Cultural attaché

A cultural attaché is a diplomat with varying responsibilities depending on the sending state of the foreign agent. Historically, the post has often been filled by writers and artists, giving them a steady income, and allowing them to develop their own creative work, while promoting their own country's culture abroad. However, many countries’ cultural attachés serve a different purpose from the traditionally ascribed purpose described above.

Purpose by country

Gulf Countries

The purpose of the Gulf Countries’ cultural attachés is to preside over the post-secondary education of their nationals, especially those who are state-sponsored to study abroad or those who are in educational programs created by the state. As such, the Gulf countries’ cultural attachés work under their countries’ equivalent to a ministry of education rather than a ministry of culture or a ministry of foreign affairs.[1][2][3] In other words, where an ambassador is the head of mission sent by the ministry of foreign affairs to serve the relations between the host country and the sending country, a cultural attaché in the Gulf is the head of mission sent by the ministry of education to oversee the education of the nationals of the sending country in the host country.

For instance, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Attaché could be sent by the Ministry of Education to supervise and manage medical training programs that train Saudi Arabian medical students in universities and hospitals abroad (as well as performing his previously mentioned responsibilities to oversee other state-sponsored students and programs).[1]

United States

The role of American cultural attachés has historically been known to be filled by spies posing as diplomatic foreign agents.[4][5][6] While this tactic has been used primarily during the Cold War period against Eastern European states that were part of the Soviet Union, the United States has sent spies posing as diplomats to Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa.[6] This is a highly effective intelligence tactic due to the fact that cultural attachés have a very broad purpose and they are covered by diplomatic immunity and are thus protected by international law should they be convicted or accused of espionage.

See also


External links

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