HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation-Global (registered in Lebanon) and HH Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel, Vice-Chairwoman of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, hosted an historic gathering of leading scholars and global thought leaders on Islam and the West at The Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University.
Participating in the forum were leading global scholars who serve as Directors of the six Prince Alwaleed Academic Centers located at the world's most prestigious universities, including:
§ Harvard University: Director Ali Asani from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program;
§ Georgetown University: Director John Esposito from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding;
§ Cambridge University: Director Yasir Suleiman from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies;
§ Edinburgh University: Director Hugh Goddard from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World;
§ American University in Cairo: Director Magda Shahin from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies;
§ American University in Beirut: Director Alex LuBin from The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research.
During the event, Prince Alwaleed stressed that: "This dialogue strengthens the cultural bridge between East and West."
His Highness also commented: "What has taken place in some Arab countries -Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria- has brought an earthquake to the Arab region. This message is clear: no matter how much social change you make in your country or economic benefits you bestow on your people, it will not be enough. Change must occur whereby the people feel they are involved, have a voice and can participate in the system."
Princess Ameerah commented: "Today's important discussion showed that Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation has not only established critical centers of thought at the world's most prestigious Universities but has also drawn the world's leading scholars and thought-leaders to direct them. Their work is breaking new ground every day and bringing solutions to some of the most difficult issues of our time. As a result of our meetings, the centers will continue this vital mission with greater coordination and a stronger voice. These brilliant leaders together with the young minds they are guiding and shaping are changing outdated thinking, creating new paradigms and bringing a positive message of hope and understanding to a world desperate for both."
A highlight of the two-day meeting was a fascinating and thought-provoking discussion on the current state of relations between the Islamic World and the West and the most effective ways to strengthen cross-cultural ties and understanding in 2012 and beyond. The panel discussion was moderated by Nicholas Burns, renowned foreign affairs expert and Harvard Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
The discussion centered on the implementation of visionary educational programs and curricula designed to break down stereotypes and misinformation about the West and Islam, while instilling tolerance and a more profound understanding and appreciation for cultural and religious diversity in both the West and the Arab world.
Moreover, they discussed the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundations' role in global cultural understanding through the establishment of six academic centers with study programs that encourage tolerance and mutual understanding, advance scholarship in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, support opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation among religions and cultures and participate in the preservation of the Islamic literary and artistic heritage around the world.
Prince Alwaleed and Princess Ameerah were accompanied by a delegation that included Eng. Nadia Bakhurji Secretary General of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, Dr. Samir Anabtawi, Academic Advisor to HRH the Chairman, Dr. Nahla Alanbar, Private Executive Manager to HRH the Chairman, Ms. Noor Aldabbagh, Executive Manager, Strategic Studies Department from Alwaleed Foundation and Ms Najla Tarabzouni, Assistant PR Manager, Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation.
As an extension of Prince Alwaleed's commitment to improving the world the "Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation" was institutionalized and obtained its license in 2009 from the Ministry of Social Affairs. In the past 30 years of charity and humanitarian work HRH has donated approximately $3 billion to this cause.
The "Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation" encourages and supports organizations, studies, and academic centers focusing on empowering Saudi women, alleviating poverty, upgrading services provided to the population, and other social infrastructure issues that face the country. The foundation is also directly involved in major projects that provide direct aid to the citizens of Saudi Arabia ranging from medical aid to housing where hundreds of housing units have been provided to poor families as part of a 10 year project. Other projects the foundation is involved in include the distribution of electric generators to remote villages and, printing and the translation of the holy Quran into13 languages.
Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation - Global works to provide women and youth in the MENA region with economic and educational opportunities, through strategic philanthropic investments in sustainable projects of the Foundation's various partner organizations. It tackles poverty and provides rapid aid in cases of natural disasters internationally. One of the many donations for rapid aid includes a substantial donation to South East Asia's Tsunami victims. The foundation also reframes perceptions of Islam and the West through dialogue, programs and educational centers around the world in order to promote a greater understanding between the different faiths and world views, part of which includes an endowment to the Louvre Museum in support of its collection of Islamic art.
The "Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation", is vice chaired H.E. Ms. Leila El Solh covers all the Lebanese humanitarian issues and provides medical and health assistance, social assistance to orphanages, infirmaries, prisoners and the disabled and educational and cultivation assistance for the development of projects in the economical and agricultural sectors across all communities in the Lebanon. The foundation was awarded the Pontifical Medal by Pope Benedict XVI during a ceremony to mark the occasion held at the Vatican in 2008. The medal was in recognition of the achievement and efforts made by the Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation for encouraging tolerance between the different religious faiths and social groups in Lebanon, and promoting religious dialogue. Moreover, the medal acknowledged the foundation's philanthropic activities and support to those in need regardless of their background and creed. Ms. El Solh personally received the medal from the Pope at the Vatican.