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Valencia's ebullient and energetic mayor, Rita Barbera, uses unusual procurement methods. In order to get Sir Norman Foster to build the congress centre in her city, she first made contact ('knowing his prestige'), invited him over, and 'sent him around the city'. Just to make sure he gathered a little of the local colour, she made sure he saw the Fallas, a festival in March where the public create huge satirical caricatures of well-known figures and then burn all except one. Now that the conference centre is built (with help from Birmingham nec), Barbera has paid Foster the next best tribute to a Fallas appearance - a photograph of the two of them takes pride of place in her private office, alongside Barbera with Prince Philip, Barbera with Placido Domingo, Barbera with legendary Spanish cyclist Miguel Indurain and Barbera with . . . Margaret Thatcher.

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