Ricciardone sees many commonalities between Saudi vision and AUC mission

Author: 
LULWA SHALHOUB
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433102642400

JEDDAH: The president of the American University in Cairo (AUC), which completes 100 years in 2019, held a series of talks with high-ranking Saudi officials and businesspeople in Riyadh and Jeddah with a view to exploring new avenues of cooperation.
Francis Ricciardone, a former US diplomat and now head of the historic university, says education is “more important than ever.”
Education can make the Middle East a hub for a deep-rooted culture rather than a region of conflict.
After a long diplomatic career that gave him first-hand experience of what it is like to live in the Middle East, he was recently appointed president of the AUC, a 98-year-old Western educational institution in the heart of the Arab world.
“I came to the AUC because I believe that the educational mission is more important than ever,” Ricciardone told Arab News on Tuesday during his visit to Jeddah.
Established in 1919, the AUC is one of the oldest Western universities in the region. “We’re almost 100 years old, and the AUC has always had a mission of service to Egypt and the region” he said.
“This has made it be seen as part of the region, not something foreign. If foreign, then in a good way. If American, then in a way that Arabs value about America: Open, visionary, scientific, leading the way and opening minds for development.”
Ricciardone served as US ambassador to Cairo from 2005-2009, and to Ankara from 2011-2014, in addition to holding other diplomatic roles.
He said he loved the feeling of service and bringing people together, but wanted to try something different.
So he joined the world of think tanks at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, where he did a study with former US diplomats Madeline Albright and Stephen Hadley.
“We came a year ago to Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, and I came here (Saudi Arabia to discuss) a new American strategy with partners in the region under a new American administration that would take off as we knew in 2017,” Ricciardone said.
Everywhere they went, people emphasized the importance of education. “Education is the way, and the AUC is the vehicle that brings together Arabs and Americans. I wanted to do something catalizing,” he said.
“I didn’t come to Egypt and this region despite the problems. I came because of them, at a time when there are bigots and fanatics, people building walls,” he added.
American education focuses on problem-solving, not simply answering questions. “It’s easy to find the answer to a question. You need to have the ability for critical creative thinking, communicate it in ways that interlock, and complement with people who can fill in the gaps in your knowledge.”

Collaboration with Saudi Arabia
Ricciardone’s visit to Jeddah and Riyadh is the first in his new capacity as AUC president. He is set to run meetings at the Education Ministry to explore the potential of collaborating at an educational level.
The AUC wants to collaborate with Saudi universities as well as lower schools. “The Kingdom has a vision, you have a reformist minister and the resources,” he said.
“Even in a time of budget restraint, the Kingdom is allocating recourses to education. If we can partner, we might be able to do great things together.”
He added: “You have energy now in the Kingdom. It’s remarkable and getting attention. You have energy in the Arab world. There’s a youthful energy here yet to find its expression, in business, art, science, and it’s finding its way. The AUC is part of it.”
He said the institution connects Egypt and the US, and aims to encourage internationals who are afraid of going to Egypt after the revolution to study there. Last year, 52 students from the Gulf enrolled, 21 of them Saudi.
“Historically, we opened the doors to young Egyptians, Palestinians and people from the Gulf,” Ricciardone said.
“We helped open the world to Egyptians and Arabs from the region by teaching in English and applying inquiry-based education and research. We (also) serve as a global university to bring Westerners to the East.
“It’s not always easy, especially now. There are bigots in the West and the East who want to build walls and paint each other as fanatics and murderers. Sadly, they’re having some success and they’re causing fear.”

Cairo then and now
Ricciardone first encountered the AUC as a tourist in 1977. He was a young schoolteacher in Iran. In the 1980s, he came back as a diplomat, met some of the professors and deepened his knowledge of the AUC.
In 2008 there were 681 Americans, accounting for about 15 percent of students. Now there are only 80 Americans.
“The revolution made people afraid to come to Egypt, but I think they’re wrongly afraid. A big part of my challenge as president, and our challenge as a faculty, is to bring back Americans to faculty. We used to have 45 percent American faculty members, now they’re about 30 percent,” he said.
“I want to bring more international students, more Saudis, more from the Gulf, more from Egypt. I want to re-internationalize, re-globalize the AUC.”
He said the US government approving the Fulbright scholarship program and other US study programs would signal to American academia that it is good to go back to Egypt and the Arab world, and “that the Arab world is welcoming” to Americans.
“American globalized audiences are concerned about America’s place in the world, and want to do something about it. The answer is come study and learn the true story about Islam and Muslims. Come learn Arabic in the Middle East, and have Middle Easterners say who they are and what their dreams are for the future,” he said.
“Don’t allow Daesh to hijack the personality and presentation of the Arab world. (They are) criminals. People in the Middle East know it.”
Today, AUC is home to 6,559 students — 95 percent of them Egyptian.

