Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, left, with UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Nasr of Qatar during the two-day UN Alliance of Civilisation global forum in Nusadua, Bali.
Qatar yesterday donated $1mn to the trust fund of the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC).
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud announced this as he addressed the ministerial meeting of UNAOC friends, which is taking place on the sidelines of the Alliance of Civilizations Sixth Global Forum in the Indonesian island of Bali.
He said the donation aimed to help in the expansion of UNAOC activities.
He pointed to Qatar’s previous contributions to UNAOC, saying that Qatar had donated $1mn to the UNAOC Trust Fund upon its inception in 2006 and another $1mn in 2011. It also donated $1.5mn to the office of UNAOC high commissioner to meet its needs.
Al-Mahmoud conveyed to participants greetings of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and his wishes of success to the forum to come up with recommendations that help in enhancing dialogue among civilisations.
He expressed Qatar’s gratitude and appreciation to the government and people of Indonesia for hosting the forum and their hospitality.
He also thanked UNAOC High Representative HE Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasr and everyone who helped in preparations of the forum to make it a bridge for constructive dialogue and cultural and intellectual communication between societies.
He highlighted the active contributions of the “friends of the alliance”, particularly the two sponsor countries of Spain and Turkey as well as previous host nations of the Global Forum; Qatar, Brazil and Austria.
Al-Mahmoud said Qatar had established the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue in 2008 to promote peaceful coexistence among cultures and created the Qatar Committee for Alliance of Civilisations to highlight the contribution of Arab and Islamic civilisation. It also hosted the fourth edition of the Global Forum in 2011.
He said diversity was a universal norm and an effective means of unity, which required dialogue and exchange of ideas.
“We, in the State of Qatar believe in the necessity of respecting cultural diversity to all societies and civilisations,” he said.
Al-Mahmoud said Qatar took pride in being a country “that loves friendship, coexistence and peace as it hosts people from different countries, cultures, beliefs and religions”.
Qatar, he said, considered this diversity “a source of richness as it adds to the humanity of people through positive and voluntary participation and working and living together in peace and dignity”.
He noted that the belief in diversity was deeply rooted in the Islamic civilisation, which lived side by side with the existing civilisations through dialogue and exchange of ideas and commodities.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon attended the meeting along with al-Nasr, a number of foreign ministers and heads of delegation and diplomatic missions accredited to Indonesia.
Qatar’s ambassador to Jakarta Mohamed Khater Ibrahim al-Khater was present as well as members of the delegation accompanying al-Mahmoud.
Al-Mahmoud later led Qatar’s delegation to the UN Alliance of Civilisations Sixth Global Forum.
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attended the two-day event’s opening ceremony along with a number of world leaders, heads of government, ministers and officials.
Speaking during the opening session, al-Nasr said the theme of the forum “Unity In Diversity” embodied the commitment to “ending the on-going conflicts and tensions that plague our global society”.
He added that the world was changing rapidly and disproportionately, pointing to the alarming events of the past two months alone.
“The crises in Iraq, Gaza, Syria and further a field in the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Myanmar and Sri Lanka so clearly demonstrate that societies are grappling with identity based tensions. Globally, there is a persistent need for the work of the Alliance if we really want to pursue the future we want,” he said.
“Running an organisation with a small number of staff, limited resources and a huge mandate is challenging. This is why as soon as I took office, I initiated a strategic review to take stock of the activities that needed to be continued and expanded, as well as those new and innovative, that deserve to be added as priorities and areas of focus,” al-Nasr added.
He said UNAOC had partnered with civil society and governmental bodies to support social change entrepreneurs. “Under this programme we train and mentor young social entrepreneurs from the north and south basins of the Mediterranean to scale up their businesses, while also fostering intercultural understanding. This proved to reduce youth un-employment, and build inclusive societies through social enterprises.”
A preparatory meeting for the forum was held in April in Doha where participants reviewed achievements of the Alliance since its inception as well as means of developing and enhancing mutual work between governments and the international organisation.