Cultural Dialogue in the Omani Desert supported by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation
Connecting Cultures, a unique educational initiative promoting face-to-face dialogue between young people from both the Arab and western worlds, continued its programme for 2016-2017 with 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 this season’s expeditions into the wilderness.
Future political and social leaders rode camels and walked along the sand dunes while discussing shared values and the causes of cultural misunderstanding. Pablo from Spain described the programme as “a once in a lifetime experience” which helped him shift from viewing people from the east as “exotic” or the “subject of study”. He now shares their joy and pain as if it were his own. Grazia from Slovenia spoke of forming friendships that “go beyond borders, beyond the stereotypes, beyond continents and media representations”. She talked of carrying the traces of the girls she met with her and transferring them to her own country. Saba from Iran wanted to share the real culture of her country, as it is often greatly misunderstood. She believes the Connecting Cultures programme benefitted all of the participants. Eszter from Hungary spoke of the unique opportunity of coming into contact with different world views, to engage in discussions about global issues and connect with people from outside of her own culture. This experience allowed her to see how much she and her fellow female travellers to the Omani desert all shared as women.
Connecting Cultures acknowledges that, “it is only thanks to the continuing support of organisations such as the MBI Al Jaber Foundation that has allowed us to continue to undertake expeditions …”. The MBI Al Jaber Foundation is committed to forging links between the Middle East and the wider world through educational and cultural activity. Our inspiration is drawn from our Patron, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, who believes that individuals can and do make a difference, and that education is the key to a better future for the world.