Today Azerbaijan's First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva celebrates her birthday.
Aliyeva Mehriban Arif was born on 26 August 1964 in the city of Baku to a family of intelligentsia.
Having finished secondary school №23 with a gold medal in 1982, she entered the Preventive-Treatment Faculty of the Azerbaijan State Medical University named after N.Narimanov.
In 1988, Mehriban Aliyeva graduated from the 1st Moscow State Medical Institute named after M.Sechenov with honours diploma. During 1988-1992, she worked at the Eye Diseases Research Institute in Moscow under the leadership of academician Krasnov.
In 2005, Mehriban Aliyeva received the degree of a doctor of philosophy, having defended a thesis on “Euthanasia and humanism issues in medicine”.
In 1995, the Friends of the Azerbaijani Culture Foundation, which is currently led by Mehriban Aliyeva, was established upon her initiative.
In 1996, with the objective of broadly promoting the Azerbaijani culture, she founded the “Azerbaijan - Irs” Magazine, which is published in three languages (Azerbaijani, English and Russian).
In 2002, Mehriban Aliyeva was elected president of the Gymnastics Federation of Azerbaijan. Her excellent organizational skills and growing prestige in the world played a decisive role in making a decision by the International Gymnastics Federation to hold the “A” category phase of the world cup competitions on rhythmic gymnastics (2003), the World Cup (2004), 27th World Championship (2005), and 23rd (2007), 25th (2009) and 30th (2014) European championships in Azerbaijan.
On December 28, 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva was elected a member to the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 4th General Assembly of the Organization.
On 8 December 2012, the European Olympic Committee’s General Assembly took a decision to hold the 1st European Games in Baku. With a view to holding the first European Games at a high level, an Organizing Committee was established on January 17, 2013, and Mehriban Aliyeva was appointed chairperson of the Committee.
Mehriban Aliyeva is president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which was founded to study the rich legacy of Azerbaijani people’s national leader Heydar Aliyev, and cultivate his national statehood ideas in new generations. On 10 May 2004, inauguration of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation took place.
Mehriban Aliyeva is a member of the New Azerbaijan Party since 2004, and deputy chairperson of the party since 2013.
Nominated for the elections to the National Assembly (Milli Majlis) of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2005 and 2010 by the New Azerbaijan Party from Khazar district Constituency No.14, Mehriban Aliyeva was elected a deputy, having gained 92.12% (23106 votes) and 94.49% (31797 votes) of the votes correspondently.
On January 17, 2013, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on creation of the Organizing Committee for holding the first-ever European Games in Baku in 2015. Mehriban Aliyeva, the member of the Executive Committee of Azerbaijan’s National Olympic Committee, Mehriban Aliyeva was appointed the chairperson of the Baku 2015 European Games Organizing Committee.
The Baku 2015 European Games was held between June 12 and June 28. There were a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports. Some 20,000 volunteers provided help to prepare and hold the Games. Competitions were held in about 20 sports facilities in Azerbaijan. The grand ceremonies for opening and closing of the Games were held in the new Baku Olympic Stadium. The stadium for some 70,000 spectators was sold out during the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Athletes Village was built to accommodate the athletes, while the Media Village was opened for the first time in the Olympic movement’s history for the work of the media outlets. European countries were represented at the Baku 2015 by 6,000 athletes, who competed for 253 medal sets. Representatives of 42 countries became the winners at the Games.
About 300 Azerbaijani athletes took part in the Baku 2015, winning 56 medals (21 gold, 15 silver, 20 bronze medals), putting Azerbaijan on the second place in the medal standings.
The European Games were widely broadcast in 145 countries. The opening ceremony alone was broadcast in 140 countries, and there were over 1,100 airing hours throughout the world. Overall, the Games were viewed by an audience of about 823 million people, and about 5-6 million people followed the competitions every day on the official website of the Baku 2015.
In particular, Azerbaijani gymnasts had grand success at the Games, winning seven medals. The attention and care of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation’s President, Azerbaijani First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva stands at the heart of Azerbaijani gymnasts’ success at the European Games. The conditions created at the National Gymnastics Arena, which meets the most modern standards, enrapture the foreign athletes as well.
