FaceOf: Sir Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the British Council

Sir Ciaran Devane
Updated 05 February 2019
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FaceOf: Sir Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the British Council

  • The British Council promotes a wider knowledge of the UK and the English language

Sir Ciaran Devane is the chief executive of the British Council, the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. He has been serving in this position since January 2015. 

The British Council promotes a wider knowledge of the UK and the English language by encouraging cultural, scientific, technological and educational cooperation with the UK in over 100 countries.

Previously, he was the non-executive director of NHS England in Leeds, the UK between 2012 and 2015. 

Devane served as chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support from 2007 to 2014. During his tenure, he transformed the scale and impact of the charity. Consequently, he led Macmillan to be the UK’s “Brand of the Year” in 2014. And in 2015, Devane received a knighthood for his services to cancer patients.

In September 2018, British Health Minister Simon Harris announced Devane as the first chairperson of the new board of the Irish health service, the Health Service Executive. 

He started his career as an engineer and manager for Imperial Chemical Industries before becoming a management consultant, mostly with Gemini Consulting. He specialized in complex change programs with companies such as AstraZeneca and Rolls Royce.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemical engineering from University College, Dublin. He obtained a master’s in international policy and practices from George Washington University, Washington, DC, and a degree of doctor of science (honoris causa) from University College Dublin. 

In a previous interview with Arab News at the Creative Futures Forum in Riyadh, Devane said that the British Council wanted to broaden the horizons of young Saudis by adding art to their education.

He said the council wants to give young people in the Kingdom different opportunities and turn STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM with the introduction of art.

Devane praised Vision 2030, saying: “What is great about the approach is that it is focusing not only on the creative cultural side but also the technical and infrastructure side. For the creative sector to be sustainable you need both.”


Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.