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3rd Annual International Conference on
An Inter-faith Perspective on Globalisation for the Common Good
Dubai, U.A.E, March 26-31, 2004
“Iran and Globalisation for the Common Good”
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you to the conference. In these global and too often troubled times, we need new perspectives and models so that we can find humane answers to the challenge of globalisation, based on a profound respect for the diversity of cultures and religions in our world community. As global events demonstrate, there is a desperate need to reintroduce spirituality, ethics, morality and faith into the debate on globalisation.
Looking at the conference programme, without doubt and hesitation, we can see that our accomplished speakers have risen well to this challenge. The conference is truly privileged to have speakers of this calibre, sharing their views with us. Without them there would have been no conference, and with them, I hope we can travel together to mend the troubled and torn cultures of our time and pave the way to global justice, peace, harmony and healing. I wish to express the conference’s respect and sincere gratitude to each of our presenters for their extraordinary commitment in being a part of this vital effort by giving their time and expertise freely. Each one of our speakers brings a missing and essential piece that completes the process, leading to a better understanding of what globalisation is all about. Hopefully, together, we can clearly argue for and insist on social and economic alternatives that address the roots of global injustice and inhumanity.
I am also grateful to and thank all the conference delegates who have come from near and far to be with us. It is wonderful for academics and non-academics to get involved and engaged with one another, so that we can all share each other’s varied experiences. All of us must be given a voice to be heard.
I would also like to thank my co-convenor, Dr. Raymond Hamden. Without his support, love and hard work there would not have been a conference in this vitally important region of the world. Raymond has cheerfully, with much spirituality, given much to make this possible and for this I convey my gratitude to him and all his staff at the Comprehensive Medical Centre in Dubai. It was during my second visit to Dubai in November 2003 that I met Mr. Abbas Bolurfrushan, President, Iranian Business Council (IBC) of Dubai. Abbas has proved to be a formidable friend and a great supporter of Globalisation for the Common Good and a source of inspiration to me. At this point I would like to thank him, the Iranian Business Council and all the members of its Board of Directors, in particular Mr. Nasser Hashempour for organising and sponsoring a special session, Iran and Globalisation for the Common Good on the evening of 28th March(see further the programme). I want to also pay a special tribute to another good friend of Globalisation for the Common Good, Mr. Brian LaBelle, Vice President, Skywards at Emirates Airlines and Chairman, Canadian Business Council, Dubai. As some of you may know the Honourable Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, the former Canadian Foreign Minister had kindly accepted our invitation to deliver a keynote address at the conference in Dubai. However, in January 2004 Dr. Axworthy was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General as his Special Envoy for the two Horn of Africa countries, namely Eritrea and Ethiopia. Given the urgency of what needs to be done there, Dr. Axworthy with great regret had to cancel his participation at the conference at the last moment so that he can devote all his time to much needed peace work there. Although I was very disappointed that Dr. Axworthy could not join us, I know that his work in the Horn of Africa is a true example of common good in action and I am sure you will all join me in wishing him good luck. Brian LaBelle was instrumental in facilitating and sponsoring Dr. Axworthy as well as Mr. David Choi, President and CEO, Royal Pacific Group and Special Advisor to Dr. Axworthy to come to Dubai. Here I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Brian and all his colleagues at Emirates Skywards and the Canadian Business Council, and also at Lufthansa Airlines.
It is also necessary to thank the Sikh community in UAE for their generous hospitality by inviting the conference to attend their Gurudwara in Dubai on the evening of Friday 26th March. They have arranged for hundreds of their fellow Sikhs to travel to Dubai to be with us during our visit (for more details see the programme). I would now like to thank Ms. Priya Sridharan, our conference secretary. I am sure you agree that she has worked very hard, diligently and efficiently. Special thank is also due to the Rotana Hotel Group in Dubai for so cheerfully assisting us with all that we have required. I am sure, knowing their standards well, you will all have a very good and welcoming time here. I am grateful to Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha for sponsoring the production of this booklet. Thanks also to my friend and colleague Dr. Josef Boehle for his continuous hard work in maintaining the commongood website and help in developing the conference programme. I must thank my wife and my sons for their support and help.
Finally, and hopefully for future conferences, as I have been saying since our first conference in Oxford that hopefully one day soon people of goodwill can translate their words of praise into action by helping us more fully so that a permanent home for Globalisation for the Common Good can be established. We have to prove St. Francis of Assisi right in that it is in giving that we receive!
In all, it has been a wonderful experience for me to get to know so many people of good will from different cultures and nationalities in Dubai. I am grateful to all of them, especially to the Persian, Canadian and the Sikh communities and people.
This week, all of us, experienced and newcomers, young and old, students and teachers together will form a community, committed to exploring and debating visions and ideas for celebrating diversity, appreciating uniqueness, enabling us to transform disagreements into understanding and mutual respect.
In addition to plenary sessions and workshops, there will be opportunities for informal spontaneous meetings and dialogue between participants all through the week. This, I sincerely hope will result in invaluable collaborative learning experiences and networking as well as rich personal interactions. Please try to participate also in the cultural and social activities to cement further the newly formed friendships. I hope you will take full advantage of all these activities.
In conclusion, I invite you to share a common belief in the potential of each one of us to become self-directed, empowered, and active in defining this time in the world as opportunity for positive change and healing and for the true formation of a culture of peace by giving thanks, spreading joy, sharing love, seeing miracles, discovering goodness, embracing kindness, practicing patience, teaching tolerance, encouraging laughter, celebrating diversity, showing compassion, turning from hatred, practicing forgiveness, peacefully resolving conflicts, communicating non-violently, choosing happiness and enjoying life.
Have a wonderful conference.
Have a wonderful time.
Conference Founder Convenor