Under the patronage and presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the FIKR16 Conference opened with keynote addresses by His Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, President of the Arab Thought Foundation (ATF), and Dr. Henri El-Awit, Director General of ATF.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said: “It was my privilege to attend the inauguration of Fikr16 in Dubai along with my brother and friend H.R.H. Khalid Al Faisal. The conference discusses “Stabilization” which entails effort, consistent work, sustainable development and ongoing progress. Stability results from our relentless effort to build and maintain a better life. It is also a continuous search for a better future for our societies. We are proud of this gathering. We call upon our fellows to invest in the knowledge and expertise required to develop our societies and drive the new Arab renaissance. Positive change requires that we unify all our efforts, each in their field, to serve the future of our countries and to help achieve sustainable stability and prosperity.”

Taking place at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai between the 10th and 12th of April, the Conference opening ceremony and subsequent panel sessions were attended by: His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Chairman of ATF; His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal, Chairman of the Board of Directors at King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies; the Arab Thought Foundation’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees; as well as numerous high-caliber intellectuals, academics, scientists and diplomats.

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Henri El-Awit addressed attendees, welcoming everyone to the Conference and thanking H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the United Arab Emirates for their support and generosity. Dr. Henri reflected on the current state of the Arab World and identified that it was facing internal and external challenges for which intellectuals and policy makers should be encouraged to address and aid in stabilizing the region. He stressed on how pertinent it was for Arab states to establish law, order and reform - promoting good governance, eradication of corruption, and a swift move towards modernization, youth development, transparency and ridding the region from terrorism as a whole.

Following the Director General’s welcome address, H.E. Ahmed Aboul Gheit spoke, offering further reflections on the current regional and international turmoil shaking the foundations of countries in the Arab region and how there was a need to transform society. He listed five challenges for Arabs to overcome which included working towards a more tolerant society in the face of global events, aligning policies in lieu of the fourth industrial revolution, avoiding the pitfalls and preparing for the consequences of wide spread social media usage, encouraging institutions across all sectors of society to converge in dealing with regional conflicts spilling over and finally, moving towards positive reformation of society.

The FIKR16 opening ceremony was brought to a close with a keynote address by H.R.H. Khalid Al Faisal, who welcomed everyone to the Conference and thanked H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the United Arab Emirates for their support. His Royal Highness then  recited a poem describing the realities of life in the Arab region and encouraged Arabs to rise up and face the region’s challenges with courage, determination and wisdom.

The first panel session on the topic of establishing a comprehensive framework to address the challenges facing the Arab region, took place in the afternoon and was moderated by Mr. Mohamed Al-Hammadi, Editor-in-Chief of Al Ittihad Newspaper and Executive Director of Editing and Publishing at Abu Dhabi Media Company. The panel’s key speakers included His Excellency Dr. Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, who shared their views on methods of addressing the chronic instability present in the Arab region.

Finally, wrapping up the first day of the conference, the second panel session focused on presenting international views and perspectives on the Arab region and its struggle for stability. Moderated by Dr. Joseph Maila, Professor of Political Sociology and International Relations, the session’s panelists include: Dr. Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Dr. Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences; Dr. Florence Gaub, Deputy Director and Middle East North Africa Analyst at the European Union Institute for Security Studies; and Professor Luo Lin, Dean of Middle East Studies School and Director of the Arab Studies Center at Beijing Language and Culture University.

The final session was concluded with a speech by His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal who thanked attendees for their participation and contributions, and reiterated the key topics and discussion points of the day.


FIKR16 Conference

An endless series of consecutive, sudden and unforeseen crises and events are interfering in a complex way and their repercussions are casting their shadows all over the world. These changes are occurring in the midst of a fast-paced evolution of scientific and technological breakthroughs, an expansion of knowledge economies and societies in addition to what is referred to as the “fourth industrial revolution”, which is bringing forth a drastic change to the quality of life.

Against the backdrop of a number of major international changes, the world is witnessing a combination of cooperation, rivalry and conflict between nations.

There are many different positions and policies being adopted, with ever-changing alliances as well as conflicts between the forces seeking to maintain the established world order and those trying to overturn it.  This situation is described in the literature using terms such as “chaos”, “turmoil” and “disorder”.

This reality resulted in significant changes to the resources and forms of power in addition to disparities within the global framework of the distribution of power among the military, economic and technological powerhouses further increasing the fluidity and uncertainty of the situation.

This year, the goal of our conference will be to examine and analyze the various elements of this global situation and in particular to focus on our own region, to investigate the impacts and repercussions on Arab nations and to suggest possible ways to address the challenges and to promote the stabilization. That being said, the term “stability” does not imply stagnation or preservation of the status quo, but rather the adoption of policies and the establishment of institutions that foster structured development and meet demands in order to achieve societal peace and prosperity.

The conference shall gather high level international and Arab officials, in addition to delegations from leading regional and international organizations (the League of the Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations, etc), as well as cultural entities, media, think-tanks, experts and academics.


The FIKR Conference Series

Since 2002, FIKR Conference constitutes a landmark in the history of cultural conferences in the Arab World, and an interactive platform for constructive exchange of ideas, expertise and leading experiences. The Conference raises every year and emerging topic affecting the Arab World and addresses it in a scientific, civilized and responsible manner.

The conference brings together more than 600 leading figures representing heads of states and governments, policy-makers, officials, thinkers, intellectuals, researchers, experts, delegates from governmental and non-governmental bodies, international federations, private sectors associations, research and studies centers, cultural and media organizations, and Arab youth.

FIKR Conference seeks to generate the support of regional and international entities to achieve the strategic goals of the Arab Thought Foundation that aim at accomplishing a paradigm cultural shift, as well as to encourage sustainable development on the basis of affluent human values.


Source: Four Communications