The Arab Thought Foundation yesterday kicked off its annual conference, FIKR15, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and in partnership with the Arab League. The conference discusses “Arab Integration: The GCC and the UAE” and is being held this week at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi. It coincides with both the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and the 45th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates.
The opening ceremony and plenary session dealt with the experiences of the United Arab Emirates within the broader topic of Arab integration. The session included speeches and presentations from HRH Prince Khalid Al Faisal, President of the Arab Thought Foundation; HE Ahmed Abou Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League; HE Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the GCC; HE Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; and Professor Henry Awit, Director General of the Arab Thought Foundation.
The opening ceremony was inaugurated by Professor Henri Awit. In his speech, Dr Awit stressed the significance of organizing this year’s conference in Abu Dhabi, noting that the UAE is a major advocate of intellectual advances throughout the Arab world, as driven by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
HE Dr Anwar Al Gargash subsequently delivered a patronage speech. HE Al Gargash said: “It is an honor to join you today as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the UAE’s founding. As we inaugurate FIKIR15, I am delighted to extend greetings and best wishes on behalf of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai; and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”
HE Dr Al Gargash noted the exceptional levels of solidarity and unity throughout the Emirates since unification on December 2, 1971. “This date represent a glorious point in our history, as it represent a historic moment for our nation,” he added. The establishment of the UAE meant ended a period of division on the local region, while provided a political weight in the region after the British evacuated the Gulf region in 1971. The Establishment of the UAE ended any evil dreams of regional powers that was aiming to expand into the region and impose its influence.
Additionally, HE Dr. Al Gargash drew on the Emirate’s own experiences, noting that the concept of strength in unity formed a firm foundation for the national ethos. He also asserted that the Arab world as great potential for unity. Through dedicated leadership and hard work, the UAE represents a tangible example of this vision, he concluded.
For his part, HE Ahmed Aboul Gheit noted in his speech that as the conference celebrates the Arab thought, it encourages exchange of ideas and knowledge. He also stressed on the need for studying the UAE model, as an example of unified nation built on firm bases. The fruits of this successful nation are shared among its people, which represents a unique image of cohesion and unity in a time of fragmentation.
In his speech, HRH Prince Khaled Al Faisal, praised the UAE and congratulated its people on its 45th National Day. He also commended the UAE and the GCC as two successful models of integration, highlighting in particular Abu Dhabi’s developmental progress.
Subsequently, HRH Prince Khaled Al Faisal awarded HH Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, a United Arab Emirates commemorative shield.
The FIKR15 conference brings together high-level officials and leading policy-makers from throughout the Arab world, with a view to advancing a variety of integrated approaches and increasing solidarity in confronting some of the significant challenges facing the region.
The conference was preceded by the Arab Thought Foundation’s Ninth Annual Arab Report on Cultural Development, which focused on cultural integration in the GCC and outlines the current landscape of policies, strategies, institutions and creative trends facing culture.