Loss for Vienna: Relocation of Saudi Center to Lisbon Finalized

More+More+ ♦ Published: October 25, 2021; 17:23 ♦ (Vindobona)

The controversial KAICIID (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue), which is largely financed by Saudi Arabia and is currently based in Vienna, will relocate to Lisbon.

The former main meeting room at the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) at in Vienna. / Picture: © Vindobona.org

KAICIID’s Council of the Parties and the Portuguese Government have agreed on transferring the Centre's headquarters from Vienna to Lisbon.

The Seat Agreement will be signed on the 29th of October, in Lisbon, by the Centre's Secretary General, Faisal Bin Muaammar, and by the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva.

The center opened in Vienna in 2012 and was controversial from the start because it was funded primarily by Saudi Arabia. 

In June 2019, a majority of the Austrian National Council voted in a resolution in favor of Austria's pullout, arguing that the center represented an extended arm of Saudi Arabia.

In early March 2021, KAICIID announced that it would leave Vienna and that negotiations with potential new host countries were underway.

Then in June 2021, Foreign Minister Schallenberg had declared that Austria would remain a member state in KAICIID. The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) had also not joined the resolution, because Vienna should be preserved as a location for international organizations.

With the transfer of the KAICIID headquarters, Portugal will have nine international organisations and will see its international profile strengthened in an area — intercultural and inter-religious dialogue — that is particularly important.

Portugal is the headquarters of the Council of Europe's North/South Centre - European Centre for Interdependence and Global Solidarity, and that Mr. Jorge Sampaio was the first High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations.

Mrs. Elham Alshejni, Director of Executive Management, has been appointed, as of November 1st, as interim Deputy Secretary-General of the Centre, in order to ensure the relocation process and the continuity of the Centre's work.


The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue aims at promoting dialogue and understanding among different religions and cultures, encouraging respect for diversity and pursuing justice and peace among nations and peoples, as well as combating the misuse of religion as a justification for violence and persecution.

The Centre comprises a Council of Parties composed of representatives of the founding member states (Saudi Arabia, Austria, Spain, and the Holy See as founding observer member) and a Board of Directors composed of representatives of various religions (including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism).

KAICIID - King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Intl Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue