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Saudi culture dialogue center needs to get its message across

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) has recently stepped up efforts

Samar Fatany

Published: Updated:

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) has recently stepped up its efforts to play an effective role in addressing the critical situation in the Middle East. KAICIID has formed an alliance with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to address the wars and conflicts in the region and the global humanitarian refugee crisis. The cooperation of two global bodies to promote intercommunal peace in the region is an important development that is long overdue.

Officials of both organizations have outlined their objectives to help communities build resilience to conflict and strengthen influencers in communities, such as women, youth, religious leaders and the media. The cooperation will also support the development of educational curricula that promote values of peace, acceptance and equality. Officials of KAICIID and the UNDP have promised to enhance the constructive role of religious leaders to promote peace and social cohesion.

KAICIID Deputy Secretary General for External Relations Ambassador Alvaro Albacete said: “The Arab region is enduring an unprecedented period of crisis, which threatens to undermine the religious pluralism that has defined these societies for so long. The international community needs to act. Religious leaders have always played an important role in communities; in many parts of the world they are leaders in providing development assistance and promoting social cohesion. We look forward to working with UNDP to help religious leaders, and other leaders in communities, like women and young people, to promote social cohesion.”

The role of religious leaders has been weak and ineffective in countering the terrorist campaign but KAICIID can mobilize religious leaders of all faiths

Samar Fatany

Sima Bahous, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, said: “Diversity and co-existence have been hallmarks of the civilization of the Arab States region, and indeed this has been among our greatest strengths. There is an urgent need across our region to reinforce our embrace of diversity, and move toward increased resilience forged on the bedrock of social peace. Working together, UNDP and KAICIID aim to make a major contribution toward this important objective.”

United against Violence in the Name of Religion, in collaboration with the UNDP Regional Bureau for the Arab States, is also working on a regional project to increase social cohesion in the region, and to evaluate the impact of peace building, resilience and conflict prevention programs.

Such initiatives are critical and strong statements from the two recognized global centers can have a great impact on the international community that has done little to address the atrocities of conflicts and wars in the region. More work is needed to build a global society conducive to dialogue, tolerance and moderation.

The role of religious leaders has been weak and ineffective in countering the terrorist campaign. KAICIID can mobilize religious leaders of all faiths to promote world peace and global coexistence. The center has the potential to pressure world leaders to find solutions to global tensions and sectarian conflicts.

The collaboration with the UNDP, a significant global body, has renewed confidence that the religious center will have a more effective impact on peace in the region.

KAICIID, which was one of King Abdullah’s greatest achievements, was established in 2012. It has been created to empower religious leaders to influence peace in troubled areas of the international community. The Center was founded by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, with the Holy See as Founding Observer. Its Board of Directors includes prominent representatives from five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism).

The alliance of prominent religious leaders is expected to have a strong impact on global developments. In order to so, KAICIID needs to get its noble message across.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on November 12, 2016.

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Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

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