The Baku 2015 has become a gold standard for all the following European Games. Everything, including the ceremonies for opening and closing the Games, were organized at the highest level, which has also been acknowledged throughout the world. Mehriban Aliyeva, as the chairperson of the Baku 2015 Organizing Committee, made a huge contribution to holding of the Games.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, at the meeting with Azerbaijani athletes, who claimed victory at the Baku 2015, and the representatives of the sports community, said that he highly appreciated the great work of Mehriban Aliyeva, who led the Organizing Committee.
“She has made huge contribution to holding of the Games,” President Aliyev further said. “I can say she has put all her heart in holding the Games at such a level. While determining the staff of the Organizing Committee, I was absolutely convinced that with this staff, the highest results can be yielded, because of experience, professionalism, and most importantly – the love for the people, the state.”
For her fruitful work in the development of culture, education, health and sports in Azerbaijan, the wide promotion of Azerbaijani people’s cultural heritage on international scale and great merits in organization of the European Games, Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the ‘Heydar Aliyev Order’.
To popularize and promote Azerbaijani culture, Azerbaijan hosted in July numerous guests from all over the world at the Seventh Gabala International Music Festival upon the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation pays special attention to the release of music albums of prominent Azerbaijani performers.
The foundation reprinted the Akhlaq-e Nasiri ("Ethics of Nasir"), a book of the world-renowned thinker, great scholar of the encyclopedic knowledge, Nasreddin Tusi. Also a photo-book called ‘Azerbaijan’ and Azerbaijani and Russian versions of the ‘Gabusname’, a publication which popular in many Turkic countries, were prepared, and a multimedia collection titled ‘Azerbaijani Mugham’ and the ‘The World of Mugham’ publication were released. There is also the Museum of Modern Art in Baku, which was created upon Mehriban Aliyeva’s initiative.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation also successfully implements many projects beyond Azerbaijan through its representations abroad. The foundation participates in the restoration of universal cultural monuments. Thus, the foundation restored two monuments included in the World Heritage List, damaged with time and by climatic conditions, in the park of Versailles Palace in Paris.
The foundation also allotted financial aid to repair stained-glass windows of the Strasbourg Cathedral. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Vatican signed the ‘Bilateral Agreement on Restoration of Roman Catacombs’ in June 2012.
Also, the foundation and Vatican Apostolic Library signed on June 2, 2014 an agreement on ‘Restoration and the Digitalization of New Manuscripts in 2015-2016’. The next day, two agreements were signed on the restoration of the Statue of Zeus and the restoration work in the Sistine Hall of the Vatican museum by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
On March 6, 2015 Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met with the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis in Vatican. During the meeting, satisfaction was expressed with the level of bilateral relations between Vatican and Azerbaijan, and it was underscored that these relations have good perspectives.
It was also emphasized at the meeting that Vatican highly appreciates the relations with Azerbaijan and attaches great importance to them. Mehriban Aliyeva’s merits in restoration of the Roman catacombs, several unique manuscripts in the Vatican Apostolic Library, as well as the implementation of other projects, were highly evaluated as an important historic step taken by Azerbaijan as a Muslim country.
It should also be noted that many mosques, synagogues and churches have been restored in Azerbaijan through the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
In April of 2015, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva and their family members performed Umrah pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca.
Azerbaijan’s First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva is committed to use all the available opportunities to enhance the efficiency of humanitarian programs, which target benefiting the Azerbaijani people.
One of the priorities of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is to inform the international community about the realities of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. With this regard, the foundation has published a collection of ‘Karabakh Realities’ booklets, reflecting the history of the Armenian aggression, books entitled ‘War and Our Cultural and Historical Monuments’ and ‘War Against Azerbaijan: Targeting Cultural Heritage’, recounting Armenian destruction. At the same time, a number of events and photo and video exhibitions are held in various countries on the Khojaly genocide.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation also supported the creation of the Guba Genocide Memorial Complex, erected in memory of tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis perished as a result of massacres committed in 1918 by Armenian-Bolshevik armed groups. President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the inauguration of the Complex on September 18, 2013.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation considers it important to preserve the memory of the Azerbaijani people’s heroism in the Great Patriotic War and the Azerbaijanis’ contributions to the victory over fascism.
