250 Actors for Peace Meet in Dubai
Dubai, 23 April 2013 – Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, and in presence of an elite selection of local and international sporting, social and government speakers, the first day of the Peace and Sport Dubai Forum 2013 took place at the JW Marriott Marquis over three individual workshops followed by a special session, setting the tone to the promising initiatives and recommendations that are expected to be the legacy of this pioneering continental forum; to establish sport as a crucial vehicle to achieve sustainable peace in the fabric of societies in the region and beyond.
Dr. Ahmad Al Sharif, Chairman of the Forum Organising Committee, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, as well as Joel Bouzou, President and Founder of the Peace and Sport Organization were joined by over 250 decision makers hailing from the local, regional and global entities of sport, governments and the private sector, debated and emphasised the role that sport and sportsmanship can play in the quest for long lasting peace.
The three workshops, held during the first half of the day, were framed under three topics:
Workshop one, entitles Leading the Way, discussed the role leadership can play in the vision for global peace and was kicked off with a vivid and straight shooting discussion by HE Ms. Nawal El Moutawakel, Vice president of the International Olympic Committee, followed by speeches from Egyptian Minister of Sport, Mr. El Omari Farouk El Omari, as well as Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, former Secretary General of the Arab Gulf States Cooperative Council. The workshop was concluded with the consensus that to instill the notion of peace through the use of sport has to be an integral vision of the leadership structure of any society and relevant organization, including but not limited to sporting associations such as the IOC as well as the private sector.
The Second workshop, entitled, Understanding the Challenges, tackled the importance of communication and harmony between all the stakeholders involved. It was animated by insightful presentation from His Excellency the Chief in Command of Dubai Police, President of the UAE talented Association Dahi Khalfan, as well Reem Asaad, an expert in economics and a woman rights activist in Saudi Arabia where she highlighted the role that grassroots sports events are playing in improving community relations in the Kingdom, in addition to Dr.Saif Alhajari, Member of the Qatar Foundation lauding the importance of government backed initiatives and structures to support the quest for peace through insuring all the ingredients are present to sustain it. All three, from their various angles of profession portrayed the importance of a national and social will to implement peace on all levels, including through the use of sports as a unifying force.
The Third and final workshop, entitled Understanding the challenges looked into the core of the initiatives and programs that help consolidate values of peace through sport in fragmented societies. Fueling the discussion was Mahash Al Hameli, President of the international center for the fight against violent extremism, Dr.Rania Elwani, founder of the Egyptian Olympians association and a Champion for Peace, Honey Thaljieh, Former Captain of the Palestine Women Football Team and Champion for Peace, as well as Abdulrahman Al-Hadi, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All the speakers exchanged their experiences and views on the various challenges faced in drawing up sporting events to serve peace in their respective communities. The general agreement across the four speakers was that cultural boundaries should be respected and upheld when sport is activated for peace; the lack of adherence to local cultural issues risk representing sports into an enemy of social coherence and harmony.
Speaking at the end of one of the workshops, Joel Bouzou, Founder and President of the Peace and Sport Organization stated: “Today, we have delved deep into the concept of integrating the region's culture into the movement, and I'm sure we'll leave here tomorrow with our goals and aspirations for this forum met.”
After the conclusion of the workshop sessions in the early afternoon, the Peace and Sport Champions and Ambassadors held a networking session before some of them joined a number of athletes and sporting authorities including Pakistani Football Team Captain Kashif Siddiqi, Director of Operations of the Badminton World Federation Stuart Borrie, and Jon Long, Head of the Executive International Programme of the International Cricket Council, in a special session that included an open floor for discussion and debate with valuable experiences shared among those present.
The Peace and Sport Forum 2013 continues on the 24th of April with three plenary sessions which will lead to the conclusions of the forum and draw up a concrete roadmap which will form the basis on which future steps are taken to ensure that sport in the region is used to spread the message of peace among communities.