By MD RASOOLDEEN - ARAB NEWS - Saudi Arabia will work with the G20 countries and international financial and monetary institutions to find the most effective ways to help the global economy recover, Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh said in Riyadh on Saturday.
Al-Asheikh was opening the third G20 Speakers Consultation meeting.
The chairman was speaking on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at the meeting, where all member countries were represented.
Describing the meeting as one of the most important international gatherings, Al-Asheik said the world is undergoing developments at various levels, especially the global economic crisis, requiring concerted international efforts to find appropriate solutions to reduce its negative effects.
He said there was need to focus on ways of resolving sovereign debt dilemmas and aggravation, fluctuations in exchange rates and increasing unemployment rates.
“There is a close link between the environment and development which led to the emergence of the concept of sustainable development. Sustainable development is the process of development and exploitation of resources, without prejudice to future generations’ capabilities. It requires attention to environmental protection to achieve sustainable development. And energy plays an important role in building mutual relations between global economies; energy is the base engine for any economic growth and sustainable development.”
He added that it is important to facilitate international cooperation to create markets for energy that enjoy transparency and stability, and serve the interests of both producer and consumer with the need to support research and investments aimed at the diversification of energy sources and reduce environmental impacts.
“The Kingdom will spare no effort in this area to work with the international community to stabilize energy markets and support the dialogue of producers and consumers for the sustainability of global economic growth.”
He pointed out Saudi Arabia is one of the first states that contributed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals because it attaches great importance to sustainable development issues, and it has reported an increase in public expenditure allocations for education, health care and social welfare.
“We believe that the objectives of the global economic balance, laying the foundations for overall economic development, and achieving desired economic growth can only be achieved through sustained collective efforts and cooperation based on a sense of shared responsibility through the development of a genuine global partnership for development.”
Promoting cultural diversity, he said, would provide ways to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation, and represents an important mechanism for communication and understanding among nations and people through dialogue among followers of religions and rapprochement between cultures, leading to harmony and alliance between civilizations and reducing tension and conflict in the international community, as well as building a secure and prosperous future for humanity.
Chairing the second session, speaker of the Canadian Senate Noel A Kinsella, said the dialogue among peoples and cultures reflects a willingness to listen, to respect and to exchange differing points of view, and to acknowledge the many facets that characterize our respective cultures.
More crucially, he added, dialogue among civilizations seeks to dispel any notion of inevitability in a purported clash of civilizations. “Indeed, what we are confronted with is perhaps best described as a ‘clash of ignorance’ rather than any perceived ‘clash of civilizations.’ Critical to tackling this ‘clash of ignorance’ reflects an ability to move beyond assumptions and stereotypes, and to form partnerships that transcend the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ view of the world,” he said.
“Unfortunately, all too often there has been an attempt to over-simplify whatever divisions that can be said to exist through a reliance on the portrayal of Islam as the cause rather than the context for radicalism, extremism and terrorism. Indeed, there is a presumption that Islam is hostile to, and incompatible with, Western values. The current discourse also tends to portray a monolithic West defined by democracy, human rights, gender equality and secularism, against a monolithic Muslim world of seemingly polar opposite values and aspirations. Yet, both are gross misrepresentations.”
He said Western nations are reflective of numerous languages, religions, varying degrees of secularism, as well as strongly contrasting political, foreign policy and military-related objectives.
“This is equally the case amongst Muslim nations. It is therefore considered essential, in the pursuance of dialogue, that we disaggregate ‘the West’ and the ‘Muslim world’ into their individual and distinct political, economic, social and cultural entities, as opposed to pursuing the uninformed monolithic approach that has dominated the discourse to date.”
K. Rahman Khan, deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha in India, said the global dialogue of culture is critical for strengthening the unity of mankind and for promoting the fundamental values of tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. “It has the great potential for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights and reconciling diversities,” he said.
Khan pointed out there are several other initiatives at national and regional levels for enhancing dialogue, understanding and cooperation among religions, culture and civilizations. For example, he said parliamentarians need to support initiatives such as the Madrid interfaith dialogue conference.
He indicated India is the finest example of dialogue among cultures. He said the country’s experience in synthesizing diverse identities can be a valuable model for the world.
“Since ages, we have embraced people belonging to different religions of the world. In this context, I would like to recall the words of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He drew his lineage from Saudi Arabia and was an eminent Islamic scholar and one of the architects of modern and secular India. As early as 1940, he said: ‘It was India's historic destiny that its soil should become the destination of many different caravans of races, cultures and religious. Even before the dawn of history's morning, they started their trek into India and the process has continued since. This vast and hospitable land welcomed them all and took them to her bosom.’”