On May 4, 2015 the Heydar Aliyev Center hosted the presentation for a documentary titled ‘Objective Baku. Hitler’s War on Oil’, filmed with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. This project, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism, was headed by Arzu Aliyeva. Louis Vaudeville was the film’s producer and Robert Mugnerot its director.
One of the main areas in Mehriban Aliyeva’s work is the promotion of Azerbaijani culture in the world.
On July 9, 2015, Azerbaijan’s pavilion, created upon the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Heydar Aliyev Center at the Universal Exposition Expo Milano 2015, hosted the ‘National Day’. Azerbaijan’s pavilion was officially presented during the ‘National Day’. The ceremony was attended by President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva. Representatives of Italian government, public figures and members of diplomatic corps in the country took part in the event as well.
On July 14 this year, Cannes hosted the opening of the Days of Azerbaijani Culture organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The opening ceremony was attended by Mehriban Aliyeva and her family members.
Opening of the exhibition ‘Azerbaijani Carpets in Art’ took place as part of the Days of Azerbaijani Culture in Cannes, July 15. The opening ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva and family members. Held with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s organizational support, the exhibition informed visitors about the history of the Azerbaijani carpet art, and its present and worldwide dissemination.
In August of 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva became a designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for promoting national literature and the musical heritage of Azerbaijan. Two years later, she was conferred with the title of ISESCO (Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Goodwill Ambassador for extensive and selfless activity in various fields, including intercultural dialogue, attention to children in need of special care and support for improving living conditions, great support for education and projects being realized in the Islamic world.
To be an ambassador for such authoritative international organizations is a very honorable and responsible mission. Both UNESCO and ISESCO are non-political institutions, as is written in their charter. And at the same time, this is an international arena on which Mehriban Aliyeva represents her country. This is an opportunity to present the modern Azerbaijan and its people with the most profound historical and cultural roots, and to inform the world about the achievements of national culture and literature.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the UNESCO Mozart Medal on July 30, 2010. Mehriban Aliyeva's task as a goodwill ambassador is to show the opportunities of the Islamic world through science, culture, and education and to demonstrate how the West and the East, two very different civilizations, could be interesting and helpful to each other.
On March 11, 2015, the Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, as part of his visit to Azerbaijan, presented the highest award of Pakistan – the ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’ order – to Mehriban Aliyeva, for active participation in various humanitarian, educational and medical projects in Pakistan.
On June 11 this year, Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic, while on a visit to Azerbaijan, presented the Sreten Order – a high state order of Serbia – to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s President Mehriban Aliyeva.
On June 9, 2005, the first lady of Azerbaijan was awarded the order of the ‘Ruby Cross’ from the International Charitable Foundation ‘Maecenas of the Century’ for her public support and charity activities, considerable contribution to the support of educational and cultural institutions and strengthening friendships between the peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) awarded Mehriban Aliyeva for her exceptional services in protecting and strengthening the health of mother, child and family. This was made upon a unanimous decision of the 120th session of the WHO executive committee in Geneva on January 29, 2007.
Mehriban Aliyeva was honored with ‘Gold Heart’ international award in 2007 for her charitable activities and the outstanding achievements in services to the highest ideals of humanity. She was also awarded the title of ‘Woman of the Year’ in 2005 according to the social poll held in Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani National Hero Chingiz Mustafayev Foundation and the ANS Group of Companies announced Mehriban Aliyeva the ‘Person of the Year 2005’ for her services to the development of the country's education system, protection of the national and cultural heritage, preparation and holding of the 27th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship in the country at a high level, as well as broad charitable activity.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the golden medal of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in March 2006 for her contribution to preservation of cultural and moral values.
Based on a survey, held with initiative of the ‘Turkystan’ newspaper and the support of about 20 organizations, Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of ‘Protector of Turkic Culture’ for her achievements in preservation and promotion of Turkic culture in February, 2013.
Mehriban Aliyeva was honored with Pakistani ‘Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women Excellence Award 2013’ on December 27, 2013. Major projects were carried out upon Mehriban Aliyeva’s initiative and with her support in the education, public health, as well as in the humanitarian field in Pakistan’s provinces.
According to a survey jointly conducted by France’s Arab Cultural Heritage Centre and Egypt’s Nefertiti Media Productions Company, Mehriban Aliyeva was honored with the title of the "Most influential woman of 2014". She was chosen the winner, taking into account her special merits as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and due to her promotion of culture and international exchange of culture, contribution to development of science, healthcare, sport, education, technology and environment.
