Peter den Dekker

Peter den Dekker

Windmills, tulips, skating and orange – these are the things that pop up in people’s mind when they think of Holland.

It will not surprise you that the traditional windmills so familiar from Dutch paintings are now outnumbered by the modern versions producing ‘wind energy’, but tulips (and flowers in general) are still a key export product, and skating (on ice) is still our favourite sport in the winter.

The colour orange is usually seen as the national ‘sports team outfit’ and the (sometimes ridiculous) outfits of the fans. What many people do not know is that Orange is part of the Royal Family name (Van Oranje Nassau), and that this is the reason why the Dutch adopted this colour as a national symbol.

I am very proud that Maastricht has been selected as the FERMA Forum 2013 host city. It’s the first time FERMA is coming to Holland. Many people have asked me, why Maastricht and not Amsterdam?

My answer is twofold. Amsterdam as our capital would have been a great choice, but for the last six or eight years Amsterdam has always been fully booked during the Forum period. Maastricht may not be so well known by foreigners, but for the Dutch it is the most popular destination to spend the weekend, enjoy the quality restaurants and our ‘southern culture’. Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and everything in the city is in walking distance.

This is your opportunity to explore a different part of our country and it is Above Sea Level.

The preparation and organisation for Stockholm 2011 was very intense. The FERMA team and I as the president tried to make it an unforgettable high quality event with the focus on FERMA members, a quality venue, workshops, partnership and a lot of details. For me, Stockholm and the Forum in Prague in 2009 were hard work.

There were continuing meetings, interviews, speeches and as many visits as possible to all the events in the evenings to meet with all our sponsors and partners – and trying to wake up in time the next morning and acting as if I was still ‘fresh’. Usually after the Forum I need a 24 hour sleep to recover and get back to business as usual.

Maastricht will be different for me (I hope). I have only contributed in the organising committee to safeguard the good concept we developed in Stockholm, but the committee members have worked hard on creating quality content, while Florence and her team are doing the overall organisation. It’s good to see that team-work can bring this Forum to great success. I will visit workshops, meet my peers and friends, contribute in discussions (yes, I cannot change my old habits) and enjoy the Forum.