HE Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali said that the rise of nations and civilisations lies in their identity but the risk comes from not recognising their "deeper identity", as he spoke at the launch of Qatar Foundation's Education City Speaker Series Bel Arabi. In the week of Qatar National Day, HE the Minister of Culture and Sports was the guest for an online discussion as the Education City Speaker Series -- the platform for dialogue and discourse established by Qatar Foundation (QF).
The inaugural edition of the Education City Speaker Series Bel Arabi saw HE the Minister discuss the "iceberg model" that contains the visible aspects of identity such as, language, crafts, architecture, food, clothes and traditional arts. Described these as being the key to achieving a nation's security and stability because of the sense of loyalty and belonging they create, he called for young people to pay more attention to them and celebrate them.
Focusing on the "deeper" identity which the iceberg model also contains, HE the Minister spoke about how this relates to human dignity, relationships with others, work, science, and how people value time. "The deeper identity is like the functions of the human body," he said. He also emphasised the importance of people exploring these elements of their deeper identity, saying: "Reaching for excellence is very important to enhancing national identity."
Reflecting QF's role in preserving and promoting the Arabic language, heritage, culture, and knowledge, the discussion saw HE the Minister discuss how young people can follow their aspirations and make positive change happen in their communities while retaining their sense of identity, as well as the challenges they encounter.
He spoke of how the founders of Qatar created solutions to the challenges they have faced throughout history and established a culture of creativity and solidarity, describing this as "a genetic footprint that has been transferred from one generation to another" and one of the cornerstones of Qatar's national identity. During the discussion, which was followed by a question-and-answer session, HE the Minister defined the concepts of a nation's culture. "Culture is the core of any society," he said.
"It is a cumulative process for a specific group, whether individuals, institutions, or countries. They face internal and external challenges. And they try to find solutions to these challenges that they can then apply. The solution that succeeds becomes a behaviour, and the behaviour becomes culture. And this culture is passed through generations, so that these generations learn it automatically," he said.
He also highlighted four characteristics that represent a society's culture: constancy, emotional adhesion, integration between elements of society, and the expansion of culture among all members of society. And he encouraged young people to think about their perception of deeper identity, including aspects such as justice, freedom, and time, and to be open to other cultures.
"To be open to another culture, and to do so with confidence and awareness, will lead to our own national identity being strengthened," he said.
"The responsibility of preserving our deeper identity is held by both the individual and the wider community. A community or society cannot be distinguished without the individual, and an individual cannot be distinguished without belonging to a community."
This was the seventh edition of the Education City Speaker Series to be held in virtual form, with the platform being switched to online mode amid the Covid-19 pandemic to continue offering opportunities for dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and perspectives.    
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