Participants in the Gulf Citizenship Promotion Workshop, organized by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) yesterday at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Hotel in Abu Dhabi, stressed the importance of reaching common visions that would enhance and strengthen the concept of Gulf citizenship with a through value and behavioural framework through ministries of education in the GCC States to establish and instil its importance within the souls of young people as a real guarantee to protect societies against destructive ideas and the sustainability of their development cognitively, economically and politically.
The two-day workshop was initiated by five working papers presented by a group of lofty academics from GCC states, with the participation of students from universities in GCC states. The said workshops were attended by Dr. Mohammed Al-Mualla, Undersecretary for Academic Affairs for Higher Education, Dr. Samer Al-Samahi, Assistant Undersecretary for Planning and Development, and HE Fatima Al Zaabi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Department of Accreditation and Educational Services, HE Dr. Hanadi Al-Masn, Advisor to the General Secretariat of the GCC States, HE Dr. Aref Al-Hammadi, Director of Khalifa University and a number of leaders of the Ministry of Education in UAE and GCC States, where the subject of Gulf citizenship in the era of technology and modern means of communication was discussed.
The workshop comes as a follow-up to the decision of the ministers of higher education and scientific research in the GCC states during their eighth meeting in Riyadh in 2016, which organizes workshops continuously to discuss the pressing Gulf issues, especially Gulf citizenship.
The workshop is deemed a continuation of the decision of the ministers of higher education and scientific research in the GCC States during their eighth meeting in Riyadh in 2016, to organize continuous workshops to discuss the pressing Gulf issues, on top of which is Gulf citizenship.
HE Dr. Mohammed Al-Mualla, Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, pointed out during his speech at the workshop of promoting Gulf citizenship that the Gulf region was, and still is, a homeland that embraces all the children of the Gulf and unites them under one flag, indicating that the workshop seeks to promote the concept of Gulf citizenship and establish the value of cooperation and union in its fullest form and complete meaning. It is a message and duty that we shouldered; leaders, peoples and individuals in the Gulf States.
He then added that "Stemming from this high perspective, the plan of the Committee of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Gulf States for the promotion of Gulf citizenship has been launched, where its themes and initiatives have been selected according to the recommendations of the Citizenship Promotion Team, including this workshop which UAE is honoured to host and discuss its themes, on top of which is Gulf citizenship in the era of technology and modern means of communication. The second theme deals with the prospecting the joint GCC work on the basis of citizenship, explaining that these two issues are the basic blocks in building and achieving progress; with them we get a clear vision and set goals in a world where economic, scientific, cultural and political clusters of various forms are the sources of strength, sovereignty and development in various fields. Dr. Al-Mualla also pointed out that the third axis discusses "Gulf citizenship and volunteerism", where it is not possible to achieve good citizenship in societies except through social values, the most important of which is volunteerism".
His Excellency has also stated that the selection of these axes stems from our belief that our role is supportive of the vision of our wise leaders in the Arab Gulf States and is integrated with the efforts of the leaders of education and higher education therein. Our goal is to serve the common educational issues and to work on establishing the principles of citizenship, cooperation and social and cultural communication among our Gulf states.
He concluded by saying that "this scientific demonstration would not have succeeded without the support of our leaders and the sincere efforts of the pioneers of education and scientific research in the Gulf States, as well as all those interested in education and higher education issues; they are the core we depend on and upon their successful experiences we hold several hopes and ambitious visions".
On her part, Dr. Hanadi Al-Masn said in her speech that the workshop is a pioneering forum that brings together academics and educators to discuss how to strengthen Gulf citizenship in a framework that preserves its privacy provides it with the enablers of openness to other cultures, benefiting from them to serve the aspirations of Gulf leaders and peoples.
She added that the leaders of the GCC states have attached great importance to raising the awareness of young people towards building and maintaining their homelands, so as to be able to face the destructive ideas sweeping the world lately.
Dr. Turki Al-Mubarrad, on the other hand, has stressed in his paper at the workshop o Gulf Citizenship Promotion that there are common denominators that bring together the peoples of the GCC states; namely, the unity of religion, unity of origin and unity of destiny, pointing to the unlimited support provided by the leaders of the GCC states to develop Gulf citizens and provide them with means of excellence and leadership.
His Excellency stressed the importance of developing the values and concepts of Gulf citizenship as one of the most important pillars of achieving the economic welfare and development of the GCC states peoples and as a safety valve to counter the destructive ideas which some resort to modern social networking sites to promote among young people with a view to destabilize and reduce and belittle the Gulf identity.
Dr. Al-Mubarrad pointed out that social networking platforms have become a mirror for the GCC states and educational platforms appealing to the youth. Therefore, education systems in the GCC must be developed to promote the concepts of citizenship and belonging within the souls of those young people.
In his turn, Dr. Aqeel Kazim, Head of the Department of Sociology at the UAE University, has presented the concept of community development and the impact of modern social networking sites on the structure of these societies and the need to support them to preserve continuity and sustainability.
He pointed out that 49% of the world's population is using the World Wide Web, according to statistics of the year, indicating the importance of investing in social networking sites to enhance the awareness of GCC citizens about the importance of preserving the values of positive citizenship, as a comprehensive framework that unites the efforts of the GCC countries to maintain their unified entity in the face of current challenges.
On her side, Dr. Iman Khalil from the Department of Islamic Studies at Zayed University, pointed out that Gulf citizenship is deeply rooted in the awareness of the people of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries because of the common denominators that combine them on the geographical, historical, economic and political levels.
She pointed out that there are internal challenges inside and outside GCC States; internally, we face the fact that technology sector is not yet nationalized, in addition to the lack of Gulf skills in the field, thus entailing the society into a consuming, non-productive, society of technology and its contents, which poses risks that threaten Gulf citizenship. Dr. Iman Khalil pointed out that external challenges lie in the globalization and its exclusionary concepts that threaten the privacy of societies, necessitating to decision makers to strengthen the link of the Gulf citizen with its Gulf and Arab surroundings.
Concluding her paper, Dr. Iman Khalil called for the need to establish a Gulf Strategic Studies Center to study the global phenomena and identify and avoid them, in addition to generalizing the ethical education initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, because of the important role that initiative plays in building a unified ethical and behavioral framework for the children of the GCC states.
Students Fawaz Abdul Aziz from the Kingdom of Bahrain and Faisal bin Khalifa Al-Shamakhi participated with papers in the workshop that highlighted the importance and effectiveness of social media in bridging the gap between the people of the Arabian Gulf, since it has become a promising platform that united the GCC states within a unified framework by exchanging ideas on pressing issues, in addition to achieving a social rapprochement among the people of the Gulf Cooperation Council states.