The First Lady’s merits also include the establishment of the International Mugham Center in Baku, providing assistance to children deprived of parental care, and numerous other charity events.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded an honorary prize of the Turkish-German Friendship Federation on May 12, 2014 for her contributions to dialogue between civilizations, as well as for the services towards promotion of the Turkic world in Germany and development of relations between Azerbaijan and Germany.
‘The Business Year’ named Mehriban Aliyeva the ‘First Lady of the Year’ at the ceremony of presentation of ‘The Business Year: Azerbaijan 2014’ magazine in Baku on May 14, 2014. Mehriban Aliyeva was named the ‘First Lady of the Year’ for her active participation in the public, social and cultural life of Azerbaijan, significant contribution to the dynamic development of society, inestimable merits in promoting Azerbaijani culture in the world, as well as all-round support for the protection and preservation of the world's cultural heritage and faithfulness to the principles of social justice and humanism.
President of ELPIDA Friendship Association of Children Suffering from Cancer, Marianna Vardinoyannis presented the ELPIDA Prize to Mehriban Aliyeva on June 15, 2014. ELPIDA, which has carried out many successful projects, possesses an exemplary medical department in the field.
ELPIDA achieved great progress in the bone marrow transplantation, the treatment of various tumors, thalassemia and other child genetic diseases. It opened a specialized children's hospital, and more importantly, greatly contributed to resolving such an important problem as the social isolation of children with cancer.
On August 14, 2014, the members of the Duma of Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast supported Governor Alexander Zhilkin on awarding Mehriban Aliyeva with ‘Astrakhan Oblast Order of Merit’. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation implements a number of major social projects in Astrakhan under Mehriban Aliyeva’s leadership.
Mehriban Aliyeva also received a high award of the State of Kuwait in August 2014 for extensive promotion of cultural heritage of Islam, noble charitable activity in Azerbaijan and abroad, as well as great contribution to education and healthcare. This comes as the first award presented to a foreign political and public figure on behalf of the women of Kuwait.
On December 28, 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva was elected a member to the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 4th General Assembly of the Organization. Mehriban Aliyeva was re-elected member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan at the sixth report-election General Assembly of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan on April 3, 2013.
Azerbaijan’s first lady received the Olympic Excellence award of the International Olympic Academy in Athens on June 16, 2014. President of the International Olympic Academy Isidoros Kouvelos handed the award to Mehriban Aliyeva, which honors her contribution to promoting Olympic values.
Azerbaijan’s president signed an order on May 5, 2009 to award Mehriban Aliyeva the ‘Heydar Aliyev Prize’ for productive activities in the country's socio-political and cultural life.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the ‘Grand Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland’ on September 14, 2009. She received this Order for her contribution to development of friendly ties between Azerbaijan and Poland.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the ‘Order of Legion of Honor’ by French president’s order dated February 10, 2010.
Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the ‘Crans Montana Forum’s Gold Medal’ on June 24, 2011. The medal is awarded to people who achieved great prestige in the world by their services, and have special merits. This reward is a next evidence that her multilateral activities in the field of culture, science, education, health, social and other spheres, are in focus on international scale.
Mehriban Aliyeva received a PhD in Philosophy in 2005. She was honored with the title of Honorary Professor of Russian Federation’s I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University on February 13, 2012.
The Humanitarian Cooperation Council (HCC) of CIS member states and the CIS Interstate Humanitarian Cooperation Foundation (IHCF) presented Mehriban Aliyeva the ‘Stars of the Commonwealth’ Interstate Prize on April 13, 2012.
She was also awarded the ‘Prix de la Fondation’ Prize of the Crans Montana Forum on June 29, 2012. The forum’s highest award – ‘Prix de la Fondation’ – is awarded to people who distinguished themselves with their work, and earned sympathy at international level.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation initiated Azerbaijan’s participation in the Eurovision song contest. Azerbaijani representatives have always been among the Eurovision’s leaders during the country’s participation in this contest. The young singers from Azerbaijan, Eldar and Nigar won the Eurovision Song Contest in May, 2011.
Mehriban Aliyeva married Ilham Aliyev in 1983. They have three children named Leyla, Arzu and Heydar, and four grandchildren.