Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Young Arab Leaders promote cooperation and dialogue

Young Arab Leaders Promote Cooperation and Dialogue

Nancy Goldstein

H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Clinton Lead the Effort:
Address the First Annual Arab and American Action Forum

“Prosperity and peace are the products of two conditions only: global cooperation and mutual respect,” said H.M. King Abdullah II

New York, NY (September 19, 2006) – Over 200 Arab and American leaders from the private sector, media, public sector and civil society today gathered in a first of a kind step toward establishing a platform for dialogue between the Arab world and the U.S. The participants included H.M. King Abdullah II; H.H. Crown Prince of Bahrain Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab; Dina Powell, Assistant Secretary, Education and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Mark Mallock Brown.

The group came together at the first annual Arab and American Action Forum (AAAF), an event organized by the Young Arab Leaders (YAL) aimed at creating initiatives that provide opportunities for the Arab youth in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, leadership, dialogue exchange and youth networks.

Addressing the Forum, H.M. King Abdullah II said, “This Forum takes place at a critical time. Recent crises have demonstrated a worrying disconnect between peoples and regions. In this century, prosperity and peace cannot be achieved in isolation, or gained by force; they are the products of two conditions only: global cooperation and mutual respect.” Speaking about the challenges in the Middle East, he added, “Recent crises shout out the urgent need for a better partnership among us, especially for peace. The evidence is clear: piecemeal and unilateral solutions do not work.”

Speaking at the Forum, President Clinton said, “YAL represents the ‘Other Arab World;’ and in times of crisis, people like the YAL are largely invisible.” He stressed the urgency for the YAL to make its presence known and to remember that presence and action in the region can have a positive impact. President Clinton also urged people to continue to have a dialogue because there is a lot that the American public does not know about the Arab world. “The essence of living together as a civilized people is realizing that you have a choice in how to respond to the actions of others,” he added.

“We are here to listen to your concerns, and to share our own. We know we have a challenge at hand and we are here to help find a solution. But we cannot do it alone – we need your help,” said YAL Chairman of the Board Saeed Al Muntafiq to the over 120 American leaders gathered at the Forum. “What we hope to do today is contribute to an environment that will give the Arab youth education and global exposure, and help build a prosperous and peaceful Arab world.”

Through a series of structured workshops today, AAAF participants will arrive at mutually beneficial projects and concrete actions to promote initiatives in the five key development areas. The outcome of these initiatives, through specific commitments of the participants, will be presented at the Clinton Global Initiative tomorrow and will serve as a working guideline for the coming year.

Al Muntafiq added, “As a result of these initiatives, we hope to provide young Arab men and women opportunities to interact with and work alongside their counterparts in the U.S.” He added, “Given the historically polarized agenda between the Arab world and the U.S., we have no choice but to marshal the common will and restore bridges. Leaders in the Arab world have a responsibility to take the initiative, and here we are.”

Klaus Schwab, in his address, presented a three-pronged approach: 1. Bonding – sharing of the problem; 2. Binding - defining the solutions; and 3. Building - acting and start building together.

For more information about the Arab and American Action Forum please contact Nancy Goldstein at 212.614.4827 or Nancy.Goldstein@bm.com.

About YAL
Launched in 2004 by the World Economic Forum, YAL is an independent pan-Arab organization which aims to create the necessary environment for future leaders to grow and develop in the region. It is a network of Arab men and women who have seen the power of action in their own lives, reached unprecedented levels of success for their age, are positive and can see beyond today’s difficulties to that vision of a prosperous Arab future. These leaders are currently in prominent positions of responsibility and are destined for extraordinary achievement, and they believe that their efforts today can have an impact on their communities, countries and the region as a whole. For more information please visit: www.yaleaders.org.