Mauritania and in the rest of the African countries, a task that may allow Spain to play an important role in humanitarian cooperation and in helping health institutions working in the field.