The Euro-Arab Dialogue Initiative – The Next Steps
Foundation Director Carolyn Perry opens the conference on behalf of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber
The Euro-Arab Dialogue Initiative (EADI) Conference held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris 9th and 10th December brought together representatives from 32 European and Arab states and technical experts who reflected upon progress achieved during the first 15 years of the Initiative and considered which next steps should be taken in this vital programme.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and the MBI Al Jaber Foundation have supported the EADI since its revival and have hosted five meetings, from high-level conferences to technical meetings, over the last five years. This latest conference brought together a group of UNESCO ‘Young Personalities’ – young people who engaged in sharing their expertise and experience, and who worked together on a plan of action for the important next phase.
Their focus was on education, heritage and media with specific attention paid to making common values explicit. They also highlighted a clear need to relink universal values with diversity of expression and to celebrate difference with a strong belief in humankind. They agreed that there is a need for much greater exposure to other traditions and realities and supported the idea of a programme for educational exchange focussed on heritage and youth.
The first phase of such a programme would include interaction between young Europeans and Arabs, exploring educational opportunities and challenges themed around cultural heritage, using common social media platforms. The second phase would include visits to the participating countries, enabling those taking part to genuinely engage in dialogue about their experiences. A further plan is for the training and exchange of educators, who would help students understand that common history can be seen from many different perspectives.
The MBI Al Jaber Foundation has focussed on education as a catalyst and how it can be used to reduce prejudice and increase understanding for two decades. Commenting at the end of the conference in Paris, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber said:
"At the conclusion of this successful meeting of the Euro-Arab Dialogue at UNESCO in Paris, during which the importance of education was confirmed as a common concern, I am calling for a summit to take place in 2017 co-chaired by two Heads of State, one from Europe and one from the Arab world, to give the momentum needed for the implementation of a practical strategy with concrete outcomes, to be endorsed by Ministers of the participating countries.
The MBI Al Jaber Foundation has supported this noble cause since it started 15 years ago and will continue to fund the next chapter."