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Nice, 07/11/2005

Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber addresses Postgraduates at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France.

On Monday 7th November 2005, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber was invited to attend the graduation ceremony of Postgraduates at the University of Sophia Antipolis in Nice. Sheikh Mohamed addressed the assembled students as below:

Mr President, Excellencies, fellow students, ladies and gentlemen, - ‘forging links through education’ – this is the phrase used by my foundation, the MBI Foundation. Forging links makes a strong connection, a chain, which joins two different things.

I am here today because I believe that education is the key to joining the two worlds in which I live.

I am an Arab, proud of my traditions and history. I am also a businessman, operating in a global marketplace, and based between Europe and the Middle East. The region I come from is much in the news, at the top of the international agenda and likely to stay that way for some time. Unfortunately, most of the news is bad, and I am saddened that so much focus should be on events that may well have occurred but are in no way representative. The information revolution has not yet led to a revolution in understanding. As the world becomes more complex and more inter-dependent, it becomes more and more important to understand our neighbours and to learn from them.

As an Arab I have been conscious since my early years of the great contribution of Arab civilisation to learning - in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Granada, right across the vast area that was the early Islamic Empire. This was a tolerant civilisation, where Moslems, Jews and Christians lived, and still live, side by side; where Jewish scholars wrote in Arabic and where Christian craftsmen decorated beautiful mosques. These things are often forgotten or distorted by the media and certain education systems in some countries.

And we are a people that has always been proud to trade and do business. Indeed, our Prophet was himself a businessman and married the first business woman of Islam. We believe that business-people have a major role in society, creating jobs that give dignity to the worker, and paying back to society the benefits they have accumulated. Today, education is more important than ever. Why is it so important? It is needed, not only to promote economic growth, create employment opportunities, and foster civic participation but also to ensure continued personal development. Education makes links, and as such it is a key factor to strengthening human security through the development of stable societies, greater tolerance, and dialogue among civilizations and people of diverse cultures.

I have made a commitment to make my contribution: I have made a commitment to funding scholarships over the past 10 years and assisting those who are willing to listen as well as speak; I have made a commitment to UNESCO with my educational reform initiative; I am making a commitment today to you and your University, through new scholarship programmes.

You have made a commitment to continue your studies, and through these you will make your own contributions to a better world. Don’t leave it all to the politicians. Whether as doctors, teachers, artists, journalists or - as in my case, in business - we all have important contributions to make. I wish you the best of luck.

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Charity Reg. No. 1093439

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