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King Salman’s efforts to unite Muslim world praised at Pakistan conference

Author: 
Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433072641500

ISLAMABAD: King Salman’s efforts to unite the Muslim world and Saudi Arabia’s role in the fight against terrorism have been praised at a conference in Pakistan held this week.
The international “Centrist Rhetoric and Community Security” conference, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), called for the development of moderate rhetoric and to boost the fight against the currents of extremism.
A statement praised the effort by King Salman, as well as that of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and deputy crown prince, to unite Islamic countries to achieve security, peace and stability, and to highlight moderation in the face of extremism and terrorism.
Participants at the conference expressed their gratitude and appreciation of Saudi Arabia over its formation of an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism.
They called upon scholars and preachers, professors, educators and media to exert collective efforts to expose extremists’ fabrications and to reveal their false arguments.
The final declaration of the conference adopted a call made by the MWL to cooperate with official and popular institutions in Pakistan over joint programs aimed at correcting misconceptions about religion.
It also adopted a call for cooperation between the MWL and educational and social institutions and associations in Pakistan to help Muslims address challenges of poverty, disease and ignorance and to provide development projects.

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King Salman’s efforts to unite Muslim world praised at Pakistan conference

Author: 
Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433072641500

ISLAMABAD: King Salman’s efforts to unite the Muslim world and Saudi Arabia’s role in the fight against terrorism have been praised at a conference in Pakistan held this week.
The international “Centrist Rhetoric and Community Security” conference, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), called for the development of moderate rhetoric and to boost the fight against the currents of extremism.
A statement praised the effort by King Salman, as well as that of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and deputy crown prince, to unite Islamic countries to achieve security, peace and stability, and to highlight moderation in the face of extremism and terrorism.
Participants at the conference expressed their gratitude and appreciation of Saudi Arabia over its formation of an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism.
They called upon scholars and preachers, professors, educators and media to exert collective efforts to expose extremists’ fabrications and to reveal their false arguments.
The final declaration of the conference adopted a call made by the MWL to cooperate with official and popular institutions in Pakistan over joint programs aimed at correcting misconceptions about religion.
It also adopted a call for cooperation between the MWL and educational and social institutions and associations in Pakistan to help Muslims address challenges of poverty, disease and ignorance and to provide development projects.

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Disability research center launches 2017 academic program

Author: 
Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433092642100

RIYADH: The King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR) has launched its 2017 academic program, which includes lectures, workshops and training initiatives.
A KSCDR spokesman said the center is currently choosing the specialized persons in universities in the Kingdom and abroad for the implementation of the academic program.
He said these include professors, doctors and specialists on various disabilities, who will give lectures to disabled individuals. He encouraged those interested to register via the center’s website, http://www.kscdr.org.sa.
The spokesman added that Prince Sultan bin Salman, KSCDR’s chairman, thanked King Salman for supporting the center.
He also thanked King Salman for his patronage of the center’s Endowment Investment Project.
That project, comprised of 110 five-star serviced apartments, is built on 7,264 square meters inside the Diplomatic Quarter in the Saudi capital.
The project “is positioned to accommodate diverse guests … and includes a number of restaurants, gym, indoor and outdoor seating areas and cafes all under the management of Radisson Blu.”
It is expected to be officially launched in September.
In a statement issued by the KSCDR, Prince Sultan bin Salman said with “the rising costs of research projects and programs, there was a need to look for sustainable means of funding, which was why this project came to light. The investment of the income from this project will support KSCDR’s vision, mission and support for its various projects and programs.”

