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Nobel Laureates gather at Saudi’s AlUla to discuss world’s most pressing issues

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More than 30 Nobel Laureates have gathered at a conference in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla to discuss the key challenges facing humanity, the Royal Commission of AlUla said in a statement on Tuesday.

The second edition of the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends was held over three days under the theme ‘New Openings: Decisive Moments for a Decisive Decade.’

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The conference brought together a diverse mix of intellectuals including; Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu-Tum (Nobel Peace Prize, 1992), former Polish President Lech Walesa (Nobel Peace Prize, 1983), journalists Michael Moss (Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, 2010) and Jeff Gottlieb (Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 2011).
Other guests included Prof. Omar M. Yaghi, The James and Neeltje Tretter Chair at the University of California Berkeley (King Faisal Prize); and Dominique Langevin, the research director at Europe’s largest fundamental science agency – Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS (UNESCO for Women in Science).

Also in attendance were Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, founding partner of Aeon Strategy Princess Noura bint Turki Al Saud, and member of the RCU’s board of directors Ibrahim Muhammad al-Sultan.

“You have come, you have seen, and I hope you were conquered by what you have seen – by the majesty and grace of AlUla,” said Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, highlighting the importance of the conference.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud delivers closing remarks at the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends 2022 in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud delivers closing remarks at the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends 2022 in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Around 20 Saudi high school and university students, many of whom benefited from the Kingdom’s Mawhiba program for gifted youths, also attended the conference.

“The Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends is a reflection of AlUla’s legacy of important knowledge exchange and dialogue. It is a powerful attempt to analyse the most critical issues facing humanity today and to create actionable recommendations,” said Ibrahim Muhammad Al Sultan.

Over the three days of the conference, curated by Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, and the Royal Commission for AlUla, the group discussed a range of topics including preventing the erosion of culture, the cost and opportunity of longer lifespans, closing the learning gap, and making healthcare accessible to all.

L to R: Faisal al-Khwaiter and Rasha Alnaji al-qahtani, students in the Mawhiba program for gifted youths, Saudi Arabia; Richard Attias, Curator of the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends 2022 and CEO of the FII Institute; Asrar Damdam, Ph.D candidate, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and CEO, Uvera, Saudi Arabia; and Khaled Farhan Al-Faqeri, student of Languages & Translation, Taibah University, Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
L to R: Faisal al-Khwaiter and Rasha Alnaji al-qahtani, students in the Mawhiba program for gifted youths, Saudi Arabia; Richard Attias, Curator of the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates & Friends 2022 and CEO of the FII Institute; Asrar Damdam, Ph.D candidate, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and CEO, Uvera, Saudi Arabia; and Khaled Farhan Al-Faqeri, student of Languages & Translation, Taibah University, Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Following the discussions, the group will release their recommendations in the coming days with a view to inspiring decision-makers around the world – national leaders, heads of international organisations, large corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as everyday citizens – to take necessary actions in the coming decade to ensure that humanity thrives throughout the 21st century.

In addition, the group also visited the key sites and communities of AlUla, gaining insight from the destination’s rich history of creative thinking and problem-solving.
Located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of natural and human heritage. The vast area includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years.

AlUla is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra, a 52-hectare ancient city which was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and comprises nearly 100 well-preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut into sandstone outcrops.

In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to several historical and archaeological sites such as an Old Town surrounded by an ancient oasis, Dadan – the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms –which is considered one of the most developed first millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula, thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions in Jabal Ikmah, and Hijaz Railway stations, among others.

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