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Egyptian-American Trailblazer: Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Saudi Arabia in Tourism and Cultural Exchange

By: Fatma Soliman

Mary Alexander-Basta, the pioneering Egyptian-American mayor of Bolingbrook, Illinois, has carved out a path of leadership and community service that spans continents.

Born in Egypt and raised in Tennessee, Mary’s journey began with studies in Mass Communications at the American University in Cairo, followed by Hospitality Management at Tennessee State University. Furthermore, her career has been marked by notable achievements, including managing prestigious venues such as the Palmer House Hilton and becoming the first female General Manager in the 125-year history of the Chicago Yacht Club.

Mary Alexander-Basta
Mary Alexander-Basta

Moreover, since assuming office in August 2020, Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta has focused on enhancing Bolingbrook’s quality of life, driving economic growth, and fostering civic engagement. Her extensive community involvement encompasses roles as a Village Trustee, Chair of the Bolingbrook Plan Commission, and leadership in various cultural and educational initiatives.

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Saudi Arabia in Tourism and Cultural Exchange

In an exclusive interview with Leaders MENA Magazine, Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta discusses the potential for collaboration with Saudi Arabia, particularly in tourism—a pivotal aspect of Saudi Vision 2030 aimed at economic diversification and cultural exchange.

Q: How do you envision promoting cultural exchange and tourism with Saudi Arabia?

Mary Alexander-Basta: I’m eager to explore tourism exchange programs that showcase our respective cultures, heritage, and histories. Such initiatives not only promote tourism but also deepen mutual understanding and appreciation.

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Saudi Arabia in Tourism and Cultural Exchange

Q: Could you elaborate on upcoming events in Bolingbrook that celebrate diversity and where Saudi Arabia could participate?

Mary Alexander-Basta: Certainly! Bolingbrook hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year. For instance, Piyesta Pinoy celebrates Filipino culture with food and performances, while “El Grito” highlights Hispanic heritage through music and festivities. Our flagship event, “I Fest Bolingbrook (International Festival)”, is a day-long celebration of global cultures featuring ethnic cuisine, handmade crafts, cultural performances, and educational activities. This festival presents a perfect opportunity for Saudi Arabia to showcase its rich cultural tapestry.

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Saudi Arabia in Tourism and Cultural Exchange

Q: With the popularity of Saudi Arabia’s Pro League and international soccer stars, do you foresee hosting major soccer events in Bolingbrook?

Mary Alexander-Basta: Absolutely! Soccer is immensely popular here, and hosting games with top international players like Ronaldo and Neymar would be a thrilling prospect. Such events not only attract soccer enthusiasts but also promote Bolingbrook as a vibrant cultural and sports destination.

Q: Beyond sports and cultural exchanges, where else do you see potential collaboration between Bolingbrook and Saudi Arabia?

Mary Alexander-Basta: There are numerous avenues for collaboration, including education, technology, healthcare, and business. Exploring joint initiatives in renewable energy, healthcare innovation, and tourism development could yield substantial benefits for both communities.

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Saudi Arabia in Tourism and Cultural Exchange

Q: As a trailblazer and role model, what message do you have for women leaders in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

Mary Alexander-Basta: To women leaders everywhere, I encourage you to embrace leadership roles with confidence and persistence. Our diverse perspectives and experiences are invaluable assets in driving inclusive growth and prosperity. Let’s continue to support and uplift each other on this journey.

Additionally, Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta’s vision and commitment highlight the potential for fruitful collaboration between Bolingbrook and Saudi Arabia, paving the way for mutual enrichment through tourism, cultural exchange, and strategic partnerships.

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