King Abdullah interfaith dialogue center opens in Vienna

Updated 28 November 2012
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King Abdullah interfaith dialogue center opens in Vienna

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) will promote world peace and serve the humanity, said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal here yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after attending the center’s opening ceremony, Prince Saud said: “This is a historic day. We hope the center would contribute to bringing people closer and settle their disputes peacefully.”
The opening ceremony was attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and hundreds of religious leaders.
Prince Saud said he hoped the center would "bring peace and understanding between the various religions. Religion has been the basis for many conflicts."
The center, launched by Saudi Arabia as an international organization with multifaith oversight, aims to help religions contribute to solving problems such as conflicts, prejudice and health crises rather than be misused to worsen them.
"The prime purpose is to empower the active work of those in the field, whether in the field of dialogue, of social activism or of conflict resolution," said Jerusalem-based Rabbi David Rosen, representing Judaism on the nine-seat board of directors.
"We want to empower you," he told an opening session where dialogue projects from Europe, the Middle East and Africa reported on how they worked to foster inter-faith understanding.
The center plans to work first on improving how religions are presented in media and schoolbooks, involving faith leaders in children's health campaigns in poor countries and hosting religious leaders for fellowships at its Vienna headquarters.
Saudi officials at the Vienna conference stressed the dialogue message was being spread back home as well.
"The aim is to promote acceptance of other cultures, moderation and tolerance," said Fahad Sultan Al-Sultan, deputy head of a Saudi national dialogue effort launched in 2003. "There are problems but we have achieved some success."
Board member Reverend Toby Howarth said its international status sponsored by Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain gave the center several advantages over non-governmental organizations or church groups working on similar issues.
It would have more "pulling power" dealing with government ministers on issues such as improving the way religions are presented in a country's schoolbooks, said Howarth, who is interfaith adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The fact that King Abdullah is the custodian of Islam's two holiest mosques in Makkah and Madinah would "have weight in some Muslim countries", he added.
Spindelegger defended the establishment of KAICIID in Vienna, saying "it is my deep conviction that there is no alternative to this dialogue". KAICIID officials say the center is independent and would not be promoting any one religion.


Saudi efforts to ‘heal Afghan division’ win royal approval

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Jeddah on Tuesday. SPA
Updated 18 July 2018
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Saudi efforts to ‘heal Afghan division’ win royal approval

  • The forum urged all Afghan factions to halt the fighting and work toward “reconciliation between brothers
  • China’s Belt and Road initiative will link the interests of China and Arab countries

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has expressed his appreciation to scholars who took part in the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Security in Afghanistan in Makkah, saying the Kingdom was making efforts to “heal the divisions and differences among the Afghan people.”

Chairing the Cabinet session at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday, the king said Saudi Arabia was working toward “unifying the ranks and words of Muslims worldwide.”
He briefed the Cabinet on the results of his recent talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa, of South Africa, on future cooperation between the two countries.
The Cabinet welcomed the final statement by the Makkah conference calling on states, organizations and Islamic elites to play positive roles in achieving security and peace in Afghanistan.
The forum urged all Afghan factions to halt the fighting and work toward “reconciliation between brothers, extinguishing the fire of sedition.”
Muslims worldwide should continue their “firm stand in front of the advocates of violence and extremism in defense of their religion and maintaining the unity of the Islamic world,” it said.
The Cabinet also reviewed a ministerial meeting of the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum in Beijing and welcomed a decision by Chinese leader President Xi Jinping to establish an Arab-Chinese strategic partnership.
China’s Belt and Road initiative will link the interests of China and Arab countries and “add to the prosperity and economic advancement of all,” it said.
The Cabinet denounced recent suicide attacks on two election gatherings in Pakistan and the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, and offered condolences to families of the victims.
In the local arena, the Cabinet extended its appreciation to the king, based on a report by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for pardoning all troops who have taken part in the Saudi Renewal of Hope operation in Yemen of their military and disciplinary penalties for their heroism and sacrifices.
The Cabinet approved a license for the Iraqi Commercial Bank to open a branch in Saudi Arabia and authorized the Minister of Finance to decide on any subsequent requests to open other branches.