Faith dialogue to counter violence in name of religion

Updated 25 December 2017

Faith dialogue to counter violence in name of religion

RIYADH: A key partner for UN agencies, national governments and religious and interreligious organizations has made putting a stop to violence in the name of religion as one of its priorities for 2018.
The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) Council of Parties — Saudi Arabia, Austria, Spain, and the Vatican, which is the founding observer — has approved during its meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna on Sunday KAICIID’s work and activities planned for 2018.
KAICIID Secretary-General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar said the council had reviewed the center’s achievements during 2017, including signed agreements and programs carried out in cooperation with the UN, the EU, and the African Union, in addition to its various programs in Europe, especially in Austria.
The council has also reviewed comprehensive reports on the center’s projects for establishing dialogue platforms across the world, as well as its peace-building social media training programs and meetings held for promoting citizen coexistence.
KAICIID’s plan for 2018 includes meetings, workshops, and organizing the next international event, United Against Violence in the Name of Religion (UVNR), to promote respect of diversity and citizen coexistence.
KAICIID has identified several locations that require more attention, including a few Arab countries, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, and Myanmar, due to the intolerance and extremism they are experiencing in the name of religion, especially among diverse communities.
The center also launched a few programs in Europe, especially in Austria. The UVNR has resulted in the formation of a network of Islamic and Christian colleges and institutes across the Arab world as a pioneering, unprecedented step in the Arab region, and after two years of meetings, work, and coordination, the network was officially launched in May 2017.
KAICIID is an intergovernmental organization whose mandate is to promote the use of dialogue globally to prevent and resolve conflict to enhance understanding and cooperation.
As an international organization, it supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. KAICIID also combats all forms of discrimination based on culture, religion or belief. We implement programs to overcome stereotypes in a long-term process that leads to a culture of dialogue that enables greater understanding of people of other cultures and followers of other religions.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”