JEDDAH – Ardell Brede, the mayor of Rochester, Minnesota and his wife, Judy, will join a group of about a dozen US mayors and their spouses on a trip to Saudi Arabia which is sponsored by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. from May 7-14.
“I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’s one of those perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. And some of these come about because we’re active in organizations that we belong to,” Brede said in information made available to Saudi Gazette here.
Brede was selected by the US Conference of Mayors, a group with whom he has been closely involved since he was first elected mayor in 2002.
He said he was not sure what prompted the invitation but believed it might have been because of his involvement with the mayors’ organization or because of Rochester’s reputation as a favored destination for Saudis seeking expert medical care at the Mayo Clinic.
The US mayors will meet with high-ranking Saudi government and business leaders. The trip is intended as an opportunity to learn about Saudi Arabian politics and culture, exchange ideas about shared concerns, and promote business partnerships.
But Brede also sees it as a chance to further promote Rochester as a destination for Saudis.
“We certainly welcome patients from Saudi Arabia to come to Mayo. As long as they know that we’re welcoming them, maybe it’ll bring some more patients and bring some more of those people that spend a lot of money in our town,” he said.
Mayo Clinic said in a statement that Mayo, which has an office in Dubai, does not have one in Saudi Arabia. It does, however, have “strong, long-standing relationships” in Saudi Arabia and maintains a presence in the region with e-health and laboratory products and services.
It said that the clinic is expanding the scope of its e-consult services here. – SG