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Call to bridge youth-leaders communication gap in Gulf

Call to bridge youth-leaders communication gap in Gulf

Tribune News Network
Doha
Thought-leaders and researchers from Qatar, Kuwait and Oman have agreed that the gap between decision makers and youth in the Gulf region needs to be narrowed by providing young people with more pathways for discussion that allow them to exchange their ideas and views.
The topic was discussed at Oasis of Dialogue, a platform for dialogue and sharing of perspectives organised by Qatar Debate, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF).
It focused on the future of political relation between Gulf countries, days before Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al Attiyah gave a talk titled ‘Small State Security Dialogue: Qatar and the Lessons of a 1,000 Day Blockade’ at Education City.
The event at Multaqa, Education City Student Center, hosted three keynote speakers - Dr Faisal Abu Saleeb, associate professor at the Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences, Kuwait University; Dr Mahjoub al Zuwairi, professor of Contemporary Iranian History and Middle East Policy at Qatar University; and Dr Abdulla Baabood, an Omani professor specialising in Gulf and Middle East studies.
The gathering addressed various issues, including social reforms, preventing political crises, diversity of thought, economics, geopolitics and regional security systems.
Oasis of Dialogue was presented by Anoud al Kuwari, an alumna of QF partner university Georgetown University in Qatar, and moderated by Qatari researcher Abdul Rahman al Marri Qatari, and invited young people to share their opinions and thoughts via social media.
“Our aim is to bring together decision makers, thinkers and young people to discuss vital topics, far from any classifications that knock down the opportunity of communication and build a bridge of communication between thinkers and youth. We are looking to motivate all community members to share their ideas and innovate solutions as an outcome of this dialogue,” said Kuwari .
Dr Abu Saleeb emphasised the importance of enabling the youth of the Gulf to take an active role in political decision-making.
He said, “The Gulf crisis, whether it is long or short, remains a temporary stage in the journey of Gulf relations. All previous conflicts between Gulf states were resolved within the circle of influence at leadership level. The current situation is different because some Gulf countries tried to influence all directions, including at the grassroots level, through social media users and influencers.
“This meant that, for the first time, communities in Gulf states were involved in political decisions, and unfortunately this was not the kind of involvement designed to help them achieve their aspirations, but instead related to leadership conflicts and this is due to the impact of social media. It is, therefore, very important to enhance political awareness among youth by activating constructive and targeted dialogue sessions, such as what Qatar Foundation is doing.”
In order to overcome the current political crises in Gulf region, the Kuwaiti researcher raised the importance of decision makers taking the perceptions and ideas of youth into consideration.
Dr Zuwairi explained how regional challenges influenced the shape of Gulf relations.
He said, “The Gulf crisis is the result of external interactions, challenges and foreign policies.”
Clarifying the type of challenges the region faces in this regard, he said, “State-building and the history of relations between Gulf countries are constant challenges, together with the shaping of foreign policies through reliance on major international powers.”
He emphasised the necessity of bridging acknowledge gap in the context of the huge amounts of information that young people now receive.
Dr Baabood said, “I deeply believe in cooperation and integration between the populations of all Gulf countries. The Gulf Cooperation Council was established on common foundations with regard to decision-making, common objectives and strategies, and all the Gulf states are still adhering to common interests, unity of geography and culture, and a common destiny.
“We live in a world where countries cannot live in isolation and therefore differences may occur between individuals and states. This is normal, so it is important to define how to deal with crises, how to manage conflicts and how to benefit from lessons - going back always to our roots.”
Machaille al Naimi, president of Community Development at Qatar Foundation, who attended the event, said: “The Oasis of Dialogue aims to communicate the voice of youth, foster a culture of dialogue and constructive critical thinking, and highlight the importance of different perspectives in dealing with future challenges.
Dr Hayat Abdullah Marafi, executive director of Qatar Debate, said: “The Oasis of Dialogue is a response to social demand. It has targeted different groups from our community and provided both young people and experts with an opportunity for discussion in an open academic environment.”
The session included discussions that allowed attendees to discuss their thoughts with speakers.
Moza al Hajri, a high school student and member of Qatar’s national debate team, said: “Dialogue is very important for all young people, and not only for debaters, because it helps us see the bigger picture by developing our understanding of what is happening in the world.
“We need to understand what is going on around us for our studies and for our careers in the future. Qatar also needs us to be thinkers and to drive positive change through cultivating dialogue that takes different perspectives into account. This new platform helps us to enhance our knowledge, which we can use in our debates related to any topics related to politics and history.”
Hassan al Mulla, a Qatari researcher and student at the Paris-Sorbonne University, said: “I believe in the power of civil society and students to enrich any discussion. A platform of this kind of platform contributes to developing political awareness in Gulf society. Stimulating a sense of political knowledge and awareness makes this a very positive initiative.”

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