The University of Indonesia in Jakarta hosted a lecture on "Cultural Diplomacy: A Safety Valve for International Relations," featuring HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, Minister of State and the Qatar National Library (QNL) president.
The special event was organised as part of the concluding ceremony for the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture.
Opening the public lecture, Dr Bondan Kanumoyoso, University of Indonesia Lecturer at the History Studies Programme within the Faculty of Humanities, said: “Qatar has succeeded in making innovations in the world of diplomacy, including becoming a mediator of peace for countries in conflict by carrying out purposeful cultural diplomacy.
“I thank HE Dr al-Kawari for being here and Qatar's ambassador Fawziya Bint Edrees al-Sulaiti, and our university’s Arabic Studies Programme for their support in organising this lecture.”
Dr al-Kawari, who also serves as the Years of Culture Ambassador, shared insights on the pivotal role of cultural diplomacy in developing international relations. With a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of cultural exchange initiatives, he is uniquely positioned to shed light on the transformative power of cultural engagement as a means of building bridges between nations.
“I had the privilege of visiting Indonesia last year, leading a Qatari delegation as part of the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture to strengthen bonds between nations and peoples. This initiative reflects Qatar's deep-rooted belief that culture serves as a more impactful language of communication than official diplomacy, playing a pivotal role in extending bridges of compromise and fostering dialogue and interaction,” said Dr al-Kawari.
The Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture successfully celebrated the rich cultural heritage of both nations, cementing the countries’ historically strong ties. Years of Culture organised more than 50 programmes across Qatar and Indonesia focusing on the creative industries, social development, innovation, and cultural heritage aspects of both countries.
He went on to explain, “Through my diplomatic experience and life-long career, I have come to understand that the path to global harmony begins with enhancing the role of culture in international relations. Thus, I firmly believe that cultural diplomacy is the key to bringing nations closer and serving as a catalyst for stability.
“The Years of Culture stands as a unique testament to the success of culture in connecting nations and promoting understanding through the exchange of creative experiences. This diplomatic approach, blending cultural exchange with traditional diplomacy, has proven effective in projecting Qatar as a state that values global peace and actively encourages nations to pursue it.”
Another point raised by Dr al-Kawari was the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup and the current AFC Asian Cup as a testament to Qatar's commitment to international engagement that has been instrumental in building bridges with nations worldwide.
During the event, Dr al-Kawari also signed copies of his book 'Bridges, not Barriers,' which delves into the intricacies of inter-civilisational relations and advocates for a fresh collaborative approach between the North and the South, echoing the lecture's emphasis on cultural diplomacy.
HE Dr al-Kawari at the book signing (supplied pictures).
HE Dr al-Kawari delivering the keynote lecture.