Ahmed Aboutaleb (Berber: ⴰⵃⵎⴻⴷ ⴰⴱⵓⵟⴰⵍⴻⴱ; Arabic: أحمد أبو طالب; born August 29, 1961) is a Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid; PvdA) politician who is the Mayor of Rotterdam since January 5, 2009. He served as State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment from February 22, 2007, until December 12, 2008, in the Cabinet Balkenende IV.
Aboutaleb, who came to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of 15, is the first mayor of a large city in the Netherlands who is of both immigrant origin and the Muslim faith. He is of Riffian Berber ancestry, and a dual citizen of the Netherlands and Morocco.
Ahmed Aboutaleb was born on 29 August 1961 in Beni Sidel in Morocco. He grew up as a son of a Riffian Amazigh Sunni imam in a small village in the Nador Province, Rif region. Together with his mother and brothers he moved to the Netherlands in 1976, when he was 15 years old. Aboutaleb had already noticed how he differed from other kids. As he says in an interview: 'I was so different, such a school dork. I wanted to learn, I wanted to know everything.'
Aboutaleb then studied telecommunications at different schools up to the Hogere Technische School where he obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree.
After graduating he found work as reporter for Veronica, NOS-radio and RTL Nieuws. He also worked at the public relations department of the Dutch health ministry. In 1998, Aboutaleb became director of the Forum organisation, an institute dealing with multiculturalism in the Netherlands. He also obtained a post as civil servant with the municipality of Amsterdam.
In January 2004, Aboutaleb succeeded the scandal-plagued Rob Oudkerk as alderman in Amsterdam. Labour Party leader Wouter Bos in his book Wat Wouter Wil (English: What Wouter wants) said that if the Labour Party was involved in forming the next cabinet after the 2006 elections, Aboutaleb would be offered a ministerial post. Aboutaleb himself claimed at the time he wanted to focus on his work as alderman and that it was "important first that the PvdA wins the elections."
When the PvdA really did become part of a new coalition, Aboutaleb was just offered the job of State Secretary for social affairs, but said that he did not mind the lesser function, and believed he could learn a lot from Piet Hein Donner, the minister of social affairs.
Along with another deputy minister, Nebahat Albayrak, of Turkish descent, Aboutaleb was criticized by Geert Wilders at the time of their announced appointments for holding dual passports. According to Wilders and his party, government ministers should not have dual citizenship, which they say implies dual allegiance.
On 31 October 2008 Aboutaleb was appointed (in the Netherlands, mayors are not elected) as mayor of Rotterdam. He succeeded the former mayor, Ivo Opstelten on 5 January 2009. Jetta Klijnsma succeeded him as State Secretary.
Aboutaleb is also a great fan of poetry, especially Arabic poetry. He translated poetry of Adunis, the most famous living poet of the Arabic language, very little of whose work had been previously translated into Dutch. In June 2010, he presented a few of his translated poems in Arabic in Rotterdam during the festival, 'Poetry International.'