Arab Thought Foundation releases eighth Arab Report on Cultural Development

Mohammed Saad , Wednesday 9 Dec 2015

The Arab Thought Foundation is an international, independent and non-governmental organisation founded in Beirut in 2001 with a guiding mission to help advance the economic, social and cultural development of the Arab region

The launch of the report at the Arab League main hall

The Arabic Thought Foundation (ATF) released the eighth annual Report on Cultural Development in the Arab World at a conference held at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

The conference was heavily attended by members of the ATF, diplomats, businessmen and representatives of different scientific and research centres across the Arab world.

The launch of the report was part of the ATF annual conference FIKR14, which is being held in Cairo between 6 to 8 December and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Arab League (1945 – 2015).

The launch event was chaired by the secretary-general of the Arab League, Nabil El-Araby, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the head of the foundation and the emir of Makkah province, and professor Henri Al-Awit, the director-general of the Arab Thought Foundation.

The report is the result of six workshops held at the Arab League last summer with the participation of 120 experts in all fields to cover aspects of Arab Integration, which the report covers as a main theme, citing the experiments, challenges and horizons of the Arab Integration through the 70 years of Arab coordination and the age of the Arab League as an entity.

The six chapters of the report tackle different angles of Arab Integration, such as the cultural and economic aspects as well as the security and military cooperation between the Arab countries. It also covers the different, diverse and versatile components of the Arab identity that forms the idea behind the Arab League, as well as the foundations of the national state and the way ahead for Arabs in facing and keeping up with new realities imposed on the Arab world by different local and international factors.

Secretary-general Nabil El-Araby stressed the importance of the report in regards to the current time period, which he calls "the age of big compromises."

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal focused on the Arab Integration theme, saying that choosing the Arab League as a platform to launch the eighth annual report was no coincidence, as it coincides with its 70th anniversary.

"The report has a chapter that discusses the Arab League between the present and [the future] we hope for. There is also a part of the report that includes documents from the history of the Arab League. This is just the beginning in a series of reports that we will be releasing over the next few years," Prince Khaled said.

The director of the foundation, Henri Al-Awit, explained why the foundation replaced the historical term of ‘Arabic Unity’ with ‘Arab Integration’, saying that although Arabic Unity is a prestigious historical term, is does not reflect today’s reality.

"Arab Integration is a better term because it refers to a project, a pursuit, and a work in progress that aspires to achieve something, and that is what we are trying to do,” Al-Awit explained. “We tried in this report to have a critical vision of the past, where we re-examined our experiments and saw the present and tried to look to the future.”

Al-Awit said that the challenges the Arab world is facing now show how tragic its present situation is, yet he sees these challenges as barriers but also as an opportunity to reread the past and work for a better future.

Al-Await asserted that his foundation's findings and recommendations are not binding doe member states of the Arab League, as the foundation is a non-governmental organisation that only works in research and motivating debates over new ideas.

In that vein, secretary-general El-Araby expressed his sorrow that the Arab League does not bind its members to its decisions, saying the problem is that the League cannot take decisions for the member states; it can only work to offer visions and projects but cannot implement them.

"We are just a governmental institution, we do not have the wide range that civil society has. Many other international organisations are also like us. The UN is also a governmental institution, and the world is based on governments right now not youth, and youth do not rule in their countries and that reduces our effect," he said.

The Arab Thought Foundation is an international, independent and non-governmental organisation founded in Beirut in 2001 with a guiding mission to help advance the economic, social and cultural development of the Arab region.

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