Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00
Capital City Algiers
Currency Algerian dinar DZD
National Day 1st November
ALGERIA’S NEW AMBASSADOR, His Excellency Mr Abderrahmane Benguerrah, arrived in London with his wife in November last year. Already well acquainted with the capital, he was Algeria’s Press Attaché here in the early 1990s, his first diplomatic posting.
Born in 1955, Mr Benguerrah explains that from a young age he had three core interests that would shape his education: maths, economics and international relations. Various degrees and a master’s in economics from the University of New Hampshire instilled in the Ambassador a high level of expertise across many subjects. Starting his career in the hydrocarbon sector, the Ambassador’s desire to help develop Algeria led to a Junior cabinet position in the Ministry of Energy. After two years in the role, Mr Benguerrah would go on to become head of marketing for the Algerian oil company, SONATRACH.
However, the Ambassador’s passion for international relations – “in great part, due to the large number of international events that took place in Algiers during the sixties and seventies” – ultimately led him to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Benguerrah believes that his country’s hosting of these events helped demonstrate to the world Algeria’s support to “the peoples struggling for their independence during that period.” He highlights how today Algeria continues to contribute to efforts aimed at realising “a new international political and economic order that is more favourable to the developing world.”
After four successful years at the Algerian Embassy in the UK came a role as Deputy Director for North American Affairs, and a position as Deputy Head of the Algerian Mission in the US. Following four years as a cabinet member in Algeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he became Deputy Permanent Representative in Algeria’s Mission to the UN (2008), where Mr Benguerrah “dealt with a number of issues related to disarmament, climate change and decolonisation.” He reveals his subsequent role as Algeria’s Ambassador to Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verdi and the Gambia was “a rewarding and memorable experience,” in part because “these countries have brotherly relations with Algeria.” Based out of the Residence in Dakar, Mr Benguerrah “seized all opportunities to strengthen and diversify political, economic and cultural relations with these countries.”
As Director for West European Countries at his MFA (2015-17), Mr Benguerrah oversaw the relationship between Algeria and the UK, allowing him to attain “knowledge of the different facets of global cooperation between our two countries.” Furthermore, he believes his discussions on Brexit with European ambassadors in Algeria at the time, gave him a “solid background to comprehend the complexity of the negotiations between London and Brussels – the outcome of which will have an impact on not only the future of Europe, but also our region.”
As Algeria’s Ambassador in the UK, his focus is “to concentrate efforts to consolidate and diversify the already good relations between Algeria and the UK. It is important to continue to strengthen the political dialogue between Algiers and London; in particular on issues of peace and security in our region and worldwide. We need to do more to increase economic cooperation and seize investment opportunities in both countries.” Mr Benguerrah reveals he is particularly interested in “encouraging the relevant UK institutions to be involved in the ongoing process to reinforce the English language in all levels of Algeria’s education system and economy.”
With regards to Brexit, the Ambassador predicts the Algeria-UK relationship growing stronger and more diversified, with both nations likely to review their existing trade relationships that were negotiated almost two decades ago. His Excellency believes that “the UK, as the second economic power in Europe and sixth globally, and Algeria, the largest country in Africa, in the Arab World and in the Mediterranean, have yet to explore numerous opportunities and the full potential of cooperation and investment in many sectors.” The Ambassador believes that the combination of Algeria’s newly elected president, stronger state institutions and new strategy of development, has meant that his country increasingly views the UK as “an important partner in numerous economic sectors, where it has a unique expertise and a long experience.” Despite lockdown, Mr Benguerrah says that “communication with official institutions in London remains fluid.”
The Ambassador reveals: “Algeria’s greatest diplomatic challenge is the ongoing grave political and security crises in its region.” He calls for “resolution through peaceful and political means in conformity with UN resolutions and with the support of the international community. These conflicts pose imminent and grave threats to peace and stability in the region, and to Europe.”
Aside from his work responsibilities, Mr Benguerrah enjoys travelling and “discovering new cultures.” His long and successful diplomatic career has revealed that “the more you know things, the more you appreciate them.”