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Disability research center launches 2017 academic program

Author: 
Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433092642100

RIYADH: The King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR) has launched its 2017 academic program, which includes lectures, workshops and training initiatives.
A KSCDR spokesman said the center is currently choosing the specialized persons in universities in the Kingdom and abroad for the implementation of the academic program.
He said these include professors, doctors and specialists on various disabilities, who will give lectures to disabled individuals. He encouraged those interested to register via the center’s website, http://www.kscdr.org.sa.
The spokesman added that Prince Sultan bin Salman, KSCDR’s chairman, thanked King Salman for supporting the center.
He also thanked King Salman for his patronage of the center’s Endowment Investment Project.
That project, comprised of 110 five-star serviced apartments, is built on 7,264 square meters inside the Diplomatic Quarter in the Saudi capital.
The project “is positioned to accommodate diverse guests … and includes a number of restaurants, gym, indoor and outdoor seating areas and cafes all under the management of Radisson Blu.”
It is expected to be officially launched in September.
In a statement issued by the KSCDR, Prince Sultan bin Salman said with “the rising costs of research projects and programs, there was a need to look for sustainable means of funding, which was why this project came to light. The investment of the income from this project will support KSCDR’s vision, mission and support for its various projects and programs.”

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829 foreign detainees in public investigation prisons

Author: 
Mohammed Al-Sulami
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433082641800

JEDDAH: A list of detainees in public investigation prisons have shown that there are 5,084 prisoners, including 829 foreigners.
The foreigner prisoners’ list includes individuals from Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, China, Iraq, the Philippines, Morocco, India, United States, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Belgium, Bangladesh, Chad, Turkey, Lebanon, Mali, Egypt, Mauritania, Palestine, Niger and some detainees with unknown nationalities.
Yemen topped the list of foreign detainees with 281, followed by Syria with 217; Pakistan came third with 68 detainees. These detainees do not include those announced on Tuesday by the Ministry of Interior, who were arrested after raids uncovered explosive belts in Al-Harazat neighborhood of Jeddah, and an apartment in Al-Nasim neighborhood. The 13 detainees are all of Pakistani nationality, with a woman among them.
Egypt came fourth with 57 detainees, while Sudan came fifth with 30, followed by Palestine with 21 detainees, Jordan with 19 detainees and India with 18.
Brig. Gen. Bassam Atiyaah, director of the strategic planning office at the Ministry of Interior, said he appreciated all expatriates who reside in the Kingdom and all those who are committed to law and order of the country.
He said “we can’t make conclusions and accusations about all foreigners living in the Kingdom, but figures and numbers give a general impression of the work done by Daesh and other terrorist groups, who tend to use expatriates for terror crimes.”
However, this doesn’t mean that all those under arrest are criminals; some of them have been arrested under certain circumstances. After investigations, some individuals may be found innocent and immediately released.

Main category: 

829 foreign detainees in public investigation prisons

Author: 
Mohammed Al-Sulami
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433082641800

JEDDAH: A list of detainees in public investigation prisons have shown that there are 5,084 prisoners, including 829 foreigners.
The foreigner prisoners’ list includes individuals from Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, China, Iraq, the Philippines, Morocco, India, United States, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Belgium, Bangladesh, Chad, Turkey, Lebanon, Mali, Egypt, Mauritania, Palestine, Niger and some detainees with unknown nationalities.
Yemen topped the list of foreign detainees with 281, followed by Syria with 217; Pakistan came third with 68 detainees. These detainees do not include those announced on Tuesday by the Ministry of Interior, who were arrested after raids uncovered explosive belts in Al-Harazat neighborhood of Jeddah, and an apartment in Al-Nasim neighborhood. The 13 detainees are all of Pakistani nationality, with a woman among them.
Egypt came fourth with 57 detainees, while Sudan came fifth with 30, followed by Palestine with 21 detainees, Jordan with 19 detainees and India with 18.
Brig. Gen. Bassam Atiyaah, director of the strategic planning office at the Ministry of Interior, said he appreciated all expatriates who reside in the Kingdom and all those who are committed to law and order of the country.
He said “we can’t make conclusions and accusations about all foreigners living in the Kingdom, but figures and numbers give a general impression of the work done by Daesh and other terrorist groups, who tend to use expatriates for terror crimes.”
However, this doesn’t mean that all those under arrest are criminals; some of them have been arrested under certain circumstances. After investigations, some individuals may be found innocent and immediately released.

