The Regional Conference on Cultural Diversity organised by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, in co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD), concluded in Doha yesterday. Under the slogan ‘Culture: Bridges of Dialogue and Understanding,’ the two-day conference was attended by senior officials and representatives of the ACD states.
The final day saw a cultural dialogue between representatives of Asian countries in two sessions moderated by Wijdan (Conscience) Center director
Dr Jassim Sultan.
Dr Abdulnasser Saleh al-Yafei, assistant dean for Social and Human Sciences, Qatar University’s College of Arts and Sciences, presented a paper on cultural diversity, human rights and the promotion of societal cohesion. “The human rights concepts reinforced the notion of universality, which in its extreme form meant that rights are applied to every state and individual without exceptions, but difficulties appeared in applying or interpreting it in a particular culture,” he said, adding: “This creates a dilemma in determining the role that culture could play in promoting human rights.”
Dr al-Yafei said that there is a need to reconsider some human rights that are not compatible with different cultures and sometimes threaten social
In her paper, director of Center for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies at University of Kuwait, Dr Maha Mishari al-Sajari stressed that culture with its various foundations of museums, theaters and cinema has become an important economic resource, for example, the income of the Eiffel Tower is an important economic source and represents 1/15 of the national income in France, and tourism revenues in Oman in 2016 amounted to more than $3bn, pointing out that the highest global income from tourism is in the US at an average of $93bn annually.
In his presentation, associate professor at the University of Foreign Studies in Beijing, Yeh Liang Ying, underlined the achievements of the dialogue between Chinese civilisation and Arab civilisation historically and realistically, noting that the translation between the two civilizations was one of the most important of these achievements. Ying said the first translation from Arabic into Chinese was in 1899, and then the movement of cultural exchange and knowledge was activated and culminated in the opening of more than 50 Arabic language sections in China.
Dr Kareem Darwish, researcher at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), spoke about the role of technology in promoting cultural dialogue and understanding, reviewing some of the research conducted at QCRI on analysis of Twitter to understand users’ diverse attitudes towards sensitive issues such as support for armed groups such as ISIS in the Arab world, and racist ideas against Muslims and refugees in the West.
Darwish explained that this kind of analysis is useful in the development of policies that address these negative phenomena and the formulation of media messages targeting specific
sectors in different societies.
The second and final session of the conference touched on communication and rapprochement between the cultures of Asian countries and its changes and effects.
During the session, Secretary-General of Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science Dr Hamda al-Sulaiti touched on three axes with regards to strategy of cohesion, family and diversity.
She pointed to the importance of cultural diversity as an educational tributary, and that culture works to promote positive values and build bridges of communication with the other by focusing on cultural activities, especially students, instilling the value of dialogue, renouncing violence, communicating and learning about diverse cultures.
She added that there is a close correlation between media awareness and the culture of communication, especially under the control of the current social media. Therefore, the State of Qatar has been keen to develop and promote media awareness among its people, pointing out that the commission has launched a number of projects aimed at exchanging cultures with other peoples to create communication bridges between them.
Head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association (TAM) and head of TRT Arabia Turan Kislakci said history contains several evidence of the use of cultural diplomacy and in modern times countries began to use cultural diplomacy by maximising its cultural vocabulary and dissemination to the other. (QNA)