“One Hand Cannot Clap Alone”
An interview at the United Arab Emirates EmbassyOctober 28th, 2019
Some of our interns were given the great opportunity to meet Mr. Abdulla Ali Mohsen at the United Arab Emirates’ Embassy on the 28th of October.
The Arab Emirates’ Embassy granted us an interview in order to talk about cultural diplomacy and its implementation. Throughout the conversation various topics were touched upon, demonstrating the convinced position of our interlocutors. Knowing that United Arab Emirates are investing a lot of resources into cultural diplomacy, we thought that a specific example would be a good place to start for our conversation.
On the 5th of February 2019, Pope Francis visited the United Arab Emirates signaling an important step towards the recognition of the country’s role in the international cultural dialogue. In Mr. Abdulla Ali Mohsen’s words, “Two years ago such an event would have been considered impossible, but today it represents hope”. Moreover, he added that even though the UAE is a small and new country, its stability is something that can be seen as a symbol of how to achieve peace in combination with tolerance. As a matter of fact, lots of different religions and cultures live together in the country without any problems. The Pope´s encounter with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al Tayeb and other religious leaders at the Human Fraternity meeting yielded a fruitful outcome and the document on Human Fraternity, functioning as a guide on advancing a "culture of mutual respect", was signed. Encounters on this level, can unleash a great potential and lead to a paradigm shift in relations between Christians and Muslims and hopefully also having the same affect in people’s thoughts and minds around the world when it comes to religious freedom and acceptance of each other’s beliefs.
Such a positive vision brought us to ask more about those concrete actions that they promote as an Embassy, which led them to tell is about their feeding of the homeless, the humanitarian project, the party for Ramadan they host, the project for the Louvre Museum and all sorts of activities that are also play a role in creating strong relations and partnerships with other countries. Those relations founded on trust are indeed vital for the soft power of cultural diplomacy, which was also shown at the Summit with Ethiopia and Eritrea, where the UAE assumed the role of mediator in their serious conflict.
Of course, cultural diplomacy is used as a solution for problems but it can also remedy and improve many forms of situation. Taking for example the education sector, we found that United Arab Emirates’ are investing a lot into scholarship and research. In fact, various bilateral agreements between Germany and the UAE exist, for example, the deployment of doctors to Germany and other countries to undergo specialist training.
Whilst in the Embassy of course our interns could not forego the opportunity to ask about Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai. This huge event can be seen as the summary of all beliefs we talked about in the interview, highlighting the importance of relations, respect for people and their cultures, dialogue and tolerance. Already seen as the biggest success for the country, Expo will have 191 different pavilions aiming to achieve sustainability, connection between people and last but not least new business opportunities.
Through their interview our interns can only confirm the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to cultural diplomacy, shown by how the Ambassador is very active in promoting these kinds of activities relating to cultural diplomacy, because as one of their old sayings go, “One hand cannot clap alone”.