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Red Crescent, Red Cross delegation laud Saudi relief effort in Syrian camp

Author: 
Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433052641200

AMMAN: A delegation from the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization (ARCO) visited the Saudi National Campaign in Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees to oversee its humanitarian work.
The delegation was headed by ARCO Secretary General Dr. Saleh Al-Suhaibani, and included the President of Qatar’s Red Crescent Society Ali Al-Hammadim, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan Stefano Severe, and UNESCO Ambassador for Peace Ahlam Mosteghanemi.
The regional director of the Saudi National Campaign, Dr. Badr bin Abdul Rahman Al-Samhan, welcomed the delegation and thanked its members for their relief services and humanitarian activities.
He said the campaign to provide relief for displaced Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries aims to improve their living conditions.
The visitors praised the campaign’s efforts and role in serving Syrian refugees, as well as Saudi humanitarian and charitable work for vulnerable people worldwide.
Al-Samhan stressed the need for all involved in relief work to cooperative to elevate the level of services provided.
Al-Suhaibani said the main goal of such visits is to share experiences, and praised Saudi efforts under King Salman.
Mosteghanemi said the Saudi people are pioneers in helping the needy.
Al-Hammadim highlighted efforts by the Saudi National Campaign to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.
The delegation participated in the distribution of aid to Syrians in the camp.

Main category: 

Red Crescent, Red Cross delegation laud Saudi relief effort in Syrian camp

Author: 
Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485376433052641200

AMMAN: A delegation from the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization (ARCO) visited the Saudi National Campaign in Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees to oversee its humanitarian work.
The delegation was headed by ARCO Secretary General Dr. Saleh Al-Suhaibani, and included the President of Qatar’s Red Crescent Society Ali Al-Hammadim, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan Stefano Severe, and UNESCO Ambassador for Peace Ahlam Mosteghanemi.
The regional director of the Saudi National Campaign, Dr. Badr bin Abdul Rahman Al-Samhan, welcomed the delegation and thanked its members for their relief services and humanitarian activities.
He said the campaign to provide relief for displaced Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries aims to improve their living conditions.
The visitors praised the campaign’s efforts and role in serving Syrian refugees, as well as Saudi humanitarian and charitable work for vulnerable people worldwide.
Al-Samhan stressed the need for all involved in relief work to cooperative to elevate the level of services provided.
Al-Suhaibani said the main goal of such visits is to share experiences, and praised Saudi efforts under King Salman.
Mosteghanemi said the Saudi people are pioneers in helping the needy.
Al-Hammadim highlighted efforts by the Saudi National Campaign to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.
The delegation participated in the distribution of aid to Syrians in the camp.

Main category: 

India’s pluralism is our greatest strength

Author: 
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Thu, 2017-01-26
ID: 
1485373444472320200

Fellow citizens,
On the eve of the 68th Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and internal security forces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers and security personnel who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and maintaining law and order.
When India attained freedom on Aug. 15, 1947, we did not have an instrument of governance of our own. We waited until Jan. 26, 1950 when the Indian people gave to themselves a Constitution to secure for all its citizens, justice, liberty, equality, and gender and economic equity. We promised to promote fraternity, dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation.
On that day, we became the largest democracy of the world.
The faith and commitment of people gave life to our Constitution and our founding fathers, wisely and carefully, steered the new nation past its troubles of being a poor economy with huge regional imbalances and a vast citizenry deprived of even basic necessities.
It goes to the credit of the strong institutions of democracy built by our founders that for the last six and a half decades, Indian democracy has been an oasis of stability in the region troubled by unrest. From a population of 360 million in 1951, we are now a 1.3 billion-strong nation. Even then, our per capita income has shown a tenfold increase, poverty ratio has declined by two-thirds, average life expectancy has more than doubled, and literacy rate has shown a fourfold increase. We are today the fastest growing among the major economies of the world. We are the second largest reservoir of scientific and technical manpower, the third largest army, the sixth member of the nuclear club, the sixth member in the race for space, and the 10th largest industrial power. From a net food grains importing country, India is now a leading exporter of food commodities. The journey so far has been eventful, sometimes painful, but most of the times, exhilarating.
What has brought us thus far will take us further ahead. But we will have to learn to adjust our sails, quickly and deftly, to the winds of change. Evolutionary and incremental growth will have to accommodate rapid disruptions brought in by advances of science and technology. Innovation, more so inclusive innovation, will have to become a way of life. Education will have to keep pace with technology. In the race between man and machine, the winner will have to be job generation. The velocity of technology adoption will call for a workforce that is willing to learn and adapt. Our education system will have to join hands with innovation to prepare our youth for life-long learning.
Our economy has been performing well despite the challenging global economic conditions. In the first half of 2016-17, it grew at a rate of 7.2 percent — same as that last year — showing sustained recovery. We are firmly on the path of fiscal consolidation and our inflation level is within comfort zone. Though our exports are yet to pick up, we have managed a stable external sector with sizeable foreign exchange reserves.
Demonetization, while immobilizing black money and fighting corruption, may have led to temporary slowdown of economic activity. As more and more transactions become cashless, it will improve the transparency of the economy.
Born in independent India, three generations of citizens do not carry the baggage of colonial past. These generations have had the privilege of acquiring education, pursuing opportunities and chasing dreams in a free nation. This sometimes makes it easy for them to take freedom for granted; to forget the price that extraordinary men and women paid to win this freedom; to forget that the tree of freedom needs constant care awnd nourishment. Democracy has conferred rights on each one of us. But along with these rights, come responsibilities, which have to be discharged. Gandhiji said and I quote: “The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied; unbridled license is a sign of vulgarity injurious alike to self and others.”

