US-Gulf intellectual events help educate, effective communication

Marcelle Wahba. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 14 May 2017
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US-Gulf intellectual events help educate, effective communication

WASHINGTON: Arab Gulf intellectual events recently concluded here, attracted a wide range of experts, media figures and officials, reflecting the US interest in listening to Gulf voices in a clear discussion about the region’s issues.
The 11 events, which lasted for two weeks and were held in partnership with think tanks and research centers, dealt with economic reform in the Gulf, effective communication of the US-Gulf relations, the economic dynamics of the US-Gulf relations, progress registered by and challenges facing Gulf women, the fight against terrorism, and the situation in Yemen.
A number of officials, ambassadors and researchers said the activities, which concluded on Friday, provided the necessary educational information to promote understanding and correct misconceptions.
In statements to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), they said that the discussions during these events were fruitful and are bound to help decision makers and those who have leverage over decision makers.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Information for Foreign Media Abdul Mohsen Farouk Elias said there was American interest in the US-Gulf events, reflected in the participation of a large number of American officials and experts.
He stressed that “these events contributed to help the voice of the GCC states be heard regarding the present and future of US-Gulf relations in general or specific issues of importance, such as the Yemeni issue, combating terrorism, the role of Gulf women in society and economic and development issues.”
President of the Gulf Research Center Abdulaziz Othman bin Saqr stressed that holding meetings in important international capitals that are instrumental in forming public opinion is very important.
He pointed out that “the aim of these meetings was to clarify the facts and the false images, and present them as they are, without falsification and distortion, and explaining the reasons and motives.”
Former ambassador and President of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, Marcelle Wahba, said such seminars are an opportunity for people from the Gulf and America to “sit down and talk together, and we hope to receive good reactions from decision makers in the Gulf and in the US.”
“The aim of these events is to educate members of Congress, the media and anyone interested in Middle East politics,” said former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Middle East Policy Council Chairman Ford M. Fraker, stressing the importance of such events to educating both sides on issues of concern.


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”