AMMAN — To counter the message of hate some forces are trying to promote in the region, an NGO with a global reach and local partners is training young Arabs to get across a message of understanding and acceptance by equipping them with the necessary skills.
With support from the EU delegation in Jordan, the Anna Lindh Foundation has partnered with the Amman-based Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) to train young men and women from several Arab countries on skills that help them promote the values of peace and dialogue, such as public speech and strategic planning.
The week-long session, which was held under the theme “Arts for Change”, involved 50 trainees from Jordan, Lebanon, Tunis, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt and Palestine.
Anna Lindh Foundation Executive Director Andrew Claret told reporters ahead of the training that that the skills taught during the course are necessary for the trainees to be more active participants in public life and build an open, pluralistic society.
He added that the programme comes in response to the changes that are taking place in the region.
“We, through our programmes, aim to promote understanding to benefit society through intercultural dialogues.”
Zina Ishaq, Anna Lindh’s coordinator in Jordan, told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the opening session last week that the training was part of a broader programme dubbed “Dawrak” (pot), which started last year.
All forms of artistic and literary expression are effective tools to achieve positive change in society through stimulating the young Arab participants to think, analyse and find solutions to problems facing their communities, according to Marina Barham, a trainer from Palestine.
Deputising for HRH Prince Hassan, who acted as patron of the event, RIIFS Director Michel Hamarneh delivered his speech, which noted that the dissemination of any idea does not take place through unilateral action, compulsion or intimidation.
“Spreading an idea happens through the open exchange of ideas; dialogue, and the content of this dialogue is informed by feelings, belief and experiences,” the speech read, adding that there is nothing in the world that better conveys these elements of humanity than the representation of art and culture.
“Artistic expression is an ideal language of dialogue because it is simultaneously unique and universal, whether it is a piece of art, canvas, on stage, on a screen, or an instrument.”
Anna Lindh Programme Officer Chaymaa Ramzy explained the process of selecting trainees.
“We launched a call in Arab countries for three weeks which resulted in receiving more than 600 applications, and we chose 50 depending on the validity of the ideas and projects they presented,” Ramzy told The Jordan Times, adding that the participants are aged between 25 and 45.
European Union Ambassador Joanna Wronecka told the gathering that the EU encourages creativity and considers it an asset for the development of a competitive creative economy in the Kingdom.
She agreed that cultural interaction stimulates creativity and innovation for the benefit of economies and the cultural fabric of societies.