“Beirut Institute” Summit II holds first day sessions in Abu Dhabi, honors five recognized individuals
Government officials and experts gathered in Abu Dhabi at the Beirut Institute Summit Edition II have discussed, on Saturday, the challenges facing the Arab region and ways to move forward amidst the rapid developments.
More than 200 high-level Arab and international leaders, personalities, political experts, thinkers and policy-makers gathered at the summit, entitled “Constructing the Arab Region’s Engagement in the Emerging Global Future,“ to discuss, exchange and issue constructive strategic recommendations that will enhance the region’s building process and impact it, as well as its position in the international landscape.
At the summit’s first panel, current and former leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League stressed the importance of both organizations.
During the session entitled “A Conversation Among Two Current and Two Former Secretary-Generals on Regional Responsibilities in Joining the Emerging Global Future,” Sky News Arabia’s Faisal Bin Huraiz moderated between the four participants. Secretary-General of the Arab League HE Ahmed Aboul Gheit spoke of the need to have a unified Arab stance. “If we have a unified will, we will go forward. The Arab League is working based on the concept of consensus, but the norm of the Arab approach is not to turn things into majority and minority because the minority will always feel they were deprived of their rights,” Aboul Gheit said.
As for HE Amre Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League, he said there is a need for “a united Arab position to move forward." HE Ambassador Abdullah Bishara, former Secretary-General of the GCC praised the role played by Gulf Arab states in “achieving security and stability.”
Echoing Aboul Gheit’s positive take on the need for his organization, current GCC Secretary-General HE Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said the countries in the organization he heads “are playing our role for being responsible in achieving stability [in the region].”
In a separate session, Parag Khanna, Geo-Strategist and Best-Selling Author, spoke of the manner in which technological revolutions are shaping our world. He said societies of the future would be measured by how connected or disconnected they are, and the most connected societies will be the most successful. “Stable regions will be best able to connect internationally, with less concern over their stability at home,” he said, in his session entitled “Contours of an Emerging Global Future Woven by Technological Leaps.” “So we must strive for this region, which I call West Asia, for that kind of stability so that it can focus on its international connectivity with partners around the world.”
According to Mr Khanna, a global economic multi-polarity is emerging in the world. “It’s important to realize that this region, given its central geography, has to think globally in terms of who it is connected to economically,” he said. “The UAE has done very well to get connected, to attract investment and to develop a strategy around the latest technologies but it has the responsibility to take the leadership in spreading these technologies for the benefit of the region.”
In the session dubbed, “The Future Women Want: What is the Bottom-Line,” several women leaders voiced the need for empowerment and equality. Mireille Korab Abi Nasr, Corporate Communication Officer, FFA PB, said that women should not wait for anyone to empower them. “We are part of decision-making. I’m sure we will be the best ambassadors to embrace the emerging global future,” she said.
For her part, Farah Atassi, President, Arab Information & Resource Center, Syria-USA said: “We [females] are strong by nature, but [we] just need to be given the opportunity to prove ourselves.”
Experts spoke of the transformations that took place in the Arab region in the past decade, in a session entitled “Constructing our Engagement in the Emerging Future: What are the New Priorities?”
HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, Chairman of the Board of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, and Member of the Board of Directors at Beirut Institute, mentioned the presence of carcinogenic cells that have been inserted into the Arab region, he said. “We, as Arabs, should have a development project to combat and counter-act this intervention and these cells that are trying to benefit from our problems.”
According to HE Nohad Machnouk, Minister of Interior and Municipalities in Lebanon, the Arab concept witnessing some disruption, is a transient stage that will not last. “The Iranian intervention is one of the major causes of the dysfunction happening in the region,” he said. “It has always been a destabilizing activity.”
HE Mahmoud Gebril, President of the National Forces Alliance in Libya, spoke of his country’s hijacking from the international community. “Organizations like the Arab League, the United Nations and the European Union, have failed in taking action,” he said. “They didn’t really reflect a balance of power on the ground.”
For his part, Gen. David Petraeus, member of the KKR, Chairman of the KKR Global Institute and Former CIA Director, explained that the region did not need to be redefined. “What you need to do is acknowledge the extraordinary number of centrifugal forces working to try and tear apart the [Arab] region and those that comprise this particular region.”
Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chairman at Beirut Institute, stressed the need to acknowledge the Arab region’s different characteristics, aspirations and hopes. “These local dialogues are a necessity in the whole region. We need to discuss these matters deeply because most of us, even if we are here in the Gulf, are not really far away from conflict zones.”
Asked about the Beirut Institute Summit, UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, highlighted the importance of the timing of the summit.
“The Summit comes at a very critical time in the Middle East. There is serious potential for escalation in the region, so it is very important that the main players- regional and international players- exchange views and clarify positions so that de-escalation takes place and opens horizons for reaching a settlement on the various conflicts, particularly Syria," Ambassador Ramzy stated.
On another level, five individuals were honored by Beirut Institute, Saturday evening during a ceremony at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi - Corniche. Receiving the Exceptional Excellence Recognition were:
· David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post, USA
· Najwa Kassem, Host of a Political Program on Al-Hadath, Al Arabiya
· Yusra Mardini, Syrian refugee who was appointed the youngest ever UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in April 2017
· Dana Alblooshi, 12-year-old astronaut training with NASA
· Adeeb Alblooshi, 14-years-old, UAE’s youngest scientist and inventor
Prior to distributing the awards Raghida Dergham, Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute, noted that the ceremony was to “celebrate the excellence of the award winners.
Speaking to the audience, Ignatius thanked Beirut Institute and spoke of his profound fascination with the Arab world and his respect for Arab journalists. “I look at the commitment of Arab journalists, some of whom have lost their lives over the years to tell the truth of what’s going on,” he said.
Kassem also praised Beirut Institute and her support base. “The two things I have in both of my families - my immediate family and my family at Al Arabiya - are love,” Kassem said.
Mardini appeared in a video message to thank Beirut Institute for the honor and award.
Turning to the younger generation, Dana Alblooshi said she considers herself living proof that “age is not a limit and will never limit your dreams.”
Dana’s brother, Adeeb, spoke of the importance of his family’s support as well as that of the UAE.
Dana and Adeeb’s father also discussed his gratitude for Beirut Institute and what it’s striving toward during the two-day summit as well as the man behind the success of the UAE. “We are the children of Sheikh Zayed, who is the driving force behind Dana and Adeeb’s success and every home in the Arab region has an Adeeb and Dana in it,” Sulaiman Alblooshi said after his two children were honored.
The summit’s second edition will continue today, before it concludes with the Beirut Institute Abu Dhabi Declaration.