*The organisation’s 5th General Assembly gathers its members at Katara to discuss various topics and future projects

Members of the Global Public Diplomacy Network (GPDNet) have unanimously elected Qatar as the next president of the organisation during the start of its fifth General Assembly at Katara – the Cultural Village on Sunday (November 18), it was announced.

GPDNet, which was founded in 2014 in Seoul, South Korea, serves as a platform that contributes to international community through cultural and civil society initiatives by sharing knowledge and encouraging co-operation. It is comprised of non-profit national level institutions promoting cultural and public diplomacy.

The Network’s current president, Turkey, will hand-over the leadership to Qatar in June next year for a three-year term.

“The election was held after high level discussions, both on the cultural and diplomatic level. This time it was held in a new format to cover everyone and this created a big challenge. Finally Qatar was unanimously elected as the new president,” Katara’s marketing and cultural affairs director Darwish S Ahmed said in a statement.

Representatives from the nine countries, which form part of GPDNet’s 14 members, attended the two-day conference. These included Qatar, Hungary, the Philippines, Nigeria, Singapore, Turkey, Mozambique, Taiwan, and South Korea.

A number of sessions were also held yesterday, discussing topics on staff exchange programme, organisation of public/cultural diplomacy, and short film festival – all aimed at further strengthening co-operation between member countries.

Professor Seref Ates (3rd, left front row), Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti (4th, left), and Darwish S Ahmed led the opening of GPDNet’s 5th General Assembly on Sunday at Katara - the Cultural Village. PICTURES: Jayan Orma.

GPDNet’s current president, professor Seref Ates, who is also president of Yunus Emre Institute based in Ankara, Turkey, said they want to promote public diplomacy, and raise awareness and find innovative and peaceful solutions to the world’s problems through culture and civil society initiatives.

“GPDNet has a huge potential in making the diverse cultures come closer, this event makes cultural diplomacy institutions from various countries come closer,” he added.

Speaking at the event, Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti stressed that Katara is striving to build a communication bridge between the Arabs and the rest of the world.

“Katara made significant steps in cultural diplomacy through its diversified cultural programmes and stresses the importance of inter-cultural dialogue between East and West,” he noted.

He expressed optimism that the Assembly this year will open new opportunities and “new horizons of thought and ideas in cultural diplomacy that will help strengthen dialogue and understanding between cultures and civilisations.”

According to Dr al-Sulaiti, the GPDNet meeting in Doha could also lead to the implementation of joint projects beyond the borders and promote world peace through better relations and understanding between nations and communities across the globe.

“This is based on our belief that cultural diplomacy is the means to overcome conflicts and differences, through mutual respect, co-existence and acceptance of others and respecting their cultures. We hope the future would see more countries joining this network and joint cultural projects being implemented,” he said.

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