DHL Connecting Cultures Middle East initiative highlighted at UN Forum in SpainDubai, 01/16/2008, 10:30 AM CET
The DHL-supported initiative, Connecting Cultures, was in the spotlight at the first United Nations Alliance of Civilisations Forum, which brought together political leaders, international organisations and members of civil society to discuss cultural-related initiatives. Author Paulo Coelho, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, Queen Noor of Jordan, Al Jazeera anchor Riz Khan, Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, were among some of the public figures speaking at the Forum, held in Madrid this week.
DHL is committed to supporting innovative and entrepreneurial ideas and initiatives as part of its sustained Corporate Social Responsibility programme, explains David Wild, DHL Middle East Commercial Manager. "It gives us great pleasure to lend our continued support to Connecting Cultures, which has grown in significance since inception, in both its mission and message, and we hope it will help create a better understanding among people from different backgrounds," said Wild.
Mark Evans, founder of Connecting Cultures shared with an eclectic forum audience how the Connecting Cultures initiative has grown over the past four years, becoming an important conduit that brings together youth from the Western and Arab world, and places them in a challenging environment to promote intercultural dialogue.
Inter-cultural youth exchanges
Speaking at a session which delved into inter-cultural youth exchanges, Mark Evans said, "Connecting Cultures started as a small initiative which brought together young adults from different backgrounds, and placed them in an environment where they had no access to outside influences, developing their communication and interpersonal skills. After having two successful adventures with 30 boys from eight nations, we are now, thanks to the continued support of DHL, about to embark on the first ever DHL Connecting Cultures expedition for girls.
A team of 18 young girls from ten nations including Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as several from various European countries, will journey for five days in the Al Sharqiya desert in north-eastern Oman, using only camels for support. The success and accomplishments of the initiative have further mobilised collective action from the region, which has enabled the Connecting Cultures journey to continue into its fourth year".
The Forum was opened by the President of the Government of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and President Jorge Sampaio, High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations. It featured announcements of high-profile initiatives, including major projects aimed at promoting understanding among cultures in the areas of media and youth. Other commitments and partnerships involving governments and multilateral organisations were also announced at the Forum.
First DHL Connecting Cultures expedition 2008
The first DHL Connecting Cultures expedition in 2008 will commence on February 7th. Each day, the young people will be paired up with someone of a different nationality, and each pair will then share a camel throughout each day of their journey, identifying what they have in common as they walk and talk. Findings will be shared, and focused discussions as a group will take place at lunchtimes and around the fire in the evenings. In the middle of each day, the group will take a break to work in two teams tackling increasingly difficult problems. A team of professional facilitators will accompany the participants on their journey.