Dialogue is the key to peace
It was in 2010, when I was attending an exhibition in Dhahran. The event was aimed at highlighting the achievements of King Faisal. Prince Turki attended the event as the guest of honor and the keynote speaker.
Recently I received an invitation to speak at a conference in Washington, D.C. organized by the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) and managed by Dr. John Duke Anthony. I am already an admirer of the council but the other factor that motivated me to attend the event was Prince Turki Al-Faisal’s presence there. He was supposed to address the conference.
The conference was held at a time when the world was extensively talking about the Saudi decision not to take up a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. The audience was anxiously waiting to hear Prince Turki’s speech.
He not only spoke about Saudi decision regarding the UNSC seat but also spoke at length on various issues facing the Arab and Muslim world. His speech was objective and reflected his background. He is a former intelligence chief and former Saudi ambassador to the UK and US and the chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. This research center manages the King Faisal International Prize. And for the information of the readers, about 12 Nobel Prize winners had also won the King Faisal International Prize.
In my opinion, the Arab world instead of relying only on official contacts between the US and their respective governments, should find new ways to engage in dialogue with the American people.
The US is one of the most open societies in the world and the American people are good listeners and open to political and social discussions. During those discussions one will surely come across divergent views on various issues but that difference of opinion has to be respected and at the end of the day will yield good results.
Unfortunately, the Arabs realized it much later that media and other similar forums are very important to cultivate and gauge public opinion on issues no matter how sensitive they might be. The Arab media always shy away from confronting an issue. Moreover, the Arab media always use the official media channels but the American media and the people have a tendency to listen to both the official and public opinion. And on many occasions the Arab media had not been able to convey its collective opinion to the Americans. This is why a council like the NCUSAR is a very important means of inviting many speakers from the Arab world and the US to discuss issues of mutual interests.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal had during his time as an ambassador to the US made many efforts to talk to the average American through various media outlets. His objective and transparent approach won him credibility among the various establishments in Saudi Arabia and abroad. His speech at the conference was very extensive and covered a wide range of issues.
The US and Saudi Arabia are two of the most influential countries in the world and they can both prove to be instrumental in enhancing world peace.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view