Cultural Dialogue in the Omani Desert supported by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation
Connecting Cultures Participants
Established in 2004, Connecting Cultures, a unique educational initiative promoting face-to-face dialogue between young people from both the Arab and western worlds, continued with its 2014 – 2015 programme of journeys into Oman’s Al-Sharqiah Desert. The MBI Al Jaber Foundation has provided funding for Connecting Cultures since 2005 and again gave its support to the three desert journeys taking place during the winter of 2014 - 2015.
During this season’s expeditions into the wilderness, future political and social leaders, including inspirational young people from Iran and Afghanistan, rode camels and walked along the sand dunes discussing ‘shared values’ and the causes of cultural misunderstanding. Some evenings were spent singing traditional Omani songs around the campfire, as well as the national anthems of each participant.
Abdullah Al-Badani, a Connecting Cultures participant, stated how he appreciated the opportunity to ‘build a bridge of mutual understanding’ with his desert colleagues and how this connected with the MBI Al Jaber Foundation’s vision of ‘contributing to an age of mutual understanding where global misconceptions about the people of the Arab world are a thing of the past’.
Participants of the third and final journey of the programme consisted of ‘20 amazing girls from 20 nations’ who took part ‘in inspiring cultural debate’. Their teamwork was tested, however, when trying to erect their tents in a very strong desert wind!