Youth today are brimming with hope and aspirations. They pursue their life goals, which they perceive will bring them fame, success and happiness, with single-minded devotion. They consider happiness as their existential objective, which of course is understandable. They search for happiness in the highs and lows of day-to-day emotions, and in the fulfillment of the objectives they have set for themselves. They look for a job as well as a purpose in life. Lack of opportunities leads to frustration and unhappiness, which manifests itself in anger, anxiety, stress and aberrations in behavior. This has to be dealt with by inculcating pro-social behavior through gainful employment, active engagement with community, parental guidance, and empathetic response from a caring society.
One of my predecessors left on my table a framed quotation, which reads (and I quote): “The object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers or races but the happiness of the common man.” Happiness is fundamental to the human experience of life. Happiness is equally the outcome of economic and non-economic parameters. The quest for happiness is closely tied to sustainable development, which combines human well-being, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. We must make happiness and well-being of our people as the touchstones of public policy.
Many of the flagship initiatives of the government have been designed to promote the well-being of the society. The Swachh Bharat Mission aims at a Clean India by Oct. 2, 2019 to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji. Increased spending on programs like MGNREGA is enhancing employment generation to rejuvenate the rural economy. Aadhaar is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. The Digital India program is creating a knowledge-based economy through universal provision of digital infrastructure and platforms for cashless economic transactions. Initiatives like Start-up India and Atal Innovation Mission are fostering innovation and new-age entrepreneurship. Under the Skill India initiative, the National Skill Development Mission is working on skilling 300 million youth by 2022.
It is my firm conviction that India’s pluralism and her social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are our greatest strength. Our tradition has always celebrated the “argumentative” Indian; not the “intolerant” Indian. Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country. A wise and discerning mind is necessary for democracy to flourish. More than the unison of ideas, a healthy democracy calls for conformity to the values of tolerance, patience and respect for others. These values must reside in the hearts and minds of every Indian; inculcating in them a temperament of understanding and responsibility.
We have a noisy democracy. Yet, we need more and not less of democracy. The strength of our democracy is evidenced by the fact that over 66 percent of the total electorate of 834 million voted in the 2014 General Elections. The depth and breadth of our democracy sparkles in the regular elections being held in our panchayati raj institutions. And yet, our legislatures lose sessions to disruptions when they should be debating and legislating on issues of importance. Collective efforts must be made to bring the focus back to debate, discussion and decision-making.
As our Republic enters her 68th year, we must acknowledge that our systems are not perfect. The imperfections have to be recognized and rectified. The settled complacencies have to be questioned. The edifice of trust has to be strengthened. The time is also ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms and a return to the practice of the early decades after independence when elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously. It is for the Election Commission to take this exercise forward in consultation with political parties.
In a fiercely competitive world, we have to work harder than ever to redeem the promises that we make to our people.
We have to work harder because our war on poverty is not yet over. Our economy is yet to grow at over 10 percent for an extended period of time to make a significant dent on poverty. One-fifth of our countrymen still remain below poverty line. Gandhiji’s mission to wipe every tear from every eye still remains unfulfilled.
We have to work harder to provide safety and security to our women and children. Women must be able to lead their lives with honor and dignity. Children must be able to enjoy their childhood to the fullest.
We have to work harder because our pluralistic culture and tolerance are still being put to test by vested interests. Reason and moderation should be our guide in dealing with such situations.
We have to work harder to keep at bay the dark forces of terrorism. These forces have to be dealt with firmly and decisively. The forces inimical to our interests cannot be allowed to grow.
We have to work harder to ensure the well-being of our soldiers and security personnel who protect us from internal and external threats.

Jai Hind!

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