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Sunday, January 23, 2022

The ‘princess’, the footballer and UNESCO


Doha news investigates the faux UNESCO ambassador “Her Highness” Rani Vanouska Modely to decipher how she managed to dupe local news outlets. 

On Monday, Doha News, as well as other local news outlets, reported on an announcement to suggest Al Duhail and Qatar national team player, Almoez Ali had signed to become a Goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO].

However, despite images showing the alleged “signing ceremony”, the star footballer was not in the company of a UNESCO representative but an individual apparently posing as such.

FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger was also present at the signing.

The debacle began when Almoez tweeted an image of the ceremony, prompting several local outlets to congratulate the star striker, including Qatar News Agency, The Doha Globe, the Peninsula, Gulf Times, ILoveQatar, Qatar Living, and Al Kass Channel.

The Qatar Football Association also announced the news with an accompanying image of Almoez emblazoned with the words ‘UNESCO AMBASSADOR’, though that tweet has now been deleted.

Soon after Doha News also reported on the story, UNESCO confirmed in an exclusive exchange that it was, in fact, false, and that Almoez was not a UNESCO goodwill ambassador.

This was because “Princess” Rani Vanouska Modely is not affiliated in any way to UNESCO and cannot speak, sign or work on its behalf, and has been falsely posing as a representative of the global body.

Modely pictured with Ronaldo and Messi [Pinterest]
In a statement to Doha News, UNESCO’s Director for the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen, Anna Paolini confirmed “Ms. Rani is not affiliated to UNESCO in any way, therefore Mr. Moez cannot be a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.”

On Wednesday, Almoez issued a clarification to respond to Doha News’ report that cited UNESCO. The Qatar national team player said news of his ambassadorship with UNESCO was inaccurate and said he had instead signed to Modely’s Football World Heritage initiative, which aims to lobby UNESCO.

Faux royalty?

This poses serious questions on how Modely, whose royal status is questionable and position as representative of UNESCO flatly rejected, was able to apparently dupe official government bodies, including the QFA and state news agency QNA, as well as local media outlets.

Doha News discovered that “Princess Rani Vanouska Modely” goes by several names, including “Vanessa”, “Rani” and “Vanouska”. Further investigation showed there was no official claims or statement from UNESCO that acknowledges the “Football World Heritage” project. This, simply, does not exist under the global organisation.

“Princess Rani or Vanessa Modely has been falsely posing as a UNESCO official for several years and was previously warned by the organisation to cease and desist in June 2019,” a UNESCO source told Doha News.

In fact, a simple Google search shows that rarely any information about Modely is available online, let alone details that confirm her alleged royal status. All that can be found is several dozen photos on Pinterest and Getty Images showing “the model” posing alongside global celebrities, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and even French President Emmanuel Macron.

On her Instagram bio, Modely describes herself as a “peace activist” and an “Ambassador for Football World Heritage of UNESCO”. Prior to her Qatar trip, only one single Forbes article makes mention of the ambiguous character. The basic Q&A report comprises of four simple answers from Modely on her initiative, without clarifying who she is. It is simply bizarre to present an alleged royal on a world-class publication in such a simplistic and vague manner.

Modely has also penned a number of articles between 2018 and 2019 as a contributor on Forbes’ French edition. In her biography on the page, she claims an “aristocratic” and says she “grew up at the heart of world diplomacy”.

“Woman of the world and model from an early age, she is also a philanthropist. Conscious of her cultural heritage, she chooses to give back what history has given her by committing to UNESCO Member States to create a better world,” the biography states.

One Wikipedia webpage – a platform known to allow anyone access to edit information on the page – says that in 2016, she became the “Ambassadress for Nations of the World for UNESCO, an organisation fostering dialogue and discussions between states to promote the values of UNESCO worldwide.”

UNESCO has vehemently denied her affiliation with the organisation.

The credibility of local news

After the news broke out, some organisations retracted their congratulations, including the Qatar Football Association and Al Kass Channel.

However, Modely has continued to parade around Qatar without clarifying her position – or lack thereof – with UNESCO.

[Al Sharq]
On Wednesday, Modely visited Aspire Academy, and was pictured there as a part of an article published by local newspaper Al Sharq, which identified her as “princess” and a “UNESCO ambassador.”

As confirmed by UNESCO, an announcement to confirm such a signing, or even a visit by a representative, would require a press release from the organisation itself.

None of the aforementioned were published by UNESCO, prompting questions as to why other news outlets or bodies failed to reach out to the organisation to verify the news.

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