Baku declared as the capital of Islamic culture in 2009. A relevant decision was passed at the fifth conference of the Organization for Islamic Conference (OIC) member states' culture ministers, held on 21-23 November 2007 in the Libyan capital Tripoli. A ceremony to mark the start of the year Baku-Capital of Islamic Culture 2009 was held on 18 February. It was the natural outcome of the decision of the fifth Islamic conference of culture ministers of member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, held on 21-23 November 2007 in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. This event certainly drew the attention of the whole world to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO and ISESCO and a deputy of the Milli Maclis, took part in the ceremony. The invited guests included culture ministers from Europe and Asia and their deputies, the director general of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, and others. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that such cultural initiatives play a significant role in uniting Islamic countries and solving global problems. "I am grateful to ISESCO and the Organization of the Islamic Conference which played a significant role in Baku becoming the capital of Islamic culture. This is a very important event for Azerbaijan. I would say that this is a source of pride for Baku." The announcement of Baku as Islamic capital of culture was a significant event for Azerbaijan. This could be seen in the cycle of events planned for the year - the opening of the Traditional Islamic Architecture international festival of young architects, the International Mugham Festival, the Novruz celebrations, state and children's competitions, Culture Days of Kyrgyzstan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Morocco and other Muslim countries and the AITF-2009 exhibition. The Capitals of Islamic Culture programme for 2005-14 was confirmed at the fourth conference of culture ministers of Islamic countries. The document said, inter alia: "In order to be declared a capital of Islamic culture, a city must have a rich history at the country and regional level, contribute to Islamic and common human culture in the areas of science, art and literature, have scientific research centres and centres for archaeological education and institutions organizing cultural events both on an individual and grand scale." The declaration of the Azerbaijani city of Baku as the centre of Islamic culture in 2009 is, therefore, further evidence of the recognition of the contribution of the Azerbaijani people with their unique cultural traditions to the treasure trove of world cultural heritage. This is another stage in the history of Azerbaijan, a country recognized by the world as a contemporary centre of religious, national and ethnic tolerance. Azerbaijan, with no exaggeration, can be described as a place where cultures, civilizations, arts and the literary traditions of many nations merge. And what is very important is that our country is today considered one of the leaders in intercultural dialogue between East and West.